Starting Inspirational Fires

This is the blog post that almost wasn’t. And it is one of those twisty, turny journeys that needs a bit of backstory to make sense. Bear with me.

In July of this year, I felt drawn to create what I dubbed Inspiration Starters. Read about those HERE. I wrote creative ideas, with the intention of challenging myself, on 32 slips of paper and dropped them into a container. I randomly selected one of those Inspiration Starters a few days later. And then, totally forgot about them, as in, they passed from time and memory. Until this past week. Decorating for Christmas I opened the ceramic jar and thought, oh yeah!

I had 31 slips of paper left. December, with its 31 days, was about to begin. I decided what a great way to finish this Year of Inspiration, this time of living with a focus on creativity and treating others with kindness. I could draw a slip of paper each day, beginning December 1.

I was excited to draw the first folded slip today. When I played a similar game last year I was amazed by the synchronicities, the Divine guidance, the remarkable alignment of perfect conditions that appeared around each of those slips of paper. Drawing them randomly takes me out of the equation and opens my heart, spirit and creativity to a power greater than me.

What would I select? Honestly, I had created the Inspiration Starters five months ago. I had forgotten all that I came up with, which was good. I could be surprised.

I drew:

My first thought was, Well…even though this is Friday, and this Inspiration appears perfect, it won’t work this weekend. I have an out of town family birthday party tomorrow and an open house Sunday. There would be no get away this weekend.

My second thought was, This one is a miss. The timing was off. And, there was more to it than that.

I have been thinking much about a weekend get away lately, just me and a journal and a pen. As this year winds down, I feel drawn to go off by myself and think and dream and plan, a releasing of 2017 and an anticipation of 2018. I want time to commune with the Divine and meditate and go within. With that desire in mind, I asked the Divine to arrange the get away weekend, guiding me to the right place, at the right time, by way of signs, symbols and synchronicities.

To make it an even more fun and challenging quest, I asked EL-LE (my personal name for God, pronounced like the letter L), for a very specific sign. I would know it was all EL-LE’s doing in two ways: The weekend away, alone, would cost me nothing, or very little, allowing me to be open to all kinds of opportunities beyond simply staying in a hotel somewhere. And, I would know which place was the right one because it would have a particular symbol attached to it, that is significant to me.

Drawing that slip of paper today threw me. Nothing appeared to be in place for the weekend get away. It did indeed seem to be a miss, timing wise. I decided to keep a weekend away in mind during this month, and just see what unfolded. I left the slip of paper on my writing table in my studio.

I’ve had other things going on today. I’ve been busy and didn’t dwell on that Inspiration Starter. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about this evening but I trusted the right thing would come along at the right time.

It did. And it connected back to the weekend get away paper that I drew.

As I was finishing my last task for the day, I was offered an amazing, and surprising, gift. This person, who wishes to remain unnamed, did not know that I have been asking EL-LE for a weekend away, or that I had drawn that slip of paper earlier in the day. I was gifted with a check, for a generous amount, and instructed to get away for a weekend, to have some time alone. I was told that the thought suddenly came to my gracious benefactor late today, seemingly out of the blue, accompanied by the urge to give me this gift.

I am undone. I am so grateful. A miss? No. The slip of paper I drew earlier was a wink from the Divine, a hint that it is almost time for that weekend get away I have been longing for. And as I hoped, as I trusted, all is being arranged.

I am looking at the end of the month for my special weekend. Or perhaps the first week in January. I have no doubts that I will know which weekend is perfect, and where to stay. I am being guided. I am involved in an ongoing conversation, an intimate dance, with the Divine.

The December creative game is underway. This must be why I completed my Christmas decorating early this season. I needed to be free. Something bigger is unfolding. I am going to finish out this incredible year by starting 31 fires that will ignite my passion, creativity and imagination. I am setting my heart aflame.

Tis the Season

It is the last day of November, and I experienced a first today. My house is completely decorated for Christmas. It is the earliest I have ever accomplished this task. I don’t know what happened!

Here is a pictorial trip through my house with some of the highlights and a peek at what’s new this year.

Aunt Annie’s red box on the porch. The metal luminary with the Joy & Cheer cutout out is new this year.

I love including vintage pieces and family treasures in my decor, like Great Aunt Roxie’s little red wooden foot rest, flipped upside down to hold fabric trees and mason jars.

Vintage poinsettia dish grouped with Dayan’s first Christmas photo shoot (he’s 18 years old now), an antique ceramic candle holder, a tiny early 1900s Christmas card that I framed, and a flea market white tree I bought several years ago. Even the ceramic polar bear is getting old, a Bath & Body promotional piece from 2009.

The Snowman Village, featuring the framed snowman artwork. Greg’s brother, Ray, who passed away 15 years ago, drew this dapper snowman as a child. I framed it last year. The wooden sieve is one of my favorite vintage pieces. It gets new vignettes throughout the year.

An eclectic mix of snowmen and light. The brightly glowing square glass box, filled with miniature lights, was given to me by my friend Beth years ago. Every Christmas I replace the string of lights within it, plug it in, and leave it shining brightly until the little bulbs burn out…about late March. It is a beacon of friendship and hope.

My grandfather’s WWII army trunk now holds vintage quilts, little Christmas trees, metal stars and a trio of mason jars with tea lights tucked inside.

The ceramic nativity set was made by Greg’s mother Leta more than 60 years ago. The wooden shoes on the shelf below were a gift to my mom from her uncle when he returned from the second world war. She was five years old. She wore them, as did my sisters and I, and my children and grandchildren.

The rustic wooden box in my bedroom gets a simple and homey redo. The ceramic bird came in from my front porch, where it perched all summer. I like to mix in everyday items with my Christmas decor as well.

Silvers and golds, with touches of blue and brown, in the old battered suitcase. When Greg’s dad and his brother sold their parents’ home after they passed, they included all the contents of the house in the sale. Prior to the completion of the sale, I asked for permission to run inside before the house was locked up, and get one item. I grabbed this suitcase from a bedroom closet. It was full of old photos.

I am really pleased with this new display. The cross-stitched silhouettes were made by my mom in the 70s. Their original frames had fallen apart. I found the stitched works of art again today, and purchased new frames for them. Look how cute they are with the tartan plaid scarf and plaid Christmas tree! The display sits atop a chest that is more than 150 years old. My mother’s great grandmother traveled by covered wagon with this chest, which Greg restored for me eight years ago.

Also newly on display, this embroidery piece that reminds me of a snowflake. I found this still in its embroidery hoop, with the needle pushed through the fabric, in a drawer at Leta Moore’s house. She never quite finished it. The fabric balls were in the same drawer.

Another fresh piece, this one a vintage card tucked into an old copper-look frame. This is the fifth vintage card I’ve turned into art. I would rather display them than forget about them, tucked into a drawer somewhere.

The last photo, posted below, is of the vintage wooden ironing board that I recently set up in my studio. It has a festive green plaid scarf thrown over it, and a couple of little vignettes displayed on its wooden surface. The antique porcelain doll, from the late 1800s, has taken up residence in my studio for the first time. She is sharing space with a fabric tree made by Leta Moore and a couple of Kirkland purchases from last year. I found the gingerbread house, trees and man at Michaels a couple of weeks ago.

I not only love this time of year, I love being creative and using a mix of old and not so old, Christmas decor and everyday items. Every piece tells a story. I enjoy walking through my house, and hearing those narratives. Love, hope, survival, and family are the themes that thread those those tales, weaving a rich and varied tapestry.

Tonight the candles are lit throughout my home for the first time this season. It won’t be the last. How homey and festive and full of cheer it looks and feels. Tis the season…

Vintage Ironing Board Makeover

When we emptied Greg’s parents’ house, after his father passed away, one of the items I carted home was a vintage ironing board. I could tell, without removing the cover, that the board was made of wood. I hated to throw the old ironing board away. I figured eventually I’d find a new use for it. That ironing board has been tucked away for more than two years. This week, it suddenly popped back into my awareness. Today, I repurposed it.

This is how inspiration works in my life. The ironing board has been in my house for almost 2 1/2 years. I don’t see it most days or think about it. Two days ago, without looking at it, the board suddenly came to mind. I’ve been wanting to do a creative project. Apparently, it was time to do something with this vintage piece.

As I thought about the ironing board, I got a visual “download”, images of how I could transform the board into a table, where to put it and even what items to place on and near it. This is the kind of information that I most often receive when a project, literally, comes to mind. My work, then, is to create in reality the idea I’ve been given.

Here is the fun process of making over the ironing board.

This is what I started with. I knew I wanted to set up the ironing board table in my creative studio.

I had to remove some modifications that Greg’s dad made years ago, to protect the floors or to prevent slipping. On the foot of the longest leg of the ironing board there were scraps of carpet secured with black electrical tape and wire!

I did find a wooden top after I removed the cover and an old foam pad, which had crumbled into dust. I was surprised to discover a huge paper label attached to the surface of the board. It is brittle with age and I considered removing it. I was able to look up the ironing board, though, thanks to the label. This model of ironing board was produced in the early 1940s. Greg speculated that his parents, who were married in 1941, received this practical necessity as a wedding gift. I left the label attached.

At one end of my repurposed table I placed a lamp, and a couple of rustic pieces. The minnow bucket turned candle holder normally lights my garden. It is the first item that I saw on the ironing board when I visualized this project. The concrete bird holds a tea light, and also moved indoors from the garden. I frequently use stacks of books to create height.

The framed quote by Elsie de Wolfe, “I’m going to make everything around me beautiful…that will be my life”, moved from a vignette in my bedroom to my creative studio.

At the other end of the ironing board table is a collection of books, with an old iron and a jar candle as bookends. I added a metal bowl with colorful fabric balls.

Beneath the table I’ve used a vintage metal olive bucket to hold an adorable scruffy looking tree, pulled out of my Christmas collection. Another stack of books is topped by my journee sign and another metal bucket with a tea light tucked inside.

And this is what the table looked like, after the repurposing process was completed.

I am quite pleased with the finished results! I enjoy using vintage pieces in fresh ways. I’d much rather use them and see them daily, than have these keepsakes packed away in a closet. The old ironing board reminds me of Greg’s mom and dad, who both shared in the chore of pressing clothes and linens.

I don’t need another ironing board. I rarely use the one I have. However, I can always use another table, another surface to create upon. I am very happy with this one.

Inspiration Starters

Lately I’ve recalled with fondness the month I spent last year randomly drawing creative actions out of a glass pitcher. I selected a folded slip of paper each day during the month of June, in 2016. Those activities were fun, and they not only revved up my creativity, they also deepened my trust in the Divine’s guidance in my life. 

This evening, after working most of the day, I was deciding what to write about when those folded slips of paper came to mind again. Yes. It was time to stop thinking about how much fun that exercise in creativity was, and take action again. 

Inspiration Starters
Of course, I changed the game up a bit. I cut 32 slips of paper and wrote out an inspirational activity on each one. Guided by this year’s theme of Inspiration, which includes Alan Rickman’s words about making life a bit more tender and art a bit more robust, and my greater health awareness, I chose to challenge myself. 

Inspiration Starters
Not every activity pushes me, but I attempted to come up with suggestions that take my creativity or compassion or health consciousness beyond where I am, currently. I included writing exercises…and challenges to submit my work for publication. Travel inspirations came to me along with designing, sketching and expressing tenderness in new ways. I won’t draw an activity every day. I’ll reach into my little ceramic jar, made by my younger daughter Adriel when she was a child, and “randomly” draw out a slip of paper when I feel drawn to. 

Last year this type of creative play formed the foundation for this year’s theme. I learned so much about myself, about how life works for me, and about the constant guidance I receive from the Divine. 

I am open to receive whatever comes from this experience this year…open and unattached to outcomes. The phrase I made up for these slips of paper seems apt. Fire starters are little pieces of wood that are soaked with a flammable solution that then ignites logs to create a bigger, hotter fire. May these inspiration starters ignite within me a creativity that burns brightly and feeds my artistic soul. 

Inspiration Starters

Going Bohemian in My Backyard 

I am writing my blog post tonight, while sitting in a bohemian tent in my backyard garden. An almost full moon is sliding across the summer sky. I have candles lit and a pot of lemon balm tea near by. Young Living lavender oil is scenting the air, along with the herbs and flowers growing in my garden. I colored in one of my coloring books until it got too dark to see. This…is…bliss. 

Going Bohemian in the Backyard
Inspiration led me here. 

The answer to the question, How shall we play today? seemed to involve coloring. I thought I might gather coloring books and my colored pencils and relax on my bed while a movie played in the background. However, my mind skittered away from that thought whenever I contemplated the idea. 

As I was doing a bit of weeding in the backyard garden, late in the afternoon, I paused, soaking in the beauty surrounding me. Or maybe, I thought, I will light candles in the garden tonight instead. At that moment, the funny quote that says “If you need me, I’ll be in my blanket fort coloring…” came to mind. And with it, the image of a bohemian style tent made out of vintage quilts and linens. 

Yes…yes! There it was. Inspiration, and the day’s creative activity, which included coloring after all. 

Going Bohemian in the Backyard

I created my own boho tent, using one of Greg’s adjustable metal ladders as the frame. A wooden one would work just as well, or two chairs placed back to back. 

Going Bohemian in the Backyard
I layered on the quilts and tablecloths. Bohemian or boho style is about layering. I have many vintage quilts and lace tablecloths that once belonged to Greg’s grandmothers. I gravitated toward a yellow and cream color scheme. 

Initially I had a quilt forming the back wall of the tent, however I realized that might make the interior too warm. I swapped out the quilt for a lace tablecloth, to allow air to circulate. I draped and adjusted until I was pleased with the look, tucking in corners and edges to secure the quilts. I only used one clothespin. I folded a couple of thick quilts to create the floor of the tent and added two small pillows for comfort. 

Going Bohemian in the Backyard
Candles are a must for me. They create such a soft, beautiful atmosphere. Although it is hard to tell from the photos, the candles are all a safe distance away from flammable materials. All of the candles are also in containers, except for the three on candlesticks. I added candles behind the tent as well, so that they would shine through the lace cloth. (Use caution in creating your own boho setting, if using candles, and never leave them unattended.)

Going Bohemian in the Backyard
Going Bohemian in the Backyard
I set up a vintage metal tray to hold a pot of freshly brewed tea, using lemon balm from my garden. 

Going Bohemian in the Backyard

Going Bohemian in the Backyard
What a magical evening. After coloring, I turned so that my back rested against the pillows piled along one side of the ladder, enjoying the candlelight, the night song of insects and frogs, and the cool breeze. I sipped my tea and smiled often as I peeked out the tent opening. 

As a little girl, I loved making blanket tents. The coziness and intimacy within appealed to me. Tonight, I am wondering why I haven’t done this more often. This simple pleasure brings joy to my heart and gladness to my soul. And my inner child thinks this is the best night ever! 

Going Bohemian in the Backyard
Oscar Wilde wrote, “With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy?” 

I would include…and candlelight and a boho tent. Happiness indeed. 

A Bohemian Lives Here

It has been a real estate day, from start to finish. And I don’t mind that. I enjoy helping people buy and sell homes. It is a privilege to walk alongside my clients. 

A busy day doesn’t take away from a creative lifestyle however. I won’t let busyness be an excuse for not writing or not creating. I just have to be…well, creative…in my creativity! 

Inspiration for a quick project came from an empty frame that I forgot I had. An empty frame is like a blank canvas to me. What could I create?

A Bohemian Lives Here
I wasn’t sure how to best use the frame, until I was looking up quotes late this evening, about the Bohemian lifestyle. I have come to realize a truth about myself. I am a Bohemian…which is a fancy word for hippie. I have always been drawn toward that free spirited, peace loving, world wandering, back to nature way of life. It has just taken me a while to fully embrace it all. 

However, I am inhabiting that space now. From the clothes I am purchasing to the food I am eating (and growing) to the releasing of a way of life that no longer fits me, I am happy to acknowledge my Bohemian self. 

A Bohemian Lives Here I’ll write more about being Bohemian in a future blog post. Tonight, I was staying open to inspiration as I clicked through quotes about the Bohemian lifestyle. And there it was. The quote above, “A gypsy lives here” caught my interest. I flipped past the quote and then returned to study it. Suddenly I knew what I wanted to make, for my empty frame. 

A Bohemian Lives Here
I gathered supplies to create with, including a page from a set of vintage encyclopedias. I carefully removed the page about gypsies to use as a background for free-hand letters that I printed across the page and then colored in with my Prismacolor pencils. 

                   A Bohemian Lives Here 

In a short time I had completed my simple art project and popped it into the frame. The saying, which I have dubbed Life Art, is already hanging on the wall of my bedroom. It makes me smile when I look at it. It tugs at my heart and soul. 

“What if…you knew, really knew, that your heart pulls you toward mystery and wonder for a purpose, and that this is its job? Follow it just once and see…            MR Gilman

I know. I really do know. I am following my heart…

A Bohemian Lives Here

The TARDIS Doghouse

As the school year is completing, I visited each of my four younger grandchildren at their respective schools and brought lunch. Today it was Jonathan’s turn. His last day of school is Thursday. 

As soon as we were seated in the cafeteria, this bright and creative boy informed me that he had gotten a low grade on a project he had just finished. He seemed genuinely surprised by his teacher’s assessment. As he shared his story, I was deeply touched, more than a little dismayed…and so glad that I chose this day to have lunch with Jonathan. 

The TARDIS Doghouse
The assignment was to build a doghouse out of foam board and paint it. In my family we have many Whovians…fans of the long running British TV show, Doctor Who. Jonathan came up with the clever idea of creating a TARDIS doghouse, making his project taller, and thinner, and painting it the bright blue that is characteristic of the Doctor’s traveling time and space machine. 

Jonathan’s doghouse hints that it just might be bigger on the inside…a classic Doctor Who reference…and he even added the light atop the roof. 

The TARDIS Doghouse
Listening to Jonathan as he described his project, I was impressed. However, his teacher was not. He is not familiar with Doctor Who, or the TARDIS. Giving Jonathan low marks, he said this 5th grade boy didn’t do the project in the right way, that he didn’t measure and cut correctly. In short, he told Jonathan he messed up, made a mistake, failed. 

I understand that Jonathan might not have followed directions exactly. And his project didn’t look like everyone else’s. However, he chose to think outside the box and create something unique…and meaningful to him. He expressed creativity when perhaps following directions was the real assignment. 

I am so proud of my grandson! 

The TARDIS Doghouse
We spent the rest of lunchtime discussing creativity and expressing ideas and chatting about Doctor Who. I shared with Jonathan that sometimes people don’t understand those who think creatively but that doesn’t mean we have to conform. I’m not trying to turn my grandson into a rebel. However I wanted him to know it is okay to be different, create something different, and have a vision. I love his ideas. 

Fortunately, another teacher, a Whovian, recognized his project for what it was and expressed delight with it. Jonathan’s teacher raised the creativity score, but did not change the overall grade. My heart felt this boy’s pain at not being recognized for his work. When he invited me to pop up to his classroom after lunch to see the TARDIS doghouse, I was thrilled. 

The TARDIS Doghouse

In the empty classroom, a row of doghouses lined a shelf. They all looked exactly the same…square boxes with peaked roofs…except for one bright blue taller thinner doghouse that really stood out. What an extraordinary project, from an original thinker. 

After much praise and many hugs, I left Jonathan with his teacher. Had the teacher not been in the presence of children when Jonathan joined his classmates, I would have had a few words with him. Nothing raises my ire like unfairness toward children. My words would have been civil, however, I would have loved to have asked him some questions. 

Like…

Why is it more important to teach kids to always follow the rules rather than express creativity? Why not encourage, rather than condemn? And why not acknowledge that there are many ways to create a doghouse, other than making them all identical? Jonathan did measure. And his measurements were exactly right for the creation he had in mind. 

I hope Jonathan will keep being his shining, creative, unique self. He will always be graded on his performances, by someone. I want him to know there is so much more to life and living joyfully and freely, beyond receiving marks, or grades, or scores on a piece of paper. 

I think his TARDIS doghouse is beautiful and amazing, just like him. And I know a certain faithful Doctor Who companion who would absolutely love it…just as I do. 

The TARDIS Doghouse

Living the Creative Life

I woke up this morning, thinking about creativity and how it is expressed. People ask me how they can be more creative. And others tell me they aren’t creative at all. I believe creativity is more a way of looking at life and living it with authenticity and openness, and less about talent. My thoughts returned to this topic over and over today, convincing me that this was what I would be writing about tonight. 

Living the Creative Life
It is easy perhaps to read a novel or study a painting or listen to a musician pour out his heart through his music and think Wow, this is a work of art. This is a creative soul. And that would be a true thought. Creativity can be expressed through such recognizable endeavors as painting and sculpting, writing and poetry, drawing and photography, writing concertos and playing the violin. 

Living the Creative Life
Living the Creative Life
And…creativity can be expressed in a child’s colorful crayon drawing and lumpy clay vase, through graffiti spray painted on train boxcars and a joke made up on the spot, in the baking of a friend’s birthday cake and any time the words are uttered Once upon a time…

Living the Creative Life

Living the Creative Life

And…creativity is present in a magic trick and fostering animals, in making people laugh and dancing your own steps before an audience of one, in exploring new roads by turning left at the intersection instead of right, in seeing new possibilities in an ordinary object, in creating an amazing party and by dressing up as a clown to sell baked goods at a yard sale. 

Living the Creative Life
Living the Creative Life
Creativity is the soul expressing itself, whether by writing a best seller or sewing little girls’ dresses or building a toad house. It is a way of life. The way to be more creative is to be open to receiving inspiration and accepting those invitations that come as little intuitive taps on the shoulder or a thought that begins…I wonder what would happen if I did this…

Living the Creative Life

Living the Creative Life
Joseph Chilton Pearce said To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong. I agree and add we must just lose our fear period…fear of making a mistake, fear of being made fun of, fear of failing, fear of being ignored. Creativity comes sometimes when we least expect it. It can be unconventional, bold, and exciting in its expression. And it can be quiet, solitary, and scary when it births an idea into your soul. 

Living the Creative Life

There is no right or wrong way to express creativity or make art. It is everyone’s birthright and all have the ability to allow imagination and creativity to flow through their lives, for that is what it is…energy flowing and finding outward expression. The more we stay open to that flow and say “yes” to those nudges and invitations, the more creative we become. We begin to see the world differently and experience life with a sense of wonder and delight. 

In the movie Dead Poets Society, John Keating shares these words with his students, From Walt Whitman, Oh me! Oh Life! Of the questions of these recurring, of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities filled with the foolish, what good amid these Oh me, Oh life? Answer, That you are here, that life exists and identity, that the powerful play goes on and you might contribute a verse. What will your verse be? 

What will your verse be? What will your recipe, sketch, dance, building, joke, song, poem, design, game, garden, speech, outfit, invention, compassion, cheer, story be? 

If it comes from your creative heart, no matter what it is, it will be perfect…and it will be needed. Share your unique brand of creativity with the world. 

Living the Creative Life

Collaborative Doodle

French artist Henri Matisse said, “Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.” I appreciate all of those characteristics and desire to foster them in my creative life. I am especially mindful of being curious and following where curiosity leads, and of indulging a love of play. 

Collaborative Doodle
Play has been foundational to my journey this year, as I seek to make life a little more tender and art a little more robust. Playing is crucial in a child’s development. Through play children learn in a relaxed environment, discovering truths about life while new information or habits are acquired. 

And play is just as important in an adult’s life, we just tend to forget that or feel playing is a waste of time. Far from being a childish activity, play develops the imagination, allows for exploration of new ideas, frees emotions, moves energy, develops self confidence, allows for social interaction and opens up new ways of thinking creatively. 

I am finding that it also helps me to continually move beyond my comfort zone! My grandson Dayan and I are playing a card game called Sneaky Cards. (Read more about this innovative and interactive game HERE). Each week, we each draw a new card, with the objective of playing the card forward before we get back together the next week. 

Collaborative Doodle
Last week, Dayan placed his chosen card in a favorite book at the library. I added my card to a Valentine’s Day display. This week Dayan will come up with a new recipe, and then pass his card on. And I drew a create card with the mission to start a collaborative doodle and pass it on. 

Collaborative Doodle

My sister Linda and I went to dinner tonight, at Chick Fil A. We craved some sister time. It was the perfect place to carry out my mission. I started a doodle and slipped the card into my hoodie pocket. 

This is the interesting part of the unique card game. I tend to hesitate when it is time to pass the card on. When I feel that reluctance to complete the mission, I know I’ve run smack into the border of my comfort zone. Playing this game is not only engaging my creativity, it is pushing me to go farther, play more, be braver. 

Every week, when Dayan and I draw new cards, we hold our breaths. We know what kinds of activities lie in wait in that innocent looking deck of cards! Some of them will definitely challenge us and push us way WAY beyond what feels comfortable. Sooner or later, we will come face to face with one of those border expanding cards and also face our discomfort. We will play on through, when that time comes, and learn and grow. 

Tonight’s mission was simple, compared to what I could have drawn. And yet when Linda and I stood to leave, I reached into my pocket, felt the card…and considered waiting for another time to play. Just then, buses arrived at Chick Fil A, unloading dozens of high school students fresh from a basketball game in town. One of them would surely add to my doodle. 

I played. I left the card.

Collaborative Doodle

You can play Sneaky Cards too! 

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The Possibilities of a New Season 

Warm, spring-like temperatures today lured me into the backyard garden. Donning an old long sleeved t-shirt, a ball cap, jeans and a pair of sneakers, I escaped into my personal paradise, excited about the first official work-in-the-garden day, for 2017. 

The Possibilities of a New Season
During the winter, the garden slumbers, in a rather messy but comfortable bed. The ornamental grasses turn brown but remain standing tall along the privacy fence. The flowers and herbs go to sleep too, their dry leaves rattling in the breeze. There is a certain wild beauty to the winter garden, and I still enjoy walking the paths or gazing out the window at it or sitting within its embrace, in a patch of sunshine, sipping on tea. 

The Possibilities of a New Season
But oh the joy as the days grow longer and the sunshine more abundant. I can feel the garden beginning to stir, waking from its deep sleep. I know that soon green shoots will appear, the harbingers of spring and riots of colorful blooms. 

Before that happens, I must prepare the garden, cleaning away debris and last year’s dead leaves, cutting the ornamental grasses back to the ground, and tidying up the beds and containers. 

The Possibilities of a New Season
The primary task today was to trim back the ornamental grasses…seven of them…all of which became massive last year. I have an electric trimmer, ideal for this job. However, it is still challenging to get to the base of the grass clump, to cut the stalks down. 

Greg is a master at MacGyverizing (creating ingenious inventions, especially in desperate situations, named for TV character MacGyver, who was gifted with this ability). Sizing up the situation, he used a heavy duty black net to wrap around the grass clump, effectively holding the stalks upright and out of the way. 

Although I cut down a couple of the clumps, it was easier for me to hold onto the netting, pulling the grasses to the side, as Greg cut at the base. 

The Possibilities of a New Season
The Possibilities of a New Season
Low wind conditions and the handy fire pit made it ideal to burn the grasses and other plant debris as we worked. Out of the picture was the garden hose, water turned on, in case it was needed. 

The Possibilities of a New Season
The Possibilities of a New Season
An unexpected break was called when the power trimmer quit working. Greg switched electrical cords and the trimmer worked for me, for a few minutes, then quit again. Puzzled, Greg inspected the trimmer and the cords. Both cords had been cut, one completely in two! In my trimming frenzy, I apparently cut through my source of power…twice.

I am grateful that Greg was able to repair the cords, so work could continue, and that he had a sense of humor about my mishap! 

The Possibilities of a New Season
The Possibilities of a New Season
Amazingly, the whole backyard garden got tidied up today. With Greg’s help, and properly working tools, I made more progress than I expected to. What joy there was in being outside on such a gorgeous sunny day. The garden truly is my happy place. Peace surrounds me there, and beauty. 

I found evidence of the garden awakening. Beneath dead foliage and layers of mulch, bright green shoots are appearing. Always open to lessons while in my backyard paradise, I recognized that I, like the plants in my garden, thrive best when clutter and deadness are cleared away. The plants can grow, I can grow, when the environment supports us, giving us space to expand and nutrients that nourish and light to illuminate us. 

The Possibilities of a New Season
The Possibilities of a New Season
I realized something else. Creativity isn’t always about sketching or writing or crafting. Repurposing doesn’t always look like a metal bucket holding fragrant purple flowers. Sometimes creativity is practical. And repurposing looks like a black net wrapped around a tall clump of grasses. 

I am full of gratitude for a day spent in the garden, for great accomplishments and for practical creativity. Special thanks to Greg for giving his time willingly and for teaching me a new way to look at art, robustly. 

Kate Morton wrote, “It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of a new season.” 

I felt those possibilities today. And I am full of anticipation. 

The Possibilities of a New Season