Thursday, December 31, 2009

December Views: Final Instalment

I had intentions of sharing my lists and year-end reflections with you today, but alas it will not be. These types of things are not to be rushed.

Instead I share with you my final instalment of December Views - a spontaneous and new-to-me experiment that turned out to be very enjoyable:

icy green

icy blue

a feast of roast beast

Sheba - one of two munchkins (aka ewoks or beasters)
that bunked at our place for a few days

Sheba up close & personal

morning coffee reflection

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yule Is Come, Yule Is Gone

"Yule is come and Yule is gone,
and we have feasted well;
so Jack must to his flail again
and Jenny to her wheel."
- proverb gleaned from the 2010 Old Farmer's Almanac

Last night I bought three 2010 calendars and a day planner. I love the crisp feeling of a blank grid waiting to be filled with insights, projects and experiences don't you? It brings back times of yore when I gently fondled my back-to-school notebooks, geometry sets and sweet smelling pencil cases.

It's a blank canvas waiting for next year's living masterpiece. What colours will I choose? Will my brush strokes be smooth and calm or disjointed and agitated - or will it be a mixture of both? Will lines be clearly defined or will they be absent, allowing textures to blend seamlessly into a harmonious whole?

It's a visual prompt to dream, create and start anew.

In this week's post-Christmas stillness I am allowing myself to slow down and breathe. I practice letting go of tension accumulated during the previous weeks' holiday rush with its preparations, fluctuations and expectations. I make room for silence and reflection, for dreams and ideas to come forth and energies to replenish.

Soon it will be time for lists and recaps and
year-end declarations, and if there's anything this nerd loves more than a crisp new calendar it's a bulleted list! But before I break out the project plans, the bubble charts and return like Jenny to my wheel, I think there's a little more ruminating and gestating of ideas in sight - or maybe a little more feasting.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December Views: Week 3+

I've been silent these days - mentally taking stock of the year past, pondering projects for the year to come while trying to balance it all out with living the here and now.

I suspect I'll touch on some of it here during the next few weeks, but for now I leave you with another set of December Views...

sweet clementine

when elephants fly...

sunny morning comfort

sunny morning comfort II

Mémère's apron

another meat pie miracle
(read about the first one here)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Solstice

The Winter Solstice holds a place dear to my heart. Last year I crafted a countdown of blog posts to mark the days up to the 21st in the form of Solstice Reflections (think a Solstice version of the Advent calendar).

At one point during my spiritual journey to December 21st, D. asked me "Why the Solstice?" A good question indeed. Here's what I replied on December 19th, 2008:

"These three weeks are turning out to be a spiritual journey leading to personal transition - a transition mirroring Nature's own shift from darkness to light. The questions explored and insights received are preparing me for the year to come, helping me shift from an internal to a more outward focus as I welcome 2009.

The new year is when I set out fresh intentions about who I want to be, what I'd like to do and how I'd like to go about doing it. These past few weeks will help shape those intentions.

So why the urge to have this correspond to the Winter Solstice?

Timing is one thing I guess - it conveniently takes place at the end of the calendar year. Connection to all things Nature is another. There's something comforting about timing my personal transition to Mother Nature's; it connects me to something universal and grants me the perspective I need to think beyond my ego. Finally, i
t just feels right."
Happy Solstice to you all.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Post of Gratefuls

There are so many things swirling around my head, heart and soul lately, but for some reason I've no persistence to write about them.

Truth be told I've been feeling cranky and not-so-Christmassy these days, trying to strike that sometimes elusive balance sought during the holidays. When I get this way it's time for a list of gratefuls to remind me how good things really are.

So I leave you with a list of good things manifesting in my life today, for despite the flurry of to-do's and inner conflicts that surface at this time of the year, these too have found their way to my head, heart and soul...
  • my warm and cozy home
  • a real wood fireplace
  • my computer and new printer
  • a brand new computer waiting in the wings
  • art prints sold at my hair salon
  • painting supplies
  • my health
  • family
  • friends
  • silence
  • laughter
  • Squam, how it opened my heart to possibility and changed my world
  • Squamettes and creative community
  • pizza for dinner tonight
  • the month of December off
  • scoring another $43.75 at the consignment shop for items sold (in addition to $80 collected last month)
  • items slowly getting crossed off my 36 Things list
  • a fridge full of food
  • gifts under the Christmas tree
  • my little Honda Civic
  • snowflakes dancing or floating softly from the sky
  • a new whiteboard and colourful markers for my home office
  • morning pages
  • my Urban Living Experiment
  • last year's Solstice Reflections experiment
  • the upcoming new year and opportunities it may hold
  • my books
  • my library
  • classic movies and documentaries
  • nuthatches and chickadees outside my window
  • sunshine and blue skies
  • dreams and hopes and plans
  • inspiring blogs
  • my little point & shoot camera
  • a new really really warm hat for Ottawa winters
  • sparkly holiday lights lining the streets on an evening walk
  • good coffee
  • D. and Cassie
  • and the list could go on...
Indeed I am lucky and blessed. What are you grateful for today?

Monday, December 14, 2009

December Views: Week 2

Another week in images...

nest at my window

window art by D.


gomashio bowl

(or: Steph's s first fire)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Prints are in...

... and available for purchase at Bobbi Pin Hair Studio, 177 Armstrong St. in Ottawa (a block and a half from the Parkdale Market).

The scanner and printer did a wonderful job, the colours are vibrant and they look great!

Prints available:
  • Giselle (10x10 print on 12x12 paper)
  • What She Seeks, Be Free and Soar, Breathe (6x8 prints on 8x10 paper)
ps - For the non-locals, I'm targeting an online shop early in the new year. I'll keep you posted. :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Art Inspired by Winter

Today's winter storm inspired me to pick up my paintbrush for a second time since my return from Squam Art Workshops in September. It felt good.

December moon

bundled up

Monday, December 7, 2009

December Views: Week 1

Inspired by Hippy Urban Girl's December Views, I offer you a post of images captured during this first week of December...

enjoying the sun

iron footing

testing, testing

Solstice sun

Mémère's treasures

Festive Mannie

swinging Simpsons on chandelier

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Courage of Alignment

"Simplicity surfaces when there is congruence between your core values and your daily choices. A life without balance is one that either lacks clarity about what matters most, or lacks the courage of alignment."
The courage of alignment.

Whether shifting daily choices or re-designing major aspects of our life to be more in tune with our values, it takes courage. Especially if it means rocking the boat.

Let's remember that and cut ourselves some slack the next time we take another baby step towards the life we want to create.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What I've Been Up To (or Sunday Gratefuls)

It feels as if so many big and small things are happening, or may be happening, or being considered here these days. In the past few weeks I...
  • decided to extend my leave from work by another month, giving myself the month of December to continue resting and being; I now return to the office in January 2010
  • set a tentative target date to transition from my current job to being my own boss; once I commit fully I'll make that date public here :)
  • opened myself to the option of buying a house in a small town next year vs. renting in city
  • obtained my vendor's permit, scans of a few original pieces and priced the paintings that are hanging at my hair salon; tomorrow I start working on the prints
  • toyed with the idea of hosting Christmas dinner this year, after a few quick enquiries it looks like it might happen
  • continued decluttering the house and collected a surprise $81 for items sold at the consignment shop last Monday (YAY!)
  • practised rest, trust and action through "clean lines of quiet movement"
  • caught up on my finances
  • found joy in the play of a friend's puppy, a breakfast date with a dear friend, a clutter-free medicine cabinet (it's true!) and much much more
A full few weeks, non? What surprises me is that I feel balance and peace instead of the usual overwhelm and urgency that would come with such a list. For that I am grateful.

What have you been up to these days? Tell me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Clean Lines of Quiet Movement

(Bennett Lake, September 2009)

"There is another way to serenity. It begins with letting go, not hanging on. It grows in silence and stillness, not through achievement or striving, but through trust and surrender. It thrives in simplicity and expresses itself through the clean lines of quiet movement."
- Mark A. Burch, Stepping Lightly

I gleaned this quote from last year's Solstice Reflections experiment. I was re-reading my posts and it stuck, again the words "clean lines of quiet movement" striking a chord deep within my current soul space.

I think I shall make it my mantra for the month of December.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Perfect Escape

Pine Ridge by Kevin Daniel
(from the Artists Collection)

I finished this jigsaw puzzle last week and there's another one waiting in the wings for tomorrow.

I love jigsaw puzzles, I have since I was a child. I become completely obsessed with them; if there's an unfinished puzzle somewhere in the house not much else gets done until I've smugly tapped in that last oh-so-satisfying piece.
Supplement the process with a cup of peppermint tea and a crooning Billie Holiday in the background and OMG... bliss.

I have favourites that are part of my permanent collection; one particular Thomas Kinkade Christmas scene has become a yearly holiday tradition of mine. The rest of them come and go. Although there's the occasional splurge, most new-to-me puzzles I buy at the second hand store for less than two dollars. To avoid puzzle clutter my general rule is one in, one out.

So let me sum up: it's cheap, it's temporary, it's aesthetically pleasing, challenging, all-encompassing, meditative and satisfying. When my head is full and I feel overwhelmed, it's a perfect escape.

Friday, November 20, 2009

That Place Between

"It is not so much that we're afraid of change and uncertainty, or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear... It's like being in between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to."

~ Marilyn Ferguson

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dear NaBloPoMo

Dear NaBloPoMo,

You were fun while you lasted, but alas it is time we part ways.

You see, you have unfortunately become a daily burden that no longer brings me pleasure. Instead of writing with meaning I am writing out of obligation which leaves me stale, and that's just no fun for anyone - not for me nor for my readers.

I may continue posting daily or I may not. I am giving myself permission to bow out if I am not feeling it. It is not easy for a perfectionist like me to stop a commitment to a project such as yours halfway through, oh no not easy at all. But it feels right and this I must follow.

Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone not only in writing, but in listening to that tiny voice that lets me know when things aren't working for me. For that I am grateful.

Your timing may have been off for 2009, but rest assured that you will remain in my good thoughts and consideration for years to come.



Monday, November 16, 2009

Ode to Cassie

I'm too tired for words tonight. What a perfect excuse for a pictorial ode to Cassie!

"Are you done yet?"


through the beaded curtain



looking out the window

dog & Mac

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Nesting Wonderfully

I'm nesting. Now before rumours start running wild, I am not - I repeat, NOT pregnant. I'm just nesting. Cocooning. Cleaning house. And it feels wonderful.

For the past several weeks I've been going through my
things and pulling out what doesn't work anymore to either donate, consign or ditch it completely; I've been craving comfort, household "systems" and a clean house; and yesterday D. and I picked up a new duvet and a set of sheets and I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven!

Maybe it's because it's the fall or maybe it's the upcoming holidays, but my homemaking instincts are kicking in. Once in a while I even decide to heed them and cook, de-clutter or light a candle, each time making our space a bit more of a home.

Maybe my instincts are nudging me towards the birth of new projects or of a new stage in my life.

Whatever it is it feels like nesting. And it feels wonderful.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


After fumbling with the key while clutching my bag of fair trade coffee beans, a waft of warm air greeted me as I swung open the door. Right then & there I realized that I am blessed.

It's time for a list of gratefuls folks, because really there is much to be grateful for these days...
  • the means to buy fair trade coffee, organic fruit and have organic local veggies delivered to my door
  • a warm, comfortable home
  • a hairdresser who is also a friend, who said yes to hanging my paintings in her salon without even having seen any of my work
  • the privilege of having shared an evening of love, laughter and celebration last week with my cousin, her husband, her girls and a whole lotta family!
  • my own family and roots
  • a freshly cleaned home office and living room
  • a network of supportive friends and kindred spirits
  • my bookshelves full of books
  • having the month of November off at home, with no real obligations except the ones I impose on myself
  • my health
  • possibilities
  • a loving husband who watches classic movies, cooks, and helps me strengthen my critical thought and expression muscles through spirited discussion
  • a loving Golden Retriever who never ceases to amaze me with her unconditional love and spontaneous joy, even when we skip her walk
  • an empty city lot outside my office window with mature trees, squirrel play, nuthatches and woodpeckers galore
Life is indeed good isn't it? Sometimes I forget. Silly me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Computer-free Night

comfort and candlelight

There's not much juice left in this brain of mine tonight to write anything substantial. It's been a busy few days and this chick's in dire need of some downtime.

I therefore declare the rest of my evening computer-free.

I'll catch you on the flip side.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Building on Experience

a winter wreath mosaic

In 2004 and 2005 I designed and sold winter wreaths; my total sales for both years were less than $500. That's sales, not profit.

Two weeks ago I unearthed a pile of notes and records related to my wreath venture. There were notes from craft shows indicating if they would be a good fit for my product, what kind of clientele attended and what kinds of price ranges were there. There was an Excel sales log complete with cost of production and profit margin for each piece. And then my favourites: sales slips, hang tags and an artist's (crafter's?) statement, all adhering to a consistent image sporting a Papyrus font and Microsoft clipart.

Fast-forward to yesterday and a phone call I got from my hairdresser. Remember the paintings I hung at her place last week? Turns out they're garnering interest and that, in her words, it's time for me to "get my butt in gear and bring in a price list." There's also a potential market for prints, especially for Giselle who is not for sale (she's my first face from scratch, therefore a keeper).


After hanging up, bouncing around on an adrenalin rush and subsequently catching my breath, I turned to my wreath venture for inspiration. After all if I did it once surely I could do it again. So I am.

Mimicking steps I took back then I'm re-using the Excel template to calculate production costs and pricing for my artwork, I'm diligently typing up notes from each recon phone call to the printers, and just like I wrote a crafter's statement for display at craft shows, I intend to write an artist's statement for display at the salon. I'm pulling out my books on selling crafts, gleaning tips that apply just as much to original paintings as they did for wreaths.

I can do this. I've done it before, now it's time to build on that experience - a tiny business venture initiated five years ago that today is giving me tools and confidence to move forward in something new. And just that is worth the effort I put into it, maybe even greater reward than the $500 in sales.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

- Laurence Binyon

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An Instance of Creative YES

heart skipping a beat
grinning wildly
mind piecing concepts and images together
turning them around then flipping it all upside down
until they connect into one overarching picture
from which they become
tangible ideas in waiting
something real in the making
palpable energy
ready to discover what comes next

This is what happens when I experience Creative YES. It feels good.

Monday, November 9, 2009


  • my basics, and if I'm taking care of them during my time off
  • roots, children and family
  • ritual and its place in life, in my home
  • the purchase of a new computer and printer
  • selling prints of selected paintings
  • how I dislike - with a passion - feeling over-scheduled or in a rush
  • living in the country
  • the need for a novel or a good story to tame my monkey mind before bed
  • the near arrival of the holidays
  • my, our, financial picture
  • plans for the next year, and how plans rarely turn out how we think they will when we lay them out
  • why I automatically associate veering plans with bad things, how maybe it could mean something even better than what we could imagine in the first place
  • nature and how I haven't spent much time with her in the past several weeks
  • the importance of having fun and celebrating life to balance out the darker parts
  • how things really do seem possible if minds and hearts become aligned
  • going to bed, I'm tired
  • how NaBloPoMo is pushing me just a little out of my comfort zone, and how I'm still not sure I have the energy to sustain it the entire month
  • my surprise at the length of this post considering I had no clue what I was going to write today

Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Early Holiday Message

The holiday season is a tricky one to navigate and sometimes ideals get lost in the shuffle, but thankfully there are people who keep reminding us to keep trying. And as long as we keep trying that's what counts right?

I'm not a religious person (raised Roman Catholic, haven't practiced in years), but the message in the video below transcends religion in my eyes. It captures the simple living principles I've been trying to live by for the past several holiday seasons.

A big thank you to Jenica for leading me to it. I like it. I want to share it here:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Taking Stock

A few weeks ago I cleaned my office and found piles of notes and end products related to several projects undertaken in the past five years:
  • online writing classes and assignments
  • market research, business card designs and company stationery for a seasonal wreath business I operated winter 2004 and 2005 - I designed, crafted and sold Christmas wreaths
  • enterprise architecture work I did for a non-profit organization called Servas International
  • brainstorming notes, mind maps and lists of ideas related to creating multiple income streams or profit centres
  • a plan and proposal for creating a family history book for a prospective client, complete with pricing research and quotes
  • discovery work on my interests and skills based on What Color Is Your Parachute and Finding Your Perfect Work
  • a prototype for a small book of quotations published by my (at the time) soon-to-be small press publishing company, complete with company logo on the back
  • a notebook full of class notes and handouts from several courses or small business seminars ranging from tax accounting to Booth Design for Craft Shows, from bookbinding to Establishing Yourself as an Expert
I'd forgotten about most of these. Seeing them all together boosted my confidence and reminded me that I'm capable of working through challenges, trying new things and putting myself out there. It was good to take stock - and very timely.

I guess sometimes we need to remember how much we've done to believe in how much we're capable of doing.

What are you capable of that might have been forgotten? I dare you to go through your piles and find out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Patience, Gentle Patience

one of three resident windowsill/shelf turtles

I am struggling with patience these days. Not your "Grrrr I can't open the peanut butter jar" kind of patience, but the more gentle "If I don't get to it this year I'll get to it another year" kind of patience.

A kind soul who replied to a Facebook update venting my struggle wrote "No one is chasing you." Well said. I am chasing myself. But why? What's the rush?

Fear. Fear of missing out; fear that there won't be another opportunity later on, that it's now or never; fear of leaving this world without having done all that I want to do.

Tsk. Such [false] urgency.

So here's the question that came to mind: So what? What's the worse that could happen if I don't do it all, if I miss out on an opportunity? What's the best that could happen if I slow down and focus on what's in front of me?

It's not an excuse to slack off, it's an attempt to be content in the now and manage expectations stemming from my left-brain list-making goal-setting tendencies.

I have no answers, only questions and insights to ruminate and let be. But I do have hope. Hope that through practice I will find reconciliation and balance that will quell the inner turmoil - or at least acceptance that I will find no such thing and carry on as best as I can.

Gentle patience indeed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Scenes from Thanksgiving 2009

I'm not very inspired for words tonight so I thought I'd leave you with a few favourite photos from a crisp, early Thanksgiving morning at N & L's place in the country (D's brother and his wife)...



warmth and frost I

warmth and frost II

warmth and frost III

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What's Your Theory?

"...whatever the nature of one's beliefs, one's personal conduct may either follow the belief pattern or diverge from it. In so far as it diverges, it helps produce unwanted results. At the same time, it splits practice away from theory and divides the personality against itself. The most harmonious life is one in which theory and practice are unified."
- Helen and Scott Nearing, Living the Good Life
I like this quote. I'm not sure what to do with it, but it jumped out at me from the page today and I felt compelled to share it here.

How could I unify practice and theory? What's my theory to begin with?

How about you? What's your theory?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On the Map!

After a few months in the making I finally hung some of my paintings at my hair salon for display and eventually, sale (I'm not quite set up for the sale part yet, but I'll be working on it during the next few days).

Warning: T
he quality of the photos sucks, but they'll give you an idea of the setup and how the paintings look on the walls.

bobby pin hair studio

What She Seeks (left) and Dark Side of the Moon (right)

(my first face from scratch - this photo will definitely NOT be for sale :)

Be Free and Soar

Mika (top) and Embracing the Light (bottom)

(thanks for letting me borrow this one back for display Sis!)


I had a lot of fun putting them up and it's pretty neat to see them hanging in a public place. Her hair studio also happens to be on the Hintonburg Arts Map (lucky #13!). It feels good.

ps - A big thank you to Sis for bringing up the idea of hanging my paintings with our hairdresser; I'm bumping her photos off the walls to make room for my stuff!