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!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Introducing: Parts of Me

In the spirit of yesterday's post about authenticity and sharing all parts of me on my blog, I thought I'd leave with you a list of things about me that you may or may not know. I had fun putting it together:

~ I am an artist and a Squammette. I like pigtails, fingerless gloves and funky necklaces.

~ I am a student of small business and entrepreneurship. I plan to be my own boss, create income sources to support the life I want and take what comes with it - the good and the bad.

~ I am also a student of Voluntary Simplicity and seek financial independence. I strive to simplify finances, possessions, relationships, time commitments and figure out how much is enough for me

~ I am a procrastinator. It's 11pm and I'm writing my NaBloPoMo post for the day. 'Nuf said.

~ I love brainstorming and looking at the big picture. I geek out on bubble charts, lists, enterprise architecture and the Zachman Framework.

~ I am a communicator. I get lost in writing and thrive on the challenge of communicating something as clearly and simply as possible whether in writing or with a picture. In contrast, I allow myself to write freely in my Morning Pages and sometimes let authentic, natural expression trump the rules.

~ I love nature and hiking. I think my dusty hiking boots, cargo pants and favourite ball cap are really cool. I enjoy the challenge of climbing scraggly trails, the smell of pine needles and the high of a breathtaking view.

~ I am a complete bird geek. When an Indigo Bunting landed at my finch feeder in May 2002 I called my mom (long distance) and told her there was an effin Indigo Bunting at my window. Yes, I used the f-bomb on the phone with my mom, because of a bird.

~ I am a homemaker and secretly revel in producing loads of clean laundry. I do NOT however, revel in housecleaning. Hearty soups are my favourite thing to cook. I want to learn how to knit, sew and spin.

~ I feel my emotions passionately (read: I can be moody). I can dive into a downward spiral and want to do nothing but eat chicken soup and sleep. On the flip side, I live my highs thoroughly and often use momentum to push forward with personal projects. It's a cycle and although I've not mastered its navigation, I try to get by as gracefully as I can. I learn with each one.

~ I am a wannabe homesteader. I gobble up books by Helen and Scott Nearing and dream of living in the country, preserving food from my organic gardens and living off the grid. I dream of building an art studio made of straw bales on my property.

~ I enjoy classic movies and recently discovered that I like silent films. The plot lines, dialogue and images draw me in. Fred and Ginger make me swoon.

~ I am an urban chick and enjoy the edge that comes with living downtown. I enjoy hanging out in coffee shops and farmers' markets, people-watching and running all of my errands without needing a car.

~ I value connection, honesty, beauty, nature, self-care and community.

~ I am a wife, a sister, a friend, a daughter and much, much more.

~ I am not perfect. I practice being the best me I can be, one day at a time.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

On Blogging, Fear and Authenticity

I don't know what to write tonight, but I'm toying with the idea of participating (unofficially of course) in NaBloPoMo so I'm sitting here typing with the hopes that something semi-intelligent will make its way through the keyboard to the screen for Day 1 just in case.

Truth is, I've lost confidence in my ability to write here. It's not for a lack of ideas, I have a notebook full of scribbles and sometimes my mind is moving so fast I can hardly keep up with it.

It's about fear. Fear of what others will think of me, fear that whatever I write has already been said, fear of being boring. Fear that communities I've found or connections I've made through specific parts of my life won't like reading about what's going on in other parts and reject me.

These fears can lead to writing that is safe and stays at the surface. That's not necessarily what I want. I like to explore and be true and sometimes that means taking risks. So although they may shift, just for today - or maybe this month - I will remind myself of the goals I laid out for my Creative Living Experiment back in May:
  1. to observe life in and around me,
  2. to write regularly,
  3. to document my experiment in creating a life I want - whatever fields of interest that may include, and
  4. to expand my mind and life experience by learning more about my interests and sharing what I’ve learned with others.
I see nothing about self-imposed peer pressure, safety or perfection. What I do see is opportunity to learn, reflect, practice and share an honest, authentic version of myself that includes all parts of me.

Surely that should be enough to get me through Day 2.