Sunday, December 31, 2006

Intentions and Prayers

Somewhere in all the emails I get, I read something about setting intentions for the new year, instead of resolutions.

This morning I was pondering on what sort of intention I would like to set for 2007, and the word that kept coming to me was "peace". I would like the coming year to be one where I feel peace in my heart, peace with my spiritual life, peace with my family, friends and co-workers, and peace with my purpose.

Last year I started a tradition of prayers for the new year, instead of resolutions. As I predicted, it was indeed a year of many changes for us, many ups and downs. Maybe that's why I want a year of peace for this year.....

My prayers for 2007 are simple. That we will all enjoy good health, happiness and live each day with peace in our hearts.

Happy New Year to you!

(image - my first SoulCollage card, created December 31/06 - as yet untitled) * o

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Scents and Sensibilities

After much holidaying, eating, company, eating and what not, I was in desperate need of "downtime" tonight.

So I have indulged myself in a Body Shop Lavender bath and salt scrub, and then put on some Healing Gardens Zzzzzz Therapy body lotion (mmmmm......). Whilst pampering, I allowed the strains of Loreena McKennit's "Ancient Muse" to carry me away to far off exotic places. (All of these wonderful treats were Christmas presents).

Now I feel good, smell good, I'm wound down and ready to spend an evening on the couch watching a movie with the family. In a little while, I'll make myself a cup of cinnamon apple tea, and maybe curl up with one of the warm blankies I got for Christmas.

These are the scents of my holiday time - lavender, orange blossom, vanilla, cinnamon and apple. Simple and soothing - this year it was all about comfort..... * o

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cough, Cough, Hack, Hack

And so we have succumbed to that dreaded cold that has been making the rounds. All of us have had it, and Charlie is now on round two of it. 'Tis the season - stop by our house and you are sure to hear a chorus of "cough, cough, hack, hack".....

Did you know cats could decorate trees? Check this page out for some pics of talented feline decorating. I don't think I could handle watching it all unravel before Christmas!

This year I have given up on sending out the "Big Newsy Letter" with my Christmas cards. I just can't seem to find the time to sit down and write one. In fact, at the rate I'm going, I'll be lucky if my Christmas cards get out in time! My creative energy is being all sucked up lately with all the courses I've been taking but I did manage to find some time this weekend to do a bit of art journaling. It felt so good to be gluing and collaging.

For a quick note on adding some "blessings" to your holiday routine this year, and a special Christmas deal, check out my newest post at Maedel Creativity Coaching. * o

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I had the great pleasure of seeing the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra in concert on Friday night. It was wonderful. Despite being in the gym of the local high school, the acoustics were fabulous. So much better to hear an orchestra live, than on a recording.

I could have closed my eyes and been transported to an early 1800's ballroom, watching elegant couples twirling around the dance floor. In reality, I can't waltz my way out of a cardboard box and I wonder if I would have been a wallflower were I living then instead of now?

The last piece they played was Dvorak's "Slavonic Dance No. 8" - something I'd never heard before and it really appealed to the gypsy in me.

It was a great prelude to a weekend otherwise spent fighting the crowds in the malls and cleaning house! * o

Sunday, November 05, 2006


My 13 yr old, Charlie, has a really bad habit of saying "what" immediately after you say
something to him. He listens with "teenage-ears" - too much going on in his brain. Yesterday, I said something to Charlie and he immediately replied "what?". I waited a couple of seconds, then gently asked "what did I just say?". He repeated it back to me perfectly. Then I said, "see you do hear, you just say what automatically". He laughed and said, "ya, I guess I do".

In my coaching lab this week, we were given an assignment on "listening". We were told to practice tuning out the words someone was saying, and pay attention to what we "hear" - breathing, emotions, tone, and energy. It's a difficult task, this paying attention. How often we carry on our conversations, much like my son and I, with a thousand other things going through our head. And now I realize there is a difference between hearing and listening.

How many times are we really present in a conversation?

And this got me thinking about my spiritual listening as well. I go through prayers and devotions by route, my mind on other things. I never really spend a lot of time just present with God and listening. Is it any wonder I rarely hear His voice? What growth in my spiritual life could I experience if I slowed down, caught my breath and just listened for awhile?

What a gift we give others when we take the time to really hear them. To be present beyond the words. What a gift we give ourselves.

Try it this week. Try listening, be fully present in your conversations. Notice what kind of effect that has on your creative life. What do you hear? * o

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I'm hooked.....

Call me crazier than a frog, but I just adore this little annoying guy......bah ding a dang dong.... * o

Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Halloween

Bailey's Ghost

Pale rays of light from the full moon outside,
Shone through the holes in the door,
And lighted up the hallway,
And patches of the floor.

Dust lay thick on the staircase,
And not a sound could I hear,
No gust of wind blew that candle out,
When Bailey's ghost did appear.

He stood erect in the middle of the hall,
Holding an axe in his hand,
And all those tales I'd heard before,
Came back again and again.

His hair was red and shone like fire,
His eyes were just a hole,
His clothes were old and I saw through them,
A ghost without a soul.

A clock that had died many years ago,
Struck twelve eerie notes in the night,
And the ghostly hand raised the axe,
As the hall became full of light.

I cannot recall how I found the door,
Or for how many miles I fled,
I only rememeber that axe raised high,
Ready to fall on my head.

Now no one lives in the Bailey house,
No caller will knock on the door,
It stands alone, a shut up place,
And I won't go there no more.

copyright Eveline Maedel - all rights reserved * o

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fall Back......

The wind was howling around the house this morning that it seemed such a perfect morning for pulling the covers closer and lying in bed awhile.

I always love when the clock goes back an hour - at least, I prefer it to spring when we lose that hour. There's just something special about this "extra hour" day that just stretches out before you.

I know - it's not really an extra hour, all things being relative. But it does feel like for one day, you've been gifted extra time.

So, how did I use mine? Finished off "Stealing Adda" - great chick-lit and easily devoured in one weekend. I haven't spent an entire weekend reading in ages. Did some housework, laundry, worked on some course material, oh and spent an awesome hour on the phone chatting with some of my "Pink Jasper" sisters!

There's probably a dozen things I could have done with my extra hour - but lying in bed this morning, cozy and comfy, with the wind howling around the house, stealing an extra hour of dream time just seemed the perfect thing to do. * o

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Reach Out
Stay Grounded



Drew this image in my journal after an art guidance coaching session. Some of the questions that came out for me were - what are my energy drains? what will balance look and feel like?

Balance feels strong and deeply rooted - feet planted firmly on the ground and arms open wide.

I'm learning to trust in this new direction I'm heading - that I can coach, that I can create, that I can hold the space for others to create in. As long as I remember the balance....

(There are some tips posted at Maedel Creativity Coaching on creating in the middle of things.) * o

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

had your dose of Muse today?

Artella members can now get "The Daily Muse" - the only online daily newspaper for the creative soul. New articles each day - quick, creative ideas, writing tips, interviews, etc. You can sample the front page here. * o

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Muse Online

The Muse Online Conference just wrapped up yesterday.

It was an amazing, online, virtual conference jam packed with workshops and information and I really, really wished I had had more time this week to take it in. On the bright side, this is planned to be an annual event - so bookmark the site and prepare to attend in October 2007. It's free and full of information - what more could you ask for!

And speaking of free, Lea Schizas, one of the founding organizers of the Muse Online Conference has offered her e-book, "Assaulting a Writer's Thinking" free to any writer who wants it. The book is full of writing exercises and tips.

If you'd like a copy, send me an email ( and I'll forward it on! * o

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


mixed media collage - (digital photo, watercolor, pitt pens, magazine photos, leaves)
* o

Monday, October 09, 2006


The elm tree stands naked and bare in the backyard. Saturday it was full of big yellow leaves, a radiant splash of color next to the green pines. Yesterday's strong winds have stripped it of glory. All so quickly gone.

It's Thanksgiving weekend. The Lost Boys have been off on their annual weekend away, and I have had a blissful, creative weekend of solitude and silence. Large, expansive silence soon to be broken by the return of my fine young sons who will fill this space with TV, music, arguments, and the ringing of the phone for the Social One. Their presence will fill each room.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh used to go away for a week at a time and seek solitude in a cottage by the sea. She sung the praises of solitude and the need for the creative soul to be alone for a time in her book, "A Gift From the Sea".

I have no cottage to escape too. Instead I count the days each year until October, and the opening of the hunt. Then, my house becomes my place of retreat and their weekend away my gift of solitude. I soak it in and save it up until the next time I am gifted a weekend.

The leaves on the elm are gone, my weekend of rest soon to be over. I savor the next few hours, wanting to return slowly to the busyness of life. * o

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Grace Full

"How can I be
full of grace?"
I asked you.

You sent me a dream
in answer.

I saw a boat gliding
on a clear lagoon.

A dozen swans
floated by
six white
and six a glossy blue-black.

I watched them
float past, longing
to follow,
and woke with
aching heart
hungering to be
graceful as the swans.

"Am I the poet then,
the muse, or
the swan?"
I asked you.

I thought I caught
your whisper on
the wind.

"You are my beloved"
was the reply. * o

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Odds N Sods

There's a new article over at Maedel Creativity Coaching on finding time to write.

I had fun today playing at creating this seal over at Thanks to InnerDorothy for posting the cool link.

Have you seen "Lessons from Water"? This is a beautiful and relaxing video well worth the five minutes or so to watch. Very calming, if you're having a hectic day!

And finally, had an absolutely fabulous time at the Great Big Sea concert on Friday night. What a fantastic show and a great way to wind up our summer of music festivals! * o

Thursday, September 14, 2006

collage photo

* o

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Soundtrack for Fall

I'm sitting here at the kitchen table, this September afternoon, eating a fresh tomato sandwich, and pondering about how there is music for certain occasions, music for certain emotions, and music that is certainly seasonal.

Sure, when you think seasonal you automatically think Easter songs and Christmas hymns, but when the summer nights grow colder and the days shorter, my fingers wander over the CD's in the rack and automatically rest on Sara McLachlan's, Surfacing, the soundtrack to Practical Magic, and Loreena McKennit's, Book of Secrets. These are CD's that for some strange reason are my anthem for fall. They've rarely been played any other time of year.

I don't know what exactly the pull is, but I know they are entwined with certain memories of fall past. Hearing these songs will forever take me back to sunlight October afternoons, memories of special friends, and even a September trip to Michigan. They make me see colors of oranges, reds, and that special "mossy oak" camo that makes its appearance throughout the house this time of year.

Peer in my window, and you'll catch me puttering around the house cleaning, or working on some project, while I sway and sing my heart out.

In the meditative atmosphere created by routine chores, some songs are offered up as lyrical prayer, a conversation between me and God.

"if all of the strength
and all of the courage
come and lift me from this place
I know I could love you much better than this
full of grace" - (Sara McLachlan, Full of Grace)

Some songs are just fun to sing.

"...put de lime in de coconut, and drink 'em both up..." - (Harry Nilsson, Coconut)

And some just have pieces of lyric that have caught me, and stuck in my head, renderings of perfect turns of phrases.

"...she's as shady as cheap sunglasses, and as perfect as this October Monday passes..." - (Michelle Lewis, Nowhere and Everywhere)

They are my soundtrack for fall, my celebration of this time of year, and my preparation for the winter to come.

And, just maybe, they are an attempt to infuse some estrogen into this testosterone-filled household I'm a part of... * o

Monday, September 04, 2006


Several, long years ago in a small northern Ontario town an aspiring writer held a book signing at the local Hudson's Bay store. The book, his first, a compilation of humorous stories. A timid teenager approached the table, held out her copy of the book and shyly requested an "autograph". After clarifying the spelling of her name, the author wrote "Happy Reading" in bold, black pen. The teenager, after having just met her first real writer and getting her first autographed copy of a book, went home and devoured the stories. The book became part of a treasured collection of books, carted from home to home, bookshelf to bookshelf.

Fast forward many years. The author has since gone on to publish 11, hosted a national radio show and has been the host of Life Networks "Weird Homes". Somewhat of a national celeb. The shy teenager went off to college, got married, has two fine teenage sons of her own, has worked in several clerical type jobs and is a late blooming writer with a leaning to poetry. Somewhat not a celeb at all.

Their paths crossed again at the Sleeping Giant Writers Festival at the end of August. I attended Arthur Black's reading Friday night, with my 1982 copy of "Basic Black" tucked in my bag. After the reading, I loitered near the back working up the nerve to ask for another autograph. Finally, I stepped in front of Mr. Black's path as he was making his way to the back tables, blurted out "I have a special request", rambled the rest of my story about having met him years ago, and then asked if he would again autograph my copy. He was delighted.

And that was one of the highlights of my weekend at the SG Writer's Fest. I say goodnight to my oldest son, sprawled out on his bed reading his personally autographed copy of Arthur Black's latest book. Some people chase rock stars, or Tom Cruise. I would rather have an autographed copy of a good book anyday. * o

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Letters from Lola

A very special person has left us this weekend.

Letters from Lola were always accompanied by hand drawn bird sketch. I looked forward to opening the envelope to see if it would be a cardinal, or chickadee or jay. Her notes always seemed to arrive at just the right time.

Lola practiced an art form we are slowly losing - that of the handwritten letter. No emails or MSN for her.

I treasure each little bird sketch I have received over the years and will very much miss those little notes in my mailbox. * o

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Folkin' It

We sit on the shore of the lake, watching the sky turn from shades of blue, to purple and pink and slowly to black. Stars appear, and a fat luminiscent moon rises above the bandshell. A shooting star arcs across the sky. No stage or lighting director could have planned it better than Mother Nature herself. I stay as long as I can hold out but eventually the dampness and cold seep into my bones and I have to give up and head home.

We're enjoying the weekend at Live From the Rock. Besides the great music, I love browsing the craft booths. I want to see what people are creating and selling, admiring their talents and handicrafts all the while lulled by the amazing music all around me. This year's great find is Rock's Rose Poetic Photography.

The plans for tonight include several large, warm blankets and heavy jackets. Ya, it's mid-August but it's mid-August in Northern Ontario and the evening temps have taken a cool turn. Dancing in your chair only keeps you warm for so long! * o

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Missing Them

Since being on vacation and with a house full of company I have gotten out of my usual morning routine. I haven't written my morning pages in weeks and I'm missing them.

I feel like large chunks of my life have gone by without being noted. I'm also feeling lazy and a wee bit afraid that I'll never get back into that routine again.

I can imagine myself years from now, looking through my journals and coming to this large chunk of lost time, nodding my head knowingly while saying, "uh-huh, thats when she had one little vacation and just let the whole routine slide - never did get back into it - what a shame."

Of course I know that is ridiculous, some sort of freakish creative anxiety gnawing at me. After all, it's not like my journals haven't had large chunks of missing time in them before (like years...). Besides, summer here is short, fall is around the corner and I know I'll be settling into routine again soon.

And, the very fact that I'm missing the morning pages is a good sign. I'm looking forwarding to diving into them again real soon. * o

Monday, August 07, 2006

Opportunity for Free Coaching

I received the following from Eric Maisel, a leading Creativity Coach and the teacher for the "Introduction to Creativity Coaching" that I'll be taking starting next week.

Eric writes:

Since the group is largely formed now, I have a sense of how many free clients we will be able to accommodate. It looks like we will have room for perhaps up to twenty more free clients. Please consider whether you would like to be a free client in the next training and, if you decide that being a free client serves you at this time, please get me the information I require as soon as possible. That information is one paragraph about you and one paragraph about what you would like to work on with a creativity coach.

To refresh your memory: free clients work with coaches-in-training via email for the sixteen weeks of the training. This is a golden opportunity for you! Thousands of artists have availed themselves of this opportunity over the past five years. (By the way, if you were a free client before, there is no restriction against being one again.) Some have had an excellent experience and some have had a less than stellar experience—that’s to be expected. But the price is certainly right! So please give this some thought.

So if you'd like to experience some creativity coaching that's easy on your budget, and help out some trainees like myself send Eric an email at! * o

Saturday, August 05, 2006

There's Still Time... get in on a great online course on art journaling.

Zura's Fun Art Journaling - Zura will be starting another session soon. I've just completed the art journaling course and I found it to be an awesome source of inspiration and information. I knew nothing about art journaling before starting. Zura packs in the information, and also provides weekly journaling jems that really get those creative juices going. I dare you to take it and not find something that appeals to you!

This is one online workshop that is well worth the money. * o

Monday, July 31, 2006

Home again, home again

My weeks worth of vacation has all too quickly passed!

It's great getting away, visiting family, relaxing and stepping out of your routine for awhile but there is nothing at the end of the journey that beats slipping into the cool, clean sheets of your own bed - ahhhhh....

Despite having made up a few background pages ahead of time, I only managed to journal one page while away.

Driving along the lakeshore home I thought that one should make this journey at least once a year to remember why we choose to live in this neck of the woods. It is so breathtakingly beautiful. I know that I definitely felt its pull on my heart the moment we crossed the border and were once again on home "ground".

There's definitely "no place like home"! * o

Monday, July 17, 2006

Cool Glue Background

This is a neat technique that was passed along in the art journaling group I'm in.

On a piece of plastic coated freezer paper paint whatever design you want. You can mix colors, rubber stamp designs, finger paint. In this background I painted two colors and then cut out the shell from a napkin and pressed it into the paint. Let the paint dry completely, then cover it all with a thick layer of Elmer's glue. The instructions said to water down the glue, but I found the first time I tried that I didn't have a thick enough layer so for this background I just put it on full strength.

Leave it to dry. I left this one for a day. Then peel the glue off the freezer paper - carefully!!! (requires patience...) The paint will come up with the glue. The whole thing has a kind of rubbery texture. You can then glue it down onto your journal paper and voila - you have your background. I covered this one with a watered down layer of gesso, just enough to give it a little more durability for writing on.

The one good thing about working on a bunch of backgrounds is that if you don't feel like writing, or don't exactly know what you want to do with the page, you can still make the background and feel that creative energy. * o

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Is it hot in here? and some announcements

"I'm melting! I'm melting........"

Much as I love summer, I don't do heatwaves very well. Spent most of the day hiding inside today since it was well over 100F on our back deck. Stuck my body out for about five minutes and quickly retreated back inside again. Not that it's all that much cooler in here but it is slightly bearable.

I did up some background pages in my art journal this evening. I wanted to get a few done ahead of time so I could take my journal on vacation with me and I'd have ready made pages if the urge to write something strikes me. I plan on throwing my favorite pens, gluestick, scissors and some watercolor pencils into a zippered bag so I'll have a few supplies with me when the muse prods. I'll post some pics when I return.

And now we interrupt this blog, for a few announcements.....

Announcement #1 - I have a new website!!
I've started a new website for my creativity workshops and eventually for the creative coaching I hope to get into. Check out Maedel Creativity Coaching for information on workshops, and occasional articles on creativity. Like myself, it is still a work in progress - so keep checking it for updates.

Announcement #2 - Get a free book!
Suzanne Falter-Barns has recently released her "How Much Joy Can You Stand?" book as a free e-book. This is the book the "How Much Joy" workshops are based on, helping you live your dreams. Click on the banner ad for more info and be sure to pick up your free copy of the book while it is available!

Dare to Live Your Dream

* o

Monday, July 10, 2006

Baby Got Da Blues

We spent yesterday afternoon in the city at the Blues Festival, a birthday combined with anniversary gift that the whole family enjoyed.

I thought David Knopfler was awesome, but our overall favorite of the performances we saw was "Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials". Lil' Ed rocks and really got the crowd up on their feet when he jumped off the stage and started jamming up and down the rows.

A lady sitting next to me asked how old my boys were, and after telling her she commented on how wonderful it was that they would come with us and how nice to see them having such a good time. And I thought, ya they are pretty fabulous kids and we are lucky to have things we enjoy doing together. The stuff memories are made of.

Unfortunately, I underestimated the power of the sun through the intermittent clouds that blew over marina park and I ended up with a wicked sunburn and now am itching and aching through my own kind of blues... * o

Monday, July 03, 2006

Esmeralda Monkeyface

I've been wanting to make one of these puppets since reading about them at Lani Puppetmaker, the website for artist Lani Gerity. The instructions seemed easy enough and it looked like a fun project.

And so I created my "puppet muse", Esmeralda Monkeyface. I was surprised to find that the hardest part of the project was making her body, although why that surprised me when my sewing skills are less than legendary I don't know.

Esmeralda is teaching me about expectations - since she didn't turn out exactly as I "expected" her to. How often do we begin a creative project with some sort of expectation of the outcome, and become frustrated during the process when things don't seem to go as we envisioned them? Do we carry on and see where the creative muse leads us? Or do we give up and tell ourselves "I can't do this" or "I'm not good enough"? What happens when I let go of the outcome?

Esmeralda is also teaching me about "acceptance". Her body is not perfect - her hands are too big, her arms too skinny and she's lumpy in places - but then neither is my body perfect. Esmeralda just tosses back her multi-colored yarn hair and laughs. She knows she's vibrant and creative and fun, who needs a perfect body? (Even if the boys did think she had a monkey face and it freaked them out).

The heart on her dress bears the word "courage". She is not afraid to create or take chances. A friend shared this motto with me, "faith + action = courage". Esmeralda Monkeyface is courage in action.

(On an amusing side note, when I created her my dear family wanted to know if they were not being supportive enough lately that I needed to create a puppet to talk to!) * o

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Unexpected Surprise

Good friends, K and R, made this table for me and surprised me with it last night as an early birthday gift.

The top is made of broken pieces of granite countertop inlaid into cement (it is very heavy!).

Sturdy and functional, a beautiful gift of creativity. * o

Fog - Jessie Lake

The guys were fishing Friday morning and got fogged in a pea soup thick fog for about an hour. * o

Saturday, July 01, 2006

O, Canada


Woke up this morning to thunderstorms and pouring rain, so I'm not sure if our fireworks celebration will be a little damp this evening...

In the meantime, it was a good morning to lay in bed and listen to the rain. A good morning to putter around the house, to work on some creative projects, to dream, and maybe to read.

Happy long weekend! * o

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Lessons Learned.........the saga of Heliographica

Almost a year ago, five women writers and myself were in the throes of elation celebrating our upcoming release of "Pink Jasper - Gems from the Journey", published through Heliographica. The book represented a collaborative birthing of the writings of six women who had never personally met, but through this project have formed lasting friendships.

Today, I received the following email from "Team Heliographica":

Heliographica will be cancelling it's operations.

As a traditional title- your rights revert back to you.

If your title made it through production and is in print through Ingram it
will remain in print
until late August and in December after we have
received royalties from wholesalers payment will be made to you using the address we have on file.

Note: You will be able to place bulk orders for books through July 31st, but
effective immediately our website will no longer take sales.

We regret to be sending you this notice and wish you the best of luck with
your writing.

Team Heliographica

I have to say that this really didn't come as much of a surprise. There have been problems all along since the publishing of Pink Jasper. Difficulties getting orders, lack of communication and bumps and disappointments all along the way. We fared much better than some authors though, whose sagas can be read here .

As I think all this over today, I know that this book has been a wonderful journey for me. I met some great women who I laughed and cried with, I cut my teeth on the craft of writing, I learned volumes about the publishing industry, and I have a book on my bookshelf that has my name on the cover. Pink Jasper has opened doors for me, and I know that even as one door closes another will open someplace else.

I don't know the future of our little book. I do know that those who have read it, loved it and I hope that it has blessed them in some way.

This morning I relayed the information to my oldest son that the publisher had gone under and I couldn't get anymore books, and then I jokingly commented "so, no Oprah." He buttered his toast, shrugged, and replied "So, you're only 40 something." I looked at "Mr. Wiser-Than-Years", smiled and said "You're right - try again!".

Never let your dreams die.

(PS - I still have a few copies of Pink Jasper kicking around if you are interested in buying it. Could be a collector's item!! ) * o

Sunday, June 25, 2006

From the Past

While cleaning out some stuff, I came across an old notebook with the following entry written in May of 1994:

I'm sitting here on a cloudy Sunday morning, dishes piled in the sink, kids watching TV, floor in desperate need of vacuuming, Charlie tugging at me. I should be getting ready for church. Instead I'm scribbling away in this notebook, asking myself why do I want to write? I come from a family tradition of writing. My mother writes poetry from time to time. Both of us enjoy buying journals and notebooks with their crisp clean paper, anticipating filling them with wonderous thoughts and then piling them up, forlorn and forgotten on dusty shelves because our lives are just too distracting to write. My favorite time in school was always the beginning. Not just for the starting over, but for the thrill of new notebooks. I loved the first page, eagerly anticipating the first notes to be jotted down, always neatly with appropriate headings underlined. September held the promise of new beginnings, it was fresh. Of course, by October this freshness would wear off. By now the notebooks were familiar, the promises a little jaded and school was always the same. I'm still a stationary "junkie" in September. I've even bought notebooks and scrapbooks under the pretense of doing something for the kids but it was really just to relive that thrill of crisp, clean pages. Notebooks can also lead to writer's block, because I have always had that feeling that the first page should be perfect and with a clear purpose. But life is not the crisp new page in a notebook.

So here I am, twelve years later. I still love new notebooks, but I have conquered the expectation of a perfect first page. I've learned that writing is the continual action of putting pen to paper, or connecting fingers to keyboard. And I still buy scrapbooks and notebooks, but I happily own up that they are for me - no hiding behind the kids - and I'm quite content to get messy in them! * o

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Blogging the Creative Journey

My blog has been listed at Creativity Portal's "Inspiring Blogs" section!! Cool!

Also, I can't seem to "escape" Harper Lee - check this out... * o

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Synchronicity...or something like that

"Dear Oprah,
Do you remember when you first learned to read, or like me, can you not even remember a time when you didn't know how?" Harper Lee - "O" Magazine, July 2006

I often have these weird flashes of synchronicity, when something I'm musing on suddenly starts appearing everywhere. (Wish I could manifest money in the same way!)

A couple of weeks ago, in our writer's group, we got to discussing how some authors can continuously put out great novels, over and over. We marvelled at the talent and drive to turn out books year after year - and not just the "formula, crank-em out books" but well written literature. And then we pondered over the writer who writes just one great novel in their entire career and then disappears from the bookshelves. For example, Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird. A classic, much loved piece of literature. An only novel. A reclusive author. One wonders - is that all they had? What happened to them? Where are they now? and so on (much like my musings earlier on Susan Kay and Phantom). I even recall asking, "is Harper Lee still alive?" I suppose one can always Google the answer to that, but really it's more fun to just ponder it.

The conversation was relegated to the recesses of my mind, pushed back by more urgent thoughts like "what the heck I'm I going to make for supper?" and "who's turn is it to go to the city this weekend?". Last Friday it was my turn to be in the city. I was standing in line at the grocery store, blankly gazing over the magazine headlines - "Angelina's baby not Brad's", "Britney and Kevin in trouble" yada yada and "O" Magazine caught my eye. Maybe it was the lovely sunny yellow outfit Oprah had on, or those eye-catching article headlines, or face it, I was bored and thought it might give me something to browse through at lunch, but I ended up throwing the magazine in with the groceries.

At lunch, I was flipping through the pages looking at the "Oprah-endorsed" reading list when I flipped to a letter from Harper Lee. There she is, in bold black and white print with large signature scrawled at the bottom of the page. Apparantly, Harper Lee is very much alive and writing to Oprah.

It's a fabulous letter, not just an endorsement of reading, but a glimpse of the passion for books. The kind that get sucked up into your soul while reading. The kind you hate to put down. An ode to those of us who always seemed to know "how" to read and don't remember how we learned. A poignant look back at a time when books ruled as entertainment. Or, as Harper Lee writes, "Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books."

On Sunday, my youngest called out "Mom, To Kill a Mockingbird is on the movie channel!". I wish I hadn't been in the middle of a "do or die" cleaning project, so that I could have sat down and watched it.

I'm still pondering why some authors will pour themselves into only one book, and never seem to touch the printed page again. And, I can't help thinking, Ms. Lee after years of silence - why Oprah??? * o

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Calendar Pages

This page in my art journal was inspired by one I saw on Zura's blog.

Calendar pages are fun, easy to do and a quick way to journal your month. You can glue things onto the day's entry, or sketch or just write some quick notes.

In retrospect, I should have made this a two page spread, with more room, which is what I'm planning to do for July.

You can see more calendar pages at this website. These ones are very artistic and fun! * o

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Buck Stops Here

This morning I happened to glance out the far side windows of my office building and just got a glimpse of antlers meandering past. I was standing there, doing one of those double-take, "did I just see antlers?" kind of musings when someone yelled "hey! there's a deer outside my window!" Quickly, we all ran to the windows (obviously, a slow day) and there was this beautiful buck making his way around the side of the building towards the front. And then, following at a casual pace behind, a doe!

The two wandered across the front lawn and into the brush on the other side giving no mind to the excited gawkers at the window.

One of those perfect moments in an otherwise ho-hum day. * o

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Pentecost and Trinity

Last Sunday, at Church-in-the-City, they had a presentation of liturgical dance in celebration of Pentecost. It was the first time I had seen a liturgical dance, and I found it both simple and graceful, fluid and moving.

So naturally I had to somehow record it in my art journal.

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday, and I'd like to share this beautiful Celtic prayer from Esther De Waal's "The Celtic Way of Prayer":

I am bending my knee
In the eye of the Father who created me,
In the eye of the Son who purchased me,
In the eye of the Spirit who cleansed me,
In friendship and affection.

Wishing you fluid, graceful and simple Sundays. * o

Monday, June 05, 2006

Finally, the gluebook page

Craziest thing - I have to import scanned images into my iPhoto program, then export them back out again as jpeg's in order to have Blogger upload them....

Anyway, here is the gluebook page I did for the art journaling course.

As you can see, you glue all sorts of scrap paper that make up your day to day life. No particular order, rhyme or reason. And they can be quite messy.

So, why do it? I guess the point is to free yourself from the rules of what the page is supposed to look like. As in, the first rule of creating is to throw out the rules.

Now, go glue some junk mail in your journal right now! Have fun and get messy! * o

Thursday, June 01, 2006


I've been trying to upload images so I can show you a gluebook page I did for my art journal class, but for the last 3 days all I get is an error message when trying to upload! ARRRRGGGH!

In the meantime, if you haven't visited there before stop by The Creativity Portal - tons of resources and articles to get even the slightest of creative juices flowing like a river! * o

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I Hate....

shrink wrap on CD's!!! It took five minutes to get into my new Dixie Chicks CD! * o

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Driving Miss Daisy and Starbucks

My oldest is taking driving lessons in the big city (pause for prayer here). And this past weekend I had the great pleasure of driving him into the city (2 hour drive) each day for his lessons, and then home again at the end of the day.

Today, my other son accompanied us for the day. After we dropped the driving student off at "school", we set off on our adventure for the day. The plan was to visit a new church for worship, eat lunch, do a little bit of shopping and then head down to the waterfront for the afternoon.

That was the plan - until we came out of Wally World and the sky was black as night and threatening a pretty severe downpour.

So that's how we found ourselves sitting at Starbucks, staring out at the rain. He read his magazine, and I worked on some pages in my art journal. Then I passed the pencil crayons over to him and he drew me a picture of what our afternoon was supposed to look like (me sitting on a bench, looking out onto the water, and glorious sunshine all around).

We explored the bookstore too, and amongst the bargain books I found an awesome little volume of oriental love poems, complete with origami decorated pages.

By then, the rain had stopped and we did head down to the waterfront for a brisk walk. The wind was cool, the water choppy, and the air damp but it was still beautiful.

Not a bad way to pass a day in the city. * o

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

I participated in another "author night" at the library tonight. This really takes some effort for me to read my poetry in front of an audience.

It's one thing to write it, and send it off somewhere and if you're lucky it gets published on some website or in some magazine. And a bunch of anonymous faces read it, and sometimes you get comments back on whether or not they enjoyed it.

But to sit in front of a live audience and read.....scary. I fight to keep my voice steady, to try and read it in something other than "monotone" - don't rush through, steady, look up once in a while, smile, breathe - just breathe.

Fortunately it's a kind audience. They don't throw tomatoes. They listen, nod and make appreciative comments.

I'm out of my comfort zone, and I'm not drowning. Good. Now, just breathe. * o

Friday, May 19, 2006

Broken Hallelujahs

........."its a cold, and it's a broken hallelujah......."**

Altar Guild duty tonight. Alone in the the church, preparing the sanctuary for Sunday service. The chalice and communion vessels are horribly tarnished, possibly because we have not been having regular communion. I wonder if that's a metaphor for the state of my soul right now - tarnished from lack of use. I can rub and polish the chalice until it is shiny bright again, but Lord who is polishing me?

"My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me continually, "Where is your God?" (Psalm 42)

As I leave the church, I pause for a moment in front of the "Healing Touch" painting. I want to draw strength from it, to get answers - but paintings don't talk and I still feel numb, the spiritual void closing in on me. How long will this continue? When will I feel peace here again?

"Why are you cast down, o my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." (Psalm 42)

These are desert days - long and dry. Somewhere out there is an oasis.

**from "Hallelujah" - words and music by Leonard Cohen. kd lang does an excellent cover of it.

* o

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Aww, dear Rhoda Rhodendron
this picture does not do justice to
your brilliant purple blooms
the sight of them cheers me so
my favorite flower of spring
so sweet, and so short-lived
would that you could spend
all summer with me.

When I grow old
I shall deck myself out
in brilliant purple
like my dear Rhoda-dendron. * o

Monday, May 15, 2006

Froggy went a croakin'

We will now pause for a moment of silence, for the wood frog that we found floating in the pond this evening. He wasn't "relaxing" - he was definitely not alive anymore. I would rather not have found him at all. There is something not quite right about finding a dead, real frog floating beside a plastic, fake lily pad.... * o

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I Love Lighthouses

Ok - not the best picture, but behind the leaves of this russian almond is my new solar lighthouse, my gift from the boys for Mother's Day. I can't wait until it gets dark!

I've had a pretty good weekend. Number One son cooked supper last night - a delicious pasta casserole of his own creation. Number Two son made breakfast this morning and served it to me on a tray. He gave me this adorable accordion-folded card he made himself complete with pictures of him as a baby. Sometimes, its pretty good being the "princess in the house of boys".

The sun came out this afternoon, and I puttered around the yard and soaked up its warmth. The peonies and bleeding hearts are coming out, the tulips are poking out of the ground, the birds are singing - all seems right with the world today. * o

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Journal Muse

She who dreams and creates.

When I started working on the first assignment of the art journal course, this wild, red-haired muse appeared on the page.

She's not me - but she is all that I dream of in writing and creating.

I'm curious to see how often she appears. * o

Rain, Rain - Go Away!

It is cold, and wet, and rainy. It has been cold, and wet, and rainy for days and the forecast says it will be cold, and wet, and rainy for a few more days. I hate it. I'm dreaming of sunshine.

On a more happy note today the flyer for the Sleeping Giant Writer's Festival arrived in the mail and I was thrilled to learn that Arthur Black is going to be there this year! I still have my copy of "Basic Black" autographed by Arthur at a "book signing" held in our local Hudson's Bay store waaaay back in 1982. It was the first signed book I ever received and the first time I met a real, live "writer".

I'm thinking I might just bring that book with me this year, and see if I can't get it signed again. * o

Saturday, May 06, 2006

How to Win Some Avon

Our contest this month over at the Pink Jasper website features a chance to win a $20 gift certificate from Avon. Carolyn is also covering the cost of shipping/handling - so that's $20 worth of Avon and free shipping!

Easy to enter - simply send an email to, with "Contest Entry" in the subject line.

Good luck! * o

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Creative Journals and Things That Go Croak in the Night

Just hung up from Zura Ledbetter's Creative Journaling Jems tele-class. It was fabulous - chock full of journaling ideas and inspiration. I can't wait to try some out.

I'm also really pumped now about Zura's 3 month Fun Art Journaling e-course starting this Monday. I think it's going to be a lot of fun . Want to join me?

For the last three nights we have been eerily serenaded by what we think is a wood frog, camped out in our backyard. A little unusual for in town, but he must have been attracted to our little ponds. As soon as it gets dark he starts his low, almost sinister sounding croak that echoes throughout the backyard and keeps it up until dawn. Alas, he does not yet seem to have found a mate and will possibly soon move on to "greener ponds??"

It's supposed to get quite cold tonight, so froggy probably won't do much croaking. Too bad, I was hoping to record his call so I could find out if he is indeed a wood frog. * o

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Haiku Tuesday

Tossed up into the air
like so many colored balls
~ juggling is my life. * o

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday Retreating

In desperate need of some down time, I spent this afternoon on a "mini-retreat" of sorts. I couldn't afford to go away somewhere, off into the woods or a house at the beach, so I held my retreat at home. I told the family I was going on retreat, and hung up a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the bedroom door. And then, I retreated.

It was great. I put some Meditation oil in the diffuser and a wonderful blend of sandalwood and cedarwood filled the room. Rachmaninov melodies permeated the air. I read, I prayed, I rested and journaled.

One of my exercises, taken from the Woman's Retreat Book, was to quietly meditate on where I was in my life right now, and then draw whatever symbols came to mind. In the sketch above, I'm a little stick figure on the curvy path leading to the mountains. Along the path I've written, "It feels like a path of long winding narrow curves and I still seem to have so far to go." The path divides the page in two - one one side my "duties and responsibilities" and on the other side "my dreams".

My entire retreat lasted a little over an hour but it was exactly what I needed. And so April ends and we turn the corner to May. I hope it brings some time to slow down and watch the flowers blooming, trees budding and the backyard awakening to spring.

I found this excellent online resource for journalers, worth browsing through - Journaling * o

Friday, April 28, 2006

April - The Good, The Bad and The Otherwise Indifferent

I'm in a funk. April has been a heck of a month, and while I realize there are still a couple of days of it left, I can't wait for it to be over.

Here's a summary of the highlights and lowlights of this month:
  • Palm Sunday - dedication of the new church - great celebration
  • John's birthday and celebrating it with our friends from Newfoundland
  • Easter
  • John's dad passing away - only 64 years old - way too young
  • A succesful journal workshop
  • This week a former co-worker's of John's passed away - only 48 years old - way, way too young
  • TJ got an excellent mid-term report card
  • I won a book (see previous post)
Work has been extremely busy. My massage therapist couldn't believe how knotted up I was yesterday - so much so, she's making me come back next week. Exhaustion is catching up on me a little, and I found myself last night reading Jennifer Louden's "The Woman's Retreat Book" (while lying in bed with the heating pad trying to recover from my somewhat sadistic massage) and wishing I could just run away by myself somewhere for a night or two. I dreamt of a day just spent reading, writing and creating - with no housework to do, no interruptions, no work. And definitely alone, because I'm not much company for anyone these days.

As always, when I dream these things a little nagging voice in the back of my head says "careful what you wish for"....but I don't think one afternoon of creative work, or one overnight get-away is too much.

So, I'm sending my men folk off smelt fishing tonight, and I declined to join them. Instead, I'm looking forward to curling up in bed, after a hot relaxing bath and digging into a good novel.

If I can just get through this weekend, it'll be May, and I'll be done with April. * o

Some good news for my day

Check this out: "We have a winner"

Thanks Donna for a fun, and easy contest! Can't wait to read "Stealing Adda". * o

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Betwixt and Between

Our Easter weekend had mostly been a time of enjoying the company of friends, good weather, good food and spiritual celebration and then took a blinding turn into never-land when my father-in-law passed away early Monday morning.

Before we could blink we found ourselves flying down to comfort and mourn with family, caught in that in between world of numbness and activity that makes up the passing of a loved one. We just got home tonight, and I feel like I still haven't caught up to where the week went and why.

Yesterday, at the funeral, I was especially struck by Father Quinlan's words - "we are all children of God and we are all broken. When we die, we are caught up in the awesome love of God and made whole again."

I like to think of my father-in-law, a child of God, made whole again - he deserves it after an often painful journey through this world.

And I like to think that no matter how many times this world might break me, there will come a time when God's awesome love will fix all that. * o

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Palm Sunday - New Beginnings

The sanctuary, before the dedication service this afternoon.

This is of course, the year of firsts for this church. First service, First Easter, etc. It was not the usual Palm Sunday fare but still a beautiful and moving service. A celebration of new beginnings. Despite nervous, shaking hands, I managed to light the altar candles without setting the Bishop or anyone else on fire.

I've never been a part of a "new" church building before. Most of the churches I've worshipped in throughout my life were already well established, older buildings by the time I was part of them. This morning I wrote that the new church doesn't quite seem like home, perhaps because we have not "lived" in it long enough. I wonder how long it will take to become so familiar that we don't notice it anymore? * o

A year of Blogging

I've been blogging for a year now, this month.

In honor of this auspicious anniversary, I decided it was time for a "new" look! (Not me, the blog. I still look the same...). * o

Dancin' Dude and Paper Toys

Turn up your speakers and head over to David Bessler's site - make the pipe cleaner man dance just by moving your mouse! Have some fun!

Then, when you've had a little dance workout, visit The Toymaker, Marilyn Scott-Waters. Print out some of her paper toy designs, and treat your inner child to some play! This is a great site too if your fortunate enough to have a younger child around to play with you.

"A child's attitude toward everything is an artist's attitude" - Willa Cather * o

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Creative Call - The Last Chapter

I just finished the last chapter in Creative Call. The last few weeks of working through the exercises in the book have taught me much about my creative self and I have learned to at least acknowledge it once in awhile! The twenty minutes of morning writing that I thought I would never do has become something I look forward to upon awakening and something I dearly miss when I don't get to it for a day or two.

The last chapter in the book discusses going on a retreat, taking time to highlight your daybook entries and come up with the three most important things you learned while working through the book. I'll have to write more on that later. Getting away for even a half day "retreat" is not going to be possible just yet, but I'm not going to let go of the idea entirely. * o

Sunday, April 02, 2006

This Month at Pink Jasper

Here's your chance to win a free copy of "The Complete Writer's Journal", the featured giveaway this month at the Pink Jasper website.

The journal features quotes on writing and marketing from over 100 contributors (including yours truly), and will be available later this spring.

To enter the draw is easy, just send an email to, and put "Contest Entry" in the subject line! * o

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Artist Date - Tai Chi

sipping on chai tea
contemplating tai chi
master peng's voice echoes
hand connected to heart
open and closed
wave hands like clouds
cat like dance across the floor
just begin the journey
and remember to breathe
sipping on chai tea
on a cool April afternoon * o

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Collage Card

I made this card tonight with some papers I got from the latest issue of Artella magazine - I love getting a magazine with neat stuff you can make and play with! Kind of reminds of when I was kid - I used to love getting Humpty Dumpty magazine and doing the crafts and activities in it. We should never lose that sense of play! * o

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sunday, Sunday

Some Sundays are so perfect and peaceful, you just don't want them to end. Like this Sunday. Woke up to glorious sunshine. Got about a half hour of quiet journal time before the household woke up. Went to our new church and was absolutely uplifted by the joy of being in the new building (see previous post!). This afternoon I worked on some writing projects, and found out that I made into The Complete Writer's Journal, soon to be available from Red Engine Press (that was a nice surprise!). I sat on the deck and basked in the sunshine for awhile. Then, later this afternoon I put on my iPod and headed out the door for a walk, my favorite opera music serenading me sweetly all the way. With the sun on my face, the sky so blue and clear, music in my ears, I just wanted to spread out my arms and dance down the road. (I didn't though, you never know who might drive by!) Now the sun is setting, and I have a couple more hours before the day is over and I oh so don't want it to end . * o

In the Morning Shouts of Joy

Lord, it was so wonderful worshipping in the new church building this morning. The light flooding the sanctuary, the voices lifted up in joy. Yes, there are still many things that need finishing and it was a little rough around the edges, but there was such a sense of your spirit there. Your presence felt throughout the service. It indeed felt like you had "moved in", and who wouldn't want to move in to such a bright and airy space? It was a blessing to take a small part in the gift of a dream realized. A dream that so many faithful people worked hard to bring to fruition. And when we scratch our heads sometimes, and wonder how it was all done, let us never forget "nothing is impossible with God". * o

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Creativity, Chapter 7 and Wish Jars

The creative process has been in my thoughts a lot this week, partly due to the fact that I received my workshop materials for the How Much Joy facilitators training on Monday and am anxious to start digging in to them.

I finally managed to get through Chapter 7 of the Creative Call - the "Making Time" chapter. It's interesting when we look at all our responsibilities and commitments that make up our day, how often we feel guilty if we try and take an hour or so for ourselves, for our art. It's often a self-imposed guilt as well, at least for me. Today in my daybook I wrote that I truly need to learn to say no, without feeling guilty. And I'm realizing that I need to hunker down this weekend, and map out all my projects that are floating around in my head right now so that I can focus. I have so much creative energy these days, I'm getting "spacey" - at the point where ideas are rushing around, but I can't focus long enough on any one. Ahh, spring - it's always the same!

Some great writing quotes I came across this week:

Jennifer Louden - "In the end, being a writer is not about being published, making truckloads of money, or even expressing your ideas beautifully. In the end, writing is about showing up for yourself and with yourself, day after day, page after page."

Ya - just show up to the page baby, that's what it's all about!

Emily Hanlon - "One of the great challenges that we face as writers is to understand in the core of our beings that the journey of being a writer is the biggest payoff of all."

and lastly, (grin)

Me - I write because I breathe - and I can't figure out how not to do either one.

And, if you just want to be inspired, or get those creative juices flowing, check out keri smith's blog - The Wish Jar Journal. It's awesome! * o

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Saying Goodbye

Farewell, Old Friend

Farewell, old friend
whose steadfast walls
sheltered and nurtured our faith.

You withstood the storms of nature,
and gave us refuge
from the storms of life.

Many Sunday mornings
we watched sunlight dance
through coloured windows,
creating halos of light on the altar.

We tested our faith
on polished wooden pews,
and tasted God’s love
in bread and wine
served at your altar.

In waters from your font
we baptised our children,
teaching them about Jesus
in your basement rooms.

We married here
filling your pews with our celebration,
and buried here
filling those pews with our grief.

We wove our lives
into endless Sundays
worshipping within you.

Farewell, old friend
whose steadfast walls
sheltered and nurtured our faith.

Our journey leads to new beginnings,
but bids us not forget from whence we came.

@2006 Eveline Maedel

This morning the congregation of St. Mary's said goodbye to their old church, after 118 years of faithful worship inside it's walls. Next Sunday we begin a new journey, in a new building.
* o

Saturday, March 18, 2006

How Many Books do You Bring to a Retreat?

Contents of my book bag that I brought to the retreat today:

1. Bible
2. Notebook (in case I wanted to make notes)
3. Journal (in case I wanted to write something profound!)
4. Creative Call book - (because we might get some free time, and maybe I could finish Chapter 7 - which incidentally is not called "How to Multi-Task while on Retreat"!)
5. Pen

Total # of items: 5
Total # of items actually used: 2
Lesson learned: Part of the retreat is learning to simplify, let go and just be!
Favorite moment: The ten minutes or so of quiet when I was alone in the sanctuary, journaling, breathing, and listening to the wind rattle the old windows. * o

Browsing the Book Store

Yesterday we went to the city so the boys could spend some of the money that burns holes in their wallets. Charlie and I got to spend some time browsing around Chapters, just the two of us. It's not hard for me to find a book or two to pick up, but Charlie was having a heck of time trying to find something. He's been trying to get more of The Watcher's series of books but they are really hard to come by, so he had to find something else. When we completed our purchases, we headed to Starbucks for a treat - chai tea for me, and a cappuccino for Charlie. It was an "artist date" moment in what would otherwise be a ho-hum day of shopping and crowds. * o

Monday, March 13, 2006

Ode to Joy

There are pieces of music that are intricately woven into the tapestry of our lives.

Twenty some years ago when I was getting married, I had to pick a song to walk down the aisle too. I didn't want the traditional "Wedding March", mostly I think because as kids we constantly chanted "here comes the bride, short, fat and wide" and I couldn't get that imagery out of my mind when hearing that piece of music.

So, I chose "Ode to Joy" to come down the aisle too. I loved singing it as a hymn in church, loved the words and felt it was the proper piece.

Flash forward twenty some years to yesterday morning. My youngest is playing "Ode to Joy" on the organ in church, his first performance in front of an audience larger than his family. I know he's nervous, and catch my breath as he plays. His face is set, determined. He plays flawless. My heart bursts with pride. I am sure my mother was also pleased, as she watched her piano student/grandson perform.

"Joyful, Joyful, We adore Thee". There are pieces of music that are intricately woven into the tapestry of our lives, like a prayer. * o

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Weekend Creative Project

I found this neat stuff called, "Paper Perfect" in the store this weekend. It goes on like paint, dries like paper. Thought it would make a neat sort of collage cover for my journal which is just an ordinary notebook. I put this stuff on, and cut out some pictures and words. Then put a clear gloss finish over it all. It's taking over 24 hours to dry though. Note to self - next time decorate the journal cover BEFORE you start writing in the journal. * o

Saturday, March 11, 2006


I luvs Easter Eggs! Some of these are my own creation, and some are pysanky and others I have collected. I love Faberge Eggs too - but those are a little out of my budget.

Update on Spring Fever: I went out shopping today and bought some craft supplies - have a little project in mind. The sunshine was soon replaced by dark clouds. We've had thunder, lightening, hail, rain, snow and wind. The whole gamut. The dog is pacing restlessly. It's a good night to have a hot bath and hunker down with a good book. Maybe I'll finish The Eyre Affair. But first, another egg picture:

* o

Spring Fever

The sun was shining earlier this morning, birds singing and the temps are very mild. Plastic Santa is definitely coming off the front deck today.

The only thing I've learned about creativity this week, is that I'm extremely restless and itching to create something, anything. This restless cycle can probably be attributed to the changing seasons. Spring fever. An underlying current longing to burst forth with something new.

The boys are rearranging their rooms, again. Not normally a big deal except that the oldest's ideas usually involve some sort of re-wiring or re-modeling that can't be done and leads to frustration. The joys of a very old house.

Spring fever has set in. March Break is here. God help us all. * o

Sunday, March 05, 2006


I'm supposed to be working on some poems right now but I keep thinking about Lorna Crozier. This is who will be judging the poetry entries in the NOWW contest. Not being very up on who is who in the Canadian literary scene (but working on it), I "Googled" her name to see who she was. And now, I'm stone cold frozen. Just the minutest chance of having Crozier read one of my poems if I make that far would be like having Stephen King read your horror novel, or Stephen Spielberg read your screenplay. None of my poems are remotely near this kind of quality. Revising, re-reading, sifting through, thinking "naw, that's not it", or "god, that sounds mundane". Surfing the net and avoiding the work. Why am I putting myself through this?

I tell myself to keep revising, keep plugging away, and try to mould something I can enter knowing I pulled out the best I could offer. This is what entering the contest is about, right? Winning is nice (who am I kidding!) - but what I really need now is a kick in the pants goal, and to keep pushing myself. Otherwise, I remain frozen and staring at a blank page. And if there is even the slightest possibility that Lorna Crozier reads one of my poems - I'll be doing flipping cartwheels! * o

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Pieces of Lent

Fragments of my journey through Lent this week.

- lines from a poem I started on Ash Wed. and have yet to figure out what I'm going to do with: "the moon was a fingernail of light, ashes on my brow, sackcloth on my soul."

- still stuck on Week 7 of Creative Call, and am probably going to stay there this week too. This week was busy, and I didn't spend much time reading. Week 7 is about "Time Management" - ain't that a laugh....

- listening to Chaya's song "I Want You More Than Anything" and turning that into my Lenten litany.

- the fresh-washed smell of crisp, white altar linens wafting through the house this afternoon.

- Psalm 51 - "create in me a clean heart O Lord"

- fervent prayers for a dear sister in Christ who was rushed to hospital far away from here

-sitting in the stillness of the old church this morning and soaking up the peace.

- sitting in the hustle of the new church this morning, smelling fresh paint and sawdust and marveling at the "lightness" of the place.

- "remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return". I keep remembering how in grade school we used to sign autograph books with "ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if it weren't for girls, boys lips would rust."

- reflecting on service, and women who serve with whole hearts, like the woman with alabaster jar.

- journaling my way through a forty day prayer journal as my Lent practice. I didn't want to give anything up this time, partly because I couldn't figure out what to give up, and I wanted to do something meaningful, not just "because that's what we do at Lent." So I thought the prayer journal would be a good practice. * o

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


-27C this morning. Bitter cold but sunny. While rushing around getting ready to leave for work, I spotted this magnificent fellow at the bird feeder munching on sunflower seeds. I had to stop for a moment and admire him, so puffed up, his striking red feathers showcased against the clear, cold sky. Could I manage to sneak a picture, move the lace curtains without startling him? This is my attempt at catching that moment. A moment of "breathing in" - caught between morning silence and mindless busyness. * o

Some good news on the writing front

I received word this weekend that my poem, Spring Frost, will be published in the True Words section of the Story Circle Journal March issue.

The journal is published by the Story Circle Network, a website for "women with stories to tell". Lots of helpful resources available there for women writers. * o

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Hangin' Out - Sunday Morning

Charlie and Salem. Don't be fooled by kitty's rather relaxed appearance - it's an ideal spot to rule the couch and keep the slobbering dog on his toes. * o

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Creative Call - Week 6 - Breathing Out

Creative is a journey, and I believe a partnership with our creator.

This week's chapter focused on becoming servants to the work. Learning to recognize our artist work as being both worth our time and our efforts. Learning to "show up to the work" and roll up our sleeves and do it.

And learning that as we start attending to the work, a thousand interruptions will show up to block our way. The kids need something, there is a meeting to go to, housework to be done, the list seems endless.

Earlier this week, I wrote that maybe the secret to happiness was discovering God's hand in the myriad interruptions of our lives. Now I think that the real secret is knowing which interruptions are God's and which ones are trying to keep us from our nurturing, creative relationship with God.

I'm frustrated this week because it seems that the more I try to "give up" so that I have time to create, the more seems to come my way in requests for my time and talents. I don't really want more to do, but in saying no, would I be missing a direction God wants to use me in? How do people sift through this stuff?

So as I muddle through this, Janice Elsheimer on page 101 of Creative Call reminds me: "God is in control, and every time you hear the critic telling you that you are wasting your time or being self-centered, you need to turn that message over to the Lord in prayer and rebuke the critic in the name of Jesus. You are fighting for your creative life here, and God is on your side."

A bit dramatic perhaps, but I know how angry and resentful I get when I don't nurture that creative side and God certainly doesn't need an angry and resentful servant. * o

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Life Interruped

Came across this quote today:

My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered the interruptions were my work. - Henri Nouwen

Could this be the secret to being satisfied with where you are at the moment? Recognizing God's hand in the myriad interruptions that make up our lives. Going with the flow. Paying attention and creating - in the moment. Simple serendipity. * o

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Creative Call - Week 5 - Just Breathe

"What you focus on expands" - pg 85, Creative Call

I found it ironic that this week's chapter focused on taking time to nurture your creative spirit. It's been a hell of a hectic week -busy, stressful and not a lot of time for "nurture". The more I read about it, the less of it I did!

A couple of discoveries while working through the exercises this week:

- I don't spend enough time with things that inspire me.
- What inspires me - nature, poetry, good music, good worship, artwork - is special because it opens up the heart somehow. I "feel" it - it's more emotion than intellect or knowledge. Example: singing at the top of my lungs to especially good lyrics opens a channel for the creative energy to flow. It makes me step outside myself and allow something deeper to move in and through me.

In my case, that "something deeper" is the Holy Spirit. On page 76 of the Creative Call, this sentence caught and held me for awhile: "When we welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives, we are changed, and our art manifests that change."

I've played with writing on and off for years, and journaled about writing for years, but its only been in the last few years that this writing thing has actually blossomed and begun to take off. This has been alongside a spiritual growth and renewal in my life. Christianity has become very real and meaningful to me, and through welcoming the Holy Spirit into my life, I've seen changes in my artistic expression manifest themselves. Things are different now because of this partnership, this awareness of co-creation.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit and fill my heart, my soul and my mind. Fill me with your love and enlightenment. Fill me with courage to pick up my pen and allow the words to flow. I give myself as your servant, a channel through which your love and wisdom can flow. May my words always be to your glory. Amen.
* o

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Creative Call - Week 4 - Forgiveness

encourage: to inspire with courage or confidence, to stimulate as by approval, to promote, foster.

This week's journey through Creative Call has focused on forgiveness. Forgiving those who discouraged our dreams, forgiving ourselves for not being able to achieve what we once dreamt we would. Part of the exercise was to list those who discouraged our dreams. I really couldn't come up with a very long list. Sure, I had a couple of teachers along the way who were negative and reveled in humiliation and criticism, and yes, I occasionally got teased and laughed at by classmates, but I don't recall being specifically told I could not do something. I am recognizing that my biggest "discourager" was me. Me and Fear. Fear of trying, fear of failing, fear of being laughed at. Just plain fear.

Here's what I wrote in my daybook:

"As a child I dreamed I could write, act, and sing. I could express myself without fear. As I grew I became self-conscious, afraid to express myself, afraid of criticism and not being liked. I hid myself in safe outlets - a safe job that I could do well - because I was afraid to try, afraid to fail. Now I realize, creativity does not mean I must become the next best-selling author, but, rather I must dance with God in freedom and joy and release that joy in the ink on the page. Not for the world to judge but a love letter, a soul's journey, a prayer."

I am also looking at what areas in my life am I being an encourager to someone else. Do my words lift up or tear down? Have I discouraged someone in their dream? It's been a tough week, as I've watched myself stick my foot in my mouth several times and have regretted speaking words that were not encouraging at all.

A Prayer of Contrition

Father, I am sorry that I have let dreams die, not trusting that you would provide all that I needed - the spark, the words, the means to express myself. I'm sorry I thought I had to do it all on my own and forgot that it was a partnership between you and I. I resolve to seek your vision for my life and do my part to achieve that vision. I resolve also to encourage others around me, to use the words you give me to lift others up and to be on guard in areas where I might be tempted to tear them down. Amen. * o

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Like Wine for Chocolate

I occasionally like a glass of wine with a meal, but am by no means a connoisseur of fine wines, so every trip to the LCBO to purchase wine is an adventure.

I could spend literally hours just reading the wine labels. Not just because I can't remember if it's "white meat - white wine" or what goes with moose burger, but they are so poetic and, well, exotic. I can't decide between the one that promises "earthy tones with soft ripe sweetness" or the one that says it's "soft and velvety with cocoa-dusted berry flavours" made "exclusively for me". Are these wine labels or ads for E-harmony?

And, if seducing me isn't enough, they also make me hungry. There's the wine that I should "savour alongside wine-braised chicken with tomatoes and green olives" or the slightly less adventurous one that is perfect with "grilled meats, spicy salami pizza or lasagna". I am however, staying away from the one that claims to be a combination of "red cherry, anise, leather and tobacco" (leather and tobacco???) Forget the romantic name, they might just as well have labeled it "Grandma's Purse".

After being wooed by several suitors ( labels), I chose an Australian Shiraz. I was won over by the image of "sweeping alluvial plains, rich sun-drenched vineyards and leaping kangaroos" as well as its promise of "berry and vanilla oak aromas." Anything to escape the mid-February blahs!

Oh, and the back page of the winter "Food and Drink" magazine claims that chocolate is the "new wine - intense, fragrant and complex." Mmmm, can you say decadent? Pretty soon the wine label writers will be writing up the instant hot chocolate labels and I'll be spending hours in the grocery store aisle trying to decide between "dark and devilish, with just a hint of mint" or "light and creamy with a fragrant bouquet of cocoa bean and vanilla". * o

Sunday, February 05, 2006

13 going on 30

My baby is 13 today. I now officially live in house of two teenage boys. I'm an estrogen speck swimming in a sea of testosterone, desperately trying to stay afloat!

As I was bestowing birthday blessings on my fine young son this morning, his baby blue eyes peeked out from amid a mass of curly-gone-wild blonde bangs and he informed me that since he was now thirteen, we could no longer tease him about "PG-13" movies. Holding his face between my hands, I said "you're my PG-13". A frown creased his brow, and he quickly retorted he wasn't "PG". "You might be thirteen", I kissed the top of his head, "but you still need parental guidance". * o

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Prayer for My Artist Self

Help me to understand my creative self as a gift from you. Help me to find the time and discipline to practice my writing, to draw from your inspiration and not to lean on my own. Give me the courage to put my writing out there, for your Glory. Give me strength to face rejection and perserverance to keep on going. Creativity is joy, help me work in that joy. Amen. * o

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Creative Call - Week 3 - The Cat

"In the morning O Lord you hear my voice, in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." Psalm 5:3

I am three weeks into a creative writing study from the book, The Creative Call by Janice Elsheimer. The book is similar to Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, but the spiritual focus of the exercises is Christian. Like The Artist's Way, the book calls for morning writing. Twenty minutes of writing in your "artist's daybook", first thing in the morning. I tried The Artist's Way years ago, but could never get past the morning pages. Of course, almost every book on writing promotes morning writing, and almost every book on prayer and bible study promotes spending time first thing upon rising in prayer.

I'm not a morning person, but I was determined to take a good stab at this so I took a hard look at my morning routine and how I could rearrange it. See, it's not so much the getting up in the morning to write that I balk at, it's trying to fit that in when I also have to go to work. With a little adjusting to my routine, I've found I only have to get up about 10 mins earlier than I was and I can fit the 20 minutes of writing in. I'm enjoying the quiet time, with morning cup of tea, pouring myself onto paper. It's not quality writing - it alternates from journaling, to prayer, to recording dreams of the previous evening, to dumping out anxieties - but quality writing is not the point of morning pages. Spending time with God, expressed through writing is. The twenty minutes fly by all too quickly.

The first week of writing, much to my chagrin, the entire household seemed to decide to get up earlier as well and I found myself with more company while trying to write. I'm protective of my alone time, so I was a bit resentful of these interruptions and a bit exasperated (how am I going to write if I can't get time to myself?) but thankfully they seemed to have settled back to their usual routine and I once again have quiet.

I am though, only in to week three. And the Lord knows me all too well. It is all too tempting, especially as I near the end of the week, to stay in bed an extra few minutes. Exhaustion always creeps up to me by Friday, so what starts out well on Monday usually falls apart by weeks end. To combat this, the Lord seems to have found a willing ally and partner in none other than my cat. At precisely six each morning, the cat begins to meow and scratch the rug, and meow some more, and jump on the bed and stare into my face, and disturb the dog so that he starts whining until I have no choice but to get up, feed him and let the dog out. Now I know the cat is but a creature of habit and routine, and just expects to be fed at the same time each morning and since I started this three weeks ago, he expects me to keep it up. However, I can't help but imagine God, knowing I'm tempted to keep sleeping, whispering into the cat's ear, "It's time. Wake her up. Do whatever you need to, but keep it up until she gets out of bed." I imagine He's smiling each morning, as I groan and stumble out of bed and downstairs to meet him between the pages of my artist's daybook.

In the morning O Lord you hear my voice. Sometimes that voice is grumpy, sometimes exhausted, sometimes excited to share my dreams with you but always the voice is confident that you are listening. * o

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Embracing Serafina

It's snowing out again, and the wind is howling. But I am warm and cozy and lately have been travelling through Europe.

How so? I've been immersed in a 603 page tome, "Embracing Serafina" by Penny Petrone. It's part memoir, part journey of self-discovery. And a great travelogue of Petrone's adventures.

I, who can find a dozen reasons to not even venture to the city in winter, am in awe of this woman's sense of courage and adventure. She often travelled alone, not something done by most women in the late 1950's.

Last summer I was signed up to take a memoir writing workshop taught by Dr. Penny Petrone. It was evident from the promo material that she was a well known author and teacher in the area. I was, as is common for me, oblivous to this fact and signed up for the workshop because it looked promising.

A few days before the workshop, Penny passed away. Her funeral was the day of the workshop. The class was taught by another excellent writer, and friend of Penny's, but it was evident from the memories and stories shared about her that day that she had indeed been an awesome woman. I found myself wistfully wishing I'd had the chance to meet her.

"Embracing Serafina" was given as a gift to those of us attending the workshop in honor of Penny's memory. This gift has been my opportunity to discover the woman who wrote it. To travel, to journey, to dream, to vicariously share her adventure. Her vivacious eyes sparkle from the photos within the pages. She must have indeed been a fascinating woman.

Fate may have cheated me the opportunity to meet her, but I am ever so grateful for writers who leave pieces of their soul forever bound in black ink between the pages of a book.

Now, if you'll excuse me, Penny and I are off to Egypt. * o