Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer Reads - Murder in the Pit

"Murder in the Pit" is the latest novel from Erica Miner. Erica's first novel, "Travels with My Lovers"" is a sensual, romantic romp through Europe. "FourEver Friends" is the coming of age story of four girls growing up in Detroit in the 1960's. And her latest, "Murder in the Pit" is a mystery/suspense (with a touch of romance) that takes place in the Metropolitan Opera House.

You might think it would be difficult for an author to switch genres with each novel, but Erica manages to pull it off and each novel is actually tied with a common thread - something I've come to think of as Erica's signature style - her knowledge and love of opera and classical music. One can't help but be absorbed in opera when reading one of Erica's novels, and it's the kind of learning you don't even realize is taking place!

Maybe it's because a murder mystery is one of my favorite reads, or maybe it's because of Erica's maturing talent as a writer, (or both) but "Murder in the Pit" has to be my favorite of Erica's books to date. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The characters are interesting and well developed and there's just enough plot twists to keep the story moving along. In fact, I so enjoyed the main characters that I would love to see a sequel or follow-up novel featuring the heroine, Julia.

You can pick up a copy of "Murder in the Pit" from Erica's website or from Amazon. Enjoy a little opera with a twist of murder in your summer reading! * o

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Next Chapter - Happies!

She sells seashells by the seashore.......

"Happies" arrived this week in the form of a box of seashells, sent all the way from Florida by a dear friend. I love the ones that look like angel wings.

From Random

For a dose of giggles and overload of cuteness go to The Next Chapter and watch the video of the golden retriever pups. Absolutely adorable! * o

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Next Chapter - Happy Book, Happy Update

I seem to miss the Friday timeframe for posting my happy updates for the week, but the weekend is good enough I guess!

The Bliss groups copy of the Happy Book is now in Alaska, so it is most definitely putting on the miles.

Happy bits from me this week include my new backyard labyrinth, that I started working on last weekend:

From Random

Wrapped up the week today with a great day in the city shopping with the Teen!

What made up your happy moments this week? * o

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Eye of the Heart - Week Five - Images of Self

This week's theme was self-portraits and receiving images of ourselves. Not an easy assignment for someone who dislikes their photos!

I'm still working up to the "face" self-portraits, but for now I offer this self-blessing - connecting to heart....

From Random
* o

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Next Chatper - Happy Friday - the Saturday night edition

It's been a busy week, and I'm a day late in posting this. The happiest thing about Friday was that it WAS Friday and at least a long work week was over!

A happiness highlight for me this week was having time to create today. I spent the better part of the afternoon working with my watercolor crayons and creating this:

From Random

It was great to have some creative time.

Stop by The Next Chapter and check out the happy's from around the world this week. * o

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Eyes of the Heart - Week Four - Reflections

From Random

Mirror, mirror on the wall.....

I'm not a fan of mirrors, or pictures of myself. When you look in the mirror are you happy with what you see there or is there all kinds of negative self-talk going on in your head? What is it you choose not to see?

You can't see my soul
reflected there in the mirror.
For that,
you would have to close your eyes
and wait in the darkness
until you could see the light
reflected in my heart.

* o

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Next Chapter - Happy Friday!

If you're wondering exactly what The Happy Book is all about, check out this great video on the blog.

For me, I'm just happy that it's Friday and I'm relaxing and watching a movie with TeenBoy. Last weekend I had a splurge of cleaning energy and rearranged the livingroom. Now it feels larger, cleaner and more spacious in here and I'm enjoying that energy. I'm looking forward this weekend to having some "creative time" to myself!

What made you happy this week? * o

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eyes of the Heart - Week Three - Framing

From Random

This weeks theme for the Eyes of the Heart course has been "framing".

I love in the picture above how the bird is framed by the branches of the tree - almost in a star shape.

How do you frame things? When looking out into the world, what do you zoom in on? What do you leave out? * o

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Next Chapter - Happy Friday?

While Bliss Group's copy of the Happy Book journeys from Australia to Alaska, tonight I'm struggling with finding the happy in my week. It's been a blah week here and a difficult day today. The hot water heater went on the fritz last night, work is insanely busy and stressful and my best friend's uncle passed away.

So tonight I try to gather up some pieces of happy, since they are kind of spread out and I need to collect them. The hot water heater is fixed now, and while it was frustrating to go without for awhile I am reminded of how lucky I am to have hot and cold running water, when many go without that basic luxury. Work is crazy, yes, but tonight I remind myself that I have a good job, with good pay and how lucky I am to have that when many go without work and money to pay for basic necessities. Tonight I will sit with a family in grief, and I am reminded of how precious life is and how important families and friends are.

This morning there were two purple finches in the bird feeder and I spent a few moments just watching and listening to them "trill" to each other in beautiful bird song.

What is making up the "pieces of happy" for you tonight? * o

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Eyes of the Heart - Week Two - Shadows

From Random

This week in the "Eyes of the Heart" course we have been working with and talking about shadows. Often we think of shadows as dark and dangerous places. We talk of the "shadow side" of our personalities - those traits we have that are less than pleasant. Scary things hide in the shadows. Shadows are the opposite of light. Jen Louden, the Comfort Queen, often talks about "shadow comforts", those things that we do to avoid being creative or following our passions - like surfing the net, endlessly checking email or watching TV. Not essentially bad things on their own, but when used for avoidance, well then not so good.

Today when I was out on my walk, I turned the corner from the very bright sunshine and onto a shadier section of the sidewalk. The coolness of the shade hit my face, and I realized that sometimes shadows are necessary. They provide a place to rest and restore, a chance to lick our wounds and heal if we need to do.

The key, I think, is knowing when we are using the shadow to heal and when we are using it to just hide and not deal with things. And the next step is knowing when it is time to come out of the shadow and back into the sunshine.

From Random

(top photo: "Chalice in Sunlight", bottom photo: "Me and My Shadow") * o

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Next Chapter - Happy Friday!

Check out The Next Chapter - The Happy Book for some great happy pictures this week!

For me this week, my happy is this:

From Random

Birdies! I love watching them at the feeder, and this week this guy has been a frequent visitor. The sun has been shining, and the air is full of bird songs - ones returning and ones that are stopping by on their way back to somewhere. It's what I miss in winter - the symphony of song.

What made you happy this week? * o

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Eyes of the Heart - Week One

I am currently taking part in Christine Valters-Paintner's online class "Eyes of the Heart - Photography as a Contemplative Practice" so for the next six weeks I'll be sharing some of my images from this course and some thoughts on the process.

Last week was "Week One" and the assignment was to take a contemplative walk around your neighborhood, allowing yourself to be led in whatever direction you feel you should go with no definite purpose or place to get to. Along the way, I was to notice what my eye was drawn to, to receive the image with my camera, and then to pick some of the photos to share and reflect on.

One image that really caught my attention was this one:

From Random

Leave One Lane Open. Leave yourself open, don't fill up on too many things. Don't keep yourself so busy you can't breathe. After all you can't breathe if you are not open. * o

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Full Moon in February

A little cloudy tonight, but still a good shot of the moon.

From Random
* o

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Next Chapter - Happy Friday!

The Happy Book for the Bliss group is still in Australia, in the meantime here's a bit of happy from my corner of the world this week:

From Random

Ya, what's better than Olympic spirit and cake??

A group of women in the building I work in have been going all out with Olympic spirit the last couple of weeks, topping it off with cake today served up by their mascot, "the Beav". Thanks ladies for a fun way to end the week! * o

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hello Moon, Goodnite Moon

Just playing around with the new camera and caught some photos of the moon last night and this afternoon.....

From Random

From Random
* o

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Next Chapter - Happy Friday!

Yay! It's Friday again - something that always makes me happy!

The Bliss groups copy of The Happy Book has made it's way to Meg's in Australia - long journey for a little book!

Pieces of Happy for me this week include:

* Watching the Olympics - Go Canada!! Some awesome moments by Alexandre Bilodeau, Maelle Ricker and Christine Nesbitt, not to mention some nail biting good hockey from the Men's Hockey team :)

* Even better than watching the Olympics, is watching them with the boys - it's been wonderful to have the college kid home from school this week.

* My new camera - loving the new Canon Power Shot.

* The weather - despite a cold, crappy start to the week, it turned out spectacularly sunny for the end of the week. I'd love more of that, please!

* Steak supper, cooked on the BBQ - yum!

What made you happy this week? * o

Monday, February 15, 2010

Way of the Monk - Week Six - Final

This week wrapped up "Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist". It's been an amazing six weeks and I've met some wonderful fellow monks and artists along the way.

Christine has other offerings of this course available, and if you are in any way thinking that this is calling to you I urge you to check it out. You won't regret it.

This week, we looked at creating some sort of Rule for ourselves. A rule being a sort of framework for our lives as monks and artists. Being the creative group that we are, the rules came in all shapes and sizes - written rules, poetic rules, mandala's, etc.

Here are my "Rules of the Inner Monastery", they are all about "Bee-ing""

From Random

Written on the wings of the bees in the corners:

Be a friend to your body
Be a listener of the wind
Be thankful
Be in nature
Be in Awe
Be creative
Be an explorer of your soul
Be Here Now
Be Mindful
Be in prayer
Be Still and Know that I Am

Now I am resting in this week, as I prepare for the beginning next week of the next class, "Eyes of the Heart".......glad it's not completely over yet! * o

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Next Chapter - Happy Friday!

Hey it's Friday again and time for The Happy Book update!

Featured on The Next Chapter blog, a fabulous slideshow by Nadia of her time with The Happy Book. The Bliss circle's copy is still making it's way to Australia.

And here's what is making up my pieces of happy this week:

1) One more day and the college kid will be home with us for a week!

2) Making my plans to go on retreat in May at Sisters of St. John the Divine, where I'll get to hear Phyllis Tickle!

3) Going out for chinese food tomorrow

and finally,

4) taking part in the Virtual Retreat this weekend - tonight and on Sunday! So pumped to be listening tonight to Patti Digh, and Fabeku Fantenmuse!

Happy Friday and have a great weekend! * o

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Way of the Monk - Week Five

Nature Altars and a Fairy Tale

From Random

Once upon a time in a place called the Cave of the Heart there lived a tiny, elfish girl. She lived surrounded by her Shadow Sisters. These were not her real sisters, since she was an only child, but rather these were Sisters in spirit who had attached themselves to living with the little girl.

Sister Worrywart sat in the corner biting her nails and muttering. Sister Shy hid behind the curtains and only stammered when spoken directly to. Sister Romantic sat in the rocking chair, her nose buried in a book and Sister Lonely stared out the window, sighing heavily every now and again. Sister Envy was busy making a list of all the things she wished she had that other people seemed to have, and every once in awhile she would tally it off, waving her hands in the air. Sister Inadequate was busy in the kitchen trying to make a meal, and when it came time to sit down to eat she put it on the table, wringing her hands and muttering “oh, I hope it’s OK, I’m not a real cook you know, I’ve never been trained and I really don’t know what I’m doing.....” Sister Ugly was known to spend days going through the closets, trying things on, staring in the mirror and then stuffing everything back in the closets again moaning that there was “nothing to wear” that looked good on her.

One day there was a knock on the door of the Cave. Sister Romantic looked up from her book, sighed heavily “oh that Edward he is sooo mysterious and delish”, and got up to answer the door.

“Good Morning” said a tall, beautiful woman, “I’m looking for the little girl that lives here.” The beautiful woman smiled a warm smile. She was dressed in a pale blue silk dress, with a yellow silk shawl. She had long grey hair, and the most beautiful and deep blue eyes that Sister Romantic had ever seen. In her arms she was holding a big, wicker basket.

The little girl stepped out from behind Sister Romantic. “Good day” she said softly, “won’t you come in.” The little girl knew that this woman was a very Wise Woman and she bowed to her reverently as she stepped into the Cave.

“Thank you”, said the Wise Woman, “I have brought a gift for you.” And she handed the little girl the wicker basket.

“Careful, don’t take gifts from strangers!” barked Sister Worrywart, and then she went back to biting her nails.

“It’s Ok”, said the little girl as she took the basket, “It’ll be alright” she said soothingly.

“What is this?” she asked the Wise Woman.

“This basket contains the gifts of your soul. These are the gifts that you have to offer the world - your spirituality, your creativity, your friendship, your presence.....they are all here. And they are all unique to you - no one else has these gifts. They have been kept for you by your Soul Sisters and it is time for you to share these gifts with the world. You can nurture them here in the Cave of the Heart, but in order for them to grow you need to take them out and use them. No one can take them away from you - they are yours. Your Soul Sisters are waiting for you to come out into the world, and they will support you when you need it.”

The little girl took each of the gifts carefully out of the basket and looked them over, one by one, marveling at how they glowed.

“Oh no, we can’t possibly share these” exclaimed Sister Inadequate, “we’re not ready for them, we’d break them or something.”

“Besides” said Sister Envy, “they’re not as good as others gifts, why I know a little girl who has much better gifts than these.”

The little girl thought she should give the basket back to the Wise Woman, but the Wise Woman bent down, touched her cheek and said softly, “You know I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the Shadow Sisters. They are bound to get a little bit jealous from time to time, but they’ll quiet down.” She stood up and smiled at Sister Envy.

“Oh, there’s one more thing. These are for you.” The Wise Woman handed the little girl a beautiful set of wings that looked like monarch butterfly wings. The little girl put them on, and twirled around and around.

“Oh they are so beautiful, just like a fairy!” sighed Sister Romantic.

“Careful, you’ll break them!” shouted Sister Worrywart.

Sister Envy was about to say something, but one sharp look from the Wise Woman stopped her dead.

“It’s time for you to leave the Cave of the Heart, spread your wings and fly” she told the little girl and with that she took her hand and led her out the door.

It is said, that from time to time the little girl returns to the Cave of the Heart and visits with the Shadow Sisters - they are, a part of her after all. And when she is there, she also spends time going through her basket of gifts given to her so lovingly by the Soul Sisters, and restored and renewed she spreads her wings and heads back out to the world. * o

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Next Chapter - Happy Friday!

The Bliss groups copy of the The Happy Book is on it's way to Meg in Australia - meanwhile, check out Gina's video tour of Sacramento where the book just was!

And here's a piece of happiness from me this week:

From Random

Hard to believe this fine young man has turned seventeen today!! (PS - don't tell him I posted this pic, he won't be impressed!!)

Happy Friday! * o

Monday, February 01, 2010

Virtual Retreat - Early Bird Registration Ends This Week!

Love yourself INTO action and OUT OF depletion with Jen
Louden and 13 other world famous teachers… without even
getting out of your pj’s!

Jennifer’s book, The Woman’s Retreat Book, was featured on
Oprah. Now, Jen has created a Valentine’s Day weekend
VIRTUAL RETREAT designed to give your creative heart a boost
and your mind a rest!

The retreat package includes:

• A copy of “How To Retreat,” an eBook that helps you let
go of the fear and shows you how to create the time.

• Gentle ‘Get Ready’ emails – to help you prepare for your
self-caring-est weekend ever.

• Exclusive access to a members-only blog, where you will
get untold amounts of support and encouragement, PLUS…

• 13 heart-expanding mini-retreats with world-renowned
authors and healers.

• Easy-to-download recordings and transcripts of each
mini-retreat – so you can come and go as you please.

If you sign up before February 5th, you get a $50 discount!
So click here to come retreat with us! * o

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Way of the Monk - Week Four


A labyrinth runs through my heart,
Winding slowly this way and that through my inner monastery,
Pondering the sacred whisper of my soul,
Knowing that obedience scares me.

Winding slowly this way and that through my inner monastery,
Conversion finds the path through the walls,
Knowing that obedience scares me,
Afraid to be true to myself.

Conversion finds the path through the walls,
Pondering the sacred whisper of my soul,
Afraid to be true to myself,
A labyrinth runs through my heart. * o

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Next Chapter - Happy Friday!

From Random

The Happy Book for the Bliss circle has made it to Gina's in Sacramento!!!

The photo above is tonight's full moon, as seen from my backyard earlier this evening. Full moons make me happy - I love looking at them. And though I'm not a huge fan of winter, one of the benefits to darkness falling early is that you have more time too see the moon!

This is a cold winter moon - it was already -23 celsius when I took the picture, so moon gazing tonight will definitely be from inside the house, looking out the window!

Happy Friday!

From Random
* o

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Way of the Monk - Week Three

Book of Hours

From Random

This week we explored rhythms, and wheels, and seasons and hours specifically the Divine Hours and their relationship to seasons and our own internal rhythms. It's been a wonderful creative week of pausing and noticing. The project for the week was to write some Haiku's expressing our feelings and reflections of the seasons and hours, and then to create our own Book of Hours (front of my book pictured above). Here are my Haiku's:


purple fingers reach
over the mountain and sky
inhale the new day


ice cracks in the bay
as the sun's heat grows stronger
robin finds a worm


fullness of day's breath
brings forth energy of creation
hold the momentum


days are longer still
and nights are warm and breezy
we play as children


deep release of dusk
shedding of the old cracked skin
ripe as the full berry


oak tree sheds its leaves
and geese fly south for winter
I mourn the wheel's turn


resting in the pause
contemplate the day's end
where was God in this?


darkness comes early
as bear sleeps deep in the ground
here dreams will bare fruit

In what ways do the seasons and the hours speak to you?

From Random

* o

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Next Chapter - Happy Friday! (on Saturday)

The Next Chapter book for the Bliss group hasn't arrived at it's first destination yet, Gina's in California, but meanwhile over on the TNC blog everyone is sharing pieces of happiness for Happy Friday!

So I'm a day late posting, but last night I was staying off the computer and sharing some quality time with the hubby while we watched a few episodes of Season One of "Bones" - which is one of the things that makes me happy, and my favorite source of "down time"!

A busy week, but I have been doing some shedding of responsibilities and tasks that it is time to let go of. This shedding is also a source of happiness as I feel lighter and more focused on the things I want to do.

And tonight, another does of happy - visiting and sharing a meal with good friends!

And that's the Happy Post for this week! * o

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Way of the Monk - Week Two

What would it be like if we treated the every day, common objects that we touch a hundred times over again as sacred tools??

Bless These Hands

Bless these hands
that touch the computer keys
and file
and answer emails
and pick up the phone
over and over again each day.

Bless these hands
that touch the dishes
and towels and sheets
and fold laundry
and sweep the floors
over and over again each day.

Bless these hands
that touch the pen
and scribble words
and cut out images
and paint and glue
over and over again each day.

Bless these hands
that touch the chalice
and wash the vessels
and polish the brass
and clean the linens
over and over again each day.

Bless these hands
that caress a lover
and soothe a child
and hug a friend
and greet a stranger
over and over again each day.

Bless these hands
for all that they touch
is holy and sacred
and common and ordinary
over and over again each day.

(copyright January 2010 - Eveline Maedel) * o

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Next Chapter - Happy Book and Friday Happy

Official Happy Book Badge
Today is the official launch of Jamie Ridler's, The Next Chapter - Happy Book Mail Around and I'm really excited that I'm going to be a part of this fun!

This is the first time I've taken part in a mail-swap or round robin creative project like this. Four copies of "The Happy Book" were put in the mail today to start off the mail around. There are 104 of us taking part in this, and we've been divided up into 4 groups. I'm part of the "Bliss" group. When you get the book, you have a week to look at what others have put in the book and then add your own bit of "happy" to it. Then you mail it on to the next person on the list. Since I'm #18 on the list, I figure it'll be a few months before it arrives here! But every Friday, I'll be checking the blog to see where the book is at, and sharing here a little of what made me happy this week.

So, here's my first Friday Happy post:

One of the things that made me really happy this week, also ties into "Way of the Monk - Week Two"! In my gazebo, I created a snow spiral - a small winding path that I can walk and pray with. My gazebo is one of my favorite spots in the yard, and since it is winter it has not been getting a lot of use. Now I have the spiral!

From Random

From Random

And that's a little piece of happiness from me this Friday! * o

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Way of the Monk - Week One

It's near the end of the first week of the online course I'm taking - "Way of the Monk - Path of the Artist". It's been a week of trying to carve out time for myself, for my creativity and for my sanity! This week has been about exploring the monk and the artist, where they converge and where they split apart. I've spent a lot of time thinking about what draws me to the contemplative life, why I need to be creative, and how come I make myself too busy to enjoy either. I'm also coming to understand that my "inner monk" needs periods of down time to replenish, and so does the "inner artist". I'm coming to terms with the fact that the reason I like to spend a lot of time alone is because I need to build up that inner monk/artist. Not that I want to be a hermit, I just enjoy my solitude. Always have.

One of the assignments this week was to write a poem about what it would mean to start living like a monk and an artist:

I Am Going to Start Living

I am going to start living like a monk,
turning the rhythm of my days
into a prayer to the divine.
Pausing amidst the paper work
and ringing phones,
to stare at the mountains out the window
and soak in silence
with each breath,
until my office becomes a cloister
that shuts out distraction.

I am going to start living like an artist,
turning the rhythm of my days
into a poem of worship.
Pausing to notice the sunrise
painted by a divine hand upon the sky.
Soaking in the creative spirit
with each breath,
until my life becomes a canvas
painted over and over again.

I am going to start living like a mystic,
turning the rhythm of my days
into a cosmic dance.
Pausing between yoga asanas
to notice the breath of spirit,
making each movement a prayer,
until even my simple yoga mat,
becomes holy ground.

(January 2010, copyright Eveline Maedel)
* o

Monday, January 04, 2010

Mark Your Calendars!!

The fabulous Comfort Queen's (Jennifer Louden) Virtual Retreat is back for 2010 - coming to a computer near you Febraury 12-14th!

I'm really thrilled about this year's teachers/presenters and topics, like exploring sacred sound with Fabeku Fatunmise and Hiro Boga, "Life is a Verb" author Patti Digh and journal guru Christina Baldwin.

Wondering what a "virtual retreat" is all about. Basically, all the benefits of attending a retreat or workshop without having to travel. You can do the whole weekend in the comfort of your PJ's if you so choose! You can join in on the actual phone calls or download recordings and listen to them at your leisure. Take part in all of the sessions or just the ones that catch your fancy.

Details and registration info can be found here:

Register soon - it promises to be a good one! * o

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Wicked Come Winter......

From Random

Oh, it gets wicked here

Such an evil time of year

So cold it brings you tears

Come wintertime

I'll come back for you my dear

When it gets wicked here

Come wintertime

("Wicked Come Winter" - lyrics by Matt Mayes)

Yup folks - January, she is cold!

* o

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy 2010 - Radiant!

The New Year has rung in, cold, clear and crisp!

I'm not usually all that great at making resolutions or writing up big goal plans for the year. But I have, over the last couple of days been working on and filling out this really cool, creative workbook/planner from the sparkly, bubbly and lovely Goddess Leonie!

What I love about this planner is it's so colorful and it feels more like "play" than "working on goals". Lots of prompts, lots of room to write or collage in. And it's reasonably priced too - check it out!

One of the exercises in the workbook is to come up with your "word for the year." The word that keeps coming up, the one that I would like to play with this year is "Radiant." I want 2010 to be Radiant in all sorts of areas - health, spirituality, work wise. There's a lot I'm happy to let go of from 2009, and a lot I'm looking forward to in the next year.

In the next few weeks, along with 20 or so others spread out all over the world, I'll be taking part in Christine Valters-Painter's online course "Way of the Monk - Path of the Artist." I can't think of a better way to start the new year off and am hoping it will be just the right mix of creative and contemplative that I need right now!

Here's to 2010 - may it be RADIANT!! * o