So much has changed…

Mixed-media collage – 11 x 14 on canvas paper

I love it when I open my laptop on a Monday morning and discover somewhere between getting ready for a dinner party and my early morning scribblings, my keyboard shows remnants of last nights culinary endeavours.

In this case, a couple of drops of herb-infused olive oil and a basil leaf from the Phyllo Tomato pie I made as a first course lay in a solidified puddle at the edge of my mouse pad.

I keep my laptop on the counter when I’m cooking. Long ago, with the advent of online recipes, I mostly stopped using hardcopy. I still love to browse through a lusciously designed cookbook full of artfully lit photographs and mouth-watering recipes. But online is so much more convenient.

I do think though that I may want to keep my laptop a little further away from the action. Though their four-legged brethren might enjoy a basil leaf soaked in garlic, rosemary and thyme-infused olive oil, I don’t think it’s good for mouse-pad’s digestive track.

****

Covid has changed so much.

B.C. (before covid), holding a dinner party was an almost every-weekend event in our home. We both love to entertain and I love to set a beautiful table.

With Covid’s arrival it’s become a much rare and momentous occasion, along with a lot of deliberations about the pros and cons and who’s.

After C.C.’s bout in hospital, a slow recovery and the fact connection is good for his soul, as well as health, we decided to hold a small gathering with two other special couples.

While the enjoyment of setting the table, planning the menu and cooking the meal remains the same, we no longer view a potential guest list through the lens of how many couples should we invite? 4? 6? And we don’t deliberate as much about ‘will this be a good mix of people?’. Now, our deliberations focus on other considerations like, “How big is their bubble?” “Are they vaccinated?”

Even the menu takes Covid into consideration. Shared plates have gone the way of a virus-free world and I’ve had to increase my supply of appetizer plates, small forks and knives (not all that big a hardship. I LUV pretty dishes!) so that everyone gets their own fork and cutting knife for the charcuterie.

Even the welcoming at the door has changed. When guests arrive they most still come baring a bottle of wine or a gift for the house. They also step through the door with the declaration, “We took the test! Negative!”

And hugs? Even with a negative test I’m hesitant.

Perhaps that is the greatest change of all… the constant, worry-riddled inner mind chatter of… “Is it safe?”

And yes, we could forgo all form of entertaining, but somehow, that feels like Covid has won.

Life comes with risks. It’s all in how we measure both the risk and our tolerance along with our need for social connection.

And being with good friends. Laughing and telling stories on one another, sharing a meal around a candlelit table — ah yes. These are the happenings that make life so rich and memories so deep.

We were six for dinner last night. Old friends. Family.

We laughed and giggled. We teased one another as only those who share long histories together do. Some of the stories told were probably repeats from dinner’s past.

And it didn’t matter.

We were gathered around a table savouring the connections we crave so much.

Take that you miserable virus! You may have forced us to change a lot of things in our lives, but the one thing you will never change is the joy we feel when we are all connected.

Namaste.

_____________________

About the artwork

I also spent time in the studio this weekend working on another piece for my #SheDaresBoldly series.

Waaaay too much fun!

And the quote…. may we all never compromise our truth!

Grace. Gratitude. Joy.

In September, I took a 20 hour a week contract with a not-for-profit. I was excited. Nervous. Inspired. To be able to give back, to share in the NFPs vision of inclusive workplaces employing a diverse workforce felt right. Good. Challenging.

After two years of ‘retirement’ that felt a little derailed under Covid’s presence, I was feeling somewhat adrift. It wasn’t that I didn’t recognize that every time I wrote here or created in my studio, I was living on purpose. It was more that after almost 2 decades of feeling on-purpose everyday knowing that the work I was doing changed lives, I felt a bit disconnected from my purpose to “touch hearts, open minds and set spirits free.”

Supporting a not-for-profit in advocacy and government relations seemed like purposeful work.

And it is.

Though, I must admit, I hadn’t accounted for the challenges of onboarding and getting to know an organization through socially distanced practices.

My hat’s off to any employee who has waded into a new organization during these times, and the employers who have successfully onboarded new staff. It ain’t easy!

But, like anything, if you let go of expectations and stay open to possibilities, it’s achievable.

Which means, I’m learning and growing and adapting and shifting my expectations to embrace this new reality.

I am also adjusting my daily routines and slipping back into my old habit of rising early.

I have always been an early riser. Even as a teenager. Early mornings are my sweet spot. Over the last two years however, my normal 5:30 rise and shine has drifted into a 7:30 yawn and stretch as I slip into an easy awakening.

It’s been an adjustment.

In encountering this new reality, I am remembering my love of early rising and its many benefits. Something I seemed to have forgotten as I slid through each day without having to reference my daily agenda. It was easy over the past two years to keep track of my calendar. There were few appointments or meetings to remember.

Now, my calendar is getting peppered with Zoom meetings and tasks to be completed.

It’s kind of nice.

I like the busy. I like the structure.

And that’s what I’m discovering to be most true for me.

I feel more grounded and centered within a structure.

Free-spirited I may be but what allows me the most breadth to spread my wings with ease, is knowing the purpose and direction of my flight.

I don’t need to know the destination.

I just like feeling that my wings are wide-spread with purpose.

I’ve gone back to work, albeit not 5 days a work-week, it is enough to remind me though, of the joy that comes with giving back, with living on purpose and feeling challenged.

I’m adapting. Making adjustments and embracing this change.

There are some things however, that cannot, will not, must not change for me — and one of those is ensuring I protect and preserve my sacred space for creative expression.

I’ve been letting it go in the past couple of weeks. Telling myself my head is so full of learning new things, I’m too tired to take my body down to the studio.

Ahhh…. that critter mind loves to slip in when new horizons open up. He gets scared by wide open spaces and wants to pull me back to safety. Except… his idea of safety leaves me vulnerable to confusion and doubt.

And I smile. Head and body are one. Not two separate entities with the one ruled by the other. For my mind to be calm and peaceful, I must respect the wholeness of all I am and breathe into my entire being, connecting deeply to the flow of all life in and around me.

In that grace-filled space of unity, mind chatter drifts away as effortlessly as clouds on a blue-sky summer day as I fall with grace into gratitude and joy.

And look! It’s not yet 8 am and I’ve just finished my blog – something I’ve been less present with over the past few months.

Because here’s the thing. Writing here every morning sets my day up with grace, gratitude and joy.

And who doesn’t like a day that begins with feeling full of grace, gratitude and joy?

Namaste

When Adventure Calls, Say YES!

Brunch at Mt. Engadine Lodge – Photo source – https://mountengadine.com/gallery/

Yesterday, I spent several hours taking and editing photos of my artwork and loading them onto my ETSY store – DARE BOLDLY ART

I know… shamelessly commercial, but… it’s also real, ’cause here’s the thing –

I don’t create to sell, I create to express my inner desires, hopes, dreams, feelings, thoughts, ideas, concerns, confusion, contemplations.

And then, my walls become too crowded. My cupboards become cluttered with pieces of art gathering dust, growing weary of the darkness.

And so… I enter art shows and fairs in the hope that in selling a few pieces not only do I create space, I also create inspiration for the next creative expression (along with coin to buy the prerequisite supplies – though given that my studio is full of supplies, that buying more supplies probably comes with a douse of over-consumption!)

But, regardless of why I want to sell my art — (I really do need the space) I have finally started to load some of my paintings onto Dare Boldly Art!

Over the next few weeks I’ll be adding more — but today…

Well, today I’m off for three days to be “The Chef” at Mt. Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis Country. They are between chefs – the new second chef starts Sep 6 and the current chef needs a break! I’m happy to oblige! (The photo above is taken from the deck)

Not quite ‘backcountry’ (you can access it via a gravel/dirt road) it is however off the beaten path as well as ‘the grid’.

This is the same lodge I cooked in at just before Christmas 2019 – just before Covid locked the world down and lodges such as Mt. Engadine struggled to make their way through the chaos and closures.

Through good management, committed staff and strong Covid protocols, the Lodge has pulled through.

Colour me excited!

Last time I was there, it was a winter wonderland. This time, I’ll be entering a late summer/ early fall (the temp this morning is 0C – 32F) playground of burbling streams, mountain flowers carpeting meadows in all the colours of the rainbow and birds singing and soaring in the air.

And… bonus! My friend JD is joining me again to keep me company and play the role of ‘sous chef’. I’ve packed along a bucket of paints and ephemera for us to play with, my hiking boots and a stack of cookbooks to devour as I plan out the meals for the next three days.

Before cooking at Mt Engadine the first time, cooking in a backcountry lodge was on my bucket list — now it’s on my ‘repeat often’. It is exhausting but fun. It’s (kind of) scary and challenging. It connects me to my creative core – cooking for 30 people does that – and it reminds me that life is a constant adventure when you say YES! to its many beguiling invitations.

See you all next week!

And PS — please do come check out my store — if only to say Hi!

Happy cooking. Happy living! Happy. Happy.

Falling in love all over again.

One of my first loves was film.

As a child, my sister Anne and I would re-enact scenes from our favourite movie — especially The Parent Trap where we would each take on the role of one of the twins and spend hours recreating various scenes.

In my 40s, I studied screen-writing and had a script optioned. I also worked on various films, writing and producing documentary along with other pieces.

But it was hard. A single mother with two daughters, I had to make a living so I got a job and life kept moving on.

Over the past year, I’ve been coming back to my love of film-making. It has been a lovely gift to myself to edit videos both for my Dare Boldly Art and, as I most recently did, for my sister’s 70th birthday.

It gives me such joy!

Yesterday, I decided I needed to finish off my Learning to Fly art journal with a video of all the pages. Called a, ‘Flip Through’, the purpose is to show the body of work in its entirety.

And again, I had great fun.

I also created a page of all the quotes I’ve affixed to the pages and it was in that process I felt the shimmer of divine grace descending and wrapping me up in its mystery.

I honestly don’t remember where all the words came from. They just appeared as I immersed myself in the creative process.

Which brings me back to the joy of film-making.

Last night I attended my first board meeting for THIRD ACTion Film Fest which I recently joined. (Do check out the upcoming festival list! The films are amazing and you can watch them from the comfort of your living room or deck — it’s all online this year again!)

As we talked and went through the processes necessary to govern a film organization such as this, I was in awe of the talent around the ‘Zoom table’ as well as the passion and commitment of everyone there.

I also felt my creative juices spark and fire up and get all excited about an idea…

I’m not sharing it yet… ideas need time to germinate. But, I will say this… it’s the first screenplay I’ve tackled writing in 25 years.

I’m hoping it’s like riding a bike. The skills I learned in the two year screenwriting course I took way back when will reawaken and my natural gifts for story-telling will get all charged up and I’ll be on fire!

I am excited.

Which is why it felt so serendipity this morning when I gathered up all the quotes from my Learning to Fly art journal into one document and I discovered the path unfolding with my writing wings unfurling.

As they say in the screen-writing biz… CUT TO:

_______________________________________

This is the Flip Through video I worked on yesterday for my Learning to Fly art journal.

Did I mention how much I’m enjoying creating videos? No? Oh well… A LOT!!!!

A Kiss Like No Other.

There is something magical about walking along the river in the early evening of a warm Spring day.

Magical.

Mystical.

Mysterious.

Birds twitter in trees, the soft trill of some unknown (to me) species. The chattering of the chickadees mixing with the gossiping of squirrels. Ducks quacking from the middle of the river where they float lazily by while overhead, geese fly low, honking and calling out to one another.

Divine.

Delightful.

Delicious.

Leaves rustle on trees as if, released from the tightness of their buds, they have much to share about winter days gone by. Grasses turn green, eyeing one another as they whisper amongst themselves the secrets they’ve dug up from deep within their roots.

Luscious.

Luminous.

Light.

Fairy dancers spinning tales of magic on sun-dappled water. A fisherman casting his line out where he stands, thigh deep, in the running waters. A fish jumps just out of the water, splashes down as if to say to the erstwhile fisherman, “Catch me if you can!”.

Stories woven out of air, spun upon a gentle breeze catching a whiff of something exotic simmering on the fire where a family gathers to share time spent laughing and playing and eating by the river.

And I walk along the river’s edge and Beaumont chases the ball and stops to sniff some unknown scent and then he lets the ball fall into the water and he follows it with a splash into the river and I sit on the bank and watch and smile and listen and savour the pure delight of being alive in this moment right now.

This is spring in the city. My viewpoint focused to this moment in time where I sit and watch the world float by. No destination. No To Do list calling. No ‘have to’s’ waiting.

Just being. Here. Now.

This is all there is.

Love.

Joy.

Beauty.

Life.

______________________________

This post is in response to Eugi’s Weekly Prompt: Viewpoint

Your Weekly Prompt Viewpoint – May 13, 2021.

Your Weekly Prompt –Viewpoint – May 13, 2021.

Go where the prompt leads you and publish a post on your own blog that responds to the prompt. It can be any variation of the prompt and/or image. Please keep it family friendly. This needs to be a safe and fun space for all. Prompts close 7 days from the close of my post.


Link your blog to mine with a pingback. To do a pingback: Copy the URL (the HTTPS:// address of my post) and paste it into your post. You may also place a copy of the URL of your post in the comments of the current week’s prompt.

Responses posted prior to the next Thursday prompt release can be included in the Roundup.

Let’s be creative and have fun!

-Eugi

https://amanpan.com/2021/05/13/eugis-weekly-prompt-viewpoint-may-13-2021/ 

Where The Wild Things Fly

From the 2 page spread for No. 7 & 8 of 20 Attitudes and Actions to Help You Live the Life of Your Dreams.

7.       Let courage draw you to the edge and passion lift you up
8.       Close your eyes, imagine the feeling of flight – repeat often

Mother Nature is the most amazing partner. When we invite her to be our mentor, our guide, our co-creator of possibilities, miracles and magic happen all around.

Thanks to Mother Nature and a Bald Eagle yesterday, I played in the field of possibilities of my Learning to Fly list of Attitudes and Actions – and was rewarded with miracles, magic and a whole lot of laughter!

In my studio, I spent much of the afternoon into the evening working on the spread for No. 7 & 8 of my 20 Attitudes and Actions.

  1. Let courage draw you to the edge and passion lift you up
  2. Close your eyes, imagine the feeling of flight – repeat often

Just before taking Beaumont the Sheepadoodle for his late afternoon walk, I made a spaghetti sauce so dinner would be easy. C.C. is engrossed in the hockey season as the teams near making it to the Playoffs. Or not, as the case seems to be he tells me for the Flames, our hometown team.

I was engrossed in creativity. Both, working on items on my list as well as creating in my art journal.

Win/win when dinner is easy and relatively ‘mess-less’. I tell you all that because, it all plays into the miracles and magic of the evening. As we sat at the island eating and chatting, C.C. looked out the window and said, “There’s a Bald Eagle sitting in one of the trees.”

I was so excited, I immediately jumped up from the table, grabbed my phone and raced out onto the deck.

The eagle from our deck.

He was quite a ways away, and there were lots of branches blocking my view.

But I soooo wanted to catch him in his moment of taking flight.

So I waited. And waited. But he seemed quite content sitting on his branch. Have you ever tried to outwait a Bald Eagle? It ain’t easy.

Over dinner, I kept darting out onto the deck to see if I could capture him. After we’d tidied up, I went downstairs to my studio and decided, ‘what the heck’. If the eagle’s still there, I am going to outwait him.

Without bothering to put shoes or coat on, I dashed out the French doors of my studio, onto the back lawn and raced along the fence-line until I was relatively close to the eagle’s perch.

Did I mention we’ve had snow the last couple of days? While most of it is gone the backyard is either covered in snow or wet and soggy. I was wearing Birkenstocks. At least I had socks on! (I know. Such an elegant look. Right?)

Anyways. I waited. And waited some more. And then…. it happened….

You’ll have to watch the short (40sec) video of what happened to find out! It’s at the bottom of this post.

I know. Such a tease.

But I am so very grateful for Mother Nature’s gift of flight.

Absolutely divine!

Oh. And btw… The laughter part of the miracles and magic, that’s at the end of the video. you’ll see. 🙂 C.C. howled when I showed it to him. I hope you do too!

Flight of the Bald Eagle.

Joy Does Not Sleep

Joy does not sleep while you muddle through your days. It dances always in the hope that you will awaken to its light.

The inspiration for this page came from a comment a lovely soulful woman, a fellow artist, made about one of my pieces and how it opened a door to healing and connection and joy.

On this day of the second year since my mother’s passing, I am reminded of how a friend described her feelings when in her 50’s both her parents passed away — “Since ‘becoming orphaned’ as she put it, I am all alone”. I wanted to create something that took away the sting of that idea of ‘being orphaned’ and connected me to the joy that is always dancing within and all around me.

In a comment yesterday, MSJaDeli of TaoTalk, shared a story from the Zhuang Zi. “Someone dies and an old man in his tent starts banging on his tin plate in grief. This is the wise man who is supposed to be above it all. The banging begins to bother others who go to check on him. They ask the old man, hey aren’t you the wise man, how much longer are you going to bang on that pan. The old man says I feel it as long as I need to feel it and when I don’t feel it anymore I’ll stop banging on the pan.”

I am known amongst some of my friends as a really good pot-banger. (The ‘good’ is my word, btw. Not necessarily theirs.) On backcountry ski trips, I was inevitably the first one up. As the first one up I would restoke the fire in the hut and put on coffee as well as start breakfast. As these were backcountry huts there was no electricity or running water. My least favourite task was going out to haul in water so… if the big water container was empty, to ensure there was coffee, I had to wake someone up — which meant I’d walk around singing at the top of my lungs, banging on a pot with a big metal spoon — I didn’t say it was a good practice. Just that I was good at it! 🙂 I know. Not my finest moment. Though we inevitably would get off to a nice early start because of my ‘joyful’ pot banging.

MSJ’s sharing of that story reminded me of those days and how much joy I felt being with good friends, far from the maddening crowds, surrounded by soaring peaks and still mountain air and sprawling valleys leading up to wide open slopes of untouched powder.

Glorious!

I am so blessed.

I bang on my keyboard letting words spill out, letting my emotions flow wild and gloriously free. I bang with my paintbrushes, hauling paint pots onto my worktable, tossing colour and texture onto the canvas with joyful abandon, transporting myself far from the maddening crowds into the sacred fields of creative expression.

I dance with the muse and joy lifts me up reminding me always — I am never alone. I am always connected to the divine essence of life in all its sprawling beauty unfurling.

In my studio, I know with great certainty, I am connected to the all that makes this life so beautifully exquisite and precious.

Namaste

Last night, as I sat in the glow of the lights on the Christmas tree, I felt the overwhelming sadness of missing those we cannot be near this Christmas.

“Buck up, Louise,” my inner critic said in a jolly voice. “It’s not that bad. At least it looks like it will be a white Christmas.”

“Small consolation,” I hiss back. “We’ll be all alone. Nobody in our home when Christmas dinner calls us to the table.”

I’m never sure why I feel the need to speak in rhymes to my inner critic (badly I might add) Perhaps it is to disarm him.

“Nope,” the critic says. “It’s to distract yourself. You don’t know how to handle feeling sad, so you avoid it.”

Seriously? You sound like my mother.

Oh, not the one I spent my life trying to understand. That mother took her last breath in February. A sweet, tiny, sparrow-like woman whose arthritic fingers floated up to touch the faces of her daughters and granddaughters who had gathered around her bed to say good-bye.

We could do that still, in late February. Gather with those we love to say farewell. Sit in a circle around her bed, close together, heads bowed, holding each other’s hands, as we said a prayer for this, the final leg of her journey.  

That mother, who bid her farewells in February was often a mystery to me. Full of contradictions and insecurities. I sometimes, unkindly, called her needy.

 This one, the one who comes to visit me now from someplace on the other side, is full of understanding and wisdom. She laughs and drinks martinis and wears too much perfume and too much jewellery. She doesn’t seem to care. She’s having the time of her life in the afterlife she says.

In her aura, I no longer yearn for the mother of my dreams. I simply yearn for her to keep visiting.

And then I realize he is. Her. My inner critic is my mother’s voice. But this time, she’s not visiting me while I’m in the bath, as is her custom. She’s here, beside the Christmas tree where I sit feeling the melancholy of the hour before midnight and the sadness of this season of joy that will be spent alone.  

My mother loved Christmas. She would spend hours decorating, baking, gift-buying and wrapping. From the man at the counter of the store where she normally shopped, to the woman who cut her hair, to the son of the son of the woman who cut her hair. My mother gave to everyone.

It was her way.

The gifts under our tree this year are sparse. Most were ordered online and sent directly to their recipients to avoid physical contact.

And my mother’s voice breaks into my reverie.

“It’s still Christmas Louise. A time to join the triumph of the skies and proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

“Since when do you quote Christmas carols?” I ask this unseen presence who sounds like my mother’s voice but doesn’t speak like her at all.

“Since you keep slipping into melancholy instead of Christmas cheer,” my mother’s voice says. “You love Christmas carols. Remember when your girls were little and you’d organize a carolling party and all your friends would come and you would wander the neighbourhood singing at the top of your lungs?”

And I smile and remember. Yes. That was such a good time. Full of laughter and friendship and children’s voices giggling while we parents struggled to carry a tune that nobody cared about anyway. It was the feeling of being together, of being connected that made it all so special.

And I sigh.

“We don’t have those connections this year, mum,” I say to this woman whom I cannot see but whose presence feels so real to me.

“True,” she says. “But it doesn’t mean those days are gone forever. And it definitely doesn’t mean those feelings of connection and belonging aren’t still alive. You just have to work harder to feel them. Use your creativity Louise. You’re good at that.”

And I smile in the silent night. My mother’s voice drifts away and I sit and watch the Christmas lights glow with the promise of a most Holy Night.

Christmas this year can’t be like Christmases past.

But it can still be full of those feelings and sensations I love so much. Of being connected. Immersed in love and joy. Of being part of something magical and mysterious and miraculous.

If it is to be, it is up to me.

Quietly, I turn off the Christmas tree lights. Let Beaumont out for one last romp in the now snow covered earth and then climb into bed beside my beloved who is already fast asleep.

I close my eyes and say a prayer of gratitude. For my beloved sleeping beside me. For my mother who visits me now so I can know peace. For this life I live that is so full of joy and for all those who make it a beautiful tapestry of family and friendship woven together with Love.

We may not be gathered around a crowded Christmas table laden with the food we all prepared, but we will be gathered together in our hearts. And in our hearts, there is only room for one thing. Love.

Always and forever.

Radical Acts of Self-Love

Writing and painting are, for me, radical acts of self-love. It is my way of saying to myself, I see you. I hear you. I feel you. I honour you. And, I accept you in all your beautiful, flawed human ways.

And… because I want to celebrate all my beautiful, flawed human ways, I want my creative expressions be a reflection of all the delight and beauty, wonder and awe I see in the world around me, in its darkness and its light.

Some days, especially if I am spending too much time reading news reports and focusing on ‘the dark’ during these long nights of December where we wait for the light to return (here in the Northern Hemisphere), I risk feelings of apathy and helplessness overshadowing my heart’s desire for harmony and joy.

In those dark waters, I can forget all the Love and light in my life as I flounder on the edges of ‘the darkness’.

The darkness can be oh so beguiling.

But the darkness is not the place for me.

And so, I must consciously choose a radical act of self-love. And that’s where creativity, nature walks, dancing, meditating are so important. They are radical acts of self-love that create cracks in the darkness so the light can illuminate your path home to your heart.

Recently, as Covid news kept getting darker and even more restrictive social-distancing orders were coming into play to stop its spread, I felt myself leaning too far over the edge of darkness into that place where the light falls soundlessly away into an abyss of gloom.

I had to bring myself back into the light.

One of my favourite paths back to the light is through creative expression. In this case, creating ‘many somethings’ of a small nature. Somethings which, through both size and repetition, draws my thinking from my head deep down into my belly. To that place where the expansiveness of life flows freely in the deep, rich roots of my creativity.

The stars have a way of aligning when I need help seeing the light.

Last week, I received a letter telling me that I have been accepted to show at the Vale’s GreenHouse Cultivation of Art Show and Sale next June. I had been accepted this year but Covid dictated I not attend.

Being part of this show has long been on my bucket list so the news felt like a crack where the light could shine through. What a lovely blessing.

With art shows, I like to have something to give away. My favourite – bookmarks.

They’re small. Useful. And, when created with heart, can be beautiful.

Which made them perfect for my ‘get out of the darkness of your head thinking’ activity.

And it worked.

I spent a day painting bookmarks and found myself falling into the vastness of time free of worries of ‘what the future will bring’ or checking news reports in between surfing social media feeds.

In the liminal space of heartfelt creative expression, I found myself once again breathing joyfully into the depths of peace, tranquility and calm that reside at the core of my human nature. I found my way home to my heart.

The nights are long as our planet continues its orbit around the sun. And the news is grim around the world as Covid pushes deeper into the fabric of our lives.

Yet, even in the darkness, there is light. We only have to open our hearts and breathe deeply into the beauty of our human essence to see Love illuminating our path home to our hearts, no matter how dark the world around us or long and winding the road.

____________________________________

Christmas is fast approaching and if you have been considering a #ShePersisted 2021 desk calendar as a gift, I only have a few left in stock.

Between now and Christmas, with every calendar purchased, I shall be including a hand-painted bookmark.

Calendars available on my DareBoldlyArt Etsy Shop

Welcome, The Season Of Joy.

And so we gathered beneath the mighty fir that stands sentinel in our yard. The one where Siddartha sits all year round welcoming everyone to our home.

We stood beneath its sweeping branches that cast welcome shadows on a hot summer day, its deep green branches a welcome respite from the black and grey and white of a prairie winter.

Outdoor gatherings are fun!

We gathered together as families do and laughed and told stories on one another and shared a mug of hot mulled wine and feasted on seasonal delights. We toasted one another and those who could not be with us this year, either because of time and space or because they are gone from these earthly realms forever.

We raised our mugs to Christmases past spent indoors decorating or gathering around a table laden with holiday fare. And together, toasted this year that has challenged each of us to find more creative ways to spend time together. Ways that nurture our well-being yet do not risk our health.

Bundled up against a winter chill, we festooned the fir with stars and bells and homemade decorations and did our best to keep our distance. No hugs. No kisses on cheeks. No sharing of bites of this or that.

It was a different kind of way to welcome in the holiday season, yet, as in all the years past, smiles and laughter filled the air spinning a magical web with the essence of this time of year.

Family and friends gathering together to build memories and share what makes life rich and beautiful.

Connection. Belonging. Joy in one another’s presence. The reminder we do not walk alone. We are all in this together. And, above all, Love.

We decorated the fir tree outside our door yesterday. And the beauty of this special time of year slipped into our hearts and made itself at home for the season.