Creative Growth

Hi Friends!

The month of May has always been my happiest month in the garden. I just love watching the daily growth in my perennial and herb gardens. Last week, I took great delight in planting containers of annuals for our front porch and added a few tender herbs to my Herb & Tea garden. Our abundance of rainy days blessed the garden… and the gardener!

On the days when Mother Nature was watering my garden, I retreated to my little Paper Garden studio downstairs. It has been necessary to intentionally plan small, daily steps to nurture my creative growth for quite a while now. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron stresses the importance of ”filling the well” to help artists who feel creatively blocked. It was most definitely time to fill my creative well. Little-by-little, step-by-step Springtime arrived in the Paper Garden, too!

On the first day of my special project, I spent hours happily die cutting, layered stamping, and adding highlights with Prismacolor pencils. After several hours, colorful tulips filled my art table. Over the following days, baby’s breath, pussy willows, and cherry blossoms emerged. Ahhh, Springtime! With no pressure to design, the pure joy of creating began filling my creative well… and my heart!

All of these stamps and dies are from The Greetery.

With tiny pots full of Springtime blossoms, it felt almost like being in a flower shop choosing stems to create a bouquet for someone very special. Oh, what fun to clip together tiny paper bouquets! No stress, just pure joy!

Then it was time to fill my tender heart in a very special way…

Mother’s Day was coming… and this would be my very first Mother’s Day without my dear, sweet mom, Darlene. I just knew that Mom would love my plan! I could feel her smile.💕 This May, I decided to celebrate three very special young moms who have become such an important part of my life.

Especially for Ada’s mom 💗

I have known Ada’s mom for a very long time!! She was a student in my first grade class and my second grade class so long ago! For several years, she would come back to help me during her recess time. For many Summers, I looked forward to a very special picnic with her family. During her college years, Ada’s mom would drive over to visit us. She enjoyed picking her favorite ‘tea’ leaves from our Herb & Tea garden and sipping tea together on our front porch swing. My husband and I felt so honored to be guests at her wedding! Ada’s mom now works as a speech pathologist and spends her days helping seniors with Alzheimer’s and other speech therapy needs. She is also working on her PhD in clinical speech pathology. This month, Ada’s mom celebrated her first Mother’s Day! I look forward to meeting little Ada very soon.💗


Especially for Elijah’s mom 💗

Elijah’s mom has been a very special part of our family for three years already. In fact, she is in many of our treasured family photos! She works so hard with everyone at the senior living community where my dad lives. She loved my mom and my mom loved her! Elijah’s mom helps everyone living there feel right ‘at home’ each day. She is always so cheery, whether she is busy at her desk, helping serve meals in the dining room, or running to someone’s apartment to help out. I love to hear stories about Elijah’s day in kindergarten, his current favorite activities, and their family celebrations. Elijah’s mom and I have become ‘sisters.’ (I always dreamed of having a sister.) My ‘sister’ always brightens my day… and gives the biggest hugs! 💗

Especially for Emerson’s mom 💗

I have only known Emerson’s mom for a few short months, yet she has become a true blessing in my life! We are most definitely creative, kindred spirits. Emerson’s mom is the Bereavement Coordinator for the hospice that helped my mom so much last September. When I reached out for grief counseling for my tender heart following the sudden loss both of my brothers to Covid and my sweet mom to an unexpected medical issue, Emerson’s mom entered my life. Her extensive education, experience as a chaplain, and work in the fields of bereavement and spirituality enable her to help children through seniors who are grieving the loss of loved ones. We both enjoy sharing our thoughts and creativity with one another. When I asked her for homework assignments, she began suggesting truly meaningful activities that tap into my creativity in so many ways. I love hearing about her family life and seeing photos of Emerson! She just celebrated her second Mother’s Day! Emerson’s mom and I have been meeting together via Zoom, but we are both looking forward to meeting in person in June. I truly look forward to our growing friendship in the years to come! 💗

How do you fill your creative well when you have difficulty getting started on a project or hobby that you love?

Hope you will share with us!

Wishing you healthy, happy Springtime (or Autumn) days!

Take time to nurture your tender heart, too.💗

Perennially yours,

💗Dawn

Gifts of Nature

Hi Friends!

I bundled up warmly at sunrise on that February morning. My heart told me that there was something very important that I must do… and I always listen to my heart! 💗

I hugged a tree… two trees, in fact.

It was a day to thank our towering pines for the many gifts they have bestowed upon us for over one hundred years ~ homes for the cardinals and other birds, a playground for the squirrels, and cool shade for the hostas, ferns, and mature perennials that thrived beneath them. Such an important gift for our climate, as well. Every few years, an arborist would come to check our pine trees and trim a few branches. He always shared the happy news that our pines were in good health.

As I hugged the trees, gratitude filled my heart! Our pine trees have provided a magnificent background for many of our treasured family photos over the past thirty five years. They provided welcome shade on our deck for quiet mornings, yoga practice, family Fourth of July celebrations, and tea parties with friends. They shaded teacher curriculum-planning sessions on so many summer mornings. The beautiful pines were always appreciated as we talked late into the night with family and friends, from near and far. The neighbors enjoyed the far-reaching branches that shaded their family gatherings, too. What fun to hang a piñata from the lowest pine branches for their birthday parties! Every year in early December, I loved to snip a few pine greens and gather fallen pine cones to fill an antique wooden box and to mix with dried garden gatherings to decorate an antique sled for our front porch.

Our towering pines watched over many life changing moments, too. My husband and I spent many hours getting to know one another while relaxing on my shady deck. A truly heartwarming part of our first date, on a Sunday afternoon in July nearly twenty years ago, was spent talking on my shady deck. The pines cooled our deck and entire backyard for the special picnic where both of our families had fun getting to know one another following our engagement! The following summer, my mom and I spent a lovely June afternoon on our shady deck tying bundles of flowers from my garden with satin ribbons, to hang from the chairs for our Victorian-style wedding ceremony. Ten years ago, the pines shaded our wonderful family celebration in honor of my dad’s 80th birthday.

If those trees could talk, they would tell so many stories of the single woman who dreamed of owning a home of her own to put down roots so long ago. The moment she saw the cozy, little 1922 bungalow, with a swing on the front porch, a big garden, and two towering pine trees… it was love at first sight!💗

Alas, there are BIG changes happening nearby! A very large, new home will be built next door. Half of the branches and half of the root systems would soon be destroyed. Our towering pines couldn’t safely survive the construction next door. So, my hugs and thanks that February morning were also a heartbroken ‘goodbye’ to our beloved pine trees.

Just a few hours later, the heavy equipment arrived…

A week earlier, I met with Matt, the tree man. I had two very important requests! He must be sure to protect my mom’s beautiful Rhododendron that grew on the edge of my Shade Garden, beneath the long reaching pine branches. This large plant grew in my childhood garden and is almost as old as I am. It was a gift to my garden many years ago when my parents moved to Arizona. Every summer, its large, pink blossoms warm my heart! My second wish was to have several slices of the tree trunks to use in a future garden project. Matt promised that he would make my wishes come true!

Oh my! It was a sight to behold! As I safely watched from the door of our deck, Matt worked from high in the air with pinpoint accuracy, cutting long branches, dropping them in the space between my white picket fence Herb & Tea Garden, our deck, and our roof. Mountains of branches were chipped into pine mulch. His team of four worked with guide ropes, chain saws, helmets, and ear protection.

As I watched the crew from the window, they were also watching me! It must have been entertaining to watch the little lady alternating between covering her eyes, giving thumbs up, and prayer hands of thanks as they worked. The four, strong men on the ground performed a ballet of twirls, turns, and leaps to quickly guide the falling limbs away from Mom’s Rhododendron.

Our century old pines towered over 75 feet tall. Our little house shook and my teacup collection rattled as each thirty foot section of trunk plummeted to the ground, landing in an ever-growing pile of branches in the neighbor’s yard.

The white sheet marks my mom’s Rhododendron surrounded by fallen pine branches.

When there was a safe path through the yard, I walked out to carefully uncover Mom’s special plant. It was perfect! Only two flower buds had fallen to the ground.

(You can see my beautiful mom and her Rhododendron in bloom

last summer here. Such a treasured photo.💗)

I walked over to thank the crew for their very careful work and to take a closer look at the fallen tree trunks. That’s when I discovered it…

a final gift from our towering pines!

A huge heart!

None of the crew noticed it… but I saw it right away!

It felt like a final gift of love from our pines.

We will find a way to use the carefully cut wood slices in our new, sunny garden design in the coming months. Although our towering pines are no longer with us, they will always be a huge part of our story!

We cherish their lovely memories…

and ALL of the gifts they gave us over the years!

🌸 🌸 🌸

Wishing you many Springtime blessings!

Stay safe and healthy!

Warmest hugs,

💗 Dawn

Heart and Hands

Hi Friends,

The whole world is watching in shock and disbelief as we follow the unimaginable human tragedy and devastation that continues in Ukraine. Putin’s War has forced over 3.5 million refugees to flee from their homes in Ukraine in search of safety, protection, and assistance. The women, children, disabled, and elderly have been welcomed by Poland and neighboring countries across Europe. Ukrainian men, ages 18-60, suddenly became civilian armed forces heroically battling to save their homeland from unprovoked Russian aggression.

The whole world is also watching as the international community seeks meaningful ways to show our unwavering support for Ukraine and Europe. We will be following the news as the NATO Summit meets Brussels this week. Together we are stronger.

From my little corner of the globe, I have been taking small actions to show my unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. I will continue to support the work of World Central Kitchen with donations as they provide nourishing, hot meals, prepared by local chefs, in Ukraine, Poland, and wherever they are needed during this humanitarian crisis. Providing more than just meals, they are providing hope, dignity, and proof that others care. WCK is making a heroic effort 24/7 in this time of incredible need! Their short videos on Instagram offer a glimpse into the many ways that WCK is helping those in dire need right now.

I have also been learning more about Ukraine and their history. Last month, we watched the 2015 documentary Winter on Fire on You Tube. Although it was heartbreaking to watch (much like recent news reports), this Oscar-nominated film helped us to understand why the Ukrainian people are so brave right now.

In search of a bit of artistic outreach, I wondered what small, creative steps I could take in support of the Ukrainian people. For many years, I have followed the very talented cardmaker, Yana Smakula, who lives in western Ukraine. Yana is posting short messages on Instagram to let us know that she is still safe, but what daily life is like for her now. Yana is inspiring cardmakers everywhere, as she continues to make cards in her craft room in between sirens that force her to run for shelter! Yana’s dedication inspired me to find ways to use my love for paper and ink to support the Ukrainian people, as well.

I have been making small Ukrainian flags to show my unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. I have been sharing them with friends and neighbors who might also like to display them in their windows or other meaningful places.

I have also been busy making cards to let people affected by the war know that they are loved, thought of, and in my prayers. Inside each card is a personal, handwritten note of comfort and support.

I knew that it wouldn’t be possible to send mail to Ukraine in the midst of war. So, I will share my cards with a Ukrainian church near our home. I’m hopeful that they will share them with members of their congregation who are in need of a little extra love right now. I will also send cards to the Ukrainian Embassy in Chicago.

The sunflower has long been used as a symbol of peace in Ukraine. Sunflowers can be seen growing in the countryside and villages throughout Ukraine. Images of sunflowers are on several of my cards… and will have a special place in my garden this summer, too!

On the Ukrainian flag, blue represents the wide blue skies over their homeland. Yellow represents the golden fields of grain that covered Ukraine before the Russian invasion. Both colors are on the insides of my cards, as well.

Working with my hands brings me a sense of peace, as I spend time in my little Paper Garden studio creating ‘paper hugs.’

Just this week, I learned that it will be possible for my cards to bring a bit of healing to Ukrainian refugees in Poland. Artist Danny Gregory is collecting small pieces of art (no larger than postcards). Next week, he will ship a box (or boxes) of our art to his artist friend in Poland, who is volunteering at a center for Ukrainian refugees. She will share them with the people that she is helping.

Update (April 14, 2022): Danny Gregory collected over 1,000 small pieces of artwork. In the photos he posted, I could see my handmade cards of support and paper Ukrainian flags. The boxes of artwork were shipped to his artist friend in Poland last week. (Huge thanks, Danny and JJ, for helping the art community share our work and touch so many lives!) Next week, our small pieces of artwork will be shared with Ukrainian people who have had to flee their country since the horrific invasion uprooted their lives 50 days ago. 💙💛

🌻 I truly hope the recipients will feel a brief bit of healing, hope, and comfort just knowing that others care deeply. Perhaps they might tuck the ‘paper hug’ into their backpack as a constant reminder that we see them and support them, as they begin to make all of the difficult decisions that lie ahead. 💙💛

💙 Our blog is a welcoming place for all who gather here! Heartfelt thanks for stopping to visit today. I hope that you are finding ways to bring moments of peace and comfort to your days… and perhaps even a spot of JOY!

💛 Please let us know how you are finding small moments of peace during this extremely difficult time.

🌻 Take care of yourself, take care of your neighbor,

and do what you can!

Warmest hugs,

💗 Dawn

An Invitation…

Hi Friends!

It has been quiet here for much too long. I have really missed you! 💕How are you? I hope you are warm, safe, and healthy in your little corner of the world. We are well here and taking extra-good care of one another. Everything seems to require so much more careful planning these days, doesn’t it? I really miss the good old days of spontaneity, traveling, and gathering with groups of friends in person.

Last year, I felt so very fortunate to connect with a truly wonderful community of artists through ArtistsForJoy.org and the Lumina Arts Incubator. Oh my, it felt amazing!! Artists of all kinds gathered, via Zoom, on Tuesday evenings to share a powerful, encouraging journey together. This international group included musicians, writers, photographers, potters, performance artists, painters, glass artists, songwriters, poets, quilters, mixed media artists, card makers (like me!), and so many more. Our 13-week Creative Cluster welcomed aspiring artists as well as professional artists. Everyone was so supportive and understanding as we all traveled along our interesting creative paths.

In recent years, I had slowly felt my creative well running dry. Creativity has always been an important part of my life and I knew that it was time to ‘fill the well’ so that my creativity could flow joyously again!

The key to my creative recovery was already sitting right on my bookshelf… just waiting to be read! Published thirty years ago, Julia Cameron’s groundbreaking book on creativity, The Artist’s Way, held the inspiration, necessary tools, and tasks I would need to find creative joy again. Although I had attempted to read it on my own, The Artist’s Way is meant to be worked through in community with other artists.

Last February through May, I could ever-so-slowly feel my creative spirit returning as our Creative Cluster met each Tuesday evening to explore our relationships with our own creativity. Reading one chapter of The Artist’s Way each week, writing daily Morning Pages, planning a weekly Artist Date, and trying a few of Julia Cameron’s introspective weekly tasks lightened my heart and taught me so much about my own creativity. 💕

Throughout the Summer months, I continued to write Morning Pages and plan occasional Artist Dates. In the Fall, I joined the next Artists for Joy Creative Cluster for another 13-week exploration of my creativity. Several artists also participated again, along with many, many artists new to our group. Oh my, I made so many more new discoveries about my own creativity as I worked through The Artist’s Way a second time!💕

Julia Cameron writes that Morning Pages are “the trail we explore and the trail home to ourselves.” Julia reminds us that “an Artist Date need not be expensive. The point is that it feels fresh and exciting to you.” Many of my Artist Dates happened right here at home! It felt so healing to play with watercolors in a sketchbook on a sunny, Winter afternoon. These uncertain times have a way of even changing the ways we nourish our creativity.

Now I’m eagerly awaiting the start of the next Artists For Joy

Creative Cluster and…

YOU are invited to join us! 😊

Our new Creative Cluster begins in February. The sessions will be held on Tuesday evenings from 7:00-8:30 EST, via a secure Zoom meeting. This 13-week adventure will run from February 15th through May 10th. There is no cost to participate. Participants are required to purchase their own copy of The Artist’s Way. (I’m using my older edition and it works just fine, too.)

We begin each Zoom session with a 30-minute group activity. Then we are randomly assigned to Breakout Rooms of 3 or 4 participants for 30 minutes to discuss the weekly topics, tasks, our discoveries, successes, and challenges. Finally, we gather again as a whole group for 30 minutes for a thoughtful creative activity. Each week, I leave with renewed spirit and gratitude for the chance to grow in new ways!💕

Our wonderfully, talented facilitator is Dr. Merideth Hite Estevez (Director of the Lumina Arts Incubator). Merideth is a Juilliard trained professional oboist, a podcaster, a creative coach, and is currently writing her first book on creativity. Most importantly, she would want you to know that she is a busy wife and mother of two delightful young children! Merideth brings joy to our weekly gatherings.

You can ‘meet’ Merideth on her inspiring podcast, Artists for Joy, available wherever you listen to podcasts. Each episode is definitely worth a listen. I enjoy listening in my little Paper Garden studio while I work.

You can register for The Artist’s Way Creative Cluster at:

ArtistsForJoy.org

No matter what creative passions fill your heart and soul, you will grow through Julia Cameron’s wisdom and guidance as you explore your creativity in a most welcoming community!

⭐️ Update: Follow the link above if you would like to reserve your space in the Fall Creative Cluster. It will begin in September 2022. Hope you can join us!

I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about the Creative Cluster. I look forward to hearing all about your current creative projects. Do you ever feel ‘stuck’ creatively? What do you do to ‘fill your well’ creatively? Hope you’ll share with us!

Thank you so much for stopping to visit today. I’m really happy to begin blogging and visiting my blog friends again. You always inspire me!💕

Take extra-good care,

💗 Dawn

P.S. In the blog archives you will find many posts about my creative journey!☀️

My Mom, My Friend

Hi Friends,

Strong, loving, smart,

happy, kind, caring, talkative,

dependable, creative, curious, independent…

My mom, Darlene, has always been my first and best teacher. Today and every day, my mom is wonderful inspiration as I bloom and grow!

She will always be the woman that I admire most. ❤️

With a very tender heart, today I am sharing the deeply sad news that my sweet mom recently passed away. Our family is very grateful for the wisdom of her doctors, the compassion of her hospice nurses, and the many prayers of our friends and family. It was all so peaceful, as my dad, my husband and I held Mom’s hands…

After raising Johnny, Jeff, and I, my parents retired to the sunny Southwest for 25 happy years. My mom just loved the sunshine, the mountains, and the hummingbirds that visited her desert garden every day. My parents really enjoyed hiking in the desert and exploring many of our beautiful National Parks.

Oh, how we all cherished our family visits! My parents loved to come back to Illinois to ”cool off” each summer. Their visits were always a highlight of our year. My brothers and my husband and I visited my parents in Arizona throughout each year to spread out the family fun. Between our visits, writing letters, frequent phone calls, and heartwarming Skype visits always kept us close.

Three years ago, when it was time to move back closer to family, my parents settled into a new, easier lifestyle in a beautiful, brand new senior living community near all of us. My parents instantly met a whole new circle of friends there. Throughout the pandemic, their senior living community has been a true blessing, helping them to live independently, in a safe space, while surrounded by friends. Together we found creative ways to stay close throughout the lockdowns and restrictions. Although the past two years have been challenging, my mom and dad bravely met each challenge they faced along the way.

Home and family were the two most important things to my mom, Darlene. She always enjoyed hosting wonderful family gatherings. She was my first and best teacher. Each time we were together, I learned something new. Mom was an avid, lifelong reader. She loved to write letters and poetry. She always enjoyed spending time in her Midwest rose garden and later in her Southwest desert garden.

This Rhododendron in my garden grew in my mom’s garden during my childhood.

Early on, my mom gave me the wonderful gift of gardening. It began with nurturing houseplants on my bedroom windowsill. Mom helped my skills flourish when I bought my cozy, little home with the big garden. During the week, I would water everything. Each weekend, when my parents would visit, Mom would identify the weeds and the flowers. Slowly, I learned from her. I have always felt so close to my mom whenever I am in the garden!

Early on, I learned how important creativity is to a happy life… just by watching my mom. She turned fabric and thread into beautiful, one-of-a-kind clothes for me. I felt so grown up when Mom taught me how to follow patterns and use her sewing machine. Working together, I learned how to paint and wallpaper in my childhood bedroom. As I grew up, I admired Mom’s handmade quilt, stained glass pieces, pottery, macrame, and crafty projects of all kinds. I quickly discovered the joys of creating with paper and ink. Over the past year, Mom was a huge supporter of my creative journey along The Artist’s Way. We had many long talks about our creative paths, often with a paintbrush, watercolor markers, or colored pencils in hand. Such a beautiful way to add a bit of magic to our days!

Mom and I enjoyed many lovely hours in this garden.

Throughout her life, Darlene actively volunteered in our church, school, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and at the public library. In recent years, Mom and I helped in the pretty gardens of their senior living community. I’m planning to carry on our tradition of volunteering together in the gardens and library there while visiting my dad.

In early April, our family suffered another monumental loss, when both of my brothers, Johnny and Jeff, passed away after a brief battle with Covid-19, in the home that they shared. My parents, my husband, and I continue to rely on our faith, family, and friends each day as we mourn their loss.

Tomorrow, November 6th, is my mom’s 88th birthday. We will have a private family service in the morning. In the afternoon, we will celebrate all three special lives during a visitation with friends who live in the senior community. We are so grateful for the incredible love and friendship that has surrounded our family for the past six months. Thoughtful expressions of sympathy continue to wrap us in love.

Since it is not yet time to gather together in person, we invite you to join with our family, from wherever you are, on November 6th, at 12 noon (in your time zone) to say a prayer, take a moment of silence, light a candle, or whatever would feel most meaningful to you. We also encourage you to do a small act of kindness on November 6th, in honor of Darlene, Johnny, and Jeff ~ who lived their lives sharing kindness with others every day!

Such a special walk together!


For the past six years, I have been dedicated to raising awareness for Alzheimer’s research. It feels like one of the most important ways that I can make a difference. The most heartwarming experience of all, was walking hand-in-hand with my mom, just one week before she passed away, in the Alzheimer’s Awareness Walk at their senior living community. I will cherish that memory always…

Thank you all for your lovely expressions of sympathy. Your friendship is truly a blessing in my life! In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association, a charity very close to our family’s hearts.

I feel so very blessed to have Darlene as both my mother and my friend. From time to time, I’d love to share some of our stories here on the blog.

Thank you for visiting here today. Be safe!

With love,

💗 Dawn

Breathing Room…

Dear Friends,

All of your beautiful words and expressions of sympathy on my last post after the loss of my dear brothers, Johnny and Jeff, deeply touched my heart. I shared all of your comforting words with my parents, too. We truly appreciate all of the many ways you have surrounded our family with so much love and kindness.

My heart is also filled with gratitude for the space you have given me to take so much time away from blogging. My days continue to be filled to overflowing with precious family time. Each day brings special memories, much new learning, and many difficult decisions to ponder. There have been many a sleepless night over the past few months.

Today I am enjoying a very rare day at home. What a joy to spend an entire late summer morning in my garden! There is nothing like spending time in nature to find a bit of breathing room from all that is going on in our world right now. I’m sure you also feel the need for breathing room. I’m so grateful that you stopped here for a little visit today!

The perennials are in full bloom and I’d love a short stroll through the garden with you as we chat…

It’s always so peaceful to walk amongst the blossoms and bees. The Phlox are bobbing their heads in the breeze today. The bright, yellow Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’ are much taller than me! Although we have had some recent heavy rain, we are still eight inches below our normal rainfall for the year. I have been handwatering the containers and filling the bee baths, while Nature provides for the rest of the garden.

Over the past five Summers, I worked extremely hard to intentionally ‘right-size’ my cottage perennial gardens. Inspired by garden writer Kerry Ann Mendez, I slowly removed several large flower beds in our front yard, backyard, and side yard. I knew that life would be filled with other priorities and my gardening time would grow much more limited.

This Summer, I am truly reaping the benefits of my ‘right-size’ garden! It is so much more manageable now. Throughout this growing season, I typically can only spend one day each week gardenkeeping. Oh, how I look forward to a day of deadheading, pruning, weeding, and mowing the lawn! It’s such a great workout for both the heart and soul… and always ends with a colorful bouquet to fill a Mason jar, crock, or pitcher.

My Herb and Tea Garden will always be the ‘heart’ of my garden. I savor every moment spent inside the white picket fence tending the culinary herbs and mints. During this busy season, some of the herbs bloomed before I could remove their flower buds. Better late than never… 😉

This Summer, the colors, scents, and sounds in the garden have inspired me and have often made their way into my Morning Pages. I have been focusing on making space for a tiny, creative step each day. Currently, I am really enjoying Julia Cameron’s new book, The Listening Path.

As I tend the garden, aware of all the sounds around me, it helps me to stay mindful and present in the moment. Julia Cameron uses the word “heartfeltness.” Julia writes, “When we listen to each moment as it unfolds, we find ourselves listening to our heart.” (page 42) While I am working in the garden, the world feels more gentle!

Have I ever told you that most of my blog posts over the past seven years have been composed while I am nurturing my perennials and herbs in the garden? It’s true! My muse always meets me in the garden. 💗 Then I hurry inside to my keyboard to write you a letter! (Today’s letter is a bit shorter. I’m attempting to use the WordPress Block editor on my iPad for the first time. 🤦🏼‍♀️ Fingers crossed that this letter will find its way to you!)

Be extra gentle with yourself each day… and listen to your heart!
Hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy!

Perennially yours,

💗Dawn

P.S. How do you add breathing room to your week? What’s happening in your garden? What are you reading right now? Hope we can chat in the comments…. I’ve really missed everyone! Sending huge hugs!💕

Pieces of My Heart

Dear Friends,

You have all been in my thoughts so often…  although it has been very quiet here on my blog for many weeks now.

Our family, like so many others across the globe, has suffered an unimaginable tragedy. My parents, my husband, and I are in shock as we grieve together our huge losses. In April, both of my brothers lost their brief battles with Covid-19 and passed away in the home that they shared. They were being very careful, wearing masks and distancing, as they waited for their turn for vaccines. We have lost two very special pieces of our hearts… and will truly miss them forever. Our lives have been forever changed.

I wish you had known my brothers…

Johnny, only eleven months younger than me, was my very first friend. We were even in the same classrooms from kindergarten through eighth grade. Johnny just loved to design and build things. He learned all about cars from helping my dad. Before he was even old enough to drive, Johnny was working on his own car in the garage. He found his dream job in the high performance automotive industry, where he became a respected expert in his field. Johnny loved building street rods. The dragster he built went so fast that it needed two parachutes to stop! Johnny loved taking his race car to race tracks all across the Midwest on Summer weekends. He spent the Winter weekends working as a judge at the National Hot Rod Association ‘World of Wheels’ auto shows. As busy as he was, Johnny always made time to visit our parents. He always called us to see if we needed any help at our house. Johnny loved to get together for family gatherings of all kinds. He was the first to arrive and the last to leave! His huge circle of close friends are a tribute to this very special man. Johnny’s loss leaves a huge hole in our hearts.

Jeff was eight years younger than me. Oh, how thrilled I was to have a baby brother! We always loved spending time together. Jeff shared my mom’s love for animals and science. He became a wonderful cook and baker just by helping my mom while he was growing up. Jeff shared my love of the French language and we would often speak a few words. He was fascinated by the Native Americans, the American Southwest, and South American cultures. Jeff really enjoyed his time living in a tent in the New Mexico desert digging for artifacts while he earned his degree in Archaeology. He was an avid reader and writer. Jeff loved films of all kinds and gaming with his friends. Whenever we had a question about anything, we would always call Jeff and he always knew the answer! Jeff loved spending time with our parents. He found so many thoughtful, creative ways to make each family gathering special. Jeff had a large circle of lifetime friends, who have shared the many ways that he changed their lives. Jeff’s loss leaves a huge hole in our hearts.

Together as a family, we are sharing memories as we grieve. My brothers’ friends have been helping us all through this deeply sad time. I feel so grateful for the love that surrounds us all. Prayers, cards, letters, flowers, memorial gifts, and donations to the Alzheimer’s Association (our family’s favorite charity) from friends, near and far, are helping us through this very difficult time.

I hope to make time for blogging again soon. I truly miss the places we gather and share our lives. Be well, my friends!

With much love,

♡ Dawn

Small Moments

Hi Friends!

Happy International Women’s Day! I’m so glad that YOU stopped to visit with us today. The nicest people, from across the globe, always seem to find their way here. Yesterday, we had visitors from the U.S., UK, Ireland, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, France, South Africa, Canada, and Brazil. It fills my heart with joy to know that you spend a few moments of your busy day in this little corner of the internet! Whether you are a longtime friend or this is your very first visit, I hope you feel ‘at home’ here.

I have been contemplating some small moments that I want to remember as the weeks pass. Today, in my Midwest garden, there are only a few small snowpiles remaining. In January, we had 22 inches (56cm) of snow. February brought us 22 more inches (56cm) of snow! Shoveling snow became my regular ‘workout’ for a few weeks. With a desire to play in all that snow, I couldn’t wait to build a snowman (actually, a snowlady!).  😉

Meet Rosemary, the snow gardener! 🙂 She was named for my favorite herb and enjoyed wearing my straw, garden hat over her dried Hydrangea tresses. Each time I peeked out the window, Rosie was smiling back at me! To her good fortune, an Arctic plunge kept temperatures below 0 degrees for days on end.

With several more inches of glittery snow, Mother Nature dressed Rosemary in a flowing wedding gown. We will always remember her nice, long visit and all of the joy she brought us!

Last week, I gratefully put away my warmest, woolen mittens. As the snow melted, I happily noticed a most welcome sign of Spring during my daily walk through the neighborhood. It definitely put a smile in my heart and a spring in my step!

It just amazes me how these delicate Snowdrops can withstand the weight of so much snow cover! In our garden, the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is showing its foliage. The Daffodils are already three inches tall. The buds on the Lilac, and Rhododendron are swelling. True signs that Spring is just around the corner!

The Magnolia buds have me dreaming my garden dreams as I wait. In fact, I have been thinking about mulch this week as I ponder a few changes to the garden. 😉

This is already my tenth year of choosing ‘One Little Word’ to guide me throughout the year. This year’s word  reminds me of the many ways to add S P A C E to my life. On the first page of my 2021 Self-Care bullet journal, my new word is surrounded by all of my previous ‘words.’ I continue to call upon all of these ‘words’ day after day!

As I continue to work through The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, I have been reflecting on Creative Space and the ways that I incorporate creative rituals, inspiration, nature, and sensory experiences into my little Paper Garden studio downstairs.

 

For my Artist Date last week, I added touches of Springtime to my Self-Care bullet journal. The dot grid pages are filling up with creative affirmations, studio rules, and my creativity contract. Little-by-little, step-by-step, I can feel tiny, meaningful changes happening in my creative soul. I always look forward to our Tuesday Creative Cluster gatherings, via Zoom. Creativity is such an important part of my healthy lifestyle!

This year’s valentine for my sweet husband used non-traditional colors for a more natural look.

I never remember to photograph the inside of my handmade cards before I write in them! (So, I used a few seashells to hide the personal words here. 🙂 ) My cards are always embellished on the inside as a special treat for the recipient.

Distress inks and more stamps and dies from The Greetery helped me to create a collection of winter sprigs.

It was such fun to fill a tiny, stoneware pitcher with winter berries and greens for my parents. It won’t be long until things start to ‘bloom’ in my Paper Garden studio. Springtime usually arrives a bit early there! 🙂

Last week, I was blessed with the BEST small moment of all! It truly felt like a Red-Letter Day!!

After weeks and weeks of searching unsuccessfully for a vaccine appointment, a wonderful, unexpected opportunity arose! Our suburb worked to provide vaccines for 970 Seniors (65+ years old). With support from the police and fire departments, city officials, several pharmacists, and many volunteers, they set up a one-day vaccine clinic to administer our first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Everything went so smoothly. We will all return in three weeks for our second dose of the vaccine!

As I headed home, my heart was overflowing with gratitude. My vaccine felt like a very big deal!! Each precious vial of ‘hope’ will help to lead us out of this pandemic if we all continue to do our part, by wearing masks, social distancing, and washing our hands! We cannot let our guard down yet… This week marks one whole year since we went on lockdown and began staying at home. Like so many of us, I long for the day that my whole family can gather together again!

I continue to be so very grateful for the diligent work of the scientists across the globe and those who volunteered in clinical trials, the dedicated doctors, nurses, and lab technicians (true unsung heroes), the first responders and the essential front-line workers whose personal sacrifices every day make a difference for us all.  I see you. I appreciate you. I honor you all!

Very often, the small moments take up the most room in our hearts!

♥ ♥ ♥

I’m thinking of you all

on this

International Women’s Day!

Stay safe and healthy!

With much hope,

♡ Dawn

P.S. Please let us know what small moments are bringing YOU hope right now. If this is your first visit, please say “Hi.”  We would love to meet you! 🙂

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Artist Date ~ A Walk Down Memory Lane

Hi Friends!

Warmhearted greetings! I hope that you are healthy, safe, and cozy today in your little corner of the world. I am still feeling wrapped in the warmth of last week’s Artist Date. It truly was a walk down memory lane, in the sweetest of ways!

One of the joys of my Renaissance (the ‘R’ word that I use for retirement) is creating one-of-a-kind, handmade cards. It’s always such fun to surprise family and friends with these tiny pieces of my heart. My joy was doubled each time I mailed off a handmade card to my parents in Arizona. They felt like tiny, ‘paper hugs’ and kept us close in spite of the miles between us.

Every time I visited my parents in their lovely, desert home, I noticed my cards on display in places of honor ~ on the fireplace mantel, on top of my mom’s oak, rolltop desk, and in my dad’s Lionel train room. I often stopped to peek at my little works of ‘heart.’

Two years ago, when the time came to help my parents move back to our area, they surprised me with a very special gift. My mom filled a package with all of my handmade cards. What a treasure! I carried this very special package in my backpack on our flight back home to Illinois. Then I gently placed the package in a sunny, yellow, archival box on a shelf in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs. I looked forward to opening it when the right moment came along…

My first Artist Date of The Artist’s Way Creative Cluster felt like the perfect time! I gently carried the yellow box upstairs and enjoyed a sentimental walk down memory lane, as I carefully spread all of the cards on our dining room table. Although the sun was streaming in through the lace curtains, I’m certain that it was these ‘paper hugs’ that warmed my soul. There were so many handmade cards of all kinds created over six years. The insides of the cards were also decorated and filled with sweet sentiments and notes with news of the week.

My earliest cards were created right here at our dining room table using a Big Shot and a few embossing folders and dies. I can still remember the joy I felt as a brand new card maker!

My passion for patterned paper, dry embossing, buttons, and twine grew with each tiny creation. I only had black ink and blended chalk for a bit of soft color. With a lifelong love of lettering, I was so excited to collect sentiment stamps!

Early on, I adored dry embossing on patterned paper creating the feel of vintage, patchwork quilts. As my collection of stamps and dies grew, I was so grateful to set up a dedicated, creative space downstairs in our unfinished basement. Oh, how I loved carrying a big cup of tea (to warm my hands) down to my new Paper Garden studio!

I hung dried Hydrangeas and herbs from the ceiling rafters, added task lighting, tables, a rag rug, and music. Antique wooden boxes held many of my supplies. I felt so blessed to have a space to be messy and play for hours and hours. Newly retired, it was so nice to have ‘a place to go’ each day! Eight years later, my little Paper Garden studio is still a very special blessing in my life.

Wreaths, wreaths, and more wreaths! You will find a wreath on our front door, in the dining room, in the guest room, in the kitchen, on the deck, and on our garden gate. Simple, grapevine wreaths are my favorite. Soon they began appearing on my cards, embellished with die cuts and stamping. Die cut sentiments on my cards became a new passion. As my ink collection slowly grew, I loved to match ink and paper colors.

I was so inspired by Art Impressions Watercolor stamps. Oh my! Separate stamps for each tiny bit of foliage, flower, branch, container, tuft of grass, and creature provided endless possibilities. Watercolor markers, watercolor paper, and a No. 4 round brush let me create tiny vignettes to my heart’s desire. I grew more interested in light and shadow and composition. I will always remember sitting in my parents’ desert garden watercoloring tiny, desert scenes. I was inspired by Nature’s color palette, as we hiked in the Sonoran desert, and the colors of my Midwest perennial gardens for so many cards. I could feel my creative heart expanding as I stretched my skills. That year, I began packing a few art supplies whenever I traveled. There was always space for this precious cargo in my backpack… and I needed it with me! 🙂

Pure Innocence stamps and dies melted my heart and are still such fun to create with! They bring back memories of playing with paper dolls as a child. Creativity should feel like play! I began to pack die cut images, watercolors, Distress inks, and patterned paper for paper piecing whenever I gathered with creative friends for our monthly   paper crafting ‘Crops.’

Creating tiny cards and tags using die cuts, watercolors, dye inks, and Prismacolor pencils always makes my heart smile! They add the perfect touch tied onto a bouquet of garden flowers or fresh, baked treats for friends and neighbors.

My mom shared her passion for gardening with me so long ago. So, naturally, I love to add florals to her cards! Watercolors, layered stamping, and ink blending brought these colorful blossoms to life.

It is always fun to include my dad’s favorite things on his cards! Tools, antique telephones, classic cars, toy trains, and vintage motor scooters make him smile. I love the way he studies each card to figure out the techniques I used. 🙂

Over the past two years, I have taken great delight in hand-delivering so many handmade cards to my parents. It’s such a blessing to actually watch them open each card and smile! Their apartment has a growing display of my latest little works of ‘heart.’

This Artist Date brought back so many wonderful memories of the early years of my creative journey! It was a chance to reflect on the ways I have grown as a maker and a creative over the past several years. As I carefully tucked all of the cards back into the yellow box, I knew that a tiny bit of my heart remained in each card. It excites me to think of all of the new skills that lie ahead… just waiting to be explored!  🙂

I am so very grateful to be a part of The Artist’s Way Creative Cluster. It feels like one of the very best gifts that I have ever given myself! I wonder where this incredible journey will lead me next?

What are you busy creating at the moment?

Are you curious to explore any new creative skills?

♥ ♥ ♥

Hope you’ll share with us!

Thank you for stopping by today!

Our hearts are with all those affected by the terrible winter storms.🙏🏼❤️

 

Sending inky hugs!

Dawn

 

 

 

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A New Creative Journey

Hi friends! 

Welcome to all of our new friends, too! I am delighted that you joined us here in our cozy, little gathering place. I hope that today finds you enjoying small moments of self-care, nurturing yourself with hot tea in your favorite cup, and setting an intention for the days ahead.

Creativity has always been an important part of who I am… and who I am becoming. Just last week, I began a long-awaited, creative journey that truly feels like a river moving through me! It’s introspective, joyful, a bit scary😉, and filled with challenging opportunities to learn and grow. You’re invited to come along, from time to time, as I tiptoe down this new, creative path!

I feel so grateful to be a part of a (virtual) Creative Cluster exploring The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. For over twenty-five years, this best-selling book has been helping artists discover and nurture their creativity. We are a large group of creative souls ~ including writers, painters, musicians, poets, dancers, and many more. We work with paints, paper, fibers, wood, music, words, fabric, etc. For the next twelve weeks, our diverse group of creative souls from across the U.S. and other countries will gather each Tuesday, via Zoom, to explore Creativity as we work through The Artist’s Way course together.

Our wonderful leaders, Merideth and Vanessa, warmly welcomed us all as they skillfully guided us through an introduction to The Artist’s Way. We learned more about the key parts of this guided course in Creativity: weekly reading assignments, daily Morning Pages (three pages of handwritten journaling each morning), planning a weekly Artist Date (an intentional, sacred time to explore our inner artist), and completing some of Julia Cameron’s weekly tasks. We all committed to adding these important activities to our busy lives through mid-May!

Before long, we were all randomly assigned to ‘breakout rooms’ of three or four “soon-to-become-friends” for the next hour to explore several discussion topics. Within moments, two other artists and I met and discovered that we were kindred spirits! We shared our thoughts, plans, hopes, and dreams so easily. We had such interesting discussions about excellence vs perfection, making time for creativity in our very busy lives, sharing our creativity through blogging and podcasting… and so much more. What a joy to connect with other creative souls as we travel along this path! Our time together flew by so quickly as we shared inspiring books, poets, and podcasts.

As we gathered together as a whole group again to share our thoughts, it warmed my heart to see the faces of so many talented creatives in our new, artistic community! Soon it was time for each one of us to make our very own Creativity Contract, inspired by Julia Cameron. We made it official with a contract signing ceremony and a group photo! 🙂 The next day, I used a bit of Washi tape to attach my Creativity Contract to my Morning Pages journal.

 

Four years ago, I participated in a lovely, international book club to work through another very inspiring book by Julia Cameron, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again (an Artist’s Way Program for Retirees and Other Creative Souls). The tools we used to explore our creativity included Morning Pages, Artist Dates, Solo Walks in nature, and prompts for Memoir Writing. I was so blessed to meet my cherished friend, Vicky, in that book club. We continue to encourage one another as we travel along our creative paths. The distance between Illinois and New Zealand seems so tiny for kindred spirits! Blog posts about that Artist’s Way experience are: here, here, here, and here

It feels so nurturing to begin each day at my journaling desk writing Morning Pages again. I can already feel my creative inspiration ever-so-slowly returning. I’m really looking forward to planning Artist Dates each week! 🙂 They will just feel very different to me during the pandemic when so many public places are closed and we are staying at home. However, it will be a unique opportunity to s-t-r-e-t-c-h our creativity in many, new directions!

Julia Cameron cautions that this twelve-week path to creative recovery or discovery will raise strong emotional peaks and valleys, including joy, skepticism, giddiness, grief, resistance, and hope. Over the next three months, I’m hopeful that I will grow more resilient and confident as I develop the skills to make and execute my creative plans and dreams. From time to time, I look forward to sharing my progress with The Artist’s Way here on the blog. Our positive, encouraging, gathering place for kindred spirits seems like a cozy, nurturing space to share my new, creative journey!

If you are visiting from our Creative Cluster, I’m so happy that you stopped to visit! 🙂 Be sure to introduce yourself in the comments. We’d love to ‘meet’ you! You will find my introduction on the About page of the blog!

What creative projects are you planning or enjoying this week?

Be well! Stay healthy!

Heartfelt hugs,

Dawn

 

 

 

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