The Snug Cheer Within

Hi Friends!

Cold, snowy greetings from the Midwest! May this be the beginning of a year filled with good health, happy times, and new discoveries! I have always loved new beginnings… and look forward to a fresh, energized start each January. For the past six years, I have chosen a word to guide me throughout each new year.  Actually, the word has always chosen me!

This year, for the first time, I was completely blindsided by my word for 2018! As always, early in the Fall I began listening closely for my 2018 word to come into my heart. There it was… and I began seeing objects with my new word everywhere ~ on plates, on hand lettered signs, even linen napkins. This little word was definitely trending! So, I set up a Pinterest board to hold all of the great inspiration. As Winter approached, my heart began to speak very loudly. (Whenever my heart speaks, I always listen!) Each time I imagined this word, I felt stress. The timing was all wrong for this great word. This had never happened to me before!

I remember the exact moment, while sipping tea one December morning and reading this blog post. My 2018 word found me, tickled my soul, and filled my heart with light and joy! Every time I think about this word, I feel excited for all of the new discoveries that await! 🙂 So, it’s finally time to share the word that will guide me all year long…

It’s perfect! It’s inspiring! It’s what I need to do for my health, happiness, and personal growth in the year ahead! That’s exactly how my word should make me feel. So, I instantly switched gears… and danced through the past few weeks just getting started!

First, I knew that it was time to create a special, dedicated space for writing. Many years ago, when we became a family, I happily gave my antique, oak desk to my husband. Now it was time for a quick trip to IKEA! You would have smiled if you saw us, on one of the coldest days of the year, trying to maneuver the large, flat box into our little car, and up the back stairs at home. 🙂 In a true ‘labor of love,’ my sweet husband spent hours and hours assembling my simple, pine desk (with its hundreds of screws). A bouquet of dried Hydrangeas from my garden, a bouquet of watercolor markers, a cup of tea, and an antique quilt on the wall now make this an inspiring place to write each day!

For the new year, I created a Self-Care journal. I wanted a more tangible way to track my workouts, sleep, gratitude, and all of my creative goals. Although my Fitbit Charge 2 stores data, there is just something about hand writing it (in ink) that makes it feel more important to me. (I wonder if I am the only retiree to embrace bullet journaling? *wink*) I chose a Rhodia dot grid journal. The French, ivory vellum paper, by Clairefontaine, is heavenly. My lifelong love for playing with paper and ink is really in high gear now!

After more than a decade away from my mat, I began a new Yoga practice this month. I created a dedicated space to practice in a corner of our living room. A nearby antique, oak bench holds candles to quiet the mind. Just seeing my Yoga mat waiting for me each day makes my heart smile! Yoga was a huge part of my life for several years, before an injury (off the mat) ended my practice. Although I will always be a beginner, being on the mat again makes me feel so alive! This month I am practicing TRUE ‘Yoga with Adriene’ (via You Tube) with a worldwide community of kindred spirits.

This year, I will be rereading Julia Cameron’s inspiring book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again (An Artist’s Way Program for Retirees and Other Creative Souls). I am looking forward to using Julia’s four powerful tools again this year: writing Morning Pages, finding creative inspiration in Artist Dates, taking Solo Walks in nature, and Writing Memoir. I am planning to spend one month on each chapter (instead of Julia’s one chapter per week plan), so that I can thoroughly explore each of her 12 themes fully. I have been very fortunate to find a wonderful group of interesting, creative souls who are also reading the same book!

I’m looking forward to many colorful hours in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs this year. Creating handmade cards brings me such joy! My Artist Date this week is a workshop where we will create a mixed media project filled with special memories. Making time to create is so good for the mind, heart, and soul!

Today is the first day of The Daily Marker “30 Day Coloring Challenge.” Kathy has organized several of these fun Challenges encouraging everyone to take a few minutes each day just to color something. Over the years, she has built a warm, friendly, encouraging community of paper crafters who love to create with color. I’ve decided to create thirty tiny, stamped watercolor scenes, using Art Impressions Watercolor stamps. I’m so inspired by the creative work of artist Bonnie Krebs, who designs these tiny stamps!

It was fun to gather all of my supplies in a big basket for today’s kickoff of the “30 Day Coloring Challenge.” This was my Day One watercolor. I will be working with watercolor markers, tiny Art Impressions Watercolor stamps, and a paintbrush in a spiral bound pad of watercolor paper. It will be such fun to create these tiny watercolors ~ just for me!  (Normally, I turn them into cards and mail them off to family and friends right away.) I’m making quick notes alongside each painting so that I can always create another similar scene for a card in the future.

Finally, I’ve filled a big basket with stitching projects ~  pillow cases and tea towels to embroider, supplies to create a penny rug banner, and my first punch needle project. Wintertime always seems just perfect for a warm, snug place to sit, a hot cup of tea, and a colorful project to stitch.  (I think I’m going to need at least six more creative hours in each day!)  🙂

“The snow lies warm as cotton or down upon the window-sill;

the broadened sash and frosted panes admit a dim and private light,

which enhances the snug cheer within.”

~ Henry David Thoreau


Wishing you peaceful hours

that enhance the snug cheer within you!

Thank you so much for stopping to visit today.

Warm hugs,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Hope you will share your plans and dreams for 2018 with us!





40 thoughts on “The Snug Cheer Within

  1. Hello Dawn, How lovely to find your blog post in my Inbox. I’ve been thinking of you.
    I love your word for the year and totally relate to your love of all things paper.
    You’re inspiring me to find a journal I love – I do my Morning Pages in a plain journal, but I’m wanting somewhere to be more creative and keep track of goals, intentions and actions. I’m wanting to create more structure and be more intentional. And then there’s the blog which is getting closer. Thank you for being such an inspiration. I’m happy to be sharing the ‘It’s never too late’ journey with you. Happy 2018. Stay warm, we’re sweltering in above average temperatures this summer in New Zealand. xox

    • Happy New Year, Vicky! I’m so delighted that we can share our ‘It’s Never Too Late’ journey for another year. It’s sure to be a great year of discovery for both of us! This will be my year to make Memoir Writing a priority. Your progress last year truly inspired me, Vicky! I’m so happy that your blog is getting closer to publishing. You chose a perfect name for your blog! I’m really looking forward to your first post. 🙂

      Journaling is such a powerful tool. In just the first few weeks, I can already see the value of keeping my Self-Care journal. It is making me more mindful of bedtime since I am tracking the number of hours that I sleep. Hand writing the data (in ink) each day makes me more accountable. Graphing my number of ‘steps’ each day makes me much more intentional than just seeing a graph on a screen. You will have such fun choosing your new journal, Vicky! There are so many wonderful choices. I love pages with a dot grid. They are so versatile. I am finding bullet journal inspiration from BohoBerry and AmandaRachLee on You Tube. It’s fun to do a bit of lettering and doodling on each page, but I have also seen some beautiful minimalist bullet journals. I’ve been collecting quotes about walking and sleep for those pages in my journal. I’m certain that using a few art supplies in my journal will keep me motivated to continue. Last year’s Garden Journal taught me some important lessons along the way! Making time to document our journey is a lovely gift that we can give to ourselves. It feels good to make time for journaling!

      Enjoy your summertime days in New Zealand! The weather extremes everywhere are really frightening. You have been enduring sweltering heat, while we just had a 14-day stretch of dangerously low temperatures. Our wind chill temperatures were -20F. This week, I am getting some snow shoveling ‘workouts.’ It really looks like a ‘Marshmallow World’ here, with a blanket of sparkling snow over my garden. 🙂 Sending a flurry of snowy wishes for a wonderful, creative week, Vicky! ♡

    • You are so sweet, Kathy! That little Art Impressions Watercolor wagon stamp is so versatile. It’s fun to fill it with colorful flowers, too. I can’t wait to use it on a card soon! Wishing you a good start to the New Year. We’d love to hear what you are excited about as 2018 begins, Kathy! ♡

  2. Dawn, your posts are always so inspiring! Joy just jumps off the page of the things you create. That little wagon is just precious! 😀
    So this year my word is “present”. Now that I am “breathing”, and finding “balance”, it is time to be present in my life. It is time to open up the present that is my life; to be present in everything I do. So that is where I am this year! Also this is the year I am limping into retirement!!
    Thank you for the link to the yoga. The app I used to use changed and I have had trouble finding another one I like.
    Thank you for being here, taking the time to keep up with the blog and being the inspiration in your readers’ lives! I always enjoy it and find strength in it!😀

    • So great to hear from you, Chris! I think of you often, sweet friend. I’m very glad that you can feel my genuine excitement for new beginnings this year. I do fill my days to overflowing. 🙂 Learning and growing in new ways just makes me thrive!

      Your word for this year is wonderful, Chris! I think ‘present’ was also my third word. It was (and still is) my most challenging word, but also feels like the most important one of all. One of my favorite ways to practice being ‘present’ is while looking out at the clouds and the landscape below from a window seat during a flight. It feels awe-inspiring every time!

      Congratulations on your upcoming retirement, Chris! I do hope you are figuratively ‘limping’ into this wonderful, new chapter of life. May it be filled with good health and happy surprises! One of my favorite happy surprises was learning how to write a blog. 🙂 Those kinds of things happen when you are curious. (I really just wanted to learn how Susan creates her magical blog. So, I took a WordPress workshop at our library to satisfy my curiosity. A few days later, with help from the tech director at our library, together we hit ‘publish’ on my first post. Five minutes later, when I got home, someone in New Zealand was reading my post. Pure magic!) Blogging has been such an unexpected blessing in my life! I wish you countless, unexpected blessings, too!

      I think you will really enjoy TRUE ‘Yoga with Adriene,’ Chris! I am halfway through this series of thirty lessons. It’s powerful to know that kindred spirits across the globe are all practicing the same lesson on our mats each day. I’m quite sure that I will want to repeat the entire TRUE series again. Yoga is a beautiful way to practice breathing, balance, and being present. 🙂

      It has become more difficult to find time to blog lately. Family time has been my priority and will continue to be in the years to come. There are so many stories that I would love to share! Finding time to post and visit my friends in our wonderful blogging community has become much more difficult in recent months. Although there may be quiet times here on our blog, I promise to create here whenever time permits. So glad that we are friends, Chris! Namaste. ♡

  3. Oh, Dawn! Your posts always inspire me. I’m ready to get started. Is the little wagon a stamp or free hand? You are so talented in your drawing and handwriting not to mention your story telling. My creativity has been slightly derailed. Getting better already now so I’m ready to get to work. My word for the year is breathe. I forget to do that a lot holding my breath often. I like your word and hope to put that a close second. I started doing my yoga practice again as my back started to go to keep it from going completely and it did help but not enough soon enough. It will be a daily feature from now on. Doc said to wait on the uphill walking for a bit. 😦 I love my walks. They are so meditative. It does make us more creative. Hoping you are getting a little break in that horrendous weather. Ours is way too mild. Not a good thing. I’m glad I got back here and I’ll look for anything else I’ve missed. October through now has literally knocked the wind out of my sails but now that I remember to breathe more often and visit you more, I’ll be back in the game in no time at all. Thanks for always being such an inspiration.

    • Huge hugs, Marlene! The little wagon is an Art Impressions Watercolor stamp. Bonnie Krebs designs tiny, individual stamps with foliage, blossoms, containers, etc. I create the little scenes by coloring on each stamp with watercolor markers, stamping on watercolor paper, and then using a paintbrush to move the colors, create shadows, and highlights.I used a Uniball Signo Broad white pen to add the snowflakes. It’s so fascinating to me! Although I can’t draw, these tiny stamps make me feel like an artist. 🙂 It takes me a long time to create each little watercolor, but it feels so relaxing! Each tiny painting is unique. So, Bonnie reminds us that we must sign our work (like a real artist!). I’m just about to begin on my tiny Day Two watercolor scene. 🙂

      ‘Breathe’ was my very first word six years ago, Marlene! It helped me so much as I was preparing to leave the teaching career that had been my lifelong dream=come-true. I still call upon that word often during worrisome times. ‘Breathe’ will be the perfect complement to your Yoga. Please take extra care of your sore back during your Yoga stretches. Yoga poses can be so powerful.

      I’m so glad that you stopped back again to visit, Marlene! If you missed my December post, “Nourish… to Flourish,” you might enjoy it, too. I have no doubt that you will be back in the game soon. You go, Girl! ♡

      • I stopped over at the stamping site and I’m in love with it! I’ll have to give it a try. I’ll go back and check and see how many of your posts I’ve missed. They are all wonderful and inspiring. 😉 I also kept all your directions here to lead me through later when I get those cute stamps. 😉 Hugs.

      • Marlene, take a peek at the Art Impressions You Tube channel. Look for Bonnie’s ‘Watercolor Wednesday’ videos! You will absolutely love using these tiny stamps! I met the artist, Bonnie Krebs, at a Stamp Expo two years ago. I stood there for over an hour just watching her create these tiny stamped watercolors. I actually had tears in my eyes as I watched her bring each scene to life! It’s easy to order the stamp sets from Art Impressions online. They are located in Oregon, so your order will arrive very quickly!

      • I have the utube website open and will continue to look. You aren’t kidding, they are 45 minutes down the road. I’m south of Portland but I don’t drive far so I’d just order online. 🙂 Thanks so much. I’ll try to get time tomorrow to watch some of them. Thank you SO much.

    • Thank you, Judy! You are much too kind. It’s fun to explore new creative avenues of all kinds, especially during the winter months while our gardens are sleeping. I’m sure that you are dreaming of creating an amazing quilt project or two! Enjoy your getaway from the snow and cold. Happy, healthy New Year, Judy!💗

  4. Dearest Dawn, it’s lovely to read about your plans for the new year. Your new word, Create, is indeed perfect for you! You create such lovely works of art in everything you do! Yes, that word perfectly describes you, my friend. It is evident in your lovely journals. What a great idea to have a Self-care journal. I agree writing down our efforts supports our intentions in anything we pursue. Combining your beautiful artwork in your journals tie all of your loves together!
    By the way, I love the pretty shadows in your first photo. It’s lovely to see the sun create lovely patterns this time of year. Stay warm and cozy, my friend. ♥

    • What kind, encouraging words, Martha Ellen! When the word ‘create’ found me it truly made my heart sing! Within the first two weeks, I can already see the benefits of having a Self-Care journal. I am definitely more mindful of how my choices impact my health each day. I wouldn’t take the time to play with lettering unless it was supporting my intentions. So, I’ve been collecting wonderful quotes about sleep and walking for inspiration and lettering practice.

      Those shadows took my breath away last week when it was dangerously cold here in the Midwest. The bright sun was streaming into our dining room through the lace curtains. In spite of the extreme weather, I could feel the snug cheer within! I felt so much gratitude at that moment in time. Sending warm, sunny thoughts across the miles, dear one! Happy New Year! 💗

  5. I’m smiling a big, broad smile at the realization that Thoreau inspired both of us this week. 🙂
    Create! A perfect word for you, Dawn and good for you for listening to its call. I can’t wait to see all of your artistic endeavors illustrate your new year. Stay warm today, enjoy the sunshine – and create!

    • Kindred spirits for sure, dear Penny! Hope it will warm up just enough for some winter walks soon.

      The first little word that found me was making me feel stress and my heart felt heavy as I thought about ways to incorporate it into my life. The timing was just not right. My word should lighten my heart, fill me with joy, and inspire me to grow! Now I awaken each morning with a happy heart. I’m so grateful that ‘create’ shouted out to me! I think it’s perfect, too! It can be a wee bit scary. So, I can tell that it will teach me great lessons this year.
      Sending warm hugs and much love, dear one!💕

  6. Hi Dawn!
    Its so nice to see you doing such creative things . Last year I joined a journal group and we are doing a similar 30 day journal challenge, each day to write with a new theme. I am also currently reading Abbey Sy’s the ABCs of Journaling and Miek Widing’s ‘ Thw little book of Hygge’. You may like to read them in future. They are very comfort reads on a cozy winter. I hope you enjoy your work in your studio. Keep in touch. Stay warm.
    ~ Ricky

    • It’s wonderful to hear from you today, Ricky! I’ve been hoping that you would have time to visit! It’s lovely to know that we are both reading the same book. I keep borrowing ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ from the library. It is such a comfort to read and reread, especially on a cold, snowy day! I have seen Abbey Sy’s lettering, so I am sure that I would enjoy her book, too. We are kindred spirits, Ricky! We are both enjoying the same creative journey, one in India and one in America. I’m so happy that blogging connected us! Have you read ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron? I think you would really love it. She encourages us to write Morning Pages each day. She also suggests that we plan an Artist Date each week. This afternoon will be my first Artist Date of the new year. It will be an art workshop on collage. I’m excited and a little bit nervous, too (in a good way). That’s how learning and growing feels!😊 Ricky, do you ever choose ‘One Little Word’ for the new year? Check out for nice inspiration! Thank you so much for visiting today, Ricky! Wishing you healthy, happy, creative days and much joy in your heart!💗

      • Thank you Dawn. I am so happy myself for finding time to read your wonderful blog. We share the same taste which is amazing. And I will sure look up for Julia Cameron ‘s’ the artist’s way’ and . Thank you for the references. See you soon here. Happy Cozy Winter ♡

      • Isn’t it wonderful, Ricky? We also share an admiration for Susan Branch. Inspiration is everywhere! Having blog friends across the globe makes the world feel a bit cozier. Warm hugs, Ricky!💗

  7. I just wrote a paragraph here and then got a notice that I couldn’t post. I tried to recover it but it’s gone poof. I’ll be back in the morning when I’m not so tired, and will hope things are working better then. In a word: perfection.

    • So frustrating, Alys! The very same thing happened to me yesterday. I left a long, thoughtful comment on a friend’s Blogspot blog. It wouldn’t post and disappeared! So, I will try again today and hope it will work. I always look forward to hearing your thoughts, Alys! It will be a special treat when you return. If you have time, be sure to visit my December post “Nourish… to Flourish.” It is filled with happy, heartwarming news! Happy weekend, my friend!💗

    • Hi, Jan! During the winter months, while the garden is sleeping, I am being very intentional about making time to do more creative activities inside. It feels like a special gift that I am giving myself. That’s what makes ‘create’ a wonderful word to guide my choices each day! It isn’t possible to do all of these activities every day, but choosing from this yummy ‘menu’ of creative activities truly excites me. I’m slowly growing in new ways… and enjoying the process! Hope your year is off to a nice start, Jan! Maybe our paths will cross again at a creative class at the library in the new year. 😊 Thanks so much for visiting today, Jan!

  8. Dawn, I can’t remember what I wrote a few days ago, then lost to the ether, but it went something like this: I love your *word*, your energy, your art and your kind soul. Your new desk is charming, and what a cozy quilt you have hanging on the wall. I’m so happy to hear you’ve gone back to yoga. I had no idea you could join in via YouTube. What a novel idea.

    • I’m so happy that you stopped to visit again, Alys! I’m delighted that the word create finally found me! When it popped into my heart, I knew that the timing was perfect! It’s a challenge (for this ‘perfectionist’), but that is what makes this intention so important for me. In the first few weeks, I can already feel new growth. So, I think it will be an exciting year ahead! Did you choose a ‘word’ for 2018, Alys?

      I am really enjoying TRUE Yoga with Adriene on You Tube. Adriene has gathered a ‘community-of-the-heart’ online. It’s wonderful to know that like-minded spirits around the globe are intentionally practicing the same lesson on the same day.:) That’s a very special feeling! I would caution anyone thinking of practicing Yoga online that it is important to learn the basics in a real Yoga class first to lessen the chance of injuries. My years of practice in Yoga classes give me a foundation for continuing to practice with Adriene. The spirit in me honors the spirit in you, dear Alys! Namaste.

      • Dawn, hurrah for new growth. I’m so happy for you. You’re amazingly aware, and that is half the battle, eh? Lots of people remain shallow, fearing I guess the work of looking inward. It’s hard work digging deep, but there are wonderful rewards, too.

        Guess what? I spent two afternoons this week making cards! You’ve inspired me. It was time to reorganize my paper as well and led to a project I’ve been wanting to try for awhile: using small scraps to make “quilt” like cards. So far I’ve made two and my goodness what fun.

        So, here is another bit of serendipity. When I attended my Pilates class Thursday, one of the women mentioned doing “yoga with Adriene”. I couldn’t believe it!

        Great advice on starting out with an in-person instructor at the start. I took yoga in high school, picked it up again in my thirties and again in my forties. There are moves I can’t do due to an old neck injury, and this is no doubt why they always caution people to see a doctor before starting any exercise program. I think I could recite that in my sleep.


      • We can never stop growing, Alys! Whether in our beloved gardens or in our personal lives, new growth is so exciting! We both embrace life to the fullest, my friend!

        I can just imagine you happily piecing together tiny, paper quilts for your cards, Alys! I enjoy creating tiny, paper quilts, too. Papertrey Ink has some lovely quilt pattern dies. I just love to emboss patterned paper (using my Big Shot) before die cutting the tiny, paper quilt pieces. Once assembled, it really has the look of a soft, vintage quilt! You could really stitch your tiny quilts, Alys! I dream of having an old sewing machine for my little Paper Garden studio. It would be ‘sew’ much fun to stitch on my cards, tags, and scrapbook pages!

        Yoga with Adriene is so popular across the globe! When I complete all of her TRUE Yoga lessons, I’m planning to begin the entire series again. I will perennially be a beginning yogi, but I embrace the Yoga philosophy, the Sanskrit words, and the blessings that Yoga practice brings to my life. The spirit in me honors the spirit in you, sweet Alys! Namaste. ♡

      • Oh Dawn, my head is spinning now. I too was thinking of using one of my embossing folders to make the paper quilt more textured. I wonder if you’ve shared any of yours on past blog posts? I would love a peek.

        I’m sure you would have no trouble finding a used sewing machine via eBay or the like, or perhaps at a local sewing shop. My friend bought one of the paper-specific machines, but she’s had a lot of problems with it, so I’m not sure that would be the way to go. I know you’ll find what you need!

      • Your tiny, paper quilts will look (and feel) just like soft, vintage quilts after you emboss them, Alys! I will find a photo and email it to you. It would be so much fun to have an old sewing machine in the studio. So many times I have drawn faux stitches. In the meantime, I’m so grateful to have stitched dies to add texture and interest to my projects. Have a lovely, creative week, dear Alys! ♡

  9. PS: I have a comment tip for you, one I’ve been doing tonight. I click “copy” before posting, so if the comment goes south I can refresh the page and then trying posting it again. 🙂 I’m off to bed. I’ve had a terrific visit with you tonight.

    • Wonderful tip, Alys! I must remember to do this, too. It will save the frustration of having a thoughtful comment disappear into the ether! Thank you so much for always being here, Alys. Sweet dreams, sweet friend! ♡
      P.S. Just last night, I subscribed to your blog via email (after so many years!). I kept missing your posts by not scrolling far enough through my WordPress ‘Reader.’ It will be sooooo much nicer to visit in a timely manner. 🙂 Your blog posts always warm my heart and encourage me to grow in so many new ways! ♡

      • Emails are a great reminder to visit favorite blog friends, Alys. Over the years, I have followed so many blogs on the Word Press ‘Reader’ that they just seem to get lost in the crowd. I can never catch up just by scrolling through the ‘Reader.’ I’m so happy that I will be able to keep up with you now, Alys! ♡

  10. I follow Yoga with Adriene, too! Just seeing her face in the morning makes me happy. I also choose a word of the year, and this year my word actually changed for me right at the beginning. I was going to use the word mindful, but soon into the year I found that the word patient was much more suited for this time in my life. And it’s a good thing I changed– not long after I fell and have since been recovering from a concussion, which takes a really long time to heal, and I’m not always the most patient patient, so the word is serving me very well. It found me just in time! Thanks for sharing!

    • Kindred spirits, Ericka! Just hearing Adriene’s voice always makes my heart happy. It feels so good to do something so important for our own health! I am so sorry to hear about your accident, Ericka. ♥♥ Your ‘word’ came to you just in time and it will be so helpful throughout your lengthy recovery. Patient is a perfect word! I find that it is so much easier to be patient with others than with myself. So, perhaps the same ‘word’ will find me one day! Thank you so much for visiting today, Ericka! Sending warm, healing hugs from my heart to yours! Namaste. ♡

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