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,


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!💕

18 thoughts on “Breathing Room…

  1. Hi Dawn,
    My very dear friend…I think of you so often!
    I miss you and I need to give you call!
    From a very old friend! Lol

    • So good to hear from you, Julie! We will definitely plan a phone chat to catch up. Wishing you a nice start to the school year! Please take extra good care, dear friend.
      Sending extra hugs for your mom, too! 💗

  2. Dawn, you are always a breath of fresh air. Through all your sadness and strife you find a way to share a kind word, your beautiful garden, your artistic and creative endeavors, and a piece of your gentle soul. My heart goes out to you.

    If you were here in my garden, I would brew some tea and invite you to join me on the new-this-season wood glider. I would ask about your brothers, and your parents, too. You inspire me in so many ways.

    Just last week I experimented with a new quilt pattern embossing folder and thought of you the whole time. I’ll share the results later this month for Kate’s ScrapHappy gathering of bloggers. I hope you’ll consider joining us one day. Everyone makes something entirely out of scraps and shares it on their blog.

    Sending a tender hug across the miles. xo

    • Huge hugs, Alys! Your sweet words truly warm my heart. It would be delightful to sip tea together in your California garden. I would ask you to share more stories about your dad’s horticultural work and some stories about your Aunt Alys!
      Your new quilt pattern embossing folder sounds intriguing! I’m looking forward to seeing your next project. I haven’t had time in my Paper Garden studio recently… but hope for some time to play with paper and ink soon! I can feel your hug across the miles, dear heart!💗

  3. It’s been a hard year and a half for most of us, but I can’t even imagine the pain caused by the loss of loved ones. I find solace in the garden, and I can understand how much you cherish that one day doing simple gardening tasks. I’ve always been astonished at how life keeps moving even when we are grieving, but it does so we keep putting one foot in front of the other heading towards tomorrow. ❤️ Good luck with the block editor. We all need it. 🙂 We’re safe, but that means we’re back to isolating at home most of the time, picking up curbside again, and only going ‘in’ when we need to. I garden most mornings because it has been so humid I can only take a few hours before I’m drained. It’s been a year of learning about sun and rain for sure. I also polish off about three mysteries a week so I’m very grateful for my library. I can’t tell you how good it was to see you pop up in my email. Take care, stay well and strong.

    • So true, Judy! Those statistics that we hear on the news every day represent real families that are forever changed by Covid. Truly heartbreaking!!
      I feel so much peace when I am in the garden. I am planning to create a special Memory Garden in our backyard, with special plants, perhaps a bench to sit and remember, and some shrubs that will add color through the seasons. It will be so nice to add some meaningful artifacts to celebrate Johnny and Jeff. I keep changing my mind about the best location in the garden. I would love to plant this special garden bed in the Spring. I know it will be an important part of my healing!
      Judy, I think of you so often when I smile at my ‘right-size’ garden! I can’t imagine how impossible (and stressful) it would feel if I still had all of those large, sweeping perennial beds to weed and keep tidy during this incredibly busy chapter of life. My garden still takes a lot of time… but it’s really manageable now! It still brings me so much comfort and joy!!
      Enjoy those mysteries and a bit of stitching when it’s too hot and humid to enjoy your garden. Your friendship is such a blessing, dear Judy! Sending big hugs all the way to New Hampshire! 💗

      • I’ve seen what I’ll call garden stones in memory of. When I google with that, they come up. They are flat decorative stones for the garden that you can put a name on or a saying. They could be tucked under a plant if you didn’t want it front and center. Just an idea as you create this special memory place.

      • Oh, Judy! Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful garden stones with me! I have tears in my eyes. They will be just perfect, engraved with names and dates. Truly, you are such a blessing! I will choose the perfect ones and order them, so that they will be here when I am ready! A special friend also gifted us with a beautiful garden stone. So, the plans are beginning to grow! I’ve been thinking of planting shrubs that will create a colorful Memory Garden throughout the seasons ~ forsythia, burning bush,… I will include the very same yucca that grew in my mom’s garden when we were growing up. I also have my mom’s rhododendron. It’s much too big to move, but I will take cuttings to try to propagate a smaller bush. (I wonder if that will be successful?) I will also look at the plant suggestions in Kerry Ann Mendez’ book. I’m still pondering the perfect space in our backyard.
        Thank you again, dear Judy, for finding these beautiful garden stones for us!
        Love you!💗💗

  4. Dearest Dawn,
    I was just sitting down to “catch up” with you and hear how my dear friend is doing. The letter I was going to write instead was stopped when I noticed a post from your lovely hand. You have been on my heart often as I work in my own garden or when I’m working indoors when the temperatures have kept me inside. Your garden is so beautiful full of the ” right size ” flowers to fill you heart with joy! “Listening to our hearts” is truly the best way to live! The Listening Path sounds wonderful. I must check it out.
    Sendiing you love and hugs as you go about your days, my friend.
    Martha Ellen

    • I have been holding you in my heart, too, Martha Ellen! We often think about our lovely, virtual visit with you and Grayden. Perhaps we can plan another ‘gathering’ in the Fall! 💕
      Oh, I think you would really enjoy reading ‘The Listening Path.’ Julia Cameron encourages us to create rituals around Morning Pages, Artist Dates, and Walks in Nature to nurture our creativity. These creative steps have become an important part of my self-care. I am working my way through the book at a slower pace. Do let me know if you begin to read ‘The Listening Path.’ It’s a gem! Take extra good care of yourself, dear heart. Sending big hugs across the miles to Virginia! 💗

  5. Dawn, how lovely to hear from you. I’m happy you’ve taken this time and space to nurture yourself and your family. And it’s wonderful to see your garden. Obviously you’ve followed your intuition over the years to create a garden that works for you today in these changed times. I’m looking enviously at your taller than you flowers. I need some of those.

    I’ve mostly been focusing on vegetables and fruit trees. Here in NZ we are about to go into Spring and already the days are warming up nicely. I’ve got my hammock pagoda built and my new deck and an archway/walkway through my garden constructed from reinforcing mesh. Wisteria and kiwi berries are starting to grow up my hammock pagoda. I’ve never actually seen a kiwi berry but apparently they are a miniature kiwi fruit we are well known for – so that will be interesting. It’s still a bit early to plant new vegetables so I’m trying to be patient. I’m sure come Spring everything is going to bloom and grow. I’ve been planting lots of trees over winter.

    I’ve buried mycillium in my mulch and I’m expecting mushrooms to grow in the next couple of months. So exciting.

    As for reading, I’m reading books on foraging and growing herbs and spices. So much to learn.
    Meanwhile I do have flowers growing outside my window. Next for a bird bath.

    I’ve been thinking about you lots, my friend from across the waters. So glad we have technology to help us connect. NZ is in lockdown at the moment, for the first time in over a year. I’m quite enjoying this quiet time. Garden and having things delivered and connecting with friends online for now. It quite suits me! Big hugs and love xox

    • Oh, Vicky Heartfelt thanks for all of your lovely, long letters and garden photos!! In just one year, you have surrounded your tiny home with a beautiful oasis. Your new deck, entryway arch, and hammock pagoda will be a wonderful way to welcome Springtime in New Zealand! We always admire the healthy abundance of fruits, veggies, and nuts that you grow as you care for our fragile planet. You introduce us to so many fruits that we have never seen!
      Can’t wait to see your new birdbath! You might like to add a few bee baths, too! I’ll send photos of the easy bee baths I made. Providing water sources for the bees will keep these busy pollinators in your garden. Otherwise they will have to travel to find water elsewhere.

      Reading about herbs and growing tea is such a peaceful thing for me, too. Did I tell you that I will begin my second virtual Creative Cluster for The Artist’s Way on September 14th? I knew when I finished reading Julia Cameron’s brilliant book in May that I just HAD to read it again… and keep growing as an artist!! A dear friend is joining me on this creative adventure! It will be the perfect thing to add a bit of ‘breathing room’ for my creative heart and soul! It was Julia Cameron’s work that brought you and I together across the continents so many years ago. You will always be one of my favorite creative treasures, Vicky!!💕
      Let’s plan another virtual visit soon! I’d love to ‘see’ you!!
      Sending XL hugs to your little corner world!💗

  6. It’s so good to hear from you. Sometimes it is just necessary to withdraw from social media and as I like to say, shrink your world. I have had a wonderful summer. I finally got to see my family. They came the end of July and it was hot, but we had a great week together. My grandson is now taller than his mom and I. My son spent several days working on projects here, just little things that needed to be fixed and I am always so grateful.
    The spring garden did very well and by July it’s over. I did put in raised beds in the vegetable garden which is much easier for me to take care of. Now I am contemplating a fall garden. Nothing big, just some beets and Swiss chard.
    While the northeast suffered with cicadas, we had a plague of grasshoppers. They ate everything in sight, including my sweet annie. There will be no harvest of my precious herb this year and what few plants are left I pray will go to seed and come back next year.
    And I added to our family. In a moment of total insanity I said yes to a tiny kitten that my granddaughter named Tiggy. I call her Tiggy Wig. She is the tiniest thing, all ears and big eyes and resembles a fruit bat! She is smart, fearless and inquisitive and I am in love!
    And now I wait for Fall. I am an autumn soul and it is a very fleeting season here.
    I continue to pray for peace and comfort for your family as we all navigate life where nothing can or should be taken for granted.
    Much love to you.

    • So lovely to hear from you, Chris! I have been super busy helping my parents as their health needs change. I count my blessings for every precious moment that I spend with them! I know that you understand…

      I’m so happy that you were able to have special family times this Summer, Chris! Please let your son know that I thank him every time I walk past my weed-free, mulched beds near the front porch. The weed fabric that he recommended has saved me soooo much work this year!! 😊 Hopefully, next Spring there will be time to dig up my large Friendship Garden bed to ‘plant’ a layer of the weed fabric there, too! Your raised beds in the vegetable garden will make life so much easier. My neighbor has planted her entire veggie garden in large pots and containers. We are often gifted with her abundance of veggies!
      Ugh, I can’t even imagine a plague of grasshoppers!😳 I hope your beloved Sweet Annie will reseed and return!

      Chris, I can hear your joy when you write about tiny Tiggy Wig! I’m so happy that she came into your life at this moment in time. There are unexpected blessings all around us!💕

      Each time I see the bright, yellow school bus drive past, my thoughts turn to Autumn, as well. Before we know it, pumpkin spice season will be here. I’m looking forward to a break from our heat and humidity! I’ve been watching our neighbor’s pumpkins ripening on the vine. I’m looking forward to decorating for Autumn! No matter what the weather brings, I hope to begin decorating right after Labor Day. It will help to lighten my heart and soul.

      It feels like time has been flying by AND standing still for our family since early April. I truly appreciate your prayers for my family, Chris. Losing Johnny and Jeff at the same time, so suddenly, has been incredibly hard. Our lives have been forever changed. We miss my brothers dearly. It’s so true that nothing can or should be taken for granted! It’s so important to continuously reach out and tell our loved ones just how important they are to us.
      Love YOU, Chris!!💗

  7. Gentle seems to be the theme for this week. So many have written about that word. Now I see it here. ) “While I am working in the garden, the world feels more gentle! ” It’s what the world needs now is more gentle thoughts, feeling, and actions. Being gentle with yourself comes first then you spread it around. It’s wonderful to have somewhere to go for solace when needed. You are always closer to the Creator in a garden. Thanks for the heads up on Julia Cameron’s new book. Sending hugs and love. M

    • So happy that you stopped to visit today, Marlene! I think of you often as we hear the news from the Northwest. I hope that you and your daughter and all of your loved ones are safe!

      Whenever I am at home and can retreat to my garden for a short time, it brings me such comfort, healing, and ‘breathing room.’ It’s no wonder that my inspiration for most of my blog posts comes during time in the garden (even the snowy garden in the Wintertime!) I know you find the same peace in your garden, Marlene.

      I think you would really enjoy The Listening Path, too! It’s so invigorating to read Julia’s descriptions of Morning Pages, Artist Dates, and solo walks in nature again after her twenty-five years of inspiring artists along this wonderfully creative path! Although The Listening Path is written as a six-week program, I have been working much slower during this extremely busy season of life. The margins are filling up with my notes and intentions as I read. There is so much to discover and savor in Julia’s new book!
      You are such a dear, Marlene! I can feel your hugs and love and send mine right back to you! 💗

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