Stillness…

Hi Friends!

It began as a quiet Winter’s day here in the Midwest. After a nice morning spent with my parents, I headed home to watch the ceremonial registering of the 2020 Election ballots in the U.S. Capitol Building. I still have such fond memories of visiting the Capitol Building as a child on a special, family trip to Washington, D.C. Perhaps that is where my interest in government began so long ago.

Tragically, January 6, 2021 will be remembered for an assault on democracy in our homeland by American terrorists. As I watched in shock while white Supremacists climbed the Capitol stairs and scaled the walls, I kept asking myself, “Where are the police and the National Guard? How can this be happening?” It was such a contrast to last year’s Black Lives Matter marches for racial justice that were surrounded by police in riot gear and National Guard troops. Enough is enough!

The peaceful transfer of power is a cornerstone of our government. Thankfully, democracy prevailed! I noticed small changes late into the night when members of Congress slowly came together to work toward change. The events of Wednesday have further opened our eyes to the extreme dangers of the deep divide that separates Americans. Although I am fearful of the things that could happen during the next twelve days, I remain very hopeful that things will improve for everyone with the peaceful transfer of power to the new administration. I pray that our new leaders will guide us carefully through the pandemic, saving lives and helping us all slowly move back into our routines. Working together can make life better for us all!

♦ ♦ ♦

Since Wednesday, I have felt a strong need for quiet and stillness… just to process all that has happened. There have been many conversations with family members and video chats with friends abroad as we all try to understand. I have also been listening to the voices of Black women and learning just how much trauma they are feeling in the aftermath of Wednesday’s attack on our democracy.

Sipping soothing, herbal tea while rereading last year’s journal brought me comfort in the stillness

My ‘word’ for 2020 proved to be very helpful as I learned to savor all of the unexpected time spent at home!

Tucked behind each monthly welcome page, were my goals and a list of things I looked forward to during the month. There were so many changes during the year as Covid restrictions completely upended our daily lives! Although I made fewer handmade cards, I wrote so many more letters to friends, near and far, last year. We were all looking for personal ways to connect at a distance.

It was interesting to revisit some of the lessons learned that helped me through 2020.

As I reread the pages of my 2020 Self-Care bullet journal, I found so much peace in all of the monthly Gratitude pages. There were so many blessings, large and small, in the past year. I’m truly happy that I documented them all on my journal pages!

I looked back on the little things that filled my December days. A few times throughout the year, I document the little things that are currently happening. These pages become tiny time capsules of months gone by.

I quietly reflected upon all the valuable lessons that my Self-Care journals have taught me over the past three years. During my first year of bullet journaling, my monthly “Reasons to Be Proud” pages were filled with things I had done for other people. Ever since, I have intentionally documented things that I am doing for my own Self-Care each month. It was a challenge at first to find things that I had done for myself. Now it has become easy to fill a whole page with things that I do for my own Self-Care each month! πŸ™‚ I am often surprised by the unexpected ways that my bullet journals help me to grow.

Savoring the healing stillness during this emotional week has been a true blessing for me. I’m looking forward to ‘restarting’ the New Year next week! πŸ˜‰ I have a brand new journal to fill with healthy habits and positive thoughts. I also have a brand new ‘word’ to guide me through whatever 2021 brings!

How are you feeling this week?

What has helped you through these challenging times?

Hope you’ll chat with us…

β™₯ β™₯ β™₯

Please take extra good care of yourself!

Stay safe and healthy!

Sending healing hugs,

β™‘ Dawn

A Merry Little Christmas

Hi Friends!

The holiday season feels so different this year! Our family is being extra cautious as we celebrate a “merry little Christmas.” For the very first time, we won’t all gather here on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day out of love and concern for everyone’s health.

Instead we are looking forward to spending precious time with our parents, just two family members at a time (wearing masks, of course). We had a sweet morning visit for Christmas Eve and will have another special morning visit on Christmas Day, too. My brothers will have nice afternoon visits with our parents.

Knowing that our holiday celebrations would be very different this year, we decided to plan a nontraditional Christmas. Instead of a tall Christmas tree filled with favorite ornaments, we have two small trees. In the living room window, a small tree in a large, Shaker-style basket glows with tiny, white lights, primitive penny bunting, and a star on top. Such a simple, quiet celebration that feels ‘just right’ this year. Our dining room has a small forest-style tree, with tiny, white lights and just a few very special ornaments.

Christmas cards from family and friends hang from ribbons as they do every year. This year, the cards feel even more special ~ like paper hugs from loved ones whom we have not even seen in person this year. We truly miss them all!

As always, our front porch decorations have a quiet, old-fashioned feeling. The railings are decked with evergreen garland with tiny, white lights and large, white bows. Antique wooden boxes are filled with evergreen branches. I took advantage of our mild November weather to fill a basket with dried, garden gatherings to hang on the front of our house. An antique sled is decked with a bouquet of the holly-like leaves of Mahonia from our garden.

We have been watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music, and taking little drives to enjoy the Christmas lights all around town. Yet everything feels so different…

Our prayers go out to all those fighting for their lives in hospitals and their families waiting for them at home. At the moment, we know several people who are ill with Covid-19 even though they took careful precautions every day.

We are so grateful for the healthcare heroes and first responders who work on the front line, day-after-day, month-after-month. All of the essential workers who put themselves at risk every single day working in grocery stores, driving public transportation, and delivering mail and packages have our gratitude. Our hearts go out to the dedicated teachers and their students who are doing such hard work every day as they navigate this whole new way of learning.

The best gifts of all this Christmas are the vaccines that are arriving at the hospitals each day! All of the residents in my parents’ senior living community will get their first vaccines next week. My husband and I will be waiting for our turn for vaccines in the coming months. We are feeling hopeful…

Wishing you quiet moments

of peace, love, and joy

as you celebrate

your own “merry little Christmas” this year.

Although we may be far apart,

you are always close to my heart! β™₯β™₯

Stay safe and healthy!

Warmest hugs,

β™‘ Dawn

P.S.Β  How will you celebrate the holiday season this year? Hope you will share with us!

Togetherness…

Hi Friends!

Togetherness, during this year of change, feels so very different! Thankfully, we are all finding ways we can gather while we stay safe and healthy at home. Today’s letter is a very long one! You will need a cup of tea or perhaps some eggnog. πŸ™‚ Get cozy, sweet friends! Hope you’ll enjoy…

Longtime friends of our blog know how much I cherish the hand-lettered words and beautiful watercolors of my very favorite author and artist, Susan Branch. β™₯ Susan’s creativity has touched my heart ever since since 1986 when her very first book was published. Six years ago, Susan’s blog inspired me to enter the wonderful world of blogging. I always look forward, with immense joy, to the times I can gather with Susan and her Girlfriends. We always celebrate togetherness as the entire room overflows with creativity, kindred spirits, and kindness!

A few memories from a book signing with Susan Branch in 2013

I was overjoyed to meet (and hug!) Susan for the very first time at a small, independent bookstore during her cross country road trip to celebrate her book, A Fine Romance. New friendships made that evening continue to grow today. Long after most everyone went home, Susan and Joe lingered to chat with us about their travels in England as we gathered outside around their van.

A lovely tea party with Susan in 2013

Later that same week, Susan gathered with even more Girlfriends at a tea party in her honor in Wilmette, Illinois. It was such a treat to hear more stories about Susan and Joe’s travels in England. As we all waited in a very long book signing line, dear new friendships formed among kindred spirits. Of course, there were more hugs as Susan signed my books!

Another delightful tea party with Susan in 2016

Meanwhile, Susan wrote and illustrated the next two books in her wonderful memoir trilogy, The Fairy Tale Girl and Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams. So, she and Joe celebrated with another cross country tour in 2016. There was an even bigger tea party, in Wilmette, Illinois in Susan’s honor! Kindred spirits reunited that day to celebrate deepening friendships as we met more new friends. Susan has a such a wonderful way of bringing us together. Of course, there were more hugs from Susan! She truly touched my heart with her ever-so-kind words that day. Oh my! I was so surprised when she told me that she enjoys stopping by to quietly read our little blog. β™₯Β  Kindred spirits!

Togetherness suddenly changed for us all this year. Throughout the Spring and Summer months, while she stayed at home, Susan worked extra hard on a new book in her home studio, on Martha’s Vineyard. She realized that we would all need a little ‘extra’ Christmas spirit THIS year!

My copy of Home for Christmas arrived, hot off the press, several weeks ago. I carefully tucked it away until the first week of December when I knew I would need a little ‘extra’ Christmas. What a delight!Β  Susan’s charming story of her very special family Christmas in 1956 will warm your heart, bring back fond memories of your own, make you smile, and might even bring a few tears.

As I read about Susan’s family Christmas, so many memories of our family Christmas celebrations in the late 1950s and early 1960s danced through my heart! I’m sure my parents will enjoy this little gem of a book, too. The past few days, I’ve been sharing some of my favorite family Christmas memories with my mom and dad…

Susan shared her memories of looking at Christmas decorations in their California neighborhood in 1956.

Our family loved to visit my Aunt Judy and Uncle Jimmy during the holidays. Their Chicago neighborhood was a Candy Cane Lane, too! I have such warm memories of bundling up for an after-dinner walk down their block on Christmas Eve. One house had a large glass case with a life-sized Santa Claus playing an organ! Christmas music drifted down the block as we walked and admired the twinkling lights and decorations at each house. It was a Winter wonderland! After our walk, we would sit in my aunt’s fancy living room (Do you remember plastic slipcovered furniture?), sipping Christmas punch (while trying not to spill it), and singing Christmas carols while Aunt Judy played the organ.

Susan shared her joy as her grandma arrived for the holidays!

Our special tradition was always to celebrate Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family. Each year, we would gather at a different home for a magical Christmas Eve celebration! Several years, we chose to celebrate a different country each Christmas Eve. One year, we had an old English Christmas, another year, we celebrated a French Christmas, and so on. I will always remember my Aunt Gilda (a wonderful artist, teacher, and world traveler) illustrating the invitations as I carefully helped her color them. We would tuck a special recipe into each invitation, so that each family could bring a special dish from the country we were celebrating.

We always celebrated Christmas Day with my mom’s side of the family. After we opened our stockings and our presents from Santa early on Christmas morning, we couldn’t wait for my grandma, aunts and uncle to arrive from the countryside. Their car was filled with big surprises for the entire family. My collection of dolls seemed to grow every December! Each year, there was someone new to love and care for ~ Tiny Tears, Chatty Cathy, Poor Pitiful Pearl, Barbie, Ken, Skipper, and of course, a Dawn doll, too. (Did you play with any of the same dolls?) My mom always made a delicious, traditional Christmas dinner. We couldn’t wait for her amazing Christmas cookies to appear on Christmas Day! She had been baking cookies for weeks and hiding them so that they would last until Christmas Day. (Shhh! I might have discovered Mom’s secret hiding place for cookies!) πŸ˜‰

Susan’s sweet illustration of her grandma’s car brought back a flood of happy memories, too! We had the very same 1955 green Buick! We loved driving out to the countryside every other weekend in that car to vacation at my grandparents’ home along the Fox River. In the days before expressways, it was a very long ride for my younger brothers and me! Sometimes, we had to draw that ‘invisible line’ dividing the backseat to keep us all happy. Most of the time, however, we were content playing Auto Bingo, as we searched for cows and horses along the way.Β  Our biggest adventure with our old green Buick was our drive from Illinois all the way to California to visit relatives in 1960. Since our car didn’t have air conditioning, my dad bought a special air cooler to hang on the window for that five day drive out west. Along the way, we made frequent stops to fill the air cooler with bottles of water. (Do you remember air coolers on cars?)

Christmas ‘magic’ always fills me with childlike wonder!

Home for Christmas truly is the little ‘extra’ Christmas we dream of in 2020. As you take delight in Susan’s Christmas memories, you will savor so many memories of your own Christmas celebrations! What a gift to us all, dear Susan! Heartfelt thanks for stirring so many precious memories of togetherness to help us through this holiday season! β™₯β™₯

Of course, Susan wasn’t able to come visit us all this year in celebration of her newest book. So, she planned several virtual gatherings of Girlfriends over the past few months. Her gatherings benefited a local senior center and several small, independent bookstores.

Visiting Beatrix Potter’s home was a dream-come-true for Susan!

In August, Susan invited her readers into her cozy kitchen, via Zoom, to share a slide show and some of her favorite memories from their trip through the English countryside that inspired A Fine Romance. What a delightful afternoon of togetherness!

In September, just as our copies of Home for Christmas arrived in our mailboxes, Susan gathered with us, via Zoom, to share some of her favorite family memories of Christmas 1956. Susan was in her kitchen and I sipped tea in our dining room, with a special feeling of togetherness.

Yesterday afternoon, 1,034 Girlfriends gathered with Susan Branch for a final gathering of kindred spirits this year.Β  It felt like a reunion as we chatted, via Crowdcast, while we waited for Susan. There were so many friends greeting one another from near and far! From her charming kitchen, the ‘heart of her home,’ Susan answered our questions, shared her dreams, and told us about the books she is currently writing and illustrating.Β  We are looking forward to her book of beautifully, illustrated quotations! (Just my cup of tea!) Susan is releasing the first chapter of her upcoming book, Enchanted. This very special book is an illustrated diary of Susan and Joe’s four-month adventure in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. (Can’t wait to read about their travels in Ireland!)

Huge thanks, Susan and Joe, for inviting us all into your home so many times this year! It’s always a very special treat to spend time with you. You inspire us and warm our hearts every time, Susan. Sending big air hugs! β™₯β™₯

Heartfelt thanks for visiting with us today, sweet friends!

I look forward to gathering here again very soon.

We all need a little extra togetherness right now…

Be safe! Stay healthy!

Warmest hugs,

β™‘ Dawn

P.S.Β  Please let us know if you have ever attended one of Susan’s gatherings!

P.P.S.Β  If you type ‘Susan Branch’ into the search bar in the blog Archives, you will find many posts about Susan. πŸ™‚

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Spaces…

Hi Friends!

It’s such a tender moment in time as I sit at my keyboard on Thanksgiving morning 2020. For the first time ever, our family will be celebrating this special day Together-Apart. We have chosen to stay physically distant now so that when we gather again, no one is missing…

My sweet husband and I are enjoying Thanksgiving with just the two of us for the very first time. It will be a poignant, quieter, reflective kind of celebration. We are intentionally blending some of our favorite holiday traditions with some new, non-traditional plans. Who knows? Today may be the beginning of some new Thanksgiving traditions!

As the cranberries simmered last night, I lovingly paged through Susan Branch’s Autumn book, savoring the memories of all of our family favorites. Countless times through the years, my brothers would say, “This is really delicious. Is it a Susan Branch recipe?” πŸ™‚

As I set our Thanksgiving table for two, I intentionally chose different linens, place settings, and candles. Making a few new traditions will make our longtime family traditions feel even sweeter when we can gather safely again.

Later today, we will gather via Skype for pumpkin pie and favorite family stories. This is an old, family tradition that made each Thanksgiving special while our parents lived in the Arizona sunshine. Virtual gatherings continue to warm our hearts, even though our parents now live in a beautiful, senior community just twelve miles away! The blessings of technology are sure to be a part of so many family gatherings across America today!

Thanksgiving isn’t just one day for me though, it’s my way of living every single day! The Gratitude pages in my bullet journal are filled with the many blessings of 2020 for our family. It has been a truly difficult time for us. Yet, so many of our blessings are the doctors and nurses who have helped us during this very challenging year.

I am especially grateful for the doctors and nurses that have taken such wonderful care of me over the past eight months. Over time, my ophthalmologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, my primary care physician, and many technicians helped and advised me after sudden double vision and a loss of depth perception made every minute of daily living quite a challenge for me. Two weeks ago, my wonderful surgeon performed eye muscle surgery and eye muscle adjustments that seem to have solved my vision problems for the moment. πŸ™‚  As I rest and heal from surgery, I am savoring the many blessings of good health! I am really looking forward to driving again after so many l-o-n-g months!

One of my special blessings happened last weekend when we visited the beautiful, grounds of the Theosophical Society. Walking meditation on the spiral labyrinth has always felt very meaningful to me. When we attempted to walk the labyrinth in October, I couldn’t even walk the path. My double vision caused the stepping stones to jump all around me, without a visible path to follow. My sweet husband had to lead me out of the labyrinth… heartbroken.

Last weekend, it felt so easy to follow the stepping stones! With each step, I counted my many blessings for the past several months. I can’t wait to share the happy news with my eye surgeon at my next checkup! For me, it was the ultimate eye test… and a perfect, little outing on a sunny, Autumn day! πŸ™‚ I will always treasure that small moment that felt like such a huge milestone!

During life’s most challenging times, there are always things to be thankful for. Sometimes, we have to look really hard to find the blessings, both large and small. I am so grateful for all of the front line healthcare heroes, the dedicated teachers, the essential workers in the food stores, the hardworking volunteers at food pantries, the mail carriers and delivery workers, friends and neighbors who offer a helping hand, and the artists who continue to inspire me.

 

My friends, YOU are definitely some of favorite blessings!  Thank you for taking the time to visit and read older posts from the blog archives. Most of all, thank you for joining in the conversation with all of your thoughtful comments. Your comments are my very favorite part of this blog! You teach me and inspire me every time you share your thoughts.

Although we must patiently be physically distant for a while longer, kindred spirits can stay socially connected in so many ways. I have been writing lots of letters over the past week. (So many friends wrote back right away!:) ) It was such a joy to hear all of their family news.

I will try very hard to write more regularly here in the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to visiting all of my special blogging friends, too. It feels like blogging is such an important way to stay connected during this moment in time. We need one another more than ever right now!

Today we remember all of the precious lives lost due to Covid as we worry what may happen next. We think of the terrible economic challenges facing so many families and businesses. We look for ways to unite and work together to solve our many problems. We wait for the vaccines to be ready. I remain hopeful.

The spaces in our togetherness often allow us to grow in new ways, take actions toward change, offer us time to create, and to just pause… breathe… and count our many blessings.

Please stay safe and healthy, my friends!!

Warmest Thanksgiving blessings!

β™‘ Dawn

 

 

 

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Changes in the Air…

Hi Friends!

You have often been on my mind in the past few weeks. I hope you are all safe and feeling healthy!

Happy Autumn! In the Midwest, the change of seasons has been a bit of a roller coaster ride throughout October. I changed from my winter jacket to a t-shirt and back to my winter jacket from day to day as I worked in the yard and finished up an outdoor painting project. I’m delighted to report that my huge project to ‘right-size’ three garden beds surrounding our front porch is finally finished! (I still feel a few aches and pains from all the weeks of digging.) Now the garden will be so much easier to care for during this busy time in life. In the Springtime, after more front porch restoration, I will plant a few favorite, old-fashioned flowering shrubs in the new, smaller garden beds. Can’t wait to make this garden dream a reality! πŸ™‚

β™« From the cast of Hamilton β™«

 

It’s so encouraging to hear that, as of today, over 85 million Americans have already cast their ballots! Did you change your method of voting this year or will you vote on Election Day?

Due to Covid, rather than vote in person this year, we decided to vote by mail for the very first time. On the first weekend of October, we drove out west to our County Election Commission to place our ballots into a special drop box. It felt heartwarming to see a steady stream of cars dropping off their ballots a whole month before Election Day. (We were also able to drop off my parents’ ballots. They had signed the affidavit on their envelopes giving us permission to carry their ballots to the drop box.)Β  BallotTrax alerted us that our ballots were accepted and processed two days later. So easy… and never more important!

From early May through early November, if you happen to drive past our little bungalow, you will see our flag flying from our front porch (weather permitting). This has been my tradition for the past thirty-three years. It is not a political statement of any kind. Instead it is a symbol of my love for my country and my hopes to help make it better for everyone. Throughout my entire life, I have strived to help our country in so many small ways.

During the past four years, however, it has been necessary to show up for my country in more visible ways. “Enough is enough” were the words we chanted at a nearby Islamic Center rally to support our immigrant families. “Enough is enough” were the words we chanted as I stood with the high school students to support their demands to end gun violence in America. We sang “Silent Night” and chanted “This is what democracy looks like” on a frigid December night rally in the park for impeachment. This year, it has been necessary to raise my voice as an ally in support of racial justice for all BIPOC Americans. There is so much work to do!! I truly hope that change is in the air…

From Election Day forward, I pray for patience and peace as we all await the 2020 election results. It’s sure to take longer to count every vote this year. Our future depends upon all of us finding ways to work together. I pray for much more kindness, especially toward those who voted differently than you. History has its eyes on us!

This Autumn, we have been savoring the quiet, healing of nature’s beauty on our walks.

Watching the season change from week to week brings a sense of normalcy during such tumultuous times.

Change can bring new growth and new possibilities!

For the past few months, I have been really enjoying the chance to follow along on You Tube as the Wander Women thru-hike the Continental Divide Trail.Β  It’s a truly uplifting journey along a rugged trail through such beautiful parts of America watching the seasons change! The Wander Women are three retirees, Kristy, Annette, and Lynn who just love to hike, backpack, and explore. They began this hike on a snowy June day in Wyoming. Along the way, they have encountered heat, cold, long stretches with scarce drinking water, dangerous river crossings, huge elevation changes… and the most beautiful scenery along the Continental Divide Trail! It’s so encouraging to see the kindness of strangers they meet along the way. The landscape has changed as they hike about twenty miles each day. Every five or six days, they stop in a small town to resupply and Kristy uploads a weekly video of their adventure. So far, Kristy and Annette have hiked over 2,000 miles since June. They are currently hiking through New Mexico and have less than 700 miles to complete their CDT thru-hike. I so admire their endurance and positive attitudes and am so grateful for the chance to follow along on their journey!

Take a peek at this week’s Wander Women video (Episode 22). If you enjoy it, follow along! It’s the perfect antidote to all of the news and is sure to lift your spirits!

We have already had two days of snow flurries this week. So early! This weekend we will have a leaf-raking party (just a party of two!). Our snow shovels are ready. Change is in the air…

Stay safe and healthy, sweet friends!

Sending big air hugs from my heart to yours,

β™‘ Dawn

Turning Purple…

Hi Friends!

We all have so much on our hearts these days. I hope that you are safe and healthy in your corner of the globe. News reports of the devastating wildfires out west and the aftermath of Hurricane Sally along the Gulf Coast seem unimaginable. Sending renewed strength and hope to all those affected. Know that you are in our thoughts…

Here in Illinois, the sidewalks, trails, and tracks are turning purple all month long! We are honoring 2020 World Alzheimer’s Day (September 21st) in whole new way. Instead of huge Walks to End Alzheimer’s, families, friends, and small groups are walking in their own communities for this very important event.

Our family was grateful for the efforts of Team Spectrum in today’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s!

Our Saturday was off to a very chilly start. The sun quickly warmed our hands and hearts as we looked forward to this meaningful day. Our first stop was a nice visit with my parents this morning. My mom and dad are both being very brave as they strive to live their best lives throughout this pandemic. What powerful lessons in resilience they are teaching us all!

The heartbreak of a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease has been extra challenging during the time of Covid-19.Β  Wearing masks conceals important facial cues, like friendly smiles. So, we try extra hard to smile with our eyes! Spending more time inside at home can be frustrating when a loved one with cognitive decline feels the need to walk around more and more. We are so grateful for the pretty indoor areas where my parents can stretch their legs and chat with their neighbors. On warm, sunny afternoons, they enjoy listening to music and watching the birds from their balcony, overlooking a beautiful, wooded area. “Elbow Hugs and Kisses” just aren’t as good as the real things, so we laugh each time we do these silly actions! Although a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease may not remember that we came to visit, each time they glance at a fresh picked bouquet from my garden they will know just how much they are loved!

This afternoon, my husband and I enjoyed our very own Walk to End Alzheimer’s in a pretty little park. We were the only ones there! πŸ™‚ As we followed the trail passing a prairie area and a peaceful pond, we shared our hearts and so many family memories. In the shade of the tall oak trees, our feet crunched over fallen acorns with each step. We noticed the scampering squirrels and a black swallowtail warming its wings in the afternoon sun.

It wasn’t long until a family of swans joined our Walk to End Alzheimer’s. πŸ™‚

The colorful flowers on our t-shirts represent the reasons that people fight to end Alzheimer’s.

Blue = I’m living with the disease.

Yellow = I’m supporting/caring for a loved one with the disease.

Purple = I have lost a loved one to the disease.

Orange = I support the cause,

a world without Alzheimer’s.”

Although we are all walking in our own communities this year to be safe from the Corona virus, we are all sharing the same hearts. Just knowing that so many others are intentionally walking to fight for a cure, makes me feel less alone. It’s proof that we are all striving for the same thing. We are all in this together!

The moment we returned home,Β 

I went online to make my donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.

It always feels so empowering to help make a difference!

β™‘β™‘β™‘

If you are able, I encourage you to help us find a cure

by making a donation, too!

Just click here.

Click here to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Alzheimer’s Association is a vital resource for those suffering with this heart-wrenching disease, their families, and their caregivers. They are leading the fight against this disease! They offer so many valuable online seminars. The ALZ Helpline (800-272-3900) offers live support 24/7 from caring professionals to answer questions and concerns. Their helpful webinars present the latest research and extremely helpful information for caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association funds vital research and clinical trials in search of a cure. The research studies presented at the 2020 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference are very interesting and quite promising! β™₯ I am truly grateful for the work of the Alzheimer’s Association and the difference they are making for so many families, just like mine.

Click here to read last year’s post, “Sharing My Heart.”

Although my blog only turns purple once each year, my family is living with this disease each and every day. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is so much more than a fundraising event. During this special time, we honor all those who are impacted by this heartbreaking disease, their loved ones and care partners, and those who fight for a world without Alzheimer’s and other dementia.

White flowers = I feel hopeful that we will find a cure.

With all my heart, I HOPE that one day,

in my lifetime,

we will find a cure and see the first person to survive this disease.

The end of Alzheimer’s starts with me! β™₯

The reason is LOVE.

With hope,

β™‘ Dawn

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Let’s Stay Home

Hi Friends!

You have been in my heart so often lately as we all walk together through this unprecedented moment in time. β™₯ I truly hope that all of you and your families are well. How are you doing?  Please let us know…

If you are new to our blog, “Welcome!” Please say “Hi” in the comments…

My family is adjusting to all of the changes and just taking things one day at a time.  Here in Illinois we have been under a Stay At Home order for three weeks already. My husband has been working remotely from home. We have turned our dining room into his temporary office with his computers gracing our dining room table. I am trying to be extra quiet to help out. πŸ˜‰ We both feel so grateful that he is able to work from home during this unsettled time.

We have both been taking extra precautions to stay healthy so that we can continue to help my parents as care partners. A few weeks ago, we began doing our grocery shopping online and having groceries delivered to our front porch to avoid all the stores. We have recently begun wearing masks when we must leave home.

At present, there are thirty-three known cases of Coronavirus in our town and over sixty Coronavirus patients in our local hospital. So, we continue to heed the advice of the scientists and doctors, our state governor, and local leaders. By staying home and social distancing, we are trying our very best to help flatten the curve.

Personally, this quiet time of staying at home feels like an unfamiliar ‘pause’ for me. Since the beginning of the year, life as a care partner had been very, very busy with doctors’ appointments, hospitalizations, and extended stays with my parents to help out. It always feels like an honor to spend time with my dear parents. They are still my best teachers as they show me how to live our best lives with bravery, resilience, and everlasting love!

For the past month, however, their Senior Community has been on lockdown. Everyone there is healthy… and they are using an abundance of caution to avoid the Coronavirus in their building. Three meals each day are delivered to their apartment. I’m so grateful that my parents have one another for company! All activities have been cancelled and their gathering spaces must remain empty. Everyone there is doing their part to Stay At Home. So far, it has been working…

It’s definitely a worrisome time, though, as a care partner who cannot visit! Lots of phone calls and Skype ‘visits’ are helping to keep us close, but nothing can take the place of real visits to help out in so many ways. So, it’s a challenging time for us. I am still able to drop off packages of medicine and other essentials at the lobby and staff members deliver them to my parents’ apartment. Last week, after dropping off a package, I followed the outdoor path along to their apartment and made a surprise phone call to invite Mom and Dad out onto their second-floor balcony. It was so nice to chat (loudly!) together for a few minutes as a family! β™₯

Now I am savoring this unexpected ‘pause’ in quiet ways, giving myself much grace to feel all of the feelings. Reading, soaking up creative inspiration, writing in my Self-Care bullet journal, listening to podcasts, attending virtual WW Workshops, talking with friends, and writing letters help to lift my spirits. The online communities of creatives have been connecting with one another more often, as we encourage one another to share our handmade kindness with the world. I spent time tidying up my little Paper Garden studio downstairs and plan to spend lots of time creating handmade cards in the weeks to come. πŸ™‚ I’m so very grateful that my creative spirit is slowly returning!

Spending time in nature has also been nourishing my heart and soul. I’m savoring daily walks through my garden, practicing ‘the art of noticing,’ as the perennials awaken during my very favorite season. I have also been taking brisk, solo walks (with lots of social distancing) through the neighborhood enjoying the sunshine and birdsong, as the Forsythia and Magnolias begin to bloom.

Unhurried time and ‘white space’ on my calendar have led to simple, new mindfulness practices. They are just small changes, but they feel very meaningful. During this heartbreaking time in our world, I have been even more aware of the importance of practicing gratitude. Every morning, as I hang the flag on our front porch, I quietly thank all of the doctors, nurses, first responders, scientists, store clerks, mail carriers, delivery people, and other essential workers who are doing such brave work while we stay at home.

Each evening, as I take down the flag, I think of all of the teachers who are working so hard to prepare meaningful lessons for their students while they cannot gather together in their classrooms. I think of the students who suddenly have to adapt to this new way of learning and their parents who have been pressed into the role of homeschooling. I also think of all the volunteers who are helping in food pantries and distributing boxes of food for those who have suddenly found themselves unemployed due to the Coronavirus. It’s humbling to see so many people who have come together to help during this frightening time.

I have also begun counting my blessings out loud each time I wash my hands! We are constantly washing our hands these days and practicing gratitude each time I use soap and water helps to soften the effect of all the breaking news. Although life feels very different now, there is still much to be thankful for each day. It helps us to remain hopeful that if we all do our part, there will be brighter days ahead!

Let’s stay home, stay safe, and stay positive!

β™₯ β™₯ β™₯

 

We are all in this together…

Please let us know how things are going in your corner of the world.

How are YOU coping with all that is happening?

 

Sending warm blessings for Easter and Passover,

β™‘ Dawn

 

 

 

 

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Winter’s Song

Hi Friends!

Winter’s song has been the soundtrack of our days here in the Midwest. While my perennial and herb gardens sleep under a blanket of white, I have been savoring the sounds of silence.

Whenever Mother Nature layers on another snowy blanket overnight, the scraping of a shovel and roar of a snowblower add to our early morning symphony.

Inside a peaceful lull warms my heart, as I peek through the white, lace curtains in the dining room window while warming my hands with a big mug of tea.

The comforting, familiar notes of Winter’s song continue as the tea kettle sings, the furnace hums, and our old, hardwood floors softly squeak underfoot.

Sunny Winter days cast silent shadows on the walls, as the temperatures outside plummet.

While Winter’s song serenades my garden beds as they sleep, my thoughts always turn to the ‘gift’ of my other garden ~ my little Paper Garden studio downstairs…

During the coldest months, it gets quite chilly downstairs in my studio. Before long my fingers and toes grow numb. So, on those days, I do all of my cutting downstairs, then gather up a basketful of inks, paper, stamps, and tools, and finish making cards upstairs on our sunny dining room table. πŸ™‚

Inspiring supplies from The Greetery have warmed my creative heart all Winter long! Designer Betsy Veldman creates stamps and dies from her own paintings. This new, independent stamp company has quickly become my favorite!

It was fun to create tiny Winter vignettes using the BotaniCuts Pine Boughs dies from The Greetery. First, I die cut the pine needles from green cardstock. Then I sponged on Distress Oxide inks to add depth and texture. After die cutting the pine cones from kraft cardstock, I assembled the scales using Tombow Mono liquid glue to form each dimensional pine cone.

Finally, I added darker texture using Prismacolor pencils.

Tiny, woodsy vignettes made their way onto several one-of-a-kind cards.

Some cards brought warm wishes to faraway friends,

while others were hand delivered, with a big hug!

On another sunny, Winter afternoon, I found my inspiration in Betsy’s ‘Budding Beauties Winter’ stamps and dies. Usng a MISTI stamp positioner, I stamped Distress Oxide inks in layers to create sprigs of pine needles, winter berries, and mistletoe.

Next, I die cut the ‘Inside & Out Berry Branch’ from white cardstock to add a snowy feel. I die cut ribbons using the ‘Fit to Be Tied’ dies and sponged them with Distress Oxide ink.

Each one-of-a-kind card featured a different ‘Shape Shifters’ diecut shape from Papertrey Ink. The subtle background hearts were embossed using the ‘Drawn Hearts’ stencil from Simon Says Stamp, with an embossing mat and my Big Shot.

What a delight to create tiny botanical gatherings without stepping outside into our snowy garden! Winter’s song played on to the tune of footsteps running up and down the basement stairs to the Paper Garden to die cut and gather more supplies. (A nice, little workout, too! πŸ™‚ )

Making cards is so heartwarming because I think of the recipient the entire time I am creating a card. β™₯ Mailing off my cards, with personal notes enclosed to warm hearts, fills me with such joy! β™₯

 

My February bullet journal pages are also a celebration of my love for cardmaking, letter writing, and warming hearts near and far!Β 

The heartbeat of Winter’s song will play on for a few more weeks here in the Midwest…

but these Magnolia buds near our front porch remind me every day that my very favorite season is on the way! The birds have already been waking us with their early morning chorus. It won’t be long until I am humming a Springtime melody! πŸ™‚

β™₯ β™₯ β™₯

Hope that you are carrying a song

in YOUR heart today!Β 

As always, I cherish your visit!

Thank you for being here!

 

Paper hugs!

β™‘ Dawn

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Blank Pages…

Hi Friends!

Warm greetings from the wintery Midwest! Tiny snowflakes are dancing down as I write. A long string of cloudy days has us all dreaming of sunshine here! The first four weeks of the new year have flown by quickly.

Quiet moments of stillness during January often found me daydreaming…

As we rang in the New Year, I was really looking forward to my third year of bullet journaling and couldn’t wait to carefully unwrap a brand new Rhodia dot grid journal! Keeping a Self-Care Journal has been such a positive, inspiring way to create purposeful days over the past two years. Just a few quiet moments each evening spent reflecting on the day have taught me so many important lessons! My Self-Care Journal has become a powerful teacher, a place to set new goals, celebrate special moments, count my blessings, and track my healthy habits.

The time spent setting up my bullet journal each month always feels like a special, little gift ~ to me, from me! This January, however, felt very different. The blank, dot grid pages waited patiently while I relished several different creative thoughts…

Hmmm…Β  Was it procrastination or laziness that slowed me down this January? Not at all! I truly treasure the time I spend on my Self-Care Journal. So, why were the pages in my journal blank during the first half of January?

Those blank pages were cherished, day after day, while I relished the possibilities!

I was simply taking the time to honor my ‘word’ for this year. πŸ™‚

For each of the past eight years, I have focused on a ‘word.’ Throughout our home, there are visible reminders of each word. Last Summer, I created Word Stones for my Friendship Garden to carry this mindfulness practice into the garden, too! πŸ™‚

 

It feels so lovely to have a new ‘word’ to guide me this year…

2020 ~ savor

This Spring, I can’t wait to add a brand new ‘word’ to my Friendship Garden. πŸ™‚

 

It felt simply luxurious to take extra time to savorΒ several creative thoughts before beginning this year’s bullet journal. In my past two journals, I added bright color to each page. Using colorful markers kept me motivated all year long. Perhaps this year, it would be fun to try a more minimalist journaling style? Lately, I’ve been inspired by black and white pages, with pale, gray, drop shadows. It might be fun to create a completely new look in my 2020 journal! Oh, the possibilities! Day after day, I delighted in my creative thoughts until it felt just right to put pen to paper.

My 2020 Self-Care Journal will feature monthly spreads with soft colors and habit trackers in black and white, with the palest gray lines to chart my progress. Handlettered quotations will keep me inspired throughout the year. It felt like such a blessing to intentionally slow down and take time to savor the creative possibilities!

I’m so grateful that the ‘word’ savor chose me this year! It will be the perfect reminder to slow down a bit and take the time to fully appreciate the special moments sprinkled throughout each busy day. I have already noticed subtle changes! At a recent WW Lifetime gathering, we each created a Mind Map for the new year. I wrote savor in the center of my map, and set my intentions to savor time for Self-Care, Family, Creativity, Growth, and time in Nature. This Mind Map will be a visible reminder to slow down a bit and savor the joyful, meaningful moments in each and every day. πŸ™‚

In January, one of the inspiring books I read was Seeking Slow, by Melanie Barnes. The author offers so many thoughtful ideas for living a slower life focusing on the simple pleasures in each day. I took notes as I read and look forward to making time to savor her ideas throughout the year.

I have been noticing and honoring the “slow moments” in my days ~ listening to music, writing in my journal, brewing a cup of herbal tea, watching the snowflakes fall, writing a long letter, and walking in nature. Melanie Barnes has also inspired me to create a “Quiet Corner” ~ a calm, relaxing place to savor at home. Now there is a small space for Yoga practice in a corner of our living room. I have been taking time to enjoy the plants blooming in our sunny dining room, noticing the vibrant Christmas Cactus blossoms, the pale pink Cyclamen blossoms, and the fragrant Lavender blossoms. It all feels very comforting and healing!

My blank pages are slowly filling up…

as I savor the quiet moments tucked into the corners of my days.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit today!

What things have you been doing to nourish your heart and soul?

Do you have a special goal or ‘word’ to guide you through the new year?

What have you been reading lately?

Hope you will share with us…

 

Warm, cozy hugs!

β™‘ Dawn

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Comfort and Joy

Hi Friends!

This December has been a time of poignant reflection. I have been intentional about honoring the past year and all of the lessons that it taught me. There were many difficult lessons, ones that I never dreamed I would encounter. Life can be a great teacher! By embracing the small moments and big milestones, I have grown in so many unexpected ways.Β 

‘Comfort and Joy’ is the theme of my Self-Care bullet journal this month. The Winter botanical illustrations were inspired by artist Shayda Campbell. β™₯

Throughout December,

I have been intentionally focused on

creating moments of Comfort and Joy.Β Β 

Just last week, as I hurried from place to place,

the bright afternoon sunshine drew me to

Β  a joyful, unplanned destination.

The Winter Flower show at our nearby Conservatory

was in full bloom!

Wrapped in the love of family and friends,

I am happily celebrating

a simpler, quieter holiday season this year.

 

The magic of the season glowsΒ 

with sweet reflection,

small handmade gifts of love,

and time spent connecting with those I hold dear.

 

Favorite holiday traditions warm the heart…

and new traditions add cozy, comfort!

 

TIME is my most precious gift ~

time with loved ones,

creative time,

time to learn and grow,

Β time to give and share …

and time to just BE.

 

Sending big hugs and warm thoughts

to anyone hurting during this holiday season.

Look for small moments of Comfort and Joy

in each and every day.

Celebrate in your own special way!

May we all step into the new year (and new decade!)

with light, grateful hearts!

β™₯β™₯

Merry Christmas, sweet friends!

So grateful for your visits and thoughtful comments

all year long!

 

With love,

β™‘ Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

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