Keeping it simple

It's been a busy couple of weeks - and so, in the spirit of keeping on - today I am keeping it simple. It started off with work deadlines, which went right into our annual "ski fest" and all the pandemonium that comes with 13 adults, one active toddler, and 2 dogs spending a weekend together. A quick trip to NYC to attend a workshop and then a little weekend babysitting. For my February photo challenge, I chose "motion" - knowing that I would be spending a few days with this little cutie made it an easy choice. Halfway through the month, I'm still learning and will keep it for another post. (photo credit for the above photo goes to Greg - I just love this shot) Auntie Maggie was excited to come help with babysitting - and thinking I might capture a cozy a bedtime story scene, this little attention hound demanded to be the star of the show. Babysitting Ella was a joy - although I think that her animated conversation with mommy and daddy on this television remote went something like, "when are you coming to get me?" My art journal has not been completely neglected. While there continues to be a major disconnect between what I envision and what actually lands on my page - ummm yeah, well, it's all about the process. I was all set to start 2019 with the word "explore", but a simple writing exercise led me to the word "soul" - so, yes, I am going with that. And with that - I am elated to have today off. Chessie and I will be taking it easy (and doing laundry - lots of laundry...). No ponderings for today - which, as I am sure you all know, does not mean I am not pondering... I hope you have a wonderful day! Do you choose a word to guide you through the year?  

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Today I choose joy

Yes, it’s a real thing – choosing joy, choosing happiness I generally think of myself as a happy person; I am fortunate in so many ways – but, as many of you have probably noticed, I’ve been in a bit of a slump. And – to be honest with you, I’m more that a bit tired of myself, so thank you for bearing with me… "Cosmic messages" Anyway – one evening, mindlessly perusing Pinterest, I ran across a quote “Choose joy even when life is hard”, and this made me think of people whose lives are, indeed, hard. My life is NOT hard. That same evening, preparing a cup of bedtime tea, the message on my tea bag "Happiness is actually an art of living, which is in us” Okay, so, what – really? cosmic messages? Well, it did make me ponder – and you know how I am prone to pondering… When I awoke the next morning, still pondering (because I’m pretty sure my mind never sleeps – sigh), I thought to myself “Okay – so today I choose joy.” Choosing joy It's pretty much been my mantra for the past month or so, and yes - it's a real thing. I tried expressing this message on the journal page that I was creating as part of my Wanderlust 2019 adventure. While I am pretty sure this page is not really my style –  I’m not exactly sure what my style is, yet. But, as I follow each lesson – learning new techniques, I try to make the message my own. Hopefully, as I continue on this path of learning, I’ll discover what my style is - find my "artistic" voice. And so – I am finding joy in the everyday things. Annoyances, frustrations, and disappointments happen, they always do, but my reaction is my choice. Deep breath, let it go, choose joy. Your turn - I'd love to hear what you are up to. Do you believe happiness is a choice? I hope you have a wonderful week!

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Winter Wonderment

I'm not sure when it started - my love for winter - a season that is much, much more than a season to be endured - tolerated... I remember as a child, living at the top of a "big" hill (ummmm, yeah, I grew up in Kansas...), and those glorious snow days when hoards of neighborhood kids raced to our hill, sleds in tow - the thrill of sledding right down the middle of our street (which, of course, makes me wonder why our street wasn't plowed - but that's not really the point.) And yet - I don't think that I loved winter back then.   When my daughters were young, we moved to Chicago. "you'll hate it there" our friends said, "the winters are horrible." Yes - the winters were bitterly cold. I didn't mind. And yet - I don't think I loved it, then, either. But now, I look forward to winter - the cold, fresh air - the first snowfall. Winter is: The hush of snow, gently falling Early morning walks with Chessie as the sun rises over the mountain Wandering on the frozen lake and the crunch of freshly fallen snow under my boots - this is definitely a favorite for Chessie. Quiet time indoors - curling up with a warm throw, a cup of tea, and a good book January finds me - spending a little more time with my camera - trying to allow for more negative space in some of my compositions. This is proving a bit more challenging than I anticipated, but persevere, I shall... I've been adding to my art journal - enjoying the weekly lessons, and learning - always learning. "I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it." Vincent van Gogh My reading list keeps growing. I just finished After You've Gone, by Jeffrey Lent. In one word - poignant, but one word will not do for this book. Jeffrey Lent has a wonderful writing style. I am currently curling up with Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be, this winter, than the idyllic village of Three Pines in southern Quebec, the imaginary setting for this series of murder mysteries. On my bookshelf: Demelza (The Poldark Saga book 2), Winston Graham The Clockmaker's Daughter, Kate Morton Unsheltered, Barbara Kingsolver And so - January marches on. Your turn - do you embrace or endure these winter months?

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greeting the new year

It's here - 2019, that is. I awoke on new year's day feeling the same as always, and thought to myself - "huh..." Honestly, I am not sure what I was expecting - so, after a wintry morning walk up on the mountain, I prepared a champagne brunch - just Greg and myself. And so began the new year. I was excited to tear open my new journal - a cheery bright green - and started creating pages for the many things I plan to explore, this year; pages for photography, yoga, art journaling and blogging. My photography page includes a "challenge" to keep me clicking - instead of random weekly prompts, I will choose a monthly topic - skills that I actually want to learn. My goal is to complete ten of them over the course of the year. I am starting January with "negative space" - something I need to get more comfortable with. I set a few goals for my blog and am hoping that work will quiet enough to provide a little more time. So far... No set goals for yoga, other than to be true and consistent with my practice. A wise person once said - "Yoga is not about touching your toes. It's about what you learn on the way down." I remind myself of this, often. Greg and I enjoyed a quiet week in Vermont, where I gave my mind a bit of a break (well, mostly). I broke out some new art supplies and made my first attempt at "art" journaling. I'm going to keep the quotation marks for now - really, I have no clue what I'm doing. But - when I let go of aiming for perfection, I have a lot of fun. My "Dear Jane" page, as a first project, may have been a bit ambitious - most of the time I look at this page and shrug, thinking "yeah - a bit of a mess" - and other times I rather like it. There is a lot of me on this page, and since this is a journal page, I am happy with that. I had so much fun that I signed up for Wanderlust, a year-long art journaling course. I kind of think that the first page for this project might be more my speed in that it really is meant to be a bit of a mess - just relax and smile. My page is... ummm.... so far - extremely colorful - and messy. And so, cheers to 2019. My hope is to make this a year of exploration - trying new things, exploring new options. I am wishing you all the best for the new year! Do you anticipate and plan for the new year, or just go with the flow?  

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Quiet the mind

Sunrise - the dawn of a new day, new beginnings. As 2019 quickly approaches, I think of new beginnings, new plans, new goals. Have you ever struggled with making a decision? You think about it, and think about it, and then think about it some more (there is - quite possibly - some overthinking going on...). And then, you're certain that you can't possibly think any more, so you make a decision, only to realize that your decision is making you unhappy? Yeah - I've been doing this for the last several months. My journal overflows with these thoughts - analyzing every option, every angle... I'm feeling like a broken record, going around and around in circles, repeating, repeating... "QUIET the mind and the soul will SPEAK" A couple of weeks ago, perusing Pinterest for holiday cocktail ideas, I ran across this quote."Hmmmm", I thought, then continued on my quest for a gingerbread eggnog martini recipe. But then, the quote came back to me; unable to let it go, I wrote it in my journal. And still, this quote relentlessly followed me wherever I went. I now repeat it to myself like a mantra. So - this holiday season, as we close out 2018 in preparation for the new year, I am giving my mind a hiatus. I am listening to the whispers of my soul - my heart - focusing on what is most important in my life. And when my mind feels the need to chime in, as it always longs to do, I quietly tell it - "shhhhhhhhh." I wish a very happy Christmas, to all who celebrate - and to everyone, a happy new year!Be safe.

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Looking forward

The beginning of December and, already, I am looking forward to 2019. Sigh - I feel as though I am wishing a whole month away - but, really, I'm not. I know all too well that this month will whiz by more quickly than I am prepared for. Winter has arrived in Vermont; smile... Time for the bears to hibernate as I happily set out my bird feeders, once again, adding a handful of peanuts for my blue jays. I was afraid it might take a few days for the birds to find us - but they visited right away, remembering us from last year. I honestly think we may be feeding the whole forest. Our little one hasn't quite decided how she feels about the cold and snow. But I know - of course, she will love it someday :-) And so - 2019. The new year always seems like a benchmark of sorts. I've been pondering my "Dear Jane" art journaling project - making sketches, attempting to incorporate where I am and where I hope to go. In many ways, 2019 will be a year of transition and change; and as I look forward, comfortably from where I am, I feel ready - eager - to embark on a new journey - taking those first tentative steps. Though I'm not sure where this new path will lead me, I look forward to the adventure - I think... Yeah, it's a little scary... This whole art journaling thing is new to me - creating images, rather than words, for expression. I hope that this, too, will have a role in my journey. How about you - as this year comes to a close, are you thinking about the new year, or - maybe - still firmly in 2018?

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