What would you do if you were brave?

Quote of the day: “Courage is sometimes frail as hope is frail: a fragile shoot between two stones that grows brave toward the sun though warmth and brightness fail, striving and faith the only strength it knows.”  ~ Frances Rodman


Bravery isn’t always about heroic deeds or big hairy goals.  Sometimes it’s like a quiet whisper in the night:

  •  to follow your dreams
  • to not give up
  • to do the work even when you don’t feel like it
  • to perform an act of kindness
  • to trust that you are enough just as you are

Where do you need to be brave in your life?

Be brave

A note about the photos in today’s post.  Photos were taken at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Tiny Treasures Fairies and Gnomes Display, open Jan. 28 – March 4, 2012.  Such a fun display!  I’ll be posting more photos of fairies in the next few days.


Gratitude for gifts that come unsought

Quote of the day:  “God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.”  ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Gratitude Bowl

Each day is a gift. And each friend is a gift. Silly smiles and quiet times.  Working and playing.  I give thanks for all gifts, seen and unseen, in my life today.

I get along with a little help from my friends
Unexpected beauty - Light through Front Door Design

Do the Work

Quote of the day: “When we sit down each day and do our work… The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight… we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings.”  ~ Steven Pressfield The War of Art

Hyacinth Trio

Just a few of the shots I’ve been working on the past couple of days.  Time flying by and more to do…

Standing Tall
With added texture by Kim Klassen
Soft and pretty
Have a little faith

How To Create a Photo Block

Quote of the day:  “Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.”  ~David Starr Jordan

Finished Photo Block

I’ve been teaching myself how to create a photo block easily and inexpensively.  Here is the technique I’ve settled on:

Here’s what you’ll need:

Supplies for making photo block
Back of Artists' Board

Instructions for creating photo block

  1. Seal the sides and back of the wood on the Artists’ Board by painting a thin coat of sealer on each side and back of the wood sides of the block.  Let dry.
  2. Paint the sides and back of the Artists’ Board.  Let dry. Apply a second coat of paint.
  3. Prepare photo and set image size to match the size of Artists’ Board.
  4. Print image on Velvet Fine Art Paper (or desired matte photo paper)
  5. Carefully cut blank margins off of image
  6. Paint surface of Artists’ Board with adhesive (Atelier Binder Medium works great)
  7. Carefully place image on the Artists’ Board with edges matching edges of board.  Use brayer to securely and smoothly adhere the image to the surface of the block.
  8. If you want to, you can use small piece of fine sandpaper to thin the edges of the photo.
  9. If desired, seal the top of the image with Atelier Binder Medium or a spray matte varnish.

That’s all there is to it.  You can set the block on any flat surface or hang it on the wall.

What do you think? Are you ready to go out and make one for yourself?

Angle View of Photo Block

Chased by Beauty

Quote of the day: “When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us… Ideas come. Insights accrete.” ~ Steven Pressfield  The War of Art

Pink Hyacinths - mmmm... wish you could smell their beautiful scent too

This week the ideas are tumbling out faster than I can act on them.  I write them down and then I go back to doing the only thing I can do, the next step.  Today, a new bouquet of flowers. Beauty is calling me.

Joyful Pink Hyacinth
Pretty Hyacinth
Soft pink

Playing and Being

Quote of the day: “Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want.”  ~ Margaret Young

Begonia Flowers #1

Yesterday, I had plans to work on several ideas and to finish working on some portrait photos I made the day before yesterday.  Then I saw how the center of the begonia flowers on my lovely little plant had developed and changed.

Once again, chased by beauty, I grabbed my camera and played.  Joy!

New ideas are blossoming all over.  I have so much I want to work on in the next week or two. Stay tuned for some samples of my experiments as I develop them.

Begonia Flower #2
Begonia Flowers #3

Different kinds of beauty

Quote: “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy…but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” ~ Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Photo with Kim Klassen texture "Simplicity" converted to B&W
I watched the movie To Kill a Mockingbird last night and was impressed all over again with the power and beauty of the book and movie.  The beginning scenes in the movies were so beautifully photographed.
The integrity and grace of the Atticus character inspires me.  There are all kinds of beauty in the world.  Stories that are full of truth and integrity are full of beauty.  Beauty isn’t always easy. Life isn’t always easy. But it is filled with beauty and grace.
Photo before texture was added

Many thanks to Kim Klassen for amazing textures and online classes.

Hitting a Bump on the Road of Intention

Quote of the day: “I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.” ~ Mae West

A short detour with a quick return to the path

Yesterday I got an email about a software engineering contracting opportunity – it was for exactly my skill set and industry and wonder of wonders the location was very nearby.  After I read the email, I was so tempted by the path of least resistance that I almost replied that I was interested in the opportunity even though I know in my heart that is not the right thing for me right now.  It surprised me to feel so ambushed by old habits.  As I was telling my husband about the email, he literally stepped between me and the computer, saying, “Let’s put some distance between you and that email right now.”

Let me explain a little about why this isn’t right for me at this time – I have had fibromyalgia for almost 30 years and in the past few years it became quite clear to me that I needed to do something besides software engineering.  Over the past few years my health was going downhill, stress levels sky-rocketing, and I no longer loved what I was doing.  I felt like I did nothing but work and recover from work and then I wasn’t even recovering despite working only 32 hours per week and taking as much time off as I could manage.  Then I fell in love with photography and as fate would have it, was laid off from my job as principal software engineer for a medical device maker.

I decided not to go back into software engineering but to pursue what I absolutely love – photography.  It’s taken me months to de-compress from the corporate mindset and to embrace a simpler way  and different pace of life.  And I LOVE it.  I am literally playing every day, learning by doing, and trying new things.  I don’t need to make a lot of money, but our retirement would allow more travel and luxuries if I could make some.

So why was the contracting opportunity so tempting?  Because I had just read an article in a magazine about how much savings one should have at age 60 in order to retire at age 66 and the numbers and the “you need to work for as long as you can in order to have a secure retirement” advice struck a chord of fear. So far, even though I had more sales than I anticipated in 2011, I’ve not made any money as a photographer.  And this year I plan to focus on building my health and my skills more than on building a “successful” business, so who knows what the future will bring.

The fear doesn’t matter though.  It will come and it will go.  My belief that life is short and that I need to do what I love will not come and go.  This is what I am meant to be doing now and I live each day with no regrets, full of joy and gratitude.

The Sign Says it All

A note on the photos below – we have a pond behind our house.  Our neighbor has cleared the snow and created an ice rink for his daughters. Last night they were out skating. You can see the joy they have in skating from a distance. These photos were taken from my window, at night, with high ISO, with fast moving targets. The quality is not good, but I love the story they tell.

Little Ice Skater on Pond
Sometimes you Fall Down
But then you get up and go again
Dad and daughters on the ice
Blur on the left is fast-skating Dad clearing snow
Little ice skater - long shadow

The Wonder of a Snowy Day

Quote of the day: “This morning of the small snow I count the blessings, the leak in the faucet which makes of the sink time, the drop of the water on water.” ~Charles Olson

Squirrel ready to leap

Yesterday we had freezing mist all day followed by a light snow fall which is continuing into today.  I couldn’t resist going out for a short walk in the falling snow.  Filled with wonder and gratitude for this day!

Ice and snow covered
Pine Needles and snow - almost look menacing close-up


Snow-covered creek bed
Snowy path
Leaves and vines on fence

Living on Purpose a.k.a. Playing With Passion and a Wide Open Heart

Quote of the day: “When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” ~ Wayne Dyer

Live with Purpose (part of business vision board)

For those following my blog, I caught up on all of my unfinished assignments from last week’s Business Soul Sessions classes.  One of our assignments was to work on developing a business mission statement.  I’ve come up with multiple mission statements, none of which feels like THE mission statement.  Another assignment was to create a business vision board (see photos below).

Here are my mission statements:

Personal Mission in 6 words: Beautiful, real, simple, soul-centered play

Business Mission Statements:

To inspire, motivate, and teach people to  create, do what they love, play more, and live in gratitude and wonder.

To reveal the sacred through beauty, gratitude, wonder, and love.

To help make the world a better place by revealing the sacredness, beauty, wonder, and miracles that surround us.

They don’t sound much like business, do they? Wouldn’t it be an amazing world if every business had this kind of mission statement?

One of the realizations I came to this weekend was that at this point in my life it is more important to me to live in a way that expresses who I am, than it is to create a “successful” business (whatever, that is).  Does that make sense?  I believe that the intention behind what we do informs the outcome.  So, for me, staying in a place of play and wonder and joy helps to create something entirely different than if I am creating while experiencing fear or scarcity or not enough or striving to “succeed.”  Staying in a place of play and wonder doesn’t mean that I am not going to work hard at my art.  Soul-filled work is play for me.  So is playing around at creating.  How can you make your work play?

Part of Business Vision Board
Part of Business Vision Board
Part of Business Vision Board
Part of Business Vision Board
Begonia Plant