MUYL Blog Challenge Day 1: Dealing With Challenge by Participating in This Blog Challenge

Gratitude and Company
     Gratitude & Jan, Keeping Each Other Company

This is day one of the Magic Up Your Life Blog Challenge.  When I signed up for this challenge I had a decent looking blog/website.  Since I had recently recommitted to blogging more consistently after a rather long dry spell I felt signing up for this would help support me in following through on that new commitment.  And I also hoped to connect with other spiritual badass and magic making bloggers.  It felt like this challenge came at just the perfect time and spirit was moving to support my renewed commitment.

A few days after signing up Mr. Beloved accidentally deleted my site. No I didn’t kill him.  Twenty seven years is too much of an investment.  In the time we’ve been together I’ve known him to do a few stupid things like this (God knows I’ve done my fair share of stupid things too), but I also know he does so much more right and has a heart of gold.  Perspective is everything.  I knew he already felt terrible, and when you’re willing to look deeper there is always a blessing to unfold in such challenges. So honey…I love you and this site is going to be beautiful again…and have some other capabilities it didn’t have before.

I had hoped to have my blog more or less restored by the time this challenge started…at the very least I hoped to have it looking and performing better than it is at the moment.  I considered giving myself a free pass to not do the challenge.  It may even make more sense to just focus on getting the blog all straightened out…right?  It would definitely be easier and more in my comfort zone to fix things behind the scenes and then worry about getting back to blogging later.  That would be my typical MO.  But the other reason I wanted to do this challenge was to push myself to show up and be willing to be more visible. That doesn’t happen behind closed doors.

So I’m flinging the doors wide open and inviting you to follow along as I figure out where and how to go from here. You get to see the before and the after. People love before and after stories right? The before is this:

  1. managed to salvage the written content only (huge blessing this part was not lost)
  2. the links no longer work
  3. all my beautiful images have vanished and need to be replaced (thankfully most if not all of these are saved on an external hard drive and restore-able)
  4. navigation is a mess
  5. sign up box is no more…need to replace this pronto
  6. other bits and pieces missing …like my free downloads.
  7. Ugly Fugly!!!

I’ve been a little stuck (okay a lot stuck) with finding the right theme.  I loved  how it used to look.  I always got a lot of compliment about the site’s appearance. Ideally I’d like my site to look and feel basically the way it did before, but more responsive, load faster (I’m an artist…and so the way it showcases images is vital).  Oh geez! I’ll not bore you with the long list. I’ll simply say it needs to be easily customizable. I’m having some trouble envisioning how to adapt my old look into a new format.  Specifically I have some images of Gratitude and me I want to incorporate in a way that makes sense.  Previously these images were used in my sliding door navigation.

Oh and for our new visitors Gratitude and I are in the middle of writing a book called Gratitude’s Journey together. She came to my rescue five years ago, during the second week of my ARTbundance™ Certification Training program, when I was stumped with how to proceed with an ARTsignment™, which I need to complete for certification.  In fact the seeds for the book we are presently working on first began in a  more humble form as that ARTsignment™.  So over the last five years Gratitude has become a dependable friend, creative muse, and business partner.  She’s taught me a lot about what it means to live a Great Full Life.  We invite you to join us as we continue our journey to living a meaningful life every day.

TLC Tuesday # 2 – Delighting in the Gift of Dirt

Gardening with Gratitude     Jan’s inviting you to join her out on the deck this afternoon. She and I have been out there playing in her container garden, putting some herbs and flowers in the ground. Mostly herbs because they have such lovely textures, yummy fragrances, and there is nothing like fresh herbs to make any meal more special. We’re looking forward to using them in our cooking over the summer and hopefully into the fall and winter, if we remember to bring these pots indoors when the weather gets cool.

     She was seriously considering not planting these pots this season. She’s going to be traveling quite a bit through the summer and even with a drip system it can be difficult to keep up with your garden when your away a lot. Especially a container garden. Then we were chatting this weekend and realized we don’t garden just for the pretty flowers and yummy home-grown flavors. We love to get out in the dirt for a lot of other reasons.

     To find out why Jan REALLY needed to get some dirt under her nails check out this video she did for you.

     Here’s a little hint for you: human beings weren’t designed to sit in front of digitized screens for hours on end. We really benefit from playing in the dirt regularly. This is true for our kids and just as true for us adults.  So let’s get messy! Shall we?

     Oh! All right! …go watch the video first then go outside, put a plant in the ground, or make mud pies.  And if you’re so inclined download this free printable and make up a quick batch of herbal “nametag” markers for the plants you just put in the dirt.

TLC Tuesday #1- Giving the Gift of Sunshine


Bored & Hyper-focused

  You may have noticed Jan’s been a little preoccupied lately. She’s not been posting here very regularly, not even at least once week like she intended when she put out the welcome mat a few years ago.  Not going to point out just how long ago that was.

     She’s still plugging along on the book, “Gratitude’s Journey.” I’m just a wee bit giddy with excitement….can hardly wait for you to see it. 

     Instead of just sitting around the studio, twiddling my thumbs and trying to not look board, while Jan is “hyper-focused” on finishing up the book I decided it was time for me to pitch in and help Jan out.

Gratitude Snapped Some Photos


We put our heads together and came up with the idea to bring you something to look forward to every Tuesday.  We’re calling this new weekly post TLC Tuesdays cause everyone could use a little more TLC in there life.  Here’s a short video I helped Jan create for you. Hope you enjoy it.   How are you spreading more TLC in your world? Sharing your TLC stories will help to inspire everyone including Jan and me.

Leave a comment below if you’d like to have a free download of the “(T)ray of Sunshine” tag printable.












Videos 2, 3, and 4 of 30- Enough of this Nonsense!

Yes I know! It’s been almost a week.  I started the month with such good intentions, too. I was going to do a video every day…develop that consistency muscle. Ha! Ha!

I did do a video almost everyday last week, but then I would start second guessing myself as to whether it was “worthy” of being uploaded. Last month, during the “official” video challenge, I posted my 7 videos just to youtube and to the more private FB site associated with the challenge.  I certainly didn’t call attention to them I felt more free try stuff out.

This month my intent has been to upload them this website in addition to the other two sites.  This has put a lot more pressure on me to do it “right.”  I kept hearing these pesky voices in my head asking questions like…does this video add value, does it fit my brand, is this what I really want to say, these video are going to live in my archives after all! 

Well, after talking with some online friends this morning I was able to say, “Enough of this Nonsense!” I sent those voices on a little vacation…helped them pack their bags. Told them I would let them know when I was ready for them to return.

Those are good questions to ask….just not right now. For at least this month I am giving myself the space and freedom to just explore my own creative process with making videos, with bringing my book to closer completion, and with living life as an artist in general. 

So today I am on a roll. Created several videos today.  I have three to share with you today.  They are all under 3 minutes. Perhaps they will inspire and support you as you explore your own creative process and journey.  

Leave a comment below.  Did you chose a spring flower to guide you…which one and why?   Oh and do you have a tip to share for getting unstuck from the muck?  Please share your thoughts below.

Day 1 of 30- Jan & Gratitude’s Video Journey & Journal (a.k.a. blog) challenge

Decided this is the month I am going to bring some much needed tender loving care to my blog/website.  After looking over my calendar for April I noticed it appears to be relatively clear. I can’t remember when I’ve had a month like this…a relatively quiet one.  It’s rather amazing!  No trips are scheduled.  I love traveling …I really do, but I am looking forward to having the spaciousness of a more open schedule.  I’m excited and committed to focusing in three areas this month….(without the usual distractions).

1. Breath new life into and wake up this sleepy website.  I learned today that Effy Wild over at is planning to post something to her blog every day this month…and is inviting others to blog along with her her.  How fun!!  And timely!

2. In March I attempted to do Michelle Hart White’s 30 day Visibility Vamp Challenge.  Had hoped to do 30 videos…I did a “lucky” 7.  I’m feeling good about doing those 7, got my feet wet and I don’t want to stop now cause I was just barely getting started. Built a little bit of confidence and was just beginning to feel more comfortable.  Want to keep that good mojo going, so I’m doing my own personal 30 day video challenge for the month of April.  My intention is to “practice and experiment”…see what unfolds.  I believe I may post some of those videos here as well as on my youtube channel.  Maybe even most of them. Made my first video for April…tried something new for me…talking while walking using my android phone this time..not my ipad. It turned out a bit shaky…I think I will try my monopod walking stick next time…just need to find it. The video is also a bit longer than I’m intending most of these to be…As I learn to edit I’ll  figure out how to tighten these up.

I spent some time yesterday evening attempting to find a video editing app to use on my android phone.  I’m open to suggestions.  I’m still not totally sold on what I finally settled on…trying out AndroVid for now.  Went to bed last night Thinking  my video wasn’t going to upload after all that effort.  Well, came back here today and what do you know that video loaded after all.  It was just taking it’s sweet time. In fact, I may have inadvertantly uploaded it twice…we shall see.  I couldn’t figure out how to use the first couple video editing apps I tried at all.  I taught myself photoshop so this can’t be this hard!  Guess the “Fool” was having fun playing with me yesterday…it was April Fools Day after all.

After comming back to my video today (and this blog post)  with fresher eyes I did manage to figure out a couple of editing tricks, using youtubes editor. Figured out how to overlay text onto the video…so I added my website url to the beginning. Also added a fun speech bubble toward the end of the vid.  Feeling pretty pleased with myself right now…after having an “I-just-want-to-tear-hair-out” frustrating kind of day yesterday. Note to self…”stay the course, eventual success tastes oh so much sweeter after working through a tough challenge.”

So Tadah! My first video for the month of April…still fairly raw and unpolished..virtually unedited. Oh an one other thing I learned with this video…I oriented my phone in portrait …next time I will know to turn it my phone the other way so the video fills whole frame.

3. And Finally and most importantly my third intention for the month is to give even more focused attention to the completion of my book,  Gratitude’s Journey. Going to see how close I can come to finishing it up by the end of the month.  It’s not a deadline…I’m allergic to that word. Perhaps it’s a liveline.

So let this fun adventure begin! To join us on this video journal journey sign up below.

Ten Ideas for Creating a Personal Gratitude Practice

Having a commitment to a practice of gratitude will transform your life.  Both the science and anecdotal evidence has proven that people, who live from a sense of gratitude, sleep better, have deeper friendships and relationships, better health, are more resilient, have increased productivity and energy, and are just generally happier.  I could go on and on with this list, and I will, but at another time and place.

Today I want share a few ideas for establishing a gratitude practice.

Made this gratitude journal at The Girl’s Art Party Weekend

1.  Let’s begin with the tried and true idea of keeping a Gratitude Journal.  Sarah Ban Breathnach first introduced this transformative idea in Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.  This practice involves writing down 3-10 things each day in a journal. You could chose to do this any time during the day, but it is often suggested to do this just before heading to bed.  When we do so it seems to help us relax and fall asleep with a less troubled, worry-free mind.

 2. Write a heart-felt note of thanks to someone.  This could be a postcard or a note card.  Send it to the people that you often take for granted or over-look, but who make your life better.  Or for a really big challenge write a note of gratitude to someone who has challenged you, but who has helped you to grow in some way. This letter may or may not be appropriate to send. You will have to judge that.  Whether you send it or not doesn’t matter, there is value in you having written the note and energetically putting that vibe out into the world.

3. Create an awareness talisman.  This could be a bracelet which helps to remind you to stop and notice something for which you are grateful. You could even switch it to the other wrist each time you pause to connect intentionally with what your are grateful for.  You could also keep a tally of how many times you made the switch each day as a kind of barometer of how you are doing at incorporating more gratitude into your life each day.  I know for me I find this kind of personal challenge to be fun and motivating.  I like to see if I can top my previous days tally.  Another talisman could be as simple as a polished stone you keep in your pocket or on your desk.  Your touchstone could be anything that has personal meaning and will assist you in remembering to connect with your gratitude.

4. Use gratitude beads daily to kinesthetically count your blessings…one blessing for each bead.  This idea is adapted from the use of prayer beads within many different religious traditions to count the number of times they recite a mantra, chant, prayer, or devotion.

I am thankful for hiking trails

5. Go on a Gratitude walk or hike.  This could be as simple as a walk around the neighborhood or my own personal favorite is to get out in nature at least once a week for a longer hike.  There is nothing like taking a pause during the week to commune with nature.  The exercise helps to release happy brain chemicals so that alone is good for lifting your spirits. Then intentionally focusing your attention in the direction of gratitude amplifies this affect substantially. 

I like to take my camera to capture visually what I’m grateful for and include these images in my gratitude journal…it’s fun and satisfying.  Plus, I have an unproven theory that combining both a gratitude practice and a creativity practice together will create a synergistic affect on our quality of life and well being.  It wouldn’t surprise me if combining these two practices doesn’t increase these benefits substantially. Science hasn’t studied this synergy yet (least not that I am aware of), but they have studied each practice alone and have learned they each by them self have a dramatic impact on our quality of life. I’m definitely curious about this.  For me personally anytime I can weave creativity in it is both more motivating and life enhancing.

6. Celebrate your senses. When we mindfully connect and use all of our senses it enhances our ability to also connect with our sense of gratitude.  Perhaps you could combine a practice of daily gratitude with the ritual of sipping your morning tea or coffee.  How could you involve more of your senses in simple routines you take for granted?  Perhaps you could create a ritual during your daily shower where you thank all of the various parts of your beautiful body.  When I let it–the warm soothing flow of water helps me to open my gratitude floodgates.

7. Write a gratitude haiku, poem, prayer or vow.  Reread them aloud when you need to reconnect with your gratitude. You could use the photos you took during your gratitude walk to illustrate and/or inspire your words.

8. Mindfully commit to using the language of the heart. People who live in a mindset of gratitude pepper their language generously with words such as gifts, giving, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance.  Become aware of your own “language.”  When you notice it’s heading in a depressed, woe is me direction, redirect your thoughts in a direction that lifts your spirits.  Don’t beat yourself up about this…just notice and gently move your thoughts in a more positive uplifting and joy-filled direction.

9. Act as if.  When you become aware of feeling down in the dumps and you want to feel better about the world use your body to redirect your mindset.  Intentionally smile, give a belly laugh, turn on uplifting music and dance or sing.  The body mind connection is a powerful thing.  You may not feel like smiling when you begin, but your mind and emotions will follow your bodies lead.

I traded my “measuring stick” for a Gratitude Wand

10. Trade in your measuring stick for a walking stick and/or gratitude wand.  When our eyes are always focused on our neighbors, what they have, how they are more talented and gifted, how life is easier for them. etc., it is impossible for us to have a mindset of gratitude.  It isn’t physiologically possible for us to simultaneously experience feelings of gratitude and feelings of envy, criticism, or judgment.

I have some additional ideas for gratitude practices which I’ve played with, which incorporate more creativity.  I think this makes them all the more effective in enhancing ones sense of well-being.  I’ll be introducing these to you over time.  So stick around. 

This post is already “too” long.  Didn’t want to overwhelm you with too much information.  I’m probably too guilty of that tendency.

Anyway what do you think?  What have you learned about gratitude in your own life?  How do you practice gratitude in your life? Do you have a regular practice?  What have you tried? What’s worked? What’s been a challenge? Or any other comments you may have?

Please leave a comment below.  I’m always eager to learn and discover something new.

Knocking the Dust of the Welcome Mat

As Gratitude and I have been “dusting and redecorating” here in preparation for reopening our doors I’ve spent a bit of time reading back through the archives.  You can view this earlier smattering of writing here under categories–> pre 2012.

I was pleasantly surprised there were actually some good nuggets in those early posts. However, when I reread my first put-out-the-welcome-mat post titled Smiles and Cartwheels I found myself with a rather sheepish grin plastered across my face.

For integrity and clarity sake I decided I wanted to write an update to this first post.  You can read that original post here.  It might help to put this addendum in into some context.

So here I am sitting there rereading this post with this silly smile slowly creeping across my face as I realized Miss Artiste and Miss Just-get-r-done still don’t have regular open lines of communication established.

Just one chat isn’t going to cut it!  Duh!  Even occasional chats won’t do.

The three of us are a work in progress.  I still find myself wrestling with these two voices in my head…working to find the balance in there somewhere.

One thing is for sure.  Committing to regular chat sessions would likely help.

Yep! I need to recommit to this.  And I’ve learned the best way for me to acknowledge my growth and willingness to make a stronger commitment is to “HeART-fully” embrace it.   (i.e. Use art and heart to empower myself).

So partly to strengthen and inspire this commitment to myself and partly to have a fun image to include in this post I decided I had to pull together a quick artistic somethin-or-other.

Chatting-with-the-inner voices
Miss Artiste, Gratitude, Miss Just-get-r-done and me having a chat

And of course:

Miss Artiste had her say (“fuss with the sketch here …that line isn’t right..maybe it needs some color here”)

And Miss Just-get-r-done had her say (“forget the image…just get the million other things done…move on already”)

As you can see from the image above we stopped the tug-pull, had a small chat, found some common ground, and we are now basking in a bit of balance.

Miss Artiste got her beautiful art…she’s ecstatically happy…cause the “quick image” was comparatively quick and came out better that she could have dreamed and totally different than she (and I) had imagined it initially.

Miss Just-get-r-done is only mildly annoyed, but she agrees this image (and the story of that process) is important to the “work” we are being called to do here on this site and  by extension the world.

And Gratitude she loves having an opportunity to play mediator at my little hash-it-out-sessions.  And me…I love having her at my meetings-of-the-mind.  So much more gets accomplished when Gratitude is allowed to weigh in.

We’re all happy and ready to once again put out the welcome mat.  We are thrilled you are here. Gratitude is curious about what you think?  How do you manage to balance these two fuss budgets? Or do you? Please leave a comment.

Creating Time

I was thrilled to finally meet Marney Makridakis during her book tour in Portland, Oregon photo courtesy of: Nanleah Micks

In June, I was privileged to meet Marney Makridakis while on her book tour for her new book Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life  

Oh and the weekend was extra fun, because I am one of several contributors to this visually stunning book, packed with insight and creative ideas for exploring our relationship with time.

Marney is the founder of, the groundbreaking online community for creators of all kinds.  She is a gifted speaker, workshop leader, coach, and mentor.  I’ve personally been blessed by her extraordinary talents many times over.

In fact, it was while being a student of her inaugural session of ARTbundance Coach Training Certification, that Gratitude first found her way into my life and onto my sketchbook page.  Marney and ARTbundance, an approach of self discovery through creativity,  has been an importance influence Gratitude’s evolving story and journey.

If you’ve been feeling frazzled by feeling “there’s never enough time” Creating Time will open you to a whole way of thinking about time.  You can purchase your own personal copy by clicking here.

And yep, I am an affiliate of Marney’s and I receive a small commission if you purchase through my link.  But I also only recommend people who I truly believe in and have personally worked with.  Everything Marney puts her hands on is top notch.  I’m definitely an avid fan.  She’s been a huge influence on my own work and an important mentor in my life.

Choosing my word for the year

We are just over a month into a fresh new year and I’m finally sitting down to write about my word for the year.  It’s a practice that I first learned about from Christine Kane.  Her suggestion of simply choosing a personal word as the touchstone for one’s year, instead of writing down a list of New Year’s resolutions, which like most people, I likely wouldn’t keep longer than a couple of weeks, immediately resonated with me.

I thought to myself, “Oh I want to do that!”

And then because I tucked away this thought to come back to later I lost track of it until this year.  Occasionally a worthy idea needs time to take root.

Have you notice how it becomes much more difficult to ignore a good idea when it keeps popping in over and over again to say, “Hi! Remember me!”  This is exactly what happened this year.

After presenting itself multiple times in different places over several days I decided the universe was telling me to pay attention.

Several places where I frequent the buzz around picking a word was really hopping.  I was eager to hop in and share my word too.  But I had a small problem.  I just couldn’t seem to settle on a word.

And I was seeing a lot of great words being shared by others and I still couldn’t find one that seemed to fit me.  There were several really nifty words chosen by others I would have loved to have adopted for myself.  But I didn’t get that toe curling zing when I’d try them on.

Finally one morning, after several weeks of this frustrating indecision, I found myself standing in front of the bathroom mirror talking to myself.  I said, “Enough Already! Why can’t you just choose a word?  Just pick a word!  Just Choose!  You don’t have to live with the word all year long if you don’t want to.”

And on the heels of this rant with myself my word suddenly revealed herself.  Choose.  Just Choose.  My word for this year is choose.

” The optimist lives on the peninsula of infinite possibilities; The pessimist is stranded on the island of perpetual indecision.” ~William Arthur Ward

For the Love of Books

I’ve had a long time love affair with books.  Some might rightly call me an addict.  I never counted them, but up until this past year it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say they easily numbered in the thousands.

My husband likes to point out that when he retired from the Navy and we moved our “stuff” across country in a horse trailer from Mississippi to Oregon, the horse trailer weighed in at 14,000 lbs. and at least two/thirds of its contents was taken up by my books.  It’s been fourteen years since then and of course the collection has continued to grow.

As I’ve mentioned in another post, one of our activities this past year involved simplifying, reorganizing, and getting rid of stuff.  Lots of stuff!   The big thrust of this effort was dealt with fairly quickly (over a few weeks time).

Well, the getting rid of stuff part anyway.  Reorganizing our space hasn’t fully happened YET!  That project has been carried over into the New Year.  We are making progress in spurts it seems.

I got rid of boxes and boxes and boxes of books this past summer.  But I still had a small pile of boxes stacked in the garage, and a larger pile stacked in an “extra” room waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. How is it that six months flew by while I pondered or avoided this decision?

These were books I wasn’t willing to just donate to the neighborhood thrift store.  Some were collectible, some were vintage, but not especially collectible (the type that would likely be destined for the landfill or recycling bin), and some were “special” books I just wasn’t ready to fully part with for some mysterious reason.

Today these books finally found loving homes.  Most went to a young family.  But there were still two good size boxes left after she picked through them.  The temptation was strong to just let them sit for another bit.  But I knew how that would turn out.

No, today was the day I had decided to deal with them.

I’d then remembered a neighborhood antique shop where I had seen a section for vintage books, so on a whim I decided to see if I could find a home for some of them there.  I wasn’t expecting the owner would want some of the newer ones.

When I walked in she initially said she still had five boxes waiting to find shelf space so she didn’t know.  I explained I wanted to donate them.  I just wanted to find my books a good home and not have them end up in a landfill somewhere.  So she agreed to have a look.

The store owner nearly fell over when I set the box down on the floor and the book right on the very top was a vintage book of The Yearling.  She had just a week or two ago came very close to purchasing a similar copy of this book so she could read it to her granddaughter.  She reluctantly passed it by because the book was too expensive.  Her own mother had read it to her when she was the same age.  It had become one of her favorite childhood stories and a treasured memory, which she now wanted to share with her granddaughter.

She continued to look through the box and found several more books that she immediately knew other people in her life would love.   One of her customers was excited by the collection of thirty Cobblestone Magazines.

In the end, the shop owner gratefully and enthusiastically took every single book.  She said she would pass them along to family, friends, and customers who would appreciate and love them.

As she got excited about sharing the books with her loved ones I got a bit teary eyed and emotions of joy, gratitude and relief welled up.  These old precious gems would continue to be loved, treasured, appreciated and valued. At least for now they had been spared from the fate of the landfill.   It felt like a small miracle.

I wrote this much of this post yesterday.  At eleven o’clock, when it was past my bedtime, I tucked it to bed in my draft folder so I could sleep on the title for it.

This morning I awoke to another small miracle.

I am participating in Adela Rubio’s 21 day FYE program.  Along with her daily call she posts a short thought for each day.   This morning’s thought ended with this:

As you surrender the need for everything, life paradoxically gifts you with everything. And nothing’s missing and there’s more…~Adela Rubio

Consider how you might activate this miracle in your life.   What stacks of stuff could you release?