Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Day Off?

So you are thinking about taking the day off. You woke up and felt like this should be a day without work of any kind pressing in. A day to rest, kick back, relax, enjoy your morning coffee leisurely. Listen to the birds. Read. Go for a walk. Nap. Putter.

Well, then do it.  But to get the most from it, there must be no guilt. For if you do, you waste. At the end of the day, you will have neither worked nor rested. With neither a sense of accomplishment or refreshment at the end of the day, now that would be a sad way to end it!

Do you remember Yoda from Star Wars? The scene where he chides Luke Skywalker for his anemic response to Yoda's direction:
Luke:  Okay, I'll give it a try. 
Yoda:  NO!  Do ... or do not.  There is no try.
Back to what we were chatting about: Go have a day off. It's okay. Do without guilt, regret or shame. And come back refreshed, rejuvenated, and relaxed.  If you need permission, here, you have my permission...

Now go enjoy it!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm Supposed To Go Through This Door?

Seth Doyle /

"You've got to go through this door first in order to get to those doors." That's the message I heard in my heart one day not so long ago. Translation meaning: I was fretting I didn't seem to have the skill or ability to bring out into this world those ideas and language I could imagine in my mind's eyes -- I could hear it, I could see it, I could even feel it, but sometimes I lamented I'd never get there.

Another thing that I felt uneasy about, why allow me to see what could be possible if I really didn't have it in me to bring out? For example, I want to write posts that are beautiful. I want a blog that's beautiful ... that reflects the part of my heart yearning to express Beauty to my world, sharing words that speak life and hope to readers experiencing too much of our up-side-down world in their own lives.  

When I first heard those words a picture of a door flashed through my mind. A quite ordinary door, nothing fancy or pretty about it, but the message indicated that was the figurative door I needed to walk through so I was on the path where I could develop and mature ... and then one day my words would leave footprints of beauty and hope on the hearts of people in my corner of the world. 

I often remind myself I have some very ordinary doors to open in my writing life. Julia Cameron once said that artists need to make some 'ugly-ducking' paintings before they can make masterpieces. It's all part of the process of maturing: learning the techniques, mastering the skills, and developing the required patience and diligence to execute with excellence, beauty, and grace. That process takes time ... and many doors to walk through first.
"Remember that even if you have made a truly rotten piece of art, it may be a necessary stepping-stone to your next work. Art matures spasmodically and requires  ugly-duckling growth stages." ~ Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way

Kelly Sikkema /

First walking through the ordinary door, painting the not-so-good picture, writing the lacklustre piece is the necessary step that sets our feet towards the door to the life we're dreaming.

What door is in front of you that you need to walk through? Chances are it's the door you need to go through first to get there from here!

  Wishing you courage and joy as you turn the door knob!

Monday, September 26, 2011

What Do You Need To Be Happy?

"The day after tomorrow is the
third day of the rest of your life."
~ George Carlin

The radio was tuned to our national CBC station the other day. I heard part of an interview with a woman who is a classical singer. I never did get her name, but something she said caught my attention: she said that singing made her happy.

Another woman, a pianist, said she needed to play in order to be happy. For her it was such a priority 'that everything else seems simple.'

I immediately thought:

1. I need to read every day, for I feel bereft if I haven't had a chance to read from a book or an interesting article.

2. I also need to connect in some way to the heart of someone. It could be as simple as looking into the face of a baby in his stroller and our eyes meeting, and we both recognize we connected.

3. Another thing essential to my well-being is my need for times in my day and week to be completely alone. As much as I enjoy being with people, if I've not had that quiet away time, or I've been around too much company, I start to feel frayed around the edges.

* * * * *

Oh yes... if you're wondering how George Carlin's comment above fits in this, lets not allow too much time to pass before we pursue that one special thing we know brings back the joy to our hearts. Don't wait till the day after tomorrow to do what makes you happy.

What do you need to keep happy?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Simply Sunday: Being Silly


You might wonder at the oddity of today's title; perhaps you think it would be more suitable to think 'sacred' thoughts on a more set-apart day like Sunday. But, in a booklet called Zig Ziglar's Little Book of Big Quotes, Mr. Ziglar shares an interesting tidbit about it:
"Most of us would be upset if we were accused of being 'silly.' But the word 'silly' comes from the old English word 'selig,' and its literal definition is 'to be blessed, happy, healthy and prosperous.'

In light of that definition, may I take the liberty of wishing each of you a wonderfully silly Sunday!

Peace and joy,

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturdays and Cleaning Rituals

Traditionally during my growing up years, Saturdays were the day for cleaning out the accumulation of a week's worth of living mess. And then polishing the house within an inch of its life in anticipation of Sunday -- our day of rest from usual chores and activities, and often having people over for a big dinner after church.

Saturdays were energetic days, as we'd get into our chores with a flurry with dust cloths, floor wax and accompanying polishers, not to mention the increasingly-skilled baking fingers of my sister, who was a whizz in the art of baking even at an early age.

Of course that was a long time ago.  When I first set up housekeeping as a young career woman, I still did things as we did them at home (which was a lovely pattern), but as life evolved into different seasons, the rituals of dusting and cleaning now often happens other times of the week.

Still, once in a while, I recall those Saturday mornings when a sunbeam would light on the huge box of Corn Flakes still on the breakfast table, as Mom would put us in charge of certain tasks -- I loved cleaning the living room so that I could rearrange the ornaments and even furniture.  It was motivating to chase out farm dirt from corners, giving everything an energetic shaking, scrubbing and shining.  Lots of work, but it felt good at the end of the day.  Smelled good too.

In light of those memories, I wanted to pass along a snippet from Alexandra Stoddard's book Living A Beautiful Life. Well worn and marked, this book has been my guide and mentor for more than two decades now, shaping my ideas and patterns for adding 'elegance, order, beauty and joy to my every day life.' Today's inspiration is on monthly rituals, Alexandra style:
"Life involves an accumulation of waste and clutter -- we must clean out the excess baggage in our lives on a rational and regular basis..... At our office, once a month, we have one day with no outside appointments and we attack our files, clean up all the clutter and create order. It's a necessary ritual that brings enormous rewards. We play music which soothes us. ...
At home I make this kind of attack on one area or another of our apartment at least once a week--a few hours of chaos and suddenly you feel exhilarated, just from throwing out. You find things you thought were lost forever. You make new discoveries. (note this part especially) A regular, serious attack on mess and unnecessary clutter, performed with a glad heart, makes you feel in control of all the parts of your life you care about."

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sharing The Pretty Things

In her book The Art of Being A Woman Veronique Vienne talks about how we, as women, know how to take great joy in having pretty things around us.

Objects like ornaments, artwork, hand-stitched cushions, vases or teacups are deftly arranged so as to create a home that's comfortable and pleasing to the eye... for our enjoyment as well as for our loved ones and all who visit our home.

Miss Veronique also writes that we collect or create lovely things so that we might share them with others. "Not all your pretty belongings belong to you. Some of them are destined to be gift wrapped."

'Destined to be gift wrapped' -- don't you just love that phrase? It's true, we may enjoy something for a season but when we recognize a friend's true delight in it, how often have we just picked it up and pressed it into her hand. Here, this gives you so much pleasure, I want you to have it. The trifle becomes a treasure ... and our hearts explode with the joy of this spontaneous heart sharing.

Doesn't it make you want to look around today, with an eye to see what pretties you have right now that are destined to be gift wrapped? the joy of living more beautifully!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Autumn in the Sky

...Worth Getting Up For...

Early this morning, I was awake reading and writing in my journal, when I caught a glimpse of what was going on outside in the sky. Oh my goodness!
Talk about the heavens declaring the glory of God. Grabbing my camera, I was outside enjoying this glorious sunrise.

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Photos: by Brenda C Leyland 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Like A Sonata


I'd like to think that our thoughts of gratitude waft up like a sweet song or melody which finds its way to God's ears. Do you think the angels might sing along when we share our joy and thanks for all the gifts we've been given? So many gifts, even on those days we think it's not much?

I want to see afresh the goodness and beauty I enjoy in my life every single day. The people, the treasures and simple pleasures, the creative pieces I get to enjoy from the hands of artists and creators... all there ready for me to savor, taste, cozy up in, listen to, watch, read, snuggle with.

Marcel Proust once said: "Let us be grateful for those who give us happiness; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls bloom."

So I started a list of some of the gifts I enjoy. I'd like to take some time to ponder and then think grateful thoughts for them.  This could prove a most enlightening experience:

  • 10 bloggers who contribute something lovely into your life;

  • 5 things you're grateful for even though you don't own it;

  • 5 things you're grateful for that you recently acquired;

  • 3 things that make your heart sing;

  • 7 things about your body you've taken for granted but are thankful for;

  • 6 affirmations people have shared with you;

  • 4 books or quotes that have given you cheer or direction at the right time;

  • 5 places that give you a sense of joy, peace, or contentment;

  • 5 things in nature that you enjoy;

  • 5 things about your spouse, kids, or pets you love;

  • 10 foods or meals you love and appreciate;

  • 5 songs or pieces of music for which you are thankful;

  • 10 commodities and services in your community you'd miss if they were gone;

  • 10 people who serve in your community making your life easier, better, more enjoyable;

  • 5 things you're thankful for about your mom or dad;

  • 5 lessons you've appreciated learning in your lifetime.

Wishing you a thoughtful day,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Peace-Filled Thoughts

The Lord is near ~ have no anxiety,
but in everything make your requests
known to God in prayer and petition with thanksgiving.

Then the peace of God, which is beyond our utmost understanding,
will keep guard over your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.

And now, my friends,

all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure,
all that is lovable and gracious,
whatever is excellent and admirable ~

fill all your thoughts with these things.

Philippians 4: 6-8 NEB

 * * *

Wishing you peace-filled thoughts...


Friday, September 16, 2011

Say What You Want

I recently met up with a woman I know casually and remarked how good she was looking -- so youthful and fresh, slim, well put together. (She's a older woman who, in the past, sometimes looked frazzled and 'fuzzy' around the edges, if you know what I mean.)

In response to my expression of delight at seeing her so lovely, she said that lately she's been confessing a little affirmation when she gets ready for the day. And it's been making a difference for her.

Of course I was eager to know those 'magic' little words that were changing her life. Do you want to know too?

I look good --
I feel good --
And I weigh exactly what I should!

When we tell our minds what we desire, it usually does its best to comply!  I like it!

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Unwrap Your Gifts


I love giving gifts wrapped in pretty paper and ribbons. It's a real delight to make the package beautiful. The real joy, though, is when I present the gift to the recipient and watch her unwrap it.

How disappointing it would be, then, if the person never unwrapped the gift I gave her; how lopsided an affair it would be, for the exchange would be incomplete.

As pretty as any parcel may look on the outside, it is the gift inside that matters. Unopened, it remains un-enjoyed, un-useful, and un-appreciated. I'm reminded of a quote Mary Kay Ash was known to say often: God didn't have time to make a nobody, only a somebody. She truly believed that every person has God-given talents waiting to be 'unwrapped' and brought out of the box of their heart into the open.

Yet, sometimes another person's gift to her world is 'packaged' so beautifully that a less confident person gets the perception that hers is not so wonderful, too little, maybe even second-rate. But that's the problem, isn't it? When every person has gifts of different shapes and sizes and uses, to compare ourselves to others it's quite like comparing ducks to horses. Both are wonderful species, but don't ask a duck to win a Derby race, and don't ask a horse to swim with the grace of one who has webbed feet.

Years ago I read the story of a young girl who took piano lessons; her parents hoped she would become a concert pianist. They found the best teachers and did everything to make it possible for her to succeed. Except, she really didn't have the exceptional ability for it. Not that she didn't have any music ability, just not the right combination to make it in the piano concert world.

As the girl grew up and thought about her life, she took the talent she did have and began to use it to teach music to handicapped children. And what fun she had and what joy they had! They loved her! What if she'd decided that since she was not talented 'enough', she wouldn't do anything at all with her ability? She still opened the gift and used it.

So it's not about fretting that we're not good enough -- it's about taking the size of talent we have and rejoicing that somewhere in this world someone needs and will enjoy what we have to give...........

You may have the gift of inspiring others to believe in themselves. So get busy and lead by inspiring others, all the while letting the teachers in your midst passionately share their love of learning.

You may be a giver by nature, always on the lookout for ways to surprise others. It's a beautiful gift.

Maybe you love serving others by helping them reach their goals or even dishing up dessert at coffee time. Where would we be without you?

And what about the individual with a gift for enthusiasm? In the midst of heated challenges, she can be like a cup of cold water on a scorching day, greatly refreshing someone who has wilted under the heat of pressures and commitments.

When we let go of the fear and just walk in our own giftings, gracefully doing what comes naturally, we will 'naturally' touch the lives of others in ways that will influence and encourage.

I believe that's a beautiful way to live!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Blueberries in the Kitchen

 Blueberry Loaf Cake

Early this morning I dared turn on the oven (weatherman said it was going to be another hot one) to make raisin bran muffins, plus this new-to-me recipe for Blueberry Loaf CakeI made enough of both recipes to be able to share with a friend who is expecting company over the weekend.

It was well worth turning on the oven -- as you can see, the blueberry loaf turned out beautifully. I found the recipe at Taste of Home and is easily retrieved, so I won't post it here. And, if you are looking for the raisin bran muffin recipe, check out my sister's Best Ever Bran Muffins. It's a family favourite!

* * * * *

My tip on how to avoid 'blue' dough.  No matter how gently and carefully I fold the berries into the batter, by the time it's all mixed everything is that purple blue. As much as I love blueberries, I do not care for the blue-streaked dough. Here is how I deal with it:

For a loaf: Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Then I sprinkle the blueberries over top and finish adding and spreading the rest of the dough over the berries.

For pancakes: Ladle batter on the hot grill, then top with a few blueberries and press them slightly into the dough; that way they won't stick when you flip them to fry the other side.

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Open the Door And Let In The Day

 Painting found in an old magazine -- artist unknown

It is early morning and everything is so still -- not a leaf stirring or a bird song breaking the silence. The air feels deliciously cool on my face as I peer out into the garden. Hubby predicts a hot one today so we let windows stand ajar awhile before we close the windows and draw the blinds.

A wispy cloud just catches the light as the sun peers over the horizon. So often I'm reminded of that old psalm: This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. Some days when pressures bear down a person has to work a little at being glad for a new day, but this morning brings me a gift where the joy bubbles up easily.

The fragrance of coffee and hot buttered toast with marmalade drifts past my nose... I must follow it. I'm off to finish unwrapping the gift of this day.

Wishing you joy in your day ... shall I pour coffee?


Friday, September 02, 2011

Beauty in the Pause

Pause:  n. an interval of inaction; a temporary stop.
a break in speaking or reading, a silence.

How often do you catch yourself rushing from one project, activity or book to the next one? With hardly a breath, or thought, in between and no time to catch your breath or even think about what you've just completed before scurrying off to the next?

Musicians recognize the importance of pauses in music. Someone once said it isn't the notes themselves that make the music beautiful, but what happens between the notes: that distance between the tones and the length of the pauses. That's where we feel the tension and anticipation, and then the eventual release. Where we all breath again.

Recently I read a post by K. Dawn Byrd entitled Stress Relief 101 for Writers. She shares some tips for writing; one in particular stood out for me: her habit is to schedule her writing of books in 30-day spurts. Every time she finish a 30-day stint, she stops to take a break and pauses for about two weeks. It gives her space between her last project and the next one. During this time she rests, 'chills out' and rejuvenates. I can only imagine, as she does not say it, that when she starts her next  project, she must tackle it with renewed energy and excitement. 
What a beautiful idea! In truth, we can hardly imagine such a thing, but what if we actually did such a thing not only with our writing, but other areas of our lives too? What would be the result? 

For instance, what about Pauses in our reading life? Instead of reaching for the next book before the cover of the one we just finished has cooled, what if we took a break, maybe a few days or a week or two -- I can hardly imagine that long between books, but let's just say -- what if we stopped to let what we just finished reading take hold in our minds. To ruminate and working through the ideas, writing our response to certain aspects, really letting the author's words speak, would our lives be richer for this pause? This time to focus and 'stew' on it a bit?

Pauses between bites of food. The other day I wolfed my lovely lunch down and hardly tasted the bites. I hardly noticed what I was eating. I was in a hurry. I had an idea the food tasted good, but I didn't savour or really enjoy the gift of that food. They keep telling us to chew our food more thoroughly to aid in better digestion and less upset stomachs.

Pauses between our tasks at work or at home. Moments to slowly breathe in and b-r-e-a-t-h-e out, to let our eyes focus on the sky outside our window or the art piece over our desk or the kitten playing with the ball of string. Pausing to swivel our thoughts heavenward for renewed strength and energy, not to mention creativity.

Pauses ... between blog posts. I've noticed that when I don't write every single day, during that time and space I feel the freedom to gather new thoughts, to take time to dream and research and prepare. And, a most interesting thing, there are more comments per post when there are 'pauses' between.

It would appear that making place for Pauses within our daily lives will go a long way to enriching and making our lives so much more beautiful. I like that!

And now I pause and wish you beautiful moments today,

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Rose Pillow Winner is...

Congratulations to

Elizabethd at French Village Life

on winning the Rose Pillow Case!

It will be a real delight to know one of my little treasures will be enjoyed by you all the way across the pond in Brittany! Meeting beautiful people around the world and sharing a little bit of joy with each other -- that's the joy of blogging, isn't it?

Thank you to everyone who joined in the giveaway. A little consolation prize, here's a short video of Audrey Hepburn sharing some thoughts on roses.

All the best,