Monday, September 30, 2013

We're Back...Sort Of

Here I am being congratulated by the President

Just a quick note... Yes, I'm back from the InScribe writers' conference. It was an exciting weekend. I had wonderful time connecting with other writers, so many who are now friends, and meeting our keynote speaker, Murray Pura. He was inspiring, encouraging, and challenging in his addresses to us.

Can't stop to share more today as now I'm in the midst of getting my last memoir homework assignment done (it's due tomorrow).

BUT... I had to tell you that I was awarded the Barnabas Fellowship grant, which enables a member of InScribe to further his or her progress in writing. Barnabas means 'encourager', which coincides with the purpose of this award.

Believe me, this truly is an encouragement as I become more focused on my writing. I'm honoured, blessed and delighted by this recognition of my writing journey so far.

 I'll be back in a day or so.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

We're Away

Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn." ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

Autumn is beginning to show more of her handiwork in our corner of the world. Coloured leaves and frosted lawns, v-formed flocks of geese, the sighting of a lone robin enjoying the last splash in the bird bath before heading out. 

I tend to hate to say goodbye to my summer birdy friends. But it seems the good Lord must have whistled a few of our year-long boarders to stop by and fill in my empty spaces.

For we've now had downy woodpeckers, a gorgeous bluebird (saw him drinking at the birdbath), not to mention our cheery chickadees providing some entertainment and great pleasure.

I will be away from my desk for a few days as I'm off to a writer's conference this weekend.  Plus, I'm into my last week of my memoir writing class, so it's full steam ahead to get the last writing assignments completed. (Once the dust settles, we'll be posting more about that over at Just Write.)

I wish you a pleasant day... and I hope that includes some time to watch the leaves turn.  Or crunch in some crackly leaves.  Or sip a pumpkin spice latte in a cozy coffee shop.

Till later then,

Photo: Brenda C Leyland, 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Simply Sunday: Beside Quiet Waters

He restores my soul and leads me beside quiet waters...
from Psalm 23

Can't you just feel the peace when you look at the photo above? We captured this pose on camera as hubby and I were out for a nature walk.

A man and his best friend out enjoying a quiet turn about the lake. The doggie, at first, wanted to stand up in the boat, so the fellow would lightly touch his back end with the paddle to indicate he should sit. Maybe Mr. Doggie had visions of leaping from the canoe into the still water to take a swim. Or play with the muskrat we'd noticed just a few feet away. Can't say I blamed him, the water looked refreshing on such a warm afternoon.

'Twas a perfect moment, just the way we wish our days could be more often...calm, beautiful, relaxed.

While they paddled off, hubby and I continued with our own bit of nature walk.

Of course no outing in the open air is complete without some sort of refreshment...tinned salmon salad with lettuce on panini buns, veggies and a crisp apple, all washed down with a hot cuppa tea poured straight from the thermos.

 While we ate, we were entertained by bold little sparrows; at first we thought they were chipping sparrows, but they had little yellow feathers along the sides of their head.  Can't recall at the moment what we found in the bird book.  Whatever the species, they were cute as buttons.

On that note,
I'm wishing you your own day of
calmness, beauty and rest.....


Photos:  Brenda C Leyland, (c)2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Launch: Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta


Earlier this past spring, I received an email from a woman who, upon searching for bloggers who like the Victoria magazine, found links to It's A Beautiful Life in her search list.

You can appreciate, at first glance I thought it was spam, but a closer look indicated the email was legitimate. It turns out Gina Holmes is in book publicity and her company was getting ready to launch a new book Born of Persuasion by new author, Jessica Dotta.

Now the most fascinating thing is that Ms Dotta -- also a great fan of Victoria -- used the gorgeous photography from past magazine issues as her inspiration when she created scenes in her new novel. Here are some snippets of description from the novel with matching photos.

Jessica Dotta has always been fascinated by the intricacies of society that existed in England from the Regency through the Edwardian era. She writes in a manner that blends past and modern fiction techniques. She lives in the Nashville area and works as a freelance media consultant and publicist. Her first novel, Born of Persuasion, releases September 2013.

She resides lives in the greater Nashville area‚where she imagines her small Southern town into the foggy streets of 19th century London. She oversees her daughter to school, which they pretend is an English boarding school, and then she goes home to write or work on PR. Jessica has tried to cast her dachshund as their butler‚ but the dog insists it's a Time Lord and their home a Tardis. Miss Marple, her cat, says it's no mystery to her as to why the dog won't cooperate. When asked about it, Jessica sighs and says that you can't win them all, and at least her dog has picked something British to emulate. You will find Jessica's book here: Website | Facebook |Amazon

Aside... I never met Ms. Holmes prior, but in our e-conversations about Jessica's book, it turns out Gina and I have a mutual acquaintance. I live here in Canada, Gina lives in southern Virginia, and here we both know the same woman who happens to be a fellow writer. How's that for small world?

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September Notecard Party with Vee

 Orange Calendula aka English Marigold, My Garden 2013

 Sunflower Bouquet, 2013

 Pink Roses and Baby's Breath

Mock Orange Shrub, Garden 2013

 I'm delighted to be a part of Vee's Notecard Party today.
 Click here to join the fun!

Enjoy your day,

Photos: Brenda C Leyland, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Simply Sunday. Eden Is...

I do believe Eden once was an actual place here on this earth. Now in our day and age, there are pockets in nature that still remind us of what I imagine the original Garden of Eden could have been before the world became as it we know it now. Here is a quote I've been chewing on lately:

“Eden is a conversation. It is the conversation of the human with the Divine. And it is the reverberations of that conversation that create a sense of place. It is not a thing, Eden, but a pattern of relationships, made visible in conversation. To live in Eden is to live in the midst of good relations, of just relations scrupulously attended to, imaginatively maintained through time. Altogether we call this beauty.” ~ Barry Lopez, American author, essayist
But I do love how the author says that Eden is a conversation -- a pattern of relationships made visible in conversation. It's our relationships that matter. That's what it's all about in the first, middle and last place. For when we are in 'good relations'... in harmony with each other, our neighbours, God, other countries, the land and sea and air, plus all its beautiful creatures and living things, then the world around us will look and feel more like that place we call Eden or paradise ... a little heaven on earth.

Here's wishing you a peace-filled Sunday...
with a gentle kiss atop thy head,

Photo source:

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Marilyn Monroe Moment

It was such a lovely day, the kind of day to go on an afternoon outing. So we did, hubby and I, and as it was warm and sunny, I chose to wear my sleeveless Monet-patterned summer dress with swirly skirt (there's a glimpse of the pattern in my sidebar photo).

As we crossed one of the grilled openings on the sidewalk, I suddenly felt my skirt billow. Fortunately, it wasn't a huge billowing, but I grabbed for it before it blew over my head.  I will have you know we were all appropriately attired for the outing, so no oopsies in that department.

For a brief second, I felt like Miss Monroe...kiss kiss!

Our first stop of the day was at the symphony box office to buy tickets for the Classics Masters series. This is something we haven't done for ages, but with the great two-for-one promotion they were having this fall ...and... a $200 gift certificate in hand, it seemed the perfect time to immerse ourselves in a little culture!

With tickets safely tucked in handbag, we sauntered hand-in-hand down the street to the Art Gallery...for more culture.  And pleasantly whiled away the afternoon saturating our senses with the rich selection of watercolours on display from the world-famous Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

It was wonderful! I felt so alive. Electric. I wanted to go home not paint...but write.  I was inspired with all that talent and giftedness on exhibit.  I wanted to write something as beautiful. Is it possible with pen, ink and paper (or a computer keyboard)? 

I had so many favourites -- and a painting by William Henry Hunt with primroses and a bird's nest was certainly one of them. I saw pieces by Constable and Turner...up close and in real life, not just in a book or on a notecard.  I found that quite special.  To be that close to something these famous artists worked and dreamed over.

William Henry Hunt - circa 1845

It was a lovely outing.
rich selection of watercolours from the world-famous Victoria and Albert Museum in London. - See more at:
That was my afternoon... how was yours?


Photo source:  Vintage Feed Sacks
Painting source: The


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Shift In The Air

There was a real shift in the air this morning. Crisp and nippy, just the way I like an autumn morning to be. Perfect for thinking about sweaters, steamy apple cider, and maybe, a cozy fireplace later in the afternoon with a good book.

The performing arts facility where hubby and I clean in the wee small hours overlooks a lake. The surface was laden with mist this morning. I wanted to go and sit on the bench and watch it swirling as it grew light.

I don't know why, but when I see mornings like this, I wonder if it must have been like this in the Garden of Eden in its early days. Fresh with promise. Pure as a new baby. Soul satisfyingly beautiful.

Alas, fingermarks on large glass windows beckoned me back to work. Yet, this glimpse in this unexpected moment leaves its happy imprint on my mind.  

Wishing you a beautiful day!

Monday, September 09, 2013

I Could Be Inspired Here...

Mmmm... I think I could work really well on my memoir class homework right here. Overlooking the harbour and feeling the gentle breeze from the water. Most inspiring.

And I'd feel even more inspired if the glasses were turned right side up and filled with a nice fruity kind of drink.

Anyone want to join me? There seems to be plenty of room. Bring your laptop... or not!

 Wishing you a beautiful day,

Photo source:

Sunday, September 08, 2013

God Whispers: If Not Now, When?


Never shall I forget the day years ago when, standing beside my young nephew's hospital bed, I heard the Lord speak into my heart. Nephew was very ill and with much pain in his eyes at that moment, all relating to treatments for cancer. I had just come to visit and the room was in a hubbub. He was crying. Nurses were flying.

You see, I was learning to pray for healing for others; I wanted to pray for him but was a little afraid, what if nothing happens. After all, it's just little me. That's when I heard God speak into my heart, "If not Nephew, who? If not now, when?"

So I laid my hand on him, whispered the cry of my heart that spoke healing and release from pain. I stepped back into the shadows of the room...still not sure what would happen. Seconds later, nephew says, The pain is gone and I want something to eat.

Can you imagine the utter relief, joy and wonder that God responded to my tremulous faith to 'just do it'? And to hear the words that the pain was gone, that he wanted something to eat?

From that day on, I've hungered to pray for change every time. I've prayed for people, seen things change. Not always. But oft enough to know that, like Elijah, who was a frail human being like me and made the rain stop for 3 years, I too can pray with results.

The earnest heartfelt, continual prayer of a righteous man--or woman--makes tremendous power available... James 5:16, New Testament

Just imagine if more of us who do follow Jesus Christ were to boldly continue to carry out the works He started. Maybe more of us would -- could -- expect changes. Divine intervention. Life changing experiences. Wouldn't our world look different?

I think that would be getting us closer to experiencing more 'heaven on earth' glimpses in unexpected places.

So, today I'm asking myself the question again....If not me, who? If not today, when?

Photo source:

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Saturday Swatch o' Yellow

Peer closely, he blends in well in my swatch o' sunflowers.

the skies glum and determined
a dog woofs in the distance
winds rattle the branches
a streak of bold
lands in the sunflower corner
American goldfinch
the gift for this moment
brightens my view


Thursday, September 05, 2013

Things that Tickle My Fancy Today

 Fresh bedding spritzed with a soft scented linen spray...

 Lace and ribbon and buttons...

Monograms -- in my case the D must for Dearest... ;o)

A few fancy ticklers:

Hot buttered toast -- with real butter

A quiet morning to potter about the house
straightening things and poofing pillows

The gentle squabble of the finches at the feeders --
they do seem to fret about who sits where

Even the distant roar of traffic --
I'm part of a thriving community and we all belong somewhere...together

Kitty cats who curl their tails around our hearts and 
doggies who wag their way into our affections

Warm sunshine, crisp-tinged breezes, 
wispy-tailed clouds in blue skies

The space in my day to sit at my computer 
and think about YOU and say hello

Wishing you a beautiful day with a few of your own tickled fancies,

Photos source:



Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Slice of Life Writing

Over the past year or so I found myself being drawn more and more to authors who share stories of their lives in the form of memoir. I didn't realize there was a pattern happening, because I was just reading books that I was drawn to by their titles, their covers and, of course, the glimpses on back covers into lives that I wanted to know more about as authors shared some particular event or experience and their journey through it.

Aside...I always want to tell you about the books I'm reading and enjoying, but I detest book reports writing book reports. I can still feel the squiggly dismay I had as a school girl at having to sort out my thoughts and feelings on paper about the book, and then give it to someone else to mark up with a red pencil. One day I'll get over that and share some of my own happier version of a book review.

All that say, I've enrolled in a memoir writing course with author and book editor Lisa Dale Norton of the Santa Fe Writing Institute. Class starts today. I'm excited!

I first 'met' Ms. Norton through her book, Shimmering Images, A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir and when I went in search of her website, I knew I wanted to take Lisa's course.

I think this rising-to-the-fore form of writing is what I've been looking for as a way to share my own stories. When you think of memoir writing, don't think the Hollywood versions of telling the juicy bits. It's much more than that. It's about people telling a slice of their life story... just a slice of it... and what they've learned and gained (or lost) from it. Giving us glimpses of universal truths that we can relate to and sharing insights for our own journeys.   

I hope to post about my writing experience at Just Write should you want to stop in and see how I'm doing. I might need your cheers and hugs (maybe even a chide) to keep me going when the going gets tough. Digging around in old memories isn't always a picnic.

For you avid readers in need of topping up your bedside reading piles, here are a few titles on memoir that I've read over the last while. I appreciated each one and learned a few tips on memoir writing into the bargain:

And so I'm off...
This is my new life and we're writing to find the right words.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Moment of Bliss

I was doing my vacuuming routine at the performing arts centre early this morning as per usual. The carpet in the theatre was quite messy in a festive kind of way. In one area particularly -- perhaps where guests of honour had been seated -- a potpourri of fresh and dried floral petals and seeds were scattered all over the floor. Not a real thrill to try and vacuum up. Until...

I caught the scent of lavender. One of my all-time favourite fragrances.

Now for most of us, vacuuming is not the most romantic of tasks on any given day, but right there with the vacuum hose in my hand, I experienced that tiny moment of bliss. For in the midst of the mess lay hidden a few lavender seeds. Oooooo....

Which in the end has been more than just that tiny sliver of time, for my whole day seems to now be dipped in shades of lavender. Perhaps the unexpected joy of it startled all my senses into paying attention.

So guess what I'm going to do tomorrow morning. Aha... I've got a little store of fragrance seeds from a dear sister-in-law's garden and I'll be carrying a pocketful to work in the morning. A wee toss and Miss Molly and I will think we're in a garden... maybe Provence... maybe even heaven.

Here's wishing you glimpes...