Friday, July 20, 2018

Five on Friday: Filling the Well

“...and then, I have nature and art and poetry,
and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
~ Vincent van Gogh 

The Van Gogh Museum recently posted that, in the many letters he wrote over the years, Vincent van Gogh mentioned over 1,100 works by different artists and at least 800 books and magazine articles. To be so well-read and aware of such a variety of artists and books in his line of work, and then to pass along that knowledge to others, well, I find that truly fascinating. And, he didn't even have access to the Internet or Google. 

No wonder his art is so wonderful. Just think of the wealth of information that enriched and deepened his knowledge, understanding, and development of his artistic abilities. Talk about filling the inner well to overflowing. With such a springboard for inspiration surely he never ran out of ideas to explore or experiment with. It all would have helped him to stretch and grow both as an artist and as an individual.

"A mind that is stretched by a new experience
can never go back to its old dimensions."
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

It makes me stop to consider what I'm doing to create a fresh and flowing well of inspiration for myself. I think about what I'm reading that enriches my own life, personally and as a writer. Curiosity plays such a big role in searching out new things. Thankfully, there's a great big world out there for us to be curious about. Someone recently said that Her Majesty the Queen, at age 92, has never lost her sense of curiosity and that is why she still enjoys life. Having more access to Royal photos these days, I would agree -- there are so many photos where the joy radiates from her face.

“It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you
and gives you a deeper meaning.”
~ Vincent van Gogh 

So, yes, I want to stay royally curious. I do have an insatiable desire to continually deepen my understanding about myself and the world around me. I want to keep the wonder fresh in me -- I admit sometimes it gets jaded -- but I do work to keep growing and learning and exploring things I never thought much about before. Our brains are wired that way, we're told they get excited when we ruffle their ridges and waves with new things. 

Even so, I am inspired by Mr. van Gogh's noteworthy example and plan to take myself in hand to read wider and deeper. To fill the inner well of my soul with good, sweet water.

"Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart;
a wise person draws from the well within."
~ The ancient book of wisdom, Proverbs 20:5

On a slightly different note, many of us have read Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way at some point in our lives. We don't have to be writers or painters to find value in her book for we are all creative artists in one way or another. You may recall how she uses the image of the inner well as an artistic reservoir. She says,
"Art is an image-using system. In order to create, we draw from our inner well. This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond. We've got big fish, little fish, fat fish, skinny fish -- an abundance of artistic fish to fry. As artists, we must realize that we have to maintain this artistic ecosystem.
If we don't give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked. ... As artists we must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them -- to restock the trout pond, so to speak. I call this process filling the well."

Today's post is all about filling the inner well. As you scroll down, you will see some of the little gifts that came to nourish me this week, to top up my own depleting well. I offer them now to you with the hope there is something here that will stir and refresh and inspire your own soul.

Photo: Danielle Dolson |
It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once;
a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising.
Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming,
on sea and continents and islands,
each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.
~ John Muir

Such a lovely breeze came into my study window early one gray, drizzly morning. Disregarding the rain, birds chattered in the backyard, vying for spots at the feeders. I found it all most companionable as I sat at my desk looking out. I felt the solitude, the solace, the peacefulness. The way I like to start any day.

Photo: David Vig |
tree-ward eyes do gaze
fragrant breezes caress a face
as music from the leaves begins
shhh, be hushed!
may day's agitations now release
~ bcl ~

I went for my walk the other evening. I headed up the street towards the west, and as I came to the bend in the road, I caught a whiff of something on the breeze. In that moment, the trees along the street were releasing their lovely earthy, woody fragrance after a long, hot day. I can never quite find words for that smell -- can you? A mix of earth and green, maybe a hint of berry or herb. Whatever it is, in that brief second I felt as if I were strolling along some lush woodsy path.

Then... a truck blew by and left diesel in its wake. The moment evaporated. And, with that the city street was back. In spite of the rude interruption, I cherished my tiny bit of heaven, and now still remember it two days later. That's why I must tell you about it.


"Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful;
they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind."
~ Luther Burbank

It was just after 5:00 am when I slipped out the front door to snip a couple of pink cosmos for the little green vase on my desk. I love their pinkness. So rich and vibrant. Sometimes when the sun is just right and the light lands on the petals, I'm reminded of that delightful treat of yesteryear and have a mind to dub them "Popsicle Pinks".


"Open afresh your rounds of starry folds,
Ye ardent Marigolds.
~ John Keats

Then I walk past the patch of marigolds to run my fingertips along their scented petals. Snipped off the spent blossoms. Their very marigold-ish scent lingers on my fingers -- pungent like tomato leaves.

The day's begun and I bring my little gifts inside where they give me joy all the day long.


Libraries change lives. They are the soul of a people.
~ Diane Ackerman

Here is what I've got on the table for my 'digging deeper' summer reading. One or two I've read before (like Austen's), others I'm in the middle of, and the rest I am looking forward to getting into. I'm quite certain more will be added as the weeks go by.

by Jane Austen

“I come here with no expectations, only to profess, now that I am at liberty to do so, that my heart is and always will be...yours.” My favourite line in the book -- and especially thrilling when Mr. Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) speaks it so sublimely in the movie.

compiled by George Davidson

An anthology of poems to be read, enjoyed, and learned. Poets include Blake, Burns, Dickinson, Keats, Shakespeare, Yeats, Whitman, and many others.

"We should learn a poem because we like it, because we have enjoyed reading it, because it speaks to us, because it makes us laugh or cry, because it brings us solace or reassurance, because it gives us a better understanding of ourselves or of other people, because it brings back memories of childhood, or for any of a dozen other personal reasons. We should learn a poem because...we want to have it with us as a readily available companion in all that life brings us or throws at us." ~ excerpt from the Introduction by George Davidson

by Diane Ackerman (author of The Zookeeper's Wife)

"All dawns delight me. No two people experience the same dawn, psychologically or literally. On the equator, dawn unfolds in minutes; at the poles it can stretch for hours. Only as dawn's final drama does the sun actually rise. ... Being in nature at dawn always comforts me."

Philip Zaleski, Editor

I haven't read this book yet, but I just found it at the library. I have read one or two other editions as a way to catch a glimpse of what writers of various faith traditions talk about.

by Ray Bradbury

“Read poetry every day of your life. Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don’t use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition. It keeps you aware of your nose, your eye, your ear, your tongue, your hand. And, above all, poetry is compacted metaphor or simile. Such metaphors, like Japanese paper flowers, may expand outward into gigantic shapes. Ideas lie everywhere through the poetry books, yet how rarely have I heard short story teachers recommending them for browsing. // What poetry? Any poetry that makes your hair stand up along your arms. Don’t force yourself too hard. Take it easy. Over the years you may catch up to, move even with, and pass T. S. Eliot on your way to other pastures. ..." ~ excerpt from the book

And, here's an off-the-wall fun quote by Ray Bradbury, which I admit to giggling over: “I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.” I think he'll be fun to read.

by Molly Peacock

A biography/memoir about a woman who lived in the 1700's: Mary Granville Pendarves Delany, daughter of gentry, married at 17 to a drunk, widowed, happily remarried, then widowed again. At age 72 "she rose from her grief, picked up her scissors, and invented a new art form: mixed-media-collage. Over the next decade, she created an astonishing collection of 985 botanically precise, gorgeous flower mosaics." ~ from back cover

See? It's never too late to begin again.

edited by Katherine Ball Ross

This is a collection of essays that were written originally for Victoria magazine. The excerpt below is from one essay by Jane Smiley Jane Austen's Heroines.

"When I first read through my thick Modern Library edition of all six of Jane Austen's novels, I was younger than Elizabeth Bennet. When I reread the novels in graduate school, this time in standard editions plumped out by scholarly matter, I was nearly as old as Anne Elliot (Persuasion). Now I'm older than Mrs. Bennet, and my daughters are nearly Elizabeth and Lydia Bennet's contemporaries. (I am almost as old as Sir Walter Elliot.) I no longer read for the love story, or even, in some ways, for the comedy. I read Austen in order to contemplate her views on the proper behavior of women, and her views are complex. They evolve from novel to novel. They cover a lot of ground, too -- small things like the rudeness of not answering letters quickly fully express larger problems of selfishness ... "

This book brings together excerpts from James Herriot's writings
and photos by Derry Brabbs

"I pulled off the unfenced road on to the grass, switched off the engine and opened the windows wide. The farm back there was like an island of activity in the quiet landscape and now that I was away from the noise and the stuffiness of the buildings the silence and the emptiness enveloped me like a soothing blanket. I leaned my head against the back of the seat and looked out at the chequered greens of the little fields along the flanks of the hills; thrusting upwards between their walls till they gave way to the jutting rocks and the harsh brown of the heather which flooded the wild country above."

* * *

I think that's more than enough for one post. I really should write more often so I don't have to cram everything into one post. But that's in my ideal world -- I hope you will forebear with me until I find that world where inspiration, time, and energy arrive and meld at the same time. 

Without another word, here's wishing you a beautiful day,


Should you be receiving this post via email, please do not reply to it. This email is not generated by me (Brenda) but by my blog host, Blogger -- any replies you might send will go nowhere. // If, however, you want to reply you can leave a comment on my blog directly by clicking on the link 'Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life' located at the bottom left hand side of this email. Thanks!


  1. Delicious... You are honing your craft well...

  2. Thank you, Vee! Your words mean a lot to me. :)

  3. "I must have flowers, always and always." Claude Monet

    Your posts are like the flowers you bring inside -- fresh, colorful, fragrant. Thank you, Brenda.

    1. I'm with Claude Monet when it comes to flowers. Thank you, dear lady, for your lovely comment. xox

  4. I was born curious and hope to die that way as well. Yes, those marigolds do seem to linger on the fingers. Beautiful post, Bren!

  5. Love everything about this post and have written down some of the books you mentioned so I can look them up. Hope you have a beautiful day!

    1. Hope you find something that strikes your fancy when you check out those books, Melanie. Thanks so much for stopping by! xox

  6. Thank you for this post, Brenda. I’ve been in a dry place but am once again filling the well. I love to learn and grow and share it with others. So much richness to ponder here this morning.

    1. I'm so glad your dry places are being refreshed. Those are hard places and I'm so grateful for His grace. I say a little prayer for that daily mercy and grace as you journey through to that place of joy in the morning once again. xox

  7. Oh yes, filling the well, so vital in all areas of life! Your poem is beautiful, I love how a few lines can capture forever a single moment in time. A wonderfully inspirational reading list you've compiled, have fun!

    1. Thank you, Kathy, I'm glad you enjoyed the bit of poetry. xox

  8. Your writing is such a treat, Brenda, and so worth waiting for.

  9. You share such lovely quotes, photos and thoughts. thank-you for sharing some well-replenishment!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Janet. Your presence and words are very welcome. Thank you!

  10. As I've already said on Facebook,these simple flowers are delightful.

  11. Brenda, thank you so much for sharing these lovely things that filled your well this week. I've savored each line, in fact, I feel very much kindred spirits from reading this and that is such a delight. I sometimes astound myself at how little it takes in my daily life to bring me joy and I sense that about you too. I think it might have been Gladys Taber who wrote about life being like a plum pudding so full of delicious riches and I recognize that too.

    I don't know how a Ray Bradbury fan like myself has missed reading his Zen in the Art of Writing but I've made a note of it now. His Dandelion Wine never fails to excite me about life.

    Your photography and that of others you've featured here today are a lovely pairing with your words and quotes. Happy summer reading!

    1. I'm going to look for his Dandelion Wine, thanks for the tip! And thank you so much, Dewena,for filling my heart with your beautiful comments. Chuckled at Gladys Taber's thought about life being like a plum pudding. She's right! xox

  12. Another post full of delightful things to contemplate and be inspired by. I read the Ray Bradbury book and enjoyed it thoroughly. The Paper Garden sounds delightful.

    1. Started reading the Ray Bradbury book and really enjoying it ... he has some inspiring thoughts for writers.
      Thanks, Lorrie, for your lovely comments. xox

  13. Dear Brenda just reading your lovely post has replenished my well. Your list of reading material looks wonderful. I would especially enjoy reading about Mrs. Delaney. Thanks for sharing and always bringing joy. Hugs!

  14. I enjoy reading your posts (I know I've said that before and I'll probably say it again, in the future).
    These are a few of your choice of words, that create word pictures.
    I felt I was on your walk with you!
    "whiff of something on the breeze"
    "springboard for inspiration"
    "pungent like tomato leaves."

    ~"Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed."~ Walt Whitman

    1. Christine, What a lovely thought from Walt Whitman. I'm so happy for your comments. xox

  15. What a timely post. The other day, I saw something on Twitter about staying young by learning new things...or something to that effect!

    1. Margie, I love how those nudges come to inspire us ... we hear something one place and then we hear it again. And then we 'click in' that something or Someone is speaking to us. xox

  16. I have just discovered you beautiful blog and added it to my favorites list. So much shared, so much to think about - thank you! I love the Diane Ackerman book on your book pile - a favorite! And just reserved the Ray Bradbury book at my library.
    This is a remarkable and nourishing blog,

    1. Mary, Lovely to meet you here! And thank you very much for your lovely comments. I really like Diane Ackerman, her book One Hundred Names for Love is a top favourite. And I hope you enjoy Mr. Bradbury. I found some inspiring words from him as a writer.

      Hope you come and visit again soon.

  17. Oh, Brenda - I am finally here, I read and re-read. First, yes you should write more often and this post was absolutely outstanding! You and I share a love of Alexandra Stoddard and she also writes at length about the importance of "filling one's well." How true and so important. Truly, I do believe it is key to a long and well lived life. As for poetry, I have always enjoyed reading beautiful words from marvelously talented people. especially when it makes me put down the book and think about what I just read and then read it again. Your blog is the same, I enjoy every reading. Do write more - you are such fabulous inspiration! Your voice is so needed in our world!

    1. Thank you, Sandra, I sooo appreciate your affirming words. Like you, I love to read poets and authors who can put things into words that speak so eloquently to our hearts. I'm so grateful for them. Brenda xox


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xo