Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Master Mentor

One of our coaching group assignments on healing led to this "inner little girl" self-portrait
Your best security is to grow yourself.  You need to follow a special path for creative success.  It will reawaken that creative little girl who either got squelched or silenced or…...has been stumbling along,"
- from Gail McMeekin's
"The 12 Secrets Of Highly Successful Women"
In last year’s “Carry With You” post, I wrote about participating in creativity coach/mentor and author Gail McMeekin’s “The 12 Secrets Of Highly Creative Women” journaling group conducted via Facebook and how the motivational power of that experience actually empowered me to launch this blog.  Since then, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to participate in two of Gail’s “Jewel Of An Idea” coaching groups, last spring’s group focused on customizing and monetizing your creative business ideas and as briefly mentioned yesterday, this summer’s group currently in process, focusing on healing, aligning with your life purpose and designing a business model suitable to your personality, values, well-being and quality of life.  All three experiences have been more valuable than I could have ever anticipated and have contributed to exciting developments and results along the pathway of transforming my creative dreams into realities! 

Gail brings together creatively-minded women in an inviting, interactive, supportive, encouraging, productive group experience, guiding us and helping us discover our own navigational wisdom, enabling us to progress toward accomplishment and fulfillment on our creative journeys.  We “gather together” via group conference calls and one-on-one calls and communicate via email and social media channels, yet a wonderful sense of community and camaraderie quickly forms, and the atmosphere is one that feels comfortable, safe and uplifting.  I wrote last summer about discovering a new version of “co-workers” as a solo creative small business owner, and in Gail’s coaching groups, I’ve enjoyed making connections with more of these “co-workers.”

As for Gail herself, she is a master mentor with a true gift for guiding and empowering women to embrace and maximize their creative talents.  In addition to offering wisdom and advice well-suited to our individual and collective needs, one of Gail’s many strengths as a coach is formulating questions and comments that ignite an “aha” spark in our own minds as we brainstorm with her individually or as a group.  I greatly value and respect Gail’s experience, wisdom, insight, genuine interest in her clients, caring nature and generous heart and spirit.

You may wonder why I’m writing this testimonial here on Paper And Ponder?  I consider Gail’s work a tremendous contribution to our creative world.  From discovering her books three years ago to the past year’s amazing opportunities to benefit from her expertise through her coaching groups, connecting with Gail has been a pleasure, an inspiration and an honor.  I never imagined creativity coaching would shift from my “someday file” to an actual experience in my life, one which will undoubtedly resonate going forward.  I admittedly used to view such opportunities as somewhat frivolous, but what’s frivolous about tapping into resources that nourish and enlighten us to further our self-growth, maximize our potential and gain momentum with the positive ripples we can make in this world?  As more of my “somedays” come to fruition, my mindset shifts from limitED to limitLESS possibilities!

A huge, heartfelt THANK YOU, Gail, for contributing wind to my creative sails…I am confidently venturing forward!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Reminder Of Healing And Love

Yesterday here on Paper And Ponder, I began to share some three-dimensional treasures I created during a “just for fun” artsy afternoon with my daughter and her friend earlier this month.  During that afternoon, a simple wooden cube transformed into my “ruby totem” of sorts.  My inspiration stemmed from recently learning about qualities associated with our birthstones during my participation in an (outstanding!) creative coaching group with author and coach Gail McMeekin (this week’s posts seem to be unfolding in my mind one day and one layer at a time, so I’ll share more about my amazing coaching experiences with Gail tomorrow.) 

My birthstone is the ruby, and its energy is considered to be powerfully healing.  It is supposed to aid in clearing emotional congestion.  In the Middle Ages, this stone was used medically to treat blood diseases (rather uncanny considering I am a blood cancer survivor.)  The ruby is also a symbol of divine love.

As I continue along my healing journey, I’ve been open and receptive to utilizing different tools for healing.  Since the ruby signifies healing and love which are vital as I travel forward, I decided creating a reminder of these two key components in my life could be helpful in maintaining a positive outlook.

I happened to have on hand several stickers of Madonna, angel and fairy images I had purchased from one of my favorite artists, Flor Larios, and serendipitously, I found two of her images in shades of ruby red, one even accompanied by the word “love.”  These peaceful, sweet visages were my springboard to this “ruby totem” idea, and I decoupaged them on two opposite sides of the cube.  The cube was also embellished with watercolor paint, glitter glue, rhinestones, glass seed beads, faceted beads, wire and plastic pony beads.  This “ruby totem” of healing and love now sits atop my desk as a gentle daily reminder.  The red beads symbolize not only the healing ruby, but also my healthy red blood cells, creating interesting synchronicity between my birthstone and my actual life.


Meanwhile, I wish to thank Flor Larios for kindly granting me approval to feature her lovely art on today’s post.  I find her work so beautiful and peaceful and have purchased notecards, several prints and reproductions on canvas or wood as gifts for loved ones. 
In the thick of my cancer experience, I discovered her work on Etsy while curating a treasury I titled “When A Soul Needs Soothing.”  I purchased a print of “Hope and Love” as it truly soothed my soul (more healing art!) and provided me with a sense of comfort, calm and hope.


How have you tapped into your birthstone's qualities and their significance in your life?




Monday, August 26, 2013

Inspiration In 3D

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, the three-dimensionality of the mini “shrine” I created at CHOMP’s healing art retreat earlier this month inspired a recent art date with our daughter and her friend which, in turn, inspired some unexpectedly meaningful results as I sat down and created alongside the girls.  
A crafty experiment with yarn and embellishments across a watercolored mat board (shown here) provided the idea to refine and execute this technique for a new notecard design (in process, will reveal soon.) 
A project involving decorating tiny paper boxes became a chance to create a couple sweet little "wish boxes," (and I'm feeling motivated to create more soon!)  The blue box was delivered to a friend in need of comfort and support last week as a wish for peace, and the pink box will soon be mailed to a friend heading toward a wonderful accomplishment, and it will be a wish for her heart's desires. 
Another project involving embellishing wooden cubes became an opportunity to create a small totem to symbolize my ruby birthstone’s healing qualities, part of the “musework” assigned in our summer coaching group with author/creative coach Gail McMeekin.  (Much more on this in tomorrow’s post.) 
Simple and fun three-dimensional crafting with little girls inspired this "big girl" to transform playful projects into something more! 
May each of us, regardless of our age, allow ourselves time for child's play...for exploration, imagination, fascination, wonder and creativity!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Healing In A Box


During this month’s healing art retreat at CHOMP, one of our projects involved selecting from an assortment of paper boxes, decorating as we desired and creating a mini “shrine."  As I sifted through the bits and bobs among the available materials, I collected items which signified what’s vital in my life and filled my little box with these items.  “Healing In A Box” was born in the process! 

creativity take flight,
life be filled with much delight,
burdens be light,
dreams and goals always remain in sight.

I listed my shrine's "inventory" on the bottom of the box:
Infinite possibilities
Uplifted spirit
Awareness, mindfulness
Wonder, imagination
Emotion, passion
Exploration, adventure
Family, friendship, connection
Bliss, peace
Health, healing, wellness
Nurtured environment, growth
Groundedness, centeredness
Light, brightness, true colors
Life's contents...contented living


This three-dimensional form of mixed media inspired a recent play date (well, art date actually!) with our daughter and her friend.  More tomorrow on how this creative afternoon unfolded…in the meantime, hope you're enjoying your Sunday!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Setting Sights On Vibrancy

I recently exhibited some of my healing artwork at our local hospital’s cancer survivors’ celebration including my “inner little girl” series which I’ve been sharing periodically here on Paper And Ponder.  A simple collaged art journaling piece I created (along with “Emergence”) during my final maintenance chemo treatment back in May was “Setting Her Sights On A Vibrant Future.”  Yesterday, after reviewing this week’s test results with my doctor, I graduated from two to three months between tests and appointments.  As the time between tests and appointments has gradually lengthened in the past two years, this latest progress means a great deal to me, a positive validation that my body is holding steady and behaving.  As I drove home from the appointment, I felt a wave of relief and excitement!  Perhaps I’m already arriving at the threshold of a vibrant future?!

What was written on the front of the collage:

She dons her rose colored glasses

during moments when she wishes

to focus on her dreams and aspirations.

They mute the glare of

doubt and uncertainty

to allow her a clear view

of the possibilities.

Vision of a radiant tomorrow…


What was journaled on the back:

Started this collage during yesterday’s final Rituxan infusion with thoughts of emerging into a vibrant new landscape.  Physical, emotional, creative vibrancy.  Vibrancy in blended personal and professional endeavors.  Today, feeling fatigued and slowed by yesterday’s treatment, I’ve been sitting here at the dining table collaging, reflecting, resting, healing, focusing on future vibrancy, radiance, brightness.  How appropriate it was a short while ago to glance through the patio door and spot a brilliant yellow hooded oriole visiting our almond tree, the first one I recall ever seeing…a vibrant sign indeed!  5/8/13



 Wishing you vibrancy and a radiant tomorrow...



Friday, August 23, 2013

A Remodeled Office

While hiking on a family camping trip this summer at Sam McDonald Park near Pescadero, we happened upon this sign along the trail which, at first, struck me as odd and prompted a chuckle!  As I then thought about my own office (now headquartered in our spare room where I store my art supplies, in drawers on a rolling cart and on the dining table where I create!), I realized that my new definition of an office can extend to a sandy beach, a hiking trail, a museum, library or coffee shop where I find inspiration, where ideas emerge, where I connect and network with creative and entrepreneurial peers. 

As I’ve journeyed for the past couple years on this newer career path as a creative entrepreneur, I have discovered how the lines blur between my professional and personal lives and how not only are these blurred lines acceptable, they can offer unexpected benefits.  A camping trip, a hike, a museum visit or other outing can serve not only as an opportunity to enjoy family time, but can also serve me in my work, fueling inspiration and creative energy.  From this perspective, I'm appreciating a more open and fluid definition of an office and starting to shed the questioning and guilt of "am I working hard enough" (residual effects from years of workaholism in my old career!)  One of the perks of being a small business owner is (and should be) a more flexible schedule, allowing a balance between work and play, and even better, play that ends up making a positive contribution to work!)  As I become more comfortable in this "remodeled" office, I am feeling much gratitude for its wonderful amenities!

Sharing more photos of colorful and shapely inspiration enjoyed in my outdoor “office” at Sam McDonald Park and Butano State Park


Lush green ferns amidst redwoods and firs

Vibrant blue

The beloved banana slug!  (On a different trip, we counted over 200 along a trail!)

Rich cocoa brown

Sweet little bells

Festooned in pale, glowing moss

Canopy above our campsite

Pretty in pink

Cheerful yellow (cat's ear?)

Glowing green

How are you blurring the lines between your professional and personal lives and redefining your own version of an office?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Smitten With A Kitten

Meet Misty!

A week ago our daughter and I were instantly smitten with a kitten!  It was love at first sight when we met this 2-month old beauty at our local SPCA.  I quickly sensed that she was “the one,” the new furry family member we were seeking, and our daughter adored her from the get go.  I took immediate action to pay the nonrefundable fee to place her on a 24-hour hold, allowing us time to convince my husband we had to have her in our family.  Fortunately, he was a good sport, trusted our instinct and provided his consent (a requirement of the SPCA is for all family members to consent.)  By the next afternoon, a curious, playful, affectionate, spunky, sweet little kitten was safely sequestered in one of our bathrooms!  As I’ve been working on kittenproofing each room, we’ve been gradually introducing her to our home and to our 14-year old cat Franki.  As is often the case now with experiences and observations in daily life, I’ve been contemplating the significance of Misty joining our family.  Of course, I’m also simply delighting in the company (and cuteness!) of a kitten and appreciating the brightness and joy she’s brought to our family (well, all of our human members, that is…she has yet to win Franki over, but she’s making progress!)

In the span of just one week, Misty is already contributing to and influencing our family in many positive ways…

I’ve typically been the planning, organizing type, rarely one to throw caution to the wind and act with spontaneity.  Adopting Misty was an opportunity to follow my heart and “go for it” which felt liberating and exhilarating!  I’m working on embracing spontaneity more often.

I initially assumed bringing Misty home on the first day of school would disrupt any chance of kicking off the school year with a smooth routine.  As it turns out, she’s been a surprisingly powerful source of motivation!  Our daughter who isn’t a morning person by nature and who operates at a slower than average pace has been (amazingly!) timely in getting ready for the day ahead, so she has time to spend with Misty prior to leaving for school.

Cuddling and playing with Misty are highly engaging activities and highly effective stress reducers.  Good moods, smiles and laughter are inevitable when spending time with her!

Similar to a young child, a young kitten can be a reminder to always look at the world with awareness and a sense of wonder, to take time to play and feel carefree, to rest and renew your energy.  (She is also keeping us on our toes with all of her inquisitive antics!)


In the short time that Misty has been with us so far, she has already lifted my spirit and and lightened the lingering heaviness from my cancer experience.  I feel lighter hearted, happier, soothed, yet energized (and entertained!) by her presence.  She’s good for my soul and for my ongoing healing journey, a welcome addition to our family!




Sunday, August 18, 2013

Modern Day Penpals

This summer I was approached by Donna of Sunshine Penpals to participate in her maiden swap and signed up (after enjoying a May Day swap earlier this year coordinated by Dawn of Candidly Clyde.)  This summertime swap was just as much fun!  Following the guidelines, I contacted one penpal (Tara of The Magnolia Barn) to find out a little bit about her along with her interests and favorites before sending my package to her, and in turn, I was contacted by another penpal (Angela of My Personal Accent) who asked me to provide similar information before sending her package to me.  What a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow bloggers, creative spirits and new online friends!

Angela and I corresponded through emails and learned that we share a common interest in upcycled papercraft projects.  Her blog and Facebook page share many creative ideas and helpful hints and tutorials on an eclectic variety of DIY topics.  I was excited to open the package she sent to me, a decorative box (which will be put to good use as I am always in need of attractive storage options for my plethora of art supplies!) generously filled with an assortment of goodies, including some handmade by Angela.  I’m quite fond of inspirational quotes, dragonflies, candles and sweet fabric handbags, so the package she thoughtfully put together for this swap has been much appreciated.
These opportunities for modern day penpals are a delightful way to interact with our creative community here in the online realm and connect with new friends in the process.
Have you been a swap participant?  How was your experience?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gifts From The Garden

I’ve been continuing along this current stream of garden contemplation after a second trip to volunteer in Bobcat Garden and a few brief stints in our own garden in the past couple weeks.  Since I've been writing quite a bit lately about what "speaks" to me while gardening, I thought it best to share recent gifts from the garden mainly through photos this time, and no, Paper And Ponder isn't transforming into a gardening blog...back to healing art and other topics after today's post!
Bright and beautiful Lion's Tail in different stages of blooming,
one of my favorite plants in Bobcat Garden

 After pruning oregano, I bundled the cuttings, and we hung them in Bobcat Garden's shed
Bobcat Garden's happy patch of sunflowers, corn, pumpkins, amaranth
and little bean seedlings...
This butterfly (we'd never seen before) landed amidst mizuna seedlings... 
"Mrs. Garden" (as she is called by the children) thought it might be a rare Smith's blue?
 A happy sunflower and a busy bee in Bobcat Garden

Another busy bee in our garden here at home, tending to our lemon cucumber plant
(we just enjoyed our first two for lunch today!) 

Patience...first signs of baby cucumbers on another plant
Abundance and gratitude in the form of
tasty homegrown tomatoes and basil married with fresh mozzarella
More gratitude for bringing home seeds and seedlings from "Mrs. Garden"... 
hope and anticipation...
as we wait for signs of broccoli, dill, calendula and sunflowers to appear
and nurture borage and chard seedlings to grow

 Do you enjoy gardening?  What are your favorite gifts from the garden?