the bliss of the silver lining

the bliss of the silver lining

There’s a vision board above my desk, with my hopes, wishes and desires for the year 2020. When I made it I was full of enthusiasm for a new year, and had several conversations with friends about what an amazing year it was going to be.

Everyone felt it … there was something in the air … somehow 2020 felt “different” from the start. The possibilities were endless.

It’s different, alright.

Early April, I considered taking my vision board off the wall, knowing the year I expected and hoped for was not in the cards. No graduation trips, no girls weekend in the spring with my three girls, no wedding shower for my oldest and her fiance, maybe even no big wedding in the fall. My excitement for 2020 was replaced with sadness and loss.

Then I took a closer look, and realized the only thing that changed was the “hows.”

In the vision board workshop I hosted in January, we discussed the key element of envisioning, then manifesting, the life you truly desire; it’s letting go of “how” your desires will manifest, and let the Universe and its brilliant serendipity figure that out.

Our job, instead of planning each how along the way, is to set the intention for our desires, let it go, then take whatever inspired action moves into our awareness. This goes for the physical things we want, as well as the spiritual and emotional.

This is hard enough to do in a “normal” year. We have a set understanding of “how” things are supposed to happen. You want a new job? You update your resume, scour the job sites, ask your network. Reasonable — yet what if you took that intention of finding a new job with you wherever you went, even to the Farmer’s Market, say, where you meet someone and strike up a conversation that leads to a mention of someone looking for your exact skill set?

Never in a million years would you have put “Go to Farmer’s Market” on your to-do list for finding a job … yet how often does this kind of serendipity happen?

So back to my vision board — I was someone convinced that my vision for the year was totally upended by the pandemic. Then I took a closer look …

  • closer connection with my husband? That was certainly happening.
  • more connection with family? My daughters and I are closer than ever, never hesitating to jump on FaceTime when we need to an extra dose of love, and keeping up a daily stream of texts; our extended family has Zoom chats every Saturday night.
  • the guest room redecorated and ready for company? Just about complete, including a new paint-by-number done as “stress therapy”
  • more faith? Faith has been my touchstone during the last few months, in a way I’ve never felt it before.
  • a clean and organized home? Well, the year’s not over yet …

It’s been an astonishing thing to learn these lessons. Even with my surface level awareness of letting go of the hows, the reality comes as a shock. I would never wish for the situation the world is facing today … yet I realize it doesn’t spell the end of our dreaming, our desires for ourselves and the ones we love.

Maybe this is what my grandmother said when she always searched for silver linings in her challenging life. She wasn’t in denial; she simply had faith.

I’ve learnt it is entirely possibly to be grateful and sad at the same time; happy and sorrowful; strong at heart yet anxious; looking forward to the future while struggling with the present.

It is entirely possible that I just may get the year I envisioned after all …

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the bliss of a good list

the bliss of a good list

Among the things my youngest daughter and I share is a love of a good list. We’ve both been known to add something we’ve already done to our list, just for the pleasure of checking it off.

When everything’s clicking, it seems like a dance … action, check, action, check … the movement is fluid and we are in flow. With that flow, comes the joy.

Yet what happens when the list stops bringing you joy? When checking off those items seems more trouble than it’s worth and a slog instead of a dance?

“It’s important when we’re facing something that’s really hard for us, whether it’s doing taxes, paying bills, or visiting a challenging relative, that we lovingly support ourselves through the process,” writes Madisyn Taylor in the Daily Om. “The more supported we feel, the easier it is to open our minds to the idea that we could change our way of looking at the situation.”

Yes ma’am. More bliss often starts with a simple shift in mindset.

“In truth, most of the chores we don’t like doing are intimately intertwined with our blessings,” Madisyn continues. “When we remember this, we feel gratitude, which makes it hard to stay in a dark mood.”

Funny how it all circles back to gratitude. So today I have a better list. Instead of letting my long list of client projects bring me stress, I will offer gratitude. Instead of the “work” that needs doing in the garden, I will offer thanks for those beautiful flowers and veggie plants. Instead of being annoyed at the paperwork that needs completing for the mortgage refi, I’ll humbly recognize my good fortune to have this home near the ocean.

What’s on my list looks pretty much the same … yet how I go about them, and recognizing why they are the list in the first place, is how I turn that to-do stress into a balm for my heart.

For more thoughts on achieving more bliss in your life, enjoy 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life.

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The 5 People Closest To You!

The 5 People Closest To You!

Part of my parenting was to teach and remind my children to carefully monitor the people they associate with on a regular basis.   Why?  The five people closest to us will impact our own success and happiness in life.  Just this week, even at my age, I had to make a conscious choice to choose who would hang out in my space.  Yes, it really is that important!   Presented with a lucrative opportunity, my gut told me “no way” even though my checkbook was saying yes.  So I remembered my new mantra from my book 10 Little Rules for Your Creative Soul: 

“If it’s not a “hell, yes” – it’s a no!

The mere thought now of seeing, communicating and dealing with this person on a daily basis makes me weak.  The confirmation  is so strong and I know I made the right decision.  The decision to say no.  The decision to include people in my life who inspire, encourage, dream, support, connect and care.  So when I ask myself daily what I want my day to look like and how I want to fell, I know I have at least five awesome people surrounding me in my life.  I am lucky and grateful.  Choose wisely – treat kindly!

Artfully inspired,


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Fix Her Crown

Fix Her Crown

When I ran across this image in my feed the other day, I shared it without hesitation.

With all the negativity in the world, we need more focus on the positive, the lifting up, the heartfelt good.

Later the next day, I found my self scrolling the #PermitPatty feed on Twitter, seeing all the nasty things being said about the white woman who called the cops because a young girl of color was selling water to raise money for a trip.

I wrote — then deleted — at least five different tweets offering my snark to the mix. I never posted any of them. Not because I support what she did — I certainly do not. FFS I was selling handmade tissue paper flowers on the side of the road alongside my lemonade stand before this woman was even born. Let the kid sell and don’t be a jerk.

Regardless, I resisted the temptation to chime in and add my voice to the drubbing. Then I started thinking about this image again. Breaking it down, a simple platitude with many layers of meaning.

First — be the one who lifts people up. This is always good advice. Yet there’s a sad blow back to doing this in our current climate, where it seems everyone assumes you’re on one side or the other based on one comment. If I said something as simple as “we don’t know the whole story,” (which, face it, we NEVER do unless we are personally and directly involved, and even then, it’s sketchy), I’d be labeled a supporter of her ugly behavior.

Seems we are only “allowed” to lift someone up when we agree with their political/social/whatever view … or risk alienating others or being labelled incorrectly. Gross.

Second — don’t tell the world her tiara was crooked. This is for the ego. Lifting up for love’s sake, not for that “I did a good thing” moment. This is an eternal struggle, isn’t it? This woman clearly had her crown on too tight or something — does she have someone in her life to help her adjust? I sure hope so, or else all the hate flowing her way is only going to solidify her fears and support harsher actions.

Our crowns slip occasionally. Our tiaras get dusty. I’m grateful for my friends who quietly help me set things right.


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On Rituals … and the Value of Temporary Chaos

On Rituals … and the Value of Temporary Chaos

Rule #9 in 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life is “Make Life a Ritual.”

There is a certain comfort in routine. The morning cup of coffee is a perfect example. While some view it as a chore or a necessity, I see it as a way to reconnect to the waking world.

So much of our lives rush by in a blur. We find ourselves doing the same things over and over again, like dropping the kids off at school, or tossing a load of laundry into the washer, dashing off emails to the clients, or paying the bills. It’s too easy to become automated, almost unthinking, as we scurry through our lives.

One way to bring more connection into my life has been through rituals. Growing up Catholic, we had plenty of proscribed rituals. Tuna noodle casserole became a Friday staple during lent. Even stopping for donuts after Sunday Mass, which explains my ongoing craving for a good jelly bismark one day a week.

I have found new joy in recognizing and celebrating the rituals in my life. Making the bed is now an opportunity to bring my bedroom back to a state of beauty, and prepare the space for another restful night. Checking the mail is gives me just a minute or two to think of someone I’d like to hear from, and plan to write or email them. Cooking dinner goes from being a chore to celebrating a healthy offering for my body.

But what happens when change interrupts our rituals?

The last two weeks have been all about chaos — sorting, packing, storing, selling our home and moving in with a friend while our new home is under construction. The comforting rituals are turned on their heads. And with it, my sense of balance. It’s no wonder I’ve had vertigo in the mornings, as my physical body expresses what’s in my heart and mind.

Yet overturning the familiar is where we find new joy. Creating new order out of the chaos — even though I know this too is temporary — restores my balance while allowing me to be open to new experiences.

My latest ritual? Morning coffee on the dock, feeding the baby turtles at my friend Melissa’s beautiful home. Who knew watching tiny little shell kids bob for food could be such bliss?

I may be out of my element, but that’s no reason to be out of my mind.


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Rule #5 – Surround Yourself Wisely.

Rule #5 – Surround Yourself Wisely.

My family called me active, and I was always wanting to do something different than most of the other kids.  Not out of judgement, but out of curiosity.  Still to this day, I am curious about learning new things yet have such a strong sense of what  I like and want in my life.   There’s a fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning (thank you, Jimmy Buffett).

I’ve always struggled with being put in a box, labeled, pigeon-holed as any one thing.  Yet I am so clear on my vision of what I want.  The hows don’t really concern me too much, especially in the creative stages of my adventures.   Is it possible  to remain true to yourself and yet seek newness and change?  Absolutely!  Even more so for we creatives.

Most of what I do is paint, when it comes to creativity.  But I also am an author, a speaker, a teacher and a foodie. Heading up to the Leelanau Peninsula in northern Michigan this week, I was again stunned at the natural beauty of the Great Lakes and the intimate towns that charm their way into my heart.  Each town has its own energy that is unique.

The shops are similar and most often the restaurants are also.  But we found a Farm to Table Restaurant (and Farm) that got my creative juices flowing.  It’s 9 Bean Rows in Suttons Bay, Michigan, housed in a cute little row of shops and painted red.  It started with French Press coffee even before they actually opened, but they let us sit outside in the warm sun to enjoy the favor.

We returned for one of the most unique and healthy meals we have ever enjoyed.  The entire experience was joyful.  The food was fresh and unusual, using herbs and spices and abundant creativity.  They knew how to help us get the perfect wine and beer to go with our meal.

Pure Michigan turned into Pure Culinary Delight.   Every one of our senses was illuminated and it will long live in our memories as not only a special meal but a Moment That Matters, a memory, a “do you remember when we…” event.

So, although I was born creative, I did not know the extent of what being creative really meant until recently. Being a foodie, knowing, wanting and sharing good, fresh food with  good, fresh people is totally creative.  You first know what you want, you seek it out and you enjoy – and then your creativity is at a new level.  Today I used some of the ideas I experienced at 9 Bean Rows into my lunch at home.  Bam!!  I can’t wait for dinner.  And I can only guess how good my paintings will be tomorrow when I walk into my studio with coffee in hand (French Press, of course).

Surround yourself wisely in all areas of your life … and watch your creativity soar.

Be Original


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At the intersection of gratitude and want…

At the intersection of gratitude and want…

If we are truly grateful, can we want?

It’s on the top of my mind lately, as hubby and I go through the rigors of having our house on the market. It’s a great house, nothing wrong with it … and I truly am grateful that we’ve able to get here.

So why we are selling? If we are really grateful, can we still want something else?

I need to move to the beach. It’s been a dream since forever for me, and hubby is absolutely committed to helping make that dream come true. So we are selling, after just getting here two years ago.

All of this spins up guilt because … well … even after all these years of self-reflection, it appears that guilt is still my go-to place. Guilt that maybe I don’t appreciate what I have; will never be happy; will always be searching for something else; not satisfied.

And wow, writing that out, I can hear the voices from my past saying those exact things. “When I was your age…”  “When I was growing up…” “People in India would eat those carrots…. ”   “Be thankful you have shoes at all…”

The lack! Okay, I get it. Be thankful for what you have. And I truly am! Truly am grateful for what I have, who I’m with, where my life has brought me so far.

And still … I want to live on the beach. Need to get there before it’s “too late,” whatever that looks like.

Breathing in, I see how just writing this post can spin up anxiety and guilt. But I know that the world is FULL of options. And just because we choose something else doesn’t mean we no longer are grateful for what we chose last time. That’s nonsense.

I’m still grateful for the first house I ever owned, a 200-year-old “hobbit house” in rural upstate NY. Even now, seven homes later (some rented, some owned) I have gratitude for the time I spent there. Just as I will for this place, after we connect with the new owner.

What I realize now is eye-opening. I am grateful for each place, for the shelter provided, the experiences, the fun and the challenging times. That remains. And it’s the new experiences I crave, the next iteration of what I’ll learn and who I’ll become. So I can remain grateful — fully and eternally grateful — for each place while graciously letting it go.

Where are my flip flops?

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