Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fill Her Up

I’ve written a lot about transformation during the past year because I started working on that journey seriously in January. Yesterday I went shopping. It was an eye opener. After having lost 45 pounds, I found that my former haunts were no longer mine. Over the years I had gotten so accustomed to being a certain size and shape that automatically when shopping I gravitated towards the same sort of clothing.

Yesterday, I had to redirect myself away from the XL clothes, which would have bagged and dragged along after me. Instead, I headed to the size mediums—a huge breakthrough for me. In my past with the XL’s, my main goal was to find what covered me up the best. In some instances I had pushed past XL to a size XXL, so there was also a challenge to figure out which size I could actually fit. Generally at the XXL sixe, I would just leave the store to go find a store specializing in vanity sizing, wherein I could fit an XL. Now I’m no longer engaged in that sort of inner conflict. Still, I haven’t gone near a size medium in almost ten years yet that is my new size.

So, I stocked up on medium blouses at a thrift shop yesterday, knowing I’m still in transition and don’t want to invest in brand new clothing that will no longer fit in a few months. I received an additional pleasant surprise this morning when I found that my bra size had been reduced by a few sizes. Incredibly, I also discovered today that my jeans were down 5 whooping sizes since January. I'm feeling thankful I stored up all these clothes nearly a decade ago in plastic bins.

You all know that I had gone fishing for a while. When out and away from home it is easy to find excuses to return to your guilty pleasures. For me though, being very overweight is not a pleasure so I chose not to indulge in food. Instead, I enjoyed the fresh country air and wide array of bird songs found in the great outdoors. I also had a wonderful swim in the Atlantic Ocean. At night I saw more stars than I’ve seen in quite a while. Whereas once I would have found this point arguable, I figured out during my recent vacation that there are a lot more ways to get full than through stuffing myself with food.

Related posts: 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gone Fishing



Well, I'm at it again.

Don't mind me. I've just unplugged to get back into the flow.

See you right back here in this virtual studio

after I catch some long overdue 


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Without Further Ado

There seems to be a lot of awards making their way across the blogosphere. Some stand apart, like the one for which I was recently nominated that pays tribute to both readers and bloggers as team members. It honors supporters and community building among bloggers.

A few posts ago I announced my acceptance of the nomination for the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award from Marci Koski of Fuzzy Undertones. In turn, I shared some of my nominees. But wait...there are more wonderful team members and readers to salute.

Stephanie Faris, is a frequent visitor, who regularly adds comments. I am grateful that she is a supportive reader of my blog. Stephanie is the YA author of the highly thought of book, 30 Days of No Gossip and she blogs at Stephanie Faris Tween Author. Stephanie's blog has a fresh and inviting look, as well as tone, where you'll learn about a lot of different books, particularly for youth.

Deborah Brasket is someone I first took notice of on She Writes. We are both members of a blogger's group over there. She first commented on my blog on my post  Facing Addiction. So I checked out her blog and she posts about many different things of interest to me including the devastating effects of addiction not just on the user's life but all those concerned about them. Her blog is called Living on the Edge of the Wild and there you will find poignant, well rendered posts about many different aspects of life.

Someone brand new to blogging, who first came to my blog during the A to Z challenge, is Dawn Connelly. I was drawn to what she was doing because she crafts beautiful papier mache bowls and jewelry, displayed on her etsy page Paper Prezzies. Her creations are well-crafted and they come in a wide variety of forms. I also dabble in that medium and since not many people are working seriously with papier mache I go see what she is doing quite often. Her blog Paper Prezzies Talks recently had a post about her journey into blogging called "No Expert am I."

Donna Falcone and I connected through the A to Z challenge as well, back in April. Her blog is called The Brighter Side Blog: Living with Lyme. Lyme is not a well understood ailment by the general public. Donna's blog raises awareness and also presents us with notes on the brighter side of life, including poetry and lovely photographs to go along with it.

I meet Tennessee native Summer Covington Smith when I traveled to Knoxville to promote my book Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones about 9 years ago, at her mother Anita's store, which was filled with atmosphere and occupied by an intriguing ghost. The shop, Mother Earth Oils, is now an online store featuring all sorts of spiritual and earthy items some of which are handmade by the pair. Summer is doing something I've always wanted to do. She is a highly skilled doll maker whose work has been featured in the highly thought of magazine "Art Dolls." She has always supported me from my first book, as a reader, to the current time as visitor to this blog and I thank her. To check out what's she's creating visit her at Dreamspirations Gallery.

HJ Blenkinsop lives in the UK and she blogs at Chicken Road Diaries. HJ has made some very touching and supportive comments here as a reader and for that I am nominating her for this award. You've just go to love the tagline for her blog: Frolicking in folklore, looping in legend and meddling in myth. Here be Monsters! Need I say more? These are all topics very near and dear. We also share the genres YA and fantasy. HJ is working on two novels.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Fluidity in the Face of Change

Over the course of the past year I have shared many triumphs, some failures, good news and changes. Ultimately, each of those words are interchangeable. Their meaning is open to interpretation. It all depends of your perspective. At times I feel disappointment, like my energy is being drained and pulled downward. Inside, I know that I have an infinity for water. Water flows where it needs to go.

St. John's Wort

Over the past week I have gone through a great deal of upheaval. Well laid plans have been disrupted. The workshop on African Herbal Healing, I've shared about on this blog, has been suddenly modified. It appears to have been canceled but that's not entirely true. Let's just say that where and when it will be offered is unresolved. As things evolve with the scheduling of that event, as well as with other happenings that might be of interest, I will let you know right here.

Freshly Cut Lavender

More than St. John's Wort, and the melancholia it is meant to address, I find myself relating to lavender. Meeting up with unexpected changes, lavender is the perfect herb. A highly adaptable plant in terms of who, what and how it treats. It is the medicine most closely matched to where I currently am. I have fresh cuttings of the sprightly, uplifting herb right next to me on my desk. Their habit and bearing, inspiring.

One of the breathtaking sights I admire, is watching migrating birds in flight. Their ability to adapt fluidly and effortlessly is today's source of wisdom. They go where needed, in their own time and space. Most of all, though they may alter their direction, ultimately they stay connected and through that connection they are sustained.

With herbs steeping slowly I am mimicking my namesake, the bird. Always fluid and adaptable in the face of change.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Wonderful Team Member Readership Award Nominees

Having stated my thoughts on what makes a lovely reader and blogger in the post Blogging Award, I want to share my Wonderful Team Member Readership Award nominees, right here and now. You'll want to check out their blogs, if you haven’t done so already.

I’m not going to nominate everyone at once. For today, I am sharing nominees living abroad (Outside of the USA). These creative souls are either in a country of choice, for work, as Ex Pats or were born where they currently live. Their unique perspectives allow me to do something enjoyable—a bit of armchair travel. They reach out, crossing borders broken up by the internet, while expanding our horizons in the process. What I enjoy about this group of bloggers is that they enrich their readers by expanding our ways of envisioning the world and our place within it.


1.       Jyotsna (India) Dreams and Dimensions! If you ever wanted to go to India, visit the shops, see the sites and meet interesting people, then this is the blog for you to check out. You will also gain interesting insights into the process of writing, as well as being treated to Jyotsna's poetry.

2.       Romi (Japan) Letters from the Land of Cherry Blossoms Romi's blog is often filled with fresh views of life. She hones in on the nano. You know--those tiny but important things that many over look . Through her most recent posts you'll find, the tradition behind a Japanese plant's name and a new use for an old kimono. You wouldn't guess it from the clarity in her writing but English is a language she continues to study and examine.

3.       Fil (Ireland)Fil's Place - Old Songs and Memories You've got to love this blog. Written so passionately and brimming with expressions of folk art. Fil is a keeper of Irish traditions, most notably of music and song. Mosey over to Fil's Place, where you can hear and see musicians which may be unfamiliar. Bets are, you'll want to add some of them to your listening list. Fil is a songwriter, performer, musician, singer, of Irish traditional through contemporary music, along with her husband. She is also a captivating storyteller, which you'll find communicated in her thoughtful blog posts.

4.       Sanch (Australia)Living my Imperfect Life Sanch lives in Sydney. She is also a psychologist. You'll find a little bit of everything in her space, including ruminations and photographs from her recent travels, how-to articles about various useful subjects, insights into her journey of discovery.

5.       Susan Scott (South Africa)Garden of Eden Blog I first meet Susan through the A to Z challenge, just like the rest of these bloggers. I was drawn to the Garden of Eden Blog because each day it offered a great take-away message. I would find myself going back to the messages and themes in her posts. They were food for meditation. She is a published author and you can check out her book on amazon, In Praise of Lilith, Eve and the Serpent in the Garden of Eden and Other Stories. It is in gratitude that I nominate her for frequent visits and comments on Stephanie's Studio.

6.       Vishal (India) Scripting the Story of Life Vishal knows well the meaning of 'team member'. He is not only an avid blogger and writer but also a supporter of fellow bloggers and writers. He goes out of his way to be an active part of our community; in the process he shares writing, poetry and reflections on life in India and beyond.

7.       Karen (Guatemala) Coming Down from the Mountain: Expat Writer Living Abroad I am constantly learning new things by visiting Karen’s blog. It is laden with breathtaking photographs for one. Her reflections on her very rich life and travels, as well as being an American Ex-pat living in Guatemala, make for thought-provoking reading. She is a prolific published writer, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds, House of Diamonds, Lighting Candles in the Snow, and Farm Girl Country Cooking: Hearty Meals for Active Families. She is currently working on a novel, scheduled for 2014 release by WiDo Publishing, where she is Managing Editor. 

8. Vinodini (India) ifs ands buts etcs Vinodini is another blogger who goes out of her way to be supportive of fellow bloggers, making her the embodiment of an excellent team member and reader. We went to each other’s blogs almost on a daily basis during the A to Z Challenge. She always had something refreshing to say both on her blog and mine. Vinodini is a painter. You'll never get bored by her blog. The breadth of her post topics is notable, encompassing art, design, aesthetics, fashion, retail, travel, nature, music, movies, and much more.


As the final part of accepting this award, let me finish this sentence:

In reference to John Gardner’s often quoted reflection on writing, a great reader is: someone who lives in the continuous and vivid dream. They don’t stop there, instead they bring us into the fold so we can dream right along with them.

Blogging Award

I’m not sure if you read the comment posted yesterday by Marci Koski, on my post, Striking Balance Through Tadasana? In it, she nominated me for the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award, in the kindest, most generous way. I am sincerely touched by her gesture. Moreover, I am appreciative that she included me in this wonderful group of readers and bloggers. How great is that--to be a part of a team? I gladly accept the award and want to share information on what it is all about, through today’s two posts. Thanks so much Marci, maven of Fuzzy Undertones.

Here are the rules for accepting this award:
  1. The Nominee of the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award needs to display the logo on his/her post/page and/or sidebar.
  2. To accept, the Nominee must nominate 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days (1 week) – this can be done at any rate during the week. It can be ALL on one day or a few on one day and a few on another day, as I am doing.
  3. The Nominee is required to name his or her Wonderful Team Member Readership Award nominees on a post or on posts during the 7 day (1 week) period.
  4. The Nominee shall make these rules, or amended rules keeping to the spirit of the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award, known to each reader s/he nominates.
  5. The Nominee must finish this sentence and place it somewhere in his/her acceptance post: “A great reader is…”

About the lovely readers and writers that I've nominated:

There are blogs that have an impact on your day. You wake up, perhaps during a lunch break or after work, you can’t wait to see what that blogger has posted. You may then mull over what they've said for quite a while. Somehow, they've reached out and through the blogosphere, popping into your life. You don’t want that engagement to end there, so you formulate a written response, in the form of a comment, and post it to their blog. Blogging is a community activity. Blogging doesn't work if you are all alone. As bloggers we are keen on communication, be it written or visual, through music and sound, meditative and poetic thoughts, humor or the arts and crafts.

Note to Award Nominees

Nominees, it’s up to you whether or not you accept this award because yes, there is a bit of busy work involved. It is not my attention to stress you out. Just the opposite, I want you to know that I think very highly of what you’re doing, appreciate your visits to my blog, and want to share you with my readers. It is totally up to you whether or not you want to accept this award and pay it forward to those you want to spotlight on your blog.  No worries, if you don’t want to accept the award—but please do accept my compliments, recognition of your labor of love and its impact on the blogging community! 

Visitors here will notice I've previously nominated some of these people for the Liebster Award.  Still, you can check out their current posts, since all they blog quite frequently. If you've been nominated by me for two separate awards, I guess that action speaks for itself, in terms of how much I appreciate what you’re doing.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Striking Balance Through Tadasana

If you look over to your right on this blog and scroll down through "Popular Posts" you will come across one I wrote several years back about my Pagan Retreat in Appalachia. That experience took place at Cerren Ered in a rather secluded location in the Smoky Mountains. It is pretty much off the grid.

I found peace and respite in that magickal place. With a well fed soul, I made art, danced to my heart's content and connected with 'salt of the earth' folks. There's something about being up at a high altitude that makes the heart rest well, to say the least about invoking the spirits, while also inspiring creativity.

Last week, I shared some thoughts on meadows in the post Meadow of Dreams. In addition to traversing the meadow that lives in our primordial mind during meditation, we also visit the mountains through that practice. This journey towards all that is mystical and powerful in the mountain, is echoed in hatha yoga as we take on Tadasana (mountain pose). I always welcome the opportunity to take on Tadasana. It is a chance to gather your thoughts and strength, supported by the grounding center of a mountain.

These last couple of weeks have been stressful. I have been pushed to the limits by collective forces. When I get pushed to this point of no return, I go back to life's more peaceful experiences. Going to the mountain as a traveler, in mind, body or spirit, takes my breath away.

I remember the first time I saw mountains in real life. I traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway, with baby and toddler in tow, and a tear stained face, on the way to help organize my mother's funeral.

Still, even though I was deep in mourning, there was something about the mountains around me that perked up my spirits. Now the mountains are a place I return to as frequently as possible, even taking detours on planned trips just to walk among them. I did this in Australia, when we just had to stop off in Kuranda for a few days.

Now that I've gotten so aggravated, once again my heart and soul yearns for a visit to the welcoming mountains. I have a plan to return to Tennessee next summer. I will be with my friends there that have become like family. I anticipate lots of sharing, engaging with the Goddess and in earth-based spirituality. The plan is also to drink in the fortification the spectacular beauty and thin air of the Smoky Mountains lends.

Meanwhile, I will take a few moments today to stand tall in myself, through Tadasana. I'm hoping to find a few moments for mindful meditation that includes a visit to the mountain that resides in a peaceful mind.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bravery of the Writer

Recently, I surprised myself with the anxiety over submitting a manuscript excerpt to my writer's workshop. It all started rather normal but then took an odd twist into what I consider abnormal behavior. I always edit and revise. All writers do that. But this time was different. I edited the heck out of it. Maybe combing over it 15 times total and revising it each time, eventually nothing was left in my opinion accept for tweaking but tweak I did. This was to a work that had already been edited several times. I hope I haven't leached the life out of that excerpt. It is from my work-in-progress, "Out of the Blue."

I am still filled with dread when I think about the upcoming evening of my critique, which takes place about a week from now. You know I've posted before about Critique Anxiety. When I read over that post from last year, I see that the anxiety I blogged about arose because I was in a different workshop, about to present my work.

I'm not this stressed out about fine art critiques. Maybe I've been toughened during all my time in art school or maybe I am more confident with that medium. I'm not sure.

Anyway, this morning I was scooting around the internet, visiting some of my favorite blogs. You are probably aware of some of them from my Liebster Award post. So I go to this post by a blogger that I respect. She is a leader in our community and she gives out very useful advice to writers; posting just about every day. I was surprised to find that she had posted the above button and had joined the Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG).

I followed up by visiting the website for the group. I wanted to see what it was all about. Knowing my critique anxiety is very real, I thought it might especially be of interest. I was at first taken aback that my fellow blogger had joined this group but I took her lead and did it too. Believe it or not, I am number 302. There are a lot of us admitting to this affliction.

Being an artist of any type is a brave act. It takes courage and a deep belief in yourself, as well as, what you have to offer your audience. When you step out and into the unknown like changing genres, style or medium of expression, it's not surprising that insecurities arise.

The group is going to last for at least another year. We post the first Wednesday of the month, as I am doing today. I look forward to learning some de-stressing techniques there. The techniques I find useful, will be shared in this space. So stay tuned. Each month on the designated day, I will delve deeper into this uncomfortable topic.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Meadow of Dreams

Recently I planted seeds in my garden from a seed mix packet. Actually, I used several different packets of heirloom wildflower and sunflower seeds. In the past, I have either started my seeds indoors in the spring under controlled conditions or purchased small plants to put in the garden. I am not sure why but this year the seeds called out to me. I didn't stop to question the reason for their attractiveness. I decided to go with them.

There is something mysterious about seeds that buying or planting potted plants can't beat. Seeds are full of surprises and potential, referred to in the Yoruba language of West Africa as ashe. You just don't know exactly what you're going to get. You have to have faith. You need to trust the process and in things that are out of your control.

I checked in on my seedlings a few minutes ago. Many have sprouted up. With the heavy rains we've recently received, they are flourishing. The perplexing part is that because the little sprouts grew from a mixed bag of different types of seeds I have no idea what is growing in my garden. Moreover, I'm pretty sure baby weeds and grasses are mixing in with the wildflowers, furthering my confusion.

One of the most striking features of my meditation practice is mentally walking into the meadow. I find peace and respite there. Visiting it, just in my mind's eye, always makes my day special and meaningful. When most of us wonder into a meadow or open field, we can't identify every single wildflower or grass, instead we are immersed in a spirit of beauty and wonder.

I realize that artists and writers have a tendency to throw mixed seeds in the air, hoping they will take root where and how we desire. We shine down on them like a sun, filled with the hope that they will thrive, eventually bearing fruit for the harvest. While this way of making things happen has its detractors, it is a magical way of going through life.