Friday, February 26, 2010


I've been tagged to share 10 Simple Things That Make Me Happy. Thanks, Patricia...I had fun coming up with my list!

1) Days at home with this little dude
2) Being out in nature with this guy
3) Fiber
4) My Inside Out community & e-course
5) Spontaneous creative adventures and taking risks
6) Dark chocolate
7) The smell of coffee
8) Laughing and making silly movies with my family
9) A new journal
10) Yoga
The ten beautiful women that I'm tagging to share their 10 simple things are:

Your Personal Reflection: What 10 simple things make you happy?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Felt Inspired

Several weeks ago I sent a felted necklace to a beautiful woman, and new friend, who lives in The Netherlands.  I think my necklace was sent to Neverland instead, because she never received it. I felt sad about it for a few days, but then decided that maybe someone else is enjoying that necklace somewhere, and I was grateful that I had all the wool and beads to recreate a new one. 

It felt so good to get my hands on some fiber again.  Ever since launching my e-course in January, I haven't touched any wool or yarn, and doing so brings me great joy.  I love the texture.  I love the smell.  I love the comfort I feel when my hands are in the wool.  I've been feeling in need of some restore time, and I find felting to be such a peaceful activity.

After making the beads for the new necklace, I pulled out an old project that I never finished.  It's a flower landscape, and considering I'm still craving spring, I thought it would be the perfect project to brighten my mood.

Not sure if I'll ever really feel finished with this piece.  I kind of like the organic, alive quality it has as I continue to add and change things to it every so often.  It feels like the garden is growing over time.
Regardless, gifting myself with time to do something that I love, helped me feel more creatively inspired, energized, and reminded me of the healing qualities that come from making art.
And since I know so many of you are also itching for spring, I thought I'd leave you with a bouquet of colorful flowers.  If I can't see the flowers blooming in my yard, I might as well make some that last year round.
Your Personal Reflection: What creative activity helps restore and energize you?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bye Bye Winter; Bring on Spring!

I know it's a little early for a post about spring, as the new season is officially 25 days away, but I'm so ready for it.  It has been an unbelievable winter in the Midwest, with a white landscape of snow for months.  I've really enjoyed the incubation period of long days at home, staying in pajamas,  afternoon naps and snuggly evenings with the boys.

But I'm ready.  I'm ready for sun.  I'm ready to feel the heat.  I'm ready to play outside and reconnect to nature.  I'm ready for new things to grow and bloom.  I'm ready to say goodbye to winter.
To help us all prepare for a healthy and vibrant spring, I want to share with you an article I wrote last year entitled:

Spring into Action: Tips for Cultivating a Healthier Life
With spring comes excitement and fresh new energy.  Spring activity offers us endless possibilities for new beginnings.  Spring is a time to plant seeds and tend to the garden. What happens if we simply throw seeds in the yard without taking necessary steps to help them grow?  Most likely, those seeds won't get the best chance to become healthy, strong, and fully developed. This same idea can be applied to our own lives. If we think of our life as the garden and ourselves as the seed, we can take action to cultivate a life that will thrive and flourish.
Make Space for Rich Soil
Getting rid of the weeds, clearing space and starting with good soil is key to growing a healthy garden.  This is also true when looking at our own lives.  Ask yourself: What am I ready to let go of - physically, mentally and emotionally, that no longer serves a purpose in my life?

Nourish the Seeds
New seedlings have a hard time flourishing without valuable substances like water, sunlight, and care.  Ensure that you get the proper nourishment by taking the best care of YOU.  Ask yourself:  What truly feeds my soul?

Check Your Garden Daily
Caring for the garden each day will help you assess the growth. Self-reflection and maintaining your well-being takes daily practice. Ask yourself:  What are my accomplishments and celebrations, and what changes can I make today to live more fully?

Here are 7 tips for creating the best growing conditions for a healthy start to your spring.

Tip #1: Reduce Clutter
Clear your closets and recycle items that are taking up space.  My husband and I continue to clear piles of stuff from our house and although it's hard work, little by little we are making progress and it feels amazing!  We both notice feeling lighter and happier.  If this task feels too overwhelming at first, find support.  Sometimes our gardens are too big to conquer alone!

Tip #2: Find Stillness
When our thoughts are scattered, it is hard to find peace of mind.  Try yoga, take a walk, limit TV, soak in the tub, sit quietly, or meditate.  Even if it's only five minutes a day, it is in this stillness that our true nature will emerge.

Tip #3: Sleep more
Finding anyone who gets enough sleep is pretty rare; yet good sleep is vital to our overall well-being.  (Ever since I became a mom, I'm still working on this one!)  Go to bed earlier and wake up a little earlier.  You will find this helps you sleep better and will help give you a smoother start to your day.

Tip #4: Breathe Deeply
Better breathing has an amazing cleansing effect and will reduce both physical and mental stress. Sit comfortably.  Close your eyes.  Take a deep, slow inhale through your nose, open your mouth, and fully exhale.  Repeat several times.  Sit quietly and ahhh...enjoy how you feel.

Tip #5: Enjoy Nature
Fresh air and sunshine are the most natural healing elements and what better way to enjoy the outdoors then by doing a fun activity; walking, running, biking, hiking (or gardening!) will help you feel more energized.  Or, since the snow is still on the ground...sledding anyone?
Tip #6: Journal
Writing your thoughts is a powerful way to gain clarity and is very freeing.  A journal offers a safe place where you can share your true feelings, explore your dreams and find the wisdom it takes to make those dreams a reality.

Tip #7: Create Daily
Each of us is born with the innate ability to create.  Most adults I meet actually believe they aren't creative.  This just isn't true!  Your creative energy needs a way to express itself.  Try a new activity that makes you feel creatively alive and inspired.

Implementing just a few of these tips, slowly and with kindness, will enrich your life and help produce rewarding results.  Enjoy preparing for spring and happy growing!
Your Personal Reflection: What can you start doing, now, to invite new beginnings into your life?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wide Open Spaces for Our Dreams to Soar

Even the wildest dreams have to start somewhere.  Allow yourself the time and space to let your mind wander and your imagination fly. -Oprah Winfrey

My husband took this photo as we were traveling out west a few years ago, on our way to Moab, Utah.  This is the kind of mental, physical and spiritual space I need in my life.  I can look at this photo and imagine sipping in the fresh air, spinning around in circles with my arms reaching up to the clouds, as I feel the infinite possibilities of life around me.  I can hear The Dixie Chicks, Wide Open Spaces, playing in the distance. I know this kind of space lives within me as well.

And that's why I continue my quest to Reduce Clutter; Create Space for 2010.  There is a growing list of explorers who have joined me for this challenge, as we are dedicated to let go of the stuff that fills up our minds, our homes, our days and our lives, so that we can make the much needed space and time for what matters most.  Are you ready to join us?

I have created a new Reduce Clutter Forum, where we can all share, connect and grow together, because letting go of clutter is hard work!  It takes determination. It takes focus.  It takes emotional support!  So, as we continue to dedicate 2010 to be the year we create the life we love, let's get rid of the stuff that no longer serves a purpose in our lives.  Let's make more s p a c e for our wildest dreams and let's not do it alone.

Your Personal Reflection:  Do you have time and space in your life for all the things that bring you joy and happiness?  What are you ready to let go that no longer serves a purpose at this time?  What are your wildest dreams and how can you let them soar?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Uncluttered Home Leads to Uncluttered Life

Reduce Clutter; Create Space Spotlight #3
I'd like to introduce to you Cary, AKA: Dear Mrs. Pickle.  She is a teacher, a crafter and an inspiring mommy who is committed to reducing clutter in her home life to make space for what matters most to her and her family. Here is her recent journey of "conquering the clutter."

1) Why have you chosen to join the "Reduce Clutter; Create Space" challenge for 2010? 
I stumbled upon this challenge and felt that it suited my life perfectly at this time.  About 10 years ago, I read a book about Feng Shui and decided to cleanse my home.  At the time, I was living in a teeny tiny, 1 bedroom apartment, so the job was a lot more simple than what I now face!  Every year, I have made it a point to go through every single thing in our home and rid our lives of needless clutter.  However, after the birth of our son in 2007, I have had very little time for anything else.  My husband and I have (an almost!) 5 year old daughter, Charlotte, and our son Parker, is 2.  Parker is quite a handful!  Since his birth, all of my time has been spent focusing on our children and very little time spent on our bulging cabinets and drawers!  I have decided it's time to play catch-up! 
2) What does "clutter" mean to you? 
"Clutter" to me is anything in our lives that is A) unused; B) unnecessary and could possible benefit someone else; C) an overabundance of personal belongings.

3)  What kinds of reducing have you started?
Charlotte and I started in her bedroom last week.  I was so proud of her!  She went through every single item in her room and chose where the item should go.  She would A) keep it; B) "give it to another little girl that doesn't have as many toys as I do, Mommy"; C) donate it to her school; D) toss it!  She was able to part with an unexpectedly large amount of "stuff".

4)  Have you noticed any new space being created as you let things physically, mentally and emotionally go? 
It is always so rewarding to let things go.  In the wake of the tragedy in Haiti, I look around my home and my eyes well up with tears because I have SO much.  I am so blessed and it is necessary for me to say "thank you" for my blessings, and then say "I'm sorry for acquiring so much, let me give back from the gifts that have been given to me".  A lot of the items that I am able to part with are items that can be used by others.  Decluttering also helps me to refocus on the important things in my life.  I have spent a lot of time spending unnecessary money on things that we don't need.  When I see the piles of items that we are able to give away, it helps me refocus on a budget and the millions of other things we could be doing with our earnings. 

 5) What's been the easiest part for you? 
The easiest part is always the planning!  I am a planner.  It is very difficult for me to find the time to follow through!  With two children, a very busy husband, a new puppy AND a new job, it is very hard to make space for "making space"!  I can work well only when I am alone and not distracted and only for a few hours at the time- I HAVE to take a break or I start to question the items that I am getting rid of.  I start to think "well, maybe with a fresh coat of paint....." (like I have the time to paint!)

6) Any surprises so far? My biggest surprise is the realization of how much "stuff" we actually own!  Our upstairs has two walk-in attic spaces that span the length of our home on either side and most of those spaces are full!  My husband and I both had our own homes before we were married, so when we combined homes, we had two (or more!) of everything.  We packed away a lot of it, gave away a lot of it, sold a lot of it and we still have a lot of it!

I love to see the different ways that people go about the decluttering process and what they do with their living spaces once the clutter is gone.  I love to see a life that seems to have such a burden lifted from it because their home is in order and they know where everything is.  When you need something, you should be able to go right to it.  You should be able to open the door of a room and know everything that is in that room.  I love to see pictures of rooms where every single object in it has a home and is an object of use to its owner.

7)  What are your intentions for joining other "explorers" on this journey? 
I sincerely believe that a cluttered home leads to a cluttered life.  There is no way to describe the pressure that is felt by a person that has too much stuff.  It is such a cleansing process of the mind, body and spirit to rid our lives of unnecessary objects.  When you begin your journey, ask yourself- do I absolutely love it?  Where will its home be?  Would someone else benefit from my willingness to give it away?  Could I possibly sell it and add the profits to my savings?  I'm sure that if you are completely honest with yourself, you will be able to part with over 50% of your earthly possessions.  Besides, we cannot take our possessions with us when we die! 

8)  Any tips, thoughts or suggestions you want to share with others who are interested in starting to "reduce clutter" so they can "create more "space" in their lives? 
Start small- choose a room in your home that isn't used very often and use that particular room as "home base".  Use one corner for "KEEP", another corner for "SELL" and a third corner for "DONATE".  Get rid of trash immediately- you don't want anything to get mixed in with the trash or the trash to get mixed in with anything!  Devote an hour or so every day to your decluttering process.  When you know your time is almost up, finish the sort and leave the room nice and tidy so that you won't mind entering it the next day.  Use boxes or even trash bags as containers and be sure to label the bag first so that you are sure to put the correct items into it.  It probably wouldn't hurt to label the corners as well, so that you don't add a bag to an incorrect pile!

9)  Anything else you would like to add?
Good luck on your journey!  I know that the process can be grueling at times, but I assure you, it will be well worth it in the end!

Thank you, Cary, for sharing your insight and mindful reflections!  Your ability to organize and your infectious enthusiasm have inspired me to keep on this journey.  My husband and I delivered two more loads of donations this past weekend, and although the basement feels amazing, I know there's much more to conquer!

On a side note, for those of you following the amazing travels of Inside Out explorers, here are some new inspiring posts to check out:

Manon's blog, she shares her beautiful reflections of how she's sharing her creativity and inspiration from Inside Out, with her children.  You can translate her post by clicking "google translate" on the right side of her blog.

Gypsy Forest and her description of her best friend (who won my spring give-away!).

Eileen's post makes me want to call up my best friends and plan an art getaway!

Your Personal Reflection:  Do you have a Reduce Clutter; Create Space story you'd like to share?  Email me

Monday, February 15, 2010

And, the winner is...

Congratulations, Stephinie!  You are the winner of my random drawing.   Stephinie just finished the course and had entered, hoping to win a spot for her special friend.  Well, Steph, get on the phone and call her up!  What a great friend you are.  She now has a reserved spot in my upcoming e-course, Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery!

Spots continue to fill quickly, so if you are thinking about joining us, visit here to learn more.

Thanks to each of you for your mindful, warm comments.

A special thanks to Heather for interviewing me on her lovely blog last week.  I felt a little vulnerable sharing so much, and yet, I've met some new friends from doing so.  I believe that the more we open up and share, the more we can connect on deeper levels.  So thank you, all, for that opportunity.

Thank you, Dena, for sharing how Inside Out has changed your world!

And the biggest thanks of all, goes out to you, my sweet Christopher.  Today, we celebrate 7 full, amazing, transforming years of marriage.  I've said it before and I'll say it always, you are my home.  Thank you for that, and thank you for being you.

Your Personal Reflection:  What are you thankful for today?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love Yourself; Love Your Life (and a sweet give-away!)

Today marks the end of the first session of my e-course, Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery.  It has been such an amazing experience.  I'm left feeling so overjoyed at the amount of deep connecting, sharing and exploring that has taken place over the last 28 days.

I light this candle, as a symbol to honor the "closing ceremonies" of class, and to show that today is not the end, but rather the beginning of the rest of our lives.  May each of you see the direction you're heading, stay connected to your community, and radiate your authenticity, from the inside out.

To celebrate this incredible journey, I'd like to give away one spot to my spring session.  The next Inside Out e-course starts April 5th, and to learn more, visit HERE.

To enter for your chance to win, leave a comment on this post by Sunday, Valentine's Day, at midnight US Central time.  I will announce the winner on Monday!

Enjoy a few of the beautiful comments shared by the bold explorers who just completed the course.

By giving my thoughts some space and time, it has helped me to see my inner wishes better.  My intentions have showed up and now I feel the need to realize them in art.  They have been ready for this for a while.  I have questioned myself with, "Why have I waited so long?"  Life is life.  I had to do other things to get to this moment.  This is not the goal and there is a lot to discover.  I think I found the very right source - ME!

I'm loving all the creative ideas.  I have learned that I don't have to just sit still and think through the hard parts to write them down.  I can paint, draw, glue...when I'm stuck!  It gets my juices flowing and opens me up which makes the 'writing-down-part' so much easier!

Allow softening of the edges of the walls and paths of history.  Grow leaves and branches out.  Come home to my own, my heart - my self-reliance will give me peace.  And every day, in every way, I am becoming more me.

 I am learning that to live life I have to participate, but that I don't need arbitrary rules.  This course has been a fabulous opportunity for me to practice just that: to take it as it comes, to resist the perfectionistic tendencies that leave me stuck in the mud, and to explore my creativity without self-editing.
Over the last few weeks I have let a lot of emotions out that I have been keeping inside for some time and it feels liberating.  I have learned that I choose my thoughts and that I can change the negative into the positive.  As a result of this course I became brave and told my husband my dreams and wishes.  I knew he would be supportive, but I had to let go of my own self-doubt first and believe that I could make them a reality before sharing them with anyone.   Now that I have said them out loud, they've become more than just thoughts, but tangible goals.  Another thing I have learned is to let go of the guilt.  This is hard to do, but every time I feel like I'm not living up to the person I think I should be, I step back and repeat that "I am enough."  The positive affirmations have been so healing for me.

I love the things that have come 'out' of 'Inside' me!  I so truly love me and am ready to BE BOLD!

I have learned that I have lost my own personal confidence, and most importantly, I have learned that I can get it back!  I have learned that I can be a creative person, that I am a creative person, and that I am good enough to be the person that I have always dreamed of being.

Your Personal Reflection: Are you creating a life you love?

*The art journaling photos were provided by class participants.

Enjoy the "opening ceremonies" of the Olympics tonight!  If anyone is interested in reading behind the scenes, my father-in-law works for the US Ski Team and is blogging about his adventures in Canada HERE.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

One Small Change - The Month of Love

I love this time of year!  Spring is just around the corner, and yet, overnight we received a new dusting of snow and today the sky is gray.  A perfect excuse to stay home in pj's and get messy with paint.
My one small change goal for the month of February is to return to using cloth grocery bags.  They've been sitting in the backseat of my car and I keep forgetting to take them in.  I foiled my plan this past week when I found myself in the grocery store, yet again, empty-handed.  I felt bummed as I walked to the car holding three paper bags.
As a way to make it up to this poor tree and to stay creative every day, I decided to repurpose the bags into vibrant Valentine's Day cards!
I started with very simple supplies:  the bags, scissors, acrylic paint, water, brushes, scrap paper and magazines.
I put on my Ani DiFranco Pandora station and went to town covering the paper with a mixture of background colors.

I played with my brushstroke and added swirls on top.

I used white fabric paint (Tulip Matte) to add some texture.

After the paint was fully dry, I cut out a variety of hearts of different sizes.

Then, I used the colorful paper and hearts to make my cards.  Here I stitched an outline with my sewing machine and glued the painted paper to a scrap piece of card stock.

I cut the brown paper bag in card shapes and added fun sayings from magazine clippings.

I loved this project because it gave me a wonderful opportunity to slow down.  As I played with paint,  I enjoyed memories of how much I loved Valentine's Day as a kid.  I remember the excitement of decorating the boxes to collect candies and cards from the boys I had crushes on.  I thought about all of my friends and family that I care so much about.  I thought about my grandma, living in a nursing home, and that her biggest excitement of the day is when the mail arrives.
I'm so excited to write messages and send my colorful love notes the old fashioned way.  I'm happy that using paper bags wasn't a total waste.  (Although I'm still planning to use my cloth bags next time!)

Your Personal Reflection:  Receiving a handwritten letter in the mail is the best, and it rarely happens.  Think of someone you love and surprise them with a handmade love note today.