Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 16,553 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For the courage to give another peek inside of my sketchbook journal. Journaling in this way is so new to me and I feel so vulnerable in the process and with the sharing. But it is good to be a beginner and the older that I get, the more that I embrace the gifts that it holds. There's nothing comfortable about feeling fumbly, but it is what awaits on the other side of the slipping and sliding that makes it all worthwhile.

For the courage to accept the triple-dog dare to let go of my attachment to multiple means of keeping track of my days and condense it all into this one sketchbook journal. Yikes. It seems ridiculous that this change should feel so overwhelming to me, but I love my big Moleskine journal/calendar with a page for each day. It's still so brand-spankin' new. I write my daily I-will lists and keep notes for each day in there. It's swell. And I've been consistent, which cannot be said for many other best intentions. But I never seem to get around to getting in that sketchbook journal that beckons me from side table. It's become all precious, which it shouldn't, so it's easily ignored. Unfortunate, because it yearns to be my best friend ... I just haven't given it a decent chance to prove its worth.

With that said, I will take the month of February to set aside my Moleskine and use my sketchbook journal alone as the daily receptacle for all things Jules. My world may implode in the process, but what buoys me is knowing that I can go back to keeping multiple journals on March 1st if this process doesn't suit me. Simplification is always a good thing, as is having one less thing to lug around. A little creative rewiring could do me a world of good.

If you're going to give something an extended try, think about doing it through February. Really. Twenty-eight days. We can do anything for 28 days. So how about you? What game will you be play with the shortest month of the year?

Mandala Monday - 1/31/11

Sending out a special welcome to friends from Julie Lusk's yoga sleepover who got their crayons on this past weekend! You can download this week's mandala here. Does it show that I'm getting into a Valentine's state of mind?

Happy coloring to one and all!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 16,552 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For this morning's beautiful sunrise on this, the second day in a row of sunshine and blue skies. I was able to take a break from the indoor portion of the retreat to get outdoors and explore. The snow is melting. Birds are singing. And the sweet earth is emanating the scent of expectancy.

For the joy in reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. There are many people who I only get to see at these semi-annual retreats, so it always feels like a reunion. There are a number of repeat offenders such as myself. (Since 2002, I have attended no less than 10 times.) Sometimes friends tag along and new people hear of it and sign up in synchronistic ways. We had a full-house of 36 people for this January gathering! And after two years of corresponding by e-mail, I finally got the opportunity to meet Zeynep Yilmaz in person. She has done an amazing job of bringing the Cincinnati Reiki community together. I can't thank her enough for her hard work and dedication.

For the holding of sacred space ... for ourselves and each other. There is something so special about this place. The evidence is all around. We keep an altar together. Several, when you come to think of it. And the chapel where we have our yoga classes ... there's deep healing on tap there. It's as though all of the prayers by all of the people over all of the years and decades have been lovingly woven together to create a blanket of deep peace over every room, every building, every square acre. I arrive on empty and leave with a full tank. Every single time.

For watching the breakfast-fetching antics of the largest red-tailed hawk that I've ever seen. It hopped from branch to branch in a bare tree and then gracelessly scraped itself down the trunk to the ground. I wondered if it was injured or ill until I realized that it was trying to catch a squirrel that was desperately clinging to and winding its way around the tree. When I saw feathers come off of the hawk I wanted to run right over and see what treasures it had left for me, but wisely decided to wait. I went back a few hours later, greedily hoping for a tail feather or maybe one from the wing, but there were five downy feathers instead, probably from the chest or underwing. I'm secretly hoping that the squirrel prevailed.

What magical treasures or opportunities for deep peace have you found lately on your journey?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 16,551: Wild-Hearted

A wild-hearted friend directed to me this video and I couldn't resist sharing it here with you. For a chunk of my youth, I was positive that I wanted to be Stevie Nicks when I grew up. This video is sweet as honey and reminds me of why I idolized her so. It warms my heart to watch artists (musicians, in particular) get caught up in the moment, immersed in and overcome by what they love. Sitting still and silent were not options for her here. (No doubt to the frustration of her immensely patient make-up artist.) Yes, maybe this was due to more than just the music, but I believe that Stevie was simply hopped up on pure joy.

I'm taking my wild-heart on a much-needed retreat this weekend. This new year is off to a beautiful, but very busy start. My tank is running a bit low, so I aim to fill it up on yoga, good food, and some much needed rest.

While I'm away, I send blessings to you and YOUR wild-heart!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 16,550: Gratitude

(Photo from the Archives: 1/28/09)

Today I am so grateful ...

For waking up to a mashed potato snowfall. You know what I'm talking about, right? The flakes are fat and wet. They land like shaving cream from an almost-empty can. Trees, fences, everything gets coated in lumpy white. It's a brief winter wonderland that poses no threat and melts away as quickly as it came. Sadly, I am having issues downloading the photo I took. It's lovely. You'll have to trust me, though, and allow the shot above from my archives to serve in its place.

For making new connections in my efforts to locate animal-centered venues (shelters, rescues, sanctuaries, clinics, etc.) in the Greater Cincinnati area that would be willing to host my Animal Reiki classes. It takes time. For now, I'm happy to teach from my home. My dogs and cats are the lucky ducks that get to be the guinea pigs. Confusing, I know, but you get it.

For a brand new box of 64 Crayola crayons. Remember the sharpener? It has one. Oh yeah.

For a dinner date with my man. I was spinning off in a hundred directions when he got home from the office ... caught up in a never-ending list of all I thought I had to do. But he got me to stop. He got me to breathe. He made me laugh. And then he ushered me into the car and toward sustinence. He knows me well. We've been repeating this scenario almost every Friday evening for nearly 20 years.

And, last but not least, for YOU, sharing with me what you're grateful for today.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 16,549 Gratitude

(Photo from the archives: January 27, 2008)

Today I am so grateful ...

For moving forward on my path, regardless of how uninspiring the terrain may appear at times. (Dear January, you are a pop quiz for the soul.)

For new friends here via Pixie Campbell. I am so happy that you've stopped by!

For a dear friend's birthday lunch at The Bonbonerie. This is a magical place of sugary joyness. I chose a lovely little table where we could chow and chat, um, right next to the bathroom. Way to go, me. Sorry, Beth. As for the rest of you, never, ever let me pick the table. Or the check out lane. You've been forewarned.

For the afterglow of my first Taos meeting last night. Amy distributed a supply list and I feel like a kid getting ready to go to camp. The closer it gets, the more real it all becomes. Bring on the Enchantment!

For an idea gifted to me that will keep me from feeling like a hamster on the wheel if I can put it into play. Mulling.

How about you? What are you feeling grateful for today?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pink Coyote Giveaway

Two pairs of JMBW Valentine's red earrings are part of a giveaway on my girl, Pixie Campbell's blog, Pink Coyote. You should enter ... and then hang around to check out all of the goodness that this wise and wild woman has to offer.

If you don't win or can't stand to wait, these festive red beauties (translucent and opaque red) are also available (while supplies last) through my Etsy shop for just $13.50 + shipping ... that's $2.50 off the regular $16.00 per pair earring price.

And in case you're still not feeling the love, I'm also offering 10% off everything in the shop through Valentine's Day with the coupon code PIXIE.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 16,547 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For evidence of flourishing all around me. I'm not imagining it. The birds are singing again.

For the first of two birthday celebration lunches with/for friends this week.

For the way that a batch of green smoothies so quickly and unfailingly adjusts my mood and attitude for the better.

For refraining from my typical knee-jerk reaction long down enough to entertain the possibility that a perceived obstacle may really be an opportunity in disguise.

For my mailman bearing a book order for me. You would laugh if you saw the stack on my nightstand. Ridiculous. And yet I can't resist adding more.

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mandala Monday - 1/24/11

Ready for you to download here.

Happy coloring!

Day 16,546 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For the joyous birth of this Ametrine I-AMulet at my workbench.

For a few stolen lunch time moments what-the-helling it with watercolors + pen.

For the kind and gentle pushing of myself out the door for yoga class this evening.

For the power of persuasion in "it'll be good" over "for your own good" which shall not be underestimated.

For bright new music to keep me company on an otherwise dreary winter day. (Thanks, A!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 16,545 Gratitude

I shared this video (via Joanna) on Facebook yesterday, but sharing it here for those who didn't see it there ... and for those who saw it there to see it again. It's message is important and as much for me as for you. First things first, friends. First things first.

I feel myself hitting that difficult stretch of winter. The second half of January through February feels daunting to me. I can sense the days getting longer, but I'm starving for warmth and color that still feel a long way off. I'm feeling couped up and humorless. Mustering a sense of gratitude takes effort and always seems to fall back upon the same handful of life-preservers:

a roaring fire in the wood stove
a good book to wisk me away
something to crochet
a hot mug of tea
soup on the stove
time with friends
a rare day of blue sky and sunshine
art supplies
long underwear

With these things, I am sustained. Soon enough, the wheel will turn and the season will change. The peonie bush will be the first to send its purple shoots upward next month. We'll be back to Daylight Savings Time shortly thereafter. Until then, my hibernation continues. I'll do my best to curl my toes in the cold, black earth sending roots ever-downward, gathering strength in preparation to bloom when the time is right.

What is sustaining you through the rest of winter? (Please don't say a vacation or you will bring me to tears.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 16,544 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For some creative fun. A friend shared with me a collage technique shared by another friend. Even gave me the bits and pieces that I'd need to do it. So I did it. What a great way to break through that initial resistance. There really is something to working faster than the Inner Critic can keep up.

For spending a good chunk of the day shopping with my daughter at our favorite places.

For finding a Borders card in my wallet that I though might only have a buck or two on it. Turns out it was over $10.

For having all of the supplies on hand that I'll need for a special Valentine's project.

For seeing how high the sun was in the sky at just about 5:00 p.m. Ch-ch-ch-changes.

What are YOU grateful for today?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 16,543 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For white-heart beads in candy apple red.
For the the delivery of wire for me to wrap them in.
For szechuan string beans.
For the willingness to let go of what needs to go.
For the hope that what replaces it suits the me that I've become.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 16,542 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For biscuits from the can on the Pooh plate. My daughter made them. She insisted. I can't turn down anything she makes ... especially when served on the Pooh plate. I just can't.

For getting my state sales tax filed today. I don't know why I dread this task, but I do. The due date creeps closer and I get angsty. When I finally sit myself down, take a deep breath, and spend the few minutes that it takes to log-in and click through the screens, I feel relieved. Done for the next six months.

For knowing that my very first custom-wrapped pendant is on its way to its owner. I would post a photo but I don't want to give any secrets away. Once I know it's there, I will. Remember, if you have a stone or crystal that you would like to wear, I would be honored to wrap it for you.

For Jen's wise words on love, risk, and comfort zones.

For my friend, Beth, for being born today. Happy birthday, Dear One!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 16,541 Gratitude

This is what I did on a whim the other day. I took my gemstone/crystal collection and all of my magic rocks and lined them around the workshopio. This is what nourishment looks like for me right now. The playfulness of this space. Eye candy. Words of wisdom. Good vibes to buoy me. So instead of spelling out the rest of my gratitude today, I'm going to cheat and let the photos do the talking.

Tell me what nourishment looks like for you today.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 16,540 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

Posting this gratitude list retroactively, yet feeling (mostly) okay with having to backdate it and dig a photo out of my archives to use. (This is our now-snowy-faced Phoebe Cakes on January 18, 2005.) I know that if I completely skipped this gratitude thing for one day, for several, or altogether, the world would not end ... nor would it mean that I'm not grateful.

Appreciating all of the energy that momentum creates and wanting to stay on the bright side of it rather than allowing it to become fodder for self-sabotage.

A photo sent to me of colored mandalas and knowing that they really do make a difference.

The Angel Card of Patience and what that word means to me right now.

My monthly reflexology appointment and having my train put back on the tracks.

Hope you're being gentle with yourself and feeling grateful too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 16,539 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For my Christmas cactus that is on Round #2 of flowers this season. As you may recall, it bloomed after Thanksgiving. When I moved it to make room for our Christmas tree, it must have been really pleased with its new, sunny spot by the window. New red buds appeared shortly thereafter and now the first one has begun to open.

For a kinder, gentler "Today I will" list.

For realizing that I may be getting a lot accomplished these days, but it could be at self-care's expense.

For opportunities to remember that I'm human ... and so is everyone else.

For incremental successes and the importance of celebrating such.

What are you grateful for today?

Mandala Monday - 1/17/11

Ready for you to download here. Happy coloring!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 16,538 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For bright light in unexpected places, which feels like my Grandma letting me know that she is still (and always) around.

For crafting a plan and sticking with it.

For restocking my Guayaki Chai Spice Yerba Mate. (The Chocolate wasn't bad, but I just didn't like it as much.)

For a long, hot shower on a cold morning.

For following through on an idea that makes my workshop a little more magical.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day 16,537 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

Another day spent hibernating in fireplace paradise. (I'm not really watching the football game, but the shot captures the mood of this evening. Thank goodness for laptops.)

The motivation to make a decent dent in organizing my business paperwork and getting things in tax-a-licous condition for our accountant.

Drive-thru windows at the bank. Really. If I had to get out and go in, I think I'd have to wait until spring. That would not end well.

Confirming dates for the March Reiki I class for those who can't make the one in February.

Knowing that Monday is a holiday.

Please tell me what you're grateful for today.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 16,536 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

Another day filled with the nourishment of food + friendship.
Green Dog Cafe Cilantro Pesto Quesadilla, so glad I finally tried you.
A double-date at the Mellow Mushroom.
A borrowed book about Georgia O'Keeffe begging to be read.
Chocolate (CHOCOLATE!) fortune cookies.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 16,535 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

Homemade fish chowder.
Crusty bread to go with it.
Great conversation with the friend who brought them.
A charming book to add to my wish list.
Fred beside the fire.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 16,534 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

The following things that are helping me to stay on course right now. In sharing them with you, maybe they can help you, too ... which means even more gratitude for us all!


I discovered a long time ago that my average waking hours more or less break down into four 4-hour segments: 5:00-9:00 a.m. (for real), 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., 1:00-5:00 p.m., and 5:00-9:00 p.m. Seemed like rather useless information at the time but, for whatever reason, I recently remembered and started playing around with how these segments might aid me. My daily "I will" lists have grown long and have a variety of intentions regarding multiple facets of my life. My day job eats up 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (and a bit more, based upon my hours) five days each week, which means that self-care, family time, my business and other people and things that are important to me have to fit into the first (rise and shine!) and fourth (*yawn*) segments Mondays through Fridays. Of course, weekends help to bring things back to some semblance of balance. But let's face it, I just can't do it all and what I can do is sometimes tricky to squeeze if it takes a lot of time and focus. By streamlining my "I will" list and assigning intentions to specific segments of the day, it increases my odds of crossing off a task as compared to when I have to pluck it from a long list. It's all about finding new ways to relax into the process.

Flexible Structure

These segments give me the structure that I crave and, like the "I will" list itself, keep me on track. But I refuse to become a slave to them. Flexibility is a must. Love must ALWAYS come first. Fun, pleasure and play should be generously incorporated into each day and given priority over all else, assuming that the world won't end. Thankfully, odds are fairly decent that they won't. I wasn't born to do-do-do or make lists just to cross things off. Immensely gratifying though that may be, it's also fodder for burnout, bitterness and resentment. That said, if a friend calls me at the last minute to meet for lunch, I need to be flexible enough to say yes. If I need a walk, a cup of tea, or a nap, I want to be able to take it without worry or remorse. Or if I find a way to make a task more enjoyable, despite the fact that doing so will also make it take longer, I hope that I'll give it a go. Fun trumps done most any day for me.

Keeping My Smartphone in My Purse or Another Room

So silly, but I discovered that my smartphone was a slow leak on my time. There should have been no big surprise there and yet, well, color me surprised. I used to keep it sitting beside me. As soon as that red LED started flashing, I would immediately check to see what message I'd received. What's more is that I'd usually respond immediately, distracting me from the task at hand. Even when the light wasn't flashing, I was still glancing. Drip-drip-drip. So I put the phone in the next room or my purse where I can still hear it if someone calls or sends a text. I'll still answer those right away or as soon as I find a good stopping point. But I know that no one expects an immediate response to an e-mail message. I do my best to keep my message-checking to once a segment and you would not believe how much time I feel like I've gained.

I am grateful that you'll consider sharing your successful tricks with me in the comments or how these tricks work out for you. We're all in this together!

Haiku for You and Me

I don't want to give the impression that I wake up every morning and write a haiku. But this morning I did. And it's meant for you and me as we get about halfway through January and find our New Year's resolve start to wear a bit thin:

Make no assumptions.
Do not question the flight plan.
Bravely stay the course.

I will keep this where I can see it. Hope it helps you too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 16,533 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For today being a telework day, which means I had the good fortune of working from home while so many others (like my dear spouse) had to navigate their way through the snow to the office.

For the road crews for doing what they do so that my loved ones could make it to and fro, safe and sound.

For enterprising teenage boys with shovels, happy to do the job that we are least inclined to do.

For these lovely photos of blue doors and windows in Taos, giving me one more thing to look forward to capturing (by sketch, photo or both) when I visit in 100+ days.

For drawing the Angel Card of Authenticity and what this means to me.

How about you? What grateful stirrings caught your attention?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 16,532 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For the unbearable cuteness of cuddling cats (and how laughably gigantic they look in this photo).

For (finally) putting it out there.

For getting back to yoga class ... first one of 2011.

For chili in the crockpot when I got home.

For realizing that I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin and on my unique path when I mind my own beeswax. This translates to less time in front of the computer and more time in my workshopio. (Workshop+studio for those not inside my head.)

Tell me what's filling you with gratitude today.

Mandala Monday - 1/10/11

Fresh, new mandala for you to download here. Go get to coloring, my friend!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 16,531 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For the succor of sunshine. If you're in Cincinnati through January, you already know that this good stuff is at a premium. We bask in it when we get it. We desperately seek reminders of (and replacements for) it when we don't. As for me, I collect sun wall hangings. This winky one's rays play tricks with my eyes.

For the way that some days in our lives have a big, shiny gold star on them and impact our journey henceforth. And for having the good sense to notice.

For recognizing that this practice of deepening my gratitude seems to make these exceptional days come upon me with ever increasing frequency.

For well-worn and much loved flannel jammies to nap in and lounge away the sweet remainder of this Sun-Day.

For knowing that whatever I don't get to today can wait until tomorrow. All except for love.

I love it when you tell me what you're grateful for today.


I can't even wait for my daily gratitude post to extend congratulations to my very first Reiki student on the completion of our Level 1 Reiki/Reiki for Animals class this weekend! (Photo above shared with her permission.) Please note that we both wore red sweaters for the occasion. Ah, synchronicity. It was such an honor to teach this SARA-sponsored Reiki class ... especially to a local veterinarian who will incorporate what she learned this weekend into the care and treatment of her animal clients. I can't help but feel incredibly blessed to reach out to more students in the months ahead. Reiki really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Please mark your calendar for Saturday, February 12 and Sunday, February 13 (9:00-1:00 each day) for the next offering of Level 1 Reiki/Reiki for Animals. Please let me know if you're interested. Specific details coming soon.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Day 16,530 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For handmade surprises in the mail. Okay, any surprises in the mail (of the happy kind, of course). What a treat to receive a sweet creation from a generous and talented friend who has relit a creative fire in my soul. She has managed to get me sketching for the first time in decades. Wouldn't surprise me one little bit if she has me collaging, too, in due time.

For successfully navigating my way through teaching the first day of my very first Level 1 Reiki/Reiki for Animals class here at Chez Magic Beans. It helped so much this morning to replace the word "nervous" with "excited." They can feel a lot alike, you know, but one is a story that I don't want to tell myself and the other one I do. (This or that? This or that? This or that?) I was calm before my student's arrival, but once we sat down together, I flashed back to test day in high school Algebra II and then went completely blank. Thank goodness I had the foresight to create a cheat sheet. Make that five. All of the important points that I needed to cover were in hand. I really look forward to releasing my dependency on these notes. I prefer my freestyle to narration any day. In the meantime, I (at long last) embrace being a beginner, which is a strong theme for me this year ... rewiring my life for the better. I feel very relaxed about tomorrow and, believe it or not, I am already laying the groundwork for announcing my first class open to the public in February. I want to keep this momentum going. I've put off teaching for over a year and a half, so I'm eager to make up for lost time.

For the goodness of things in which I don't usually allow myself to indulge. I'm looking at you, chocolate-covered raisins. I don't often grant myself the pleasure of a container of such. It was justifiable today with company. Got to keep up our energy for the class and what better way to do that than with chocolate, right? They will be around for awhile. Maybe. To serve as a reminder that I don't necessarily have to wait for a special occasion to say yes to what I want.

For this post on How to Travel Full-Time for Less than $14,000 per Year. This is an aged keeper from my favorites list. I don't know where the photos went, but it looks like the awesome information is still intact. I'm not planning on traveling full-time. At least not anytime soon. But with my friend soon bound for Egypt, it certainly gets the wheels of possibility turning as it sets my mind to dreaming.

To be able to share this super secret coupon code 20110108 which will get you 10% off anything in my Etsy shop. Good through Friday, January 14, or whenever I remember to deactivate it. Just sharing the love with my FB and bloggy friends.

Please tell me what you're grateful for today!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Day 16,529 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For the Art of Making Things Easy for Myself. So simple. My "today I will" lists created the foundation. It's so much easier to chart the course for the day when I have written down what I intend to accomplish. I am trying to get into the habit of taking one walk per day. More than one is outstanding, but for right now just one is an accomplishment. By applying the Art of Making Things Easy for Myself, I take the simple step of putting on my walking shoes in the morning on my work-from-home days. This way I can go when inspiration strikes (or coax myself out the door if it doesn't). The point is that I'm doing something that makes it that much easier for me to do what I say I'll do. If I have to go change my shoes, it gives me an easy out. If I want to make sure that I have a green smoothie everyday, I keep enough fruit and greens on hand. Otherwise, trust me, Fritos for lunch will win. The night before my husband plans to work out at the gym, he packs his bag with what he needs and puts it by the door. It isn't as easy to make excuses when we have all that we need to succeed all ready to go. Yes, I know, I know, I know it sounds silly because it is so simple, but give it a try. Where and how can you make it easier for yourself to reach a goal? Have an appointment that you dread making? Get the phone number and hang it up where you can see it, preferably right by your phone. Have a task that you just can't bring yourself to tackle? Break it down into bite-sized morsels and take that small first step. Or (my personal favorite) set the timer for 20 minutes and see how far you get. It's just 20 minutes and you can quit when the time is up, but I swear that you'll be shocked at what you can accomplish. Let me know how it goes.

For tea therapy with my soul friend, Frances. She has a grand adventure to Egypt on the horizon. Can you imagine?

For the smooth and easy flow of preparations in advance of teaching my very first Level 1 Reiki/Reiki for Animals class tomorrow. Feeling so supported in cleaning up, clearing the space, and preparing the materials. Appreciating all of the good vibes being sent my way.

What blessings are you counting on this wintery Friday?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Day 16,528 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For all that the starting and keeping of a sketchbook journal is teaching me. The photo above is of yesterday's page. I had a grand ol' time experimenting with adding Cadmium Yellow (Pale Hue, if you're curious) with the other colors in my watercolor palette. Snakes have been on my mind lately, in a good way, so I decided to add a striped, slithery friend to the page. After I finished, I discovered that the ink from the stripes leaked through to previous pages and I got all oh-crap about it. But then I got oh-well. Is it possible that I may (finally) be relaxing into the uncertainly of art and the sweet surprises borne of things not going as planned?

For my daily "today I will" lists. This is one of the few habits that I am consistent about on a daily basis. It's not a to do list. Those feel icky and burdensome. My "today I will" list serves as a container for the things that I am willing to do on this one day. I keep it relatively reasonable with the focus on having a great day rather than crossing everything off. Love and flexibility steer my ship. But I've been stretching, stretching, stretching to get more consistent with activities of the Magic Beans persuasion, just to get some momentum going at the start of this blessed new year. Guess what? It's working. I'm crossing things off AND having great days. But in saying that I know conditions are favorable for me to do something to sabotage my progress. For now, so far so good. I'll keep making a new list each morning and see how it goes.

For the wise words in Jen Gray's post, The Thing About Creativity, from almost one year ago. I have a folder called Good Mojo and that's where I keep pep talks like this for those days when I have creative self-doubt, feel lost and/or need a reminder that it's not just me. Another good one, also almost one year old, is Jen Lemen's post, What 100 Paintings Will Teach You. Maybe they'll help you, too.

Tell me, please, what you're grateful for today?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day 16,527 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For the good sense to sit down at my workbench after work today and make a few pairs of earrings. I cannot tell you how long it has been since I've done that and it felt so, so good. The wire was, as it is always, butter in my hands. Maybe it's the Reiki. Maybe it just knows that I love it. Watch for these wee beauties to start popping up in my Etsy shop in the days ahead.

For the Angel Card of Surrender that I drew this morning. "The ability to be with what is going on rather than remaining preoccupied with what might, should or could happen. Let go of the need to manage life and deepen into the peace of acceptance." Good advice for us all.

For being understood. For being appreciated. For being supported.

Tell me, dear ones, what are YOU grateful for today?

Shinpiden with Frans Stiene in Cincinnati, July 1-3, 2011

Dear Reiki friends, I am so excited to share this great news! Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki is coming to Cincinnati to teach Reiki Level III (Shinpiden), July 1-3, 2011, at Grailville in Loveland, Ohio. This is an incredible opportunity to study with an extraordinary teacher! I traveled all the way to San Rafael, California in April, 2009 to take this class. To say that it was well worth it would be understatement. Frans teaches traditional Japanese Reiki and what I learned from him radically simplified my practice. It deepened it. It expanded it. It sweetened it. Things haven't been the same since. You can bet that I won't pass up the opportunity to resit this class and I'd love, love, love to have you join me. Check the link for more information and certainly let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 16,526 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

Good boundaries. At least for today. At least as the situation warranted.

I had to take my daughter to an appointment with a specialist at our world-renowned Children's Hospital. It's common practice to speak with at least one fellow, resident, whatever, before you actually see the physician with whom you have an appointment. That's fine. But I know that my daughter has grown weary of telling the same story over and over again. I echo her fatigue. This particular appointment involved some unexpected prodding to which she is unaccustomed and, frankly, it only added insult to her annoyance.

So when the physician ordered blood tests and a sample which shall not be named, just to make sure we cover all the bases, we made our way across the hospital with the best intentions to follow orders. But those awaiting testing were lumped in with those awaiting admittance and the small, smelly waiting area overflowed with unhappy children and their impatient parents.

At this point, we'd already logged two hours on our most obedient behavior. We hadn't a glimmer of hope of getting out of there anytime soon. I could tell by the look on my dear daughter's face that she'd reached her limit for the day. So I took a deep breath and made the arbitrary and capricious decision that mother's sometimes have to make on behalf of their children ... to say enough is enough is enough for this one day.

I told her that we were going home now. I didn't tell the staff that we were leaving. They weren't accessible to tell. I know that I will have to explain my way out of this mess tomorrow. That's fine. I know that I did the right thing. And I know that everything will work out. She'll get the tests, but on more reasonable terms.

I want to remember this day, this decision, and not wait so long to reach my limit, to draw the line. Not only for the people I love, but also for the one I'm supposed to love the most. Me.

What are YOU grateful for today?

I'm also grateful for second chances. With today's New Moon, it was a second chance for another New Year's Day. The photo above is of my Christmas cactus which had gorgeous red blooms around the first of December. I moved it to a new location and now it is surprising me with a new round of buds to flower yet again in the days and weeks ahead. I had no idea that this was even possible. I take it as a very auspicious sign.

My New Moon Wish: Animal Reiki Training Venue(s)

I am making a wish on today's New Moon. Maybe you can help it come true ...

I would love to find the ideal venue(s) in the Greater Cincinnati area to teach Reiki for Animals classes in 2011. I am seeking space at a local animal shelter, sanctuary or rescue to accommodate anywhere from 2-12 people for one 8-hour day or two 4-hour days (Saturday and/or Sunday). Clinics or other nature-focused facilities are also an option. Access to animals (not necessarily hands-on) during the class would be perfect.

Here's the best part of this wish coming true ... there will be special discounts for staff and volunteers. For students coming in from the general public, a percentage of the full tuition will be donated back to the host organization and/or SARA to support their outreach.

A win/win wish for all, especially the animals, so please contact me if you have any leads or ideas. Thanks in advance for your help!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day 16,525 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

What being a beginner is teaching me. I am brand new to sketchbook journaling. I used to draw in my spare time until I became a teenager and, well, I don't know why I put it aside. Why do we put anything that we love doing aside? 1) For something that we think we love more; or 2) lack of time or the appearance thereof. It feels good to play with it again, just sketching for the fun of it. I appreciate that it is turning my journaling habit upside down. It's also pushing the perfectionist buttons that I've put extraordinary effort into convincing myself don't exist. By all indications, I have a problem ... with having a problem. I am so terrified of making a mistake that I should probably go ahead and intentionally make a gigantic, messy one just to get it the hell over with and get back to having fun.

Today I am so grateful for ...

Looking out the front window of my very suburban home and seeing several deer making their way down the street, as if it's a perfectly normal thing to happen around here. I have lived in this area for 40 years and only in the last ten have we had deer living in such close proximity. I love seeing them and yet I recognize the dangers they face in order for these sightings to happen. I don't take their presence for granted.

Today I am so grateful for ...

My first morning walk of the year with my neighbor. We may not be consistent, but we do the best that we can to get out there and take a lap before the crack of dawn. I think that goals are more easily achieved with a partner-in-crime. Accountability is an incredible motivator. I would much rather show up than be the one to bail out. I know that she feels the same way. So, in the long run, we're both better off for not wanting to be the bad guy. Hey, whatever works.

How about you? What are YOU grateful for today?

Happy Mandala Monday!

After a lengthy hiatus through 2010, it's back ... Mandala Mondays! This means a free mandala is available for download here (almost) every Monday. I'll tell everyone who is willing to listen that we are never too old to color. It's a great stress-reliever and, well, um, it's just fun. So go download your mandala. And if you are inclined to twist my arm, I'd be inclined to setup a Flickr pool for your colored mandalas, if you'd care to share.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Day 16,524 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

Our living room view of a jewel-toned sunrise.
Cherry turnovers for breakfast.
A long walk with my face toward the winter sun.
Getting my sketch on. (Good sketch, not bad.)
Crossing everything off of today's "I will" list.

Tell me, what are you grateful for today?

Souper Sunday: Lentil Spinach Soup

I gave myself a very unusual gift for my 40th birthday years ago. Feng shui school. I spent an incredible week on retreat in the woods of Brown County, Indiana, studying intensively with Master Teacher, Carol Bridges, along with a handful of other students from around the country. I appreciated the bounty of the natural setting (see photo). I appreciated all that I learned about creating sacred space. But, boy oh boy, I really appreciated the nourishing meals. We had the good fortune to have our lunch and dinner catered by Erika Yochum. We feasted on her amazing vegetarians meals made with love and locally grown ingredients. Had we done nothing else that week other than hike in the woods and bask in Erika's cooking, it would have been well worth the time and tuition to me. I was smart enough to buy her handmade cookbooks while I was there and have enjoyed the recipes so much since ... so many great memories! I did a quick Google search and discovered that she now owns a restaurant in Bloomington called Feast. I must go. So should you. (Any of my local pals up for a road trip?)

Here is a favorite soup that was served while I was at school. I've made it many times since. It freezes and reheats well:

LENTIL SPINACH SOUP - Erika Yokum, Harvest Lodge Organic Farm

1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed
1 celery stalk, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 bay leaf
7 cups water
1 large red onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 pound (bunch) washed spinach, no stems, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 teaspoon salt
Red wine vinegar to taste
Pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

Place lentils, bay leaf, and celery in soup pot with water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil and then simmer until lentils are tender. Heat oil in skillet and add onion plus 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook on high for a few minutes, then lower heat and add garlic and parsley. Cook until onions are soft. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes and then combine with lentils. When lentils are soft, stir in spinach. When the spinach has cooked down, add some water if needed. Taste for additional salt. Simmer for 5 additional minutes and then add vinegar to taste to lighten the flavors. Serve with parmesan cheese, black pepper or a spoonful of sour cream.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Day 16,523 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

The pricelessness of a new beginning.
The opening of brand new art supplies.
The Angel of Inspiration.
Saying goodbye to Christmas decorations for another year.
A freshly clean fountain working its magic in our career gua.

State of the Workshop Address - 1/1/11

Happy New Year!

Some of you may vaguely remember the lengthy manifesto that I posted last January. It fit well back then, fresh and passionate out of the gate for 2010. Although in many ways the sentiment remains the same, I've decided to make my Magic Beans Manifesto for 2011 short and sweet:

Here is what I love to make
Here is what I love to do
Please feel free to contact me
If something resonates with you

My marching orders are equally brief. Show up and put out. What good are gifts if not given, right? Where there's a will, there will always be time and resources to do so. Creativity is the key.

That said, here's what you can expect from Jakk's Magic Beans Workshop as we move forward into 2011:

* Mandala Mondays is coming back starting tomorrow. This means that there will be a fresh mandala for you to download and color (almost) every Monday. I need to spend more time coloring and I suspect that you do too. Keep them handy for travel, conference calls, and waiting rooms when stress levels can run especially high.

* Group labyrinth walks for each New and Full Moon are back on (albeit flexibly) in 2011. If you would like to be added to the reminder list, please go here and sign up. These reminders might be worthwhile even if you don't live in Cincinnati, as you may have a labyrinth to visit in your town. The message will remind you of the upcoming New/Full Moons with no obligation to participate. I am going to try to offer the playsheets again so that we can set intentions for what we are wanting to receive and release with each waxing and waning moon, which many found to be especially helpful in the past. In short, be there when you can, but don't worry when you can't (because even my attendance will have to be hit and miss due to work). Newcomers are always welcome. I'll post more information soon.

* My Etsy shop is slowly coming back to life. There were a few pairs of earrings that didn't make the cut for the recent giveaways. I have a new listing up for a custom Reiki shawl for you or someone you love. And the 2008 Mandala Mondays coloring e-books are relisted ... 25 mandalas to color in each volume. Supplies are on hand for new earrings soon and more supplies are on the way for new I-AMulets, so check the shop often for new additions.

* Reiki classes will be scheduled in the weeks ahead, specifically, Reiki I/Reiki for Animals. Reiki II classes will be scheduled in the second half of 2011. I am still looking for the ideal venue in the Greater Cincinnati area to hold future classes, but in the meantime classes will likely be held here at the Workshop in my home with my pets happily helping out. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. And if you are intersted in training, certainly contact me so that I can get you on the notification list.

* If you weren't aware and already signed up, Jakk's Magic Beans Workshop has a Facebook page. I would love it if you "Liked" it. You'll be notified of new posts and other Workshop news. It's a fun way for us to connect. Please pass it on.

I know that there is more to add, but right now I am being haunted by a can of shellac. I have a brand spankin' new sketchbook journal to christen today, thanks to Amy B. It wouldn't be the same if I started it on January 2. I know you understand. Blessings to you on this day of brand new!