Thursday, August 18, 2011

All in a word: Enjoy

My dear friend, Diane, at The Dew Drop Inn has a very special tradition. On New Year's Eve, she creates a magical bag full of important words written on small cards, words that come from the very depths of spirit and inspiration. She invites everyone and anyone to draw a word from the bag. The word is then yours to ponder, reflect, or just giggle at and toss aside.

I was thrilled to partake in this tradition again this year. I reached in and rummaged through the cards until my fingers found the small word meant for me. I read it, smiled, and let it ooze into my soul. I tucked it into my little black purse as we all headed out to a bacchanalian evening of dance, costumes, and art.

While on our California Coast trip two weeks ago, I reached into the very same bag only to pull out this...

How thrilled I was to find this word on August 3rd! (Or to have it find me again.) And the timing couldn't have been more synchronistic, seeing as I was on VACATION.

It gave me pause to think about all the ways I have lived up to my word so far during this grand year of 2011. Here is a list:

~ A terrifically delightful getaway at Carmel Valley Ranch, complete with moonlit tree swings
~ A luxurious stay at the Kirkwood Lodge for a weekend of snowboarding
~ Cozy dates on the couch with my sweet, streaming LOST (second time through for me)
~ Taking time to enjoy the beauties of the earth: An Andy Goldsworthy inspired unit with the first graders, hikes in the hills near my house, creating my backyard garden, morning walks with the pup
~ Cooking and baking (and eating!), often using fresh herbs from my windowsill
~ Renewing my meditation practice
~ Using my crazy ankle injury as an excuse to Slow Down, write a lot, and just plain rest
~ Experimenting with photography without harsh self-judgment

It's funny, but being tied to crutches for the past few months has really been one of the greatest gifts. I have slowed down in ways I don't think I would've just because I wanted to. I've said no to extra obligations that have been asked of me. I've taken naps when my body was tired. I've allowed myself to move through the world slowly, watching, enjoying each step of renewed strength.

Recently I heard someone describe the joy they got from smoking a morning cigarette. It wasn't the actual cancer stick they craved, it was the quiet moment on the back deck overlooking the garden with nothing but their thoughts and a bit of sunshine. How sad, I thought, that we don't allow ourselves this morning ritual without a reason. What if we insisted on a few moments to ourselves each day where we could stop, take notice, breathe...enjoy?

I'm as guilty as the next, getting caught up in the swirl of life. But having this word and these memories is encouraging me to keep that sacred time, especially now that the new school year is ready to ramp up at full speed. Morning Meditation is written in pen on my daily schedule, as well as permission to say no, and a reminder to take things slowly whenever needed. I give you all permission to do the same! 

What do you do to cultivate true Enjoyment in your life?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Magical souvenirs

I believe everyone benefits from a bit of magic in their lives. 

Magic can come in many different forms, though I've always had a tendency toward forests and fairies. No matter what I do, otherworldy beings find their way into my picture book writing. Also, anything small is completely entrancing to me. Along our trip down the coast last week, I took notice of the magical items that caught my attention. 
(please insert as many squeeeees as you like)

I could not suppress a squeal of delight when I saw this at The Garden Shed. The tagline reads:
'Create an enchanting garden that will open your eyes to the magic of the fairies. This unique mix of wildflowers, herbs, and low-growing plants grows into a miniature landscape to captivate children and adults, and provide a charming home for delightful garden sprites.'

After a breakfast treat of aebelskiver in the adorable Danish-inspired town of Solvang, CA...

I chose some jam to bring back with me.

The name makes me picture small creatures scurrying around to collect berries for their magical elixir.
Fruit of the Forest!

Also at the Garden Shed were these imagination-capturing little lands...

How sweet are these? There were many different styles including a log cabin and a zen pavilion. Look at the teeny tiny details...

I want to make one. My Guy told me perhaps when I retire...

It's so important to collect these magical souvenirs when we're out roaming the world. Even if we don't purchase them, they can stay with us in photos, sketchbooks, imagination... Getting away from my regular day-to-day inevitably brings me new ideas or reminders of things I've always loved. These are not-to-be-missed treasures! They enlighten our sense-of-self and spark our creative muses.

What captures your fancy? And how do you use it in your creative life?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

{Outward and beyond}: Cambria

I want to give you a peek inside a magical little shop in Cambria, California called:
The Garden Shed

Can we start with the sweet packaging? I got a little thrill when the shopkeeper, Ashley, attached this mini-bouquet to the bag.
(Note: all photos taken with iPhone--please forgive the quality!)

This treasure trove contains abundantly adorable garden-inspired pleasures.
Let's take a look, shall we?

 Woah! This is actually the busiest corner of the store, which makes those little birds hanging from the tree all the more whimsical.

I adore this whale weather vane. But I adore most weather vanes.

Botanical prints are another high-on-the-list design favorite of mine. Check out the twig frame lining the textured fabric matte. Gorgeous.

Mosaic fairy mushroom. Complete with a metal stake to hold in place outside. Yes.

Can you resist antique keys? I can't. 
This lock must be for containing magical plant elixirs in the fairies' outdoor apothecary. Very strong fairies, I suppose.

Plenty of plants adorn the outside area ready for purchase. I ended up with a container of lemon thyme to augment the collection on my kitchen window sill. These plants above are called Alkanet 'Blue Angel" (anchusa capensis).

LOTS of succulents, like this echeveria, sat sprinkled with dew.

The name of this plant was much too long to remember but no less intriguing.

Of course, no shop of wonders is complete without its own furry salesperson. Meet Abner:
(and notice the sprinkling of mosaic that delights the entire property.)

Abner would really like you to come visit, too. He has just one request:

[the Garden Shed's website]

Friday, August 5, 2011

Relax and enjoy

We've made it to the final stop on our tour of the California coast--beautiful Cambria! More to come soon...but for now, this pic I snapped in Santa Cruz says it all.

Happy weekend, everybody!