slipping, balance, truth.

It's been a while since I've written.  My life is in a whirlwind, and I have yet to find my balance.  It might be a while until I do. Becoming ok with that is a hard lesson.  Because it means incorporating all of the things I've been learning - and preaching - along the way.

Self-doubt winks over my shoulder like a tornado waiting to burst.  I breathe and meditate to somehow keep it in check, all the while knowing that keeping it in check is not exactly the best way to go about dealing with it.  Keeping things in check is the way I've lived most of my life.

Hold it together.

Well, holding it together isn't working.

This is about trust.  Trust as a practice.  Trust that everything is working out as it should.   Which, in the grand scheme of things, is what I have always believed.  But which, in small, tortuous day to day events, can feel almost impossible to accept.

I am being led to confront people that I have avoided for years.  I am being led to bury old hatchets - hatchets that I had forgotten I even had in the back of my spiritual closet - and move on. I have seriously ill friends who gift me with messages of what truly is important.

I am being led to rethink how I live, think, and act.  I am having moments of crystal clarity.  I always thought those moments were supposed to be beautiful and enlightening.  But sometimes, those moments are just reckoning with what was full-on denial.

This blog has always been about sharing who I am and where I am.

I am in an uncomfortable place.  I feel challenged and unsettled.  I find myself wanting to handle all the things coming at me right now like a car that has accidentally  hit the shoulder hard - if I just hold on to the steering wheel and force it, I'll get the thing back on the pavement.

Only right now, I don't think I'm driving, which makes for a more wild ride.

So the only thing I can do is trust.

Trust that the Spirit in which I place my soul understands and leads.

Trust that I don't have to fake it.

Trust that I will understand the guidance I receive as I receive it.

Trust that life will work out.

I don't have a magic formula or sentence at the end of this post to make it all come together.  It's just not in me right now.  But I will say this:  we all go through this stuff.  It comes at us in cycles, and we're left to understand the deeper meaning.

But that all comes later.

When we go through it, all we can do is go through it.  We can't go around it.  Which can leave is at odd ends with just about everything.

It's all guidance.  Guidance to bring us to where we need to be.  Slipping and falling is part of the process of living. So if you slip, don't think it's the end.

Because most likely?  It's the beginning of something coming out of the pain.  And that beginning is your truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bites of Inspiration

   

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In Italy, food is transformative.  It moves from simple nutrition to becoming the essence of life itself.   During our Beautiful Truth Retreat, we had the chance to  cook with one of my most lovely friends, Carla, who, together with her husband has one of the most lovely restaurants here in Acqui Terme. She taught us so much, she made us laugh, and gifted us moments we'll never forget.

 

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There are more beautiful bites this week:

I am honored to be featured as part of a free interview series called Inspiration Bites, the brain child of the wonderful life coach Alison Ottaway.  The series is completely free, you just need to go and sign up.  There will be an interview recording from international life and change experts every day for two weeks, Monday through Friday.    It starts tomorrow, so don't delay!

your creative calling: what would you do if you weren't worried about being judged?

pursue some path

 

Your idea is your capital.

I don't mean that in strictly a financial sense (although, yeah, that too..).  I'm talking about the capital on which you can focus your energy and open doors to your authentic path.  Your idea is your soul capital. 

Coming to your specific idea of how you would like your future to look professionally and personally feels really complicated and fraught with obstacles.  We don't just block the idea;  we block the manifestation of the idea.

No money.

No time.

Too many other commitments.

I'm not selfish enough to want to live my own idea. 

My partner won't agree.

My friends/family will think I'm crazy.

I won't be able to do it perfectly. I'm not so good at it. 

Look, here's the bottom line.  You  have no idea what will happen if you manifest your ideas and call the forth.  You can't know the lessons that you will learn, the people you will attract, alienate, piss off or laugh with, you have no idea what kind of personal development is in store for you.

You don't know how it will go.

So if you judge your idea as not worth pursuing before you even explore it fully, you've closed the door.  Locked it.  Thrown away the key.  Is that what you want?

It really doesn't have to be that complicated if we lay to the side our self doubts.  And if we stop judging how we're going to be judged for going after our idea.

Often we don't manifest ideas into action because of judgment.  Not strictly the fear of how others will think about us, but the fear of how we will react to people judging us.  Our judgment of judgment.  What we think of what people think of us.

Because judgment will always be there.

It's what we do with judgment that will determine our path.

It's that inner voice that keeps us locked in place, that convinces us the risks are too great, we aren't that good, we don't have a chance, we won't follow through, we just shouldn't bother.

We need to shut her up, that inner voice, because she's so busy judging the judgment of others that she couldn't care less about our authentic selves.

We are the shamans of our own energy, the creators of our own light.  We ourselves determine the doors that open for us.

How do we start?  How can we open our hearts and minds to our best idea?

Enter Wendi Knox.  

Wendi is a magical doctor/artist of authenticity, a magnetic energy medium, a colorful, authentic beauty who has reinvented not only her path, but the paths of women everywhere.   Here's what she has to say about this very subject.

 

I'm working with several women on bringing their idea to cohesive fruition.  I am absolutely and whole heartedly committed to this work.  Do you have an idea you'd like to develop but don't quite know where to start?  I'm here to help you do your best work.  

I cannot believe that Di Mackey and my  Your Beautiful Truth Retreat is less than three weeks away!  Energy will be flying on our little hill in the Italian country side.

And last but not least, I'm scheming with my beautiful friend Barrie Davenport on a new course and on-line workshop about this very subject - calling forth your creative idea and manifesting it into your work.  The launch will be spring 2014.

So now it's over to you:

What would you do if you weren't worried about being judged?  What is your idea?  If you felt free from your inner Edna, as Wendi calls her, what would you do?

 

one small, serendipitous moment

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Even the Dalmation, auspiciously named Joy, embraced the mood in the Piazza.
 

If someone had told me twenty years ago, that one day I'd be sitting in the most beautiful Italian piazza on a sultry summer evening, reading to a group of people from a book that I wrote and had been published, I would have just shaken my  head and walked away.  

 

Twenty years ago I was working hard at a job I wasn't cut out to do, pushing hard towards mid-thirties mid-management burn out, wondering if there would ever be time to do the things in life I could only dream of. But that's why it's always a mistake to underestimate life and where it can lead us.

I've had some amazing doors open in my life since then.  Moving abroad, starting my own businesses, learning languages, learning an artisan craft, becoming first a cross cultural and language coach, then a change coach, and becoming a writer.  All of those creative adventures have led here, to now.   So many moments.  Moments like last weekend are the jewels, though, when everything comes together in a perfect blend of gratitude and joy that are meant to be savored.  We send our energy and work out into the world and we don't know where it will lead.  Mine lead me here, to this place, on this beautiful July evening, surrounded by a small group of friends and interested readers, where I could actually sit in my own seat of life's purpose, the one I had created, and be completely present, reading passages about beautiful Piedmont and love from my novel, True Vines.

I felt balance. I felt kindness and good will. I felt love.

All of these wonderful feelings have culminated as a result of hard work and dedication, no doubt.  But there is also a presence of Spirit that leads us on when we do the hard work we know is right for us.  We're granted a fortuitous sense of peace when we're able to let our fear-driven egos take a back seat and  step into our soul-driven life purpose.  There are moments of  great solace and comfort that come from allowing our work to happen.

I want to share with you that in the last few weeks I have had the most heart-warming experiences through coaching.   Every single session has been such a pleasure and has given me more than I ever imagined.  I am talking to the most wise and brave people, ones who understand that they have a sense of purpose to fulfill.  I feel honored to support them and to open new channels of thought to allow energy to flow in a direction that will bring them further into their own purpose.

All of this, all of this wonderful goodness with which I have been blessed - our B&B, my books, coaching, mentoring, art - are a direct result of walking into risk by leaving a predetermined path and crafting an individual one.   I can promise you, it has not always been easy.  There are days when the push back is harsh and I wonder if I'll have the strength to get back up.  But easy isn't what this process is all about.  In reality, everything's easy at soul level. <- click to tweet  It's when our egos get involved, when fear and self doubt creep into the equation that it feels like a monstrous struggle just to move one tiny step.  We feel like we're walking in molasses.  But when we understand our purpose, and choose to walk in the direction that our souls know is right for us, the molasses melts into sweet water and we are free to swim in our own sense of meaning.

When I first wrote the book Your Truth back in 2012, it came from a deep rooted sense that we are all capable of assessing our own needs, wants and desires, manifesting change and coping with the related challenges of embracing risk.  I feel more strongly about this today than ever.

When we make our intentions clear, when we give ourselves over to those intentions, things will happen to move us, shift us and change us.  I know this to be true.  I have experienced it unrelentingly for the last ten years.  Some days it's been amazing.  Some days it's been hard graft.

But last Saturday evening, in Piazza Bollente in Acqui Terme, Italy, it was magic.  And I realized, for one small, serendipitous moment, that it was all for this.

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Photos © Chris Salvo, Salvo Photo (Thank you, Chris) 

from fear to creative explosion in one giant leap

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 Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure - Marianne Williamson

I've been thinking about  fear.  A lot.  When I get this on my mind, it's usually because something has triggered my own anxiety.  Does it matter what it is, the trigger?  Not really.  Suffice it to say I have triggers.  You have triggers.  And unless we are living in a bubble where nothing changes, we'll always have them.

That's the good news.

What?

Yeah. Because fear is the fuel of creativity, if you choose to use it that way. <- click to tweet

How can that be?

If there's something inside telling you to sit down and do nothing, then there's also something inside of you what knows it's absolutely essential to get up and moving.   If something's telling you to contract, then there's also something telling you to open your arms wide and move towards what you know to be your path.

We know we're powerful.  That's why we're fearful.  Fear is the yin to power's yang.  Once we have grappled with the essence of our fear and walked, step by step, in the direction of our power, we know what we have.

I swear, I've looked at fear from so many sides now, and when it comes to roost inside of me, I know as God is my witness that I need to move towards something big.

You want to know what fear looks like?

Fear looks like inertia.  Starting a big project that you always wanted to do and not bringing it to the point where it has a chance for success.  Pushing big rocks uphill is not always fun, or easy, but sometimes you reach the top and that baby flies down the other side, you know?

Fear looks like self-sabotage.Who me?  I couldn't do that. You do it.  I couldn't.   Yeah, you could.  Very much definitely.  You could.

Fear looks like jealousy.  Everyone else's life looking great right now?  Might want to look a little deeper into those feelings.

Fear looks like chaos. Don't take a look at my closet when anxiety hits.  Just don't. I don't know who gets in there and knots up all those leggings, but it must be my slightly agoraphobic alter ego trying to have a go with me.

Fear looks like every person who ever told you you couldn't do something.  All of those people.  You know what you need to do with them? Have a little fantasy, turn them into ants with funny faces, and put them in a jar.  With no holes in the lid.  Let them scream at you from in there until the oxygen runs out.  It won't make you a bad person.  It's just metaphoric.  You can still love them in real life.  Kind of. If you really want to.

See why fear means something big is happening?  Let me tell you what's happening when fear hits.  Something so big that it makes you want to become inert, not admit you can do it , get jealous because you know people who could do it.  It' something so big that it will turn your desk into a chaotic mess and make you believe  all those people who told you you couldn't.

It's that big, the thing you're moving towards.  It's big and it's shiny and it is going to require that you take responsibility for yourself and for it.

It's yours.

So cast of the fear, my love.  Cast of the doubt that you can't move into the flow.  Stop thinking  you're too tired or to busy or just not good enough.  You have the power of the Universe in that talented hand of yours.

Embrace it!

 

creative masterminds: where to start

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There's this notion out there that creative people pop onto the planet with a basic understanding of what they should create and how they should create it.

There's nothing further from the truth. Which is why it's so important to try many different things on your way to creative freedom and integrity.  Because until you go through the process of trying things on, you'll never know what's uniquely yours.  It also functions like a path;  one thing you try might not be right, but it could lead you to another thing, or a person doing another thing, and then you work  to find your way through to your own individual creativity.

I see this in every creative person out there.  People who are taking their own skill set and using it to create lives that are interesting.  To them.  Your creativity cannot be interesting to others if it's not first interesting to you.

By the time I moved moved to this old farm in Italy, I had been doing ceramics for several years but was not yet making the pots I knew I could.  I also didn't know how I wanted to decorate the guest rooms. We had so much to do;  restoring four massively dilapidated old structures and clearing hundreds of trees overwhelmed us.  For the first year and a half, I had nowhere to do creative work such as painting and ceramics. I had very little hope that I'd even get to the point of really being an artist again.  But what I did do is every time I saw a picture of a pot  or an interior I loved, I pasted it to the back of our barn door.  Pretty soon it became my first mood board.  I was being creative without being creative, and it gave me back my hope for the future when it seemed I would just drown in the work of surviving.

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my first mood board in Italy, pasted to the door of the barn.

I didn't yet know how to make these kind of pots, but I knew deep inside when a photo of one hit a nerve.  The same thing with interiors. I knew what hit me.  So I decided to use the period of "creative inactivity" when we were covered with plaster from head to toe to really thing about what the path would be like as we moved down it.  When I look at the photo of this mood board now, it's astounding to me how many of the pots are uncannily similar to what I make.  I was directing my own creativity here, and it worked for me like a charm.

You have to start somewhere, so start anywhere. The key is to start, and to keep moving into it.  Don't worry if you can't afford to invest money or time in a craft right now.  You just need to start the thinking process.  Take photos of your thing.  Read articles about your thing.  Try your thing out in some small way.  Keep moving your energy in the direction of your thing.  Make a mood board;  join Pinterest .  Learn something about what moves you.  Get addicted to your own personal brand of creativity.  <- click to tweet. 

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Get interested. 

Let the interest spark learning.

Let the learning spark action.

Let the action spark commitment. 

Let the commitment spark drive.

Let the drive spark creativity.

Let the creativity spark magic.  

It doesn't matter where you start; it only matters that you start. 

the miracle

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For you.

You who puts it out there the best you can, day after day.

 You who deals with the fall out, takes responsibility, wishes quietly for more hope .

You who smiles at moments of great weariness.

You who gets up, stretches, sighs, and does it again, day after day.

You who gives too much but can't seem to do it any other way.

You who listens and empathizes and doesn't judge.

You who would like, at the end of the day, just to be heard.  And accepted.  And loved.  Just the way you are.

You won't be broken.  Because you are a miracle.

 

There's one spot left for Di Mackey and my Your Beautiful Truth Retreat at the end of August... come and revel in your story. Di came to Piedmont this week and we had our pre-retreat summit, scheming and laughing, planning and dreaming - all for you.  We want to reveal to you what kind of miracle you really are.

 

 

 

creative release

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I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it  - Pablo PicassoI've been screaming inside.

For calm,  for a rock on the head,  for anything to move me out of a sense of superficial frantic activity coupled with spiritual and creative inertia.

I know something new is coming out of a sense of WE. 

It started two weeks ago with a 20 pound block of porcelain clay, a clay I never worked with.  I cleaned my studio and opened the sack - and started to work with it.  At first - frustration.  Turned to anger- almost tears. Because it was different than anything I ever did before with clay. And my ego was such that I thought I could work with porcelain without even thinking about it.  Ten pieces ended up on a blob on the middle of my work table before I really thought about what the problem was.  The problem was how I as approaching the process. I stopped - worked my way through the complexity of my own reaction. And started again.

"Have fun with it," I said to myself.  "Stop taking this so seriously."

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These pieces are different than anything I've ever made. I posted a couple of shots on Facebook and the reaction was immediate.  People reacted to these raw, just thrown forms straight from their emotional center.  That reaction broke loose something inside of me that made me want to create.  Sculpt. Write.  Bring my work to the next level - and share all of it with you.

Gather your thoughts.

Look at how you live. Your sense of self expands into all that you touch.  Loving that with which you are surrounded will expand your capacity to grow.  Your life is yours to curate and manifest.  The more you dream about what can be, the more you are able to call those dreams forth into your daily life and try new things that can bring you joy.  The Universe will put things in your path to help the trip. But you have to put in the work.  You have to try what you don't know, what you're not sure of.  You have to be willing to be bad at it before you get good at it, and bless the bad stuff as being a beautiful part of the process.

The Universe will give you a green light and let you walk across your own path.  

 

creative sustainability

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. - Albert Einstein

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The heart of creativity is not in its grand spurts of brilliance, but in the tenacity of its sustainability over time.

This is important because burn out happens.  And when it does, we need to remember that not doing anything for stretches of time is part of rejuvenating our creative center. Sometimes other things take precedence that have nothing to do with our creative lives.  Which is perfect.  Because the food for creativity is living, not producing.<- click to tweet.  Producing is what digests the creative food.  But if we don't occasionally step back into quiet, we'll become depleted.  So there's a balance to be found - a balance between creating and rejuvenating.

Our work becomes more meaningful, deeper, and more vulnerable if we let our lives' experiences infuse our creative tea.  The edges become softer.  Wisdom is present in the work.  Whether we're writing, potting, painting, teaching, or building, doing so from a place of peace and relaxation always beats forcing it during a period of depletion.  It took me years to learn this.  I thought creativity was about what I was producing, not about what I was living.  I am here to tell you this was a mistake. Our creativity comes from living.  It's what make our creativity sustainable.

This is nowhere more important than when we want our creativity to sustain us financially.  As creative entrepreneurs, we rely on the health of our bodies and souls to pay the bills.  This is an intricate balance of all that is good, and our work becomes our joy becomes our sustenance.   So it's very important to remember that being true to our craft means taking care of ourselves and our creative needs.

 

 

let go of suffering

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 What's making you suffer right now?

 

 

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Is it your situation?  Or is it your narrative?

Because your situation might be what it is because of the narrative you're telling yourself.  And that might be what's causing you to suffer.

Suffering, unless you have a serious or life threatening illness, is mostly self induced.  I know it hurts to hear this.  It hurts me particularly this week because I have been doing some pretty intense suffering of my own, but if I am completely honest here, I brought a lot of it on myself. Ok. No.  I brought it all on myself.  I have a million good excuses that I could roll out right here  and now for having put myself through some pretty tortuous mental gymnastics that have gotten me absolutely nowhere except sleepless.

But instead of beating myself up about it, I'm dissecting it - and turning it around. What if the situation that I was in was happening to my best friend instead of to me?  How would I react then? I know exactly what I would do.

I'd tell her that objectively speaking, her situation is just not that bad.  That there are a lot of people who would just love to be in her position, even though it's stressful right now.  And that she's got the strength and ability to change things up and make herself feel better.  That she's strong.  That she's got a lion's heart and that she is courageous.  Then I decided it's time to be my own best friend. Because those are the things I need to hear right now about myself.  That I have the power to change the things that are not working about my own situation.

This doesn't just work for me, by the way.  I'm not the only one holding on to things that hurt me.  What about you?  What can you let go of today that is going to help you change your narrative about your situation?

Let go of trying to be perfect.  You know this.  I don't have to repeat it.  Do I?

Let go of judging people.  Even the ones you think you know especially well.  Don't judge anyone.  Everyone has the chance to learn new things, to change and to grow and be different than how you perceive him or her to be.

Let go of thinking you can't change.  What you believed yesterday or ten years ago might not hold water any more.  Shed the ideas and notions you have that no longer work.

Let go of resisting. When resistance comes to visit, know that you feel it the most when you need it the least.

Let go of the past. The past counts, but not nearly as much as you think.  And it does not in any way predict what you're capable of in the future.

Let go of trying to be fabulous at the things you suck at.   <- click to tweet  If you blast through life riding the tide of your strengths, you will have a blast.  If you struggle through life trying to be masterfully good at things you don't like doing, you will suffer - and that is completely self induced suffering.  Don't like accounting?  Get an accountant. Let her explain what you need to know, and let her do her job.

Let go of telling yourself you don't need any help. 

Let go of believing that other people are making you miserable.    You can feel anything you want.  Just know that your feeling world is about you and not about anyone making you feel anything.  It can also be divorced from reality - feelings often are.  If you are feeling sad and anxious, it's very likely got more to do with your perception of your situation than the situation itself.

Let go of haters.  

Let go of the idea that past traumas keep us from moving forward.  Our stories effect who we are.  But the upshot of this is that these stories, however they happened to us and worked through us, are there to help us understand ourselves.  When something moves us, it's like a crack appears, and through that crack glows a warm light, and that light propels us forward into a new understanding. Let your past move you forward.  Your stories are your wisdom.

What do you want to let go of today that would make your life joyful?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the messy bomb

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Go ahead.  Stumble. 

I am talking about letting things get messy.  Well, you know, things do get messy, right?  As much as we like to believe that our story is a clean one, one that moves towards the light, step by step, until one day we wake up, fulfilled and balanced, we know deep inside that that's a crock.

Uh-uh.

I am a grand starter of projects.  Have an idea?  Call me.  I'll get excited about it for you.  I have an exuberant amount of creative energy.  It took me years, however, many of them, to turn starts into creations of any significance.  And what I found in that process was very interesting and kind of shocking.

I found a veritable minefield of messy bombs that I needed to step on so they could explode all over the place.

Writing True Vines, I was about half way through the first draft when I started to worry.  What would people think of the book?  Would someone actually want to publish it? What did I think of the book?  Would it be worth reading?  Would anybody buy it?  Would it be worth the money they paid?

Why in the world was I even bothering?  I wasn't a writer.  What made me think I could be a writer?  Who gave me permission?

Who in the hell did I think I was? 

The bomb I  stepped on made me crawl under the covers and cry or zombie out for weeks. I felt shattered by self doubt. Until I stopped and made the decision that I was going to write the book anyway.  I wasn't going to care if it sold, if a publisher wanted it, if anyone else gave a damn about it.  I was going to write it because it was important to me.  If nothing would come of it, I would somehow be ok in the knowledge  that just writing it was a worthwhile task. I stopped wallowing and I put my canoe back into the current.  But don't believe the wallowing was a bad thing!  It was necessary part of coming to the conclusion that the book would get written at all. The book that became published, that people are reading, that has brought me so much joy and assured me that I am indeed the writer I always felt I was inside. I didn't need anyone's permission or approval after all.

Getting the most out of life means allowing the mess.  Understanding that we are, in all our sum parts, quite messy, beautiful creatures, full of contradiction and pain, love and hurt, light and dark, who manage to still weave through and shift ourselves back into gear. 

We get to be shattered.  We get to be broken.  We get to be not ok.  And we get to understand that those are all parts of authenticity.

The mess has a point, and that point is passion. To get to the passionate part of our life's work, we have to open ourselves up to the fact that we are, in fact, capable of shooting ourselves in the foot in uncountable ways. It's the minefield, my friends.  But it's not the minefield that you have to cross gingerly, hoping not to disturb the peace. It's the minefield that you must trample on with a pair of clod hoppers.

Because if you go after your passions, the peace, my friends, will get disturbed.  You can count on it.

And you will emerge, maybe a little scarred, some mud stuck in your hair, with your chin set, your eyes clear and you will be saying to yourself, "There you have it.  I did it. And here I am .  Still alive."

More than alive.  You get to have yourself, really and truly.

Don't fear the messy bomb, people.  Don't fear it at all.  Because good things, very gorgeous miracles come from the your very special mess.

 

 

 

intrepid grace

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I've come back to beautiful Italy from a two week visit to the United States.

I had so many wonderful and deeply emotional moments on this trip; it was packed with loving and meaningful encounters.  I visited with people who had been through so much suffering and change.  I saw old friends and new ones, got to speak to people who came to hear me read from my book, and  talked for hours with loved ones.  It was a trip to savor and to reflect upon; so much of what I experienced confirmed that stepping in to love is the only thing to do.

So many of those I saw on this trip have been through journeys of illness, pain, anxiety and struggle, in situations that were or continue to be incomprehensibly sad and difficult.  In each of the interactions I had, I came away astounded by the human ability to demonstrate grace at the darkest moments.  I was filled with gratitude and respect for the human spirit in the face of seemingly impossible odds.  The grace seemed tenacious to me.  Gripping.

So I named it intrepid grace.  It's that thing that keeps us human when we are battered by inhumanity.  It's the grace that propels us forward, helps us focus, and lets us know at an existential level that all is truly well.

And to experience it in such a personal way was deeply moving.

Now back in Italy, we're only four weeks out from opening the B&B for the season. That might seem like a lot of time, but it's a flash, considering there's still snow on the ground in spots!   There will be major cleaning, planting and cooking taking place over the next month.   The yang of the season is calling, pulling me out of the retrospective winter into movement and activity.  I'll step into the flow, and see where it takes me.  Big change is in the air.  Just around the bend.  I can feel it.  I'll do my best to meet it with intrepid grace.

book signing one - diana