It’s day 3 of the new year and the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m feeling tired and not the least bit eager, wanting to show up here. I’m doing it anyways. In the same manner, I did #2 assignment for the 30-Day Positivity Challenge. It helps to have a plan and goals for the day/month. It’s my to-do list for difficult to navigate times. I’m up and down with the fluctuating temperatures. I’m temperamental and over sensitive to noise and clutter. Everything sounds loud and like fingernails on chalk board. Everything looks messy.

Perhaps it is a good day to do some clearing – of things and thoughts. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. I do not have to do super feats. I can do/write in what Anne Lamott calls ‘bird by bird‘ or in one minute picture frames. I like to use the log cabin quilt square as a reference. I built it log by log. It’s not intimidating at all when you look at it that way. Now I just have to put the 100 squares I built together, block by block to make a quilt. I am a person who cannot see/do the whole picture at once. If I try, I get overwhelmed and discouraged to make even a start.

I now have picked up and rid a few things off the dining room table. I have found homes for them. Next – to work on a question or two in Unravel My Year workbook. They are not easy. The answers don’t jump out of me. What surprised me in 2021? Hmmm, let me see. Nothing obvious at first, but I suppose the fact that I could plant tomatoes, scarlet runner beans and cucumbers in the greenhouse in early March was a feat. Some died but most lived to give us an abundance of food. I had a large harvest of pumpkins in the fall. I was surprised that I love them as a vegetable to stir fry, stew, curry and soup with, besides making them in pies, muffins and cookies. Trying new things bring the best surprises. I am surprised, too, that I am enjoying these cold months relaxing, not thinking of gardening at all.

Some surprises are subtle and startling at the same time. They are like blows because they come out of nowhere and yet they’ve been there all the time. It’s just me, not seeing how I don’t value myself in so many small and big ways. That is till one day I woke up and saw how I was abusing myself and therefore, allowing others to do the same. I never set any boundaries or made any demands of others how I want to be treated. I forfeited myself to please others. My waking up was the biggest surprise of 2021. I’m still reeling and sitting with it, digesting and feeling into how I will change with the knowledge.

It has started to blow and snow outside – a bit of winter wonderland when you’re not out in it. I am glad we had our ski this morning. That is another surprise. I am not at all athletic but I love the activity so much. Who would have thought? So even if you don’t think you like something and don’t feel like trying it out, do it anyways. You might get a very nice surprise.


Here I am on Day 3 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I am struggling already. I have to wisen up and listen to my body. I’ve been working it too hard lately with my daily ski and altering and sewing projects. My right hand is sore, numb and tingling at times. It’s probably from gripping the seam ripper too much. No more ripping and sewing heavy material for awhile. I can use one or two rest days a week from skiing. I will not rust from lack of activity.

I will keep going with the Ultimate Blog Challenge and the100dayproject. I really like Anne Lamott’s advice in her book Bird by Bird. It really is a manual for writing and life. When I get overwhelmed by any thing/project I think about her One-Inch Frame. I write/work within that frame until it is done, then I move to the next inch. I tap out a word/idea, sentence, paragraph. I’m building an idea/sentence/paragrah at a time. At the end I will have a blog post. If I write a few more posts, it could lead to a chapter. Chapters can add up to a book. I don’t have that aspiration. But who knows?

I work at my Log Cabin quilt squares the same way. Each square has 17 components. The project was actually started a few years ago. I had some 1 1/2 strips cut up but that was as far as I got. They’ve been patiently waiting for me all this time. I am not an experienced quilter but I have taken a beginner’s class a long time ago. I have lots of material and all the tools. The Log Cabin square begins by sewing two 1-inch squares together. They are 1 and 2 in the photo. Then I sew on 3. The strips are not cut to size except the first 2. I cut up two 1 1/2 inch lengths, allowing for 1/4inch hem allowances. Then I sew on 3 and cut off the excess length. Each seam is pressed before going on the next. There’s no rushing. Patience, Precision and Care. It settles my brain. It’s good for me.


It’s raining – the first of the year.  I’m grateful.  My garden is grateful – for this drink of life. It is cool – 4 degrees Celsius after last week’s blistering 32.  Tomorrow and the next night, the forecast for -1 and -2 respectively.  Nothing is predictable anymore.  Was anything ever? Have a look at what is happening in Fort McMurray, Alberta.  It is like a dream.  I am sure it is a nightmare for the residents fleeing their city as the fires rages.

I am philosophical, uncertain but happy and grateful this rainy, cool 10th of May.  I took a tour of my garden, securing the covers over the tender young tomatoes I planted 2 days ago.  I might have been too optimistic and foolish thinking that the temperature could not possibly dip below 0 anymore.  But what the hey?  Nothing ventured, nothing gained/learned.  I have a good feeling about my green thumb.  I feel like a winner at the moment.  I’m going with it.

IMG_5382I’ve doubted my feelings and myself for too long.  I’m making up by taking taking a giant big step forward. I’m being confident.  I’m being happy with myself as I am, no apologies.  It feels good.  There’s no time for putting myself on the back burner for others.  I’m moving closer and closer towards my own mortality every day.  If I don’t live for me now, when then?

Life is messy and wonderful.  That is what I take away from Anne Lamott.  In Bird by Bird she wrote,

Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived …Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation… Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.”

IMG_5373I am now wondering why I have been so taken with Marie Kondo and her The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I have been a clutter bug all my life.  I could learn to be a little neater but more would be trying to get a leopard to rid its spots or a zebra its stripes. What was I thinking?  There’s beauty and artistry in our clutter and messes.  After all, it is what our lives are made of.


I am tired of holding my breath, suspending my animation.  I am letting me out of the bag. So happy to have this rainy interlude to muse much about it all and savour life.


It’s day 7 of Kat McNally’s Reverb15.  Today’s prompt is:

In her seminal book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott offers the observation: “The evidence is in, and you are the verdict.”

Regardless of where you live in this crazy beautiful world, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s been a BIG year.

Today, I want to acknowledge that you are here and I am here and we are here.

We’re just… HERE.

That feels like a BIG DEAL.

And, that being said, I invite you to reflect on all that this evinces. What are you the verdict of?


IMG_5420So we’re all HERE, you and I.  It is a big deal.  I am a big deal.  Funny – I’ve never felt that before.  It’s a turning point, this awareness.  I’ve always been in the shadow of someone else bigger and better than myself.  I’m along like the ugly mean sister, homely friend, a brown sparrow companion to boost someone else’s ego.  Those are stories I tell myself.

Well, guess what?  I no longer want to be any of that!  I want to tell myself different stories. I want to bust out my cocoon and morph into this beautiful butterfly that I really am.  It has taken me this long to wake up. I am the witness and the verdict of this stage in life. I can be a big deal.  Never say never.  Never say it’s impossible.  Never say you can’t change.  Never say miracles can’t happen.  Things can ALWAYS happen.  Treasure this life.  It’s fragile and beautiful.

IMG_1628I am a great admirer of Anne Lamott.  Bird by Bird has great instructions on writing and life. I’m heeding her advice of writing/living in a one-inch picture frame, within the range of how far I can see in a car’s headlights driving at night.  I’m guessing that means be in the present moment.  I am living and writing in the light though I’m surrounded by darkness.  I am writing myself out of the darkness.


IMG_3420October over, November beginning – a death and a birth.  I am a little disjointed, somewhat off course.  How to feel?  What to do with this new month?  I am not as blue as I can be, but bluish nonetheless on this grey wet day of November.

I was buoyed by the colours of October, held up by the Mindness Summit.  I had something to look forward to each morning – having tea with Melli O’Brien and her guest. What wisdom would they bring me that day? What a month it had been!  What a wonderful array of speakers.  And what a heart warming ending with Jon Kabat-Zinn.

IMG_2969October and the summit are over.  Now it is time for me to walk the path on my own.  It is not enough to have the knowledge. I have to live it – moment by moment, just as it is. It is much like the advice that Anne Lamott has on writing:  Write down as much as you can see through a one-inch picture frame. Then move to another one-inch frame.  I will have to read her book, Bird by Bird again.  It has many wise instructions on writing and life.

This first day of November is a pause, to rest into the quiet, to ready for a new month of challenges.  What will come up?  Time will tell.  I can only see in today’s picture frame. It is enough.





IMG_0515Once upon a time, not so long ago,I aspired to be Wonder Woman with her golden tiara, bracelets and lasso.   I even doodled her on my iPhone app.  I was going to make a poster of it and hang it in my office.  It would inspire me to fly through the air, scale walls and rescue guys in distress.  Have no fear, Wonder Woman is here! would be my chant.

That enchantment has faded and I have come to my senses. There are better models for me to emulate and they don’t look like Linda Carter.  They’re more beautiful.  They’re strong and real.  They’re vulnerable with no protective suits.  I am speaking of Anne Lamott, who wrote the little book on writing and life, Bird by Bird. She speaks of life in all its rawness and beauty. Her language is real and offers no apologies.  I don’t know how many comments she received on her last post, but there was 53,000+ shares. She resonates with many besides me.

Am I gushing?  I do love her.  I learn to write in that one square inch of hers.  That’s how you make a start.  Write as far as you can see ahead of you.  That is all.  You will get there to the end.  Our stories are important.  My story is important – to me.  My super power is to tell it, starting within the one inch frame, going to the end.  This is for #aprillove2015. It’s not super but it is part of my story.


I’m feeling the pain more than the gain.  Perhaps that’s how it is at first.  I’m exercising my stay-with-it muscle.  I’m taking my writing seriously for the first time.  First I take the writing.  Then I will tackle the art.  Who knows how far I can go.  If I don’t succeed, try and try again.  I am full of clichés this morning.

Image from google.ca
Image from google.ca

Perhaps I should not try to be so clever.  I feel I’m blocking myself in already.  It’s a good thing my own copy of Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and  Life” is on the way from Amazon.  I need help on both.

Her voice is one that you can’t help but hear.  It is an excellent reference and such a pleasure to read.  I tell everyone who is interested in writing about it.  I talk about Anne Lamott and her writing alot.

She came to mind again yesterday when I was digging through my cedar chests, looking for a cross-stitch of teddy bears I had done many years ago.  I found everything, mostly unfinished projects, except that.  Among the stuff these squares showed up:

They almost ended up in the trash.  I did throw out the little cutout pieces, thinking I will never have the time or patience to work on them again.  I had to rescue them when I opened these folded squares of cloth.  Their beauty took my breath away.  It was as if I’ve found parts of myself that I had misplaced.

Lamott is right.  There’s treasures hidden among our mess and clutter.  Use it and whatever angst that’s gnawing your butt.  They are fodder to fuel our creative souls.  If you’re lonely and have worries, don’t run away from those feelings.  Use them.  You could have written a song like Downtown.

Or penned a poem like Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it love
Tell me about your despair and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Who knows?  You could have – if you pick up that pen and start.  So go ahead, start.

Someone is calling me about breakfast and something about not enough clean plates.  He is supportive in my writing endeavours.  I have warned him that I might be a little distracted and absent minded in the next while. Sometimes the sandwiches will not have lettuce.  You have to tell the person you’re living with what you are planning and what to expect.

Today is a better day.  There will be spagetti with fresh homemade tomatoe meat sauce – a break and a reward for days of plain old sandwiches without lettuce.  But first Sheba needs her walk.


Life is like a song, like Simon and Garfunkel’s The Dangling Conversation.

“It’s a still life water color,
Of a now late afternoon,
As the sun shines through the curtained lace
And shadows wash the room.”

IMG_3153I sit under cover on the deck and watch the clouds move over the sky.  The thunder roll in.  Darkness washes over me and beyond.  The raindrops fall pitter patter on the roof, running down the pipe and drip drops into the tub below.  I am cocooned in the moment.  I sit and drink my tea, thinking of nothing, suspended from the ‘borders of our  lives’.

I have been reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.  I have been trying to write and live by one-inch frame after one-inch frame.  It is slow going, I tell you.  But where is the fire?  I am RETIRED after all.   I have all the time to dangle my feet, drink my tea, sip my wine and sigh and sigh.

I try not to let wrong tenses, misplaced commas, periods and dangling participles set me on edge.  However, that neighbour of mine has managed to irk me time after time.  I find myself clenching my jaw and grinding the teeth.  But I have not yelled.  I am doing well.

Perhaps it is I who is mentally ill.  It is all a matter of perspective, you know.  I am so glad for Anne Lamott who says that most of her friends are walking personality disorders.  Isn’t that a wonderful line?  It gives me hope that I am alright and maybe interesting.  I have been called eccentric before.

“Yes, we speak of things that matter,
With words that must be said,
“Can analysis be worthwhile?”
“Is the theater really dead?”

IMG_6763It is hard to speak of things that matter.  I am still embarrassed by my own passion, afraid people will laugh at my seriousness.  I am afraid to succeed so I try to fail.  I am no passion flower but a bud about to drop.  I am a dangling prepostion, a participle or whatever you want me to be.

The conversation is coming to an end.  My words are slowing down. I love the tap, tap of the keys as I slowly sip my wine.  I am slow to learn my lessons but I am using more care.  Time is passing, the minutes and seconds are ticking with each tap of my keyboard.  I bid you farewell till our next conversation.

“And how the room is softly faded
And I only kiss your shadow,
I cannot feel your hand,
You’re a stranger now unto me
Lost in the dangling conversation.
And the superficial sighs,
In the borders of our lives.”


The day is in glorious warmth and sunshine.  A fresh breeze is coming in from my window.  The air is alive with children’s voices and laughter from the daycare one house removed.

We are back from our morning bike ride, the three of us – the man on his recumbent trike, me on my upright trike and Sheba on foot.  I have a couple of shots of us before we headed out.

It was a little harder managing my iPhone, bike and dog while in motion.  It was a little tricky as you can tell by these shots.  One handed Annie was not good with her aim!


We are back and I am tapping away on my keyboard in the midst of my usual clutter and mess.  I have been reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.  I like what she says of clutter.

“But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived.  Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground – you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip.  Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it’s going to get.  Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.”

Yesterday I had looked under some of my piles, cleaned a few things up.  I found a couple of treasures.  I held them in my hands and could not edit them out – yet.  I filed them for the time being.  It’s hard to erase myself.

I’m fixing things bit by bit.  I am getting a grip.  My feet are firmly on the ground, though my mind wanders from time to time.  There’s always things to work on – piles to clear, words to write, stitches to ply, love to be had, God to thank…