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The Joy Journey, My 2016 Word and A Giveaway!


I hope you’ve had the blessing of spending the holidays and the New Year surrounded by friends and family; in the space where life begins and love never ever ends.

You might have read about my belief in the power of one tiny little word* and the practice of inviting it into your life over the span of a year.  Just one word.  As I type about it now it sounds like a slothy way to spend a year.

I honored my first word in 2010 and I still have a sweet spot for that year (breathe).  The truth is, these are the only resolutions I have ever kept.    Here is the line-up: breathe, capture, create, shine, intention and in 2015, joy was my guiding light.

I don’t know how a simple word can manifest its way into one’s life; but I wholeheartedly believe in the power of this practice.

Did you select one little word* for 2016 and invite it along for this trip around the sun?


I wrote about joy last January and it is funny to return to where my heart was 367 days ago.  I defined mantras to propel my 2015 word.

Find Joy in the Ordinary


Unleash Joy

Choose Joy

Create Joy

Jump for Joy

jump for joy

I worked hard on the joy jump.

ordinary creative joy jump

But the real gifts weren’t as a result of the mantra list.  Joy unveiled itself in ordinary moments and soulful encounters with people.  I never imagined I would meet new people named Joy in 2015!  Last February, while freezing on a cold Manhattan street I struck up a random conversation with someone from New Jersey.  We were shivering and patiently awaiting Kelly & Michael to let us into their studio.  About 15 minutes into our conversation, she gave me 4 hand warmers.  In that moment I finally asked her name to properly thank her.  Joy!  And, don’t get me started on Joy, the dental assistant who cured my fear of the dentist in 2015.  Of course all the impactful people in my life this year weren’t literally named Joy, but they were definitely joy conduits offering priceless gifts of kindness, wisdom and new perspectives.

Several theme songs emerged during the year.  Garden, by NEEDTOBREATHE, offers the best lyrics for introducing the second interesting outcome on the joy journey of 2015.

Let the songs I sing
Bring joy to you
Let the words I say profess my love
Let the notes I choose
Be your favorite tune
Father, let my heart be after you.

Stone’s Under Rushing Waters, lyrics by Bo Rinehart and Bear Rinehart

I finally started to intentionally dive into His Word and the lessons on joy are profound.  Particularly in sustaining joy in the midst of fear, disappointment, trauma, worry and the natural ebb and flow of everyday life.  I struggled to carry “joy” alongside enormous worry as friends suffered unbelievable health challenges this year.  Exploring this topic (joy) inside the Bible was powerful.

It seems sometimes joy is perceived as being trite.  And that the more miserable we are, the more profound (or artistic) we must be.  I am learning that for those who put their trust in God, they are filled with joy. Even in the eye of the storm.

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” – John 15:11

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.” – Psalm 27:5-7 (NIV)

ordinary creative joy transfer to wood

The first step in this transfer project was printing my message using the mirror or reverse setting on my inkjet printer.  Once printed, I flipped the image and attached it to a clean piece of old wood.  I added a light application of water over each letter using a small paint brush.  The trick is you don’t want to make your paper very wet or the ink will just spread or the paper will disintegrate. A thin layer of water enables the ink to release from the paper.  The goal is to transfer or burnish the ink to the wood.  I had to fill in a few letters that didn’t transfer well with very diluted paint.

A Bella Grace Giveaway!

Please share your 2016 word in the comments.

Or, if not a word, your favorite resolution or your dreams for 2016. Or your theme song!  Comment away please because for the first time… I am hosting a giveaway!

Everyone who comments will be entered to win a Bella Grace magazine!  I am giving away two copies of the winter issue (two winners)! Humbly honored to be featured on page 42!  Bella Grace overflows with joy and I believe it is the most creative magazine available today.  I promise you will want to step inside its pages and stay awhile.

Bella Grace, Issue 6

Without further ado…my 2016 word!


*I discovered the one little word project via Ali Edward’s blog.

Finding Joy: DIY Easter Eggs


Here we are 25% into 2015: the year in which I named joy as my companion for this trip around the sun.  The challenge so far has been connecting these three simple letters and reconciling how to honor life with a joyful heart… when some terrible situations have unfurled themselves into the lives of people I adore.

My heart and soul have been out of orbit, endlessly spinning to solve the equation of how joy and sorrow can sit on the same shelf?  It seems as soon as happiness “wins” something goes awry reminding me that worry and sadness lurk in the cracks.  It is an unapologetic and relentless twist; perhaps demonstrating the endless intertwined connection of light and dark.  No wonder a new word (to me) has been popping up in recent weeks: conflate.

CONFLATE. transitive verb. 1. a: to bring together : fuse.  2: to combine (two) into a composite whole.

The last book I read was Anne Lamott’s Handbook on Meaning, Hope & Repair, cleverly named Stitches.  It’s message is rooted in recapturing joy after loss and locating our authentic identities in chaos by “collecting the ripped shreds of our emotional and spiritual fabric and sewing them back together, one stitch at a time.”


Tonight I connected with the teens over a couple dozen eggs, acrylic paint, Tim Holtz pressure-sensitive transfer words and other embellishments.  I fell in love with the ease of using these eggs (a Walmart find: empty white egg shells apparently manufactured for crafty purposes).  We applied paint (diluted with water) with sponge brushes.  Once dry we added the Tim Holtz words creating intention eggs!

IMG_8225 IMG_8218

I also experimented by applying tissue paper to the eggs using Mod Podge.  I quickly learned that small strips of tissue paper worked best.
IMG_8302Inspired by the color of Kate Spade’s products, we attempted a Kate Spade twist!
IMG_8321 IMG_8329 IMG_8339
 “Life is such a miracle, a series of small miracles. It really is, if you learn how to look at it with the right perspective.”― James Patterson, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

I hope you find layers of joy in the ordinary miracles this Easter weekend.

My One Little Word: 2015

IMG_5079Hope you are stepping into the New Year with a joyful heart.  Perhaps you read my last post about the one little word initiative as an alternative to resolutions.

I was feeling some pressure to find my word since the calendar flipped.  A friend suggested I simply select “be.”   Excellent idea, but I am feeling more bee.  I also felt like it was within my reach, but each time I leaned in to grasp it, the word slipped away.  Elusive, little pesky string of letters that it is.  For the record, it is not hen.  Perhaps that emerged as you looked at the photo above.  Although a year dedicated to building a coop and raising chickens is appealing.

IMG_5046 I considered my one little word as the clever, yet confusing… word.  You know… more writing and studying His word (the Bible).  But I hit the pause button on that; along with the suggested “be”.  Someday.

IMG_5072 Then, with little fanfare and while totally preoccupied in the middle of a restaurant, I tuned into a song playing via the speaker above my table.  Of course, my word was delivered on the silver platter of a song!  It had been making appearances everywhere, but it wasn’t until I heard it, that I claimed it.  Riding on those lyrics, I knew it as sure as the sun will rise.

IMG_5060The contemplating ended in that moment.


IMG_4967Did you discover your word!? I am sitting here patiently waiting to hear from you!!!

Please share your word in the comments.  I would love, love, love to hear from you.

Without further ado…my 2015 word!

IMG_5107It is already propelling these mantras!

Unleash your Joy

Choose Joy

Scatter Joy

Jump for Joy

Find Joy in the Ordinary

 IMG_5334In case you are wondering about the song that sealed the deal, it was “Overjoyed” by Matchbox Twenty.

* Spillover II was created by one of the most talented public artists, Jaume Plensa, best known for his interactive “Crown Fountain” in Chicago’s Millennium Park.  Spillover II is 8-foot-tall and was created entirely with stainless steel letters.  It sits overlooking Lake Michigan in Shorewood, Wisconsin.  I shot these photos on 1.1.2015.

– – –

After claiming my word, I found joy in a bag of caramel popcorn and as the lone visitor to the “Crown Fountain.”


I hope you join me on the one little word journey (full credit to Ali Edwards who pioneered the idea!).

Happy, Joyful

New Year! 


Living with Intention

intention quote ordinary creativeToday’s all about reflecting on 2014 and being grateful for its blessings.  Did you select one little word* for 2014 and invite it along for this trip around the sun?  I rambled about my word back in a first quarter review so I intend to keep this brief today.  Click here to hop to the review!  Or, click here to read a love letter to my 2012 word (create).  For the record, I still have a sweet spot for my 2010 word (breathe).  I don’t know how a simple word can manifest its way into one’s life; but I wholeheartedly believe in the power of this practice.

IMG_0305My mind often runs like a track athlete (it runs in circles).  It leap-frogs across a pond of chaos and floods with ideas.  Determining which ideas to plant and cultivate is a regular dilemma.  Which is why the word intention kept raising its hand during the fall of 2013 with a bossy “pick me” attitude.   Let’s just say intention proved to be a soul-stretch.

It lead to manifesting some awesome outcomes but that was balanced by desperate fails.  Ardent dreaming and futile tears.  Cups of truth and shameful lies… all equating to 365 days of living the human paradox.  Intention was not my constant companion like prior words.  This little word will require more than a year of devotion. But it is like that Foy Vance song… it is now my Guiding Light.

intention memo word of the year

I have been fishing for my 2015 word.  Has your word surfaced?  While brainstorming with my daughters I teased them that I might select P L A Y.  As in… more theater and more fun.

Other words up for consideration include adore, bloom, carpe diem, develop, emerge, faith, joy, nature, nurture, nourish, quest, sacred, thrive, trust, wonder and well, the list goes on.  I am leaning toward carpe diem simply because it seems like two for the price of one.  I can’t wait to hear about your 2014 journey and plans for 2015 and of course your word!  I will unveil mine as soon as I sign the contract.

Sending you blessings and j o y for the next 365 days.  Catch you on the calendar’s flip side…

light a light lyrics—-

*The one little word project originated from Ali Edwards, scrapbook designer and life artist.  She will be kicking off another year of her One Little Word offerings.  Pop over to her blog for brilliant tips.

A beautiful version of “Light a Light” available via this link.

One Little Word: First Quarter Check Up

ramtha quote divine right
Well here we are… 25% into 2014.  Time seems to move like the fast forward button on an old cassette player.  Remember when music lived on tapes?  Or perhaps you are too young?!!  Oh, how I loved making mix tapes and then mix cds.
mix tape photo
“Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they add up to the story of life.”
― Rob Sheffield, Love is a Mix Tape
Now that the curtain has closed on the first quarter, how is your year unfolding?  Did you select your word of the year and how are you honoring it?  My word of 2014 is…
I am trying to live with intention and deeper purpose.  Some questions about my intentions still lead to deer-in-the-headlights silence.
Try, rinse, repeat.

Maybe I would have found my divine purpose if I hadn’t spent so much of the first quarter watching Downton Abbey.  One can only speculate.  Do you love the show?  If so, take this quiz to see which character represents you.  Click here.

One thing I am learning is to trust more of what makes my heart happy.  It is like a sign that I am skipping along on the right path.  I tell my teen daughters that God placed a dream in their heart and gifted them with special talents that they are uniquely here to give.  Finding where their dreams and their “calling” collide is the magic of life.  And, yet here I am still fine-tuning my own path.
I almost found my purpose last week during a series of house mishaps that began with the beep of the septic system alarm.  It was followed by an unrelated furnace crisis and ended with a tiny flood in our utility room that required a plumber’s repair.  While the septic expert was here, he diagnosed the plumbing issue.  Later I carefully explained the problem to my hired plumbers, who told me (for real) that I would make an awesome plumber.  It was a Seinfeld moment.
 I did honor my word in a couple ways.
Let’s Be Still:  I officially realized that my current purpose will not magically reveal itself with all the monkey chatter in my mind. It is a dead-end path.  To counteract, I created more space for yoga.  I also listen to the Head and the Heart song, Let’s be Still constantly.  That counts, right?  Tune into the song here.
Living Creatively:  I read a tweet by artist Brian Andreas recently where he said something like… Make a lot of things and then give them away.  It is the path to creative improvement.  I can’t find his precise and clever tweet, but I carry the message.  I have been creating and gifting with purpose.  Sometimes anonymously.
creating + giving = happiness
Isn’t the season of spring the perfect time to begin anew?
live with intention quote
I hope that you are already there.
I hope that you are living in the happiness zone:
confident, thriving, giving and living in the moment.
I will leave you today with a song, dedicated to YOU and your dreams.
Recorded by:  Keane
Written by: Writer(s): Timothy James Rice-Oxley, Tom Chaplin, Richard David Hughes
It’s time to make a start
To get to know your heart
Time to show your face, time to take your place
In every speck of dust
In every universe,
When you feel most alone, you will not be alone
Just shine a light on me, shine a light
I’ll shine a light on you, shine a light
And you will see my shadow on every wall
And you will see my footprint on every floor
‘Cause when your back’s against the wall
That’s when you show no fear at all
And when you’re running out of time
That’s when you hitch your star to mine
intention quote
I would love to hear your update!
Keep calm and dream on.

Creative… with Poetry

maya quote writing

Do you know writers who can pour their words directly into your soul?  As if they actually turn the proverbial light on. Or perhaps they bring you to the brink of tears or ledge of laughter?  Writers whose words weave into a story, poem, lyric or simple “aha” sentence that comes out of nowhere but leaves an imprint?

The list of rock star writers whom I admire is likely a mile long. Holding the current number one spot is Anne Lamott.  I am on chapter three of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.  Have you read this brilliant gem of a book?  Here’s is a peak inside via a direct quote.

“E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”  – Anne Lamott

My current blog idol is Shannan, the author of Flower Patch Farmgirl.  Here is a teaspoon sampler of her magical way with words:

The beauty is that God can turn us right around at a moment’s notice. He can shove us out of our Anthro daydreams, beyond our decorating magazine pipe dreams, and push us into the glare of everything else, everything that we were always too busy to notice before. He can make our hearts break a million times in a million ways. And he can do it all without you or me.  He’ll light a spark of willingness in my spirit and tune my strings to the keys of brokenness and grace.”  Interested in more?  Pop over to her blog!

John Legend stopped me in my tracks today with these lyrics.

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning.

– John Legend, All of Me

And don’t get me started on my admiration for John Green.


I enrolled in a writing exercise workshop through Red Oak Writing with the brilliant Kim Suhr, Red Oak’s director.  I finally made the connection that just as training for a marathon requires miles and miles in my running shoes, so to the more you write, the more focused your writing becomes.  And let’s be honest, I could use some focus.  See how my word of the year influences action?  If I aspire to write with intention and string together anything of value, I need to write (a lot).  The class meets in the serene setting of the Delafield Art Center.  If you live in Southeast Wisconsin, check out the offerings of Red Oak.  They have helped thousands of writers find their voice through classes, workshops and roundtables.  I am a work in progress.


I refer to poetry as the Mt. Everest of writing.  Magnificent but elusive.  In a recent Red Oak session, our instructor cleverly asked us to write a few sentences.  Then we linked them together to create a Pantoum poem.

Familiar with Pantoum?

Brought to the West in the 19th century by Victor Hugo, Pantoum is derived from a much older Malaysian form of folk poem, built by interweaving repeating lines. It circles around a memory to tease out implications and meanings.  This gentle back-and-forth motion gives the effect of a series of small waves lapping on a beach, each advancing a bit farther up the sand until the tide turns and the pantoum wraps back around itself.  -Source, Wikipedia

The Pantoum Poem Recipe

Stanza 1: A B C D

Stanza 2: B E D F

Stanza 3: E G F H

Stanza 4: G C H J


Here is my first attempt creating a phantom poem.

The Tunnel to Grace

pantoum poem

Did you know April 24, 2014 is designated as Poem in Your Pocket Day?   I celebrated the holiday back in 2012. Click here to see my running poem if interested.  Or don’t.  Yeah, probably don’t.

“Start writing, no matter what.  

The water does not flow,

until the faucet is turned on.”

– Louis  L’Amour

Foto Friday Magic Trick: Image Transfer


Today I am attempting a new photo transfer technique!  An imperfect science that can yield magical results…

A sample…


What is image transfer?

It’s a process of taking a printed photo (laser, inkjet or photocopy) and adhering it to a new surface with the wave of your enchanted brush (and gel medium).

Why not just put a photo in a frame, you ask?

Good question.

If your brain is wired for DIY, this is simply a great technique.  Just trust me.

My goal?  Embellish a few candles with some history.  I transferred photocopies of old family photos onto linen fabric.  I included links to prior posts with other transfer techniques (to wood and tile) at the end of this post.  Keep in mind that the transfer occurs in reverse so if your photo includes words, print or copy your photo in mirror or reverse mode.

The science…

The transfer process requires an application of a thin layer of gel medium (or Mod Podge).  I used Golden’s Matte Medium today and brushed it over the images to be transferred.   After a complete dry cycle (overnight is best), the paper backing of the image is sprinkled water and the paper’s pulp is removed.  What remains is a somewhat translucent image embedded on your chosen surface.

The process…

  1. Apply the gel to the surface receiving the image (the linen fabric, tile, wood or whatever surface you want your image to adhere to) then place the image face down.  I used a credit card to firmly attach the image upside down on the fabric. Then you walk away and watch a movie.  An overnight wait is best to allow it to dry thoroughly.


    One drying on fabric, one on a tiny tile…

  2. Once its dry, dampen the paper!  Ironic, huh?  Let it dry overnight only to spray it with water!  Allow the water to soak for a minute to absorb the paper’s pulp.
  3. Begin rubbing carefully to remove the paper’s pulp while leaving the image intact.  The trick is not removing key elements of your photo!  You will probably have to dampen the paper a few times, removing more pulp before you arrive at a clean transfer.  When the water evaporates, you will be able to see the areas that you missed.  This step looks something like this (the magical part).IMG_8983IMG_8991
  4. Next I trimmed the fabric and attached the resulting fabric photo to my candles.

IMG_1646 IMG_1632 IMG_1639

Links to past posts on this transfer trick: