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You Get What You Give

This past year,when I’m creatively stuck, and need to feel the gratitude of the gift of the greater than me world, I’ve gone to the craft room and made cards to give away. I started this movement last Fall. This year, people’s gift exchanges put me in the gifting mode. I’d ask people to give me their addresses and I’d then send something hand-made, maybe a few trinkets or stickers or candy or decorations I have around.

A delivery of thoughtfulness puts your brain out into the larger world to appreciate. This practice is so healing to me because it’s being selfless and it seems to be the best excuse for me to create. And lastly, not that I really counted on this, but it’s turning the love around which is being delivered back to me. Friendship is the most precious gift ever and I am a lucky wealthy woman this month and this year.

A really sweet card from a friendship I gained through last years faraway friends card send out surprised me with one with such an affirming message inside about why we get along . That about made my month Homemeade card from Shannon on Shalavee.com

Then there was a hand-made card made especially for me back from a new friend from Instagram.

Package from Christel on Shalavee.com

And a package of goodies from Germany from yet another new friend, including her artwork cards, who had given me such a gift some time ago just by telling me my voice of my creative journey inspired her. Christel really was the first person who’d put their finger on my continued “why” in blogging. Because being me gives me hope. And hope and friendship and kindness are really what matter to me. I sent her this array of goodies and almost thought it got lost in the mail.Chris's presie on Shalavee.com

And this was the fabulous post I was then rewarded with.

“YEAH, your sweet package arrived today @shalaghhogan! Thank you so much for your kind words on your beautifully handmade butterfly card. I loved all the nice details while unwrapping all your lovely gifts: a handmade garland, candies, and a toy car and those glittering robots (Nico loves them!)… You made our day! So good to have (understanding) IG-Friends For those who do not know: @shalaghhogan read about this idea to send a surprise letter/package to 5 friends just to spread joy and maybe to receive joy again.”

I now have a friend named Chris who lives in Munich. How lucky ? And she has a friend who lives in Maryland. How lucky are we ?

At first, as I watched all the love between everyone back and forth on Instagram, I felt left out. And then I realized that we often have to invite ourselves to the party we want to join. And then, when I began to feel a part of it because I had joined in the gratitudinal giving, I enjoyed watching the posts and the hopeful notes and thankfulness that the giving was giving back. Weird how that works but it just does.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter orPinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

A Letter To a Friend

I am extraordinarily lucky to have made connections with so many talented passionate smart women online. And the camaraderie and supportiveness sorta blows your mind. Until you step into it and become as much of a part of it as it is becoming a part of you. Remember my Tend and Befriend post? We do this naturally and it helps us immensely with our mental health. I’m living proof of that.

So there was a young gal who I adore who asked for some support. That is something I like to do but it’s also something that everyone gives whether asked or not. So in this situation I said that I had some thoughts on the subject and if she’d like them, I’d be glad to hand them over. And she did so I did. Here they are. Chessie and Crackers on the stairs on Shalavee.com

Hello Dear Friend,

Creatives like us know creatives like us. We’d ignore our own needs and obvious thoughts but we recognize familiar thoughts in others. And you had put out a post that contained a shotgun blast of worry. And there was something so “I know” about what you said but with so much advice and support flying back at you, I didn’t want to add to the chaos. But I think it may be good for me to hear what I have to say, own my own ways, and smooth out the path to help move through it.

I make things really hard. Often. I add more tasks and more limitations and rules and parameters that everything gets really hard suddenly. My word of the past month was Ease. Because that’s the opposite of hard. As in, I pile lots of deadlines and expectations and perfections up high until something’s bound to tumble off and then make me feel crappy.

I felt your worry about being out of school and what’s next. The ‘have to knows’ and the ‘yes buts’ and the ‘what ifs’ and the necessities of your specific expected existence all came crashing out of your brain and collapsed all the joy you may have had in your heart. Boom. And it felt familiar. Parameters and constraints. You are a vegetarian but haven’t the resources to do that well. And you need to make so much money but don’t know how. The job must be this but not that and here but not there. And I know I’ve done this too.

The poo sandwich keeps getting bigger and you feel helpless and no wonder. The enormous monstrosity that is perfectionism and fear will slam you to your knees and leave you without hope or talent or strength. I’ve done this all of my life. I’d like to disembark from the worry hurry train please. I want to get off at the stop marked Faith and Winging It. Shove past the musts and step down onto the platform of the peaceful station of Right Now. Do your best and let go of the rest. Because stuff changes so quickly and all you have to really rely on is the fact that you’ve done all this before and it always works out. You always come up with resources and leads and places to live and things to eat. Always.

I hope you are well and have had something break since that post. And I hope you find something helpful in this letter as I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to write it. It very well may become a blog post. And hey, congratulations on starting that blog back up. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as I have had to hone my craft continuously because of it. If only I could type.

Love to you,

Shalagh

Chessie and Crackers on the stairs on Shalavee.com

If there’s something you want to talk about, feel free to write me here in the comments or find me on any of the social media outlets. Every lovin’ one of them has private direct messaging capabilities at this point.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me and like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Jane Said

We “met” during an online blogging course given by Holly Becker of Decor8.  I think I have a sixth sense for fellow Virgos and her familiar passion for creating, cooking, and mothering felt like home. Mostly, she’s honest and sweet and I am always excited to see what the next step she’s taking with her blog. Because she’s fearless and very impressive.

Meet Jane Gilheaney Barry, blogger and creator at That Curious Love of Green and Momma living in County Leitrim in North West Ireland. I am always impressed and inspired by her. For her tenacity to write a book in the wee hours of a winter with little ones in the house. And to pick up painting and driving within the same year. We are both proud late bloomers and have embraced so many of the same growth and creative concepts within the same time period.  We both had no idea what blogging would gift to us. One of those gifts was connections with other bloggers around the world. Back when I was pregnant, we even Skyped once without sound. She was charming as heck in that long distance live silent movie moment. As her then 2-year-old fished into her purse she typed, “oh was that my new lipstick. Oh well.” But that I could have heard that fabulous accent too.

Peruse her site and you’ll find her very honest and open. From her journey of creative self-discovery to her love of cooking, country, family, and farming, she’s a delight to know, or stalk. And her pictures of her beautiful daughters and house are candid and charming too.

Recently, in this post she wrote called Even More Books,  Jane responded to a comment by a woman named Melissa with the kindest most enthusiastic and truthful response to a stranger that I was moved to share this on my blog. This is what we do as human beings, lift one another up with our experiences. I may not see what I do for others but I saw this and felt lucky to have done so.

Dear Melissa,

I’m what you might call ‘truly artistic’ and it took me 39 years to really get started. I’d say I was the same as you, writing and drawing as a child and so on. I truly believe everyone is creative and some uber so. From what you describe you’re in the ‘uber’ camp, no doubt in my mind. For years the most creative thing I did was cooking too, and before that dressing, the days when I had a bit of cash. And all times I felt these things you feel and I knew I wanted to write, to paint but I just did not know HOW to do it.
That idea, ‘if you are creative you will create no matter what,’ is not as clear-cut as it seems. In one sense you already ‘are’ creating no matter what, the cooking, the searching, in your ideas and the way you think I’ll bet. But it’s not enough and you know that, like I knew that. My problem was I had no frame of reference for these things. I just did not know HOW to write or paint, where to start.
My best decision was starting the blog, that leap was the trigger I needed. Once I began I felt I had to blog at least once a week. I wondered what I’d ever find to write about but quickly found once I sat down the words came!

Then the terror of sharing, of putting myself out there, being vulnerable, oh the fear! But then that got easier. Then I noticed a style start to emerge, who knew! Each new discovery, each step took me further, to wider reading on the subject, to greater immersion in art in general, the list goes on.Jane in her library on the curious love of green from shalavee.com

Then the big one, the idea for the book and I knew now to trust it, to just go where it lead. When I started, terror! I froze, the seeming impossiblity, the sheer scale of it. Melissa, I forced myself. A strict rule of, at first 300 words a day, eventually up to 1000, in other words commitment, work. Then, the magic really started. I won’t go into it here as this is already so long I’ll just say as I’ve said here many times before, that writing the novel, trusting that process was what made me brave enough to start painting with the month-long daily PUBLIC challenge. The difference was this time I knew what to do, just start, commit, keep going. I refused to miss even one single day and the experience was out of this world, life changing.
Now I’ve definitely gone on enough about myself but my point is that NOW I will create no matter what. If I’m not writing I’m thinking about writing or still writing, only in head. I will find a way to write every day and do. This is because I ‘started’ committed, built a habit, felt the magic and then boom, obsession!
You have to find a way to make space for your creativity in your life, this is HARD for an adult! As Ken Robinson said,

‘Creativity is like many natural resources, buried deep.’

But once you start to take it seriously and give it time and space in your day you will find yourself in that place where you will create no matter what and it will help with the stresses too.
If you would like to send me something via email …(you are) welcome. One last thing. I think a lot of the time we are so concerned about not being good enough, we think we should be great from the start and of course we hope we have this potential, that’s natural. The sad thing is it stops people just out of the gate. This happened me hundreds of times, if only I’d had the knowledge to put all those hundreds together!

Now I hope and fully intend to be a great writer, of course, I’m thinking if I write every day for the next, oh five years without fail I will get there.
So you have started! That is wonderful! Most people never do. Keep going! Build a wall of positive thinking around you, blast every negative thought that you can’t or you’re not good enough with this thought ‘But I’m doing it,’ or, another favourite of mine,

‘Every negative thought is a lie’

I use that one a lot.
Finally, I really mean finally this time! There is another reward, that is you become enchanted with the process, not the goal. It is the work you will love. The joy really is in the journey. I sincerely hope this helps, write any time , I would love to hear how it all goes, I’m excited for you! You’re in such an exciting place.

Love Jane xox

Of course, I was brave and made sure I said Bravo to all of this. Because when something hits home, you should shout “Yeah!” And then the lovely woman to whom she wrote responded. And I quickly grabbed that and put it here. I certainly hope she doesn’t mind but I feel as if I witnessed a lovely gift exchange and I wanted to share.

Jane, thank you so much for taking the time to respond with such caring thought and kindness. I continue to be amazed by you! Shalagh is so right, I am indeed lucky to have found you Jane. I am inspired by your multi talent and also your kindness. Wow, I needed to hear those words, they resonate with me at a very deep level. You’ve definitely given me something to think about. I appreciate the invitation to write to you so much, it means a lot, more than I can adequately express in words.

<3 Thank you.

If you like my creativity, positivity, and wonder, you’ll love Jane as well. I suggest you visit her Facebook page where she has developed a great following and is endlessly posting lovely pictures and thoughts and encourages people to share their creativity on Fridays. She really is an incredible inspiration. And I am flattered to be considered a friend.

More posts from That Curious Love of Green that make me marvel

The Artists Way – A Book Review

Feed Four for One Week 45.40 Euros

Chapter 1 of My Book – Read it Now

Corraleehan

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Weeding My Garden

This weekend was a glump of happy life happenings. It was a Mother’s Day weekend of wonderful gifts. My cooking hiatus started Thursday so carry out food it was for three nights in a row. Usually this would bother me. Not this weekend.

Caitlin and Fiona on Shalavee.comOur surrogate daughter Caitlin visited Friday and she and everyone else but me and Fiona went to see a local high school production. Instead, Fiona and I watched Follow That Bird, the Big Bird movie from the 80’s. Sweet. And then came Saturday, the day I’d been patiently awaiting. My gardening relief crew showed up as planned. The Uber Weeder on Shalavee.com

My garden story is a story of overwhelm and give up. But it was also a story I hated telling. So I asked for help from two women who I knew would bring it on strong. The uber-weeder and the disciplinarian/transplanter. I am so cheered and encouraged by their presence in my life and my garden. Hope has returned. And these are the thoughts that bubbled up for me on life and gardening. Ajuga takes over on Shalavee.com

Everyone’s got a life garden they are tending. The original garden plan is created in the family you grow up with but sometimes the major focal plants are just not what you want or need in your garden in your adult life. One person’s rose is another’s thorny weed. And so it’s up to you to decide which dreams and efforts are worth keeping and making the effort for and which need to be summarily yanked from that bed and tossed ceremoniously over the precipice. The Boobis Garden

Sometimes in my garden I’ll continue to coddle plants that needed the boot long ago. I’m a laissez faire gardener. Sometimes I make so much effort only to have half the garden get nuked by two freakish years of spring frost. Sometimes, we don’t want to make the effort unless we know it’s the perfect height and color plant in the perfect micro-climate in the perfect soil and light. Perfection is also a garden killer. And a life thwarter. Nothing grows if it’s not planted.New plants to kill on Shalavee.comBut most of the time you are taking a gamble on every single choice you make in the garden and your life. Once you expect the unexpected, you can start to hedge your bets. You’ll make good friends with people who have gardens and who have the sort life they can advise you on creating. You get medieval on the weeds and the negative influences in your life. And you keep your eye on the prize, your hands in the dirt, and you keep on digging, goaling, and doing. Awaiting my garden help on Shalavee.com

My garden is nothing like I’d like it to be. And yet, I am beginning to see my garden and my life not as a product but as a process. A learning process. Not as a destination but an adventure. My perception of how things are going is the only control that I have. The quality of my garden is both mine to make and to choose to then see. So I begin again. Enjoying the small moments, seeking some bigger ones to take root. And not trying to overachieve while I still have a wee Fiona ensconced in my soul and my time. All in good time.

(The story of my lovely mother’s day weekend will be another upcoming post. Talk atcha then.)

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

A Fond Farewell

I saw my dear friend Janet. She looked tired, older, sad. Where there is always a light shining from her, it was dark. I asked how she’d been and she told me she’d lost her dear friend and companion Toby. And I said, “I’m so sorry”, I hadn’t known. I would have shown up, sent a card.

Toby was her furry four-legged friend. He was her daily purpose, her constant companion after her children had flown from the nest. And he had been suffering from a cancer that eventually caused a suffering which she was compassionate enough to alleviate him from.

The veterinarians thanked me when I put my cat Butthead to sleep. He was drowning inside his own lungs from congestive heart failure which is what my father-in-law lost his battle with last May a year after Butthead. Miss Janet said she wished she could have been able to ease her own Mother’s suffering so long ago when she’d asked her to.

We stood there and contemplated why we were incapable to make those compassionate decisions when our loved ones are suffering. Either incapable of coming to terms with saying a final farewell to our dear pets to make a compassionate decision or having laws which will not permit us to euthanize human beings when they ask. We wish there were other ways, other choices besides the ones we are given. Because each of us will face these decisions. We’ll be confused and angry when we must. But we must.

I think, why would anyone get another pet after each and every one of our inevitable losses? But I know how incredible a pet’s selfless unconditional love feels. How almost unworthy we feel to have it bestowed upon us. Such bottomless trust, it makes us super-beings. And we recommit to this again and again knowing that, what we receive in the short time we are allowed to love them, is a whisper of infinity and transcendence and peace. That which we then gift back to them with our compassion at their life’s ending.

For the many broken hearts from lost loved ones I have learned of recently, I grieve for your loss too. And I know you are better for knowing them. There will never be another Toby, who liked very much to root through my purse in search of gum to steal, but there will be other lovers and friends to know. And I know Toby would approve.

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