North Country Wild ~by Jennifer Daniels



Now that all the holidays are over and we are in the start of a new year, I hope this finds you all healthy, safe, and well. 



#North Country Wild is a saying my son came up with for his YouTube and TikTok account. As many of you know I live in Upstate, NY and I am proud of where I come from and I’m immensely proud of my son. I’m going to share with you some of the pictures he has taken this January. 




Two days ago, my husband, son and I were enjoying the afternoon when my son looked out our window and there was a fox in the yard. It happily stood at the edge of the property so my son went out onto the porch to take pictures. When he opened the window, the little fellow decided to chirp at him. It was the cutest thing. It is not unusual for us to have animals roaming around the yard or going up and down the road. Just one of the perks of country life.



He also took several pictures out in the woods after the snow had fallen. And down by the beaver damn. I hope you enjoy our North Country Wild.





To view more of my blog posts, I invite you to visit my member page by clicking HERE

Rejuvnate ~ by Darlene Kuncytes

Well…it’s that time of year again. That span of time after all the holiday madness when we live our lives just waiting for the next celebration.

The next day off of work.

Spring.

This is the time of year when it’s the hardest to keep our spirits up. The winter drags on as we patiently wait for those first signs of things renewing. Those first brave buds popping up to promise us those greens and colors and warmth that we love so much.

Being from the Midwest, this has always been the worst time of year for me. We have nothing really to look forward to until Memorial Day in May.

And believe me, that seems so far off.

I’m not sure how people feel about this window of time in the sunshine states. Does it bother them, like it does us? Do they feel those post-holiday blues?


I mean, even my dogs seem down! Lolol
Could it be a lack of vitamin D? Cabin fever? Who knows?
That being said, now is when we need to remember that this is the time to rejuvenate! 

To remind ourselves that this will not last forever. 

To do our very best to find every bit of beauty this time of year has to offer!

I know it’s hard. We stress, we celebrate, we shop, we wrap, we get that high from all that holiday rush… (not to mention all that sugar we put into our bodies! Lolol) 

And then…nothing?

This year, take a walk in the park. Or put a bird feeder out in the yard and watch all the wonderful winter birds that come! Change a room around. Craft. Write. Paint. Do yoga. 

Or simply treat yourself to a bouquet of flowers the next time you go to the store.

Just do your best to just remember to enjoy the beauty around us. Even at this time of year. Because it’s there. We just tend to forget to look for it once the holiday craziness has poured out of us.
And this year is even trickier for us. We don’t have the freedom we normally do. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still enjoy ourselves. 

Call a friend. A family member… just to say hi!

This lull will pass. It always does. And we will once again feel the sun on our faces! 

Take this time to take care of you. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally.
This year more than ever. 

Look forward to what is to come. Because it will come. 


You are your biggest asset. Never forget that.
So, remember to treat yourself kindly.
Stay safe and simply find your fun!
Darlene

To read more of Darlene's posts, click HERE



Pictures courtesy of Google and Facebook


Pick a holiday and celebrate ~ by Grace Augustine

 It seems like at any given moment we can choose to celebrate anything on any day. However, there are specific days for all these "just about anythings."  Today, here is your list to choose from:

ANSWER YOUR CAT'S QUESTION/S DAY:  Even though our precious kittehs try their hardest to communicate with us, sometimes we don't pick up on their lingo. We need to learn Cat-ese. The inflection of their meows and their body language send different signs to owners. Anything from feed-me-stupid-human-my-bowl-is-only-half-full, to why-are-you-sad-I-will-make-it-all-better, to staring at you in the bathroom. On a regular basis, make sure you look into your cat's eyes and very slowly blink at them. This is a sign of affection. The ultimate sign of affection is if they sigh when they are on your lap. It means they totally trust you and love you at all costs.

CELEBRATION OF LIFE DAY: This day was originally created to celebrate children and grandchildren. Today the day has grown into a celebration of all people. It's also a great time for us to look at our own lives and to celebrate our victories and accomplishments as well as form a plan for where we want the future to take us.


COME IN FROM THE COLD DAY:  Self-explanatory.

Deposit photos


DANCE OF THE SEVEN VEILS DAY: Salome's dance, performed for Herod Antipas and his guests. Oscar Wilde's production of Salome showed the dancer seductively performing a striptease-like act removing her seven veils.  You can read more of this celebration HERE





NATIONAL HOT SAUCE DAY: Whether it be green, red, or any color between, hot sauce has been spicing up food palates since 1807 when one form was bottled in Massachusetts. Habanero, cayenne, jalepeno, chipolte, Scotch bonnet, and so many more go into the making of this palate flaming product.

Deposit photos

NATIONAL POLKA DOT DAY: Dig out those dresses and scarves with the beloved polka dots. Today is the day to wear them proudly! We also celebrate Minnie Mouse, who, let's face it, is the Queen of Polka Dots. At the beginning of the 19th century, polka dots were noticeable in paintings by Monet (Luncheon on the Grass) and Bazille (Family Reunion). 

In the 1920's and 1930's the Polka Dot trend became quite a fashion statement. Christian Dior began putting out garments with polka dots after World War II.

That's it for this installment of celebrate. I hope you will join me next month for more in this series. If you'd like to read more of my posts, please click HERE to be directed to my member's page.

Motorcycle Roads

    

        When I turned 50 I decided I deserved a midlife crisis, so I bought my own Harley Heritage Springer and learned some beautiful backroads.


 This Harley impulse was fueled by my first ride that had launched my love affair with motorcycles. Sixteen years old, I was invited to Florence, Oregon, to celebrate my friend’s birthday with her family. We went to a high school dance and had a great time; then her cousin and his friend invited us to ride on their dirt bikes. At 11 p.m. we were flying through Oregon woods and back roads, having a heart pounding, terrific time. 

By 2:00, the boys decided we needed to go see the quicksand pits.  Having spent my youth watching Saturday afternoon Tarzan movies, I was already convinced that quicksand was a significant threat in adult life,


 but I swallowed my terror and rode along. Once there, the boys started running across a large pool of quicksand, causing the earth to roll in giant concentric waves from the impact of their footsteps. They could only stop in several spots where grass tuffets grew and the ground was firmer, so it became a game of base running on a dare. First and last time I have ever experienced quicksand. Got back to the motel after 4 a.m. and sunrise. 50 years later, I still remember the scolding…and we didn’t even tell her parents about the quicksand.

***One day I was climbing a long road through a state forest. The sky was wide open and blue, not even a hint of clouds; the road was lined with trees that were cut back from the road, so visibility was clear and there was no sign of people or life of any kind. With no warning, out of the proverbial empty blue sky, SPLAT. Somebody dumped a gallon of water on me. Not raindrops, a big slap of water that hit once and disappeared; no water before or after me on the road, just an abrupt glop of water in the face.

         It happened so fast, I didn't have time to react; I didn't even swerve or brake.  But what the hell? I rode on, slightly in shock, wiping my face. What hit me? From where? Less than a  quarter mile down the road, I had the answer.


From 200 feet up came a helicopter over the trees hauling a big canvas bucket full of water that had evidently slopped over.  The firefighting helicopter was scooping up lake water and dumping it on a forest fire...after baptizing me first.

***It was sunset and the sun had slid behind the mountains, leaving the western sky glowing. The air was soft and lovely, the perfect temperature for riding. Luckily for me, I had just crested a hill and was on a long straightaway doing 40. The darkness was settling in, when suddenly a vast cloud of white moths engulfed me, their albino white wings reflecting my headlights and blocking my view of everything else. I throttled back, but for almost a block (it felt like a mile)  the white fluttering wings engulfed me utterly, reflecting the headlights and blinding me completely.

        The hatch stretched on and on until I was terrified that I was running out of straight road; but I knew I couldn’t stop, someone might rear end me in the endless cloud. Oh God, when was it going to stop, I couldn’t see! Then came an experience that is seared into my memory. It happened in a split second, but I can see his face to this day. Cutting right through the moths and screaming up to within an inch of my helmet came… a bat. 

    His sonar kept him from smashing into my face.

    Luckily he was there and gone so fast, I could not react--which would surely have left me spread across the asphalt.

    I doubt he remembers me, but I can see his black, shiny eyes even now. No doubt he thought I was pilfering his snacks.




For more posts by this author click:  Ruth Ross Saucier Author Page

Direction ~ by Lexa Fisher

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Direction. Where am I headed?

I learned a lot about myself this past quarter. Work was really busy—longer days, weekend hours—and I let it consume my life. It was so easy to look at my day calendar and know what I would be doing the next 10 hours. I’d planned out everything I had to get done, I knew what those tasks were, what the finished goal looked like. My direction was forward.

Image from Unsplash
Problems developed, however, during my non-work hours. I had no path forward, no goal. When I had free time I wasn't able to be creative. Like unused muscles, in those non-work hours my brain couldn’t come up with a single creative thing I wanted to do.

Making Christmas cards finally gave me a goal in December, but I'd failed to do any of the other crafting that I usually enjoy. So this year I'm setting hobby goals--a road map for where I want my creativity to take me.

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash
To reach my goal of regaining creativity, I've had to take baby steps to stop work and switch to crafting. In planning this journey, I've set out small tasks. It's a lot like looking at a map and plotting a route to your destination. 

Pinterest         
The first destination in my quest for creativity is the felt ornaments I've wanted to make for years. I have a Pinterest board with dozens of examples to get me started.

The first step was to search out patterns, then collect my felt and bits and pieces for decorations. Like packing for a vacation, I've sorted out what I need and what I'm missing--such as having only a single, bent embroidery needle. 🙄

I'm on my way!
Now at the end of the day I have more than just those pretty examples to look at, and knowing how to get started, it's a lot easier to stop work. The journey to greater creativity in 2021 begins!


 










Getting Past Those Less-Than-Wonderful Feelings ~ Laurie Schnebly Campbell

 


Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

We’ve been through a year of more trouble than usual, and sometimes the bad feelings can get kind of overwhelming. So here’s a list of the four questions to answer anytime you're faced with ANY emotion you'd just as soon not be feeling.



Number One: What IS this feeling?

 

Anger? Dread? Sadness? Envy? Boredom? Incompetence? You name it. Just being able to identify the feeling gives us more of a sense of control...and a sense of control does wonders for our self-esteem.


Number Two: Where did this feeling come from?

 

Photo by Hybrid on Unsplash
The new project not working? My friend forgetting my
birthday? Having my idea rejected? A bad hair day? Whatever it is, identify the source. You need to know what got you started feeling this way.



Number Three: How long do I want to keep this feeling?

 

Ten minutes? Two weeks? Four hours? For something like a death in the family, it could last for years. But even so, you want to break it into manageable chunks. Let's say if my cousin died and I was looking at our old photos and it made me feel sad, I might choose to really FEEL that sadness for fifteen minutes. After fifteen minutes, I have to stop.

 

"Wait a minute," you say. "I'm sad! I can't just stop being sad."

 

But let's say I'm looking at the photos feeling sad, and all of a sudden a crazed drug lord breaks into my house with an assault rifle and says, "I'm going down and I'm takin' you down with me."

 

Am I going to sit there being sad?

 

Nope -- I'm gonna get away from the drug lord.

 

Once I've raced next door and called 911, I can go back to being sad if I want to. But for that two minutes of fleeing from the drug lord, I WASN'T sad.

 

Why not? After all, none of this changed the fact that my cousin died, that I miss her and my life will never be the same and these photos remind me of how great she was and I'll never see her again. Nothing has changed except that for two minutes, I quit feeling sad.

 

And you know how we never do anything without a reason? Whatever my reason, I chose to quit feeling sad.

 

Maybe I didn't consciously stop and make the choice: "Let's see, I think I'll quit feeling sad for the next two minutes in order to save my life." Or, in order to save my sanity. Or, to save myself from feeling lousy. But for whatever reason, I made the choice to quit feeling sad. And I can make that choice anytime I want to.

 

Photo by Daniel Gonzalez on Unsplash

Big sentence, there:

I can make that choice anytime I want to.

This means I can decide how long I want to feel sad about my cousin before I quit to save myself from the drug lord...or to save myself from the misery. An hour? Ten minutes? Whatever. You have a pretty good sense of how long you can experience a feeling before you want to move onto something else. So I might decide that I'm going to feel sad for half an hour. But after that, I have to quit and move onto something else.

 

Now that doesn't mean I can't feel sad again later on. But what's important is to decide how long I want to keep this feeling right NOW. And then to stick to whatever amount of time that is, and move onto something else.

 

Which leads to our last question, and it's the most important.


Number Four. Once the time is up on this feeling, what am I going to replace it with?

 

It has to be an action, not just another feeling. I can't decide, "Okay, in ten minutes I'm gonna start feeling...let's see, ecstatic." What I CAN do is choose an action -- and if it's an action that’ll make me feel ecstatic, then that’s fine.

 

If I'm feeling sad about my cousin, what I might put in place of that sadness is a quick run around the block. Or a phone call to a friend. Or a trip to the grocery store. Some specific action that will get my mind off the sadness.

 

And what's amazing is that this works. You might find yourself driving to the grocery store and suddenly feeling sad again -- but when that happens you remind yourself, "Oops! Time's up. Right now I'm doing the shopping; I already DID my half hour of sadness." You can do another half hour later on if you want, but right now you stay focused on the grocery store.

 

So you see how it goes? And you can do this on your own, anytime you want to.

 

It's hard to believe how well this works until you've actually tried it. Next time you're mad at your husband or hurt by your critique partner or frustrated with your car or whatever, pick how long you want to keep that feeling -- don't cheat yourself, pick as long a time as you want -- and then pick what you're gonna put in its place.

 

I guarantee you, it'll work. Because it reminds you of something we all tend to forget, and that is:

 

We are in control of our choices. We're not always in control of our circumstances, but we ARE in control of our choices. We can choose how to deal with rejection, frustration, boredom, fear, you name it. We can choose how long we want to grieve, who we want to share the pain with, what we're gonna do in pursuit of our goals -- those are all our choices, and nobody else's.

 

Photo by Fernando Brasil on Unsplash
So celebrate the fact that you are in control. And
regardless of what you decide to do when faced with any bad situation, you can make whatever choices you want.

 


Acknowledge it. Use it. You'll be amazed at how powerful you are.


Laurie Schnebly Campbell teaches creative people about ways of improving their life -- like in the two-week class called “New Year, New You” starting on Monday (January 18) at https://rwasd.com/classes/.

 



A New Year's Resolution: Be Kind ~ Jacquolyn McMurray

 

Tim Mossholder
For many, the new year prompts us to reflect on past years and strive to do better in the future. After much thought and reflection, my resolution for this year is to be kinder to myself and to others. 

Being kinder to myself includes scheduling time for restful activities. Susan May Warren refers to this as Sacred Rest. In her My Story Matters--My Brilliant Writing Planner, Warren recommends rating seven areas of rest: physical, emotional, creative, spiritual, social, sensory, and mental. My assessment ranked creative rest—rest that nurtures your creativity—as the most in need of attention. As a creative, I was surprised at the results, but now I know that I must schedule those activities that nurture my creativity. 

Here's what I plan to change to be kinder to myself:
    1) schedule time for a walk at least four times a week, 2) work on not feeling guilty when I take a day to do something creative, and 3) dismiss feeling selfish when taking time for self-care. That's a tall order, but I'm going to schedule these things on my calendar at the beginning of every week. I'm trying to be realistic here, so a stretch goal is to establish a morning routine that includes a daily affirmation/verse and maybe even a yoga routine. 

United Nations

What's my plan to be kind to others?  I started a list of things that cost nothing but time.

*  Every week, call or set up a video chat with someone I haven't talked to in a long time--the elders I know who are in long term care, friends, and family.  Although texting is a quick and easy way to communicate with others, it's not the same as hearing someone's voice.  


* Every month send out a physical card/note/letter to one of our family members/friends who are in long term care facilities. Don't you still enjoy receiving an actual card?


And a special list for our writing tribe:


*  Post/share other author’s releases and awards. Celebrate successes. We are in this together.


* Give thoughtful, constructive feedback to my writing partners through considerate language. We all have strengths and areas of growth, and a critique group can provide much needed support and encouragement. No matter where we are in our writing journey, we can benefit from the expertise of others. I know what it feels like to get flippant, nasty, remarks from a former writing partner. I hope I'm never that person.  


*  Write honest reviews, but think about how the review will be received. There is always something nice to say. :) Yes, we authors need thick skin, but I don't feel good about knocking down another author. If I can't comfortably rank a story at a 4 or 5, I'd rather not post a review. 


How will you be kind to yourself in 2021? How will you be kind to others?

Little Known Holidays~Part 1 ~ by Grace Augustine

 It's the beginning of a new year and a new decade. In honor of that, I am beginning a new series on little known holidays. Enjoy!

Today is NATIONAL ARGYLE DAY! How many of you know what "argyle" is? The word has several meanings.

1. Argyle (occasionally spelled argyll) patterns are made of repeated diamond or lozenge shapes . The word is sometimes used to refer to an individual diamond in the design, but more commonly refers to the overall pattern. Most argyle contains layers of overlapping motifs.

2.  The Argyle Color Scale was created to grade mainly pink diamonds, but it also contains grades for pink-champagne and blue-violet stones.

3.  The word argyle is of Scottish origin. It's from the regional name Argyll, a county of southwestern Scotland, named in Gaelic as Earre GhĂ idheal 'coast of the Gaels'. Argyll was the earliest part of Scotland to be settled by Gaelic speakers from Ireland from the 6th century onwards.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Today is also the anniversary of the birthday of ELVIS PRESLEY.

Elvis Presley was the most widely known rockabilly singer in music history. He was born in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. 

Sam Phillips, Sun Records producer who had taken an interest when Elvis recorded his first acetate, was looking for a white man who could bring black music to a broader audience. He brought Elvis in to record Jimmy Sweeney’s ballad “Without You”, but he was unable to do it justice. Phillips asked Presley to sing as many numbers as he knew and was affected enough to invite two musicians to work something up for a session. In a moment of unwinding and messing around, Presley took his guitar and started to play a blues song while jumping and dancing. Bassist, Bill Black and guitarist Winfield “Scotty” Moore, started dancing and playing with him. Phillips, who was starting to leave, stuck his head back in and asked, “What are you doing?”

“We don’t know!” 

“Well back up… and do it again.” Phillips began taping their session. This was the sound he was looking for.  

To read more history of Elvis click HERE.

Other little known holidays to celebrate today are:
Bubble Bath Day
Male Watcher's Day
Earth's Rotation Day
I Am a Mentor Day
National English Toffee Day (my favorite)
Midwife's Day
National Joy Germ Day
National Winter Skin Relief Day
Show and Tell Day at Work
War on Poverty Day

As you can see, we are a strange people who celebrate strange things. Stay tuned for part 2. Until next time, Sparkle On.


Surface Pattern Design: Combining Art and Technology ~ Charlotte Raby



First attempt at surface pattern design. 
Take a moment to look around you, and you’ll see designs on surfaces everywhere. Does the clothing you’re wearing have a print on it? What about your coffee cup or that throw pillow next to you on the couch? Did you send out decorative holiday cards this year?

Well, all of those are surfaces with designs on them, and it might not have occurred to you, but some people have careers designing the art that goes onto these things.

Designers create the art you see on yoga pants and mats, water bottles, bedding, fabrics, stationery, wrapping paper, wallpaper, and myriad other items. Some designs are stand alone or single, like a piece of art that can be framed or put onto greeting cards.  And some items, such as fabrics, require repeating surface pattern designs.

Long ago, in the very-old-olden days, repeating designs were made by first creating a design on paper, cutting the paper into equal fourths, and then rearranging them so the inner edges faced outwards. This was then used by weavers. In 1985, Adobe Illustrator was first released, and creating digital patterns became possible.

Adobe Illustrator is a massive, complex program, but it’s also fun to use. And, if I can learn it, so can you – remember my previous post about how older brains work?


Christmas design after a year of learning and practicing.

About a year ago, I took an intensive course in Illustrator, and since then have been working nearly full-time creating designs, learning, and honing my skills, with the ultimate goal of getting my work licensed by fabric makers and producers of other items. Until that happens, I’ve also learned how to use print on demand (POD) sites to upload my work and allow people to find and purchase items with my designs printed on them. 

A design can be started on paper using watercolors or sketched with pen. A photograph can also be used, or a design can be created completely within Illustrator, using digital tools provided such as art brushes, pen, pencil, and shape building tools. If a paper design is used, it would be scanned and saved as a jpeg on your computer, first. A photograph would also be sent to your computer and saved as a jpeg.

Once the initial art pieces are saved to your computer, you would bring your designs into the Adobe Illustrator program and vectorize them. Vector art are shapes that are based on mathematical formulae, and therefore are scale independent, meaning that the images will not lose quality if they’re scaled up, in the way that pixel-based images do. Photographs are pixel images, and a pixel is a spot of color. You know that if you blow up a photograph too big, the image quality suffers. Well, not so with Illustrator. Designers can create one image and use it on business cards or billboards while maintaining image integrity.

Once images are vectorized, designers use Illustrator tools to manipulate them and create a fuller design. Images can be duplicated, manipulated in shape, size, and color, and layered with other images. Groups of images could be saved as motifs that could be duplicated and placed strategically, to create a repeating pattern. The repeating pattern is then saved and can be uploaded to POD sites. Each POD site has its own requirements as to what type and size file they require for their products.


Homemade holiday tablecloth.
As you can see from this overview, there are a variety of things to learn and integrate. While you absolutely can create a repeating pattern after a few lessons, it ends up being a years-long journey. But the challenge is fun, it sharpens the mind, and it’s deeply satisfying to see your own artwork come to life on real products. The possibilities for creative expression are limitless!

If you’re interested in learning more, go to the resources tab on my website for links to course sites and teachers I use as well as POD sites to check out. There, you’ll also find a link for 14 days of free Premium Skillshare access so you can try out my recommended teachers, or any others on any topics you find interesting! Have fun, and Happy New Year!

www.charlotteraby.com

Charlotte has always been creative and interested in
how things work and interact in the world. While she has a BSE in engineering, a M.Ed. in special education, she worked in a variety of positions, including Motorola engineer, special-ed high school teacher, homeschooling-mom, flute player, formalwear alterations business owner,  and writer.  She also cross stitches, paints, cooks, still sews for her family, and has recently learned how to use Adobe Illustrator to create repeating designs for fabrics and other items.  Join her over at www.charlotteraby.com to stay connected and see what she’s up to! 


A Bit of Radiance for 2021 ~ by Marj Ivancic

A few years ago, I attended a yoga class in which the instructor read a passage to us that left me with a deep sense of peace and awe. I learned afterwards that it came from a book called, “The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight” by Lorin Roche.

This book is a translation of a portion of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, which is an ancient teaching of yoga mediation. It is written as a conversation between two lovers, the God Who Is the Consciousness that Permeates Everywhere (also called Shiva or Bhairava) and the Goddess Who Is the Creative Power of the Universe (also called Shakti or Devi). Their exchange is centered on finding the divine in the everyday, in the world around us, and in our own hearts and bodies.

As we roll into a new year, I thought I would share one of the verses because it captures for me how I feel coming out of 2020 and also settles me into a hopeful, radiant mindset for 2021. I hope it might do the same for you.

Yukti Verse 89

“You are stunned, powerless.

You thought you knew

What was going on.

Now you realize you don’t have a clue.


You are stopped in your tracks.

Everything within your skin is shaking.

                                      Enter this shaking.

                                      Get curious.


Look around inside with wonder.

Unmind your mind.

All the walls have fallen down—

Go ahead and dissolve.


The One Who Has Always Been,

Who has seen much worse than this,

Is still here.” 


Slow Down ~ by Author Marj Ivancic

Slow down. Pay attention. I can’t tell you how many times I heard those two phrases in my life. They were usually preceded by some knucklehe...