The idea of this poem was originally written as a birthday tribute for a true flower woman who creates fields of flowers from seed. I kept the idea, but changed it to reflect the birthday of another gardener/flower woman, me. I am celebrating my birthday next week, and am pleased to have lived and loved for 61 years now.
The pictures are of native lupines. They were seeded in my meadow by this flower woman’s hands. They symbolize imagination. So apt as I imagined creating this beautiful meadow, and have not been disappointed.
I am joining in with Poets Unitedfor their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.
This is a poem that was started a few year’s ago, and like the poem says, it drifted in and out of my consciousness until it fully formed recently. Poetry can come easily or be a bit elusive….but I don’t obsess about it. I keep a journal of phrases, lines, ideas, and revisit them until they decide to rain down fully into a poem.
I am joining in with Poets Unitedfor their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.
This poem has a double meaning for me…the expectancy of spring and spring planting, and the expectancy of growth along my personal path as I read, learn, experience and share my life lessons.
As the full moon is upon us, I am reminded that spring planting by the phases of the moon is said to enhance harvests. Some gardeners suggest sowing seeds for crops that yield an above ground harvest between the new moon and full moon. Root crops are best planted when the moon is going from full moon to new moon. While I have never tried this, I have gardener friends who swear by this planting method.
I am joining in with Poets Unitedfor their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.
I recently have been reading May Sarton’s, Journal of Solitude, and Brené Brown’s, Braving the Wilderness. Both books have been speaking to me of my path, my inner work. And this poem was born of that reading and work. It is how I feel myself evolving.
I am joining in with Poets Unitedfor their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.
Another epistolary poem, in the series I am writing, from a letter I wrote in April of 2016. This poem was written on a morning of brilliance as the sun rose. I hope to post one of these a month. I will be taking time off for the rest of December….enjoy your holidays and I will see you around the New Year.
I am joining in with Poets Unitedfor their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.
When I first looked at the spider, all I could see was a creepy vixen waiting to trap and enslave her prey. But now, I notice the webs, the homes lovingly created to provide food, shelter and a home to nurture her young.
A mighty creature, the garden spider goes about making beauty all over the garden. And she also helps keep a healthy habitat for all creatures who rely on the food chain. Sometimes eating, sometimes eaten~she is essential!
Old tales tell of Grandmother Spider stealing a piece of the sun. She rode her silken threads back to earth, with her treasure tucked under one of her mighty legs. And if you look upon her web today, you can still see the sun’s delicate pattern woven there.
And the Ancient Ones wove a spectacular tale about climbing to heaven on spider silk. Perhaps that is why dream catchers are made in the shape of a spider web. To catch our dreams as we climb each night into the heavens.
I love watching spiders in our garden. They make incredible displays from spring into summer and even into fall, where their handiwork glistens in the dew. You can see those displays below. They always seem to be weaving a life as they spin their webs.
I created this haibun, to sing their praises.
I am joining in with Poets Unitedfor their Poetry Pantry link up.
“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” ~Steve Jobs
Recently, I took part in a week-long Photo Quest (#celebrateARTlife ), put together by Whitney Freya. I find when I take part in photo challenges, I really reach deep inside and touch my creative soul. So I was excited to participate.
Each day we were given prompts, and then asked to look at the symbolism of our subject. I liked the idea of the symbolism, as it revealed much about me, and where I am on my journey.
Initially, I posted these photos and narratives on my Facebook Page, but I wanted to combine them and post them here too, where I like to showcase what I am creating. I hope you enjoy the Photo Quest as much as I did…..
On Day 1, we had to post a picture of a favorite piece in our house that has special meaning for us. I chose my Garden Water Maiden statue. Here is what I wrote about this photo:
As a long time gardener, she has special meaning for me. I feel she symbolizes gardeners like myself who cherish the land and the critters who live there. She has made her home in my house for a number of years.
And the water jug she carries symbolizes healing water.
Water also symbolizes friendship and love connecting us to the world. It is vital for life, and is a feminine element. Water is also the element of emotion, purification, intuition, mysteries of the self, compassion and family. Water seems to be the perfect symbol for me now as I work on healing and connecting. And we could all use a bit more healing with cleansing water in the world!
On Day 2, I had to take a picture of my favorite color at the moment. I was surprised with my choice:
Right now pink is catching my eye. I don’t have much pink in the house, but I have a few key pieces like this lovely rose quartz box that belonged to my mother-in-law. It is special and means a lot to me.
Pink has special significance for me right now too. It has very special meanings that are an important part of my healing journey. Pink represents unconditional love, hope, compassion and nurturing. Pink is intuitive, and shows kindness. And pink can signify good health. What a luscious color in my world right now.
Day 3 we had to take a photo of a shape or pattern that was catching my eye. I thought it would take a while to zero in on one, but I noticed my shape right away:
It seems stars are shining for me at the moment. This one is of particular significance; a gift from a dear friend in NM.
Stars have wonderful symbolism and shine the light on our self-reliance. They also symbolize navigation; for me it is navigating a new path with retirement and writing. Stars seem to be guiding my way to my passion and dream, and suggesting I take some bold steps. And this particular star has the Native American lizard symbol on it, also significant for me right now as it represents healing and survival.
Day 4’s prompt was perfect for me, as we had to take a photo of a flower that was most attractive at the moment. I wasn’t sure what flower I would choose until I went into the garden:
Echinacea purpurea, also know as coneflower, is a native wildflower growing throughout my garden smiling on me every day.
It is a special flower as it represents Strength and Health.And it is said that Echinacea helps remove whatever is holding you back allowing you to let go of stagnate energy.It also supports transitions to new ways of doing things.You should use Echinacea when your self-image is beginning to change, but you haven’t completely become your “new” self.
It is interesting that this flower is capturing my attention as I continue on my journey of retirement, change and healing.A good flower to keep around me!
On Day 5, we had to create a mandala with materials found inside or out. I had so many ideas, but when I happened on these materials:
I thought about flower petals and stones outside.But it was hot and humid, so instead I noticed some California poppy petals curled and dried on my little bench indoors.I gathered some little stones and some live petals from a hydrangea flower in a vase, to add to the mandala.
I am combining materials from the indoors with outdoors for my mandala.And if you look closely you will see both live and dead materials.The live or current ringing the past.And there is much pollen left in those long dead petals, which seem to represent my past life.These seem to say to me that I have learned so much from my past, and it has propelled me to my current place now.
I also found working with such small materials to represent the minimalism and mindfulness that I am adopting these days.All in all, this seems to be a pretty significant mandala that I created today.
Day 6 had us displaying our sacred space. I have one inside and one outside, so:
I thought I would show a peek at the altar in my sacred space indoors.It holds many cherished memories and mementos.It is where I go to relax, to meditate, to read and reflect.
The picture is one of water lilies to remind me of my pond and cleansing water.The bowl is from a friend filled with last year’s rose petals….the parts of me I am letting go.The cloisonné bell was a present from my parents that was given to me in my former life as a teacher.In the right hand corner you can see a bit of the Georgia O’Keeffe comparative stamps given to me by a dear friend and a picture of my dad.And the vase of fresh white flowers represents my outdoor sacred space, my garden.White is significant as it symbolizes light, goodness and safety.
I painted this sacred space a bright vibrant green, a very significant color as green is the color of life, renewal, nature, and energy.It also represents growth, fertility and environment. All the feelings important to cultivate in my sacred space.When I enter there, I have the feeling that I am home.
Finally on Day 7, we had to take a selfie of ourselves doing something we love. What a way to end the quest, with the most challenging prompt:
Those who know me well, know I do not take selfies, but I certainly am up to the challenge.I decided to take a picture of myself doing something I have loved to do since I was very young….reading.I spend hours a day reading for pleasure.And my favorite spot is in my sacred place in my rocker next to the window.
This summer I have been reading more self-help, motivational books that have helped me connect to my inner source.And this personal growth is coming out in my creative self especially through my writing and poetry….and now in my photography with this challenge.
This is our last day of the photo challenge, and I am feeling a sense that I will miss this creative time as it has energized me.But I am sure I will stay connected through my creative endeavors in some way.I want to thank Whitney Freya for a most marvelous adventure!
What creative quests have you been on lately?
The echinacea in the mosaic and at the top of the post were the rest of the photos I took for Day 4. it was hard to choose from all these fabulous shots of an amazing native plant that grows all throughout my garden. You can learn more about echinacea in my garden post.
The photo below is another perspective of the mandala I created.
I am bringing you another epistolary poem from a letter I wrote in April. This one is special, recalling my inspirational days of childhood. I have included pictures of native purple lupines which represent ‘Imagination‘.
I am joining in with Poets Unitedfor their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.
“It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.”
~Henry David Thoreau
Many times when I look at nature, around me in my garden, I see one thing. And when I look again at the pictures I take, I see so much more. I see deep into these scenes, and each one teaches me something daily. So I thought, why not share some of the things I learned by watching nature in late spring….
Starting with the top picture, we are watching the baby bunny who was born here in our garden, and now visits. He is adorable, and I noticed I captured more of his shadow, than of him, as he scampered about. He was tasting the weeds and plants between the bricks as he is learning what he likes.
Seeing the sunrise, is a glorious event that gets better as dawn unfolds. I have learned to have patience, and take time to see the sun rise completely….you will be glad if you do.
And don’t forget sunset. Even through the clouds the view can be amazing!
I love wandering in the garden early in the morning. The light playing off and through the plants can take my breath away.
And even on a gray day I can see beauty. The water lilies shine against the dark water and lily pads
I am noticing the orange flowers showing up now. Orange poppies, first daylily and the Geum. They stand out against the sea of green and purple blooming right now. And this little bit of bright color, adds so much to my view.
These ox-eye daisies are an non-native plant that spreads all around my garden. I used to see them as a nuisance. but now I love the surprise of their blooms ever year. And at night, you can see them shining all over the garden like beacons.
Like many native plants, this Zizia aurea has seeded itself around the garden and meadow. And as you can see it is a pollinator favorite. I picked a few for a vase, and learned they not only have a beautiful, long-lasting flower, but they have an amazing citrus fragrance too. I can’t get enough of them.
Looking closely at a plant, can give you a special surprise. I love seeing the unusual petals I might not notice unless I took a closer look.
What are you learning from Nature these days?
I am moving my Thursday posts to Wednesday starting in July. I will still have my poetry posts on Sunday, with maybe another poetry post midweek each month. The little fairy house, below, was made by a neighbor and friend…..isn’t that just the sweetest gift.
“Who will free me from hurry, flurry, the feeling of a crowd pushing behind me, of being hustled and crushed? How can I regain even for a minute the feeling of ample leisure I had during my early, my creative years? Then I seldom felt fussed, or hurried. There was time for work, for play, for love, the confidence that if a task was not done at the appointed time, I easily could fit it into another hour. I used to take leisure for granted, as I did time itself.”
Many days I felt like this. Hurried, hustled and bounced about. Feeling time was running out, and I had accomplished little. And even after I ticked everything off my To Do list, more was added instantaneously. Never time for leisure, relaxation or rest.
I always dreamed of a safe haven away from the flurry of life….where I could go to get away even for 5 minutes to regain my sanity. And when I thought about this place I saw the ocean or a meadow….flowers or a beach. Each of these images are healing for me, and immediately ease my pain and renew my soul.
So when I designed the bones of my garden, I imagined flowers and water there in a special spot…and with it the sound of water. It was clear that a pond would be the perfect spot to have water and flowers. And that pond had to have a waterfall, so I could have the healing sound of water nearby, especially since I don’t live close to the ocean.
It was easy to decide where to place the pond….as close to the house as possible so we could have easy access, and hear the water flowing over the rocks. Where I could sit on a large rock at its edge and look out over the garden of my soul…my sanctuary!
And once created, this place took on a magic all its own. I discovered that my sanctuary was also a safe haven for others who wanted to share it with me. They didn’t talk, they just hung out with me in the moment….they were my quiet solitude companions that added their song to sing me to sweet solitude and peace.
I am of course referring to the frogs, toads, birds and insects who also call the pond their home, and their sanctuary. They bathe here, and give birth here. And some have made this place their home too. We commune and talk, but mostly we just sit in peaceful meditation marveling at how incredibly beautiful this place can be.
I look forward to every spring when we put the pump back in, and the pond stirs to life. To see the tadpoles and frogs awake. And the lily pads start forming on the surface, knowing the flowers will be along soon. To watch the reflections in the water. This is my heaven on earth….my special haven for healing.
Have you ever created a sanctuary for yourself?
Special Note:The pictures here are of my pond in its first year of bloom. While it is a bit overgrown these days, it is still my sanctuary, and beloved habitat for so many who share the garden with me.
I will be taking a week off, and will have another post next Thursday, the 26th! It is a special day for me….
One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it brings.~W.E. Johns
I am always excited when it is time for another interview post. After receiving an award from Julie@Gardening Jules, I had promised to do several interviews of some amazing bloggers and share them with you. It is such a pleasure talking at length with bloggers. Getting to know online friends more intimately.
And for this next interview, I am driving (figuratively) south to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania to visit with Pamela Hubbard@Pam’s English Cottage Garden. I have known Pam for about as long as I have been blogging. And I am always inspired by her beautiful and creative gardens, especially the way she incorporates native plants into her cottage garden…a favorite garden style of mine.
So lets meet Pam ..
I was born in England. I taught first grade in the school that I, and my father before me, attended as children. In the sixties I married and had two children. I immigrated to America in 1978 where I met my second husband, Duane. We have four grandchildren: all boys. In this country I was an elementary school librarian for more than ten years, then an elementary school principal for twelve. I retired to garden in 2005 and then began studying to be a Penn State Master Gardener.
1. Pam, why did you start your blog?
I started my blog eight years ago for two main reasons: I wanted to share my passion for gardening with others and I wanted a record of my progress toward achieving my dream of creating an English cottage garden in the Poconos. I derive great pleasure from looking at my early postings and realizing I have attained this dream!
2. What a great dream and accomplishment, Pam. I assume that your blog name comes from your love of English Cottage Gardens. Tell us about this type of garden, and why you love it so much?
While I am very proud to be a naturalized citizen of the USA, like many expats I feel the need to maintain my heritage. My grandmother had a small cottage garden that I remember fondly. Creating something similar in the Pocono Mountains began in my dreams long before I retired. I love this style because it is quintessentially British. Ethne Clarke described an English cottage garden as,
… above all things a place of uncontrived beauty,
easily enjoyed, where labour is well rewarded
and quiet pleasures satisfied.
Ethne Clarke and Clay Perry English Country Gardens
Ethne says it all.
3. I couldn’t agree more with Ethne. Pam, I know you live on a farm.That must be a wonderful experience.Can you tell us more about it.Its history, etc.
Duane and I live in the circa 1850 house where Duane lived all his life, Astolat Farm. There were no gardens here as the property was a kennel where Duane’s mother raised Shetland sheepdogs. She was hailed as the worlds top Sheltie breeder in her day having twice won Best-of-Breed at Westminster Dog Show. Originally the place was called Astolat Kennels. My mother-in-law took the name, Astolat, from her favorite book, Idylls of the King, a Scottish legend by Alfred Lord Tennyson very appropriate for a kennel with a Scottish breed of dogs.
4. What a fabulous heritage for your husband’s farm and family. And you have some farm animals too; a miniature horse and pigmy goat.How did you come by these unique creatures?What are their names?
Dude and Billy are my gardening buddies. Dude is a tiny miniature horse and Billy is an overgrownpigmy goat. My mother bought Dude as my retirement gift when he was seven years old. My husband bought baby Billy as a companion for Dude because this is a small crop farm with no other animals. Dude and Billy are inseparable.
5. Oh Pam how special they are. Besides English Cottage Gardening, do you have some other types of gardening you enjoy?
I enjoy many types of gardening. Besides my English cottage garden I have a shade garden, a woodland garden, a container garden and a kitchen garden. I also enjoy miniature gardening, a wonderful activity for children, so one of my grandsons, Jonathan, helped me make several fairy gardens that are situated around the property. I like to garden indoors during the winter and recently discovered the joys of making terrariums and dish gardens, other forms of miniature gardening.
6. Wow Pam that what a diverse number of gardens to keep you busy all year. Recently you have been getting all kinds of honors for your gardens, including from your local fair.Tell us more about that.
I enter vegetables and flowers in our local fair every year. I couldnt do this without Jonathans help. He stays at our house for Fair Week, preparing all the specimen jars and choosing the best vegetables to show. On opening day he helps me set up displays. After the judging it is such fun to check our exhibits to see if we won any ribbons. We always seem to do well and last year I received my first Best in Show award. In addition, last year was special because the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society awarded my garden their blue ribbon. I felt very honored.
7. From all your pictures, Pam, I would say these honors are so well deserved. Besides your garden, what are some other creative endeavors that bring you joy?
Writing brings me so much joy. Unlike you, however, Im not a creative writer. How I wish I could write poetry like yours, Donna. All my writings are research based, and of course, Im talking about garden writing. I write a monthly article about Gardening in the Poconos for our local newspaper, the Pocono Record. Also, my articles have appeared in various online sources. Im currently writing an article for an English publication, The Cottage Gardener. I love garden photography, too, but feel Im not very good at it. Every year I say Im going to take more photography classes and I am happy to say I just signed up for some.
8. Oh Pam, how wonderful to be published in so many publications. And I can’t wait to hear more about the photography class. What would you say is your creative process?
My work, whether designing a garden, writing about gardening, or teaching gardening classes, is completely research based. When Im writing, I begin by reading, reading, and more reading. For material I go to the land-grant colleges my favorite being Penn State Extension, of course, as Im a Penn State master gardener. Research-based writing tends to make for some rather dry prose, so I liberally include personal stories from my own experience.
Research is very important , and I am so glad you remind us of it. And I think those personal stories are also important so gardeners know you have such extensive experience.
9. Let’s shift gears a bit. I know you have traveled to many places, so where would you like to travel next?
I just finished planning a summer vacation. Duane and I feel there is still so much for us to see in the USA, so this year we will explore some parts of New England we havent yet visited via a few gardens, of course. I have a son and his family in Arizona, but would you believe I never visited the Grand Canyon? Next years trip, maybe.
Oh The Grand Canyon is a must…lots of history and fabulous spots to visit in Arizona.
10. Tell me what famous person or not so famous person would you like to meet?
I would like to meet Dame Judy Dench, one of the most celebrated actresses of my generation. Her work spans so many genres from Shakespeare to comedy, and I love all of it. I admire how she continues to devote herself to her craft despite being unable to read her scripts due to macular degeneration. The infirmities that come with aging (she recently had knee surgery) do not hold her back, and in this respect she is my role model.
She is an amazing actress, and person…and I agree a fabulous role model.
11. If it is possible to pick a favorite book or song, what would you choose?
This is the most difficult question, Donna, because I have so many favorite books. I read at least one novel, usually historical, each week and often my favorite is the one Im reading at the time. Right now it is The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. This is the second time Ive read this book, as I wanted to refresh my knowledge of the story and characters before reading Grissoms recently released sequel, Glory Over Everything. In the gardening genre, my favorite is The Cottage Garden by Christopher Lloyd. I nearly said Christopher Lloyd in answer to your last question, but he passed away in 2006. I havent yet visited his garden, Great Dixter, and nearly gave that in answer to your travel question.
You know I would love to visit some of the great gardens of Great Britain, so maybe some day we can visit together!
12. After several year of blogging, I am always fascinated to know what keeps someone blogging.So Pam, what keeps you blogging?
As Im sure you know, I am obsessed with gardening, and garden blogging is part of the passion. My garden continues to evolve, every year is different, and therefore I continue to have much to say about it. In addition, I made so many wonderful gardening friends who follow my blog and/or I follow theirs. I love belonging to this greater gardening community and it keeps me blogging.
13. The blogging community is amazing. Is there anything else you want to tell us about your life, and what might be next for you?
I have my first book in the works. Its been on my desk for a long time, but I was forced to put it on hold through a couple of years of ill health. Now my health is at an optimum level and Ive turned back to my book with great enthusiasm.
Just want to end by saying how honored I feel that you asked me to participate, Donna. I enjoyed answering your questions enormously. Thank you, my friend.
Pam the pleasure has been mine, my friend! As I said, I love these interviews as I get to know my fellow bloggers on a different, more personal level. I hope one day soon to drop by and visit your lovely farm and gardens…and meet Dude and Billy in person. And you continue to inspire me to keep expanding my creative horizons. I hope you will keep us posted about the book project.
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Pam a bit more. I know I certainly did!
Please make sure you visit Pam in all the amazing places she hangs out.
All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016. Photos are the sole property of Pam@Pam’s English Cottage Garden, and their use in this post is by permission of the photographer.
March means spring is on its way…even if the weather is cold and snowy. We know it isn’t far off. And as spring approaches, the bulbs start to pop up with the snow’s retreat.
With our unusually warm weather, the snow retreated already and bulbs are up. I am renewed each spring as if my life has the beautiful gift of starting over…..nothing is the same, and I am ready for all the new wonders about to be shown!
I am joining in with Poets Unitedfor their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, and Sanaa@A Dash of Sunny for her Prompt Nights every Friday. I am not sure if this poem fits with the ‘Faith, healing’ theme, but the new growth of spring is my healing…it is where I find my spiritual place!
Please visit these fabulous poetry blogs to read some more wonderful verse.
“Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.”~Hugh Macmillan
With scenes like this, I feel a sense of peace and calm even in the midst of a snow storm. There is a feeling of being wrapped in a blanket, cocooned in safety as I watch this swirling magical world descend. There is a beauty and magic to winter we miss when we just think about the negatives of snow.
It’s cold, the roads are a mess and I hate driving in it, I can’t garden or get outside….the list can go on and on. But when I think of the time I spend indoors in winter, I feel glad to have this special time to rest, recharge and reconnect with my inner self.
And I do make time for the outdoors almost daily in winter….it is a renewed commitment to being out in all seasons and experiencing what they bring. I absolutely love walking outside, even in cold winds, because it is refreshing. I can give it many other terms: bracing, invigorating, stimulating, energizing, exhilarating, reviving, restorative, rejuvenating, revitalizing.…well you get the picture. And these words also describe how I feel about winter in general.
So I thought I would show you a few more pictures of winter this year…..most of it has happened in just one month, January. Very strange to not have snow for at least 3 months, but I accept each month as they come.
When winter falls on the meadow, it is a breathtaking sight especially when the cold frosty morning meets the sunshine of the new day.
Each plant, coated in frost and snow, shimmers with the sunrise.
The fresh snow sits like cotton balls dipped in glitter.
And as the sun rises, I am intrigued by the bokeh effect on the landscape.
The display changes from different vantage points and lighting. One reason I love to wander around after a snow fall, is to capture the different effects and views.
And even on the grayer days, there is a beauty to the snow.
New snowy white flowers appearing where there was once only a seedhead….I call them winter flowers.
As the gray lightens or darkens the effect on the garden does too. This Clethra bush is stunning when it is splashes with some snow. It completely transforms under a heavier coating.
I hope you enjoyed this little look into winter in my own backyard. We don’t have to venture too far to see the beauty of nature, frosty and sparkling under the winter snows. You can also see some additional winter scenes with, winter at the lake, just a 10 minute walk from my door.
I will be away from my blog for a bit, and won’t have a Thursday post until March 10th. I’ll see you then.
I leave you with a bit more sentiment about winter. Feel free to download the photo and share.
All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-16. Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
It is time for another interview post. I have been getting into a routine every couple of months now, interviewing amazing bloggers who have influenced me. As you might remember, after receiving and award from Julie@Gardening Jules, I had promised to do several interviews of some amazing bloggers and share them with you.
I decided to nip across the pond for this visit. I met this amazing blogger through, Vision and Verb, a wonderful website of talented women. Although I think I knew her a bit before I wrote for V and V, my recollection is fuzzy. I know I felt a kindred spirit for Catherine@Foxglove Lane immediately. Perhaps because her photos are soul refreshing, and her words penetrate me to my core, bringing joy and understanding. Or maybe it was because she lives in Waterford, Ireland. I have only been to Ireland once, 7 years ago, but I fell in love with my ancestral home of Ireland immediately (I am half Irish).
So let’s whiz across the Atlantic and meet Catherine……..
I’m Catherine Drea, a blogger, photographer and facilitator (www.foxglovelane.com) I studied art, psychotherapy, have a Masters in Business Studies but my current love is Contemplative Photography.
I founded a social organisation 20 years ago (www.frameworknet.ie) where I still work part-time.
I live down a long green lane in Ireland with my husband and I have three grown up sons.
1. Catherine, why did you start blogging?
It was a typically Irish grey and wet Sunday about 5 years ago. I had just discovered the world of blogging. I guess I was suddenly inspired to have a go! I didn’t think about it or plan anything. I just sat down and figured out how to do it and in a couple of hours there it was……. my first blogpost!
2. I love the name of your blog. What is its significance?
I chose Foxglove Lane that first day. It is literally the name I have given to our boreen, so full of foxgloves in June. It is home, freedom, peace to me……
3. It sounds like heaven to me. Your blog seems to extend the heaven of your home and Ireland, and others have recognized its wonder through the Ireland Blog Awards you have won. What do these awards mean to you, and what keeps you blogging?
As blogging has become so much more commercial and competitive I am always amazed that my blog, a labour of love (and not about fashion or beauty!) manages to win. I have very mixed feeling about competitions at the best of times, and yet I have benefitted from winning for sure.
What actually keeps me blogging is probably more complex. It is a creative habit, a form of discipline in a way. It helps to keep my creative muscles fit. Without it where would I be, I live in the absolute middle of nowhere on a tiny island in the Atlantic? Through blogging I have been able to share my work, connect with others and create an online home where I can meet people….
4. And this creative home seems one of the reason many of us keep blogging. So how do you define creativity? What does creativity mean to you?
I was an Art teacher and I always felt that creativity was about much more than just artistic attainment. It is about a sense of self, a way of relating to the beautiful mysteries of the world, a way of engaging with your own potential. It is for each of us to find our own way to express that. Creativity for me is an essential part of everyday life……when I start humming I know I am in the zone!!
5. Oh I love this idea of creativity as an essential part of everyday life. Do you have a favorite space or spot that is sacred in or around your home where your creativity flows?
I am lucky to live in a beautiful and tranquil place in a wild and untamed couple of acres. I think my favourite spot is at the desk in my studio which looks out on it all. I am constantly distracted especially in winter by the birds, animals and wild weather changes rolling in from the Atlantic. Home is precious for humans, enabling us to thrive and I feel so lucky to have a roof over my head and a room with a view.
6. I have traveled to Ireland, and loved its beauty? What makes your piece of this special island nirvana for you?
Ha! Nirvana it is definitely not! I say that because Ireland has been through an economic crash that has been a real struggle. There is nowhere on earth without it’s challenges and we have had so many. However, Irish people are essentially happy go lucky and can embrace the dark side without too much trouble. I remember John O Donoghue saying that if you ask an Irish person “How are you” they will shrug and say “Sure not too bad!” or “Pulling the divil by the tail” Light and dark are part of us……So I suppose the special magic is in the resilience and good humour of Irish people.
There is no downside to the beauty of the land and sea, it is stunning….just keeping it in pristine condition for the next generation is our challenge….
That is what I experienced when I visited…the good nature and humor of the Irish people….
7. Tell me what famous person or not so famous person you would like to meet?
Well if I wanted to swoon it would be Leonard Cohen, if I wanted to chat it would have to be Elizabeth Gilbert and I would love to have a coffee with a group bloggers including yourself Donna…..I think it might just happen some day…..
8. Oh I would love to have that meet up one day! So let me shift topics a bit Catherine. What is or would have been your dream career or job?
If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now I think I might have liked to run a seaside cafe in the South of France. Well who wouldn’t!! A lot of Irish people emigrate. It’s a big part of the culture. I was lucky in many ways to be able to stay in Ireland but if I had gone, it would have been to the Mediterranean and the sun! My amazing Grandmother ran a restaurant in a small town in Ireland, long before women had their own businesses. So I think cafe management could be in my genes!
9. Oh that sounds like an amazing dream. And emigrating to the Mediterranean sounds perfect. I know you love to travel. What are some favorite spots you love to travel to and why?
I have a fierce touch of wanderlust!! We can get a ferry across to mainland Europe from Ireland and after that we can drive anywhere to get off the beaten track. (A gift for island dwellers) I love France and last year followed 5 rivers cascading through a very traditional part of central France. Recently we spent a month in the Peleponese in the South of the mainland Greece. The small town of Kardamilli there is a blissful spot. New York where I worked as a student is a favourite city, as is Stockholm where I have family. It can be short or long trip, in wild Ireland or further afield…..any change of scene is inspiration to me!
10. Photography is such a big part of your life. You have an extensive portfolio on your blog where folks can purchase your photos. What is your creative process, and tell us a bit about contemplative photography?
I have always taken photographs. My Dad gave me a camera at the age of 10. I study the surroundings of where I live in minute detail and take every opportunity to learn. Contemplative photography is a more soulful approach. I find it is something a lot of women photographers relate to. Although I am committed to fairly complex day job I usually get time to follow some creative instinct every day. Then on my days off I delve deeper into projects. Working from home helps too. I don’t work well under pressure, for prestige, or for money!! It doesn’t suit my muse! As she is a mother earth sort of character I have to be true to myself and my roots or she will squirm about and fail utterly to co-operate.
11. I love that you are so connected to your muse and so true to her. What are some words of wisdom you have for those of us who are still learning about photography?
Find and follow the joy in what you do. Linger in those moments because photography is endlessly fiddly and years later your taste will have totally changed and what you adore today you will shun later!! I have gone through a lot of glorious colourful phases and find myself longing to return to the simpler days of black and white….you just never know which way you will be drawn…..I think if you are not “feeling it” something is missing……
12. Perfect words of wisdom my friend. So what new form of arts or crafts would you like to learn now?
I saw some incredible forest yarn bombing in the Basque country once and it remained with me. Crochet and knitting are huge again here and maybe that would be a way to that?
13. Catherine you recently wrote a wonderful book, “Seek light, embrace shade, live colour”. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write this book? How does it fulfill part of your soul’s journey?
People are very “helpful” and everyone told me that I “should” Looking back I wasn’t ready at all to make a book and it was actually quite hard to deal with the attention it brought. I had a hunch that people who are not very active on line would finally get to share my world in an actual book…..and that proved to be the case….My soul’s journey is an everyday thing….if the truth be told putting myself “out there” always scares the pants off me!!!
14. Oh I can relate to that and it “scares the pants off of me too”. Can you tell us anything about the process that you went through in creating your book that was a great lesson or an aha moment…words of wisdom?
The process was simple and I loved making the book. Blurb is a very easy platform to learn and work on. I decided to use my Instagram Gallery as the book was square format and tiny 7×7. The writing part as usual were inspired by the images I selected. The great lesson was when the book went out there, the first edition had 12 spelling mistakes!! Living in rural Ireland with a wonky internet connection meant that the corrections didn’t always get saved. So when I thought I had fixed them, they remained unfixed. I nearly had a heart attack when I discovered on the day of the great launch and after a number of sales that I would have to replace the first books. Blurb were totally unsupportive and my aha moment came when I realised that they really have no back up if something goes wrong. Also Blurb don’t share the names of your buyers so it is hard to give good customer service. A serious draw-back…….on the other hand once a book is done it is there forever and that’s a plus.
15. Very helpful information for those of us contemplating creating a book. What new projects are you working on you’d like to share? What are your inspirations for your work?
I would love to create an archive from my first photos aged 10 up to the present day. I might also include some great photos taken by other photographers in the family. I also want to concentrate on making more physical manifestation of my work, I’m not sure what that will be but I hope to pursue a year long woodland study and shoot some video.
My inspiration will always be the light and shade of the day. I watch weather and conditions all the time…..nature is she who must be obeyed, so you just need to be ready to heed her. I also love studying the work of other photographers, poets and artists.
I love the idea of a woodland shoot. And there is that kindred spirit again …..nature.
16. Is there anything else you want to tell us about your life, and what might be next for you?
Donna I will be 62 in 2016!!! How did I get here and where am I going to? One thing is sure, none of us is getting out of here alive!
I am not ambitious as such, more hopeful and steadfast. And I know that every moment counts!
My goodness you are still so young my friend, and I love your words of wisdom….every moment does count especially now as I am moving to the other side of middle age….59 for me this year.
It was such a delight talking with Catherine. Learning about her philosophy, her spirit and her creative process. It renews me as does her beautiful photography. One of the reason I enjoy these interviews is the connections I make on such a deeper level with amazing, gifted, talented and inspirational folks. I hope you enjoyed getting to know Catherine a bit more. I know I certainly did!
Please make sure you visit Catherine in all the amazing places she hangs out.
All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016. Photos are the sole property of Catherine@Foxglove Lane and their use in this post is by permission of the photographer.
“Making the beginning is one third of the work.”~Irish Proverb
As the year was coming to a close, I decided to wander out to my meadow. Really a sanctuary garden, wild, with native plants, a couple of birdhouses and trees. It lies just beyond the fence. It is a place of quiet, curiosity and peace…where I can commune with nature and wildlife.
And it was here, while I snapped pictures of the dried and tattered plants, that I realized I had a full and abundant life. I was lucky to be alive, to have relatively good health, a partner who gave me support and unconditional love, and family and friends who were still there for me.
I started to think about the upcoming year. What would it hold? What did I want to accomplish, how did I want to live out this next year of 2016? I had recently adopted my word for the year, INNOVATE. And I was thinking how this word would guide me.
I was also thinking what color this year would be. I have been working with the Colors and Numbers, by Louise Hay, since 1998. Each year has a number, unique to you, that matches with a color. And when we tune into the color of the day or year, we can find more harmony and flow in our lives. I have found this to be true, and I enjoy the colors. Before I tuned into colors and numbers, I was wearing too much of one color especially black or gray. This exploration of color was much more creative and fun.
You don’t have to believe in colors and numbers to have fun with it. And when I explored this year for me, I realized it was a Personal Year 4. But not just any 4, a 22/4. Meaning, when I added my birthdate and this year, I got 22. The color for the 22/4 year is coral. And its significant meaning, Greatness. And when I coupled it with my word for the year, Innovate, I saw a wonderful synchronicity developing.
This 22/4 year, superior accomplishments could be achieved…maybe writing and
publishing that book….it has been on my mind of late. It is also a year where I can have success, if I work on big plans for the good of the community. It is said to be a powerful year. A bit daunting and exciting, and definitely a year to Innovate.
As I tried to make more meaning of all of this, I decided this might be the year to create a manifesto. A manifesto is quite simply a written declaration of my intentions, motives, or views. And I am making mine for one year. Not really goals per se, but more how I intend to live this Innovative life in 2016.
Creating a manifesto, is a work in progress so I hope to refine it as the year progresses….check in and see how I am doing. And hopefully make this a yearly practice, if it helps organize and further guide me.
As I Innovate my life in 2016, I am living a life:
Seeking out new destinations to explore
Inspired by creativity
Spent in the arms of nature more often
Of new experimentswith growing, cooking and eating new foods
Of new habits that facilitate innovation, creativity, health and happiness
Moving more each day; stretching my body, mind and spirit.
Of gratitude and abundance
Of courage showcasing my talents to the world
Connecting with more people, more often
Of beauty surrounding me inside and outside my abode
Tuned into my creative channels allowing them to come forth and flourish
Serving my spiritual and intellectualneeds
Do you have a guiding word or phrase for the year? Maybe a manifesto? How have you decided to embrace the new year?
Special Note:The pictures here are from my meadow at the beginning of winter.
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
Just before the New Year, I have a tradition of choosing a word to guide me through the coming year. It becomes my muse, my mantra, my guide. In 2014, as I had retired, I chose THRIVE. I needed to remind myself that I was healing and to nurture myself….that I was still alive and thriving. In 2015, I chose SOAR. As I had healed more, I felt like flying. Getting above the clouds, and the gray, to see what was over the horizon. It felt like a year to just enjoy my life.
Now with 2016, I am feeling like I need to get out of my cocooned comfort zone. At first I thought my word might be Connection or even Diving, but neither felt quite right. And as I started my search, I happened on, Move. Yes, I did need to Move more….still not quite right.
Then I saw three more: Stretch, Integrate and Innovate. Stretch, now that was a great word. I needed to let go and get out there more….yes, this would do me nicely. But you know, I liked Integrate. I have so many skills I need to use more…to integrate the parts of me as a whole. Maybe, this is the word.
But Innovate was still circling around. I had seen this word before in a Facebook game I played.
This word will guide you through the year of 2016! It will support you in your daily struggles and situations that may appear hopeless. This word will always show you the silver lining so that you won’t ever need to worry. It was chosen for you specifically, embrace it!
OK this sounds like a word I could embrace. But this word was big….so big it scared me. Am I up to the task of this word Innovation? I don’t know! It is like Stretch, but a bit more forceful. Like a shove in the back to get out on that stage and show your stuff. Not exactly what an introvert wants to do. But maybe, that is exactly what I need. After all I did say I needed to let go, to move, to go beyond my comfort zone. Stretch could help me do this, but it is too comfy a word. I might not Stretch enough.
So I vacillated between the two some more, Stretch and Innovate; Innovate and Stretch. As I thought more about Innovate, I saw for me that it could mean new, different, expand, branch out, extend….and Stretch. But it adds a different dimension to Stretch….a little more oomph! And it incorporates Move and Integrate…I see me doing more, and using more skills with Innovate.
Oh yes….just maybe. Perhaps Innovate will help me break free from some self-imposed bonds….to experience life more without fear, or with accepting there will be fear. So I took the leap…and decided on Innovate.
It is causing some butterflies in my stomach….a scary excitement as to what this year will hold. But oh, how I am looking forward to it. As I am already encountering situations, I am looking on them with fresh new eyes…a new perspective…with Innovation. And on this New Year’s Eve, I ready to Innovate in 2016!
Do you have a word to guide you this year?
Note:The flowers pictured here are cosmos, which in Greek means order, harmony, or theworld. In the Language of Flowers, it also means innocence. The collage of words was made in Wordle.
I leave you with my image for Innovate 2016. Feel free to download this photo and share.
All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016. Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.
“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”~John Muir
It’s time to bring you another interview with an amazing person I have grown to know in the blogosphere. As you might remember, after receiving and award from Julie@Gardening Jules, I had promised to do several interviews of some amazing bloggers and share them with you.
So for todays interview, I am talking with Beth@PlantPostings. I met Beth over 5 years ago when I started my garden blog. We seem to connect so easily. We both gardened in Zone 5, and my weather was very similar to Beth’s in Wisconsin. We both enjoyed native plants, and quickly started a shared seasonal meme…really Beth started hers first, Garden Lessons Learned, which inspired me to look at seasons differently. And from there, Garden Lessons Learned spun off Seasonal Celebrations. I love how both these seasonal memes have enriched my life. And both will be starting for the new season around December 1st.
Beth is a wonderful writer, photographer and gardener…and she has other hidden talents too. So lets meet Beth ..
Hi, Im Beth. I call Southern Wisconsin home, but I have a bit of wanderlust so I enjoy traveling when the budget and the calendar allow.
Im a mom (of two wonderful young adults), a wife, and a communications consultant. Im also a lifelong gardener, a Wisconsin Master Naturalist volunteer, and an amateur photographer.
Im often distracted by wildflowers, pollinators, and scenic overlooks. My husband and I both enjoy hiking, so we spend many weekends on Wisconsins amazing trails.
I like to experiment with plantspushing zones, playing with microclimates, and practicing companion planting. My garden is organic. For at least the past decade, weve found natural ways to keep garden pests, invasive plants, and plant diseases at bay. Its actually a fun challenge!
1.I really love this picture of you Beth! Let me start by asking, why did you start your blog?
Its a very long story, but Ill try to be brief. My career has always included writing and editing as part of my job description, and Ive been a gardener and plant-lover my entire adult life. When my kids were young, I came across a software package that was an encyclopedia, of sorts, of plant life. So the interest has always been there. But I guess the turning point came when I realized how to merge the writing with the curiosity and love of plants. I started tracking all the plants in my garden and learning the details about them. I inquired about writing for an online gardening publication. The editor accepted some of my work and suggested I start a gardening blog. I havent looked back since.
2. Beth I really enjoy my visits to your blog, and have always been intrigued by its name. What is the significance of the title of your blog?
Thanks, Donna. This is the embarrassing part. Starting a gardening blog became a must do very quickly for me. I didnt want to spend months or weeks analyzing it, because I was afraid I wouldnt do it. So, I started researching names that were already claimed and those that were available. When I found out PlantPostings.com was available, I grabbed it (registered the URL web address)! I couldnt believe no one had used that simple URL for a blog. Since then, Ive always been a little sheepish about the simplicity of it, but someone at the Garden Bloggers Fling said the nicest thing to mein effect, that she liked it, and that it was easy to remember. I shared plans to potentially change it, and she said she thought it was perfect the way it is. 🙂
3. So what keeps you blogging?
I cant think of any other thing Ive done (besides being a mom) that has been more rewarding. The combination of gardening/botany with photography, writing, and making friendships with like-minded people around the world has truly changed my life. I occasionally need a break from it, but I always want to start back up almost as soon as I start taking a break. Its not something I have to do; I dont get paid for it. Instead, its a hobby or maybe its better described as an avocation. Perhaps thats what motivates meI enjoy it, so I do it!
4. I couldn’t agree more with you Beth. I like your description of blogging….it does feel like an avocation. What are some of your creative endeavors that make your heart sing?
I was going to pass on this question, and then I recalled situationsnot really creative endeavorsthat have happened through grace. These are the moments that fill my soul with joy. I think of them as gifts from God. When I happen to be in the right place at the right time to witness small miracles of light, of natural occurrences, of interactions with other species those are pure moments of bliss. I get the feeling most gardeners experience these moments from time to time, because were so aware and appreciative of the world around us.
5. Beth, I really love how you expanded the question….yes creativity, nature, small miracles and bliss. As you are immersed in the creativity around you, what is your creative process?
Ha! Well, I have about 10 blog post ideas rolling around in my head at any one time. Some of them come to me in those moments of grace mentioned in the previous answer. Others relate to other aspects of my life that seem to spill over into the blog. Finally, when Ive tried a gardening technique or had experience with a particular plant, I like to share it just as I enjoy reading about other gardeners experiences. Some of the ideas stay in my head a very long time until I have the courage to share them. I may never muster the guts to post some of them, but then maybe thats a good thing. 😉
6. Let’s stick with the creativity theme a bit longer, and explore what new form of arts or crafts you would like to learn?
Good question! I always like to try new things. But one thing Ive always wanted to do is play the harp. Ill probably never do it (too expensive), but I have this romantic notion of being a harpist in hotel lobbies, at weddings, and for other events. I like the idea of sort of being in the mix of activitysetting the tone and being on stage, while at the same time sort of being in the background.
7. Oh I love the idea of you playing the harp, Beth. You never know, you might find someone willing to give you a few lessons.
Let’s shift direction a bit. I know you have traveled to many wonderful places, so where would you like to travel next?
My next trips will revolve mostly around family events in California and Arizonaboth wonderful destinations and Im thrilled to be able to attend. But, theres also a very special trip on the radar for 2017! I hope it will materialize. Ill keep you posted on the blog!
8. I also have family in CA and AZ….beautiful spots to visit. And I look forward to hearing about the special trip!! OK, here’s a fun question….Tell me what famous person or not so famous person you would like to meet?
Another great question, and there are so many people! The current Pope is pretty awesome. I would have loved to have had a discussion with John Muir. I also find people like climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe fascinating. Shes brave enough to share her strong religious faith and at the same time her understanding of science and the impacts human activities have on our shared planet.
You brought back John Muir to me through your blog. And I wanted to celebrate your appreciation for him, so I did include one of your favorite quotes at the top of the post.
9. Beth, what is or would have been your dream career or job?
Im living the dream now. Making a living as a communications consultant and having a gardening blog on the side is pretty nifty. Maybe I can combine the two someday in a plant-related book. 😉
Now that would be wonderful!
10. As gardening is a great passion of yours, what is your creative process when gardening? Do you have a special type of gardening or garden style you love?
Ive been blessed with some wonderful garden mentors whove practiced various styles of gardening. Regarding my own style and process: I try to start with the big picture. What ecosystem am I dealing with? What plants are here? Which plants will grow best in this location? How can I make it aesthetically pleasing with curb appeal and still keep it wildlife-friendly? My gardening projects vary with the seasons, my budget, and my curiosity.
11. I really like your thought process Beth…we have a similar style. I know you love native plants and wildlife. Can you tell us how you came to learn about native plants and what about them inspires you?
Ive always been fascinated by native plants and wildflowers. I love to hike and photograph the plants I see along the way. Also, a large section of our property is woodland. Weve chosen not to develop it. As far as I know, its never been developed. Its always exciting to see what plants pop up naturally every year. We do try to remove invasive species, but that job continues every season. We want to try to support the native plants that are naturally here because they best support the native pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. With that said, some sections of my garden include non-native plants, but theyre mostly located near the house.
How special to have a woodland on your property. I have always wanted to own woodland to preserve it.
12. Is there anything else you want to share with us?
The garden blogger community is such an inspiring group of people. I feel blessed to be part of a global community of individuals who, like me, love plants, and share a mission to make the world a better place.
Didn’t I tell you Beth is an amazing person….I hope you enjoyed her fabulous vision of life and creativity. And yes, these are her incredible photos of her garden and surrounds.
Isn’t her love of wildlife, and passion for gardening contagious? And she is just an all around really nice person; generous, caring and so helpful. I count myself lucky to know her through this virtual world. I hope one day we will meet up, and share some time in a garden setting maybe with a bit of harp music!
I leave you with another one of Beth’s favorite John Muir quotes:
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”
Here is where you can find Beth….please make a point of visiting her.
All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015. Photos are the sole property of Beth@PlantPostings, and their use in this post is by permission of the photographer.
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” ~Cynthia Occelli
It seems appropriate in late autumn to look back on the garden. As I assess my garden, weed and clear a bit of debris, I look for the changes my garden has been going through. How it has grown, and what future paths it may take.
And with this time in my garden, I also look inward. To reflect on where I have grown and how far I have come this past year. Autumn spells the time of moving from the full moon of summer to the waning moon….a great time of introspection…of restoration and preparing for the dreaming time of winter.
So what do I see in my garden as it declines and goes back to the soil…to the roots? I see seeds forming everywhere. Nuggets of wisdom that are forming on the plants, falling to the ground or flying on the breeze to land and grow again. Perhaps morphing a bit, growing bigger and stronger plants.
Seeds are amazing. To me the giver of life. They hold everything that is needed to grow a complete plant that bears fruit or flower. They symbolize the cycle of life. And when I hold seeds in my hand, I am grateful for their work.
In order to grow, we do have to crack our hard outer shells, much like a seed. We draw in nutrients to help us set down deep roots. Then we grow from those core roots finally producing fruit. But it doesn’t end there. As that fruit holds the seeds to continue the cycle of life. During autumn, I look for the seeds that are being formed inside of me. Which will I give nourishment to so the fruit of my dreams is realized.
My garden is the perfect spot to reflect on life. And my life seems to follow nature….follow the seasons and the cycles of the moon. And while the seed represents my life, I think it also represents my soul. So I come to sit with my soul now in the waning garden, under a waning moon. To meditate in silence, clear the debris and make room for new growth to come.
We are growing constantly even if we don’t immediately see it. Nothing in nature remains the same, and so it is with us. And as the changes I have gone through this year reach the nourishing light of day, I am grateful for them all. These changes represent times of learning and growth.
So now I take seeds into my hands in autumn, and cast them upon the barren soil wishing them gratitude with water and light….planning and dreaming in winter to see them sprout in spring. There is no fear as I wait and dream….just pure joy and anticipation for changes yet to come.
So how is the garden of your life? What dreams have you been casting onto the soil?
Special Note:The pictures here are of Autumn grasses from my garden this year, as nature prepares to cast the seeds produced. Letting them rest as she turns her energies inward to replenish herself.
“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ~Walt Disney
This month I thought I would bring you another interview with an amazing person I have grown to know in the blogosphere. As you might remember, after receiving and award from Julie@Gardening Jules, I had promised to do several interviews of some amazing bloggers and share them with you.
So for today’s interview, I am talking with Jen Vandervoort@The Light Laughed. You might know Jen from her days blogging at Muddy Boot Dreams. That’s where I met Jen, when she lived on the coast of British Columbia and created magic in her pictures and prose. I think that was over 5 years ago now. Since then Jen has been on many new paths, and I have enjoyed seeing her bloom and grow. She is an inspiration for me in so many ways….her photography, her blogging style, the way she creates community through her blog and her willingness to keep creating new ideas.
So let’s meet Jen……..
Hi I’m Jen, chasing a laughing light through the Okanagan, camera in hand. Photographer by heart, blogger by day fan of Instagram, and Pinterest for their visual appeal. Weaving words among my images, sharing stories, and exploring the world of blogging with a focus on midlifers.
I believe in being our own personal best as bloggers no matter what level we aspire to.
I’m a co-founder of a FB group for bloggers who’d like to grow, share, and support each other through blogging, we’re always welcoming new members, and have been working on a few interesting changes to roll out in soon to make the group even better.
1. Jen it has been such a pleasure knowing you. As I said I am inspired by your blog and your style of blogging. So why did you start blogging?
I discovered blogging about at the same time digital cameras became affordable. I’d been sharing digital photos with friends, and on Flickr, so when I discovered blogging it just evolved. There is something in all of us that seeks affirmation for our creativity, and blogs allow us to share our lives so easily.
When I came across The Pioneer Woman’s blog it changed my life in so many ways, she introduced me to blogging, and Photoshop. I happily realized that I could start to build a community of amazing people to surround myself with who would share their work, and appreciate my work too.
2. I bet there is someone who we can say inspired all of us to blog. What inspired you to recently change your blog?
I moved from Blogger to Word Press because I was feeling hemmed in, and had too many issues with being shut down without reason. I like my content, and images to belong to me, not to the whim of some computer nerd tucked away.
Word Press allows me to own my own content, it’s self hosted, and Blogger can no longer shut down, or remove my blog.
3. I understand wanting to own your own content. So Jen, what is the significance of the title of your blog?
The Light Laughed reflects who I am now as a blogger, and photographer. When I’m out there with my camera, I’m searching for the light, where does it come from, what is it doing? Have you ever watched the light drifting through the branches of trees. It settles, flits, laughs….that’s how I got my blog name…wandering down the country road in my new life, camera in hand, watching the light laugh.
We’ve reached our Muddy Boot Dreams, it was a long journey of almost 12 years, and it’s wonderful to be here, but the name just didn’t fit anymore.
4. I love what you say about the light. I too found inspiration in that light. What keeps you blogging?
My community of blogging friends, and an urge to share these small wonderful moments of everyday joy. The way you’d point out something interesting while you’re out with friends is how I want to blog. We all have a story to tell, to share, to read in the comments that my readers felt like they were there with me, that it touched their hearts…that’s what keeps me blogging.
5. I couldn’t agree more about the blogging community. What are some of your creative endeavors that give you pleasure?
Photography is my most beloved create endeavor right now. I am also writing more, and exploring the exciting world of short videos.
6. Your photography is incredible…more like art to me. It speaks to my soul. Do you have a favorite space or spot that is sacred in or around your home?
My garden is an organic, natural space, where wildlife and birds wander, and my heart lives there, it’s where I find my peace.
7. Nature and gardens do that for us, don’t they? I know you have moved to your dream spot. What makes this place nirvana for you?
Each time we had to leave to go back to the coast I couldn’t help but cry during the drive back, an intense feeling of having left a piece of my heart behind. The day we moved up here it was as if I was given it back. It’s not just being surrounded by family and friends, it’s a homecoming.
It’s where we belong, and are flourishing.
8. So let’s shift a bit. Tell me what famous person or not so famous person you would like to meet?
Ansel Adams…The Group of Seven, Emily Carr, to all of them I would have liked to say, thank you for changing the way the world looks at art and photography.
9. I would love to meet and just observe Ansel Adams. And I can see why he inspires you through your photography. What is or would have been your dream career or job?
I think I’m living it now. But if I had to choose, a small shop, selling stationary, beautiful flowers, books, and gifts, tea and scones…that would be my dream.
10. And I would love to frequent that shop especially for a cup of tea and to read a special book. If it is possible to pick a favorite book, what would you choose?
I love to read, and of each good book I’ve read the latest would be one of my favorites. Being immersed in the pages, reading the words, the tactile dragging of fingers over good quality paper while turning the page.
Visually stunning photographs that transport me into others worlds, where I get to walk among the characters, sit on chairs in beautifully decorated rooms, smell the flowers in the gardens…
11. What are some spots you love to travel to and why?
New Zealand is on my list for a repeat visit…it captured my heart, if I didn’t live here, I would try to live there.
12. Photography is such a big part of your life. What is your creative process?
Creativity’s an intense feeling in my heart…[ I know I talk about hearts a lot ] …but it’s that feeling inside that drives me to create. When something is evolving creatively in me it’s almost as if it takes over and won’t be silenced until it’s made. You just have to go with it.
13. The pictures here are all incredible creations of Jen’s. Aren’t they just stunning? Jen, what are some words of wisdom you have for those of us who are still learning about photography?
The most important thing you can do is practice, everyone improves that way. Learn the basics of composition, and technique, challenge yourself to move beyond the Auto button. Constantly compare, not to others but to your own older work, so you can see how much you are learning and how your style is evolving. That’s what is going to inspire you the most.
14. Ah yes that Auto button. I am still working on moving beyond it. Someday soon I think…..What new form of arts or craft would you like to learn?
I would love to learn to create encaustic art with found items and my photos. Something about working with bee’s wax makes me think it would be very interesting.
15. Well that is a new one for me, encaustic painting. It sounds fascinating. Is there anything else you want to tell us about your life, and what might be next for you?
I’m eager to explore more about designing websites, creating digital goods, and video, that’s where my heart seems to be headed lately. I think the journey has just started…and it’s going to be interesting.
Jen, I know I will be anxiously awaiting your next creative steps…..
I hope you enjoyed this little talk with Jen Vandervoort. I love learning a bit more about the creative people who touch my soul, and inspire me to move beyond my limits. Jen you are definitely one of these inspirational people. Please make sure you visit Jen in all the wonderful places she hangs out.
Here are her most popular links…Although Jen is on Twitter and G+, she says she doesn’t really visit there too much.
All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015. Photos are the sole property of Jen@The LightLaughed and their use in this post is by permission of the photographer.
“A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.”
~ Denis Waitley
I promised I would finish up the photography challenge, TheAugust Break, the creation of Susannah Conway. Today I have the last 4 prompts, and my interpretations. These last few words seemed even more of a challenge, but I practiced patience and waited as the inspiration took hold. Some came to me days later, and I changed the images that didn’t seem to work for me. So here we go.
The first picture above is Day 30-Smile. Yes that is me, or what I was willing to show of me as I wanted to emphasize my everyday smile. Just a hint of a smile always on my lips as my mouth upturns and my cheeks puff out. This photo was actually taken on my Mac computer using the application, Photo Booth. The camera on my Mac is easier to use for taking self portraits. And I love some of the effects that this application has. The effect I used for this was picture is called, Color Pencil.
Day 28-In My BagThis particular prompt had me stumped. I had many ideas none of which I liked. As I was going by the pond, I noticed the yellow waterlily finally blooming at the end of summer, which was late. And I remembered it grows in a cloth bag at the bottom of our pond. The cattails have all but crushed this waterlily, but I was happy to see it was not going to be pushed out.
Then the next day, I saw the new bag of my favorite coffee waiting to be opened and ground. And it hit me! I opened the bag on our kitchen table and let it spill out. And here are 3 views of the coffee beans (that was in my bag of coffee) spilled on the table. I love these images and can still smell the coffee.
Day 29-Listening I knew I wanted to take a picture of our, almost antique, receiver. My husband has had this receiver for a long time, even though we no longer have the turntable. We have a CD changer still hooked up to it, and we love to use the radio.
Day 31-August Was…. Full of Discovery. Everywhere I looked in my garden, the smallest creatures seemed to bring delight. And I continued to see more and more special scenes like this one. This a Gray Tree Frog. They are more gray when they are living closer to our trees, and green when in the garden. As I walked by the stalk of a plant, this tiny green blob caught my eye. Only an inch long, they are hard to see, but they make a mighty song in high summer when mating. The pictures were processed a bit differently to highlight this little creature.
At the end of the post is another little creature hard to see when they rest in our big ash trees, on tiny branches. Of course I am talking about the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. This is either a female of juvenile hummer.