Wilding Thumbles are even more shy than their Thumbles and Thimble Thumbles cousins. Because of their mossy green hats and beards, they are hard to spot in the shadows of the forest floor.
Last Fall, my words stopped flowing as my creativity took a different turn. I have needle felted for several years, but it has become a passion of late. Among my new favorite things are my Thumbles...
Thumbles are wee folk who live quiet lives in forests, meadows, and gardens (so you may find bits and brambles in their beards, hair, and clothing). They are particularly fond of trees, hills, and fairy rings. They are hardworking and playful, and love to spread smiles wherever they go. Thumbles are needle felted from wool and other fibers (and a little bit of magic), and each one is unique.
And, new for Spring, I've created Flower Thumble. Each one is adorned with his favorite flower and, like Spring, will warm your heart.
I love the idea of one word to focus on for 2018. This goes beautifully with my vision board. So my word is: AUTHENTICITY
I am striving to be who I really am at all times. No more self-editing, no more tamping down the inner wild woman or quieting the creative being that I am. I will make the decisions that bring me joy this year, and I will reduce or eliminate the 'shoulds' that my intuition tells me to shy away from.
I process life through writing, so here's a bit of that...
I choose me, from now on. I’m done being the only one who tries in a relationship. If I’m going to do that, I might as well be alone and do it. Same thing, less disappointment. But, if you’re in a relationship, I have some advice for you, from one who has been disappointed, time and time again.
Be yourself from day one. Let him/her fall in love with the real you. It’s way less work, much more exhilarating, and you won’t have to see that disappointment in those pretty eyes you love when the real you shows up. Anything else is a lie and a really crappy way to start off a relationship. It never works, it always backfires, and it is just a lousy way to be.
Think of the other person. Sounds simple, but it’s something that gets forgotten pretty early on. Change of plans? Have the decency to ask if it’s ok, even if you can’t get out of it. Let the other person know you’re thinking of them. Text in the morning, or at night. Hint that you bought that birthday present early. Get excited about events that honor your other half and follow through by actually, you know, attending. Consider what he might want to eat and cook it. Make her coffee in the morning, just the way she likes it. Go see the movie he wants to see, for once, instead of insisting on a compromise.
Be happy to see your partner every single day. Greet him with a kiss. Meet her at the door with a smile and a hug. Send her favorite burrito to her as a lunch surprise. Put some chocolates on his freshly changed pillowcase. Do the little things that express ‘I love you’ that only you two know. Keep those butterflies fluttering.
Remember that intimacy begins long before you get physical. Be kind. Be considerate. Be pleasant. Be thoughtful. Be affectionate with no expectations. Want to be with the other person, share space, and share your day. Choose him over everyone else. Touch her hair and tuck it behind her ear, as you kiss her forehead. Touch is essential to us all, but it doesn’t always have to be about sex.
Listen to hear, not to respond. Need to share? Can you wait until he finishes his thoughts? Can you put aside your own need to talk, to really listen to her? Listening simply as waiting to respond means you will be missing a great deal. And when it comes up again, you’ll have to feign forgetting, since you didn’t hear it the first time.
Put your shit away. Yes, please, put your stuff where it belongs. Hampers are for dirty clothes. Shelves, drawers, and hangers are for clean ones. When you move in, unpack. When you dirty a dish, wash it, dry it, and shelf it. When you do laundry, put it away. When you eat take out, throw out the wrappings when you’re done. Don’t have to move mountains of trash as he’s trying to get into your car. Don’t leave piles of tissues by your side of the bed. I assure you, cleaning is sexy (for the other person). Living like a slob is not.
Put that other shit away too. Your ex? Get over it! Your mom? Um, just no. Do not bring up every other person in your life who has hurt you, let you down, and disappointed you, in every single disagreement. Just no.
Know your limits. Are you a mean drunk? Don’t drink. Do you chain smoke when stressed? Maybe find a better, healthier way to relieve stress. Are you a bitch when you're hungry and tired? Maybe snack and nap more. And if you do overstep, be sorry, be responsible, and do not blame her for your failings. Do not apologize to him with “I’m so sorry, but…” Yeah, just don’t.
About apologies. They only mean something the first time. You do the wrong thing. You apologize. Here’s the tricky part: you’re not supposed to do that thing again. If you do, knowing it was wrong the first time, you aren’t sorry. The word, and your word, both lose their meaning from that point on.
Show up. In person or in spirit, if you can’t be there in person. Show up in every way you can, whenever you can, for as much and as long as you can. Be present when you’re together. Be reachable when you’re not. Be excited and proud for him, when it’s about him. Be quiet, when she needs you. Pay attention to the details, the mood changes, and to growing silence when it shows up. Be there for your love, exactly the way you want him to be there for you.
So, for me, I guess I'll schedule "good morning, beautiful" texts to myself and take myself out to the movies from now on...
What a journey it has been! Three years ago this month, I published my first book. It was fitting it was a fairy tale, because that’s what it feels like holding my published works in my hands. Now, three years later, I can’t hold them all at once! Fourteen books and counting, with more in the works. So, what have I learned along the way?
Today marks a milestone, a dream come true. Today, roots that were planted a year and a half ago burst into bloom and bear fruit. Today, everything we’ve worked for is made real. Today, I own a bookstore.
I feel a bit like the Velveteen Rabbit, as I gather supplies to set up the ribbon cutting for our new shop. I feel that love has made me real. The love of my daughter, who is the best business partner and friend I could ask for. The love of friends who have stood by us through thick, thin, and more. The love of my parents through the years and the veil of heaven. The love I feel for creativity and the drive I have been blessed with to make things happen. The love for all who share my passion for books and handcrafting.
I always say I am living, walking proof that all things are possible. That is no less true on this day, this special day that marks a new beginning. Even now, we are working to change the face of indie publishing and to lift up all of us who believe in this endeavor. We want to create a community around the amazing work of indie authors, get their books the exposure they deserve, and help them succeed. Books are not a zero sum proposition and it is possible for all of us to succeed, if we’re willing to do the work. Well, Ellie and I are not only willing to do so, we have done so, and we’re not stopping now.
More is in the works for this little shop of ours… this little slice of heaven, this magic in the midst of the suburbs. As always, our plans are bigger than four walls and a floor. They are flying higher than any ceiling. They are deeper than any tap root. Our hopes and dreams for the Pipe & Thimble Bookstore and all whose books pass through our door are as limitless as our passion for what we do.
It probably won’t surprise you that I’ve been thinking a lot about growth lately. More specifically, regrowth. After all, I’m a gardener. And one of the things I’ve spent a lot of time doing lately is regrowing vegetables. It’s not only a cost-effective way to eat well; it’s also fascinating to watch the stub of a vegetable become yet another vegetable. The same, and yet different. Also not all that surprising is that the regrowth always begins at the ‘heart’ of the stub.
I’ve been experiencing regrowth of my own, and it’s made me think about dreams. My daughter mentioned the other day that I demonstrated a particularly good ‘mom moment’. It was in a conversation about how, when she needed to step away from college, I just said, ok, let’s do what you need to do. That she could always go back. This, in direct opposition to the usual admonitions that one must always finish what one starts and one will never go back once an endeavor is laid aside undone.
I’m living proof that is simply not true. Left college at twenty years of age, due to life having other plans for me and my family. Got my degree at forty-eight. Fought my way out of wheelchairs and braces more than once. Started my life over with nothing four times. I could keep going but you probably have the point of this now.
'Bloom where you are planted' is a well-known adage. I would add, 'trim those roots and regrow where you’re planted, over and over again'. Dreams do come true, with hard work and a lot of pruning. Get out those garden shears and get started! Your heart is ready.
I believe that there are a multitude of gifts and talents within each of us, but we are taught to fear risk and failure… as if those are a bad things. Conformity is offered as safety and security, but it dulls the need to create, the drive to make. Creation requires chaos, after all, a whirlwind of thought and action that brings new things to life. Words, sculptures, paintings, exquisite meals… all art is born of letting the primal passions reign and the soul reach out from behind our skin. There are no points for neatness, staying inside the lines, or towing the party line.
I am constantly asked how I make such things or do such things, given how much patience they must require. The truth is, the art forms I pursue require no patience at all. If they did, it would be because they do not flow naturally from my psyche, that they are forced exercises. Think of it this way, writing that book report on that book you were told to read? How did that work for you? But, if you’d been allowed to choose the book and the form your report would take (storyboard, one man play, song, poem, news report…), how much more would you have enjoyed the process and the result?
If an art form or a form of self-expression call to you, it is a call from within to create. When I saw needle-felting for the first time, my fingers literally itched to try it. And I did. It came so naturally, it felt as if I were born to do it. Weaving Viking knit jewelry, on the other hand, was painfully tedious. My one experience taught me two things: I am vastly impressed by my friend who does it so beautifully and I am not meant to make Viking knit jewelry.
There is a saying that “if you can dream it, you can do it”. It is this passion to create that I believe lies behind that saying. For we dream based on our passions and our soul’s voice. I don’t dream of being a figure skater, but you might. Our souls ache for different things and it is those deep, abiding longings that are reaching out to create something to contribute.
The universe is in a constant state of creation and, as part of that universe, as beings made up of stardust, we owe it to ourselves and the world around us to answer that soul cry to do the same.
I am thrilled to say that we are closing in on the final moments of creating a new anthology, and I am equally thrilled to be a part of this project. Every book I publish feels like the first one, for so many reason, and this one is no different.
The Playlist is an anthology of stories inspired by music and lyrics, and the stories contained within its pages are as diverse as the writers involved and the songs they chose.
This wonderful book includes my own story, Going Home (inspired by the song of the same name by Mary Fahl), as well as stories by Chip Davis, Kindra Sowder, Aimee Shaye, Ellie Lieberman, Ben Lieberman, Alyse Taggart, and Toni Kerr. Our gorgeous cover art was created by Toni as well, and it captures the depth, color, and intensity of the stories inside it.
We are all moved by music, and the songs we love become the soundtrack of our lives. Experience The Playlist and add it to your collection of favorites!
Anyone who knows me knows I love to garden. It’s not a hobby; it’s an inherent passion. I was raised with gardening, it’s in my blood and my DNA. I have always had something growing, no matter where I lived, even on a challenging small third-floor balcony. And, like writing, there is a madness that comes with not getting my fingers into the soil, just as there is a madness when I cannot sit down and write.
I am back to growing things and feeling the inexplicable joy that comes with it. Thankfully, I not only share this passion with my grown daughter but also with a soul friend. Together, the three of us are squealing over seedlings and sighing over successes. We mourn the loss of the plant the way we would mourn the loss of a friend. And, newcomers are placed into their new ‘digs’ with much reverence and hope.
We were chatting this morning about our joy over our new shared gardening adventures, along with our excitement over new tools to prepare our raw, healthy meals (we share the Unchained Spirit lifestyle as well). As I usually do, I described my feeling about growing plants from seeds by saying I feel like a five-year-old, in awe of the magic and power within one seed. But, it’s more than that.
We grab food at the market and don’t realize it isn’t food at all. In fact, I know someone who will only eat those perfectly-formed, unmarred tomatoes from the market, because these are what tomatoes have come to be for many. Give me that bumpy, scarred, striped, weird-looking heirloom tomato any day, over the gassed, fake, tomato-like-object. I know what tomatoes tasted like fresh and warm from the garden, and I will settle for no less.
There is a primal connection to world around us, that we tend to lose in our fast-paced, internet-connected world. Growing a garden requires patience and nurturing. The world slows down when you garden, and you must wait for nature to take its course. You see tiny changes each day, if you stop to look for them. You can hear hummingbird wings and bees buzzing too, if you listen beyond the sounds of traffic. Like the soul-response to the ocean, its size and its sounds and its smells, my soul sings in the garden, and my roots flourish. We watched one honeybee enjoy the drips of water from a window box the other day, but we would have missed it if we hadn’t slowed down to be in that moment.
It is the same with eating raw, or almost raw, food and drinking healthy herbal teas or lemon-infused water. You slow down, as you select your ingredients and plan your meal. You slow down, as you prepare your food, and feel connected to the rain and sun and soil that grew it. You slow down to focus on all the things within your meal that will nourish and heal you. You relish the tastes and textures, different in each bite. And, you never feel deprived, because this is real food, and it’s as beautiful and rich as you could want.
It is also the same with living a life with an unchained spirit. So many of us live for the weekend and try to fit an entire life within those two days. We spend so much time getting places, we forget to live in those moments as well. But, moments come and go, and are lost to us forever, if we don’t slow them down and plant seeds of joy along the way. It’s in the planting that we can find joy, as well as when those seeds sprout. It’s in the tending of the dream, as well as in its coming true. It’s even in the sorrow, that we can find joy sprouting, as we remember and share those memories with others. And, it’s in the preparation of a meal, as well as the mindful enjoyment of it, that we find nourishment and renewal.
Stop today to plants seeds around you and within you. Nurture them, tend them, prune them, and harvest them, and dance with joy as you do.
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