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Inspiring Quotes: Big Magic

Have you read Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, that was released back in 2015? It is one of my favorite books. It is for anyone who wants to live a more creative life. I have referred to this book countless times for inspiration and guidance. Hopefully, these words, shown below, will provide you a little inspiration today, as it is now officially spring!

Below are a few of my favorites quotes from Big Magic:

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

“If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.”

“All I know for certain is that this is how I want to spend my life—collaborating to the best of my ability with forces of inspiration that I can neither see, nor prove, nor command, nor understand. It’s a strange line of work, admittedly. I cannot think of a better way to pass my days.”

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

“I don’t want to be afraid of bright colors, or new sounds, or big love, or risky decisions, or strange experiences, or weird endeavors, or sudden changes, or even failure.”

“It might have been done before, but it hasn’t been done by you!”

“Perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat.”

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”

“My creative expression must be the most important thing in the world to me (if I am to live artistically) and it also must not matter at all (if I am to live sanely).”

“Whatever you do, try not to dwell too long on your failures. You don’t need to conduct autopsies on your disasters.”

“Pure creativity is something better than a necessity; it’s a gift. It’s the frosting. Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe.”

“It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at.”

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself.”

Katherine May: How to Find More Joy in Your Day

It is almost spring, technically, even though it still really feels like winter here with cold temperatures. I hope these ideas, below, might help you in this season. I already ordered Enchantment, and I cannot wait to read it!


It all started with a post-it note.

“Go for a walk,” it said, the matter-of-fact command enthroned prominently above Katherine May’s desk.

Ms. May, a British author who wrote the best-selling memoir Wintering about a fallow and difficult period in her life, had been going through tougher times during the height of the pandemic. She was bored, restless, burned out. Her usual ritual – walking – had been dropped, along with other activities that used to bring her pleasure: collecting pebbles, swimming in the sea, enjoying a book.

“There was nothing that made the world interesting to me,” Ms. May said in a recent interview with The New York Times. “I felt like my head was full and empty at the same time.”

In Ms. May’s latest book, Enchantment, she describes how a simple series of actions, like writing this note, helped her discover little things that filled her with wonder and awe – and in turn, made her feel alive again to be.

“You have to keep pursuing it until you feel that tingle that tells you you’ve found something that’s magical to you,” Ms. May said. “It’s trial and error, isn’t it?”

We asked Ms. May for tips on how you can do the same.

Commit to noticing the world around you

“We must find the humility to be open to experience each day and allow ourselves to learn,” Ms. May wrote in Enchantment.

It’s “easier said than done,” she admits.

“Don’t get distracted by thoughts that tell you it’s stupid or pointless or a waste of time or that you’re way too busy to possibly do it,” Ms. May said during the interview. “Instead, give yourself permission to even want that — to long for that contact with the sacred and that feeling of being able to commune with something bigger than you.”

Entering into a state of wonder is akin to flexing a muscle, Ms. May said. Put yourself in that mindset more often and it gradually becomes easier.

First of all, you need to “give in to the fascination” that you feel in everyday moments. Ms. May, for example, gets “really excited” when she sees light dancing across the surface of her coffee.

But don’t force it. The key, she said, is to keep looking for the things that amaze you — and trust that you will find them.

What you find pleasant may be quite simple: Ms. May has often felt awe when examining a small vermin in her garden.

“We told ourselves that everything has to be this big,” she said. “Actually, we can just breathe out and live a pretty small life.”

Ask yourself a simple question

Instead of thinking about what you find adorable that’s too difficult to answer, Ms. May suggests asking yourself a different question: what calms you down?

It could be a walk. Or visit an art museum. You might like watching the moving clouds.

Whatever it is, find a way to do it. Every morning Ms. May goes outside and smells the air “like a dog,” she said, laughing. She notices the color of the sky and how her skin feels in the cool air.

For some people, that calming moment could be found at a place of worship or gazing at the moon.

“The moon is so beautiful, and when you look at the moon you can’t help but notice the stars and planets in the night sky,” said Ms. May, who regularly observes the moon phase. “It’s just a beautiful, beautiful thing to do. Daily. And it’s that simple.”

Consider and reflect in your own way

If you want to spend more time in personal reflection but are concerned about doing it the “right” way, put those concerns aside.

For example, when Ms. May was learning to meditate, she wanted to do it twice a day for 20 minutes, but not before or after sleep and never after a meal. Then she became a mother and finding time to meditate became more difficult.

“You get to a point in your life where you’re like, ‘This is just impossible,’” she said. “For a long time I thought, ‘I failed. Obviously I should be able to do that.’”

Finally, she had a realization: the problem wasn’t that she hadn’t tried hard enough, but that these rules weren’t made for her. They had been created by someone who had never walked in their shoes.

Now she meditates in a different way. Sometimes she does this for five minutes in the middle of the night or while walking in the woods.

“For me, it’s never been about clearing my head,” Ms. May said. “It’s about taking on the slower-paced kind of work, processing all those things that are itching in the back of your mind.”

Do it because it feels good.

People tend to think that it’s kind of naïve to seek pleasure for pleasure’s sake, Ms. May said. In other words, we’re more likely to assign value to things that are considered practical and efficient.

But you don’t need dates or any other compelling reason to do something you enjoy.

For example, one of Ms. May’s hobbies is cold-water swimming. She doesn’t do it to burn calories. Rather, it’s “for the sheer joy of being in this incredible space,” she said, not to mention “how sensual it is and the amazing feel-good hormones it releases.”

And although Ms May initially took a beekeeping course to learn how to make honey at home, that goal became less urgent when she was awed as a student.

“Technically I could still do that, but I now realize I never really wanted to,” Ms. May wrote in Enchantment.

The joy of it all—the connection with her teachers and classmates, the sensual pleasures—surpassed any practical ambitions.

“I want to take it slow, absorb my lessons on the skin and the ears, get pricked sometimes,” she wrote of the experience. And she described the wonder she found in the class: “They’re so loud when they’re all singing together, and with the smell of honey and propolis, the smoke, the whole box vibrating under your hands, it’s quite absolute, the human-bee interaction”


(Source for this above interview.)

Loving: Winter 2023

Below are a few things I am loving during this winter.

1. Yellowstone — We have enjoyed this series. Doug and I began watching Yellowstone when we returned from Christmas. It is a great show, and we have all but watched the fifth season, which we plan to start this week! The horses are beautiful and views are amazing, along with a good plot and storyline.

2. Lululemon Shirt — I love this shirt. It is light weight and very comfortable, a very soft cotton. I have this shirt in several color, and I highly recommend it.

3. Trader Joe’s Beef Jerky Dog Treats Victory loves these treats from Trader Joe’s! I always try to keep some in the house for our sweet girl!

4. Chunckies — Alex really enjoys these paint stick that we discovered from a friend around Christmas time. She has made some beautiful art with them, and they are much less messy than regular paint, for the win!

5. Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad — This book is one of my favorite memoirs. I love reading memoirs, and this books was so well written, which chronicles Jaoud’s story to battle a rare cancer, along bone marrow transplants, and her reintegration back to living in the world outside of the “bubble” of the hospital. I really enjoyed reading this memoir. It really makes one so grateful for his/her health after reading this memoir. I highly recommend this book, if you enjoy reading about other people’s stories.

6. The Perfect Bar  — We recently discovered the Perfect Bar, and we love them, including Alex. They are 100% made with natural ingredients, they are organic, and delicious. Alex’s favorite flavor is the peanut butter with dark chocolate chips. We love them, and eat them often from our fridge!

You can view other things I love here!

Photographs: Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach Vacation

This blog post is over six months late! There has been so much going on as of late, and, consequently, I have been quite behind with editing our family photographs. I hope to eventually catch up on my editing of our family images and make our family yearbook for 2002.

This past August, we took our third trip, with our girls, to Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach. (You can view our first trip here; and our second trip here. And, we cancelled our 2020 trip to Rehoboth Beach due to COVID.)  Doug, fortunately, found another beach house to rent that would allow a small child and a furry family member!  We were not far from both beaches!  Alex loved the ocean and she even found little friends to play with on the beach, as she is so outgoing and social! She also enjoyed building in the sand with Doug! Alex also enjoyed using her boogie board as well, that she got at the beach last summer! Victory had a great time as well, she absolutely loves walking on the beach in the evenings, so much so, she did not want to leave the beach when it came time to leave!

We figured out a rhythm to our days, which went something like this: we woke up when Alex got us up, which was early; we all had breakfast; got our swimsuits and sunscreen on and packed up and headed to Rehoboth Beach where we stayed, and Doug walked to the Boardwalk to get our lunch each day, and we stayed until the late afternoon; then we got ourselves cleaned up and ready for dinner and we usually went to one of our two favorite places — Dewey Beer Co. or the Iron Hill Brewery; then we got Victory and we all went to Dewey Beach for a long walk, watching the sun set, which Victory always loved, along with getting ice cream; then we came home and got Alex to bed; and, then, we rested for a little bit.

We were not permitted to take Victory to Rehoboth Beach, but she could still go to Dewey Beach, thankfully!  So it worked out perfectly!  Victory has been to Dewey Beach several times before. Victory was absolutely in seventh heaven on the beach! And, Victory even let Alex walk her on the beach, again, in the evenings, shown below in the brief video! It was so sweet! We were also very fortunate for good weather on our trip.

Some images from our trip are shown below!  We are really grateful for our time away together with our girls!  We have many wonderful memories! 

Here is a video of our girls at the beach!

Who Wrote the ‘Rainbow Bridge?’

My Mom recently shared in interesting article about who actually wrote the ‘Rainbow Bridge.’ I had no idea myself, who had written it for animal parents. The ‘Rainbow Bridge’ has touched so many lives and has brought comfort to so many animal parents who have lost a beloved furry family member. It turns out that he author is Edna Clyne-Rekhy, an 82-year-old Scottish artist and animal lover. Until recently, she had no idea that the poem she wrote over 60 years ago–to honor her dog, Major–had brought comfort to so many others.

Clyne-Rekhy’s authorship likely would have been lost to history were it not for the tenacious work of Paul Koudounaris, an art historian, author, and cate owner in Tucson, Arizona. Koudounaris has spent the last decade working on a book about pet cemeteries and fequently encountered references to the “Rainbow Bridge” in his research, and he was curious who actually wrote it.

The poem’s popularity, he discovered, was launched in February 1994, when a reader from Grand Rapids, Michigan, sent a copy of “Rainbow Bridge” that they received from their local humane society to the advice column Dear Abby, which was published and noted that if anyone reading can verify the authorship, to come forward.

However, nobody came forward, and after that, “Rainbow Bridge” seemed to be everywhere. Starting in 1995, Koudounaris found records of 15 separate claims filed under the title “Rainbow Bridge” with the U.S. Copyright Office. He compiled a list of around 25 names he found to have any connection with the poem, and he was left with one: Edna Clyne-Rekhy.

He has found Clyne-Rekhy’s name after seeing reference in an online chat group to an Edna “Clyde” from Scotland who allegedly wrote the poem when her dog died.

When Koudounaris finally reached out to Clyne-Rekhy in January, he found out that Clyne-Rekhy’s story began in 1959. She was 19 years old and grieving the loss of her Labrador Retriever, Major. “He died in my arms, actually,” she recalled in a call with National Geographic.

According to Clyne-Rekhy, she cried and cried after Major died. Clyne-Rekhy’s mother suggested she write down her feelings. This is when the “Rainbow Bridge” was born.

The text went like this:

According to Clyne-Rekhy, she said, “It just came through my head, it was like I was talking to my dog–I was talking to Major. I just felt all of this and had to write it down.”

Clyne-Rekhy still has the original hand-written draft of the poem. When she showed it to Koudounaris, he immediately knew it was real.

Koudounaris suspects that it must have been passed person to person until it lost its connection to its original author–and eventually took on a life of its own. Clyne-Rekhy spent years in India and later moved to an olive farm in Spain–a path that may help to explain why she was not aware of the poem’s growing popularity in the U.S., Britain, and beyond.

“‘Rainbow Bridge’ provides the missing piece for people who have had to live with this anxiety that their animal is not good enough to deserve an afterlife,” Koudournairs says. “It gives us a reason to hope.”

Clyne-Rekhy says she plans to be reunited with Major and her subsequent pets, whose ashes she has kept.

“We’re going to be scattered in the North Sea,” she says.

*Image Credit: Painting by Stella Violano.

Happy Heart Day!

Happy Heart Day! We celebrated Valentine’s Day a little early, this past weekend, with Alex and Victory! They are quite the pair! I am so grateful for our beautiful girls!

I hope you have a great day celebrating with the ones you love.

You can view last year’s Valentine’s celebration here.

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” —Maya Angelou

Family Photo Yearbooks

Last year, I decided to make family yearbooks in order find a way to keep all of my favorite edited photos organized chronologically, by year, since becoming a family of four. (Printing all of the photos became too cumbersome.) However, I still print photos that I want to frame for our home. Even though it was quite a bit of work, I am so pleased that I made these family yearbooks for our family to enjoy and for Alex to have someday! I refer to these books as a “collection of life.” I used Blurb to make my family yearbooks; and I used archival matte paper with an image wrap. I made family yearbooks for the following years: 2018 – 2021, 240 pages each. In the coming months, I plan to make our family yearbook for 2022, as I am a bit behind on finishing editing family photos from 2022. I highly recommend making these books yearly, and Blurb does a really nice job, and there is a lot of flexibility to create your own templates to create and design a book that will enjoy for years to come. Most of all, it is really nice to revisit and edit the year to capture family memories all in one place, in one book! (Additionally, you can view the book I made of Alex’s preschool art, a way to preserve her artwork, here.)

Eleven Year Blogiversary!

Today is the eleven-year Blogiversary of the blog!  I can’t hardly believe it! It is extremely difficult to believe that eleven years, over a full decade, has already passed by so quickly!  The time moves so quickly, these days, and I often wonder where the time goes. Many things have changed, but some things remain the same, fortunately.  I am grateful for this little space here.

If it were not for our beloved Biscuit, I am not sure I would have ever started blogging and I know that I would not have started my long-term photography project, for which Biscuit and Victory are my inspiration.  Biscuit was such a blessing and gift to us. Biscuit permanently changed our lives in so many positive ways and he sent us our precious little rescue sheltie, Victory, who we adore and love, shown below! And, coincidentally, Victory is the same age (we suspect as she is a rescue dog) as the blog!

Thank you for reading this blog for however long or short you have been visiting!  I truly enjoy creating content for the blog to share with all of you, and I hope that you continue to enjoy visiting and reading the blog!

Thank you so very much!

Alaskan ‘Puppy Bus’

Have you heard about the Alaskan ‘Puppy Bus’ that went viral on Tik Tok, recently? If you have not, it is absolutely adorable. It mirrors having one’s human child get onto a school bus! The dogs literally walk onto the bus and get in their seats by themselves and then they get buckled in! You can view the heartwarming video here!

Mo Thompson and her husband, Lee, run the bus and they take the dogs on off leash on walking and training trips via their business, Mo Mountain Mutts! After picking up the pups from around their small town of Skagway, Alaska, their minibus makes it way to trail walks, hikes, and swims.

You can read more here.

Photo Credit: Mo Thompson

The Paradoxes of Creating

I love this passage about creativity and paradoxes from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book entitled, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Hopefully, it will help you create!

“Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred.

What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all.

We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits.

We are terrified, and we are brave.

Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege.

Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us.

Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise—you can make anything.

So please calm down now and get back to work, okay?

The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.”

Here is Alex’s first portrait of her and Victory together, a real gem! We always encourage her to follow her creativity, where ever it may lead! She is so open and free while making her creations, and I wish we all could be more like this!