Posts in seasons
Battling the Winter Blahs

Spring might be on its way (according to meteorologists it’s already here), but it certainly doesn’t feel like it in Wisconsin. Does it feel like spring where you are?

Daffodils Bring Cheer to Winter Dreariness When They're Blooming Inside

We had our first snow of the season back in October. Since the beginning of the year we haven’t really been without a cover of snow on the ground. This week started out COLD, but this weekend it’s supposed to rain and sleet and snow. Around town there are icicles and mountains of snow. The roads and people’s driveways are getting narrower and narrower and the snow is getting ever dirtier. If bulbs have started pushing their way out of the ground I wouldn’t know it. (Do they even grow beneath the snow?).

Winter isn’t my favorite season. Yes, I love the magic of new-fallen snow; of glittering, ice-glazed trees and the cobalt blue of the sky set against all that white. And yes, I like spending a cozy day inside in my pajamas, baking and cooking and snuggling beneath blankets, reading books and watching movies. But I miss flowers. I miss running out the back door to pick herbs or pull carrots or search for ripe tomatoes. I miss eating fresh kale everyday and walking around barefoot and not having to don boots and coat and hat and gloves each time I go outside.

Some days it’s fine, but other days I feel so blah. I’ve found it helps to have some battle plans in place.

Orchids Blooming in My Studio Brighten the Winter Dreariness and Provide Inspiration for my Art

Grow something!

My little collection of orchids growing in my studio never fail me at this time of year. The first one opened up last month and they’ve slowly been taking turns adding their colors to my space (and inspiration for my art!).

I’ve been gathering seeds for my garden, but haven’t started any just yet. Soon. Until then I have sprouts growing in my kitchen.

Anyone Can Grow Sprouts Inside for Fresh Greens During the Winter

Sprouts are an easy way to garden any time of year. No matter how small your space, no matter which way your windows face you can grow sprouts. (Here’s a simple overview of growing sprouts on the Mountain Rose Herbs blog).

Make something!

I’ve been on a sewing kick lately. I finally got a new sewing machine and now sewing is much more fun (and so much less frustrating!). I’ve even been using some of my own fabric (Spoonflower is offering free worldwide shipping til 11:59 pm EDT March 8. I need to decide quick which other of my designs need to become clothing!).

Sewing a Top With Two Scales of Fabric Designed with My Nasturtium Watercolor Print

But I also have lots of fabric in my stash to use up. I’ve been especially inspired by Sonya Philip’s 100 Acts of Sewing and her classes on Creativebug.

I’m also planning out crochet projects (this sweater is next) and still (slowly) working on some embroidery. When I’m obsessively working on a project I don’t have time to feel blah.

This week in her newsletter Abby Glassenberg was talking about feeling a bit down about her business. Her husband told her to “go make something”, which ended up being just what she needed. And the result? A new sewing pattern, shared with the world.

A Basket of Colorful Yarn is a Joyful Inspiration

Get Moving!

I’m not really a fan of exercise. Yes I like going for walks (especially when the weather is nice), but otherwise I’d rather sit and read a book (or paint). For ages I’ve wanted to try to change that, but for me, it’s not easy. Recently I bribed myself into doing some yoga by designing a couple pretty yoga mats (you can find them here).

I’ve been trying to do some each day (on my moths mat), starting with beginning practices on YouTube (thanks, Dana, for recommending the Yoga with Adrienne channel!). It’s been changing my perspective. Exercise isn’t something you need to struggle through, but is rather a devotion to yourself.


Treat yourself!

It doesn’t have to be big. Treat yourself to a pot of daffodils (thanks, Mom, for the ones in my living room!). Treat yourself to a bar of exquisite chocolate or a bag of loose leaf tea. Matthias and I like to pick out an interesting cheese to try when we shop at the co-op in town. Trying a new art supply is another fun treat, whether it’s new paints, a new sketchbook or a fun marker or pen. Little treats like this make the day special, which is just what I need when I’m feeling blah.

A gold leafing pen is a a fun art supply treat to make your day (and your sketchbook) special

Nurture yourself!

In addition to taking time for things like yoga, I’ve been focusing on other self-care rituals. Epson salt baths with essential oils. Face masks. I used to make a lot of natural products and regularly devote time to self-care, but it fell aside because I’m “too busy”. I recently checked out Stephanie Tourles book Organic Body Care Recipes from the library as a reminder to get back to it.

last summer I infused apple cider vinegar with calendula flowers to use on my skin and in my hair

(Also a good reminder to get out the vinegar I infused with calendula flowers last summer and use it in hair rinses, baths and skin toners). Most natural body care “recipes” are so simple and don’t take a lot of time. One of my favorite face masks has only one ingredient: honey. I know I’m not “too busy” for that and I’m guessing you aren’t either.

Dress the part!

One thing that always improves my mood is wearing clothes that make me feel good. I love pairing fun colors and patterns and layering different textures. Much of what I wear is made by my own two hands, giving me even more of a boost.

I used two scales of my  watercolor nasturtiums fabric from Spoonflower  to sew this version of McCalls 5388. I added pockets and lengthened the top to make it more of a tunic.

I used two scales of my watercolor nasturtiums fabric from Spoonflower to sew this version of McCalls 5388. I added pockets and lengthened the top to make it more of a tunic.

Last month Rachel Awes and Kelly Rae Roberts teamed up on Instagram for a week-long challenge to wear spring in winter. What a fun way to bring a little more joy into your days.

I hope you haven’t fallen into the winter blahs, but if you have I hope some of my ideas will help you break free from them. I’d love to know what you like to do to cheer yourself up, too.

Wishing you a joyful weekend, no matter the weather.

Stealing Calm Amidst the Chaos

This has been a chaotic week. Or maybe I should say, my studio has been in chaos. I’ve been filming my next Skillshare class and somehow my studio always ends up looking like a small tornado has passed through whenever I’m filming. Having my sewing table and ironing board set up in the room hasn’t helped matters. I have a few other projects in the works (including preparing for an exhibition!), and I haven’t been making as much art as I’d like.

For the most part I keep my studio fairly neat, but I also know that when I’m in the middle of projects, it will get a bit messy. I’m ok with the in-process chaos most of the time, but right now it’s like I’m working in an obstacle course. Packaging customers’ orders has involved a bit of juggling of piles of sketchbooks and supplies, too.

My Messy, Chaotic, In Process Studio

My messy studio is a good metaphor for life. We’re busy. We’re juggling multiple priorities. It’s messy and often feels as if there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Deep breath.

Hoar Frost on the Roses in My Winter Garden

This week I stole some time. Just for me. I sat at the kitchen table in my pajamas, drinking coffee, eating a rice cake and writing in my journal. Matthias had already left for work. The house was quiet. I’d spread peanut butter on the rice cake and drizzled a little bit of honey. It felt so cozy. I savored the stillness. I decided I wasn’t going to let myself get carried away in the rush of the day. I gave myself permission for slowness. For quiet. I had a list of things I needed to do, but I knew there was enough wiggle room to give myself the morning. A bit later I went up to my studio and worked on a couple sketchbook pages. Just played with paint and did some drawing. No pressure. No rush. No need to worry about the outcome.

Winter is a time for slowing down. For quiet. For being cozy indoors. Often we don’t honor this slowness, but instead carry on like usual, often at an even faster pace with the busyness of the holiday season. I know I’ve said before that this disconnect is difficult for me. I try to remind myself that slowing down is not only OK, but natural. And we’re allowed to make our own choices. I’m allowed to choose what is best for me. You’re allowed to choose what’s best for you.

A Sketchbook Spread from My Upcoming Skillshare Class

For me that’s meant slower mornings. It’s meant brewing loose-leaf tea. It’s meant snuggling up with books and cats. It’s meant pajama mornings and pajama days. It’s meant a weekend away with friends. I’ve been shifting to more contemplation, dreaming, working in my sketchbooks. I haven’t been as present on Instagram.

But unplugging is hard. There’s so much pressure to Accomplish Important Things. I feel guilty if I don’t have “something to show for myself” at the end of the day. Isn’t calm an accomplishment? Aren’t ideas important?

Yes!

So here’s a reminder (if you need one). Slowing down is good for you. It’s good for your health. It’s good for your creativity. It’s good for your relationships.

Here’s to a lusciously slow weekend for us both!

The Answer to Slowing Down? Gratitude

How is possible that Thanksgiving has already come and gone? If you celebrated it, I hope it was peaceful, joyful and filled with love.

It seems I’m always pondering how fast time is flying by and how I’m not able to keep up with it. Am I the only one? Do you feel this way, too?

Dahlias from My Garden and Pumpkins from My Mom's Garden Before the Frost Ended the Gardening Season

These past few weeks I’ve been so busy and my attempts at slowing time down haven’t exactly been successful. I know through the end of the year things will continue to rush past, definitely at odds with nature’s pull urging me to s - l - o - w d - o - w - n.

And I think that’s the biggest problem for me with the transition from summer into autumn and the slide into winter. My connection with the flowers blooming in my garden makes me feel the need to slow down, too. Winter is a natural period of rest, and yet our society just keeps rushing along.

Sometimes I have to paint something just to paint it and the watercolor brings me joy

So what’s the answer? Rush along with it and exhaust myself? Fight it and end up uninspired and irritable? Find some sort of middle ground?

Liv Sulerud is an empath, healer and coach. I get her newsletter and recently these words arrived in my inbox “Seasonal shifts have always affected me deeply. And one of the most challenging things for me is the way the dominant culture pushes on as if nothing is different.” Yes! I thought. Exactly! She went on to say that “Mama Earth is slowing down and so can you.” Her words brought me hope and reminded me that I am the one in charge of how I navigate my days.

And so I am committing, again, to slowing down. To settling in to the natural rhythms that I’m feeling. To taking time for myself. To nurture and nourish. To rest.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the US. A day to give thanks for all of our blessings. I wish that instead of getting lost in the shuffle of commercialism and holiday sales we could linger with our gratitude.

In truth, there’s no reason that I can’t. That you can’t. That we can’t. Gratitude is the perfect way to slow our thoughts. It’s the perfect way to still the rushing and calm the overwhelm. Won’t you join me?

Honoring Seasons, Transitions and Change

Last week the weather shifted dramatically from summer to full-on autumn. Suddenly the days were cold. Dark. Wet. I layered on sweaters and hats and scarves. We turned on the furnace and brewed pot after pot of hot tea.

I felt lethargic, melancholy. It was hard to get out of bed in the morning. I made soup and baked bread. I wrote Joy Lists. But nothing seemed to help. I was uninspired and discouraged in my art, too. All I wanted to do was snuggle beneath my quilts and crocheted blankets to wait for the sun to come out again.

My Black and White Rescue Cats in Their Usual Place in the Chair in My Studio

I scolded myself for feeling that way. You are safe. You are healthy. It’s just the changing of the seasons. There’s no reason to feel so dejected.

But then I started to think a bit more about what a change like this means. In my garden the first hard frost will kill some of my plants. Others will lose their leaves and wait, suspended, till light and warmth return. The insects and animals that don’t tough it out through winter either leave or hibernate or die.

This change of season is a profound change.

Flowers Cut from My Autumn Garden in the Cold Rain

As an artist almost all of my inspiration comes directly from my garden. Very soon all of my outdoor plants and flowers will be crumpled to nothing. Of course I’ll feel a loss when the gardening season slips away.

So what’s the answer?

First, I’m giving myself permission for my feelings. No more chiding myself for mourning the summer.

And I’m sending out extra thanks for each small grace that lingers. The herbs in the glass on the windowsill. The freshly picked vegetables on my plate. The flowers on the table.

Dahlias from My Garden and Mini Pumpkins from My Mom's Garden on my Dining Room Table

My journal is always a place of solace. Whether I’m feeling good or bad or uncertain, putting pen to paper always helps. Sometimes the words flow for page after page. Sometimes I only manage a few sentences. The ritual of sitting down with myself and my journal is one of the best forms of self-care I know.

I’m also trying to slow down and pay attention to the beauties of autumn. The changing colors. The acorns on the sidewalk. The mushrooms appearing overnight.

The other day Rachel Wolf posted a beautiful piece on her blog about the healing we find when we venture away from the warmth of the fire and out into the medicine of nature. Although I live in town, I find healing walking beneath the trees even when there’s concrete under my feet. I can bring home pockets filled with acorns and interesting leaves. I might notice a bluejay hunting for seeds in a nodding sunflower head or happen upon a charm* of goldfinches trilling as they swoop away from someone’s spent coneflower patch. Snuggling beneath quilts has its place, but I need to make sure I venture outside, too.

Change is one thing we can always count on. The seasons change predictably. Other changes and transitions take us by surprise. Change can come as a welcome friend. Or arrive as an irritation. Sometimes change can be devastating.

No matter the type of change, we need to give ourselves room for it. Even if our busy lives don’t always seem to allow it. I’ve been feeling a change coming in my art. I don’t yet know what that change will look like, but I’m being patient as I figure it out. Like with all changes I need to remember to honor the process, the uncertainty, the discomfort.

I don’t know what you’re going through at this moment, if you’re in a moment of change or transition. I’m wishing you gentleness and grace. Give yourself time and space. Be patient and honor the season you’re in.



*aren’t collective nouns fun? A group of goldfinches is called a charm and also a drum, a troubling or a chirm. There are many resources on the internet and in print to help you find these magical words. I usually just google it and see what comes up.