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The Stroke of Midnight


Today we all stand in between the past and the future. We have now become the sum of the year behind us as well as all the years before it. We are a year older, perhaps a year wiser; we have accomplished some things and still have much left to do; we have laughed til our sides ached; and we have cried in fear, anger, or sadness.

Dearests - happy, happy new year! May you have three hundred and sixty five magical days filled with grand, beautiful things!

I wish you love and hope and courage and laughter and adventure and many sweet, wonderful moments! I hope that your year is filled with possibility and opportunity, and that you act on both without the fear of failure. I hope that you spend lots of time with those that you love and with those that love you.

I wish you sunny days and snowy days, green leaves and fireflies, picnics and puddles to jump in and the ocean to calm you; stars to twinkle and make you wonder. I wish for you to know that you are deeply, deeply loved, and to know beyond a doubt that you are an irreplaceable and incredibly significant being, no matter how itsy-bity you may feel.

I hope that you learn and that you always strive to grow and become and be a better person; that you give back to the world everything you can; and that you are able to find Beauty and Love and truly marvelous things in your every day!

Tonight marks a new beginning, and "the first day of the rest of your life". What will you fill January 1st with?

Beautiful Sparkling Newness

Art journal spread made by me, 29 Dec

I simply love beginnings! Looking ahead, the world sparkles with newness and opportunity - anything is possible.

Another year of our lives will soon have passed! It is by these moments - minute by minute, month by month, year by year, that we grow older and the end of our lifetime draws closer. I know that my year could have been much fuller - what about yours? I intend to make up for that this year and have 2010 bursting at the seams next December.

Though I have never made resolutions (strict, quantifying goals are just too hard for me to keep), I have made three promises to myself for the start of this new decade. I will remind myself of them often and if I stumble or falter, I will simply try harder.

This year, I will take better care of my body.
This year, I will create more.

This year, I will take risks and this year, it will be okay if I fail.

If you want to welcome more
creativity in the new year, too, I've gathered some ideas below. Two things I want to make: a hand-knit sweater and a travel companion!

* Keep a daily, weekly, or monthly art project:
* Choose a word for your year, to inspire you, motivate, and challenge
* Start a 101 in 1001 project
* Start an art journal
* Meet some strangers
* Make an art muse to guide you and to give you inspiration
* Keep a daily written journal
* Surround yourself with things that inspire
* Try NaNoWriMo or NaNoBloMo
* Start a blog!
* Make a travelling notebook
* Climb a tree
* Laugh more and worry less
* Give whatever you can to those who are in need
* Learn about fun
* Get involved in an art swap
* Pass kindness and love on to every person you meet
* Answer some questions
* Make your own Mission Statement
* Read, read, read!


PS. You are invited to introduce yourself!

I Ask You

"Are you search a dreamer...?"
Photo of a poster taken during my trip to Germany;
its cryptic message intrigues me.


My dearest friends,

I would like to get to know you - each and every one of you. You are my sisters (and brothers), my friends, my companions in the journey of Life; you inspire me, you give me hope, you give me so much love; you amaze and humble me. I share much of myself every day in this blog of mine - now, I'd like to hear from you!

I would love to hear your answers to as many of the following questions as you wish to answer! If you do not feel comfortable answering them here, please email me at mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com and I will keep them safe and sound.
  • When/where do you feel most at peace?
  • What do you most struggle with in everyday life?
  • What - or who - inspires you?
  • To which animal(s) do you feel most connected?
  • Which are you most drawn to: texture, colour, or sound?
  • What is holding you back from creating in the way you want to create?
  • Do you believe in fairies?
  • What makes you so happy you feel you will burst?
  • What do you truly love about yourself? (Please boast!)
If you come up with any other questions, I'd love to read them. Do remember that any of these would be a great starting place for exploration in a journal, whether it be an art journal or traditional diary - or even a blog post!

Saturday Challenge #30


Nearly every Saturday, I post a new Challenge. Ranging from artistic prompts to self discovery exercises to ideas for living a wholesome, beautiful life, every Challenge seeks to inspire growth, love, creativity, and a more full life!

The past week has flown by in a complete rush. There were so many things to buy and people to see and recipes to follow. Now that all that has passed, do you feel the same way as I do - exhausted and spent and longing for a quiet moment or two?

Here we are with all of 2009 stretched behind us; it is only a little less than a week, incredibly, before 2010 begins. Three hundred and fifty nine days to consider and weigh and reflect upon; what joys and sorrows and proud moments have you lived in those days? What would you change; what would you like to try in the new year; what would you like to stop doing?

I challenge you to find some quiet space in the coming week both to recover from the holidays and to spend some time thinking of the new year. Mentally fill 2010 with good things, moments of learning and growth, adventures, love, and opportunity.

And repeat to yourself, over and over: 2010 will be a good year, yes it will!

You can view and participate in past challenges here, and remember that you can share photos in the (rather neglected) Flickr group. If you have a suggestion for a challenge, please leave a comment or write me an email at mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Jingle Bells





Merry Christmas to you, my dear sweet readers. May this holiday be filled with love, light, and happiness!

And I Am

Detail of a watercolor by my dad, 2003

What does it mean to be an artist? Is it someone who has a degree from an art school, or someone whose works sell for thousands of dollars? No, I believe that being an artist is simply seeing the world around you in a unique and creative way - and that the ability to paint like Rembrandt is not a requirement.

Artists live in a world of their own where imagination is prized above any jewel and where vibrant, sweeping color is a deep necessity; where poetry flows like bubbling streams and creativity is in endless supply. Being an artist also means possessing a need to express oneself through any creative means - like painting, drawing, photography, music, craft, writing, dancing, blogging, or acting.

We are all artists and we all have something to say! Yes, I too struggle - but what I must never do is stop trying. Art by nature is messy and filled with emotion and thought. It is a continual exploration of the world and of the self, and reflects the artist's journey of discovery; one thing art is certainly not is perfect! Throw out your negative perceptions of what an artist is, ignore your inner critic, and create your own imperfect masterpiece!

Let's Go on a Journey

Peeking up at the wintry, snowy skies of December.

Continuing the reflection begun in my last post, I have been doing some (more) thinking, this time about my blog.

My Peacetree is nearly eight months old, born in early May just as the leaves were turning green and the birds were teaching their little ones to fly. I was - and continue to be - inspired by so many lovely creative, insightful, imaginative, kind, philosophical ladies who grace the web with their presence: iHanna, Gypsy Girl, Kira, and Tara Whitney to name just a few.

The lists of blogs I read and admire has grown and grown, and I now find inspiration in all corners of the web, and have discovered real friendships along the way. How happy I am to be writing and creating beside so many talented, beautiful women!

I have realised, however, that in the past month or two I have not been writing about the things I truly want to write about.

When I began blogging, I intended to write about creativity and philosophy and inspiration, and how all three are woven together in a beautiful, complex, astounding way. Instead, somehow these things have morphed into hastily written snippets about what I am doing or what will be happening soon.

In the next year - and in the few weeks left in this one - I hope to refocus my penmanship, writing about wonder, curiosity, creativity, beauty, love, and humanity. There are so many things in this world greater than I, and those are the things I want to explore and discover and celebrate! Through that journey, I will fall more in love with life and will realise that the Universe has a place for every single one of us.

And so I ask you again, as I did in my very first post so many months ago: will you join me?

Where the Heart Is

Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market), Germany

On Wednesday afternoon, I set foot on American soil once again. Though I have dearly missed my blog and all my friends in this space, I always need a few days to settle back into the life I have here; I need time to process and to catch up on sleep and to slowly awaken once again to reality.

I did have a lovely, lovely trip and was very sorry to say goodbye both to my boyfriend and to Europe!

As January approaches, I think about about the year - what has been good and what has been not so good, and what I hope to accomplish in 2010. I know that I want to create more and live bigger, take risks and brave failure. I want to finish the things I start. I want to create and become and learn; I want to live fully.

There are still many things I want to finish before the end of 2009:
  • Finish making Daily Art Cards
  • Art Journal about Christmas and the end of this year
  • Refocus on Mission 101
  • Write about and thoroughly explore plans and hopes and dreams for the future
  • Blog the dozens of posts I've meant to write
  • Create, create, create
  • Figure out which projects I want to take on this coming year
This time of year always feels as if it is filled with lists: presents to buy and things to do and resolutions to make and places to go and people to see. There are so many things to cross off! Make sure to find a moment every once in a while to breathe - I know that I sometimes forget.

Saturday Challenge #29

Nearly every Saturday, I post a new Challenge. Ranging from artistic prompts to self discovery exercises to ideas for living a wholesome, beautiful life, every Challenge seeks to inspire growth, love, creativity, and a more full life!


As winter makes its presence known, the colors in the natural world have slowly but steadily faded. Various shades of brown have taken over the world; the grass has lost its lush green of summer and the blue sky is often overcast with thick gray clouds. Even the light seems paler and thinner, somehow, and it falls sharply on the world.

Today, I challenge you to find color in the world around you. Go on a treasure hunt: where can you find boldness, vibrancy, and vividness? Capture it, celebrate it, and take it home with you, to help you through these dreary days.

You can view and participate in past challenges here, and remember that you can share photos in the (rather neglected) Flickr group. If you have a suggestion for a challenge, please leave a comment or write me an email at mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Saturday Challenge #28

Nearly every Saturday, I post a new Challenge. Ranging from artistic prompts to self discovery exercises to ideas for living a wholesome, beautiful life, every Challenge seeks to inspire growth, love, creativity, and a more full life!

Dear friends,
This is my 100th post! Thank you so very much for joining me on this journey. Today I want to tell a story about this blog.

A few years ago, I had a vivid dream of a city near the sea. Near to it was a field full of golden, swaying wheat; purple mountains stood on the horizon. A tree stood to my right, huge and ancient and strong. Its leaves fluttered in the breeze, and its branches were full of blossoms that filled the air with a sweet scent. I felt safe and happy and loved in this field, and knew that I had a deep connection to this tree - one of complete understanding and of unconditional love.

This tree is my Peace Tree. I think of it sometimes and it brings me stillness and comfort. I named this blog after it, blessing this space with all those things I find under my own tree. I invite you to come and sit here with me, sharing stories of life and of love and of the Universe, fostering creativity and inspiration and ideas.

This week, to celebrate my 100th blog post, I challenge you to create your own peace tree! Perhaps it grows in a secret garden, or perhaps it holds a treehouse in its branches. Bring it to life and fill it with all the good things that you can think of!

Happy creating,
Ingrid

You can view and participate in past challenges here, and remember that you can share photos in the (rather neglected) Flickr group. If you have a suggestion for a challenge, please leave a comment or write me an email at mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Saturday Challenge, #27

Nearly every Saturday, I post a new Challenge. Ranging from artistic prompts to self discovery exercises to ideas for living a wholesome, beautiful life, every Challenge seeks to inspire growth, love, creativity, and a more full life!

What do you like about a piece of art?
What draws you to it? Is it the colors or the texture or the shapes or the message? How is it different from your own? This weekend I challenge you to find an artist whose work you admire and try to imitate their style of art!

Of course, it is never okay to take someone else's work and call it your own. That's no fun, anyway! This exercise is meant to encourage you to experiment with different techniques and styles than you are used to. By learning from other artists, you will broaden your skills and develop your own style.

If the artist has a blog or a website, be sure to send them a message letting them know how much you like their work!

You can view and participate in past challenges here, and remember that you can share photos in the (rather neglected) Flickr group. If you have a suggestion for a challenge, please leave a comment or write me an email at mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Toodle-oo!

Quote from this song by John Denver.

Hello, friends!

In just a few hours I'll be on my way to Germany. I won't be posting while I am there, but have already written the Saturday Challenges for the weekends that I will be gone; please check back for those, as I've set them up to post automatically! And, as one of these challenges will be my 100th post, it'll be a bit of a special one - be sure to check it out!

I wish you a lovely next few weeks filled with excitement and love and preparation for the holidays and the new year! Are you thinking of your hopes and plans for the new year, and are you reflecting on all that has happened in 2009? I know I am.

I'll miss you all, and I promise to bring back lots of photos to share!
With love,

Ingrid

Peace on Earth



I found this video just a few moments ago and felt that I had to share it immediately. It is so touching, so inspiring, and so full of love and hope. It gives me enormous faith in the future of this world!

Let us spread love, not hate; acceptance, not prejudice; trust, not fear. We are all children of this earth and, no matter what our differences, we are all in this together.

Kisses!


PS. If you'd like to read the lyrics to this beautiful song, please go here.

In the Last Month of the Year


December. Snow. Cold weather. Pine trees, twinkling lights, and presents. The end of another year.

This year has been a blur, passing so quickly that I'm pretty amazed that we're even past April! This month's word of the month is reflection. I always feel quiet and meditative in December, thinking about all the things I have done and all the things that I'd like to do; things I'd like to change and things I'd like to continue; things I'd like to learn and in which ways I want to grow.

What have you accomplished this year? What were the high points, and what were the low points? What made you feel good, what important things happened in your life, and how do you feel differently than you did last year?

This year I got bought a camera and began to take photos. I learned how to bind books. I started a blog! I travelled to several countries. I realised many things about myself, and I realised that there is so much left to learn. I took a year off of doing and had a year of mental growth, of sorting and discovering and finding out exactly what it is that I want, need, and dream of. Though I'm not nearly finished yet, I feel that I am now ready to take a first leap into something entirely new and challenging.

Happy last month of 2009!

Work and Play


I came home on Saturday after a lovely holiday with my family. The wild hills were beautiful and I could hear the wind blustering from a valley away without the usually-present rumble of traffic. Such closeness with nature is rare, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to be there and to listen without distraction!

Now, I'm curious: does it ever happen to you that you are so full of creative ideas that you don't know where to begin? I am in that place right now. I want to paint on canvas, crochet a hat, embroider a pair of jeans, write a letter to my friend in Canada, fold cranes and work on the 5000 question survey for my Mission 101 project, work in my art journal, paint with my new watercolours, bind more books, fill my Etsy shop, take photos, catch up on Daily Art Cards, make Christmas presents, and write the hundreds of blog posts that I've been thinking about.

Of course, then there are all the things I need to do, like laundry and cleaning and packing for my upcoming trip. These are the things I'm not looking forward to doing when there is so much fun to be had and so many things to be made!

Gratitude & Blessings


Soon we will look ahead to the new year and dream of things to come, giving our attention to the future. Isn't it wonderful that we have this time of gratitude, right now, to slow down; a time to remember the present, and all those things with which we have already been blessed?

For my readers in other parts of the world: even if you do not celebrate the traditional American Thanksgiving holiday, you can certainly join our season of thanks. Tell me, what makes your heart bubble over with gratitude?

Here are a few things for which I endlessly thank the Universe:

* Nature's beauty and the changing of seasons
* Being able to afford to do the things I love - like travelling, painting, and photography
* Opportunity and possibility
* Countless new things to learn
* Big dreams
* Never having known the feeling of hunger
* The support and kindness of strangers
* Old and new friends
* Artists and philosophers and other creative thinkers, who inspire me beyond measure

I wish you a wonderful holiday filled with gratitude and love and, of course, family! Please, please, please travel safely, and come back happy, full, and rested.

Etsy Goodness

Today I ventured onto Etsy to see what goodies I could find that might serve as Christmas presents for my family. I browsed for a little while, and then - well, suddenly there were seven browser windows open filled with Etsy deliciousness, and every item in those seven windows was something that I would like to get for Christmas. Oops!

I wanted to share with you four things that are the top of my wishlist. Now don't steal them, or your name is going to put on the naughty list!


Aren't they pretty? I especially love the elephant necklace; it's from the same woman who made Tara and Emily's beautiful necklaces that I so covet!

I have been working on a few projects to get ready for my upcoming trip to Germany. Already I have a newly bound blank travel journal and a new crocheted pencil case, but the weather hasn't been co-operating so I must wait to share photos with you. The other project I spoke about a few posts ago is still sitting against my wall waiting to be fixed - I do hope that I will manage to finish it soon!

I hope that you are all well and happy and are soaking up this week of gratitude. What a wonderful thing it is, to realise how much we have been blessed with and to have a holiday which reminds us to show our thanks!

Love to you all!

Saturday Challenge, #26

Each and every Saturday, I post a new Challenge. Ranging from artistic prompts to self discovery exercises to ideas for living a wholesome, beautiful life, every Challenge seeks to inspire growth, love, creativity, and a more full life!

You can view and participate in past challenges
here, and remember that you can share photos in the (rather neglected) Flickr group. If you have a suggestion for a challenge, please leave a comment or write me an email at mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com.

The argument of whether or not the Soul exists is one that has lasted almost as long as the human race has. For some, the Soul is spiritual and will be what lasts after our bodies have disappeared from the earth; for some, it is what makes us what we are - a thinking, feeling, doing, moralistic being; for some, it is nothing at all.

I cannot claim to know anything more than anyone else on the subject, for I am merely an ordinary human and the question is so subjective that it is difficult to prove or disprove. Personally, however, I do believe that I am more than just a body, though I admit I can't quite put in terms how I believe it to be so! How we perceive the world, how we react to it; our dreams and our hopes and our paths in life - it seems that these must be governed by a part of ourselves that is higher than that which deals with instinct and basic needs and other earthly things. Do you agree, or no?

This week's challenge is this: If you drew or described a home for your Soul - for the essence of you - what would it look like? Would it be airy and light? Warm and soft? Big and open? Full of colour or nature or music or stillness? Remember that the word 'home' can be interpreted in many, many different ways!

As I was writing this post, I realised that perhaps I have stumbled across something so big that it needs to be properly thought about and returned to in a later post. Forgive me if my writing is a bit jumbled and confused; I was writing as I was thinking!

Odds and Ends

Taken on a rainy day in October.

Today is a drizzly, soft, cozy sort of day; the kind that makes one want to curl up under a blanket and drink steaming tea from a favourite mug. Though it is still Autumn, I can feel something in the air that hints of the Winter soon to come.

The next month or two will be full of excitement and adventure. First, at the end of next week, I am going to be joining my family for Thanksgiving in the beautiful wild hills of West Virginia. My uncle owns a cabin there, nestled in a magical place surrounded by nature. I have been there once before during the summer - what a sanctuary it is!

Then, in two weeks' time, I will be flying across the ocean to visit my dear boyfriend. I can't wait! And, of course, soon after I return, Christmas will be here in all its glory. It's incredible how swiftly the time flies by - have you started thinking of what you hope the New Year will hold for you?

(Oh, dear, I suppose that means I have quite a bit of work to do to catch up on my Daily Art Cards. I've been slacking again. Shame on me!)

I have been working on another project and am looking forward to sharing the finished piece with you. It was close to being done in the wee hours of this morning, but perfectionism has its price - I didn't like how it turned out and I feel compelled to start again.

And that, my lovelies, is all for today! I wish you a wonderful Friday filled with all the best kinds of things. If you have the time, head over to the BlissChick and wish her a very happy birthday tomorrow!

With love,

On Seeing Ugliness


As much as I hate the fact, not all things in life are beautiful. There is war. There is hate. There are parts of ourselves which we'd rather we didn't call our own. There are unkindnesses and sorrows and suffering.

Though I truly believe that focusing on the positive draws positive things into our lives; that there are uncountable beautiful souls and deeds and thoughts in the world; that there are infinite things of awesomeness on our Mother Earth, I also believe that we need to see the bad and the ugly in order to appreciate the good and the beautiful.

I have been working on an art journal page - this time not focusing on the elements that pull it together or the colours that make me happy. Instead, I am making it uncomfortable and discordant and ugly.

When it is finished I am going to look at it and decide what about it I don't like about it and what repels me from it, be it the colours, the shapes, the composition, the writing, or something else entirely. Then, I will realise the things that do draw me to a journal spread or a piece of art.

Opposites are important; without one, we wouldn't understand the other. Without hate there wouldn't be love, and without war there wouldn't be peace. And without ugliness, there wouldn't be beauty - beauty beyond measure.

Golden Afternoon

(Click on any photo to enlarge it.)


I went for a walk in the golden light of the afternoon. The autumn air held a slight chill, bringing roses to my cheeks. The sunlight was rich, golden, thick, and it fell on the last leaves clinging to the trees and caused them to light up from within.


I discovered dried, brown skeletons of plants that thrived in the summer, now stiff and fragile, holding a beauty all their own. It's an enchanting, marvelous, magical world we live in, isn't it?

Saturday Challenge #25

Each and every Saturday, I post a new Challenge. Ranging from artistic prompts to self discovery exercises to ideas for living a wholesome, beautiful life, every Challenge seeks to inspire growth, love, creativity, and a more full life!

You can view and participate in past challenges
here; remember that you can share photos in the (rather neglected) Flickr group. If you have a suggestion for a challenge, please leave a comment or write me an email at mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com.


The kindness that I have seen during my six months in the blogging world has astounded me. Strangers sharing encouragement, praise, and support with each other, be it swapping crafting tips or advice about life - how indescribably amazing it is to see such love! I, myself, have received countless sweet words that make my heart overflow and that inspire me to pass the gesture forward. (Again, I thank you every one of you!)

This Saturday, I challenge you to comment on at least five blogs you have never been to before. (Maybe you'd like to start here?) Follow your mouse and click, click, click away! Find a post that speaks to you, a photo that touches your heart, or art that inspires you to pick up a paintbrush, and tell the author how much it meant to you. Pass the love on!

I wish you a weekend filled with slow, happy days and dazzling autumn weather!
Much love,

Ingrid


PS:
  • I now have a Facebook page! Come be my friend here.
  • You can view and download my completely free, newly made, hand drawn buttons for your blog here.

Technical Question

Would you mind telling me if this font (currently courier) is too difficult to read, and whether you prefer the original (georgia)? Thank you, dearies!

Wandering in Blogland

When I first entered the blogging world as an observer and a reader, I was astounded at the creativity, the colour, the inspiration that was present in so many blogs. I began to bookmark my favourites, coming back again and again and again and soaking up the beauty of each one. This list still grows, and has become quite long now.

A few days ago, I happened upon a blog called + handmade love +. Perhaps you've already visited it? It is authored by an art student named Dawn, who writes about her artistic life and her daily life and fills her blog with with beautiful, rich photos. I am very excited about this discovery and have already returned several times, excited to soak up the inspiration!


This photo below belongs to the blog elkemay. I simply adore the gentle way of words and the soft, beautiful images and collage that the authoress has. I find calm, quiet, and serenity when I enter her blogspace; it's almost meditative.


Lastly, I want to introduce you to a blog that I have been following for some months now. The Drifter and the Gypsy, authored by Micaela, shares dreamy photographs from photographers all over the web and occasional inspirational words. It radiates magic and encourages daydreaming.


Tell me, friend, what are your favourite blogs to read? Which spaces are the ones you come back to again and again, the ones that inspire you, motivate you, captivate you, teach you?


PS. I visit the blog of every person who comments here ~ I love venturing into others' worlds! If you please, would you invite me to your corner of the internet and show me what you have to share with or say to the world? ♥

The 'i' Journal


[Update] This has been sold to the lovely Brandi! (Thank you!) No worries, though ~ I'm busy making some more.

Today I finished a little journal made out of index cards. Would you like to buy it? I am going to put it on Etsy at the end of the week for $4, but for my friends here I'll offer it to you for $2! It is about 3 1/8 x 2 1/2 in. (8 x 6 cm.) and has 34 alternating lined/blank sturdy pages which were bound using a book-binding stitch. The cover is made of a dark magazine page and has a big "i" attached to the front.

It could be used for itsy bitsy collage, writing, drawing or doodling, list-making, sticker or stamp collection... Please leave a comment or write to me at mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com if you'd like to purchase it. I think I am going to make some more - they are fun to make and are pretty cute, I think!

The Joy of Being



What shall we celebrate today?
Will it be the the blue or the rainy skies, the breath in our bodies, the nudge of possibility that this day holds? Or shall we instead celebrate dreams, love, laughter, and hugs..?

I'd like to remind you, dear one, that you are radiant and beautiful and full of so many good things! The Universe loves you! Take my hand and we'll dance down the road together, celebrating everything that is and everything that could be. We'll discuss life and all the wonderful things in it; we'll jump in puddles and we'll chase each other over hills, giggling furiously.

Today is a good day, friend.

Everything That I Am

At the beginning of last week, on November the second, this little blog of mine turned six months old. Hurrah, hurrah! I am still learning about what inspires me to write, I am developing my photographic habits, and I am finding my style by trial and error - but this corner, right here, of the vast, astounding, and dazzling internet is all mine, no matter what, and I love it dearly for everything that it is!

Thank you, friends, for being here for the ride! Already I have found lovely souls out there in Blogland who inspire me to no end and whose acquaintance I treasure greatly. Hugs to you out there. What is so delightful about this journey is knowing that there are so many more friends to meet, paintings to paint and crafts to make, things to learn and ideas to write about! I can't wait to discover them.

I have been feeling for some time that I need to properly introduce myself. I have, however, been putting it off. I have so many worries - will you like the 'real' me? Will it shatter the magic that I feel here? Will I be reduced to an ordinary being who does ordinary things and struggles with life, just like everyone else? Can I still hold onto what I believe of this place: that anything is possible and that all dreams are within reach?

My desk, pleading for some tidying.

I have finally decided, though, to remove my mask, just for one post, and show myself for everything that I am. A brief reality check - then back to dreaming! I need to know where I am starting so that I know which path to take next, right?

And so, my Loves. Here I go.. My name is Ingrid - really, it's my middle name, but I like it ever-so-much better than my first. I am twenty one years old. After a year of college, then a year of wandering through Europe, I am once again living at home in a teensy-tiny town on the eastern coast of the United States. This situation frustrates me beyond words, and I desperately long for the freedom of my own space.

I am so very passionate about colour, about art, about expression and love and travelling and people and exploration. I adore animals and I treasure nature's beauty. My favourite season is Spring - it is the season of hope. I love skipping, laughing, twirling, creating, and singing; friends and the ocean and birds and elephants and culture and small, quiet moments of love between strangers (a wink, a smile, a kindess).

I am extremely messy. My desk is in the picture above - covered with Things and Papers! Ideas come and go quickly though my mind, and my desire to start new projects heavily outweighs my desire to finish them.

I have been dealing with depression for many, many years and am very proud of myself for being where I am today in that journey. (My, what a scary thing it is, announcing that to the world!) My boyfriend of nearly two years lives in Germany - a difficult situation, to be sure, but I love him dearly and, somehow, we make it work.

I long to travel the world and meet the people in it, taking part in the beauty that is humanity and the love that resides there. I am not interested in making a fortune in my lifetime, but rather gathering a vast wealth of experience that, in the end, brings happy tears to my eyes and fills an overflowing heart.

Is that enough, friends? Have you made it this far? I suppose I will end here, and my heart will tell me over the next few days if there is anything else that I would like share with you on this subject. Thank you for reading; this has been exactly what I needed. One's heart never lies! And until I know about Part Two, I will wear the cape of a princess, a goddess, an artist, or whatever else I choose to be!

Love to you all,

A Last Christmas Wish

One of my favourite quotes is "Practise random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty". The act of reaching out to others and making a difference, however small, in a stranger's life is absolutely indescribable and fills me with warm fuzzies every time! You can read this post if you'd like to know more about what I think of strangers' kindnesses and of returning the favour - always passing it forward.

While looking through swaps on www.swap-bot.com tonight, I stumbled across someone who is sharing this message: "I have a friend called Noah. He's 5 and he is in the final stage of cancer. He will die before Christmas so his family is celebrating at Thanksgiving. He wants cards for his gift."

This really touched me. I think it's so terribly sad that any child face something so scary and so big. (Please note that this is not a forward or chain mail letter - I never pass those on. This is a real boy with a real wish.) I want to help and do what little I can; and I thought that perhaps I could reach out to my readers and ask for your help, too. Let's give a little boy his last Christmas wish, shall we? The address given is:


Noah Biorkman
1141 Fountain View Circle
South Lyon, MI 48178

I'm not sure of the "someone's" name who is organising this, but her blog is here. Please visit and let her know if you do send a card! (And, of course, please let me know, too!) I encourage you to tell this to anyone who you think may be interested. Thank you for your kindness!

[EDIT 9 November] Here are a few more links for you ~ a news video, a report on Snopes, and the Facebook event page.

Saturday Challenge, #24

Answer me this: how often do we get stuck in the same routine, doing the same thing day after day with little excitement? I know I end up down this path far more often than I'd like.

The remedy? Shake things up. Change - even just the tiniest bit of it - can add interest to our daily lives, help us to pay more attention to what is happening around us, and helps to exercise our spontaneity and our sense of adventure.


Today, I challenge you to try something new. Try a new food. Paint with your least favourite colour. Wear a different style of clothes. Take a new route to work. Be daring and silly and (most importantly) enjoy the ride, wherever it may happen to take you!

Bits and Pieces

With the exception of a lingering cough, I am on my feet again!
I have two tidbits to share with you today:

  • The new word of the month is "gratitude". I believe it's important not only to dream of what is to come in our futures, but also to realise what we have already been blessed with - be it health, art supplies, a great car, or lovely friends. I certainly need a reminder every once in a while to stop and appreciate what I already have. What are you grateful for today?
  • I am currently involved in a swap over here, and am excited to share photos with you after my partner has received the package. No point in spoiling a good surprise!

I wish you a lovely Friday, friends!

Bubble Gum


The mischievous spirits of Halloween must have had some fun last night - I woke up this morning with a slight fever and persistent headache! Today I will be spending the day in my cosy bed, drinking tea, slumbering, and being gentle to my body.

Unfortunately this means that I will not be posting a challenge for this week. Please feel free to look at the past challenges and see if there are any you may have missed or would like to try again!

I'd love if you came back
after all your adventures are finished and shared your stories with me! Be safe, my friends, and happy Halloween!

Trick or Treat


Tomorrow is the night when
goblins and ghouls and witches come out to play, when magic and other impossibilities break their bounds...

Are you ready?

The Hidden and the Discovered

Found objects: a child's message of peace, golden leaves, handwriting practise paper.
View my Flickr photostream.


Hello, you!

I can't thank you enough for your kind words of late. To those who have written to me, and to all who have ever commented on my blog: thank you, thank you, thank you! I never truly expected to be able to reach out beyond my own little corner of the world, much less my own little corner of the internet. To be sharing and celebrating with readers means so much to me. Thank you!

I know that I have been quiet recently. Truly, I have missed writing and sharing with you. I have mentioned before that I have been feeling stuck - in a rut - uninspired. These feelings continue. Today I decided to break past that; I find comfort and calm in this space of mine and I believe that one can't simply write when one feels a certain way. You, beloved reader, will simply have to take me for the good or for the bad. (And I in return will accept you for what you are - deal?)

I have been wondering lately how we can overcome obstacles like lack of creative juices, boredom, or restlessness. Should we wait these moments out, or is it better to push through them to return to a space of productivity and enthusiasm? I don't have answers yet, but will continue to search for them.

Meanwhile, the leaves on the trees continue to fall and the skies maintain their pale, gray hues. The seeming endlessness of these days frustrates me. I will battle this with candles, with tea, with favourite blogs and with whatever artistic fragments motivate me to pick up a pencil or a needle and thread or a paintbrush.

So, friends - here is to the good and to the bad, to giving and receiving, to joy and to frustration and to all that plays a part in this creative life. Cheers!

Saturday Challenge #23


Today is one of my favourite kinds of days - wild, windy, mysterious, and unpredictable. The dark, dynamic clouds are chasing each other across the sky, playing hide-and-seek with the sun and teasing the earth with the possibility of rain. The wind is coaxing yellow autumn leaves from the trees, and the air is unexpectedly warm.

This week, I challenge you to listen. Close your eyes and allow yourself to melt into all that is around you. Lose your physical self and be present in this moment, in what is being spoken to you right now, be it creative whisperings, nature's own symphony, or what your heart is saying.

In stillness,

The Lingering Days of Summer


Though it is most assuredly Fall; though the leaves are tumbling merrily from the trees; though a chill lingers in the clear morning and the starlit evenings.. some days, like today, Summer can still be found in the quiet, undisturbed corners of the garden or the sky.

Today, the birds are serenading the world, the sun comes laughing to touch the treetops, and the sky is as blue as blue could ever be. Wild strawberries and violets hide in the shade of the grass of my garden (though they are too shy to have their photographs taken). What a beautiful day ~ what a wonderful gift!

Saturday Challenge, #22

(All images via www.postsecret.com)

Dear friends,

A few years ago, I stumbled upon an art project begun by an ordinary man living in Maryland. The man began collecting secrets, written on the backs of postcards, from anonymous strangers. Today, he has published five books (and donated the money to this organisation) and has inspired thousands upon thousands to share every human emotion and experience, be it beautiful or sweet or sad.

I must admit, I struggled a bit with this week's challenge. I did not in any way want to feel as though I were advertising and pushing material things onto my beloved readers. Please know that this is in no way what I intend. My blog is strictly ad-free and it will stay that way; here is a warm, comfortable, safe place intended to foster love, inspiration, hope, and peace, a place where outside worries are left on the doorstep.

I could tell you to run out and buy the PostSecret books. I won't. Instead, I want to share with you something that I hold very close to my heart, something intangible and good and beautiful. I truly believe that this project has changed my life for the better; it is something that has given me hope in the good of humanity and has changed the way I view myself and others.

This week, I do not challenge, but rather invite you visit the PostSecret website, the PostSecret Community, and the PostSecret Archive. Perhaps you will read a secret that you share with a stranger - perhaps not. But I truly, truly hope that you will find love, hope, inspiration, and comfort from these anonymous cards sent by strangers.

With love,
Ingrid


PS. Should you wish to submit your own secret to the PostSecret project, please send your postcard to:

PostSecret
13345 Copper Ridge Rd.
Germantown, MD 20874
USA

How I Saw Myself Today

Self Portrait, 15 Oct 2009

From the inside and from the outside; in feeling or in thought or in creative expression -- how have you been looking at yourself lately? And what have you seen?

Love to you all, my dearies. Happy Friday!

One Lovely Blog Award



This morning I found out that dear Tara has given me the "One Lovely Blog Award!" Thank you so much, Tara, and I'm humbled that you enjoy reading my blog and taking part in my journey; I appreciate it so very much!

The rules of this award are as follows:
  1. Accept the award;
  2. Post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link;
  3. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered and remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award!
Without further ado, I pass along this award to the following enchanting, lovely, inspirational blogs:
Please visit their blogs and send them some love!

Make it a Monday to remember, my friends.
With love,

Saturday Challenge, #21


"Barely There", September 09

This week's challenge is
simple: prove you exist. Though the nature of reality is - and always will be - debatable, the fact that each and every one of us perceives, feels, and experiences is not. Go out into the world today and make your existence known!

The Kindness of Strangers

Today I was listening to the radio, thinking about other things, when I suddenly realised a little girl - perhaps 11 or 12 - was speaking on the air.

"Can you tell me what to do when you know that your parents are going to get divorced? My mom and dad yell at each other and then don't speak to each other; sometimes my mom says that she can't take it anymore and that we have to leave.." Her voice broke, and it was obvious she was close to tears. "I don't know what to do. What should I do?"


The DJ spoke to her very kindly, though it was pretty clear that he wasn't quite sure what to say. He asked her a few questions and then said, "I'll be your big brother. I'll say silly things and make you laugh. And I'll be here for you; call me again if you need me. OK? Promise? You promise that you call me if you ever need to talk to someone?"

The girl promised, laughed shyly, and said goodbye.

Tears had welled in my eyes, sentimental fool that I am, and I began to think about strangers and how beautiful their kindness can be. Sometimes we may feel forgotten, unwanted, or are struggling with a problem in isolation; but we forget that there is a world of loving, caring people out there who really do want to help.

Take PostSecret, for example. Strangers share secrets with one another, sometimes deep and lonely and sad secrets, and always, always there will be at least one person - and likely hundreds or thousands more - who identifies, who understands, who finds comfort that they are not alone. Love surrounds this project in an astounding, overwhelming way.


Just this week, a woman whom I have never met wrote to me. She had seen that, as part of my Mission: One Oh One project, I was hoping to fold 1000 paper cranes - and she wanted to know if she could help. Just a few days ago I received a stack of paper with a lovely note wishing me happiness and love. (Thank you, Erica! A special letter will be headed your way soon!)

Last week a stranger asked me about my religious faith; though we didn't quite share the same beliefs, we shared thoughts and ideas and had a lovely conversation. Before he left, he asked if he could pray for me - and I was touched.

Millions upon millions of these little kindnesses happen every day, here and across the country and throughout the world; and these small, unselfish acts of love give me hope in the goodness of humanity. And the best part about it? It is so easy to pass the love forward - by letting someone cut in front of you in line, by putting a quarter in an expired meter, by commenting on that woman's beautiful scarf!

Pass the love on!

Saturday Challenge, #20

How do you see yourself? What do you love about yourself? What is the essence of YOU?

This week I challenge you to create a self portrait in as unique a way as possible. Merriam-Webster defines 'self portrait' as:
  1. A picture; especially a pictorial representation of a person usually showing the face
  2. A sculpted figure; bust
  3. A graphic portrayal in words
Today, though, let's break out of the box, throw the dictionary out the window, and exercise our imaginations. All I ask is that you keep two things in mind: that the possibilities of this challenge are endless; and that you are a shining, sparkling, radiant person capable of amazing things! See if you can reflect both of these things in your portrait.

I have created a Flickr group to which you can upload your responses to this week's challenge - or any previous challenge. Don't be shy - I would love to see what you have been creating and discovering!

October *Light

My beloved mama has an October birthday.

I have noticed that since I began blogging - and, more specifically, since I began writing about the changing of the seasons - I have come to appreciate the passage of time more greatly. I have begun to notice - really notice - the changes from month to month and the beauty that appears within each one. This year, I am truly looking forward to Autumn and the Winter, and all that lies ahead in this yearly journey.

So here we are, you and I, at the doorstep to another month and another season. October - the month of changing leaves, Halloween, pumpkins, and chilly nights - can you believe that it is here already?! What do you associate with this month? What do you love about it? How will you celebrate it?

The new word of the month is light. I have picked a word this month that can be interpreted many, many ways. There are thousands of celebrations and meditations possible with the word, and I invite you to explore the meaning which best helps you to grow and discover! I encourage you to share your thoughts, artwork, photos, etc. on this word throughout the October month.

Happy October, friends - I wish you the most lovely of autumn days!


PS. Please visit my "Mission: One Oh One" blog - several of my Day Zero friends begin their lists today! Read my most recent post, check out their sites and their lists, wish them luck, and cheer them on as they start their journeys.

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