Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

It’s Sunday morning. I’mriver2 sitting in my kitchen at the old rural school desk that is tucked in between the refrigerator and the corner cupboard. I’ve drinking coffee and practicing being present, being aware. It helps that I’m on my 3rd cup of coffee! I’m trying to get back into a daily spiritual practice, and, am doing so, in bits and spurts. I’m reminded of what Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Hmmmm. I breathe slowly, in and out, and notice what I am seeing.

Out my window is Sand Creek, which is just visible if I stand up and peer over the fence.  I see a red squirrel racing from limb to limb. Surely she has had more coffee than me thissqauirrel6 morning! I keep losing her among the limbs, but then she stops and investigates something. Is the sap starting to seep out of the Maple Tree? And do squirrels like it?








Across the river I can see a pair of gray squirrels chasing each other up into the highest limbs of the cedar tree, then leaping into an old willow, going round and round the trunk, then disappearing into the depths of a snowbank. Up they pop. Off they go again!


Once summer day Dan and I were sitting on the deck, half way down the river bank, when we heard a PLOP.  There in the middle of the creek was a squirrel which hadn’t quite made the leap from limb to spreading limb from one side of the riverbank to the other. Learned something new that day! Squirrels CAN swim.

I stare up into the trees and imagine what it will be like in a few months, when the leaves will nearly block the view of the houses that are nestled onto the opposite river bank. In summer it is almost like we are living on the edge of the forest. That thought leads me to thoughts of the forest, and then, as thoughts often do, this one turns into contemplation. Pondering. Thinking about how the interweaving branches of the trees, those that allow squirrels to travel across the forest and even over the river, never touching the ground, are a great metaphor for the connections that we make in life.

I take up my pencil and write this, which, now, I offer to you.

I imagine myself as a tree, standing in the woods. You. Yes, you. You are one of the trees in that interlocking forest of my life …  branches touching, weaving together to create a network of relationships. Challenging. Supporting. Protecting. Inspiring. Applauding. Critiquing. Reacting. Denying. Questioning. Bristling. Loving. Pondering. Caring. Growing. Sharing stories. Apart. Separate. Yet together, grounded in the same earth, breathing the same air, drinking the same water, being shone on by the same sun. I can’t imagine being a single tree, standing alone in the meadow or on a mountaintop. I am thankful to be one tree in a forest full of trees with branches that connect with mine.



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As I write this I’m listening to the song “When Everything Old Is New Again”, sung by Peter Allen ( on You Tube).  The song, co-written with Carole Bayer Sager, so fits where I am right now. june2017

These lines, especially, resonate with me:

“Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again”

So true! They make me smile. Remind me to grab hold of my imagination and fly. Encourage me to keep on dancin’ down that path.

I took this photo today, June 1, at 6:00 PM. The scene is the path that leads to the steps that go down to Sand Creek here at our place in Jordan, Minnesota, USA. Those of you who have been here in the summer will recognize the ferns and the bench. Same old place. Nothing new. But not so. It’s different now. It’s different because as of yesterday this is the backyard of our home as well as our business. Yes. Dan and I have moved in! The Prior Lake house now belongs to another family with dreams and plans of their own, while we are re-configuring the former Maureen Carlson’s Center for Creative Arts into a space and place that will nurture both our Wee Folk Creations business as well as ourselves.


The experience of moving, after living almost 40 years in one place, has made me appreciate anew all of you who have shared your stories of challenges and change. It’s not as easy as it appears from the outside! You are my sheroes and heroes!

A little humor has helped in this 1 and 1/2-year process of downsizing and moving. The grandkids thought it was funny to sit on the couch one last time as it rested in the dumpster at the Prior Lake house.  They helped to make the moving day a joyful one to remember.

The old living room couch will never be new again.  And it obviously didn’t make the move with the rest of our things to the Jordan location. But the loving and living and laughing and learning that took place in that living room will never grow old.

Here’s to dreams!








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A Conversation
the Pippsywoggin
Addie Brianne






Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, like just last week, and in a place far, far away, on the river bench that overlooks my garden studio, I sat in some state of despondency and contemplated the little door that is nailed to the base of the old willow tree.


I didn’t really expect the door to open or anyone to come out of it, as I knew all too well that it was only a fake door, and that my friends from the edge of imagination, the Pippsywoggins, were not real at all. But I wondered, given a chance, what the Pippsywoggins might have to say to me, today, in the midst of the turmoil that is permeating our world.









And so I sat on the bench, by the little door and stared at the muddy waters of Sand Creek, feeling compelled to be there, but also feeling a bit like a fool.  And then it happened.






An image appeared before me, addiebposter157that of the 5-inch tall Pippsywoggin Addie Brianne, who plopped herself down beside me, crossed her hands under her chin, and looked expectantly over at me with a grin.

I grinned, too, for of course it would be Addie Brianne who would show up. I remembered her story, which begins like this.

Addie Brianne is content with life.  She doesn’t have any great ambition to be a dancer or a seamstress or a writer.  She doesn’t have urges to gather the largest strawberries or the sweetest nectar or the shiniest pebbles.  She is just content to relax and to respond to life as it comes to greet her.


Ah, but don’t think that she is lazy.  No, not for a moment.   Above her front door is a sign that says:  THE FIRST THING TO DO IS TO SHOW UP.  And this she does.  Every day.  With as many of her senses of sight and sound and touch and taste and smell as she can marshal together.

Her little house hangs like a basket in the middle of a clump of willows that grow on the edge of a small farm pond where cattle come to drink, where a pair of Mallards yearly raise a brood of ducklings, and where the neighboring Irish Setter routinely comes to bark at crabs.

Because she has made it a habit to show up, she has been there to see the new calf get his first wobbly drink.  She was present when the littlest duckling got swept through the drainage ditch by the sudden spring downpour, and she glimpsed the look in the Setter’s eyes when he came face to face with the giant snapping turtle.

She shows up, and because she does, opportunities for learning and growth and amazement are continually hers.  The other Pips are a bit jealous of her charmed life.  But, you know, the funny thing is that even though they have visited her little house in the willows many times, none of them have seemed to notice the sign above her door that says:  THE FIRST THING TO DO IS TO SHOW UP.


riverwestposter57I bent down to pick up a twig to throw into current as I contemplated Addie Brianne’s story.  Now what, I said. So what if I show up? How does that change anything in this messed up world and my messy life?

As I said this, Addie jumped up and ran towards the little door at the base of the old willow tree, throwing these words over her shoulder as she entered the door, “It may not change the world but it might change you.”

I hardly had time to think about the implications of what she said when Addie was back in front of me holding a sign that said:



Show up.

Keep it simple.

Keep it honest.

Be true.

Those Pippsywoggins! Always with something new to challenge me!  But I took Addie’s poster home with me and nailed it above my own front door.  You’re welcome to make copies for yourself, if you like. I’m sure that Addie B wouldn’t mind.




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The view out my office window is dreary indeed, not at all like last fall’s blaze of sun-bright yellow nor the spectacular glow of ice-white which greeted me one morning last winter.






Today it’s gray, a dull lifelessness, which fits my present mood. I’ve no reason to be glum as the future is full of creative possibilities for joy and love, adventure and discovery, compassion and connection. I do believe that, but last night I let myself watch way too much cruelty, dissension and hatred on TV. That, on top of days of political news and confusion as to what’s moral and what’s true, plus my own disheveled getting-ready-to-move house and studio, and I went off to bed feeling like curling into a fetal ball, which I did. As a result I woke before 5:00 this morning feeling the dread of an already forgotten but way too vivid dream.

So here I sit, determined to bring myself back to that inner space and place where I can look at both myself and my fellow human beings with light and hope reflected in my gaze. I know that there are many ways to center oneself and reconnect with soul. There’s prayer, mindfulness, breath, yoga, meditation, gratitude, forgiveness, paying attention to one’s thoughts, various healing modalities, physical activity, volunteering to help others … and there’s storytelling.

I believe that all of us have a knowing, a wise soul, inside of us, deep in our inner core where we connect with Mystery, with each other, with All that is. We each access that inner knowing in a way that fits us, who we are. One way that I connect with that Truth is to immerse myself in nature. Another way is to sit down and have an imaginary friar2poster2conversation with the Pippsywoggins, little friends from the edge of imagination.It may sound weird to some of you, but it’s great fun, really, and a bit magical, too, as going into the world of make-believe allows me to access inner truths that escape me otherwise. Speaking with the Pippsywoggins let’s me be a kid again and put voice to ideas that otherwise are only rumbling around somewhere, beyond my grasp. Letting go and seeing where the conversation leads, has, in the past, been a great adventure, but it has been on hold for the last 15 or so years because, well, life has been busy. But, just maybe, now’s the time to open the door, that little one that’s hidden at the base of the old willow by the creek, and see if anyone’s there.

I’ll let you know …



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Olive, our blue-eyed, tiny-framed, skip-on-her-toes 2 year old granddaughter came to visit last weekend. The trip from her home 3 1/2 hours away was planned to be a very short one as both parents needed to get back to family responsibilities, and the two teenagers, at home. But the hospital visit with a family member turned out to require more time than originally planned, so Olive was our “guest” for most of Saturday and half of Sunday. We did have fun! I also learned a few things.
  1. Music is essential.
    Children’s folk songs make my body, heart and soul dance! I’d forgotten that, but, thanks to the presence of Olive, and to the ability on Pandora.com to choose stations with a theme, I now remember. In fact I’m going to hit pause and go turn it on … and up… right now! (pause)
  2. The heart knows.
    On Saturday I had a class scheduled, one that I really wanted to attend, but I’m so glad that I spent the day with Olive. Choices are hard, sometimes, but listening to one’s heart, and then going with it, makes the way easier. I think the lesson is to listen, choose, embrace, follow through … and don’t look back. Second-guessing is only that, guessing. Every chosen experience is part of our story and deserves our attention. Our whole-hearted attention? Yes, perhaps that, too.
  3. It’s Ok to ask for your own spoon.
    Our daughter, Jenelle, has long shared a love of deliciously flaky, rich, filled pastry with her father, Dan. As a thank you treat for the weekend spent watching Olive, she picked up two enticingly beautiful and generous portions of torte at Cossettas ( http://cossettas.com/home/hours-location/ ), one for her and one for Dan. I was watching my intake of sugar, so I received a wonderful loaf of raisin bread, an only slightly less rich concoction than the torte!
    Before presenting the torte to her dad, Jenelle, with a grin on her face and a lift to her eyebrows, went to the kitchen and got two forks, then proceeded to sit on the couch with her dad, open the white carry-out box, and the two of them dug in. Olive, who had climbed onto the couch alongside them, received periodic shared forkfuls between Jenelle and Dan’s savoring sounds of delight.
    “More, papa, more,” says Olive.
    Suddenly she gets down from the couch and runs into the kitchen.
    “Where are you going,” asks Dan.
    “To get my own fork,” says Olive.
    Her Olive-sized spoon was lying on the kitchen table, so she took that, instead of the fork, and headed back to the couch where she filled her spoon to heaping, again, and again, an equal part in the experience.
    kossettasjan242015That image has come back to me over and over again in the week since Olive went home. Those of you who know me may perceive me to be a strong-willed and independent woman, but I always recognize, and remember, the tendency that I have to take what people are willing to give me rather than to recognize what I need, that I want more, and that I do have the power to take the initiative, to get up and go fetch my own fork, or spoon, and be an equal part in the experience.
    Two books that were recently recommended to me are The Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes, and The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer. I think it’s time to check those out. Don’t you love it when the universe, or God or Spirit or the Inner Knowing gives us the same message, over and over again, using different messengers and metaphors, until we finally get it?

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Jeff Rouse of OurStoryMn.com

Chances are that if you’re reading this blog, you’re a person who identifies with the word  “creative”.  And if so, you’ve surely had someone say to you, “It’s all in your imagination!”, as if that’s a BAD thing.  Gets old, doesn’t it?

It seems to me that the mythical place of imagination is where ideas are generated, where creativity is nurtured, where visions begin to take form and where yesterday’s magic becomes tomorrow’s routine.  The ideas that are brewed in this “land of imagination” become the events and productions and goods of tomorrow. Without imagination we’d still be copying books by hand, harnessing horses to buggies and spending a good portion of each day growing and gathering and spinning and mending.

And, to be honest, I don’t believe that would be ALL bad.   I think we are in risk of losing touch with our connection to the Land and to Source.  I am a believer in the concept of simplicity and love and face time with self and neighbor.  But I do love it that with the click of a key I can talk via email or phone with my friend Iris in Israel or Dayle in California, those wonderful grandkids in Wisconsin … or, when we’re both busy, busy, busy, my partner husband, Dan (Hi, Dan), who is at work in his office downstairs.  Imagination at work has allowed us in the 21st century to stay connected with our friends and family in ways that our immigrant grandparents never, ever experienced.

Despite my ambivalence about the results of imagination, for me, imagination is Sacred.  It is more than coming up with a beautiful sculpture or a clever rhyme.  Imagination IS the rhyme. Imagination is both sender and receiver.    The rhyme isn’t clever until our receptive energy interacts with the written word.  Sort of like how air isn’t breath until a living being takes it in and interacts with it.  For me, Imagination is the Sacred Mystery of life itself.  The spark.  The energy.  The wave and the flow and the pulse that makes us – and keeps us – alive.

So, in honor of imagination, I’d like to tell you about a remarkable Imagineer who is sparking connections here in the MidWest.  Jeff Rouse, pictured, has started a business called Our Story Minnesota.  You can see his work and that of his partner, Denise, plus their platoon of volunteers, at OurStoryMn.com .

Dan and I were fortunate to be able to spend an evening with the Our Story Minnesota people a few weeks ago when I was interviewed on their Women of Sweet Swine County program.   Yup.  Sweet Swine County, their version of down-home midwest tongue-in-cheek fun and play with a healthy dose of marketing and info sharing thrown in for good measure.

The segment that we taped isn’t yet on-line, but do go check out past offerings.  As you smile, or laugh, or grin in recognition of one of the corny jokes or clever phrasings, your receptive energy becomes part of the creative circle without which there would be less energy and less joy and less reason for any of us to get out of bed every morning.



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Mind Mapping

Calendar says October.
But the Morning Glory
that creeps its way
over the garden arbor
just says “Good Morning”.
Doesn’t seem to know
that any day now
there’ll be a frost.
Or maybe it knows
and chooses to bloom anyway?

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