Some days I like my tea green and my coffee black. Straight up, no fuss.
On Instagram this month, I posted a heart a day, #amonthofhearts. AllSparkledUpDesign . Part way through the month, I wondered if I would have the stamina and commitment to finish. Some of these took hours to complete. The discipline of taking a creative photo every day for a whole month taught me so much.
~ You never know you can do something until you try.
~ Don’t give up. Just keep going.
~ God has millions of ideas. Scripture says God is the author of all inspiration. If you hang out with him, you’ll find that out.
~ Don’t over think it. Sometimes what you do doesn’t have to be big or loud or even shared. God enjoys the flowers blooming deep in a jungle, unseen by humans, the songs of birds unheard by ears. Some creativity is just for your and his enjoyment. It’s ok. Slow down, breathe deep.
~ I had more ideas for hearts than I had days in the month. So I’m hoping to do this next February too.
Today is Day 28, the end of the month of hearts. Here are the remaining heart photos I posted on Instagram. Enjoy!
If you follow me on Instagram, AllSparkledUpDesign, you know I’m posting A Month of Hearts. Today is Day 14 and there are 14 days of hearts to go! Here are the hearts I’ve posted so far. Make sure you check instagram so you can read all the captions that go with these photos. Love to you all!
14 Happy Valentine’s Day!
Yesterday I took a poinsettia outside to shake out the dead leaves. One leaf from the poinsettia had fallen. And then it rained during the night.
The day was busy but from the dining room, the tiny sparkle caught my eye.
I looked closer and it was even sparklier.
What are you missing today? Is there something you need to look at? What is tiny and quiet that you forgot? Love it all. And if you’re what has fallen, collect light from where you are.
Never give up.
All eyes are on succulents.
Today is a great day for #7 from the previous post. “Laughter can be The Best Medicine Ever. You’ve got to try it! Read humor, watch comedy, laugh with family and friends. Don’t just hope laughter might happen, deliberately make it happen.” – from 31 Wonderful Things Severe Pain Taught Me
31 Wonderful Things Severe Pain Taught Me
1. Your mind is very powerful. “Mind over matter” makes sense when you’re dealing with crippling pain. Fill your mind with wisdom and knowledge. There is plenty of room for thoughts that aren’t related to your pain at all.
2. You’ve heard it said, but those who have been there truly know: You ARE much stronger than you ever thought humanly possible. If you think today’s pain is a 10, downgrade it to a six. Then rejoice that you’re still 4 away from max.
3. There may or may not be another day. But time is on your side. Time is not the enemy because God is in charge of your time. And God never makes mistakes.
4. You CAN adapt.
5. These statements are simultaneously true: Things can always get worse… AND… This is the worst it will ever get. Which means this moment, right here, right now, can be the most fantastic moment you’ve ever had. Make it that way.
6. There are many ways of coping with pain. If one way doesn’t work, try something different.
7. Laughter can be The Best Medicine Ever. You’ve got to try it! Read humor, watch comedy, laugh with family and friends. Don’t just hope laughter might happen, deliberately make it happen.
8. Distractions are valuable. Listen, taste, see, smell, feel something new. Enjoy it slow.
9. Friends are pure gold, whether they’re wearing skin or fur.
10. Don’t let the sick part of you stop the healthy part of you. Let pain take up only its own space. If your head hurts but your hands are fine, let your hands delight in the day.
11. It’s never too late to learn something new, even something challenging. Learn a new language, study geography, literature, science, art.
12. There is a time to fight pain and a time to roll with pain. When pain is an ocean, be a fish.
13. Always take a little less pain medication than you need. Learn to be comfortable with pain instead of always trying to banish it.
14. Be glad if you have identified your pain-bearing limit. Then work to stretch it further.
15. You CAN do this! You can live WITH pain. Don’t listen to any voices that say you can’t. Don’t listen to voices that only want to lay pity on you. They aren’t helpful and you end up stuck in a swamp.
16. It’s OK to cry. Let your eyes express and acknowledge pain. But remember to let your mouth smile. Your mouth is good for that.
17. Pain is divisive. It will divide parts of your body from functioning together. It will divide people from functioning together. Fight against further dysfunction. Recognize the crevasses caused by pain and build bridges to go over.
18. Remember that this life is not the end. We were created to live after our bodies can’t go further. This life is the path to the next.
19. Pain is a heavy weight, sticky and personal. Don’t make your pain an issue that pulls others down into the stickiness. Let others help lift you up from it.
20. Pain is a noun. Give it a name… like Motivator, Teacher, or Police. Artist, Poet or Musician. Rest or Transformation. Never let pain become Politician, Spoiled Child, Bully or Tyrant. Make your pain the noun you want to live with.
21. Pain is a story, with a beginning, middle and end. Write the story you want pain to be.
22. If you face pain, face it fully. If you run from pain, don’t miss the scenery.
23. You do have a strong will. But maybe you let it get weak. Work at strengthening your will power.
24. Pain is dark. Find ways to add more light. There are always ways to add light. Find ways to “Be the Bright.”
25. There will always be something excellent that you can derive from pain. Don’t look for the damage pain caused, look for the benefit.
26. Don’t confuse fear with pain. Fear can be conquered even if pain can’t be.
27. Everyone has pain. You are NOT alone.
28. Pain can be ugly or beautiful. You’re in charge of that.
29. Don’t let pain get louder than it should be. Pain only has a voice if you give it one. If Pain needs to speak, try letting it speak through writing, through painting, through music. Some of the most beautiful art in this world was created with pain.
30. Listen to other people. Even if that’s all you can do, it’s ok to just listen.
31. God is here now and he knows everything about pain. Have some great discussions on the topic with him.
I’m praying for you. Sometimes it’s not about the completed painting, the final finish line. Today there is beauty in the brushstrokes, the breaths taken one after the other. Today the beauty is in the heartbeat and the single footstep, the eye contact and hand holding.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Every breath has enormous value.
The Hawk family lived in the trees in our backyard for over a decade. I never paid attention to them until 2014. During 2014, my recovery from spinal surgery meant most days were spent dealing with pain. So getting outside was still a big deal for me. And all that un-busyness gave me more time to notice details. Like the incessant squawking from little birds.
Every spring, the hawks make a terrible racket. But I never looked out my window. That fine day in 2014, I decided to look out the window. And I saw a very large bird on the ground in the backyard. I grabbed the camera and ever so slowly, crept up to the bird. I had no idea that the bird couldn’t fly. Which explains why it didn’t move and let me get very close.
There was a second baby hawk over on the logs of the wood pile. Like the first one, it didn’t move.
I talked to the hawks, encouraging them to fly, so I could catch photos of those early flights. But the birds didn’t move. The one on the wood pile was silent, but the one in the yard made a lot of noise. I went back in the house in case I made the birds nervous. The one in the yard finally ran across the yard into the trees. But it didn’t get off the ground.
Hours later, I went back out to see where the birds were. One was still on the wood pile. The other one was climbing a tree, making a lot of racket and flapping wings, but not flying.
The hawk then got stuck on some branches. I watched helplessly.
The bird would occasionally stop flapping its wings and just hang from the branches, wing extended. It looks so awkward, painful and frustrating!
I really related to that bird. So much pain and it seemed that I would never recover from surgery. It was over a year and a half since surgery. Why was I still in so much pain and so immobile? I spent weeks and weeks sitting still against a heating pad, pacing around the house, impatient to mend. But there was absolutely nothing I could do to hasten the healing. It just had to take time.
Looking through the camera lens was sometimes difficult, since I couldn’t look up very well. My eyes blurred with pain a lot.
I heard a very small squawk high in the trees, pointed my lens and took a picture. It had to be the mother. She stayed close and watched her babies like… well, like a hawk. She never took her eyes off them.
When I looked at the photos later, I discovered that the mother hawk was holding a snake! That explained the shreds of tissue in the baby’s beak.
I imagined the birds were making such a racket that the mother pushed them out of the nest mid-meal. “If you two don’t shut up, I’m kicking you out!” I imagined her saying. But she cared enough about them that she didn’t take her eyes off them, especially when they were on the ground, unable to fly.
All day long I frequently looked out the kitchen window, hoping to capture the first flight. But the birds took their time. One chattered incessantly, the other was mostly silent. At one point, the silent one was up in a tree and I was glad to see it had successfully gotten off the ground. It sat on the limb with one leg up. For a long time, one leg in the air, perfectly still.
The mother hawk ate more snake. But she didn’t come down from her high perch, where she kept an eye on the two.
Evening came and I checked the hawks again. The one that spent so much time stuck on a branch was no longer there. There was one on a favorite old tree, its head tucked tight under its wing for the night.
I prayed for the hawks, that the missing hawk didn’t get eaten by some wild critter in the woods.
The next morning, the mother hawk was in her high perch, watching closely over her babies.
Both the baby hawks were in their favorite tree. How glad I was to see them safe!
They still must not have been good at flying or hunting. One hawk kept crying loudly all day long. I could just picture the conversation..
“I’m STARVING! I’m gonna die!!!” said the noisy hawk.
“Well, you shouldn’t have gotten us kicked out of the nest. We were right in the middle of breakfast!” said the other.
“We’re GONNA die. I know it! I’m Starved! STARVED, I tell you! I’m GOING TO DIE!!” said the noisy one.
“Oh shut up,” said the quiet one.
Birds are so dramatic.
I marvelled over the hawks, and felt a keen gratitude that they let me into their special time of life. What an honor!
I wasn’t able to check on the birds again till the third day. High in the sky I saw one fly. Birds always learn to fly. It just takes time. And there are branches to get stuck in and a bit of hunger while learning to hunt. But birds always learn to fly.
The hawks built their nest in a new location the next year, high in the trees right near my bedroom window. They had never lived so close to the house. Even though the crazy squawking of the new peeps in spring was so annoying, I felt a warm kinship to these strong creatures.
It’s 2016, over three years since my surgery. I can now lightly jog short distances and can look up better. Things take time but time always changes things. Birds always learn to fly.
Photos just can’t capture what the eye sees. I walked under the ice-coated branches and looked up through them. I wish everyone could experience the beauty of an ice storm. We lost power for a couple days so that wasn’t easy getting through but what I remember most is the crystalline beauty. Diamonds!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s. We did!
I made the girls Pencil Rolls and custom coloring pages for Christmas. They loved the sets.
I used Julie 1971 fabric from Spoonflower.
The inspiration for Julie 1971 is a piece of artwork I made when I was 12 years old, in 1971. I made the little felt houses from bits of felt and glued them to the back of a piece of laundry detergent box cardboard.
The pencil roll was very easy to make. The lining, pocket and flap are linen, the decorative cover wrap is cotton canvas.
Even after all these years, the cardboard is still in great shape.
My father cut the picture frame from a single piece of wood. The Felt Houses art hangs in our guest room.
The original artwork is still vibrant and prints beautifully on canvas and linen fabrics from Spoonflower. Here you can see the original art next to canvas, which I have aged a little by machine washing it in warm water.
Outer cover – made of a piece of decorative Julie 1971 fabric 17″ x 8.5″, sewed to a piece of linen 17″ x 4.5″ for the flap, to make a rectangle 17″ x 12.5″.
Lining – made of linen cut to 17″ x 12.5″.
Pencil pocket – two pieces of linen 17″ x 4″.
The cover piece with flap was sewn to the lining piece, right sides together, with a small opening for turning at the bottom. This cover piece was turned right side out and pressed flat.
The pencil pocket was made by stitching the two 17″ x 4″ pieces of linen together with a small opening for turning at the bottom. This piece was turned right side out and pressed flat.
The pocket piece was sewn to the bottom of the cover piece. Here you can see how simple the pocket is attached to the cover piece.
To figure out where to stitch for the pencil pockets, I simply stuck pieces of masking tape vertically, all across the pocket piece, with a little margin between each piece of tape, and stitched between the pieces of masking tape. Several of the pockets weren’t exactly the same size but that was fine. That method of marking for the pockets was super easy and didn’t need any measuring or marking the fabric at all.
To keep the roll shut, I used what I had on hand – stretchy beading elastic tied in a loop.
For each girl, I made a custom set of pictures to color. I used Photoshop to alter photographs and printed the coloring pages on cardstock.
Boxes for pencils are nice, but there is another layer of artsy satisfaction when you unfurl a roll of creamy pencils tucked in soft linen.
Here are two free coloring pages for you keep and print out.