You, Inspire Me

I just wanted to say Thank You for an AMAZING first two weekends back at Bristol. The Quill and Brush was visited by so many wonderful readers, writers, old friends, and new guests. It was overwhelming in the most sincere and magical way.

You, inspire me.

7 more glorious festival weekends to come. I’m going to cherish every one. Be sure to come by for a visit! And perhaps a fairy tale too!

All My Best…

What I’ve Learned From Writing Books – #2

Hello Dear Friends! All of my well wishes to you!!

I’ve been focused on preparing for the opening of The Quill and Brush’s 5th season at the Bristol Renaissance Faire for many weeks now. For such a simple little shop, you’d wonder what all takes so much time to prepare?! But let me tell you from experience, even the smallest of small businesses always has plenty to do!

Saturday I was up at Bristol with my folks, making sure all was prepped for opening day, July 10th. Man, those Bristol grounds are beautiful!

Yesterday, I tied up loose ends at home, including bringing out bins of costumes from storage. Hanging them up, I realized how real this all was. Just a few days more!

Who is ready for Bristol?! Rennies say hello in the comments!

But onwards with this mini series of posts about my experience writing books…

(Remember, I think much of these will apply to any creator.)

#2

Writing books takes guts and grit and nerves of steel. If you don’t have those, well, start pretending you do and don’t look back…

What do I mean by this?

First – Writing, editing, and completing a book alone, is very hard work. Hundreds of hours in solitude creating a single novel? Easily. You need to love it that much, and develop great patience. It will be more patience than you have, so just keep finding more. From where? I don’t know. Just do.

Two – You’ve got a lot of learning to do. Everyone does. Being a writer is a continual journey of development. And learning is often arduous and can mess with your confidence. Don’t let it. Just keep moving forward, just keep growing.

Three – What you write will never be as perfect as you want it to be. And I know I have an imagination that I can’t quite fit into a book. That’s hard to accept. But the important thing is whether or not you put your best into what you produce. And you know whether or not you did. Give your best, and you’re doing great!

Four – Giving your work to the world is provoking. That’s my nice way of saying, there’s a lot of emotions when a book is published. It’s exciting and I feel proud, yes. I can’t even describe how it feels to hold that first copy in your hands! But it’s also terrifying. Once you put it out there, it’s not yours anymore. A book has a life of its own for everyone who reads it. And that will bring out both scrutiny and praise, and other unexpected ripples. You must learn to embrace all of that. It’s scary, but beautiful.

Five – Writing books is lonely. But it has to be. It’s you – your mind – and the page. Of course, writing can be terribly exciting and entertaining! But it’s inherently a quiet endeavor. If your personality doesn’t like quiet and solitude (and even if it does), this can be a difficult part of writing.

Six – It’s possible you’ll do all the work, and yet not many people will read your book. Listen – the world is oversaturated with as many options in reading and entertainment, and other things to do. So this shouldn’t be a surprise. Rather, remember to write because you love to, and simply appreciate when others do pick up, read, and even go the extra mile of responding to, what you wrote. If you think of it this way, you’ll keep finding the rewards in writing.

If you’ve read this post, my guess is you love to create something, whether it’s a book, or otherwise. So here’s what I say to you. You just keep doing what you love, no matter what. Even if it’s small steps, or only for yourself, or just as time allows, or with its difficulties. It will always be worth it. And for those of you who have already reached the stars with your craft, keep going for the next universe!

Stay Inspired.

What I’ve Learned From Writing Books – #1

Funny. I know I’m a writer. I know I’m an author. And yet, after years, I still never really felt that I was, in my mind.

Why? I guess it always seemed like this journey was some sort of marathon. And I’ve no training in running. I was going to have to learn from scratch. Wear through a lot of shoes. Further, some of the ways I’ve approached authorship have been unconventional. I therefore believed I would have to run really hard and really far, to prove that I was a real runner. I believed I had to cross some important marker along the way (what that was, I wasn’t sure) before I could really call myself An Author.

This thinking was absurd, of course. But I couldn’t make my stubborn brain accept what it wouldn’t, until it would.


My newest novel Still, will be in readers’ hands shortly (more to come on that soon). But about a week or two ago, while working on edits, I knew. I’d gotten past whatever my imaginary marker was.

This book, it took a piece of my soul with it. And it was genuinely, hard work. I can’t even question myself now. I’m an author.

So as I considered my experience with Still, which will be my 17th title, I decided I wanted to share a bit of my book writing journey with you.

It’s no matter if you are a writer, or not. I think you’ll find my thoughts applicable to anything you have a goal to do.

Your journey may not look at all like mine, nor even your craft, but this is really about inspiration. At my shop The Quill and Brush at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, I meet authors in every step of their journeys. I learn so much from these conversations. So here’s what my experience has been…

#1

I thought I knew the English language well. I was wrong.

Here’s the fact. I LOVE words. I’ve always loved reading, and another great passion of mine was once public speaking. I love hearing how others use words to express a message. I love crafting words to express myself. I love reading words. I love writing words. I’m just nuts about it.

And though I never received any focused education in writing, I thought I understood the English language and the basic spelling of it decently enough.

I was wrong. But it’s so funny! In fact, I laugh at myself all the time.

  1. I write words that I thought were real. But it seems I made them up.
  2. I thought I knew what words meant, but am frequently surprised to learn my understanding was incorrect.
  3. I still have to look up some of the same words, again and again. Like lose vs. loose (even though it’s cemented by now…I think).
  4. I’ve occasionally gone wild, and yes, printed words in my books that are neither ‘real’ nor ‘perfectly applied’. And I’ll do it again. Because I’m creating art. My art. I can do what I want.

I like reviewing a ‘word of the day’. I find it so hilarious every time! They are always long and complicated-sounding, and I like to first guess what they mean and have a giggle inside when I find out what they actually do. I wouldn’t use even a small percent of these words. But it’s such a delight to learn about them anyway. And they remind me, I still have so much to learn about the English language.

What I know? We always have more to learn about our craft than we thought we did. But that’s what makes the journey awesome!

Stay Inspired.

The Salad Hour

Greetings, Greetings!

It’s getting to feel like summer around here, and I’m so glad for it. Spring always seems to draw on for too long. Too many months of damp and chill when all one wants is sun and warmth!

I’ve been just about the busiest, and it’s only going to get more so for me! The Bristol Renaissance Faire opens in 5 weeks, along with my little book shop – The Quill and Brush. What a summer waits ahead! I hope to see you there!

I have a custom. It’s the salad hour.

Every evening I make a salad for supper. Usually accompanied by a little something extra (crackers, or a bite of this or that). I started this habit a while ago now. I guess it’s been some years, begun out of an awareness of what my body needed versus what I was accustomed to consuming.

I’m what one might call a creature of habit, so I don’t get bored with this. As long as there’s a bite of something additional with it (cheese, hard-boiled eggs, a piece of salmon, a piece of toast).

In any case, the right eating choice for my health has now turned into what feels like a habit of self-love and self-care. A time of day to relax, put something good into my body. To say nothing of the fact that making a salad takes minutes, with very few dishes messed. I love that.

Do you have a custom like this? Something good for your body or spirit that is just for you? If you don’t, I encourage it.

Love yourself. Love one another. Stay Inspired.




The Secondhand Purse

Good Day Good Friends! Are you staying inspired?

I love thrift stores, antique malls, secondhand places! Always have.

During the pandemic, I didn’t visit any of the secondhand stores I love. I really missed that. I’m eager (after my busy summer ahead) to be able to browse them again. For me, it’s not about shopping. It’s about finding a special or useful find that will bring joy to my life.

In any case, there is a local consignment shop that more recently, every time I walked by, was closed. Only, there was a leather purse in the window that I just felt was meant to be mine.

At length, after seeing it again and again in the window of this closed shop, I finally found the store open one day and promptly purchased the purse. Great price, and I was really happy.


Only, after getting it home, my house began to smell like strong perfume (understatement). Those of you who read this blog know that I am VERY allergic to perfume. I didn’t notice while carrying the purse home on a walk out-of-doors. But now, I got close to the purse and YIKES! It was as though it had been soaked in strong perfume. I now have to believe that it was sprayed inside, intentionally. This wasn’t a little surface fragrance. It was in the leather.

This was really upsetting to me. I’d pined for that purse for a long time but now it seemed I would have to promptly remove it from my house.

All of this to say, I looked up ways to remove perfume from leather online. And I, after weeks, have almost achieved the goal of removing much of the perfume from the bag. It has required wiping down, filling with baking soda, filling with newspaper, airing in the window, repeatedly. It’s been a chore.

The winner? Newspaper, I think. It seems to take in the perfume. You pull out the newspaper and it is scented. You throw it away, and do it again as needed.

Perfume and I are mortal enemies. But I really wanted to give my new secondhand purse a chance and I’m glad that I made that effort. It’s not there yet, but it’s come a long way. Enough that I can carry the purse around. It is at present however, taking another round of newspaper!

Sometimes there are hard cases in life. But when you love something enough, the extra effort is worth it.

Stay Inspired.

Six Weeks Until The Quill And Brush Returns!

Good Day Good Friends! I hope this message finds you well!

I got two emails from my Mama this morning asking if I was okay. She does that when I get a little quiet – because she’s a good mom. So, I thought I better come up for air and just say Hello to everybody!!

You see, since the very second Bristol announced they would be opening this summer, I’ve been all hands on deck. Everything from car repairs (no breaking down on the way to Bristol for me – I don’t want to end up a damsel in distress), to vaccines (both round one and round two took me down – no joke), to writing nearly every evening after work (more on that soon!!), to getting all my small business odds and ends in order.

I’m still in the thick of it, so I might be just a little quiet for a few weeks more, but then it will be time to bring out the magic! AND THE BOOKS! HUZZAH!

Where’s the costumes! Where’s the glitter? Dust off your fairy wings! Where’s your hair wreath? Where’s your sword?! Practice your pirate yarrrrr! A whole summer of revelry is just around the corner, and I’ll be sure to share it with you here from The Quill and Brush!

Who’s coming to say hello at The Quill?! Say hi here – I can’t wait to see you there!

Sweets for Spring

My mom and stepdad were very kind, spoiling me with a colorful Easter basket this year. As it has been such a long strain due to the pandemic, a time filled with less pockets of joy, it was a real treat to receive something so thoughtful to celebrate the spring season with. My folks have always remembered me, and made me feel special. I’m very lucky.

We’d met halfway between our homes to exchange some items, and as I was about to drive out of the parking lot, the basket in my backseat, my mom reminded me not to look back at that basket while I was driving…

HA! She knows me well!

Distracted driving while texting?! Not me! Distracted while gazing at my Easter basket?! Probably!

I waited until I was settled in at home, and then had a blast unwrapping and photographing it…

Sweet treats heaven!!! What’s inside?!

Edible green apple flavored grass…

Because no Easter would be complete without it!

Camo beans…

Because of course!

Gummy bracelets?

So I can look pretty and have a snack!

Mint and chocolate…

The most delicious combination ever conceived by man.

Sugar free cookies?

Because I’m watching my sugar. Couldn’t you tell?

Will I ever be too old for an Easter basket, you ask? Umm…I write fairy tales. And would prance around in a pretty costume every day of my life if given the opportunity. And think glitter is a gift from the gods. And I like to use my imagination. And believe that Bigfoot is real. And unicorns? Probably extinct, but heck yea!!

So nope…I’ll never be too old for something magical!

Stay Inspired

The Hunt For Pyrex…

Good Day Dear Friends!

Doesn’t a little sunshine in the morning make all the difference? I’m thankful for some today! There were a few blissfully warm days here in Evanston too, but then all turned to chill, and now damp, and the forecast isn’t looking too great for the next few weeks. Guess I’ll just have to keep wallowing in sweaters (and cookies) for a little while longer.

Good thing I have some other treats to bring me joy right now!!!


Guess what I ate breakfast out of this morning?!

My NEW VINTAGE PYREX BOWL!!! Aggggghhhh!

Drool – drool – drool…

Listen, I’m not the only one who loves vintage Pyrex. I’m going to guess there’s actually a lot of folks in that club. The most fun is trying to find a pretty piece at an antiques store. I don’t go to too many yard or garage sales (even though I dig things like that), but I bet you can find some good pieces that way. Or estate sales! And then of course, people sell online…

But let me assure you, to search a place like Volo Antique Malls (Volo, IL) or Antiques on Pierce (Milwaukee, WI) has a very special kind of feeling. Online shopping takes the fun out of what people call – the hunt.

Ooohhhh! I love the hunt. And so does my Mama.

You can check out my visit to Antiques on Pierce here.

I needed some bowls, and I love Pyrex, so my Mom gifted me with a set of three. One she already had, two others were an online order. And they are green – my favorite color. Love at first sight.

These will be with me until I’m an old lady. And then someone else will be happy to own them. And by that time, they’ll be vintage – vintage. Ha!

What am I keeping an eye out for at the antiques shops (which I grievously have not browsed since the pandemic began)? A Pyrex bowl in bright orange or yellow. In good condition. Cracks aren’t good when you actually want to use the pieces. It will also be an exciting day when I find a pink one. I believe the pink ones are prized. I know they are expensive. I better save my pennies. But they’re sooooo pretty.

THE PINK PYREX WILL ONE DAY BE MINE!!! BWA – HA – HA!

When I start getting back to the antique stores again, I’ll be sure to take you all along with me on the hunt!


Thank you Mama. Love my bowls. Love YOU!

And thank you readers, for being a part of my world. I wish you all the pink Pyrex there is!

Stay Inspired.

Born With Heart…

Nowadays, few people know this little tale. Only my family, or people who knew me as a child…

When I was born, God gave me a strawberry birthmark. A hemangioma. Try to say that three times fast in a row!

They aren’t dangerous. But they are a type of tumor. And mine was in the shape of a red heart, right on my forehead!

As I grew, the red coloring began to fade, turning flesh-color, and the heart shape went round. I mostly wore bangs growing up, so it wasn’t always visible.

When people did see it, not knowing what it was, they thought that I’d suffered a bump to the head. And it did look that way!

Somebody give me an ice pack!

Yes. I certainly played a trick or two on people who pointed out my birthmark. Oh my poor head! And then I’d have a laugh on them. It would make them laugh too. And then I’d explain.

When I was about 21 years old, I had minor surgery to have the tumor removed. Now all I have left is a perfectly straight scar where the scalpel ran across my skin. No one would ever know.

It’s funny. It was a part of me, yet I hardly think about it much anymore. I never really thought about it growing up! It was just, me.

But sometimes I do remember. And I like to smile and think, that I was born with heart. In more ways than one!

Stay Inspired.

Bed, Cookies, and Books…

I call this photo…

Bed, Cookies, and Books

Pretty much all you need to solve most of life’s problems!

Stay Inspired!!

{I’m currently reading Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman – Great book, great author!}

What are you reading? Come say hello on Goodreads!


The Good Plate…

In the past few years, health has been an important focus for me.

When I say focus however, I actually don’t do much thinking about it. I made some changes a while back, committed to them, and then put my brain on autopilot. But only because I knew it was important. My body was sounding the sirens. So I listened.

I could improve. Walking is a great love. I could do it more, and kick up that speed! I also can’t ever be satisfied with a wholesome breakfast. If it isn’t a muffin or pastry, I will cry in my cereal the rest of the day.

Muffin! Muffin! Muffin! – one of my favorite words in the dictionary.

I could also vary my vegetarian diet. I like kale, yet never purchase it, even though I know it’s good for you.

Note to self – Michelle, eat your kale.

In any case, I was thinking about health the other day. In spite of my shortcomings, I really do make a serious effort to eat for my health. And I thought – for all the vegetables I eat, aren’t we told that something magical happens? Like unicorns and glitter and stuff? I’m supposed to feel amazing, right?

I don’t have a direct example of who has done this brainwashing. The media, I guess. But I feel the message is always, if you do this-and-this-and-this, then you’ll have so-much-energy! And you’ll look fabulous. And you’ll glow. And you’ll probably have lots of friends, and a great personality too!

What?

I eat more spinach than Popeye, yet I still crawl to the coffee every morning.

Now, I’m just joking around here, but I was thinking about these ideas. That they were kind of funny. Yes, doing good for your body has many benefits. But for me, it’s been more of a, reaching for neutral ground sort of journey. Aspiring to just feel normal. Because, I’d lived it up in this body for so long, I’d forgotten what normal was. Or was supposed to be. If I ever even knew in the first place.

I’d forgotten to listen to my body.

I had to relearn.

To sum up, I think I’ve finally eaten enough carrots now, to just feel more or less, normal.

But glowing and full of energy and perfect skin and happy all the time? HA! HA! In this human and rebellious body – yea right!

What I mean to say is – don’t listen to all that noise out there. Just listen to you. Listen to your body.

It will tell you what you need.

Stay Inspired.

Happy Easter 2021!

A very healthy and happy Easter to you all!

…and at least one sugary treat, or five.



My mother has informed me that I will be receiving one of her Easter surprises. Let me just tell you, her baskets have historically been EPIC.

Will I ever be too old for an Easter basket? NEVER!!! (stomping my feet)

I’ll spill the treats for you here on Inspired By Venice, once I receive them.

Here is to a 2021 filled with love, healing, hope, and inspiration!

All of my best, to you.


A Happy Heart…

Good Day, Great Day! Spring has arrived!!

Did you have a chocolate croissant with coffee this morning?

No!? Friend – what were you thinking?!

Chocolate…croissant…butter…bread…chocolate….



I was up early this morning. Seems even though I need the sleep, my body has chosen a life of rebellion. I’m just along for the ride.

Up before the birds? Here we go! Wheeeee!

But that meant a sunny hike to the grocery, and I love when necessary tasks are out of the way. It’s a beautiful day, so that may just mean a second walk before evening.

Wear myself out, and then maybe I can sleep in longer tomorrow. See how I have to resort to trickery?

I had a thought this morning. The thought was, that I was happy.

For some reason, isn’t that a difficult thing to say? Not that that means one is unhappy. But perhaps because nothing is ever quite what we think happiness should be – life is never that perfect picture. At any given time, there is stress, worry, heartache, trials – even as there are joys, accomplishments, contentment, love…

Therefore I gather, it’s when you have a happy heart, that it doesn’t really matter that life isn’t ‘just so’. After all, it never will be...

Stay Inspired.

Don’t Think, Do

Recently, I knew I had to stop being my own worst enemy when it came to getting things done. Winter together with pandemic life has had a way of draining motivation. And that was ok, in my book.

To heck with getting things done! I’m going to watch scary movies, and cooking shows, and eat cookies!

But of course, after time, you just have to. Have to do those dishes. Have to check some tasks off the list. Have to acknowledge that you are still with the living, and not a cave bear…

Can you imagine being a bear, waking up from hibernation? Ugh! Imagine the hunger! And no cookies anywhere in the forest. I would be roaring really loud.

But as I was saying…

The words I’ve been using as a mantra are: Don’t think, Do.

And it works.

Probably because the truth is, if you think about not wanting to do something, you are far less likely to do it. If you just stop thinking, and go do it, it gets done.

But the trick has been – I don’t give myself huge tasks to accomplish. Only mini ones. I believe this works so much better than trying to conquer the world in one day, but instead giving up, and then feeling bad about that. Instead, if I can just do one or two small things extra, it usually does the trick.

Now if only I could apply this advice to doing my taxes. Thank goodness for the extension!

Stay Inspired.

My Lunch Prayer…

I’ve been conscious of saying a prayer over my plate lately. Well, just my lunch plate. Not my breakfast muffin or my dinner spread. Why lunch? I don’t know. Why more conscious? I don’t know. I just started making it a habit, for no particular reason. Today it made me think of prayer. Of the act of it.

I’m someone who prays all day long. Tiny little prayers. It’s rare that I actually sit down for a long talk with God. I’m more of a, let Him know what I’m thinking about all day long, sort of gal.

Good thing He’s patient and has big ears!

For instance, when I hear an ambulance going by, I always pray for the person heading to the hospital. I’ve been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance before. Maybe you have too. You are at your most vulnerable. Anyone whizzing past my house in one, gets my prayer. I live just down the way from the hospital. So…

Sometimes I pray for the workers in the ambulance, or the doctors waiting at the hospital. This all happens in a split second, this prayer. But I believe God hears it.

Or when I hear people driving down the street like maniacs, I pray for them. That they don’t get themselves, or someone else, hurt. Even the foolish, get my prayers. All the fools. Because, at some point, we are all foolish.

I also pray for people that aren’t acting very nice. Maybe they need God’s love. And I pray for people who are nice – just sending the love back, I guess. I of course, pray for people in hardship. But hardship to me, comes in many different forms. When I see something that touches me, I pray. And I, well, pray for everyone in every type of situation.

Chances are, if you’re anyone in my sphere of awareness, I’ve probably prayed for you.

I also prayer for myself – all – the – time.

Wouldn’t it be moving to listen in on peoples’ silent prayers? But of course, that is secret. And should be.

In any case…prayer can be funny. Sometimes you don’t even know what you are about to pray for. Random people or situations pop out of my prayers, when I didn’t even realize that they were with me!

Prayer also, is a way of getting things out. It may seem like our thoughts are all there is. Everything is in there. In our heads. We think all day long, right? But, just like when you speak to someone you trust, and who loves you – prayer feels like you can say it all. And there is a sort of relief and acceptance in that.

Sure, prayer is supposed to bring you closer to God. But do you know what else I have found? Prayer has brought me closer to others. To be able to feel more love and empathy, than I usually would.

And prayer humbles me. So that in the end, I remember what is most important in this life.

Stay Inspired.

If I Could Go…

If I could go. Back to my littlest, of little birthdays.

I would sit in my little chair, in my pretty little dress, and watch.

Smile for my family, all around. Who’d brought me little thoughtful gifts.

Special things, for a little Michelle.

I would grin for my mama. And share with her, my cake.

And my little heart, would be so full. Everyone so young, and joyful.

All there to celebrate, the beginning of, my tiny little life.

And I would be, grateful too. That it was me. The reason they were together there.

Veggie Life – Veggie Love!

Good Day, Good Friends!

Wishing you most well today! Do say hello – it buoys my spirits to hear from you!



Veggies! Veggies! Veggies!

I love them – I live on them – I can’t live without them

I used to eat veggies straight out of the dirt in my Grandma Ina’s garden. True story. You know – if you could pick moments to go back to, a summer’s day in my grandma’s garden would be one of them. And she didn’t just grow your average garden items. She had gooseberry bushes that appeared monstrous, an overcropping of rhubarb (at least to my young eyes), and even a trellis bearing deep plum-colored grapes.

In the heat, those grapes used to be warm and sweet. I just picked ’em and ate ’em. But they had hard seeds, so I had to spit like a cowgirl.

And what I wouldn’t do for a slice of grandma’s warm rhubarb pie right now…with some vanilla ice cream…and coffee…


Ok – sorry, got a little off course there. PIE! I mean…VEGGIES!

I’m certain there are many different opinions about ready-made. Some find it convenient. Some shun it. Some believe it costly. Some not taking to the idea of their veggies being wrapped in plastic.

I get it – for certain. You may recall my post titled Prepackaged Lettuce? Let us not! – in which I shared how horribly ill I became from bad greens that came in a plastic tub. Greens that always seem to spoil before their date – ultimately wasting money. I said I wouldn’t be buying that kind anymore (however convenient).

I have not kept to that – but let’s just say I have a keener eye now when it comes to my lettuce purchases. If the greens in the package look even a hint poorly, I search for a better option. I want FRESH!


In any case – as a serious vegetarian whose diet is principally vegetables, I have come to really value ready-to-eat.

I purchase carrot sticks already cut, celery sticks already chopped, sugar snap peas that just need a rinse. I do this, because if I have to prepare veggies at lunch and dinner, every single day (I’m often in a rush, or tired, or just want to go watch a movie, man), I am less likely to keep my diet veggie-varied, or to eat what is best for me. I will move to something even more convenient, but less healthy.

Further, the packages are the perfect portions for me – I can throw a plate of mixed veggies together in 5 minutes, or toss them on salads, or grab a snack, or steam them up, so quickly and conveniently. I use every, single, veggie (unless it’s fallen on the floor – no 5 second rule for me). And these hardier veggies rarely go bad before I consume them all – I haven’t been wasting.

But this inspired post today, is really to say, take care of yourself.

Listen to your body. Do your best to do what is right for you. And, eat those veggies! Even if it means picking up a pack like one of these for your fridge for the week – I know in my case, it makes me more prone to nibble on the good stuff.

Wishing you good health!

Come along with me…

Hello Friends!

I hope withal that this message finds you well and happy. Here in Evanston, the sun is shining and the birds have been veritably trilling. Several have been showing off. They’re going to get raspy beak by evening and will have to gargle with fountain mist. Or puddle water. I hear that works pretty good. That’s the go-to bird cure.

I’m just happy that they are happy – they make me happy – isn’t that spring song so lovely?!

Today, I digress. But I just wanted to say thank you, for reading.

Thank you, for being a part of Inspired By Venice. Thank you, for turning the pages of my tales. Thank you for coming along on my writing journey. Endless gratitude, to those who have made a visit to The Quill and Brush – my little bookshop at Bristol. Thank you all, for ambling along, with me.

How much I appreciate the inspiration.

I can report, a renaissance is taking hold. The writing bug has bitten. Ouch! I anticipate an outburst of works, to plan an event or two (as it becomes safe), and an uptick in inspired posts.

I hope you will come along with me

For, for all of you that have enjoyed my words – your support means everything.

It is only because of readers, that my characters, worlds, and stories, actually breath, live, and come to life.

All of your smiling faces at The Quill. The treasure of conversations shared. The ideas you’ve exposed me to! Hearing about all of your creative passions and aspirations. All of the feedback, book reviews, and encouragement. Your comments, your emails, your follows.

Please, keep it coming!

But most importantly – I appreciate you.


You can follow Inspired By Venice, via email or the WordPress button, on my main page.

Bonus fun!! Staying inspired on Instagram! @InspiredByVenice

You can also join me on Goodreads, or my Amazon author page, for book updates!

Have you read one of my tales? Your Goodreads or Amazon book review, is a gift that is sincerely appreciated.

And of course, if you are looking for a new adventure, for yourself, or for a gift, please consider being a fairy godpatron in the bookstore.


Time to go sharpen my quill and spill some ink!

Stay Inspired

I Encountered A Tree-Hugger…

Yesterday when I was out for an evening walk, happy that it was actually still light out at the hour I can head around the block, I encountered a tree-hugger. Literally.

I’d just rounded a corner where there is a grassy lot containing several towering trees. I saw a woman ambling there, and was caught a little off guard. This lot is always absent of activity.

I smiled out of friendliness, just as she moved up to one of the trees, and wrapped her arms around the trunk. It had to register, but then I nodded. I understood.

Oh…do they have to take this one down? I sympathized.

In that moment, I was guessing that the particular tree had caused some hazard, or was unhealthy. That happens sometimes. But then, with whatever few words passed between us, her also gesturing toward a sign on the property, I understood. Both the trees would be coming down. Someone was going to build.

The woman was saying farewell.

I wished her good evening, and continued on my way. But as I walked on, I gazed above, and for a moment, I thought I would begin to cry. These trees appeared magnificently old. Perhaps some several hundred years, for all I know. And they were beautiful. And then, I noticed woodpecker holes in the trunk of one, and I thought about how we so aggressively thin out habitat, for all wildlife.

I was humbled the rest of my walk. Thinking how this woman had cared, and hugged this tree, and said goodbye. And I was so sad for these noble, living things – when it wasn’t their time to go.

I encountered a tree-hugger. And from that encounter, I was reminded…

Love yourself, love one another, love every creature – and be thankful for your time…

Stay Inspired.

When The Clock Strikes Cheese…

I am a creature of extreme habit. And I love it that way. Predictability and a schedule keep me centered and productive! And it also communicates to my body, when it’s time to go go go, versus slow down.

My weekdays follow a pattern. My weekends follow a pattern. Some patterns shift with the season (my summers are generally extremely busy) – yet even with change, comes a pattern.

This is the right way – for me.

Down the street, a church bell tolls the hours. 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m.

Dong! — Dong! — Dong!

I love it. I think I’ve cast open my windows and thrown my head out a zillion times, just to take in the bell. And the weather…and the stars…and the bell…

The bell is beautiful. I never grow tired of it.

When the 6 p.m. bell tolls, it is precisely (give or take) the moment I end my work day during the week. I then promptly go get a plate of cheese and crackers (or sometimes cheese and walnuts).

This moment of my day is a special transition – from work time, to my time. And the cheese puts a stamp on it. And like the bell, the cheese never gets old.

In fact with cheese – the older the better, of course!

Do you have a special part of your day? Something meaningful that you cherish?

Stay Inspired.

Pretend Like You’re A Princess…

Some months ago, I was sharing my woes with my mother over the phone. I’m guessing it’s pretty common for people to just want to talk to mom when they are feeling down. Or, someone close. Whoever it is, you’re just looking for comfort, or a clearer way of thinking about this or that. Words only someone who loves you, can give.

In any case, I said to her: What am I going to do?

It was really more of a statement. I am after all, quite old enough to figure things out for myself. I’m also so independent, I probably won’t heed advice. Further, we all have woes, so it’s not like someone else is going to have the miracle answer we didn’t think of.

My mother promptly replied :

Nothing. Just lay around in your bed, and pretend like you’re a princess.

BEST ANSWER EVER.

I wasn’t expecting that. But the truth is – sometimes you can’t magically untangle life, or feel better instantaneously. You just have to struggle and live through it.

Now, every time I feel this way, I hear my mother’s words. And then…I go get cozy under all my blankets, and eat cookies, and you know, pretend like I’m a princess.

It may not be solving anything – but it really does make me feel a little better!

Love you Mama!

The Magic Of Imagination…

I have been thinking a lot, about faire…

The Bristol Renaissance Faire is one of the loves of my life. And I am so especially privileged these days, to have my little book shop there. You cannot imagine how the people I meet at The Quill and Brush, have truly inspired me.

It’s a special story to me, for how I fell in love with Bristol. But to make it short and sweet, when I was a little girl, my mama was curious, creative, imaginative, and persistent enough, to try her hand at a sewing machine. We didn’t have a lot then, but we always had faire. It was something to look forward to, to plan for, to dream about. A singular place in this world, that offered so much magic on a summer’s day. And let’s just say…

Wearing a costume changed my life forever.

It let my imagination run free. The way only books can. But it almost felt, more real. You actually, for a moment, are.

I was a princess. I was a peasant girl. I was a gypsy. I was a lady in waiting. I could be anything I wanted – with just a little imagination, and a dress to play the part.

And the faire itself, was the place I could really be any of these things. Whatever I wanted.

There are many of you out there who know exactly what I’m talking about. Rennies – you’re my people. Cosplay – what you do is utterly cool. Costumers – I endlessly admire you. Historical reenactors – you are rockstars.

Just saying.

But whether of not you have any interest in any of these things, the message here is this…

Even just a little imagination softens the mundane, the bleak, the shadows, that life delivers. Because life is hardly all love and ease, is it? Imagination brings light to the world, a warm hue…and sometimes even, a genuine sparkle.

Imagination will bring you more than you would have had – my experiences are testimony of this.

So I say to you…

Apply some imagination to whatever it is you love in this life. Take a little time. Imagine it…nurture it…plan it…dream it. And why not – go play a little pretend! Because the secret is – using our imagination, can actually makes the magic, become real.

Stay Inspired.

It’s Time To Get Inspired!

Is it summer yet?

Heavens, I can’t wait for some sun on my face, on so many long and lovely outdoor walks. I can hear the Lake Michigan waves crashing as I giddily search for lake glass. And I can just see all of the tables of vegetable splendor at the farmers’ market. How I pine to throw open the windows to a beautiful breeze and cicadas on a summer’s night…

But back to reality. It’s only March.

But I’ve been thinking – and thinking very seriously – that it is time to get inspired. Like, down to business, inspired.

This is a pep talk to myself. And I’m making it public.

After losing myself in a Michelle-why-aren’t-you-working-on-your-projects? Where-has-all-of-your-drive-and-creativity-toddled-off-to? sort of void (the pandemic has played no small part – perhaps you can relate?) I think I’m finally getting my footing, and my goals back in line.

IT’S TIME TO GET INSPIRED!!!

First on the agenda – my mystery novel Still. New York City. A timeworn, venerated museum with many ancient displays…and shadowy corners to hide in…

Bwah-ha-ha!

I’m wrapping it up! With a dusty, creepy, page-turning ribbon. I can’t wait for you to read it. More soon…

Are you staying inspired? Don’t forget to take some time to dream, plan, and do, whatever it is you love.

Spring, lovely spring…

Welcome Friends! What’s going on in your world?

I hope life is bringing you health and happiness, wherever you are!

I just sat down for a quick lunch bite, but soon off to finish my chores. I’ve laundry drying, and some dishes and dusting yet to do. How the dust bunnies add up to be dust tumbleweeds around my house each week, is a particular mystery of interest.

I find dusting very satisfying.

I’ve also learned to be aggressive about chores. Get them out of the way, so I can play (a.k.a. – drink tea, eat cookies, and lay around reading).

I’m reading a book of classic short stories, by Edgar Allan Poe, Edith Wharton, Washington Irving, and such. Delicious. Absolutely delicious. The stories, and the cookies I’m eating while I’m reading, of course.

Maybe that’s why I sweep up so much from the floors. All the cookie crumbs.

But I just wanted to say to you all today, that I wish you a spring full of positivity, energy, fresh air, lovely blooms, blessings, and new beginnings. I really do.

Stay Inspired.

Kind of, Amazing…

I was thinking this morning, about cheese. A specific photo that I took, in fact.

Of cheese.

In Paris.

{Cheese in Paris food shop}

I love cheese.

I also love abundant food scenes. Pictures of fare from everywhere I have ever been. Or even, just at home. Photos of my dinner plate. I’ve captured hundreds, I’m sure. I guess, I just think it’s beautiful. The place. The moment. The taste. The smell. The memory.

My life.

{Eiffel Tower}

I’ve been deeply introspective these last handful of years, and live a very quiet, simple life. A dead stop almost, to the more outward person I used to be. To the more vibrant life I used to live. With so many experiences. This shift began even before the word pandemic was in my vocabulary.

But, perhaps that is just natural in our journeys….once I was like this, now I am like that. Once my life was like this. Now, it is like that.

{The Palais Garnier – Opera national de Paris}

But certainly, I never knew life could deliver such juxtaposition! Did you? It makes me feel I’ve lived multiple lifetimes in one. I have. I really have. And I only knew this just now, in these introspective years, as I’ve looked back.

Looked back…at pictures of cheese. And my memories.

{A Parisian kitty-cat}

And someday my life will be something else. And I will be someone else. Maybe even somewhere else. Who knows.

{Notre-Dame de Paris}

Will I reunite with friends and readers this summer, at The Quill and Brush? Will I go to live with Bigfoot in an off-grid cabin next year, and leave city life behind (as long as there’s dependable internet and a stash of lime La Croix…and cookies…I’m good). Will I resume traveling someday, such a great passion (let’s not think too hard on whether I will be able to afford to – ha!)?

{Shop in Paris. I swoon for this desk. I see bugs.}

When will I embrace my beloved Venice again? Who all, will be alongside me in life? What friends, have I yet to make? What rocky times await me, that I must be strong to overcome? What books will I still write, that I haven’t even begun to imagine? What else? How different will it all be, from before?

{C’est moi – Cafe in Paris}

And who, will I be?

It’s kind of exciting. Kind of baffling. Kind of intriguing. Kind of scary.

Kind of, amazing.

Remember your journey. Hope for your future. Stay Inspired.

It Lightened My Heart…

Good Day, Good Friends!

What are you up to these days?

I’ve been quite focused on my work weeks, and in keeping my quiet little home life. Days of focus, simplicity, peace, and good health – this is my daily goal at present.

And also, to be consistently thankful for my blessings!

Some of my favorite things lately?

I’ve been fitness walking and then stretching in my living room some days – always followed up by a cold sparkling lime La Croix! I love my outdoor walks, as you know, and still traipse about in the snow and ice. But my indoor exertions have been a convenient, healthy, and inspiring lift to life! You know, there are so many videos online. I personally look for low impact, and positivity. These days, I’m not interested in giving myself miserable follow up soreness (no extreme exercising), nor in doing a session that makes me, however unintentionally, feel ‘bad’ about myself (my abilities, or level of fitness, or imperfections).

Let’s just say, I like to smile and feel silly and have fun when I’m swaying my hips!

I’ve also been enjoying reading, which I have been strongly craving lately. I anticipate reading more books this year than usual. I also crave the Bible’s words (Proverbs is my favorite – I nod at the wisdom in every verse). I’ve too, been delighting in several interesting programs and movies. I especially like those that expose me to new places, or experiences. Culture, or past events – things which I may never see, or directly understand myself, but get to learn something about. And, I am writing. Not a lot, but even slow progress gets you to your goal eventually! It is my hope that Still and Dragons At Dusk will belong to the world, and no longer to me, before long.

By the way, have you ever put sugar snap peas on your salad? Lovely. They are so fresh, crunchy, and earthy. I like to munch on a handful with my lunch – and then spend the afternoon with green in my teeth. That’s my pretty look.

Yesterday morning, I heard a bird singing outside my window. It was the song of spring, which if you have known decades of winter like I have, you can decipher. It didn’t matter the feet of snow on the ground, or that it is yet icy. The birds know what’s coming, and that song was filled with hope.

It lightened my heart.

Well, I’ve a bit of reading – writing – hip swaying – dishwashing to do before my Sunday is up. So I leave you with the wish, that you are keeping well and staying inspired.

All of my best.

Whatcha thinking about today?

Good Day Good Friends! Whatcha thinking about today?

I’m thinking, there’s never enough time to read all the books you want to!

I’m thinking that apples have been tasting like candy lately – I don’t remember them tasting like that when I was a kid.

I’m thinking how one should never leave a chocolate croissant unattended in the toaster oven, even for a second. And about how sitting in a cafe in Paris with one would really sound lovely, no?

I’m thinking how nice the house smells after I peel an orange. And about how I like to sniff tomato vines – so fresh and spicy! And about how fragrant the basil leaves I just bought are…

I’m thinking how much I love to spy prints in dried cement. Wouldn’t it be fun to print a book of them? Of precious paws, and fallen leaves, and other natural impressions.

I’m thinking how I crave a green juice everyday – it’s like, a feeling. But what is a craving, really? What’s the difference between a wanting, and a craving? This is a curious thought.

I’m thinking that though the snow and ice crystals have been magical, they are getting in the way of my treasure hunts! For lost coins, feathers, and pretty insects for my collection.

I’m thinking about how I’m becoming an instant coffee connoisseur! And about how enchanting it would be to be drinking an espresso in Venice right now. Oh, Venezia – you are the beating of my heart.

I’m thinking about how wonderful twinkle lights are, when strung inside the house. Cozy-calming-indoor-fireflies.

I’m thinking about how there are several owls in my neighborhood. Sometimes they hoot and call not far outside my window. Aren’t I lucky?!

I’ve heard a coyote howling, too. I’ve listened to his call on a starry moonlight night.

I’m thinking about how God must have made cotton candy sunsets just for our delight.

And about how I can’t wait for the newest flower on my Christmas cactus to bloom. The last one looked like a twirling pink-red fairy.

I’m thinking how good it feels to have healthy food in my home, and a roof over my head, and to have what I need. I don’t need much – so I guess I could say I have it all.

But mostly, I’m thinking about how important it is to keep counting my blessings…

Let us cherish the good things in life.

Stay Inspired.

Beauty Sleeping – Audio Chapters 1 – 2

Greetings Dear Readers! I hope you are staying inspired?!

Maybe I can help? Let’s throw some fairy dust!! You’re about to get glittered!!!

And chased by monsters

Ok – maybe the sparkle and beasts don’t make an appearance until after chapters 1 and 2. But since nothing inspires me more than an enchanted wood filled with ogres, maidens, witches, goblins, and terribly fierce dragons, I turned through a few pages to record the first two chapters of my Beauty Sleeping, just for you. This tale might be my most magical. A little eerie – yikes! But so, so, so romantic.

A story of eternal love.

Beauty Sleeping by Michelle Novak – The author’s reading of Chapter 1
Beauty Sleeping by Michelle Novak – The author’s reading of Chapter 2

Here’s wishing you, all the love and magic there is!

And forever, Stay Inspired.

If you would like to be a fairy godpatron to the authoress – please be sure to whirl your wand in the bookstore! Enjoy the adventure!

A Little Differently…

So, I’ve experienced what I consider a bona fide miracle. Like, a Jesus miracle. No joke, I’ll be setting aside some on-my-knees-time to thank my Creator.

But, for the purpose of this inspired post, let’s just call what happened a breakthrough. I was struggling forever with something. I applied herculean efforts to hurtle over this roadblock, with little result. So, I’d throw in the towel. Become apathetic. Then I’d get upset with myself, try again, apply more herculean efforts. Still didn’t work. Many times over. Endless disappointment.

It got to the point where last week, I was feeling pretty fierce about it – bursting into exhausted tears one day, feeling really down about myself another, addressing God rather vehemently the next. I believe that was a first. The whole giving God some sass. But hey – I know He understood my frustration. I’ve only been praying about this forever.

Well – I’m certain you know Algernon Sidney’s words as well as I do.

God helps those…

Did you finish the sentence?

And how did I do it? Overcome my impossible? I acknowledged that my approach wasn’t working. And then I asked myself, what could I do just a little bit differently?

…and then I did that.

And now I am Hercules, in the flesh. Except without the muscles.

Unless the muscles in my brain count?!

HA-HA!!

But enough about my flexing my brain muscles. The point of this post is…

I bet there’s something in your life that you wish you could accomplish – improve upon – or overcome. And I’m here to holler all the way to wherever you are – you can. But if whatever you’ve been doing to get there isn’t working so far, take a real moment with yourself and ask…

What can I do just a little bit differently?

Stay Inspired.

A Remark On Beauty…

Good Day, Good Friends! Are we staying inspired?

Don’t forget to say “Hello” in the comments! It always means much to hear from you!

I’ve only a few thoughts for today, but I’ll have more posts to share this week…

Tomorrow there is to be a blizzard in these parts. Many inches are expected. When this happens, this urban-dwelling street-parker has to move her car to a parking garage in advance, so that her old clunker doesn’t get ticketed or towed when the sirens scream and the city plows come barreling through…

The upside is that while I’m working from home tomorrow, I won’t be worrying about the weather conditions outside and feeling uneasy about my car. My tin can will be safe and cozy. And I won’t have to dig it out. The downside is that, city parking garages will cost you your firstborn. But what can I do?

Whether we are country mice, or city mice (one of my favorite childhood stories), we all have to deal with the weather. So I’ll just grab some goodies from my favorite grocery (a few blocks from the garage) after I park my car downtown tonight, enjoy the crisp air as I walk home, look up at the night sky and count my blessings…

But I wanted to share: I read an article I felt in tune with, in USA Today, by Alia Dastagir titled: Goodbye heels, hello ‘lady-stache’: Many women ditch beauty routines for good.

The article speaks on how women who have been working from home are taking a new look at their beauty practices, and thinking about the purpose of their past processes. I found myself nodding my head. So many women, spending so much time, money, and thought, in keeping up with standards, just to head to work.

My story is a little different. I haven’t really been too concerned about these things for a long time. The hair, and makeup, and nice clothes. Minimal has been working just fine for me these days.

{As a side note, just to embarrass myself…I don’t brush my hair, and never will. Once, I had to have a hair brush cut out of my hair. Perhaps even more than once. It was an awful affair. I still wince. I don’t believe in hairbrushes. They are from the dark side. Finger-combing is a much more peaceful attempt at managing my rebellious, knotty tresses.}

However, when I was younger, I absolutely did care about the way I looked – to the point of vanity. Mostly, I just enjoyed looking nice. But as we know, a lot of psychology revolves around this topic in our culture. And it is easy for a woman, myself included, to worry about whether she is ‘meeting expectations’.

These days, as long as I look clean (no stains on my clothes), respectable (a family term? about all of my wrinkly, non-ironed outfits? I embrace wrinkles – HA!) (or to not wear the sweater with all the holes in it – even if it’s my favorite sweater), and professional (most businesses have a dress code – fortunately my style easily falls in line), then I feel confident enough to head into work…

Only, my personal battle isn’t so much with looking glam these days…it’s with my allergies.

I have terrible allergies, that have only gotten worse over the years. Allergies to mascara, that make my eyes burn. Allergies to deodorants that make my underarms itch (there’s chemicals in everything friends). Even shampoos that though are more effective than ‘natural alternatives’, have too many loud fragrances that cause me issues.

I’m the canary in the coal mine. My body tells me when there’s something bad in a product. Whether my eyes start to water, or my skin gets a rash, or I get a headache, or start having trouble breathing. But God bless it – there’s lots of companies making amazing products nowadays – and they don’t cause these problems, free of the icky stuff.

But all of this to say – When I read that article, I thought about how it’s been a nice relief to not use these harsher items, which admittedly, often do get ‘better results’ than the natural ones I prefer (or to just be able to skip some products altogether in the daily routine). I’ve been thinking about this a lot. About all the worries I’ve been freer from – including others besides.

Funny, I wouldn’t be concerned about judgement on this topic from my present coworkers. Yet still, these items are ingrained in our brains since birth, and we hold ourselves to the standards we have cemented.

Look nice, smell nice, act nice, smile. Always appear on top of your game.

But…many days, that’s really hard.

Of course, I know the story is different for everyone. But as for me, the article struck me – extending beyond just mascara – and into the great many pressures we all put on ourselves.

Just remember – Love yourself. You are enough.

I love that while working from home, I’ve really been able to just focus in on embracing my work.

Now, isn’t that beautiful.

Stay Inspired.

A Teaspoon A Day, Sort of Way…

Hello Dear Friends! Welcome and cheerful greetings!

So, I have to say, however Grinch-like this may sound, I am glad that Christmas has passed.

Why?

Well, of course I love Christmas like anyone else. And I especially love the true messages of Christmas. But it’s sort of like this…

Once upon a time, when I was in my young years, around the early-teens, someone in my extended family got married. Now, I’d always lived a quiet, simple life. And I was an only child. And yes, I had a few friends, and a sprinkle of family. And yes, occasionally exciting things happened. But generally speaking, life was just quiet and simple.

Well, this wedding was something new and interesting. I don’t recall there being much of weddings before that point, and to admit, even to this day, I haven’t been involved in or attended, all that many. And, I wasn’t involved in this one either. More, just a young lady watching the excitement of others from a distance, and thinking it was all quite different. Again, my family is small. And my life was always quiet.

Funny, just now, I’m not even certain I attended this wedding! I have some photos, but I didn’t take them. I don’t think. Was I at this service? I must have been. For why did it all make such an impact on me, if not?

How strange, our memories.

But here is what ultimately happened. Right after this wedding day, my spirit plummeted like a swallow falling down through the sky to smash into the earth. It was immediate. I don’t even know that I ever told anyone how I felt? I didn’t even have any crushing emotional attachment to any of the events surrounding the occasion, except as a happy observer of some special-goings-on.

I eventually recovered. But yikes. I was…shall we say…crestfallen and sullen. And what I learned about myself is…I don’t like a shaking up. I don’t like too much excitement. Soaring too high, and crashing too hard. I don’t like surprises either…unless they are very quiet and gentle surprises…and even then, I don’t prefer them.

HA! I’m so weird.

I have since pinpointed other scenarios from before, and many after, that time. After a largely anticipated happening. Full of sparkle and magic. Christmas fits the mold. Or rather, the whole bundle that is the holiday season. The swallow of my soul soaring too high. And even still…this being the quietest season of all times. It’s just the holidays. They can make one overly sentimental, or analyze too closely. Or expect too much. Or become sullen when the glitter is gone.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I live cheerfully and with delight in my life! But more in the a teaspoon a day, sort of way. I think each day should have simple pleasures, gratefulness, amusement and happiness in it. Just nothing to stir my pot too mightily.

Of course, if you’re the type that embraces a good shaking up, and as much as you can handle, or are someone somewhere in-between…that’s awesome. LOVE YOUR LIFE!!!!! And the opportunity to have that again, is just around the corner, I’m certain.

But all I’m saying is…I think the best magic and inspiration really is, just in the every day. When your eyes are open, you see it. And it’s stinking beautiful. That’s my favorite. And it’s enough for me.

Stay Inspired.

A sip of sunshine…

Though I was tempted toward something sweeter to follow up my lunch bite today, I had an orange instead, and it was perfect. After, my house smelled like oranges, and that was perfect too.

I love anything citrus.

Some years ago, while out at the antique shops, I had in mind that I wanted a vintage glass juicer. But though I saw some transparent ones, and probably some other colors too, when I happened across this delightful yellow piece, I knew it was mine. There is nothing like a fresh glass of orange juice.

I can say however, making a glass takes a lot more oranges than you’d think, which can get rather expensive. A bag of oranges hardly gives you a few glasses. But, once in a while, it’s worth it for a sip of sunshine.

Stay Inspired.

The Lost Garden…

On my daily walks, I have appreciated seeing an increase in people taking walks. Even after dark. Even in the cold. I think walks may be on the rise, since convening elsewhere is not an option. As a matter of fact, a sprinkle of folks have even embraced taking a bite at the local restaurant at outdoor tables (no eating inside), in December. One evening on my walk, I saw three ladies together around a table with a small fire in its middle (installed for outdoor winter dining). Coats, hats, even a blanket. I wonder if they’ll still be doing this in January? I think it’s fun! But brrrrr…..

My philosophy? If you dress warmly enough, winter is just as delightful for outdoor activity as any other season. Which reminds me, I need to order some boots. Today. Snow and ice will be here soon and my toes have lately been getting numb!

Ambling over to Lighthouse Beach here on Lake Michigan, I passed Evanston’s Harley Clarke Mansion, some few blocks from my home. The mansion is a historic site, and has in recent years, been much in the local language concerning its maintenance and fate. Old mansions are expensive to take care of. And when the city owns them, it’s difficult to find the budget. Especially now, I would gather. Fortunately, it is at present still standing. Let’s hope the best for its future.

Someday, I’ll post some photos of the gorgeous beast itself. I understand it has been vacant for some years, the Evanston Arts Center its last tenant. But today, I wanted to share the mansion’s decrepit greenhouse.

I have quite the imagination. So of course, while tromping past, I had to go peek inside. The dirty windows and inner-neglect were calling to me. Screaming, in fact. I needed to imagine the greenhouse as it once was, and what it could be again…

Greenhouses are magical places, where wonderful things are grown. Some delicate and needing shelter. Some, which could not survive our climate otherwise…

As I gazed in, I saw the precious rows of emerald. Boxes of wholesome vegetables to feed a table were before me. The excitement of a yield of ripe fruit, and the splash of cheerful scented flowers too. I felt the humid warmth, and smelled the dirt. I plucked a green bean and ate it right then, tasting the earth…

I wanted to be there, in that lost garden.

I thought of how I would have visited the greenhouse everyday, if I’d once lived in that house. That mansion by the waves. Stopping in to clip a flower to carry with me, to sniff every three seconds. Sneaking in at night to gaze at the full moon through the glass above, and to see the garden at midnight…

How many times I would have passed through this door, the key around my neck on a chain, so that I could always be in the garden…

Do you see it too?

What would you grow in the garden?

I would grow lots of lettuce. And radishes, and cucumbers, and melons, and beautiful pink peonies and periwinkle hydrangeas. And raspberries, and snap peas and snow peas. And squash. And there would be a citrus tree in the corner. Lemons. And there would be ivy vines clinging to the windows, and rose bushes all around the greenhouse outside. And lilies too. Stargazer lilies everywhere.

And I would salute the Grosse Point Light just overhead everyday, guiding the ships out on the lake. And in winter, I would attempt to make a snow sculpture that looked just like it. And then I would go drink hot chocolate and eat cookies, in the warmth and shelter of the greenhouse.

Stay Inspired.

Charity Never Faileth

~ A Message of Charity ~

I will ever be fascinated with the Bible. And not simply in the sense of religion. Let’s just say, it’s the book of everything. It makes you think.

And whether or not you are of the Christian faith, upon reading it, you may be surprised to see just how much it is a book of today, as it was, a book of times past. For those who may say the book is ‘outdated’…well, I wonder if they’ve really read it. Or more particularly, considered the ways it applies to life.

It’s a book about humanity. And as for me, that book is eternal.

But to be specific, I sometimes come across a verse that quite literally changes the way I see life. That’s pretty powerful. Because, you know, I’m not a youngin’ anymore. I’m pretty much set in my pattern of thinking at this point. Deduced from decades of experience.

But here, I am to be humbled.

I recently heard a preacher speak the words: Charity never faileth (1 Corinthians 13:8 KJV). I didn’t even catch the context. But apparently, just hearing the words was enough to impact me indefinitely.

For certain, I’ve heard that verse a zillion times before. But this time, I was struck. Struck hard. Charity never faileth. Hmmm….

Never faileth.

But let me put this into substance. I am not particularly charitable, at present. I can however, look back at periods when I was, and my heart is moved to recall. Visiting the nursing home on Sundays to sing and deliver homemade cards to very lonely elderly (how about I start weeping right now). Volunteering time with youth with disabilities. Volunteering time with disadvantaged children. And all those other times, I simply gave.

I think back, and let me say. It wasn’t just what I was giving. It was what I was getting back in return. My life was permanently changed by those experiences. And remembering, I am deeply humbled. I am also ashamed to wonder, where has my giving gone?

To point out, charity isn’t just money. It doesn’t have to be money at all. It can just be time. Even some small effort. A little cheer. A bit of lifting up. Just giving to someone else. Caring about someone else. Or even, something else, that makes the world better. Animals, the environment, community buildings in need of repair; of course, the list is endless.

Further to mention, I’ve now lived in an urban environment for two decades. Therefore, I regularly encounter people in need as I go about. And though many instances of privation have spoken to my heart, others have hardened it.

And as this message is an honest one, I will say, I’ve often been wary to give to others, wondering if in some cases, I’m not being tricked, or manipulated. Or if my giving will be misapplied.

But then, that verse.

Charity never faileth. And I realized, in an instant, softening any hard part I’d ever allowed to grow in my heart…

No matter what, if you give, it is never, ever, in vain.

Perhaps some efforts appear they will be a loss. Or, a giving put to poor use. Or, why bother. But that is not so. Charity never faileth.

Each of us knows, in what ways, and when, we can give. Just always remember, it will never be in vain.

Please pass along the message ~ I think it is one worth sharing.

Stay Inspired.

The gift that it is, to be…

Greetings Kindred Spirits!

This morning, while running out for some necessary items, I decided I also needed some chocolate doughnuts. Needed them. I also grabbed some chocolate chip cookies, and some chocolate candies. Because, you know, I needed those too.

Humans. Aren’t we something? Ha!

{Starting Catherine Steadman’s Mr. Nobody. Her Something in the Water was a real page-turner. Loved it!}

Have you ever spent an entire day reading a book? I have. As if under a spell. Yes, I’d have been reading a good book, or splitting the time between several. But it wasn’t so much the book. Rather, the place I needed to be in at the time.

Just to sit very still. Very quiet. And give myself away to something other than every other thing we focus on.

I do this with writing too.

Is there something in this world that you do this with? Tinkering, gardening, cooking, binge watching (hey, it has its value)? Something that takes you to another zone?

As I took my evening walk yesterday, I thought…

I love being outside more than anything, at all, ever.

I just feel, better. And not that I’m feeling bad. It’s just, when I’m outside, it’s very right.

I say, thank God for shelter and modern conveniences. I embrace cozy. I love a full cupboard. A cushiony place to rest my head is a blessing. But you know, we weren’t made into that. In the beginning. We were formed in the wilderness. We are nature. And whenever I go outside, I feel it.

Once many years ago, I told my mother that if we ever knew the pending hour that I would pass, that I would want to be outside. You know, if I got sick or something. A lawn chair, the sky, and some trees. Just, outside. She said she’d do her best. I love my mom.

I know that may sound gloomy. But it isn’t. It’s spiritual. I simply share the sentiment, to illustrate what I feel, when I am outside.

What in this world inspires you that way? The sound of your family’s laughter? Moving song? A soul-warming meal? Painting? Running?

Isn’t it beautiful? All the different ways we can sense the gift that it is, to be?

Stay Inspired.

Thanksgiving

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Psalm 100 ~ KJV

Happy Saturday!

Hi, Hi, Hi!

How is everyone doing today? I hope you are staying inspired?

If you’re a new reader, I just want to say welcome to Inspired By Venice! Be sure to say Hello! So glad you’re here.

In the news this week, I received a care package from my mama on Tuesday.

Doesn’t a care package just warm your heart? Whether filled with treats, or things needed, or in my case, office supplies and Covid survival goods (including a bundle of pink face masks…so I can feel pretty), it’s always a blessing.

Thank you Mom!

In said box, was a huge magnifying glass. Because I have that mom that just sends cool stuff like that!

The thought of smoking ants on the sidewalk crossed my mind (you know I would never – ever), and also a cozy reverie of skimming piles of dusty books fireside with said magnifier. I’d need a pipe, and some fuzzy slippers, and a cat or five, in this dream…

But then I thought…I will magnify all my bugs! So, the glass has an important purpose now. It’s my insect magnifying glass.

With this said, I think my bug book, however faithfully it has served me over the years, and how beloved it is, is not enough.

Christmas present to self – I need a spider book. To start.

You know, spiders are very aware of you. Maybe they think we’re monsters. Maybe we look good to nibble. I think some are curious (jumpers to be specific). I’ve had some pretty awesome interactions.

A jumper who was browsing my books.

Because, spiders like fairy tales too.

It’s true. This one told me.

In other news, and as I have stated here before, anything minty and chocolate is on my list of top favorites in life. Therefore, every holiday season, I go bonkers over the selection of seasonal delights.

These dark chocolate peppermint cookies from Whole Foods? Let’s just say, I’m going back to the store, I’m going to fill a basket, and become a pandemic toilet paper hoarder…only with cookies.

In other, other news…I’ve been a vegetarian for about a decade now! That’s pretty committed for a meat lover.

Yes. I said it. Meatloaf, bacon, and ribs are delicious. (Shhh…don’t tell the other vegetarians I said that). But I don’t eat it. In all these years, the few bites I’ve had has amounted to no more than a plate. And, at least for me personally, I believe my body thanks me for that every day.

I have a love affair with salad. It’s date night every night!

{An American Greetings card I’m displaying in my kitchen for some cheer}

In other, other, other news…Is there anything better than glitter? Can I just roll in a pile of glitter and run down the street skipping, and twirling, just once in my life? Just saying.

Well now, I’m off to other writing. I hope to get Still out to the world very soon. And I sincerely can’t wait.

Stay Inspired!

Are we ready for some cheer?!

Who is already ready for some holiday sparkle?!?

Me Me Me – ME ME!!!

But really? Will some mini jingle-bells and glitter applied to my face mask be too much?

Ha – HA!

For the record…I looked up how long candy canes last, since I just happened upon a forgotten one on the shelf in my cupboard. And guess what?

I’m eating it!!

Stay inspired friends!

All the thoughts…

Evanston has entered a new Stay-At-Home phase, alongside Chicago, to last at least 30 days. No Thanksgiving gatherings advised, of course. I wouldn’t have been gathering anyway, too risky. But that we’re slipping backwards instead of moving forward…well, I felt that.

All the thoughts, right? About it all.

I have been reflecting on all the ads that pop up for fashion items on the internet. It never ends. Buy makeup! Buy perfume! Buy nice clothes! Buy some stuff! And, I sit there and wonder…what are they trying to sell here? An illusion of normalcy? People aren’t really going anywhere. Where would they be showing off their style? Online? At the grocery store – all masked up?

And this isn’t me being negative. Not really. Because the truth is, I love pretty things too. And it’s natural for people to want to look and feel good, no matter what is happening in the world. I support that. But when I see those ads, I think, that stuff doesn’t feel so, important. At all. It wouldn’t even be fun to buy any of it, even if I were inclined. Not right now.

I’ve been pondering the last pair of sparkly heels in my closet…and friends, I once donned so many fashionable pretties. And I’ve wondered, will any such thing ever be important to me again?

For now, I think I’ll be looking for the beauty in life elsewhere. It is certain I won’t find it in one of those ads.

All the thoughts.

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Matthew 6:28-29 KJV

Stay Inspired.

Black Widow…

Do you have any strange aspirations? Something you hope to do in life? Some place you want to see? Something out of the ordinary?

I do!

Among my list of I hope to’s, I would like to find a Black Widow Spider in the wild. A Northern Black Widow, to be specific. And take its picture. And have a chat…because I’m a bug whisperer and all.

From a distance, of course.

From my insect guide: Insects spiders and other terrestrial arthropods by George C. McGavin

The truth is, I wonder if I haven’t already, and didn’t recognize it. I’ve seen a lot of spiders in my life, and hope I didn’t miss my chance! An acquaintance told me that she’d seen a Black Widow in the neighborhood. Hanging out on a door frame, I believe. That means, assuming no misidentification, I should keep my eyes on the webs in the area.

While I’m at it…we should add the Brown Recluse to my list.

Don’t play with spiders friends. That’s dangerous. But don’t squish them either. That’s bad karma.

Stay Inspired!

Look Up, Gaze Out…

We had been experiencing some days of the most beautiful, warm weather for this late in the season. And even though it is already dark when I leave my desk on a weekday, a walk, however brief, is a gift…

As I looked up into cloudless night skies, to the stars, and to the bright beautiful moon, all the trees filled with fire red, tangerine orange and rich yellow leaves, I was amazed at this world.

I forgot everything, and just felt like a natural part of it, all else melting away. That is a priceless feeling.

I love to look up, and gaze out. Even if sometimes, it’s just by opening my window for a few minutes with my coffee…

A sharp blue sky, the wild approach of a cold front, an inky heaven filled with the glory of that luminesce orb…

Or even of a flock of ravenous seagulls!

It’s all greatness, and so much bigger than me, but makes me remember that life is so much simpler than we make it.

Look up, gaze out…

And stay inspired.

Green Love…

Though unlikely to ever aspire to a green thumb, I am starting to appreciate growing, and caring for indoor plants.

My attempts at a respectable kitchen herb garden lately failed. However, I was really just taking joy in the company of sprouting emerald leaves. Ultimately my intention wasn’t to eat my efforts, especially after I understood what it takes to make a pot flourish.

Let’s just say, indoor edibles need all the best in soil and environment, along with a plant-minded intelligence from their keeper. I only offered a little water, light, and love…

I’ve found that it’s soothing to sit with a few pots of green at my kitchen table as I eat a meal, and considered that it would be nice to sprinkle a few more around my nest.

I love the idea of house plants improving my air quality, if even by a small margin. They also, to an extent, feel like companions, that I benefit from for just a little attentiveness in return.

I looked up the health blessings of owning indoor plants. I can’t say that I was surprised to read about them helping to abate anxiety, or how they improve the air we breath. But I was very interested to learn that they can help one to focus and be more creative. To work better. And to even get well sooner!

With so many boons for collecting window-side flora, I’m going to keep my eye out for some additions. I also think a small desk plant seems a particularly productive idea!

Stay Inspired!

Contentment…

With the last crust of a loaf in my cupboard, I made the tiniest sandwich for lunch today, and thought it was delightful, and was content…

Coffee, apple, nuts, and my little sandwich. I said a prayer of thankfulness, and felt glad.

Of course, the chocolate peppermint cookie at the end was an extra blessing! Ha!

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.

1 Timothy 6: 6-8 KJV

Stay Inspired!

Nap Time…

There is this squirrel, who was not long ago just a newling I think. I’m certain it is the same squirrel, as I have seen him repeated times in the same tree just above my window, taking naps

I’ve seen him with his head tucked in, or sprawled out in the sun, or cozy as ever as he is in this picture. It’s clearly his favorite tree, and also evident that he especially loves an afternoon snooze!

Stay Inspired.

What just went bump in the night?

Greetings friends! Can you believe it is November 1st? It’s election day on Tuesday, and will certainly prove an interesting (yet I pray peaceful) week ahead, here in the U.S.
Hold on to your hats folks!

In other news, I’m under the weather. It started with sneezing last Thursday and has gone a bit downhill from there. Fortunately, not a straight crashing fall downhill. More of an uneasy tumble. Therefore, I gather, it’s simply hyper seasonal allergies and general fatigue. Or, a light head cold.

Either way, I’m taking it easy and drinking my cure-all (organic juice!). I’m also considering an order of supplies, to keep myself absent from my local grocery for a bit…

Strange times. To be made uneasy by the sniffles.

I’ll tell you what else made me uneasy. I was reading a true book of ghost stories last night…because, when am I not? And just as I turned out all the lights and closed my eyes to sleep, a terrible noise went in my house. Scared me to death. I’m not joking. My poor heart.

[Real Police Ghost Stories by Zachery Knowles – read it in one night – scary stuff.]

My eyes burst open, and I tried to think very hard as to what logically could have just made that noise. I felt relieved to remember that a little suction-cupped mirror with a light that my mama gave me for my birthday (so that a gal can see all the wiry goat-hairs on her chin for plucking…not that I have any of those), sometimes loses hold and falls from the larger bathroom mirror to the floor…


Normally, I would just go check. I’m not scared of nothin’. I’m more the – where’s the baseball bat – let’s check the house – type. Only, I was scared. Of course, I was thinking some pretty ghoulish thoughts just before bed. Therefore, I couldn’t bring myself to inspect. But anyway, it was just that little mirror, crashing against the tub.

Only, when I went to the bathroom not much later, in the dark, I saw that it was not. And I was creeped out enough to have to turn on the lights to wash my hands and peer around for what it had been. There was nothing. No dish to have slipped to the floor, no fallen broom. Nothing.

Yet another visit to the bathroom later, not turning on the lights this time, I believe I see a strange shadow shift in the kitchen when I’m washing my hands. I scurry back into bed. And then I hear something else strange. Something from the kitchen. Like a shuffling of my trash bag…

What the heck.

[Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay]


A few weeks ago, a similar and continual noise kept coming from what I believed was my kitchen trash bag. I imagined settling trash (that kept settling), or that I’d somehow acquired a little house mouse, scratching around for crumbs in the bottom of the bag. It was strange, so I just listened and didn’t go look. Because, then I’d have to go through the whole – I’m here to rescue you – you little house mouse trapped in my garbage bag.

I’m pretty certain he can manage to crawl out if he managed to climb in. And, I don’t need to get bit by a frightened mouse, and have to explain the situation to my doctor when my finger swells up.

Yes, that would happen to me.

To end this story, I still don’t know what these sounds were, especially that awful cracking crash. I know the difference between a muffled bumping from a neighbor above or below. And this was something cracking loud in my house. I still need to review my antique windows for any breaks…


I never felt uneasy here before, until last night. That’s the power of a wild imagination. Or perhaps it was something else
The moral of the story is, I think I’ll stop reading ghost stories for a while. At least for one night, maybe two…

Bwah-Ha-HAAAA!!!

Stay Inspired!

Happy Autumn!

Happy autumn and a festive Halloween to every one of you!

[Image by Melk Hagelslag from Pixabay]

Here’s wishing you a cozy, healthy, cheerful season, and that God provides you with just what you need…

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Matthew 21:22 KJV

Stay Inspired

October Musings…

Welcome Friends! I’ve missed you! How are you?

What a few weeks it has been! No, I’m not talking the larger world out there. If I started thinking about that, I’d sink. Oh geez. I got anxious just watching Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix last night (terribly chilling), so I best not pay too close attention to the news…

[Here’s the summer haircut – shoulder length and simple.]

I have fully transitioned into my new position, and into remote work along with it. An empty room in my home, which I had always been leaning toward having as a writing room (for over two years I was ‘deciding’…HA!), is now officially OFFICE.

The first week, I was teetering a bit with the change, but a second week in, and I’m quite in stride. All systems go. And being the home-body I am, and also very regimented by nature, remote is working out brilliantly. I still head down to the office for some brief visits. But I love my walks…

[Little Michelle – Whose favorite holiday has always been Halloween!]

Last night, I was digging into some boxes. I’m a nuthatch for minimalism and organization, so I like to review and keep ‘all that I have’ tidy and manageable at all times. Of course, digging into boxes (especially of photos or letters) seems to ever be a nostalgic, and often doleful, experience…

[A handmade Valentine’s card from my mom and stepdad Charlie – images cut from candy bar wrappers – my favorite card.]

I have some hundreds of cards and letters. And I’m sure they hardly scratch the surface of those I’ve received, since I’m pretty certain I didn’t keep a great many prior to the last 10 years. Further, I’m not one for digital communication – I will always prefer a handwritten card or letter.

[Christmas card – the artist my mother Lita. So very special.]

My father alone (who may never have sent an email in his life), has mailed me many piles of notes and cards and newspaper clippings. He, has sent me the most. I could publish a vast book of them.

[Me and my father, Frank]

I had this wistful half-smile on my face as I flipped through little bundles, and what I opened only made a dent.

[A sweet Suzy’s Zoo greeting card from my Aunt Lisa.]

And do you know what I thought? I thought…

I’ve been so loved.

I am so lucky. I’ve so many loving friends and family, and even random brushes with kind people who wanted to say something nice. So many memories and experiences. And so much love.

[I love you, Mama!]

It inspired me to sit down this November (as holiday card time approaches), and really do get a note out to a very many that I want to let know – I love you too, and you are ever cherished.

This is going to take a whole lot of stamps.

[Little Michelle the cave girl on Halloween many moons past.]

In other news, Halloween is just a week away. I have always loved Halloween. Further, I’ve been bonkers for costumes since birth. I was born wearing a costume. An 18th century wig, face powder and beauty patches, of course.

Only…things just don’t feel the same now.

[Me with my mom and stepdad – We take Halloween seriously in this family.]

Irregardless, I plan to at least eat a caramel apple on the occasion, which will likely render me a terrible sugar shock. It wouldn’t be Halloween otherwise…

[My baby, Tiddo – Went to Heaven October 30th, 2018 – I love you forever.]

I have been pondering the past a lot. About how things used to be. Wondering how they will be. Glad that I have already experienced so much in life, and wondering what is next, and how it will look…

[Photo from a decade ago – My Chicago event planner days. Events – at present, a thing of the past.]

What are my goals now? What would I like my next decade to look like? If nothing can be the same as it was, how will I make different be wonderful?

For, we must make life beautiful and magical – no matter what.

I think I will take out a handful of old Christmas cards from my treasure of letters, and set them out again sometime in November. That will be both festive, and special, as I ponder the past, and dream for the future…

[Being goofy…entertaining myself…staying inspired.]

Thank you to all of you, kind hearts, who are walking there beside me…

Do drop a line in the comments! I always delight to hear from you.

And as ever…
You Stay Inspired.

White Noise Has Won My Medal…

Good Day, Dear Friends!

I hope this message finds you healthy, and hanging in there!

[All photos today, of stonework I recently admired above the doors of Evanston’s Northwestern University]

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As a first mention, I think it right to encourage today, a prayer for your leadership.

Our leadership, President Trump, has fallen ill with Covid-19. This is utterly terrible. I believe, (and no matter how you sway politically), it is important to pray for your leadership. Pray for their health. Pray for their strength. Pray that they will make the best choices for your nation and communities.

God’s hand over you, President Trump. May you be well and strong, very soon.

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I myself, am presently scrambling through the thorns of transition, soon to emerge on the other side. It is very exciting, really. A promotion in position that will shortly have me working from home, barring a few brief jaunts to the office each week.

I’m currently delivering some training to the individual stepping into my previous role, while also learning new processes myself. In fact, I’m entering a new ‘field’ entirely. One I would never have imagined, given what I had always believed were my strengths and weaknesses.

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Life is surprising, isn’t it? Or rather, sometimes we surprise ourselves.

I am very happy.

Even if, I’m going about everything rather clumsily, shedding a few public tears, and feeling rather exhausted.

What have these pandemic months done to us?

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But hey, I’m doing it. And so are you.

Speaking of tears, I grew weepy over the news this morning. Items of one man helping another man. Even typing those words right now, and I need to grab for the tissue. We really need to love each other more than ever right now.

It makes me ask, how can I show someone I love them today? How can I help, someone other than myself today? How can I even, spread a smile?

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In other thoughts, I was dismayed this morning, to see that my monthly Netflix fee went up. You see, Chicago and Evanston have adopted a streaming tax, a part of their entertainment tax, as I understand.

The reason I am dismayed, is that taxes and fees and fines and additions, and whatever…have begun to make me feel squeezed lately. And that feeling must be crushing, to those in any sort of honest financial strain.

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I of course, believe in taxes to support the upkeep and betterment of our public spaces and communities (and accept that I also live in an urban area where taxes are often notably higher).

However, lately I’m feeling rather nickle-and-dimed. I’m afraid to write out an actual list of these items (sales tax on food, spiking real estate tax, mandatory city permits, streaming tax, etc.) to see what I’m really paying. But it’s truly starting to feel that the price of what it takes just to have a basic life anymore, is quite smashing against what one can reliably draw in. Especially if you want health coverage (but let’s not open that roiling and spoiled can of American worms). Certainly the idea of ‘saving for the future’ is no easy task these days.

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To boot, I’m speaking from the point of view of someone who is still blessed with a good job, and is not by any scope of the imagination, much of a consumer. But seriously, looking at the numbers…

Nickle-and-dimed.

I really may have to consider moving my nest at some point down the line, for more financial security. I gather many people are thinking like this nowadays.

I will also be considering extra steps to frugality this winter. But, I’m going to try and make it fun, rather than allowing it to feel like a drag.

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In other news, and I’ve shared this here before, I have the propensity of being over-sensitive to extraneous noise. Something I’ve better come to understand as I’ve gotten older. While lately considering not only this personal factor, but also the notion of general stress (to which we’ve all been exponentially dosed lately), I started to think on how I can ‘drown it all out’ while remaining focused.

I looked up ‘white noise’ music. Life saver. I downloaded some many hours worth of rustling leaves, streaming water, chirping birds, blowing wind, and whirring fans…

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I am already a huge lover of classical music. I personally can’t listen to music with words while I work (I lose concentration). But, as music can soothe stress and level the mind, I have found that classical is the winning card (with the exception of any especially erratic or high-strung pieces)…

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Additionally needing however, something even more basic to drown out the urban sprawl about me, as well as my own mind-chatter, I wanted to see what else was out there. White noise. Check it out. I understand some folks use it therapeutically. Now I will be. This is good stuff, folks. I never took to meditating or yoga. White noise has won my medal.

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With that, I wish you much peace and contentment this week folks.

Be sure to drop a line! Tell me what you like to do to alleviate stress. Have any fun frugality tips to share? Any nice stories this week?

Best to you. You Stay Inspired, now.

Sunday Psalms…

Good Morning Friends!
I recorded a few Psalms. I often turn to the Bible when I need a little peace, guidance, or courage. Thought I would share a few chapters with you!

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[Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay]

{Psalm 34 – KJV – Voice: Michelle Novak}

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[Image by HeungSoon from Pixabay]

{Psalm 30 – KJV – Voice: Michelle Novak}

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[Image by Mabel Amber from Pixabay]

{Psalm 27 – KJV – Voice: Michelle Novak}

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[Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay]

{Psalm 23 – KJV – Voice: Michelle Novak}

God Bless You!

I’m a bit of a nuthatch…

Greetings Good Friends! How I am wishing you every good thing today!

Keep your chin up, I say! Keep your chin up!

I, am beat. Yikes! I’ve a literal mountain of laundry to do, but I don’t know if I have enough strength to stir today. My goodness. I think I’ve only enough energy to stir over to the fridge for something good to nibble on…HA!

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Last weekend, I received a sweet package from my dear friend Cira. She took an old flowered blouse of mine, the fabric of which I’d loved, and made pouches and masks out of it. Aren’t they so beautiful? Additionally, the light green zipper-pouch, as soft as velvet, was sewed and sent by my mama for my birthday!

Tell me that homemade gifts aren’t the best? Tell me I’m not spoiled?

I am envious of these ladies’ talents. Only, I’ve never had a stitch of patience for sewing. Pun intended. So, I’ll just continue to admire their talents while sporting my pretty new accessories!

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Someone special also gave me a book of birds for my birthday, the pages of which are magic to me…

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I love nature so much. I stopped the other morning to crane my neck straight back and have a conversation with a striped-headed nuthatch peeping and hopping upside down on the underside of a tree branch. My guess was that he was looking for insect snacks.

He didn’t really have time for me and said so.

I’m certain other pedestrians witnessed this and thought I was a nuthatch myself. Yes. Yes indeed, I am a bit of a nuthatch.

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Though I have my hands full with current writing projects, I am considering to write a book of true short stories. A collection of those magical, bizarre, and even humbling moments I’ve witnessed in my life, and what they’ve taught me or made me feel. Its purpose would be to entertain and inspire readers. An eclectic little treat. I may start jotting notes soon to form a path for the work…

Now, I know not all of you have the same passion for insects that I do (though I’m sure many of you must since bugs are so awesome)…but I’ve a special creepy-crawly tale for you…

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A few months ago, while at the kitchen sink, I witnessed an itty-bitty miracle.

A house centipede, of which I see commonly enough around my dwelling (and who sometimes make even me goose-bump), was lurking at the sink and got himself waterlogged to the point of mush. All his many long legs were a single drenched mass, and I felt poignantly sad for it.

Now, I have saved approximately one zillion little buggies from approaching death. True story. And, I have learned by trial that a corner of paper towel softly dotted to a waterlogged insect can transport it to a better location without squishing it. If it survives after that point is between God and the bug, but at least I did my best.

I thought I’d give this a go, but the creature looked quite pathetic. I may have even said a prayer for it; God loves all creatures, great and small, right?

It took a little while, maybe even a quarter of an hour, but eventually the creature dried out and unfurled. A little twitch here, a little twitch there. Ultimately stirring back to life to run away. I was sort of baffled, but also genuinely exultant by the happening! That bug had been in really bad, quite hopeless shape, just minutes before…

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But I tell you this, not just for the sake of the nearly implausible resurrection that I witnessed, and me so obviously fond of bugs. It was really just, such an inspiring show of resilience!

I know many of you are having a hard time. And even if you’re doing okay, there’s still no way to escape the global stress and worry. Many moments in these last months have made it feel like the whole world is drowning in the second coming of God’s great flood! And no matter where you live, there is no mountain peak high enough to escape to. It’s sort of a, come-what-may, wait-and-see time for the whole world.

Just wanted to say…like that little waterlogged dude…we have it in us. Hold your breath (not literally please), wait it out, keep your faith, keep your cheer, say your prayers, love one another, hug each other (or like…a mime hug from 6-ft. away), thank each other, uplift each other, help each other, laugh, look to your blessings and the bright side…

I am happy to report that I have since had two additional centipede saves, including that striped creature above, the other a baby centipede, neither of which I thought would make it. They really need to stop this daredevil behavior around the tub and sinks. It’s giving  me the nerves.

In other news…my mama bought me two beautiful new lipsticks for my birthday. The very colors I would have bought myself. I love lipstick. I really do. I had already been devising to pick out some for myself, a treat, but then these arrived in the mail.

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Just one problem. 

I can’t go anywhere without a mask.

I don’t even wear blush anymore (which I also love), because it only rubs off and sullies the face covering. So…do I just prance around my house wearing my new lipstick, even though no one will actually see it?

Sounds like a plan! Maybe I’ll just write a whole bunch of letters, plant a few good lip-sticky smooches on paper. If you happen to receive one of these letters, you’ll understand why (apart from the fact that I’ve always been a little eccentric). I was just finding creative reasons to wear my new birthday colors…

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In other, other news…eat your veggies. Just saying.

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In other, other, other news, I was gifted a bushel (what is a bushel?) of farmer’s market autumn apples last week. How lovely! Two weeks’ worth of sweet delights in my lunch bag. The giver is certainly, the apple of my eye! I’ll be sending them a lip-sticky thank you note

Stay Inspired.

 

Shadow And Light…

Welcome, Friends!

I hope this message finds you well and content. I am both, here enjoying some quiet time in the treehouse…

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You know, I have never considered the play of ‘shadow and light’ as an artist must. But sometimes, I notice it with the way the light falls in my house. I think it is such a beautiful thing…

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I’ve yellow and white walls with large windows. It makes the rooms glow when the light casts in so lovely and warm at certain hours of the day. I notice too, the shift of light with the seasons. But no matter the month, the effect is serene…

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I was given a lovely orchid for my birthday. So cheerful the pink and orange-yellow striped blossoms!

Orchids are like people.

Each so very different from another, every one special and beautiful in its own way.

They are also fussy and hard to please.

HA!

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In an attempt to vary breakfast away from blueberry muffins (a.k.a., wean myself toward less sugary options) I sat over granola and berries a few mornings. Though delightful, it only further established that I have a veritable addiction to blueberry muffins…

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Upon my leaving a window screen slightly ajar, a guest buzzed right through my living room, only to find herself crashed in a dusty corner. I, of course, came to the rescue, gingerly pinching cobwebs from her wings.

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When eventually encouraging her release by holding my hand out the open window, as if in a daze, she would not alight. Perhaps it was because she’d just undertaken a crash landing. Or perhaps it was because I am the bug whisperer and she was under my spell…

How did I know she was a she? We had a telepathic conversation and talked girl talk. About wing iridescence and lash extensions and stuff. It’s a bug whisperer thing.

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I was also given a ghost book for my birthday, which I have been slowly savoring each night. There is nothing better than an allegedly true ghost story. Why a book of Wisconsin ghost stories? Perfect gift. I’ve already read every Illinois ghost story ever published.

Which by the way, any recommendations for true ghost story books out there? I’m absolutely bonkers for them, and would love to hear your favorites to consider for my future late night readings…

Bwahhaha….

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I’ve been having dreams about Faire. Ambling in costume. Wandering the beautiful acres of summer and Renaissance splendor. I do sometimes, since this magical place has been a part of my life for decades.

This Labor Day weekend would have been the final weekend of my 5th season in my Bristol shop The Quill and Brush. Our beloved festival did not open this summer, for obvious reasons. The very right thing to do, of course. In fact, it would have been impossible to “Open wide the gates!”. Yet still, what a disappointment for so many…

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My writing focus in the forthcoming months will be narrowed to completing Still, my creepy mystery about the bizarre happenings in an old arenaceous New York City museum…

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Autumn is of course, the perfect season for devising chilling endings. Don’t you think?

Shan’t we just take a quick step down into the museum basement?

With that said, I’m going to go spend a little time in the shadows with Still now. As always, I love hearing from you! Your comments and salutations are always a light!

Be well. Love one another. Stay Inspired.

The Gift of Good Things…

Good Day, Good Friends!

You know I’m wishing you well today! Most importantly healthy, but also wishing you happy

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I am taking my ease today, as it was a long few weeks. I need a quiet day.

I’m up in the tree house as usual. I really do have the prettiest trees, sunlight, and breeze…

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Home.

I am thinking about my birthday a bit. It’s September 2nd, and I am turning 40 years old. I’m not one to dwell about such things. But all of a sudden, I’m thinking about it…

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I’m going to be 40.

The day will come and go. Any regular Wednesday. And my 30’s will be gone from me. But I can say, I learned so much the last decade. About what I need to feel my most healthy and happy…

Which means I can enjoy, all those things I gleaned, in the years still to come…

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I went to my annual dermatologist appointment last Monday. The nurse spoiled me with samples when I asked for them. I left feeling like a bona fide kid in a candy store.

I am always prepared that they might need to cut something out right then and there, and leave me with a stitch or two to wait out a screening result…

This is one of the lessons I learned in my 30’s.

I learned to embrace and commit to going to the doctor. When you are young, you rest on your health. But young people don’t see the dark clouds that might be awaiting them. Many preventable.

You must go to the doctor for your regular screenings. It could save your life.

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I remember in my late twenties, a colleague who was talking at the lunch table about all the interesting results of her doctor’s visit. About how she could view it all online, and see things more in-depth. Really understand her body. I thought she was really brave.

I envied her. Why was I so scared?

I finally learned to toughen up too. And I’m so thankful I did.

Now may I toot my own horn?

My dermatologist said my skin was beautiful. I told her it’s because I’m a vegetarian and drink my green juice everyday.

Let me just bask, okay? Drinking a bottle of ‘front lawn’ and eating salad for dinner every night has to get me somewhere, right?

My dermatologist is so sweet.

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That is another lesson I learned in my 30’s.

Eat to feel healthy.

You know, I was lucky. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up, and grandma had a garden. And grandma made me eat my veggies. And grandma made home cooked meals from scratch.

Of course, as you grow into adulthood, you have the choice to indulge, often to one’s detriment. And trust when I say, I have indulged friends. I lived one heck of a few decades, of pure, insane, sinful, indulging. I have lived. I lived a little too much…

And had one cheese plate too many.

And then, the foundation grandma wisely planted in me, came full circle, and I would need to call on it.

I started to get sick. From my overindulgence…

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You know, I remember grandma taking those lettuce greens right from the garden, shaking up a mason jar of homemade dressing, and eating that salad. She wanted me to have one too, but even though I did eat and learn to love my veggies, I wasn’t too keen on that salad. I was a kid. But today, I’m guided by that memory. Grandma Ina, I appreciate you so much. Thank you.

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Now, I think the most fortunate gift, is simply to have healthful food in my house…

A calm place to lay my head. To be able to afford to go to the doctor, and heed their advice. To have a good night’s sleep, with peace in my heart. To listen to myself, and know when I’m overdoing it. To not stir stress within myself or others, whenever I can avoid it. To tame the hornet I can sometimes be; to have more patience, acceptance, and love…

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I gained temperance in every way by the end of my 30’s.

It was sometimes painfully gained. But I am glad.

I’m ready 40. Let’s do this.

Stay Inspired.

Delicate Beasties…

I have found I have a unique problem. It’s a problem that needs a solution.

This is important.

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What do you do, when you find a bug…

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 But…you’ve no place to put it?

Happens to me all the time. Can’t just throw it in your purse!

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I mean, I have. Of course.

But, that’s not ideal for delicate beasties…

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Can’t just carry it around in the palm of your hand while you go about your errands. Grocery shopping and such.

But, you know, I would for a really good find. Like this emerald gem.

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Look at this noble creature. He was in my path today. Like a fallen leaf at my feet. I didn’t have a place to put him, so I secreted him under a tree while I did my shopping, and then came back for him. He is heavier in the palm than expected, not like a leaf. I was sorry that his time had ended, and summer still here.

I think he is so beautiful.

What a special creature God made.

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I’ve still been snatching up lost coins from the sidewalk…

I’m going to fill a whole jar. And then buy cookies with it. But first, I think I’ll spend an hour cleaning the most faded. To see how old the oldest dates…

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Just wanted to share my special treasures with you.

Stay Inspired, Friends. 

Color Me…

Good Day, Dear Friends!

I hope this message finds you healthy, content, and staying inspired today.

I’d enjoy your messages in the comments this go…I always care to hear from you!

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Our usual eclectic post here on Inspired By Venice today? My brain is uncollected and molasses after a long week, so I think random will work best. Often, that’s more fun anyhow!

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First, for all you readers of my tales…I have signed my contract for the 2021 Bristol Renaissance Faire. God willing, I will see many of you again at The Quill and Brush, a year from now.

I miss sharing my works. I miss the fellowship and conversations. I miss the magic. I miss you.

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I of course, don’t know what will happen. No one does. Progress to slow the virus is backsliding, and I can’t say when large gatherings will even be sound or permissible again. I personally hope, for a safe and effective vaccine soon.

Only time will tell. But for today, let us do our best to stay inspired

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I have decided to start a new collection. I am collecting feathers. No, I’m not worried about bird germs. I’m tired about being worried about germs. I’m going to pick up all the pretty feathers. And keep them. And collect them. And look at them.

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So if any of my friends or family find something special for me, please collect it. I will be delighted. And perhaps you, my friends here on Inspired By Venice, can help me identify some of them? The blue jay feather is my particular favorite so far…

The feathers will be joining my other passions for jumping spiders, lake glass, and found coins…

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I’m also at present, taking an interest in sidewalk animal prints.

I’ve discovered I know nothing about identification, as aware of nature as I thought I was. They all look like raccoon or black bird prints to me. Perhaps you can help me identify those too?

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My interests go to show that you don’t have to spend a penny to entertain yourself. I believe this to be a gift of being an only child. Inventing one’s own amusements.

I also believe in small delights, and taking simple, yet good care of myself. Here are some of my other current favorites…

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My closest know, or have at least observed over the years, that I can exhibit some sensitivities. It’s really just in recent years however, that I’ve even begun to acknowledge and explore this. I think sometimes, it isn’t until we are older, that we are more fully able to understand who we are, and how best to live our happiest and healthiest selves…

I was recommended the book, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine Aron. I have not completed reading it yet, but I’ve found myself in the pages. On the checklist for a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’, I meet many.

For instance, noise. It has always jarred me. Consistent and loud noises are the worst, and can quite untangle me.

Further, I used to believe that I favored one-on-one conversations, because I could make a deeper connection communicating that way. I’ve never preferred getting together with a group of friends. I now understand, it’s because when a whole bunch of people are talking, I get terribly overwhelmed. My feathers ruffle. I begin to exhibit impatience and irritation. Oh no!

Of all things, I thought this for certain, was an outcome of being an only child. That I wasn’t accustomed to cacophony. I’ve even been sometimes shamed, called selfish, for being less than easy going. Understandable response, sometimes warranted, at others unkindly.

But the truth is, God made me this way. I naturally do better in quiet, and that’s okay.

All of this to say…one of the beautiful gifts in life are the moments we can better understand and love ourselves. This also helps us to better understand and have patience, for others.

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Yet, what’s the favorite right now? Of course, the notion of growing in wisdom and grace. But also, these Sleep Pretty earplugs by Hearos! 32 NRR (noise reduction rating).

Let me tell you friends, a mouse could sneeze in the other room, and I will wake up. And this woman needs her sleep. A baby bird could peep outside the window, and stir me from fruitful writing. Construction noise? Well, that would simply be end game. Let’s just say, I’ve tried many earplugs. I sleep every night in earplugs. I’ve ordered special earplugs. And I wonder how they still haven’t invented the ultimate, and most comfortable earplugs yet. Most, aren’t all that effective.

C’mon, you inventors, you!

But the Sleep Pretty plugs…excellent. Best I’ve found.

Are you like me? Buy them. Hearos, I’ll be your spokeswoman…

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I’ve also recently discovered a favorite candy bar. Chocolove‘s peppermint in dark chocolate.

I’ve said it before…my mama must have been eating mint chocolate chip ice cream when I was in her belly, because I’m bonkers for mint and chocolate. This bar is good. Perfect, actually. This brand, very good. The salted almond butter in dark chocolate…heaven.

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What’s even sweeter? Their packaging has words of love inside.

Oh Romeo! I swoon…

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But a gal can’t live on chocolate alone. She must have her fruits and veggies…and her electrolytes!

Evolution Fresh organic cold-pressed juices have for years now, been one of the loves of my life. A green juice sets me right. When I need greens right now, a bottle of Green Devotion is a gift from Eden. Good stuff. The best stuff.

I’ll be their spokeswoman, too!

Love my veggies.

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And of course, nature will always be my favorite. Look how pretty…

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And precious…baby bunny…

Other current favorites?

Have you seen The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance on Netflix?

Amazing!

Love, love, love it! If you need some magic in your life, it is so special. And, so exciting! It actually took my breath away, I was so concerned for the gelflings!

Side note; my mom called me a gelfling when I was little. She said I looked like one.

And that’s why I write fairy tales. Because I’m secretly part gelfling.

My mom said so. And moms always tell the truth. Like, about Santa, and the Tooth Fairy and stuff…

I also recently watched the Lenox Hill series about Lenox Hill hospital in New York City. This show humbled my heart so deeply, there are no words. Thank you, to our medical workers. Thank you.

I was also, so very touched by the documentary series, Love on the Spectrum, about individuals on the autism spectrum out in their search for love. This program was beautiful!

And of course, there is always the beauty of music. I ever enjoy classical, or electronic music that is emotive and atmospheric. Makes me imagine. Makes me feel. Like I’m running through a vast field of grass, or sailing a troubled sea, or floating into deep space, or peering out from a castle way up high, into a dark forest…

There are a handful of artists that I watch for, for moving new gems. Active Child, is one of them. Song Johnny Belinda makes me envision riding into medieval battle! Love it.

But today, I wanted to share Active Child’s Color Me.

Why? The lyrics.

Essentially, ‘color me’ any way you will, but I’ll always bleed red. For me, the song just captures the notion of being human. Beyond everything, we all just need love and compassion, and to be known for who we are.

Love that.

Stay Inspired.

 

The Very Hairs Of Your Head…

Greetings Good Friends!

Walking along the lakefront yesterday, there was plenty of nature to delight!

With the exception of a tick

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It was a very unfortunate event. Fortunately, not for me. While observing a bunny, munching in the grass, a swelled tick was very visibly attached to its muzzle. However, I think I was more concerned than the bunny. Ticks are just an everyday companion for them…

 The horror.

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I did not capture a photo of said pest clinging to said bunny. Neither you, nor I, should relive the sight. By now, that vile pest has fallen away, though it is likely the bunny has acquired five more…

I am thankful today that I am not a rabbit.

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Otherwise eventful, was the witnessing of pine cone mania going on beneath a cluster of pine trees. Clearly, the seeds within the cones were a great matter for attention. Lots of birds, hopping and poking about, and gossiping a great deal as they did.

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I was not quite sure what this bird above was. At first glance I guessed a Grackle, but after paying better attention to its tan and yellow coloring, my notion was silly. I now believe it’s a female Red-Winged Blackbird. There were Red-Wing Blackbirds alongside them, and my bird book seems to confirm this…

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The pop of color on a Red-Winged Blackbird naturally makes them fascinating amidst our generally muted wildlife.

I wonder if I’ll ever see another Yellow-Headed Blackbird? A gal can dream…

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It’s truly soothing to spend some time observing nature.

Except where ticks are involved.

Those pine seeds must have been very tasty…

Are pine seeds the same as pine nuts? I need to look that up. Perhaps I should have been out there foraging with the birds for a little salad topping crunch?

Am I confident enough to look a little pine-nutty, gleaning with the birds?

Yes, yes I am.

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There was also a mystery on this outing. Built beneath an overhang of a building, just beside the waters, are mud-packed nests. After some reading, I believe these are Cliff Swallow nests (round). Though we have Barn Swallows local, their builds, also muddy, are more the shape of any regular nest.

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The mystery however, is what appears to be a Sparrow nestling poking its head out and chatting a good deal. I have a suspicion that a Sparrow stole a Swallow’s nest…

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Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12 : 6-7 : KJV

Stay Inspired!

In A Gentle Breeze…

Good Day, Good Friends…my every well wish to you today!

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Just now, I am enjoying a gentle breeze. After many days of very warm weather, it is welcome. My unit has been called ‘the tree house’, owing to the level I’m affixed amidst the trees. At certain hours, the sunlight beautifully goldens the walls. And on a temperate day, the wind carries through every room, the birds sweetly larking just outside. This is just one of those particular moments, that I especially appreciate my nest. We must all have a place to call our own…

I took photos before walking down to an appointment with a new stylist yesterday. I’ll post the cut soon. My hair is short again, but not very. Technically to my collar bones. However, my locks have a mind for waves and curls when the weight is cut out, so it appears even shorter.

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Let us just say, I am…as happy as a ridiculously happy clam. Though long hair can be pretty, and an accomplishment considering the time it takes to grow to that length…I was at my wit’s end with the tangles and heaviness. Most appreciating the stylist’s scissors! Somehow, I’d managed the patience not to cut half of it off myself in advance…

This was becoming a genuine consideration.

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As I posted last time, I had been ill. Unfortunately after writing, things worsened, ending in a visit to immediate care and antibiotics. I feel I’m still recovering. It is, and I’ve been here before, a reminder of how fragile we are. Obviously, the pandemic has us all remembering this. Yet often, it isn’t until our own health is tested, that our natural vulnerabilities manifest.

How thankful I am for modern medicine, and for my doctors, and for the insurance I am even lucky enough to have. Insurance, and enough money to pay for a doctor and medicine, is certainly never assured. Especially these days.

I revisited the reality that, even a relatively common infection, seemingly innocuous, something your immune system will overcome, can turn down a dark road. My mind wandered more than once to…had I lived in another earlier century without antibiotics.

I don’t like to think about that.

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In everything these days, I am reflective. And in everything now, I see God. He who made me. Me, so temporal and fragile. Me, so human.

I wish more now, for others to be happy and laughing. And I feel more now, compassion when others are hurting. I was not always this way. Or as much, this way.

Sometimes you have to first be humbled…by life. By your mistakes, your weaknesses, your hardships, and even your deepest joys…

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I feel God every time I am in nature…

In every little buzzing life and precious petal.

And all I have been thinking, and feeling, and believing, is that God is all there is. Is all there ever was. All there will ever be. And I am content.

I believe that I, we, are in His hands. And that when we suffer, or are very happy, it is all so that we can feel the life we were given, and live more in awe and reverence of it, and with more grace toward ourselves and others.

I feel this, even in a gentle breeze…

Stay Inspired.

 

Cranberry Love…

Good Day, Dear Friends!

I am wishing you my very best today!

Unfortunately, I am writing to you this afternoon, not feeling so good. Yet, my spirits are spritely, however woozy I’m presently feeling. Let’s just say, thank the Lord for cranberry juice. Perhaps you can guess? I’ve a UTI. Nope, not at all embarrassed to share. It’s just human stuff, and I’m getting too old to be embarrassed about human stuff.

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In fact, on account of this unfortunate event, I want to offer you a pinch of wisdom. Drink your water…drink, drink, drink. It is summer in my neck of the woods, and I overdid it in the heat without hydrating appropriately. Though that isn’t the source of a UTI, I feel absolutely certain that had I properly hydrated, this unpleasantness could have been assuaged…

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Yesterday morning, I slowly trailed my way to my local Whole Foods. I knew it was the only store within walking distance that would have unsweetened cranberry juice. It was so very warm, and I wasn’t so well. Unfortunately, because of Covid, it was required to stand in a line outside the store, waiting on the monitored head-count, to get in. There in the sun, patient in line, I began to feel faint. Oh Lord, please don’t let me pass out on the sidewalk in front of all these people.

 I apologized to an older gentleman in front of me. I didn’t mean to crowd him, but I needed to stand in the slip of shade. He kindly took off his hat and displayed his bald head, and said he understood. He was prone to sunburns atop his head. He made me smile.

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Between last summer, and already in this one, I’ve been more affected by heat and hydration issues, than I ever have in my entire life. Unseasonably hot and humid? Or am I just not a kid anymore? Last summer, I took some severe heat sickness that I pray I never experience again. Let’s just say, hydrating fruits and veggies, electrolyte water, and now apparently cranberry juice, are my best friends. And if you think you can’t get dehydrated in the middle of winter, oh yes you can. So, go guzzle an extra glass. It’s good for you…

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It is so strange a time. Though we adapt, because we must, it never seems quite comfortable. As I looked at my masked self in my smoky antique mirror before my walk this morning, I wondered who that stranger was…

Yesterday, two ladies were ambling on the sidewalk in front of me, and one looked and sounded strikingly like a friend of mine. But because of her mask, I could not determine if it was her. Truly believing it was, I called out her name. Even looking directly into the woman’s face, as she paused to address me, I still thought it was her. I apologized, and said, I cannot see your face. She pulled down her mask, and alas, it was a stranger. The ladies were very sweet and we had a nice little exchange. But funny how, I could not know if it was my friend…

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The lilies have been so beautiful this year.

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 This one takes my breath away. It is her moment…

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I passed our rare books store here in Evanston, Amaranth Books, and noted a title I was intrigued to read. Alas, they were not open. Our big bookstore has just permanently closed in the neighborhood. But, we still have our charming Bookends & Beginnings, and Amaranth. They are just a few blocks apart. If you are ever in Evanston, stop and take a peek inside. Though sadly, no guarantee of the hours of small businesses nowadays…

Books. Beautiful books.

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Walking home, I spotted a half-shell from a bird’s egg. It was speckled, and delicate. Did the most precious, fluffy-headed tiny, hatch from that shell? Was he peeking out at me, from above, in his nest?

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Life is good. Even when it is as tart as a cranberry. Just look around, and you will see it. I know I do…

Stay Inspired.

Cool As A Cucumber…

I’m getting older…

Women shy about their age. But I don’t care a stitch. I’m turning 40 in September…

Maybe because, I look to both my grandmothers. And they’ve always been so beautiful.

I know, from a lifetime of knowing them, just how beautiful they are. My Grandma Ina’s red hair, infectious laughter, bright intelligence, and endless curiosity. My Grandma Novak’s silver head, confident grace, cleverness, and dedicated nature.

Let’s just say, if I’m following in the light of their way, it’s a lovely path…

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I like my age. I think being young was hard. A thousand lessons learned that I’m very glad to have behind me. And, though I can’t claim to be wise, I am wiser. And that’s a good place to be.

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I thought about this earlier today. I left half day early from work to go to the dentist. I go to Smileworks in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, worth the drive into the maze of congested city neighborhoods (seems traffic is right back up to where it used to be) because they are amazing.

{Michelle’s Self-Wisdom Insert #1: When you find a doctor, dentist, stylist, hypoallergenic-not-going-to-make-me-get-hives-and-an-asthma-attack-body-product, etc….stick with it.}

But as I was driving home, taking it easy on this hot and beehive streets sort of day, a vehicle started honking aggressively behind me. I hadn’t stalled to take my left turn, but a woman appeared instantly enraged at my not hitting the petal and burning some rubber…

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After my left turn was complete, with two lanes now available in my direction, I actually did slow down to let this other vehicle pass. I don’t need that stress. Let’s let the woman-on-fire pass me by.

But what did she do? Pulled into the lane next to me, slowed down to drive beside me, unrolled her window, screamed expletives that were downright nasty, eventually to speed off. I glanced at my speedometer, finding that even paused down, I was going the speed limit.

{Michelle’s Self-Wisdom Insert #2 (also straight from the mouths of my folks): Don’t let anyone on the road make you react. You just take your time. It’s not worth your safety.

Amazingly, and I credit my age and experience on this one, I remained as cool as a cucumber…

[Cucumbers on my salad and on my sandwich! So summer! So refreshing!]

Truthfully, that woman was doing herself harm by getting so upset. That couldn’t have been good for her blood pressure. Or her soul. My word.

{Michelle’s Self-Wisdom Insert # 3: Find empathy. Even when it’s difficult. And forgive quickly.}

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I decided to forgive the woman instantly in my mind.

If you’d seen it, I know it was road-rageous. Truly. Pulling up beside someone to honk, scream, and profane (it was yikes), borders on threatening behavior. It’s not right. However…do I remember ever getting over-the-top-upset on the road? Sure. I blush at all of the impatience I’ve had in my life. Life is stressful. It can make you bubble.

But nowadays I think…that car in front of you? Maybe that person just lost their loved one. Maybe they feel nervous on the road. Maybe they are a new driver. Maybe they are driving home from the dentist. Maybe they are overworked. Maybe they’re getting on in years.

Maybe, it doesn’t matter. Maybe…we should just be kinder to one another, through our impatience.

Maybe…it’s just me.

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{Michelle’s Self-Wisdom Insert #4: Eat lots of cookies after visiting the dentist. Didn’t have a cavity this go around? Time to live a little more on the wild side!}

I must confess however, I have been harboring a secret impatience lately. You may have guessed from these photos, but how tempted I’ve been to cut off all my own hair!!!

My head is a wild mess (you can’t see the terrible tangles…but they are there). I swear, faeries dance on my head when I sleep every night. And oooohhh, that makes me mighty aggitated! And no. It’s not because I do, and always will, refuse to brush my hair. It’s faeries. Sometimes they leave glitter, and twigs, and feathers and stuff.

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Do you believe me?

This brush my Mama bought me ages ago (I gather she was hinting at something), is still in the packaging. We should have a blog giveaway! I mean, I’m not going to use that contraption.