You Make Your Own Magic!

How do you make your own magic?

I like to take walks and dream about my little bookish plans, or browse book cover art and imagine stories I’d like to write. And of course, I pen tales that take me far away and then share them with you!

Take time to dream ~ you make your own magic!

Such A Sweet Treat!

What a lovely read! Only a quarter the way through, but such a sweet treat!
{check out the author at: https://jenturano.com/}

One of the interesting things about being an author, is discovering different writing styles and genres than your own through reading. Once, I only read books. Now, I both read, and consider the writing with the eye of an author. Reading is even more inspiring to me now, if that could even be possible!

Stay Inspired!

Indie Author Podcast Interview!!!

A special share! The ArtSpace Podcast covered the Kenosha Book Festival several weeks ago, speaking to the guest independent authors! I’m the first author interviewed after the introduction – and this episode is just an indie author gem! Thank you to the podcast’s creators – Jake and Shelby! Have a listen all of you, my bookish friends!

The ArtSpace Podcast: Episode 21 – https://open.spotify.com/show/0HYIVXq1q7Dcksx7GSbbV7

Everything I need!

Walked to the Evanston Farmers’ Market this morning! Economize while eating well? This will do the trick for this vegetarian! Everything I need!

Love yourself ~ stay inspired!

Very Special Plan Brewing

I love my simple home. My simple pursuits. Simple as they are, this summer felt yet again – busy!!

As fall makes its way in, I’m looking forward to slowing down. To reading and writing more, being on-the-go less. I still have several events yet for October, so I hope to see some of you yet. Then it will be back to my writing season, and planning ahead for next year! I have a very special plan brewing – but nothing confirmed yet!

For a list of events and my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

My Kind Of Birthday

It’s MY BIRTHDAY! Just me, a couple of sprinkle donuts, taking an easy day up in the treehouse (the name a neighbor called my unit when I moved in…it’s up in the trees like a treehouse). Maybe write some words, make some pasta, take a walk, do at least one or five silly things and then laugh at my ridiculous self, watch a scary movie and then jump at my shadow, eat too much sugar. My kind of birthday! LOVE YA!

Forget Magic Wands

Forget magic wands. This is my magic pencil.

Stay Inspired!

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/mnovak

Where’s The Snacks?!

Who is ready for the Kenosha Book Festival tomorrow?!? (www.kenoshabookfestival.com)

I mean…not me! I just finished my oatmeal! I’m only on coffee 2 of 4! I haven’t even packed the bookmobile! Where’s the books?! I hope I have some books! Do I have gas in that car? You’d think I wanted to get stuck on the side of the road – I always ignore that silly tank! Wait – gas is less expensive in Wisconsin than Illinois, right? I’ll wait till I cross the state line. A near-empty tank will get me from Evanston to there, right? (just kidding!) Where’s the snacks?! Just as important as the books! I need my snacks!

Thank you for being there on my author journey, Friends! It means everything to me. I hope to see some of you tomorrow – I’ll be selling and signing my tales, including my newest Still, from 10 – 2 p.m. (Sunday August 28th). STAY INSPIRED!

Something Bookish and Wonderful

Nothing makes me more optimistic than a piercing blue sky with bright green trees! What a view!

Just this moment, I have something special on my heart I’m hoping and waiting about. Something bookish and wonderful. But as it’s just not sure, I can only be hopeful and patient right now. I must believe that the best will happen, right?

What inspires you to be optimistic?

With Sparkle and a Smile!

Upcoming bookish fun!!! Selling and signing my tales with sparkle and a smile! I hope to see you there!

A September event may yet sneak in, and there’s a December event that is quite likely, but I’ll update when I’m certain.

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

The Magic Was Real

The magic was real this weekend at the 18th World of Faeries Festival in South Elgin, IL! So was the heat and humidity – oh my word! But let me tell you, if you are local, and especially if you have little ones, visit this event in the future. It is so special!

Thank you to the incredible readers, old and new. You bring sparkle, inspiration, and blessings to my life – I was amazed by the incredible reception I had at this event! And thank you to my friends who came out to support me and my bookish business! It meant so much!!

ALL my best to all! Stay Inspired!

Break Out Your Glitter Wings!

This book fairy is preparing for a magical weekend! Who will be joining me at the 18th World of Faeries Festival?!

I will be selling and signing my tales, filled with fairies, unicorns, dragons, elves, and every enchanted creature imagined! So break out your glitter wings and come out to dance a day in the sunshine with your fellow fairies!

Sat. Aug 6th – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sun. Aug 7th – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Food – Music – Magical Merchants

Vasa Park – South Elgin, IL

https://theworldoffaeries.com/home

For a list of my tales, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

Reading Is So Wonderful!

My Dragons At Dawn and Once Upon A Star on a shelf at Studio Moonfall in Kenosha, WI.

Nothing makes me smile more than to imagine the adventure someone is going to have when they pick up one of my tales! Reading is so wonderful!

Stay Inspired!

For a list of my works, please visit here!

Keep your eyes open!

On one of my walks I found a fairy!!! See! You just have to keep your eyes open, and you’ll find magic!

For a list of my magical tales (fairy books too!), please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

I spy, with my little eye…

I spy, with my little eye, something written by ME…

Who can name the title? And man my book is in such good company on the shelves of Studio Moonfall in Kenosha, WI.

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

This Author Journey…

This author journey is an incredible one, and keeps getting better with every day! Thank you to Studio Moonfall for today’s wonderful event! And thank you to the readers – every single one of you. It is a privilege to be able to share my stories, with you.

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

Studio Moonfall Tomorrow!

Who is going to be selling and signing her tales at Studio Moonfall in Kenosha, WI tomorrow?! She’s someone who is writing ALL the fairy tales! Someone who loves dreaming, and imagination, and sparkle! Someone who thinks reading is magic! Someone who loves to see your smiles and talk books!!!

Studio Moonfall ~ Kenosha, WI. ~ Sunday June 19th, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

Author Updates ~ Summer 2022!

~ Authoress Michelle Novak ~

Author Updates ~ Summer 2022!

To learn more about my works please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/
Stay Inspired!

A Wonderful Bookish Day

Had a wonderful bookish day at the Oak Brook Artisan Market last Sunday! I’ve said it so many times, but I have to say it again – book days are the best days.

To all the readers on this author journey of mine – I sincerely appreciate you.

Stay Inspired!

Oak Brook Artisan Market Tomorrow!

Dear Friends ~ I hope you all are staying inspired?! Grant me a smile with your comments! You know I’m always glad to hear from you!

I’ll be selling and signing my tales at the Oak Brook Artisan Market tomorrow from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and it’s going to be bookish and lovely! And crafty and arty! And I hope to see you there!

My Bookish Briefcase

Maybe I should renovate an old ice cream truck and instead of cold treats, sell fairy tales. I know some of your are saying – If anyone would do this, Michelle would. And they would be right.

I mean, I already have my old rusting bookmobile. (Can I sell books out of my trunk? Need you ask?)

I have my book tent. (A first trial setting up of which yesterday, nearly gave me a concussion and completely defeated me physically. I’m still recovering. But I think I figured it out. Hopefully. Maybe.)

And there’s my bookish briefcase here! Traveling tales saleswoman. Wonder what the reception would be if I tried to sell books door-to-door?
.
Keep Smiling! Stay Inspired!

Those Words Will Still Be True

Occasionally I get stuck for an eternity working on one-single-sentence. One I just can’t get right. Just a dizzying puzzle of moving letters. I put in a struggle but get nowhere.

The next day I revisit it, and it takes moments to rewrite. Way better than what I could have spun the day before.

As a writer, struggle only sharpens my pencil, making the sentence come easier the next go around. But apply that to just about anything in life, and I’m certain those words will still be true.

Stay Inspired!

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, and all the spring flowers to you!

Now – you may have to squint your eyes just a little, but there’s a handful of fairies buzzing around in there. Do you see them? I was worried one might pinch my ankle, so I took this photo quick!

Beloved Tomes

Have you ever bound an often-read book?

As a youth, I remember we covered our text books with paper grocery bags and then scribbled all over them. You could then tear off the paper when it was time for return.

This is my Bible. Bound in my favorite green color, a velvety fabric. It’s gone through several covers and decades of page turning. It’s nice to hold it with this fabric and makes it feel personal to me. Consider it an idea for your most beloved tomes!

Keep Making A Splash!

Here’s to all you strong and amazing mermaidens out there!! Keep making a splash!!

The Mermaiden by Michelle Novak

{For a list of all my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/}
{Please join me on Goodreads}
{Please join me on Instagram}

~ Thank you for supporting Independent Authors! Stay Inspired! ~

Not Just With Words

I’m not just a writer. I can also bite hearts right into my apples. I know, I know. A pretty special talent. I agree. I can share feelings not just with words, but with chomps!

Jelly Beans…

Jelly beans…
Writing fuel for fairy tale authors.

For a list of my works, including the sweet and magical Once Upon a Star, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

Bookish Chats in 2022!

I hope to see you for some bookish chats in 2022! Please visit InspiredByVenice.org for a list of my works, and the events I’ll be joining!

Stay Inspired! ~ Authoress Michelle Novak

A Season Of Bookish Fun To Begin!

I sure am ready for spring weather and a season of bookish fun to begin!

Confirmed ~ Evanston Made Maker’s Market – Sunday May 1st – 12 to 5 p.m.
Confirmed ~ Oak Brook Artisan Market – Sunday May 15th – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

18th World of Faeries Festival !!!

Mark your calendars! The 18th World of Faeries Festival ~ Aug. 6th & 7th, 2022 ~

To learn more about the festival, please visit: https://theworldoffaeries.com/home
To learn more about my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

A Magical Kingdom by Michelle Novak

It’s summer vacation and Lizzy is eager to take a trip to visit her grandparents at their beautiful home in the countryside where all kinds of fun can be had!

One morning, Lizzy’s grandma offers her an exciting book to read. Hopping on her bike with the book and a picnic lunch, she settles down by a beautiful pond to begin reading the adventure.

After reading the first lines of the book, things are not as they should be. The pond is now a vast lake, and in the middle of it sits a magnificent castle! There’s also an oddly dressed woman who’s come looking for her. She looks like she’s just stepped out of the Renaissance! Her name is Milda, and she beckons ‘Princess Lizbeth’ to hurry, for she is expected at the castle.

Join Lizzy as she travels back in time to a magical kingdom and becomes a princess for a day!

~ This, and all my adventures are available on Amazon! ~
~ For a list of my other works, please visit here. ~
To join me on Instagram, click here.
To join me on Goodreads, click here.

Just Being Proud

I’ve learned that the way to reach your goals is not by huge bounding leaps. That would make anybody tire out fast and feel like giving up. It’s with little steps, consistently, one foot and then the next. Never being down that the progress was so small that day, but just being proud that you did indeed, move ahead…

Stay Inspired!

I’m going to try anyway.

You know those things in life that are simultaneously exciting, and terrifying? This would explain my shaking hands as I wrapped up Veleno for shipping. I’ve entered some Independent Author Book Awards. Competitions really, though I don’t want to think of it that way.

A book award would be like winning the golden ticket in a chocolate bar. But I’m going to try anyway. Something to keep me on my toes. Keep me trying harder with each new book I write. Keep me inspired.

They Jump Away From Me

As some of you know, I love jumping spiders. Like, love them. All of the ones in my house are my pets. They don’t agree. They jump away from me. But still. I know deep down they love me too and are thankful I let them live in my window frames and don’t squish them.

So when I saw this fossil of a jumping spider at the Field Museum…millions of years old…well, I just wish I could have seen him in action! Watched him hop! Watched him hunt! Too cool, man.

Stay Inspired!

A Special Moment, Just For Me

The Yellow-headed Blackbird is rare in Illinois. I’ve been watchful of nature since I was a kid, and never saw one. Which was why when I spotted one one dismal rainy morning fluffing its feathers and looking like a magnificent firecracker, I was literally stunned. It – was – BEAUTIFUL.

I had no idea what bird this was! We had a chat, the yellow head and I. Sort of a one-sided conversation. I told it how beautiful it was. It fluffed the rain off its feathers, puffing up, walking cautiously around through the grass. I think it might have been hunting for worms in the rain.

I took this photo at the Field Museum recently. It made me happy to see it again! I hope one day to see another in the wild. But I’ll never forget the one time that I did. It felt like a special moment, just for me.

Stay Inspired!

Ever Humbled and Thankful

Book day today!! Book days are the best days!

Can’t every day be a book day?!

Thank you to all the gracious folks I met in Skokie at the Holiday Fair Extravaganza today! And for your support, each of you new readers. I ever hope that each tale that walks away, brings with it as much adventure, inspiration, and happiness, as always seems to come to me. I, am ever humbled and thankful.

All my best – Stay Inspired!

Fairy Tales Make The Best Stocking Stuffers…

Next up for me? Some sparkly festive cheer talking books at Skokie’s Holiday Fair Extravaganza! Fairy tales make the best stocking stuffers, you know! I’ll be there signing mine from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.!

Stay Inspired!

A Magical Mention!

Thank you to Studio Moonfall for hosting this author yesterday. My new Moonfall mug filled with hot cocoa (and refill!) was a treat, and proprietor Donovan Scherer a true mentor to the independent author.

A magical mention!! A selection of my books are now available at Studio Moonfall. Presently – Beauty Sleeping, Veleno, Dragons at Dawn, and Once Upon a Star! If you haven’t yet visited this gem of a bookstore in Kenosha, WI – you really must!

New books, new events, more magic coming soon! But in the meantime, Stay Inspired!

Guest Author at Studio Moonfall Tomorrow!

Guest author at Studio Moonfall in Kenosha tomorrow between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.! I’ll be taking in the fresh air just out front, talking books. And probably eating Halloween candy. Wait – who is bringing the Halloween candy?! There HAS to be Halloween candy! I better find some Halloween candy!?!

Best to you all – and a very Happy Halloween!

Studio Moonfall this Sunday!

Kenosha! I’m heading back your way this Sunday – October 31st, visiting Studio Moonfall between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. as guest author! If you haven’t seen this spectacular shop, filled with magical books and art, I can’t encourage you enough.

What do I really appreciate about Studio Moonfall and proprietor Donovan Scherer? All the support for independent authors – like me! In fact, check out today’s post at @donovanscherer. See anything familiar?!

All my best, friends – and Stay Inspired!

Things are going to get a little sillier…

As if things weren’t getting silly enough, they’re about to get just a little sillier. Come join me on the new YouTube channel – Authoress Michelle Novak.

Because there’s nothing like a little storytelling, is there?

Halloween Event!

As my bookish schedule changes, I’ll keep you in the loop. Next up – Studio Moonfall for Halloween!! Can’t wait to see you again – Kenosha! Various vendors for a special day of festive fun! If you haven’t visited this bookshop yet – it’s truly a place of creative delight!

More special announcements just around the bend – and they glitter and sparkle!

Stay Inspired!

Mini Shop in the Parking Lot

Set up a mini bookshop in a parking garage next to my faithful bookmobile today – and I loved it!

Wish everyday could be a book day. I really do.

@evanston_made – thank you for bringing together so many amazing artists. You – are an incredible organization.

And to the new readers I met today – I hope every page turned is a wonderful adventure. And how much I appreciate your stories, your generosity, and your smiles!

Evanston Made This Saturday!

This coming Saturday October 2nd, 12-5pm! Excited to gab about books and creating with my fellow Evanstonians! And hey – the farmer’s market will also be going just outside until 1pm. What a wonderful community gathering! I hope to see you there!

Thank you @evanston_made for this lovely graphic, and for welcoming this author to the fun!!

Be sure to check out Evanston Made! What an organization!

What A Wonderful Adventure…

What a wonderful adventure I had at Studio Moonfall today in Kenosha, WI. Thank you @donovanscherer for graciously hosting me and welcoming my tales to your wondrous bookshop! And a special thank you to the new readers I met today. My goodness – I won’t ever forget this sunny, welcoming, bookish day!

Friends! Special updates coming soon!!! What a magical season this has been! This author’s cup runneth over! How much I appreciate you all…

Stay Inspired!

Thank you, thank you!!


Friends ~ Thank you for THE most amazing Bristol season my little bookstore, The Quill and Brush, could have ever hoped for. Your generosity, kindness, ideas, smiles, laughter, and inspiration, were incredible this 2021. My 5th season was truly, a dream.

I wish that every tale that walked away with you, will entertain, lift, delight, hearten, and inspire. Such a hope, is what fills my heart and moves my pen! More stories are very soon on the way!

My next event – Evanston’s Maker’s Market – October 2nd.

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

Just Two Festival Weekends Left!

Just two festival weekends left at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Don’t let the heat keep you away from these last magical days. I hope to see you at The Quill and Brush!

Stay Inspired!

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

Offering just a little bit…

Do you know what fills my heart? Boxes of books. My books. The loves of my life. The works of my soul. The hundreds of hours spent to give them breath.


They may not look like much in the cardboard, stacked in their paper and plastic. But when I place each individually into someone’s hands, and they walk away, I somehow feel I’m doing what it was I’m here to do. Offering just a little bit of magic, love, happiness, adventure…This is what I have to give.


Stay Inspired

Summer Beauties


My orchids are still in bloom. What summer beauties!


A new plant shop (https://www.plantshopevanston.com) has opened up close to me, but due to my very busy season, I haven’t been able to make it yet. I can’t wait to visit and see what delights I bring home!

Stay Inspired!

New Events, New Books!

I’m scheduling new events! TBC (to be confirmed). TBA (to be announced). I anticipate the release of Still by the November 20th event, so anyone coming out in their cozy sweaters may just snag a first copy. I’ll keep you posted!

As for 2022? I’m planning to make it an amazing year of new releases and events, and I’m taking you along for the ride!

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

Festival Cheer…

What an amazing season so far at The Quill and Brush at the Bristol Renaissance Faire! The energy this year has been incredible. Thank you for the support of every guest, all of your endless creative inspiration, and festival cheer!

Two weekends left. I hope to see you there!

The Quill and Brush’s beautiful sign was made by Cody Zibung.

I’ll be announcing some new event dates soon. Stay Inspired!

Three More Festival Weekends…

Another magical weekend at The Quill and Brush at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Thank you to every visitor for such an amazing and supportive season!

I sincerely hope each and every one of you is enjoying your reading adventure!

3 more festival weekends yet ahead!

Keep bringing your smiles and all of your creative conversation! How you inspire me!

All of my best ~ Michelle

Thank you…

I just wanted to say thank you to each and every supporter of The Quill and Brush at Bristol, and to every reader. The positive reviews, the smiles, the wonderful conversations, the many new friends made. This has been an incredible season so far, and you can’t even imagine how thankful I am, for you.


My autumn writing bug is already biting. But it must wait! 5 more beautiful festival weekends still to come.

Stay Inspired, and all of my best.

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.




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.

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!

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 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.

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!

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.

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