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Little library not just for kids…

Photo L Meyer

Art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness

Anni Albers

Fall often brings the urge to purge and declutter. This year with the dearth of opportunities to volunteer or give back, I have tried to be thoughtful about where I send donations of things that are gently used but still have purpose and life in them. This process uncovered never used art supplies, still in packaging so I wanted to find the right place where I might donate these creativity tools.

Tiny little libraries have been popping up in our neighbourhood for many years but this one was a breath of fresh air. A tiny library just for children. Wondering what would happen if I placed a box of never used pastel crayons on the shelf alongside books placed in this unique tiny library, I decided to give it a try while out on an early morning walk.

Curious to see if it would still be there, I walked by the tiny library later that evening. It was gone. So the next day I walked back to the little library to place a box of sidewalk chalks that had been languishing in plastic tub labelled “outdoors” although I still am not certain when I acquired them or where they came from. (The side effect of this process has been the inadvertent realization that it is far too easy to accumulate stuff that doesn’t get used or necessary for optimal functioning in day to day life.)

Once again I passed by while out for an evening stroll and sure enough the box of chalks had disappeared and I was delighted a short distance away to come upon a proliferation of colourful designs blanketing the cement sidewalk. Perhaps it was wishful thinking that the sidewalk art creations were a result of my “donation” but the handful of art supplies that I had to give away quickly vanished.

There are now very few ways to connect with the children in our neighbourhood during this horrible fourth wave so perhaps the idea of brightening a child’s day is what makes this tiny endeavour appealing. I’m not sure why this resonated so much, but this exercise gave me a flash of positivity that has lasted for awhile. And, I’m sure my overactive imagination was also in play!

Walking by this tiny library this morning, I noticed someone else had placed a small box of watercolour paints on a shelf of the little library. And I hope that by this evening when I walk by again, this gift for creativity will be gone.

Stay healthy and safe!

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Reflections on pandemic birthdays and other celebrations

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Our birthdays are feathers in the broad wing of time

Jean Paul Richter

A notification popped up on my phone this morning to remind me to send a birthday message to a friend. And it also reminds me that I have missed the opportunity to celebrate so many birthdays for family and friends face to face during these past many months. How do we acknowledge these special moments and stay connected to those we care about as we enter yet again another wave of Covid?

During these times of disruption, it is worth thinking about reaching out and connecting with everyone important in our lives not just on special occasions like birthdays and other milestones but as often as we are able to while we collectively continue to try to manage to live with this virus. How easy it is to drift along and isolate ourselves without realizing that we are actually doing so.

There is so much that we have missed out on that has been beyond our control. It’s also been challenging to avoid the political pandering and the angry vitriol that has been spreading as fast the as the delta variant in our community. But we do have the ability to maintain and keep our important emotional connections active and well.

If there is someone in your life who has a birthday or other milestone event coming up, take the time to find some unique and different way to celebrate.

Now is the time to seek out silver linings for ourselves and those around us. In spite of the fourth wave and all the rest of the chaos.

Wishes for all the birthdays coming your way!

Stay healthy and safe!

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Reality writing prompt

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There’s an instinct in our species to tell stories. It’s a way of explaining the universe and explaining our world.

Joyce Carol Oates

If there was ever a time to retreat from the present pandemonium into the world of story, it is now. We are surrounded by chaos, conflict, villainous characters, changing plot points, and it appears that we may all be on some type of a hero’s journey. Where we will end up, who knows?

Our current setting conditions don’t exactly seem to lend themselves to a clear outline with a satisfying ending. Nope. We are beyond the debate as to whether or not you should fly by the seat of your writing pants or plot out a carefully determined sequence of chapters with a contrived ending.

Just when we think it all makes sense and we will arrive safely on the other side of the abyss, the villains rear their ugly heads and thwart our hard earned efforts. Heading out into the world feels like we should take a healthy dose of risk and hope alongside our masks in order to avoid the villains and the evil virus. Seems like just when we believe our story is done, we must backtrack to rewrite and edit and rewrite and edit…

Will the protagonists prevail in the end? Or will the villains run off with the spoils from the battle. All of the elements of fiction seem to be present and available for a myriad of story telling opportunities. Omnipresent in fact. Speculative fiction, thriller, satirical comedy, multi act play or epic poem, any genre will likely work. Regardless, it seems as if it may be some time before the ending reveals itself to us.

Everywhere we look, it seems as though we are inundated daily with strange and bizarre happenstance. So we can’t help but find inspiration which prompts us to create unusual and bizarre fiction.

But really, what more could a writer ask for?

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September renewal

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A new school year means new beginnings, new adventures

Denise Witmer

I’m never sure why but the beginning of September with children returning back to school always feels like someone has hit the refresh button. In many ways, this is the time of year that I set goals and chart my path for the upcoming months. Certainly this year, things are not exactly the same as before the pandemic but in spite of everything I find that I have a swing in my step and feel invigorated.

Perhaps it’s the weather changes, warm during the day but cooler at night, the subtle changes in the colours of plants in the garden and the odd pop of golden foliage in the trees. The calendar shows that autumn is still weeks away but there is promise in the air. Of what I am not certain but it brings with it a welcome change in energy.

Rummage sales that have been cancelled for the past 18 months provide opportunity to delve back into an abandoned decluttering project. Sorting and packing up books for the annual Paperback books for Prisoners drive. Looking for a piece of art to donate to a local fundraiser suddenly suggests needed changes to the art hanging on my walls. Searching closets for warmer jackets and footwear, just in case Mother nature changes her mind in a hurry.

Time floats by as cleaning, clearing and editing parts of my home takes hold.

Thinking thoughts of gratitude and excitement for our upcoming writer’s group. Have missed my kindred creative spirit friends being able to meet face to face. Socially distanced but can’t wait. Dusting off the calendar to write down dates for writing and photography courses, so far all offered online but crossing fingers that we won’t have to spend our winter months hunkered down using Zoom again. Yoga class in person? Maybe, maybe not.

Regardless, fall brings a different bounty of vegetables and fruits to the table. Soup making, canning to preserve that wonderful summer taste feel like wondrous activities rather than chores to be endured.

And writing. Writing every morning for the past two weeks. Both on the computer and by hand with the shiny new pen found at the least crowded back to school store I could find. Projects placed on hold over the summer months seem to spring to life bringing along with them a sense of hope. And a welcomed feeling of renewal and optimism that perhaps this back to school season will bring better things.

Who knows? Fingers crossed!

Stay healthy and safe!!

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Finding Rays of Light

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No matter how challenging things may be, there’s always at least one thing that’s going well.

Kathleen Adams

It’s challenging to remain positive in the face of the never ending emotional roller coaster we are riding these days. I have retreated to my journalling practice and have been reflecting on the negative tone that has emerged in some of my entries.

Reading what I have been writing over the past several weeks, I can see that it is all too easy to focus on what has been worrisome or not going well rather than on what is good or important in life.

Lifting oneself out of a downward spiral once it starts requires energy and effort. Especially when all that surrounds us are anxiety producing events and conversations. Anger. Agitation. Fear. Fuelled by news feeds and social media, negative emotions abound and seem to multiply much quicker than positive ones.

But by spending time writing and focusing on even just one aspect that is going well in our lives, that we feel passionate about, inspires hope. Seeking out others who share the rays of light that they have discovered creates positive energy.

Time to shift focus and work hard to pay attention to where the light shines brighter than the darkness.

Stay healthy and safe!