To Sit With What Is :: A New Year’s Surrender

There is something delicious about standing at the edge of a new year! It feels like starting a brand new sketchbook (oh the possibilities!), or casting on a new fair isle project (the colors, designs and so many knits & purls to look forward to!), or setting out fabric scraps with an eye to what could be collaged and stitched into a lovely fragment. It is also encouraging to look back over the year, scroll back through one’s Instagram feed, and see the making, remember the incredible times of drawing, knitting, stitching, writing. Closing out a year and turning my face to another is wonderful indeed!

It is also overwhelming. The above photograph is a current picture of the many ways my creative head and heart walk through life. The older I become the more I realize this is how I deal with life, this is how I work through all that life brings to me, the pretty and the painful and everything in between. If I  gaze out into 2018 for too long, I want to walk a step or two backwards, look away and just sit down. I think I can certainly do that for a moment, for a day at least. Perhaps even for good.

Last year I began the year with the words Slow & Simplify. I wanted them to guide me, to define or focus my intention about moving through the year. It was lovely to carry those words with me, even in the midst of not-at-all slow times and ever-so-not simple ones. There were places in the year, more than I would have liked, that I wished I had not chosen those words, for it seemed that Life was out to contradict them in every way possible. But towards the end of 2017, even in those crazy final two months filled with holidaying, I came to realize a secret to being slow and simple in life…and that is to sit with what is. I’m pretty certain I’ve heard this phrase from Susan Piver whose meditation guidance has helped me so very much over the last few years. I resumed this practice late in the autumn and it continues to root me in my personal life and in my creative life. To sit with what is is not a giving up of dreams and goals. It is not a curl up under the covers, pull the wool over one’s eyes way of life. Rather it is a strong-backed, head up, soft-bellied breathing into whatever is going on in one’s life. It is a way of sitting down and facing whatever is in one’s lap at the moment. For me, this helps me both with what is in my lap in life at the moment AND what is in my lap creatively. Is life going at warp speed at the moment? Ok, sit with that. Be all there breathing into the blur. Is life complicated and confusing? Ok then…sit with that and breathe space into the craziness.

I don’t know how this strikes you. You may not be like me. In fact, I hope you are not. You see, my default setting in life is to feel that I should and ought to be doing, being, making, creating something other than what I’m currently doing, being, making, or creating. Call it driven, call it striving, call it restlessness, call it passion, curiosity, or creative. It is hardwired into my being for reasons I may not fully comprehend. But there it is. Always striving to reach the next goal, check off the next thing on my to-do list, be everything I need to be for excellence in my personal life and in my work as an artist. That last sentence sounds exhausting. Even in a desire for Slow & Simple, it can become a measuring stick that beats me over the head when life isn’t either of them. To sit with what is, allows me to sink into my life, accepting it, breathing into it prayerfully, whether it is slow or busy, whether it is simple or complicated, whether it is pretty or painful, whether it seems productive or not, whether I am accomplishing anything or just running in circles. To sit with what is, allows me to be ok with whatever is in my lap at the moment, be it a sketchbook, or some knitting, or embroidery, or my writing journal. Any feelings of guilt, should-be, oughtta-be, wanna-be , can be let go of, breathing into the creative goodness at hand. Even when I’m being hounded by the be-better, do-more, do-other thoughts, I can just sit with that, breathe space around it, acknowledging that it is there, a part of who I am, but not something I have to give full attention to. It can just sit there, beside me, while I continue breathing, living, creating.

So this is my intention for 2018. To walk into the year bravely, courageously, and creatively opening my hands to whatever comes, whatever falls in my lap. To sit with it, breathe into it, and prayerfully let go of the striving and drivenness that may come with it.  I will resist and let go of the inevitable desire to make “sitting with what is” my new measuring stick. Thanks be to God that there is now no condemnation for those who live in His love and grace. That’s where I want to be…sitting with what is true, good and beautiful.

Thank you so very much to all of you who continue to visit with me here, who read my words, who purchase and enjoy my art-making in all its various forms. You are so appreciated!! Here’s to 2018…a New Year filled with many stitches, sketches and inspirations!!

Happy New Year!

Artfully Yours,


Roadside Word Picking


New Year’s Eve…I love Eve’s. They feel like that timeless space of hovering right before warp speed takes over. The eve of something begs for preparation, anticipation, reflection… a mindfulness about the next day and all that it will usher in. Christmas Eve feels like that, and so does New Year’s Eve.

The living room Christmas tree, my studio French tree, and all other decorations are down, packed away carefully and the house feels spacious and clear, ready for a New Year. I’m ready too! And excited for what 2017 might have in store. I know, full well, there will be challenges and perhaps even downright difficulties, sad and painful events. But I also know that making will be a huge part of the year ahead, just as it has been this past year and for so many  years of my life. It is what carries me, strengthens me, gives me joy. Creativity is the lens through which I see my life for the beauty that it is. Making things, be it drawings or paintings, knitted or crocheted items and now spinning wool and weaving wall-hangings, sustains me through thick and thin, in plenty and in want. As I make with my hands, it’s as if I’m holding a lifeline, grounding my feet to what is true, good and beautiful. Creativity allows me to take flights of fancy as it tethers and roots me to home and hearth. Living Artfully allows me to see beauty, as well as create it, in everyday, humble circumstances. I need this Artful way of living and I’m thrilled to continue in the New Year!


This week between Christmas and New Year’s I’ve been spending some time pondering. Pondering and writing go hand-in-hand for me and I’ve logged numerous pages as I’ve tried to make sense of and sort through what felt like a jumble of clutter in my creative life. 2016 seemed to end with way too many irons in the fire, an explosion of too  many directions and not enough time or energy to really do any of them well. As I’ve left a pen’s worth of ink on the page, a sorting has occurred. As I’ve pondered the year ahead, a couple of words stand out to me:


Both verbs, they go together well, one nourishing the other. In simplifying my life, it is apt to slow me down a bit. As I slow my pace, things will need to simplify naturally. Much of this is challenging me to indeed clear out a few things. But mostly it’s a call to live present in each moment as if it is the only moment, and breathe into it, slowing and simplifying my expectation of accomplishment. This past year I began working on this in my day to day life. I did not master it (I wonder if that’s even possible) and therefore will continue the work of slowing and simplifying, even if it is just one small thing at a time.


The shakedown of all this pondering has left me with a simpler way of seeing all that I do as a creative person. My work as a knit and crochet teacher, the video podcasts, blogging in numerous places, as well as  pattern writing, will all continue but on a lessened scale. My hope is that this will allow me to spend less time on a computer and more time with a sketchbook or fiber in my hands. I’m increasingly drawn to spinning and weaving, which hold in themselves this call to slow down and simplify. It amazes me how I’m drawn to certain kinds of craft which hold an inherent way of living with them. In this, in spending time making, I am more in touch with the beauty around me and I learn how to live my everyday life with grace and wonder.


I do have new ideas I’d like to see unfold in the New Year. But my gut tells me it isn’t now. Later. Perhaps even in the next year. For now, SLOW and SIMPLE is the way forward, relishing life, making with my hands, reminding myself and others that it isn’t about how MUCH you make, but HOW you make it…slow, gentle, and savored.


All of this talk of SLOW and SIMPLIFY may seem so pie-in-the-sky! Even I myself, have a little scoffer sitting on my shoulder as I type: “Ha! This is gonna last you maybe the next hour, Jen, but wait ’til warp speed hits!” But to this I say that it’s not necessarily about being less busy. Life is full and seems to grow busier with each year. But this is more about a state of mind, a way of being in the midst of the busy-ness. Certainly I will need to pull back on what I say yes to. But I am committed to experiencing all of life with the same attention and slowness I give to drawing, or spinning, the same focus that’s needed for weaving and knitting. To grow in this capacity will be lovely. Yet even in the slowing and simplifying is a need to go slowly with it, simplifying the steps.


It all boils down to this: I plan on pulling off the daily path to sit each day and ponder. To draw the landscape around me. To knit the beauty into my heart. To weave wonder and grace into my life and offer it to others. I hope you’ll continue to walk with me here. Let’s savor together the work of our hands and the joy it brings us! Let’s encourage each other to go SLOW, to SIMPLIFY our distracted lives, and to live Artfully each day.

Artfully yours,


2015 :: Delight!

Delight2015 lowres

Happy New Year to All!

The third and final thing I’m keeping in the forefront of my mind for this new year is perhaps the main bit underlying and undergirding the previous two.

**How will I determine what to major in, focus on, emphasize?


**How will I follow through on the less than glamorous parts of what is needed to complete a task?


**How can I bring my mental, emotional and creative faculties to less than desirable, but needful tasks?


**How will I rest at the end of a day, month, year that doesn’t feel like I’ve accomplished all that I’d hoped?


“Delight” is my word for 2015. I don’t typically write here about my word for the year. They are often very personal and I enjoy holding these words close and private, letting them unfold throughout a year. It is startling to see how the word I choose at the beginning of a year, becomes so powerful and rich as the year unfolds.

But I’m sharing it with you today, this first day of 2015…a year in which I do not have, at this point, surgery on the horizon! Woo! Hoo! A year in which my husband and I both turn 50 years old. A year in which my second child graduates from high school and goes off to college. A year in which my youngest joins the ranks of teenagers, turning 13 in just a few days.

This word is “delightful” as both a verb and a noun. It’s verb form is what I want each day to be marked by– delighting in the life I’ve been granted. Finding delight in the mundane activities as well as the exciting ones. Carving out space to delight in something each and every day, creative and otherwise.

I’ve been thinking about these words from Isaiah 55:2:

“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”

I’ll be spending more time “delighting” over on my Knitterly Arts blog, starting today. Please come visit me there! Of course, I’ll be delighting in my life by drawing it and sharing it with you here. So much to delight in, so little time. 🙂

Won’t you join me in Delighting in 2015!?

Follow Through


Close on the heels of Majoring In One Thing At A Time, is the need to follow through with what you’ve determined to major on for that day, or series of days. I am the queen of creative ADD, an expert “waffler”, starting one thing and then switching to another mid-stream. Once the excitement of a “new project” wears off, I’m dreaming of other projects to begin. “Start-itis” can be a real issue.

In 2015 I’m wanting to continue to explore ways to follow through on creative projects, especially the ones that require a long term commitment…such as writing a knitting pattern or illustrating a children’s book. One of the projects I’m going to major on is the next Genevieve book! I’m really excited about it now! But I know, from experience, that many sketches and drawings into the developing of illustrations will find me looking for other projects to begin. Here’s how I plan on tackling that issue. It has helped me enormously in the past and I plan on employing it in the New Year as well:

1. Break down the long term project into bite sized pieces.

2. Designate small amounts of time daily to the project, allowing for time to be spent on other projects as well.

Approaching a larger creative endeavor in this manner has been hugely helpful in getting me to the finish line. Working this way, I hardly even realize how much I am actually accomplishing. One baby step at a time adds up to a finished project, sometimes sooner than I had expected. When I think of following through on the project as a whole, I can be tired before I’ve even begun! But facing just 30 minutes a day to work on said project, seems so do-able and exciting. Many times I find myself going past the 30 minutes, happily working for longer. But I do cut myself off, so that the freshness and excitement remains for the next day.


The crazy thing is that I have several long-term projects I’d like to tackle. So I do have to limit myself. Be reasonable, for goodness sakes Jennifer!!

**Tomorrow, New Year’s Day, I’ll share with you the third and final way I want to move through 2015. I hope you all have a fun time ringing in the New Year!

See you in 2015!

***Please feel free to share ways you’ve found to follow through on your creative endeavors in the comments! We can all benefit from each other!


My first children’s book, Genevieve and the Kite,

is available on Amazon and my Etsy shop for a signed copy.;)

A set of 6 cards with two images from the book

is available in my Etsy Shop too!

The In-Between


In the quiet of early morn, my mind flits…like a hummingbird darting from one flower to another, not staying long enough to really drink much in or resolve a thought.

This is how I know I’m feeling better.

In the early days home from surgery, there’s a single-minded response to pain. All energy goes to managing the intensity of what one feels. Dishes in sink? Who cares? Cat vomiting on the carpet? stupid cat. Someone else will have to clean it up. Ideas for the next children’s book I’d like to write? Not even on a mental back burner. Discomfort, pain, healing requires all our mental faculties. Aside from the obvious dislike of this reality, it actually brings a quietude of  mind in the singular pursuit of feeling better.


But as the pain level decreases, the mental chatter increases. It’s as if, for a time, the stove’s oven has been the only thing turned ON. As the oven temp reduces from broil down to a more manageable 350 degrees, the top burners begin to light up, one at a time. Creative ideas begin to glow again, to-do lists of all kinds begin filling up at an alarming rate. All of it fueled by a well-worn thought which had disappeared in the post-surgery days, but now roars back to life in the space between my ears:

“I can do this!”

Now that all the burners are ON as well as the ongoing, but more temperate, oven, it’s really quite annoying! This is the hard part, the in-between bit. This is the segment of recuperation I dislike the most because it requires such discipline. I must constantly gauge my energy level and what my body needs. I must turn down, even OFF, certain burners so that the healing work can continue. Even though I “can” do the dishes and the laundry and dinner and clean up cat vomit…I NEED to pace myself and ask others to help do these tasks so that I can choose rest–the most vital pain medicine and healer there is.


This is all happening at the holidays. And to be honest, the “I can do this” mantra is a familiar holiday refrain. Every year, even without undergoing surgery, December feels like that stove with all burners on HIGH and the oven set to Broil. Typically I’m well enough in body to actually convince myself of my can-do-it-all super powers. Then I crash and burn just after Christmas Day either in exhaustion or some virus takes hold to wrestle me to the ground for some much needed rest. Despite my disciplined efforts, I still tend to over do. Pain from surgery is not a bad alarm system, letting me know when I need to slow down, close my eyes and rest.

We can’t all have surgery in December, nor would we want to. I certainly don’t want to do this again. But what I’d like to do is develop an approach to December, (and all other months of the year for that matter)  that does not begin with “I can do this!” Maybe more along the lines of “I choose to do this and therefore NOT THAT.” To be purposeful about how I spend my time even if it means letting go of certain traditions I somehow feel I must continue.


Yes, December is always FULL. Full of shopping, full of making, full of wrapping, full of baking, full of partying, full of cooking, full of cleaning, full of revelling. All good stuff. But there is that saying about too much of a good thing…

The problem is that once December is over, January is on its heels and we are off to the New Year races once again with our banner “I can do this!” flying high as we run. We even make lists of how fast and how far we want to run and how high we want to jump, as if normal living of life weren’t enough for us.

So I have some ideas, I think I’ll share here in the coming days prior to New Year’s. No rocket science. Just some thoughts on how to approach a New Year with all our dreams and hopes held lovingly with the reality of our lives. I hope you’ll stop by and offer your thoughts and suggestions as well.

***The images here are from a commissioned painting I finished prior to surgery. It was to be a Christmas gift and so now I can share it with you. Commission work is always a privilege and an honor to be asked and to attempt creating something another would enjoy.