Friday 22nd January 2021

Mindful Art Helps To Heal Me. 91/2020.

Mindful Art Helps To Heal Me. 91/2020.

Since way before my cancer diagnosis in May 2017, I used art – my generic term for all things visually & kinaesthetically creative – as a distraction and mindful way to help me focus on ‘just one thing’ and to reduce levels of anxiety and stress. I have written quite a few posts about this and some can be found here.

What I have been doing lately.

I always have a few different sizes in art/display books to work on. I tend to use different sizes for mandalas, patterns and for drawing. However, this is no rule to this. I like a variety of choices.

Choices in books, materials and media. The following three photos are from my post-2017 recovery from surgery times.

And now here’s more: Self-Care is first.

This from a small book I carry with me right now about Kindness. I read and reflect on its words when I have my solo coffee time.

Why Art?

For me, it’s tactile and as a visually-oriented person it appeals greatly and I can get lost in it. That is my version of calming down and becoming mindful. In fact, when I may be waiting on news – health or otherwise- I will often make up something very intricate to work with, and leave it on my art desk to return to over and over. It sure does focus me on JUST ONE THING.

Some examples here of projects which have helped me focus and in doing so I have been taken away from the worries and fears and into this world that helps keep me on a greater emotional even keel.

Update of what it’s been like for the past year or so.

 

  • In recent years I have tried to emulate others’ works by using their materials such as stamps and stencils and cut out figures.
  • What I found is that this kind of trying to be like another’s work was both frustrating and limiting.
  • I found some of the physical materials: paints, stamps and more very expensive to buy and then not using them as I had hoped.
  • I admit stamping is not my forte. In some ways I can stamp but not in the complicated ways of specialists.
  • There are some creatives too who only enjoy seeing their work reflected back to them.
  • I learned I am not that kind of artist. In fact, I gave some of my items away and stopped following those pages.
  • I know I enjoy the annual Index Card a Day Challenge from the US. It’s for 61 days of June and July. Here are this year’s completed cards.

Grateful for art and creativity

 

What might I be planning now?

  • I admit that whilst I love going back to enjoy some of the more familiar art activities like mandalas and patterns, I still need a challenge or two.
  • I learned above that my skills lie in other fields.
  • I know I am far more tactile than I realised but I also do not like messes on my hands. Mmmmm.
  • This for me then means cutting out and using glue sticks. I don’t like getting paint on my hands. Maybe too it’s because of where I have my art activities and this house is not ours. Nevertheless it’s good to know my limitations.
  • In my recent clear up and clean out of my art area I found many more blank books of differing sizes and this is exciting as our budget is limited. Actually it probably was limited when I bought these. Yikes.
  • Quality of materials means I do not get frustrated with what I am working with so I have, ahem, spent a lot of money over the past 18 months and I am well-stashed!!

Working with words and more.

  • I enjoy finding quotes that appeal to me and printing them to use in a page
  • I am very fortunate that most days the Daily Calm quote from my daily morning meditation has a great quotation I believe in and learn from so am saving them as photos for future use.
  • I have a series of small books like these below. They are the idea size for me to take in my little art kit and re-read and reflect.
  • I have bought most via book depository (free postage) but they may also be in smaller bookstores.

These books are really helpful.

About the healing part.

Whilst my cancer recovery has been excellent, I have also had several surgeries both minor and major in 2020. In times of needing to be at home…much more in COVID times of course, and to remain physically rested, then to distract myself from any feelings of deprivation (coffee, driving, getting out!) I used (and use) my art space.

From what I know of my physical recoveries which have been for the main part, excellent, I know that my emotional and mental outlook play a great role too.

Coming to my space for art and play is a way of winding back from many thoughts and just focussing on what is in front of me. This strategy has helped me more than I ever might have thought.

Since 6 October I have been released from all of my treatments and surgeries..by that I mean, no more regular visits to the GP for dressing changes and wound care from the second abdominal surgery. My prosthodontist saw me briefly when I had some mouth pain recently but he doesn’t want to to come back till around May 2021 and my head and neck surgeon said ” see you in September 2021″.

THAT is an awesome feeling...and in its own way sets me a new challenge.

How to enjoy myself even more creatively!

What do you do to help you heal?

Do you have any creative outlets?

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne and friends here for Lovin Life Linky.

 

 

 

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Share Your Snaps #8. 40/51 #LifeThisWeek. 80/2020.

Share Your Snaps #8. 40/51 #LifeThisWeek. 80/2020.

Dear Bloggers and Readers,

Please note: “this post” is letting us know there are only 11 more weeks in 2020 for #LifeThisWeek.

Yikes.

But also, many of us will be glad to be saying “bye bye” to 2020 too.

This version of #shareyoursnaps is a photo from every day in September. Remember the rhyme? 30 Days Hath September, April, June and November.

In September 2020, I have been pleased to be back on recovery trail after a second surgery as my abdominal wound had opened up in one spot. I had the nurse visit twice a week to change the VAC system and mid-September, the wound was good enough to be dressed by the local GP’s nurse. “This” however is still on-going and it will likely be well into October before I will be free of this. It’s been a long, long haul. However, the alternative would have been worse. I loved having time to appreciate Spring in my garden as a result of being at home more than ever and most mornings awoke to a new bulb opening its beauty. I finally got my independence back and went for a couple of bush-area drives where nature does so well in Spring, I had a coffee out after many weeks of not being able to. We celebrated birthdays and Father’s Day in low key ways, and my husband has been the most patient of carers ever. Some of the pics are self-explanatory.

I hope your September 2020 has been kind to you.

From today: 86 days left till 31.12.2020.

OK, I will stop now.

Enjoy.

Denyse.

 

Link Up 209

Life This Week. Link Up #209

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt: 41/51 I Have Never. 12.10.2020

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Share Your Snaps #7. 35/51. #LifeThisWeek. 70/2020.

Share Your Snaps #7. 35/51. #LifeThisWeek. 70/2020.

To new-to-this-linkup bloggers:

W E L C O M E !

Add your post, old or new, on or off prompt below. Come back to comment here too.

You can be assured of a  visit from me to your blog later in the week, and for others who link up, popping in to read and comment too.

 

Creating with Purpose.

This is, and needs to be, my current mantra. Sigh.

 

In the meantime, two ways in which I can help my recovery!

Using a background I made, added embellishments and words from The Guest House by Rumi.

 

When I need to be focussed on ‘just one thing’ and become mindful, it is to art I turn. I made the patterns and then over time I coloured the spaces.

Parents AND Grandparents. 

Time? Where does it go? 49 years ago: us as new parents. Living in a farm cottage in the middle of a paddock near Narrabri and teaching at two small country schools.

 

Recent and most welcomed visit in COVID times from our son and his four children. They are growing up fast!!

 

Education Week 2020 was in August and as a long-time educator, student and now supporter in retirement I made a focus of ‘days gone by’ for Education Week Instagram posts.

Back Here Again. Gosford Private Hospital.

 

Needed: wound debridement and attaching a VAC system to heal wound from previous surgery. Overnight stay.

 

Badges With Meaning For Me.

Member of NSW Teachers Federation 49 years and Member of NSW Primary Principals Association for 5 years. Now a Retired Member.

 

Food! So Important For Us All. 

Eating is forever changed since my oral cancer surgery and mouth reconstruction but when I find a meal I can eat: win!!

Have you shared some snaps recently?

Denyse.

Link Up #204

Life This Week. Link Up #204

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt: 36/51 Taking Stock #4 7.9.2020

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Colours I Love. 44/51 #LifeThisWeek. 109/2019.

Colours I Love. 44/51 #LifeThisWeek. 109/2019.

So, dear readers, it would seem that “I LOVE a lot of COLOURS” and this is why my blog emblem/avatar looks as it does.

I even colour-coded my initial categories from the start of 2016.

Life      Education       Health        Stories       Photos        Creativity      More

and for this person, it really helps to have such a visual reminder.

Colours I Love.

The list is shorter if I write colours I don’t love. Brown & beige would be tops and some tones of green, orange and yellow. BUT Yellow is my friend now in art, gardening and clothes because I now understand it helps lift the colours it is near. 

I know that colour affects my mood and outlook. I learned over the past few years that making something creatively using colour was a huge game-changer for my recovery from anxiety, IBS and then head and neck cancer. In fact, only recently, I have learned to keep a large colourful sheet of art I am creating to access to I can embellish it with patterns or just add more colour as it centres my mind on just that one thing. Brilliant for a mood or feeling shift for me.

Wearing Colours.

No matter what size I have been (and there have been a few!) colours have always been part of my wardrobe. Back in the days of work and being very overweight black would often be part of my outfit, usually as pants and/or jacket. Since my body shape and weight changed after head and neck cancer it’s been fun to explore more colourful pants and shorts. I find I am more confident to do this now. It still took (and can take) time for me to adjust my thinking.

Surrounding My World With Colour.

Whilst we are renting we make do with the blank canvas we have as a house that needs to remain so, but we have added (my choice) two very colourful rugs and I display photos in colour as well as some of my art. Furnishings which are 0ne colour/dark (chairs etc) have cushions as brighteners too. My car is red. I make no apologies. I love it. No it doesn’t go faster but I sure feel confident driving it. Just need to be more careful not to hurt it again as I did in distracted moment last year.

Why Colours?

The last thing I am is science-oriented but I did feel it would be helpful to find some research and interesting facts about colour. Here we go. Yes, US spelling.

https://psych-neuro.com/2015/03/13/why-do-we-prefer-certain-colors/

Everyone has a difference preference for colors, which is interesting and unique. We choose colors when we choose clothes, a car, a notebook, and a water bottle; basically color is taken into consideration for almost everything we buy! We pick most things based on colors we like so why is this? There isn’t really a rational influence to our decisions other than the color evokes an emotional and physiological response in us. Ultimately we decide what colors we like because of what we associate them with and the meaning that accompanies them.

Interestingly for me, I actually store my pencils and markers into groups called Warm and Cool Colours! Yes there can be some overlap for instance a yellowy green or a pinky purple but the system works for me. NB: markers sorted into warm and cool. 

Planning the colours for one of the 100s of mandalas I have created

Warm Colors

Cool Colors

•Warm colors include red, orange, and yellow, and variations of those three colors.

•Red and yellow are both primary colors, with orange falling in the middle.

•Warm colors appear closer to the observer.

•Cool colors include green, blue, and purple, and variations of those three colors.

•Blue is the only primary color within the cool spectrum.

•Greens take on some of the attributes of yellow, and purple takes on some of the attributes of red.

•They are often more subdued than warm colors.

•Cool colors appear farther from the observer.

https://www.usability.gov/how-to-and-tools/methods/color-basics.html

https://www.colormatters.com/color-and-vision/how-the-eye-sees-color

One Favourite to Wear is:

Red is the color of extremes. It’s the color of passionate love, seduction, violence, danger, anger, and adventure. Our prehistoric ancestors saw red as the color of fire and blood – energy and primal life forces – and most of red’s symbolism today arises from its powerful associations in the past.

Red is also a magical and religious color. It symbolized super-human heroism to the Greeks and is the color of the Christian crucifixion. Red was almost as rare and as expensive as purple in ancient days – a fact that may explain its magic and power. Paradoxically, today’s intense red dyes come from crushed insects (the lac beetle and the cochineal).

https://www.colormatters.com/color-symbolism/the-meanings-of-colors

I love colours.

Simple as that.

Tell me what colours you love!

Denyse.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s optional prompt is: 45/51 Share Your Snaps #9 11/11/19

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Share Your Snaps #7. 35/51. Life This Week. 91/2019.

Share Your Snaps #7. 35/51. Life This Week. 91/2019.

Dear Reader and Bloggers,

We have…..just on 4 months till the end of 2019. How did that even..??

Signed,

I Also Cannot Believe It.

P.S. At the end of this post are the optional prompts for the rest of 2019 and an announcement about Life This Week in 2020.

Onward: It’s our 7th Share Your Snaps!

Looking back to see what I have shared before, I can see that my ‘arty-crafty’ and creative side has been somewhat neglected for ‘show and tell’. It is still my go-to in times of de-stress, becoming more mindful and for good old enjoyment of a craft. I do admit to spending a wee bit   lot more than my ahem budget allows…if I had a budget of course.

So here we go:

I’ve written before about the Index Card a Day Challenge from here and the fact it helped ease me into the ‘new way’ of thinking about my creativity and capability. I began this challenge in 2013 which is to complete a set of regular index cards for 61 days of June-July. I did not do it in 2018 and loved being back in 2019. My blogging friend Alicia did too and shared here.

The person who challenges me (and many!) is Tammy from Daisy Yellow Art and she also had a challenge for those of us wanting something in August. I needed a new creative way to work and play so this went well for me and I courageously moved from timidity to greater bravery if you like with how I interpreted the one word challenges. Check out how I did.

Prompt: Level.

Prompt: Type

And I have been wanting to get more confident about art journalling. Which in itself is pretty open-ended but I needed to learn more so am giving different techniques a go to get out of my ‘rut’ of sorts. This was a 2 page spread, using a painted background, with added stamps, cut outs to fit the theme of “Spring” and lettering ideas I thought worked around the images I cut from a circle cutter.

 

I haven’t forgotten my mandalas and am doing some ‘dot’ based ones in September for a Mandala Day about dots in mid September.

 

Many here and those who follow me on Instagram know I also go out each day for a coffee and have my little art journal kit with me. This one, from May 2019 onwards is just about complete. I have a new one already started. It’s great for writing, playing with design and just enjoying being creative in a small space.

What have you been doing with your photography lately?

Have you been creative in your life recently?

What is your favourite way to create?

Tell us more in the comments.

Denyse.

Life This Week Optional Prompts for the rest of 2019. The list is also on the home page.

36/51 Taking Stock. #4 9/9/19

37/51 What Is Love? 16/9/19

38/51 Your Go-To Easy Meal. 23/9/19

39/51 Spring Stories. 30/9/19

40/51 Share Your Snaps #8. 7/10/19

41/51 “Your Choice of Prompt” 14/10/19

42/51 Self-Care Stories #6. 21/10/19

43/51 Your Favourite Book As a Child 28/10/19

44/51 Colours I Love 4/11/19

45/51 Share Your Snaps #9 11/11/19

46/51 Gift Idea For Teachers 18/11/19

47/51 Do You Celebrate “zero” Birthdays? 25/11/19

48/51 Self-Care Stories $7. 2/12/19

49/51 Taking Stock #5 9/12/19

50/51 Share Your Snaps #10 16/12/19

51/51 Christmas/Holidays: Prompt Optional 23/12/19.

Life This Week will have a break….even though I may be blogging.

The first week back on a Monday is 6th January 2020.

The optional prompt will be: What’s Planned For You in 2020?

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s optional prompt is: 36/51 Taking Stock. #4 9/9/19

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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Women of Courage Series. #7. Dorothy. 74/2019.

Trigger Warning: Suicide, Grief, Family.

 

 

Women of Courage Series. #7. Dorothy. 74/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

Welcome to Dorothy’s story.  She is 67. In 2016 I was ‘introduced’ on-line by a fellow art lover to Dorothy who has a Mandalas For A Season Group on Facebook and in that time, we have followed each other’s stories as women of a ‘certain age and stage’ and similar careers. Dorothy’s image is her mandala for Jarrod.

 

This is the icon mandala for Jarrod I created in the week before he suicided.

Dorothy shares her story here:

I am into my 5th year of creating mandalas (from October 2014).

In my retirement from being a Primary School Principal, I began with Kathryn Costa’s 100Mandala Challenge, having dabbled in Zentangle previously. I found as I immersed myself in creating mandalas, the greatest inner peace I have ever known.

Little was I to know that I would be launched into a devastating grief experience in January 2016 when my 36 year old son suicided after 18.5 years of battling multiple complex mental health issues.

My mandalas provided me with solace and comfort and continue to do so.

In the first month I created a mandala for every year of his life, and then on the 20th of each month in the year after he died I created a mandala to honour his life.

I was moved to create a mandala community on Facebook after Kathryn Costa took her 100Mandala Sharing Circle off Facebook.

Because of the value I have found at various seasons of my life, I called the community Mandalas for a Season.

Apart from engaging fully in the mandala journey, the nurturing of this community for each member has deepened and grown, and I have developed wonderful friendships through this community.

I am not a professional mandala artist – for me it’s deeply personal, and an amazing healing and encouraging experience.

 

I have learned that the grief journey is messy, non-linear, and has no end.

It’s not a matter of getting through it. It’s a matter of continuing to breathe.

I never knew that in grief love grows.

I never knew that I would miss my son more as the days pass.

I thought that in the immediate aftermath, life would go on and the pain would dull.

I am a member of several support groups for the “bereaved from suicide”. I gain perspective from other people’s sharing and it’s been reassuring that my aches and pains, days of lethargy, a feeling of the cloud hanging low, are not unusual.

I have learned that each member of the immediate family experiences the grief differently. For one stoicism is the pattern; for another distancing oneself is needed at times, for another detaching is the way.

I have learnt not to expect that anyone else can meet my needs – that the courage to go on comes from within me, and through my mandalas.

 

Dorothy, I am honoured that you have chosen to share your story about your son and the journey with mandalas.

Thank you for your heart-felt words and telling us how it is and has been.

I am including Lifeline’s 13 11 14 here.

Denyse.

 

Follow Dorothy on Social Media:

Instagram: dorothy_heartfulmandalas

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

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Art,Creativity, I.C.A.D. and Me. 57/2019.

Art,Creativity, I.C.A.D. and Me. 57/2019.

A few years back, six specifically, I was told about a U.S. based creative fun art challenge called I.C.A.D.

Index Card a Day.

The founder, Tammy Garcia, is someone who is not a trained artist but one who has found creativity unlimited through art. Her website is here.

The notion of using a simple thin card called an index card to product ‘something’ creative each day for 61 days began a few years  before I joined up in 2013.

I found a place. I love it and this art and creative part of me grew and grew. I continued being part of the I.C.A.D. community is a member and for a couple of years as a moderator. I made (and continue to make) new on-line friends there and have met on of those people as she lives in Australia.

Art of some kind, not just I.C.A.D. has been immeasurably a significant part of how I have learned to manage my anxiety in the transitions of my life (retirement, leaving Sydney, moving away from family & friends) and it has been a daily activity since 2017.

Helping with Cancer.

Already having re-discovered my art/creative side back in 2013, when I was diagnosed with cancer, making something arty every day has really helped me in managing my stress, pain and worry about cancer’s return. I have written many times about this and here is the link to all of the posts.

Back to I.C.A.D. in 2019.

I had a break from I.C.A.D. in 2018 and that has made me doubly enthused to be back for 2019.

The challenge itself is a self-challenge. Complete a simple index card a day in an art-ful way for 61 days. Tammy has loads of ideas and being part of the group I know I get inspired. She makes up a list for one week at  a time of daily prompts. Like my blog prompts for Mondays, these are optional.

In one week’s time I will have published my first 2019 Index Card and will be prepping #2.

Have Fun is the Message.

If you get bogged down in ‘making art perfect’ then what you get via I.C.A.D. involvement is learning to enjoy the process and the imperfections.

Do think about joining in for 2019.

I know Alicia is from here. 

See You There, I Hope!

The direct link to finding out more is here. It is free. However, to be part of some extra connection and learning from others and Tammy there are two paid options. I have paid $9.03AUD for the $6 USD entry in special, private group. This is because the changes in Facebook and Instagram make it impossible to track your art and others.

Publishing on the Sunday before I.C.A.D. starts to give you the chance to consider signing on!!

Denyse.

Not a sponsored post. I don’t do them. This is sharing to connect if you are interested! 

 

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Updated: What Art Has Taught Me. 45/2019.

Update: What Art Has Taught Me. 45/2019.

The words below, after the photos, are from my blog post of 2017. Before I had a cancer diagnosis. When I “knew” something was going awry with me, but no-one knew specifically. I knew I needed some mindfulness in my life back in 2013. I sure did find it via Art. So much learning for me and I love(d) it. I now know this:

  • art of about the process not the product
  • art in many forms is soothing to my sometime unsure and worried self
  • art is a place and space for me
  • when I visit my art-space, I immediately focus on ONE thing!
  • this one thing, which helps me feel much more relaxed and mindful, may be about what media I will use, what I will make, or what I need to keep on doing
  • it does not matter, the thing is “I become mindful” and settle to create “art”

In 2013 I was searching for more in my life to help me through the bumps and trials.

A friend suggested an art-based group in U.S. where there was an annual challenge.

I’ve written about this a few times on the blog.

Today I am listing what Art has taught me from that mid-point in 2013 until the present.

And it’s not always about Art!!

  • I can be patient
  • I can see the world from different perspectives
  • I can select what I want to do with my art materials with confidence
  • I now know the process is more important to me than the product
  • I find that I prefer to share my art, imperfect as it is, with many and am happy to give it away when people express an interest in it
  • I find it interesting that others see different things in my artistic pursuits than I do at times
  • I enjoy the way in which I became at one with the now when I’m engaged in a creative process be it writing, photography, art or gardening

In general, Art has taught me to allow my mindfulness to be part of who I am. I am no longer striving as much nor wanting to do the next thing. It is teaching me to slow down. 

This is a good lesson to be learned!

Have you learned lessons from life?

I believe it’s a good fit for Min’s link up too. Zen Tips Tuesday found here.

On Wednesday, sharing this post with Sue and Leanne here for Midlife Share the Love.

Denyse.

 

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