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How Beautiful They Go…

“How pleasant to walk over beds of these fresh, crisp, and rustling fallen leaves….
How beautiful they go to their graves!”

—Thoreau, October 12, 1853


Thoreau, our great chronicler of the seasons, wrote a lot about the falling leaves in October, noting all the different colors and hues. Their colors aside, he thought, like many things in nature, they could teach us something about accepting our own internal seasons, and our mortality.

October 22, 1853:

Consider what a vast crop is thus annually shed upon the earth. This, more than any mere grain or seed, is the great harvest of the year. This annual decay and death, this dying by inches…. The year’s great crop. They teach us how to die.

October — Harvest Time — was also a month for Thoreau to contemplate his “harvest of thought.”

On October 24, he writes, “My eye is educated to discover anything on the ground…. It is probably wholesomer to look at the ground much than at the heavens.”

***

[Update: 4PM: I had no idea that Thoreau actually collected his thoughts on fall in the 1862 essay, “Autumnal Tints.” See this piece, “Revisiting the Splendor of Thoreau’s ‘Autumnal Tints,’ 150 Years Later.” This is one of the amazing things about reading Thoreau’s journal before you read the published work — he pilfered so much from his daily writing that you know exactly where sentences and sections come from, and it’s fascinating to see how he changed them.]


The writing above is directly quoted from a post by Austin Kleon.  You can read the entire post here: The Leaves.  I wanted to hold onto it somewhere because there is so much to think about…

  • the life cycle of leaves and how through their death, it creates life for another.
  • the idea of nature and its relation to our internal seasons
  • annual decay and death.  I wonder if we experience this in our lives annually.  I don’t mean actual decay or death, but more metaphorically?  Are there things that are slowly disintegrating or coming to an end?  And do we even realize it?
  • love the term, “Harvest of Thought.”  Lots to play with there.
  • “It is probably wholesomer to look at the ground much than at the heavens.”  How often are we looking and planning ahead, rather than paying attention to right now?  I know I do.
  • Autumnal Tints.  Ugh.  Love the language. So good.
  • “he pilfered so much from his daily writing…”  I need to get back to a daily writing practice.

 

 

 

 

my enneagram numbers.

I look an enneagram test and these were my results:

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

3

5

6

7

4

3

4

1

3

The enneagram numbers are across the top column, from type 1 to 9.  The numbers beneath were my scores based on the survey I filled out.


My top numbers:

Type 4: The Artist: Intuitive and Reserved (*my highest score)
Type 3: The Motivator: Adaptable and Success-oriented
Type 2: The Helper: Caring and Nurturing


The Romantic (Enneagram Type Four)

Romantics have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.

How to Get Along with Me:

  • Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.
  • Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.
  • Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision.
  • Though I don’t always want to be cheered up when I’m feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.
  • Don’t tell me I’m too sensitive or that I’m overreacting

What I Like About Being a Four:

  • my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level
  • my ability to establish warm connections with people
  • admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life
  • my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor
  • being unique and being seen as unique by others
  • having aesthetic sensibilities
  • being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me

What’s Hard About Being a Four:

  • experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair
  • feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don’t deserve to be loved
  • feeling guilty when I disappoint people
  • feeling hurt or attacked when someone misundertands me
  • expecting too much from myself and life
  • fearing being abandoned
  • obsessing over resentments
  • longing for what I don’t have

Fours as Children Often:

  • have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games
  • are very sensitive
  • feel that they don’t fit in
  • believe they are missing something that other people have
  • attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.
  • become anti-authoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood
  • feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents’ divorce)

Fours as Parents:

  • help their children become who they really are
  • support their children’s creativity and originality
  • are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings
  • are sometimes overly critical or overly protective
  • are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed

 

To take an enneagram test or to read the descriptions, check out: 9types

 


Oh man, where do I even start.  This is totally me.

For acquaintances and friends on Instagram, you see my creative side, my aesthetic, and how I care about people.  What few see, except for my husband, is what’s hard about being me.

I have feelings of self-hatred, often.  I feel disgusting in my own skin (harsh, but true).  I’m double the size of what I used to be.  I ate the old Lainie.  I often feel like I’m not doing enough for those around me.  I should be a better mom.  a better wife.  a better friend.  a better daughter.  I expect waaaay too much from myself and life.

I long for things all the time.  I worry about being misunderstood and overly censor myself to the point where others don’t always get to see the real me.   I feel dark moods of emptiness and question whether I matter.  I think that’s why Imperfect Boss Camp shook me like it did.

Picture a group of creative women sitting in a camp hall during a keynote speaker.  The speaker says, You are enough.  You matter.  And Lainie is sitting there on the verge of tears because it hit a little too close to home.  Because I don’t often feel that I’m enough and I don’t even know when that started.

Now I want to go back through my enneagram results and come up with a plan (which is so me.  I need to take action.  Information is nice to know but a person needs to do something with it.)

I want to share my How to Get Along with Me info with my husband, even though the guy has known me for over 20+ years (he knows me better than I know myself sometimes).  In sharing it, I hope to better communicate what I need.  And with What’s Hard About Being a Four, I need to think about what I can do to support myself during those times.

Whether quizzes are seen as silly or not, if it makes me reflect on my behaviour and who I am, it’s well worth my time.

 


 

If you have kids and they’re old enough, it might be interesting to have them do an enneagram quiz.  I wrote a post that shares some links if you’re interested.  Or you could  read the descriptions of each number with your kids in mind.

In reading the description for Enneagram Four, I worry about Thatcher.  I think he’s a four too.  He’s such a sensitive soul who laughs in our faces when getting into trouble (total anti-authoritarian).  We will need to keep an eye on him and love on him big time.  Being a four is hard.

There’s also an interesting section about marriages and enneagram numbers.  Look out, Eric Holmes, I see you being subjected to an enneagram test in your near future 🙂

enneagram.

enneagram.jpg

I drew this in my notebook the other night.  I will admit that I had a moment of… this looks like witch craft.  It looks like one of those pentacle symbols.  It’s also kind of cool.  Maybe witches were on to something…

I had never heard of the word enneagram until I went to the Imperfect Boss Camp.

Since then, I have taken at least 5 different free tests that I have found online.  Below are two of my favourite tests if you want to give it a try (favourite, as in I liked the questions):

Just in reading the questions and answering them, you will learn a little more about yourself.

And this website blew my mind with the amount of information about the meaning behind enneagram numbers.  I could only skim during my first go because I knew that I would need to read it again with my notebook and pen in hand.

From what I’ve learned so far, you look for the number that is the largest to determine your enneagram type.  Then there is something called your wing number; it’s your next largest number and is usually close to your enneagram number in the pentagram drawing.  If you’re reading this and I’m wrong or you have a better explanation, please join in!

When you read this site, you will find yourself thinking, oh my god, that’s so me!  It gives a break down of each type (how to get along with me, what I like about being a ___#, what’s hard about it, what we’re like as parents, etc.) Just look up along the top beneath the main menu to find your enneagram number (it’s hard to find at first).

If you try it, let me know what number you were!  I’m just starting to learn about it but it seems like one of those things that should be shared with friends and family.  The more we know about each other’s nuances and what we need, the more aware and supportive we can be.

 

we belong.

This blog post about community has sat open on my computer, unpublished for a week.  I felt like it was missing something.  I found it today – while sitting at my desk, putting together 6 paper hexagons. I know it’s weird, but I’ll show you.

I’ll share the story in three pieces.  I love triptychs and believe that good things come in three.

 



Part 1

Date Night with Eric

When you have three small children and a date night every month or so, by Friday night you have enough energy to wander a warm mall and drink hot chocolate.

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to read more about The Brain Project…

to see all of the art pieces (they are incredible)…


Part 2
Date Night Triggers a Memory

I’ve been wondering a lot about community lately.

This summer my Uncle Bill told me that the Odd Fellows group, that he was a part of for years, no longer exists.  It was a community group for men in the district.  They did fundraisers and donated to local causes.  But without new members and few available to help out, the group folded.

Royal Canadian Legion clubs.  Masons groups.  Ladies Auxiliary.  It feels like these old school community groups are becoming less and less; groups that once brought people together for meals, dances, and events are no longer or few.

Are they being replaced by more modern versions of community? And do those modern versions offer the same depth of relationships amongst members and a feeling of belonging?  I don’t think so.

The art plaque from Friday night made me realize what we are losing when we don’t have community.  A feeling of connection. Happiness.  Health.  Belonging… 

 


Loved reading these:

Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Who are Masons?

It’s neat to see how a group defines itself and what they value.


Part 3
Paper Hexagons

After we saw the beehive art piece (from The Brain Project), I kept picturing paper hexagons in my head.  I know, I sound weird.

So today, once I got the kids down to nap, I sat at my desk and started to cut paper hexagons.

Since it would be a piece about community, I wanted to use paper that would represent that theme and have personal meaning to me.

 

hexagon art.png

The first piece I cut was from a red paint strip.  My version of  Falu Red.  It represents my dad’s side of the family, the Finnish side that I have been trying to learn more about.

I cut a hex out of a Firefly Creative Writing newsletter.  It’s a writing studio – a cozy place that oozes community.   It’s also where I took my first writing course.  To sit around a handcrafted wood table on a Saturday morning, drinking tea, and sharing personal life stories… it was such a gift.  It was a community that helped me see myself as a writer.

I cut a hex out of a booklet we were given at the Imperfect Boss Camp.  I still can’t wrap my head around the community that was created at that event in the woods.  I spent four days with a group of complete strangers who have shifted the way I see myself and others.  I’m so thankful and still unable to articulate the impact it had on me.  I’ll get there eventually.

I also had a cool piece of brown kraft paper with texture that I cut into a hex.  It has no meaning but I love it.  The dark blue piece?  Maybe it could represent our university school colours?  One of the first places where I finally felt like I belonged…

I plan on collecting and cutting more pieces over time.  I want to include papers from back home to the collection.  I love it already and I’m only 6 pieces in.

But the whole point of this…

I answered my own question about community.

Community still exists.  It exists in little pockets and at different moments in time.  What was once a peaceful Saturday morning around a writing table (last year), has become three women I have kept in touch with and who continue to support me – through their encouraging words, emails to pass along a great book or exhibit I might like, and even an offer to meet with one of our family friends to support her in her career.  Community lingers.

A little project to sell upcycled mittens has made me realize the incredible community that surrounds me even though we haven’t seen each other in years.  I have friends from elementary school buying my mittens.  Friends from university are re-posting my project on their social accounts in hopes of promoting it for me.  An Instagram friend, that I have never met face-to-face, offered her workspace for my upcoming Make your Own Mittens workshop and when my sewing machine died last week, my friend lent me hers.  It was her mom’s machine and has so much meaning to her.

Community is very much alive.  It just looks different.

 

I am very lucky.  I think in the simple act of cutting out little pieces of paper, I realized the amazing community I am surrounded by and the impact they continue to make in my life.

If you are reading this and are a part of that, thank you so much.

 

And I do think it would still be cool if we could have big meals together and go to a dance 🙂

 


This blog post about community has sat open on my computer, unpublished for a week.  Something felt like it was missing.  I found it today – while sitting at my desk, putting together 6 paper hexagons.

 

what’s the story behind the logo?

I’m about to get a little nerdy and deep.  stick with me.  you might be surprised by the connections between a simple tree slice and our life stories.


 

10 Fun Facts about Trees:

  1. The outer bark is the tree’s protection from the outside world. It is continually renewed from within.

    Like a tree (I sound like such a hippie), we have our own exterior bark to protect us.  We might put forth a version of ourselves that makes us feel safe and yet we know that others are not seeing all of us.  Even our close friends.

  2. Heartwood is the central, supporting pillar of the tree.  It will not decay or lose strength while the outer layers are intact. With needle-like cellulose fibers bound together by a chemical glue called lignin, in many ways it’s as strong as steel.
    Don’t get me started on heartwood. The idea of having something within us that is strong as steel, that’s pretty cool.

     

  3. Heart rot is caused by fungi entering the trunk of the tree through wounds in the bark.  These wounds are areas of the tree where bare wood is exposed.
    Throughout our lives we experience wounds – the hurtful words of others, loss, bullying, betrayal… These experiences leave us feeling exposed and do damage.

     

  4. A healthy tree naturally combats heart rot through a process called compartmentalization.  The tree grows around the decayed wood tissue and prevents the fungus from spreading to a larger area of the trunk.
    Human beings can compartmentalize during difficult times too.  It’s quite remarkable how we can sustain trauma or hurt, and yet continue on.  And although our growth continues, that dark mark can still remain in our life story.

    I know, a lot of random tree facts and maybe a little more information than you expected.  But, are you seeing some connections between trees and our life experiences and stories?

    Let’s keep going…

  5. Trees are sensitive to their environment.  If a tree has experienced stressful conditions (such as a drought), its growth is limited during those years.

    We are also shaped by our surroundings.  We may have some in our lives who limit us or keep us playing small.  We may meet others who inspire us to do more.  When we look back at our lives, there are years where we remember experiencing great growth.  We may also remember times that were incredibly challenging.

  6. Trees are the longest living organisms on Earth, and never die of old age.

    Trees are immortal; our life stories are too.  You probably have memories of people that are now gone but are present through the stories told.  If you choose to publish your stories, they can impact the lives of complete strangers – even in the years after you are gone.  That’s incredible.

  7. Trees are able to communicate and defend themselves against attacking insects. Scientists have found that trees can flood their leaves with chemicals called phenolics when the insects begin their raid. They can also signal danger to other trees so they can start their own defense.

    In communicating our stories, we not only support our personal growth but of those around us.  You can likely think of a book that shifted the way you thought or impacted your life in some way.  It’s us as human beings supporting one another; tree to tree.

  8. Trees can help you find your way if you get lost in the woods. I love this one.In northern temperate climates, moss will grow on the northern side of the tree trunk, where there is more shade. Also, a tree’s rings can help point you in the right direction too. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, you can see the rings of the tree grow slightly thicker on the southern side since it receives more light. In the southern hemisphere, the opposite is true, with rings being thicker on the north side.

    Stories are way-finding. By unpacking our life stories, we are given the gift of self-awareness and growth in the present.  It’s pretty remarkable actually.  Every time I write a story, I learning something new about myself.

  9. Different parts of a tree grow at different times throughout the year. Typically, most of the foliage growth happens in the spring, followed by trunk growth in the summer and root growth in the fall and winter.

    Growth happens in seasons.  It makes sense – it requires great energy and dedicated focus.  Along with it, it requires time of rest, hibernation, and dormancy.  Writing your life stories can be hard.  It will open you up and leave you feeling emotions that you tried to leave behind years ago.  Be gentle with yourself.  Remember that growth happens in seasons.  You also need rest and restoration.

  10. The most common cause of tree bark loss is that it’s growing out of its skin, which must be shed to allow its trunk to enlarge.

    Ah, this is a good one.  If we want to grow and change, we need to do some shedding of the old too. 

 


 

So what do you think?!  Not only do you know a lot of random tree facts now, you can see why I love tree slices so much and why I chose one as my logo.  I hope it might also inspire you to start thinking about writing your own life stories or to capture stories of your loved ones.

Every tree is unique.  In a forest, it might just blend in with the others.  But when you examine it closely, it has it’s own beauty and story to tell.

When you’re feeling ready to start, let me know.  I’ll share some of the things I found helpful when I got started.

 

the big life questions.

Whether you journal or feel like you need a change in your life, here are some great questions and prompts from Elizabeth Lesser’s book, Broken Open.



What really matters to me in this life?

What precisely do I need to learn, change, and transform within myself?

From whom or what will I take my direction and motivation?

I made a conscious decision to…

Most of all, I was motivated by…

I wanted them to know…

…to no longer…

I try to act…


There are three major hurdles to overcome in crisis: dealing with pain; working with your attitude; and using the crisis as a wake-up and a cleanup call.

Don’t fool yourself and think that Spirit is somewhere else, in other worldly experiences, in great rushes or ecstatic visions.  Life’s deepest experience is the joy that fills our hearts when we love and give to others.

The best in me was born.  I found out what I really was capable of.  I discovered who I really am.

…finally understanding the secret – the same secret we will all now when death is just a breath away: In the end, what will matter is how much we loved – our children, our mates, our families, our friends, everyone we knew, everyone who traveled with us during our brief visit to this unbearably lovely place. What will matter is the good we did, not the good we expected others to do. 

 

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser

we’re not so simple

We like to label ourselves
as this or that.

I’m an introvert.
I’m an extrovert.
I’m shy.
I’m fearless.
I’m whatever term
is really popular right now.

it’s not that
simple.

We are everything.

We are this and that.
An amazing combination
of every trait
you could ever think of.

We move in
and out,
changing
and growing.
It must be beautiful
to see.

And yet
we try to categorize
each other,
an old school way
of protecting ourselves.
Dating back to when
we needed to recognize
our predator
to survive.

But it doesn’t do us justice.

Humans are complex
little creatures.
And it’s a good thing.

 


A Different Side.

I’ve been showing only one side of myself.

Friends know my silly side.  They know my sense of humour, my ability to drop f* bombs and make light of situations.  I’m the one that jokes around and gets everyone to dress up for made up holidays at work.  They describe me as fearless and dynamic.

Yet I feel like my blog and Instagram posts have been telling a different story lately.  My little walks down memory lane sharing stories about my past, my hometown, sentimental items in my jewelry box… it makes me sound totally different from the Lainie many know.  It makes me sound really nostalgic and tied to the past.  Which I can be at times, but I don’t like to stay there long.

Because I’m this and that.

As much as I can be reflective, I’m also the one who thinks let’s move on already.  I’m the one who says ugh to art that feels too deep or writing that feels like it’s trying too hard (which is funny because mine likely does the same thing). Keep it light people.  Just say what you need to say.

As much as I think about the past, I love entrepreneurs and start ups.  I’m not tied to old ways of thinking.  I love people who challenge tradition and the status quo, in order to create something new and better.  I admire the forward thinking minds of Steve Jobs and Biz Stone and yet can be nostalgic and like the original Batman movie the best. Random fact but true.

And as much as I tuck away little mementos and keepsakes, I also love to purge. I could be a host on one of those Hoarder shows – quickly chucking old things that serve no purpose.

My friends have recently told me that they are learning a whole new side of me through my writing.  I think I am too.


Art from the Shower

In the shower is where all the random pieces in my head start to come together.

One day I realized that my personality traits are contradictory.  I am this and that, not one or the other (hence this blog post).  I quickly scribbled something down in my notebook afterwards to hold onto the thinking…

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I wanted to take this idea and turn it into a piece of art.

The kids were napping.  I was upstairs at my desk and didn’t want to venture down our creaky stairs to grab my collage stuff (I keep a stash of different paper downstairs).  So I started to grab things around my desk.  A paint strip (I grab these all the time).  Birch bark (I brought some pieces home from the cabin this summer).  A bright yellow leaf (I am drawn to them.  I don’t know why.)

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I started to cut strips, thinking it could be created like a this and that; pieces on the left to represent my past and bright and fun pieces on the right to represent my present/future.  It didn’t work out that way.

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I realized that so much of the past pulls into my present.  There’s a strip in the middle from a letter Grandma Lainie sent me.  She is a part of my past and continues to shape my present, so the strip spans the page.

There’s a pine needle from the cabin, a place that I love.  Falu Red to represent my Dad’s side of the family.  There’s paper with a wood print that reminds me of home and darker colours to represent some challenging times in my past.

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And on the right, there’s colour.  I love greens and mustard yellow.  I love a touch of gold and brightness.  I love design and texture.  Prints and contrast.

It’s all a mix of me.

It’s kind of neat to think about.  What would yours look like?

 

#jewelryboxstories: conclusion

Moving through the grid from left to right:

Grandma Beatrice’s Brooch
Coins
School ID Card
Figure Skating Pendant
Last Letter from Gram
Locket Necklace
Fake Plastic Teeth
A Ring from Auntie Lyd
Grandpa Pud’s Keychain

I’m going to wrap up these little stories for now.  I find that I get bored if I keep doing the same thing over and over.  I will continue to look through my jewelry box every now and then, to see if there’s another story I can write for the kids.

I do it because I think it’s important.  Yes, they will know the stories behind the items in your jewelry box, but they will also learn a little bit more about you in the process.  What you care about.  The memories that are important to you.  Those little items actually tell a lot more – they give insight into what you value in your life.  Seem a little deep?!  Maybe.  But it is interesting to think about.

I just don’t know how to encourage others to write.

We wait to write down the things that matter.  We think we have so much time. It gets pushed aside, avoided, or we don’t see ourselves as writers in the first place.  Been there.

But we all can write and we should do it for our kids and our family members.  Maybe it’s because of my past experiences with death, but I feel a sense of urgency around writing down what matters to us.  To tell people that we care about them.  To write down stories before there’s no one to tell them in the same way.  Death happens and unfortunately, it’s not always when we’re old and grey.

My four little cousins died when they were 2, 3, 8, and 10 years old.  A girl from our hometown died in a tragic bus accident on the way home from high school one day.  My aunt died in her late 40s after becoming a grandma for the first time.  It’s important to write now.

We should write not because we are fearful of dying but because it creates connection. It can piece together parts of our past.  It can bring us closer together.

We can learn about our partner and see a different side to them.  We can empathize with that person from work who we totally misunderstood.  It’s a way to learn more about yourself and to see how you tick.

You might be surprised by what you learn just from writing a few jewelry box stories….

 


Note from Lainie:

I apologize if this sounds like a bit of a rant or has any condescending tone at all.  I don’t write all of the time either but I am trying.  I’m also learning to have a backbone and to share my opinions more openly.  I just need to learn how to do it in a way that will keep people open to the ideas.

#jewelryboxstories: Grandpa Pud Keychain

Grandpa Pud always carried coins in his pockets.

As a kid, I can remember dumping Pringles cans full of pocket change out onto the floor. Grandpa, my brother and I would begin the task of separating the coins – dimes with dimes, quarters with quarters…

The quarters were then stacked in fours, so we could quickly count dollars.  Dimes were grouped in tens… I don’t know why we counted his change, but we were excited to see so much money.

When Grandpa Pud passed away, he had a pocket full of coins.  Grandma Lainie kept them. One Christmas they appeared in our Christmas gifts.  Each grandchild was given a key chain with one of his coins attached.

Our family holds onto things that seem insignificant to others.  But to us, they are little reminders of those we love.

when things seem timely, pay attention.

Two little gifts arrived in my inbox this week.

A newsletter from Alexandra Franzen and another from Radical Creative Sanctuary (written by Danette Relic).

I say gifts because both have already made a difference for me this week, and I’m so thankful.  I thought I’d pass their tips / advice along to you…


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Alexandra Franzen & Tiny Goals

Alex describes tiny goals as those that feel simple, small and easy to complete.  They are almost like little confidence boosters that make you feel energized and competent.  And once you finish one tiny goal, you’re ready for another, and another.  Before you know it, momentum has built and you have tackled a bigger goal.

The idea of a tiny goal helped me finally get started on a really big project that I’ve been avoiding.  Deciding to work on tiny pieces each day has made the project feel less overwhelming and I’m actually excited to keep going.  Tiny goals for the win.

Alex also included a free template in her newsletter:

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If you’re interested in seeing more of her stuff, check out her website or subscribe to her newsletter.


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Danette is a creative who inspires me to reflect on my progress and to be kind to myself.

In her newsletter this week, she posed the question:

If you keep living the way you are living now, where do you think you’ll be by the end of this year?  (and if you’re not in love with the answer, consider this…)

Where do you want to be, by the end of this year?  What would make you so damn proud and grateful?

Great questions to think about.  I love how the idea of goal setting and creating intentions isn’t something left until January 1st.  At any time, we can consciously think about where we want to be 3 months from now and start putting pieces into place to make it happen.

To follow Danette’s work, you can find her on Instagram or her website, radicalcreativesanctuary.com

 


Lainie Note: I hope that I have written this post in a way that completely credits others for their work.  I chose to share because I think their work is impactful.