Positive thoughts feeding souls...



The Floodgates are Open  


...and the river of creativity is overflowing this year. Six months after my last journal entry on this blog, I realize I already had the perfect word, hidden in Rilke's prayer in one of my own creations, and in his message was my 2016 word ...FLOW

SERENDIPITY—not this year:  I wondered why Serendipity has only appeared a time or two. My usual experience would have my chosen word taking hold of my life and guiding me through the year. Not so with Serendipity. 

FLOW: My Soul had spoken and I’d missed the message. I got caught up in someone else’s beginning of the year process (lesson learned). As I looked back over the year at my journals to get a sense of what I would share on this neglected blog page of my creative life, I found this photo/quote from 2016 picture calendar I'd created. The word is FLOW. Flow like a river! And, wow, have I been flooded with ideas, new techniques, and output: writing, photos, collages, art-journaling, and a new project—doing the newsletters for the San Juan Animal League. I realize I’d become one, in the zone, with Rilke’s prayer as I layered it over the photo I’d taken at the River Walk. I am deeply grateful this prayer has been answered, that my year has been creatively amazing—no forcing, no holding back, and totally FUN!!!

ART JOURNALING:  In January I joined Journal52, a group of thousands of art-journalists on FaceBook that create a journal page a week. An initial prompt this year was, “What You Will Say Yes To This Year” or alternatively "What Will You Say No To?" I posted my journal pages on Pinterest (my user name is LLeeRussell). I started the year the same way I pretty much start each day, with a doodle.  Here is my YES journal page Opening My Heart to Love. As I doodled, the walls around my heart melted away. 

Prompt: "Self-Love"   I took myself on an all-day date with my Intuition in functional mode. I began to write again when I had coffee with my journal. Then Intuition took me (just turned the steering wheel in my car) to two Dollar stores, instead of Hobby Lobby, and down every aisle to see what they sell there. Art supplies. Cheap. Greeting cards. Cheap. Gift wrap. Cheap. Information gathering. No purchasing. Since is another story. And the rest of the day was an incredible blessing. 

Prompt: "That Thing You Love"   That Rilke line says what again... “May what I do flow from me like a river…” What I do is write, take photos, and do a little art...I express what I feel. I put words in print and combine  them with images. This is my passion.

APRIL LOVE LETTERS (a writer's journal):  Back in April, I knew I needed to really write again, to get back into a daily routine. I decided to see if my muse would surface during the 30 days I signed up for with Susannah Conway. She offers a few free month long exercises with delightful, mindful people taking part in private groups on FaceBook. I find this group energy is supportive and expands my creativity. April was a remarkable month in which my writing went deeper and deeper as the month went on. I’ve continued writing as the ideas pop up. The more Love I express, the more Appreciation I express, the more everything flows smoothly, and the more deeply connected I become with nature, the people I love, and most importantly, with Source and my own greater Spirit. I have been in love with life this year and with everyone I meet, animal, vegetable or mineral. Except cauliflower and brussel sprouts. The result: MORE than 30 beautiful Letters from My Heart and Soul. Here is what I wrote to "Senses." If anyone would like my scampi recipe...let me know.

Dear Senses,

The knob is cool and smooth. I turn it. The gas ignites instantly and flames rise under the saucepan. The butter melts quickly and as I add olive oil, chopped shallots and garlic, the sizzle begins and the aroma of Love fills the kitchen. The flow of liquids as they hit the pan—lemon juice and dry white wine—throw off a mood-boosting odor of citrus, and the aroma shifts again as the alcohol from the wine is released into the air. Adding shrimp, I watch with wonder as they turn from raw white into juicy pink.

I serve the Scampi over a nest of homemade linguini drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, and garnish the dish lightly with fresh piquant parsley.

As we eat, the flavors arrive in layers: the earthy olive oil, a touch of creamy butter, the mellow kick of garlic, the special taste only shallots can deliver, a bright pop of lemon, the sweet sea flavor of shrimp, a touch of savory from the seasonings, and the dry white wine as the background of all this sensation.

It is Christmas on a plate.

I'm choked up at how difficult it is for me to express to you, dear Senses, how special you are to me. I've only now realized that cooking is the only time—other than sex—which commands my full awareness of you. My newest mindfulness practice is to be conscious of all of your attributes and how they impact each moment. I am a typical Taurus, and am here on this planet to experience every bit of you, dear Senses, to.my.fullest...in writing we call it the climax.

Without you, I was a no-body. 


AUGUST BREAK (a photographer's journal):  Embarking on another Susannah Conway adventure with a new group. I'll be practicing mindfulness and posting a daily photo to Instagram (#lauraleerussell). Some photos may surely become prompts for Love Letters! Check out more of my art just posted on the MY ART tab / click this link.

"My role in society, or any artist or poet's role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all." —John Lennon


My FB video

I can't believe it's been 6 years. Here’s my Facebook movie. Find yours at https://facebook.com/lookback/ #FacebookIs10

Posted by Lee Russell on Sunday, August 3, 2014


After Reflection on 2015, My Word for the Year 2016 is SERENDIPITY

Since before Christmas, I have naturally been spending time reflecting on 2015 and being grateful for God-given beauty (Nature), the gifts, and the growth; and, I’ve spent time deciding on my Word for 2016. I’ve been doing this for many many years, and a few years back discovered Susannah Conway whose 5-day Find Your Word emails I love.They are beautifully thought out aids to this reflection process, as well as unravelling the future year.

Mid-December, I thought I had my word. I was clear that this is what I want in my life. To CoCeate with Nature, with the community, with family. And then it went instantly into action requiring so many people to get one thing done— and I realized that I may be the only one ready for this since no one else was. A word not quite in its prime if I am the only one understanding it. CoCreation: Consciousness, Connection, Coupling, Creativity, Communication, Congruence, Community—”The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” ~Aristotle

When I had lunch with one of my best friends, I told her about this. She threw the word Serendipity at me and instantly I felt relief, joy, calm, and happy (which gives me the opportunity to EASE into CoCreation). Serendipity has only positive meanings. YES and YES. This is it for 2016. I spent time with it initially, looking up meanings and Pinterest pins, and quotes on Google. And, it began instantly showing up and serendipitous occurrences have convinced me every day since. Examples:  It cost me nothing to have my oil changed and tires rotated at the dealership (I have a one year old car, first oil change) and had no idea I have a two year maintenance plan (I was in shock the day I bought the car); I was given a 6S iPhone for Christmas and added to the family plan which cuts my Verizon bill to zero. You get the idea. These were total surprises and FORTUNATE events I would never have even imagined.

Every New Year’s eve, I take down my very full bulletin board and save all those inspirations into a binder, leaving my board blank and ready for the New Year.

2016 is going to be my year of  Fortunate Happenstances and Pleasant Surprises which I have decided to keep track of, not just in my journaling process, but in a Happiness/Gratitude Jar  (mine is a can) on my desk (an idea from Elizabeth Gilbert), and I am adding one photo a day to an iPhoto calendar that will be my Year of Gratitudes 2016 that I will print at the end of the year as a reminder and reflection of all the good things that happened to me (an idea from a member of journal group on FB). An example:  Baby found a Christmas tie, a long string, that she has been dragging around the house for days — it fills me with joy to watch her playfulness.

Simple moments. 




"Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs."Pearl Strachan Hurd






2015: Summing Up a Year of SIMPLICITY 

As 2015 comes to a close, I am reflecting on my Word for 2015—SIMPLICITY—a word that brought me profound change.

  • creating an uncluttered environment:   As you can see from previous posts, Marie Kondo’s Tidying-Up techniques worked for me. It was active, daily work that took months to accomplish. Now I no longer struggle to find anything. I have all like items in their own space, I chose only to keep what is essential to my soul’s happiness (the physical response my body has is a smile), I eliminated the rest, and since I’ve rearranged and organized neatly with balance and beauty—I can honestly say I love my sanctuary. 
  • slowing down:  This was also a year for passive mornings spent in deep contemplation. I was led to the Gene Keys, a program that sheds light on one’s deepest potential. I’m embracing my shadows and recognizing my gifts. I’ve been rambling, not running.
  • going with the flow:  Has already been a distinct part of my make-up for quite a few years. I trust the universe to bring me opportunities I could never have imagined for myself. I embrace the moment. I’ve learned that resistance results in reruns. I’ve learned that what you focus on expands. I choose my focus far more mindfully.
  • effortless action:  Has been a choice, a requirement, a dictate even, of mine since I made a clear decision to move from CA to NM with ease and effortlessness. It was exactly that. Amazingly. We can choose our futures.
  • mindfulness: I focus on one task at a time with total attention to it. I’ve given up multi-tasking and the stress that it inflicted on my body. I pay attention to timing more and more. 
  • letting go of goals:  My only desire at the end of the year is to choose another one word focus for the coming year with Susannah Conway's 5 day Find Your Word for 2016! email assistance. I will become the magnet for opportunities based on that focus. I will choose opportunities to accept based on my response. If I contract I’ll say no, and if I expand and smile I’ll say YES and YES because yes is more fun than no. I am still a maker and hider of lists and vision boards which turn out to be very prophetic when looked back.
  • 7 finding simplicity:  It’s been a magical year. I’m nicer because I’m not as snappish from stress. I adore the new friends I’ve made and our laughter is up-lifting (and more important than ever given the state of world affairs). I’ve let go of so very much dead weight from the past that I’ve even dropped a full 10 lb. set point without even trying. My life is far more satisfying and serene. I'm ready for more.

"I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures." —Lao Tzu


More Steps Toward a Simpler Life


“Whatever you focus on expands” is a phrase that I have discovered to be absolute truth for me. Last year the focus on JOY brought me a bright shiny new car that makes me smile every time I look at it and every time I get into it to go somewhere. This year my focus on the word SIMPLICITY brought me the book by Marie Kondo and set me on the TIDYING UP path. This focus on SIMPLICITY continues to bring messages my way almost everyday about the effects of simplicity in various areas of my life, not just my home. Reducing visual and technological noise feels critically important to my creative process at the moment. 

KONDO'd Desktop

other areas being addressed at the same time:

My Photography:  I had the opportunity to join the Minimalism Photography Group on FB and participated until the deluge of 2000 people's photos put me over the edge and I dropped out.

My Writing:  "focus: a simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction" is a very insightful, small, FREE, book by Leo Babauta, Zenhabits blogger, which led me to eliminate a great deal of VISUAL and technological NOISE—another bit of life changing magic. I now really look forward to sitting down at the desk, and writing/designing/communicating my truth instead of playing solitaire.

Social Media Clutter Reduced—Email, Facebook, Instagram:  I have opted to unlike 99% of the 200 or so random FB pages I had liked over the years, which leaves me with input only from friends and a very few inspirational and creative people. Instagram is reduced to family and friends. Email: trashed over 10,000 very old emails this weekend.

My Art+Spirit:  from Sark comes another reinforcement to the Zen Habits that Leo writes about.

The Search for Peace of Mind:  the 21 Benefits of Owning Less is their list I found after listening to a podcast by two guys who blog about bedcoming minimilist. All kinds of great advice on this blog.



In practice:  The morning after I finished reading section iii of Leo’s book, I took a look at what my desk looked like before I started the Tidying Up process. Then I sat at my desk and realized I’d gotten only partway to where I really wanted to be, and removed everything I was not using, and moved the most frequently used items to the bookshelf to my left (stapler, pencils, paper). I never ever use the phone book so I recycled it. I left the candle of “Our Lady of Artistic Inspiration” next to my monitor, removed the clutter on my “inspiration board” and left only what is currently inspiring me—Simplicity, Grace, and travel bookings! I put flowers on my desk—they make me immensely happy. 

For the first time since I began blogging—a true creative joy—seven years ago, I just now had the thought that I might want to change the look and feel of my blog design, to something simpler and easier to read. Hmmmmmm, I’ll contemplate that thought for awhile.  

Tidying Up + Minimalism = Simplicity, JOY, & a Renewed Focus