musings, outings & adventures, photography, sacred sundays

Planning Your Creative Lulls

Creative cycles are normal.

The ebb and flow of my creative cycles can be extreme, marked by times of high productivity and manic moments where I get little sleep. I love the rush that comes from a million ideas flowing and I’m energized by the insights and connections that happen. Maintaining this intensity is humanly impossible. Invariably the tide turns and the ebb pulls back the energy, crashing my body that demands sleep. Either I drop from exhaustion or I fall ill. The creative lull kicks in and it generally takes time to get my creative juices flowing again.


In recent months, I’ve been focusing on the chakras which has me observing my energy levels, noticing what gives me energy and what zaps my energy.

For many weeks now, I’ve been in that glorious creative flow.


I’m curious to know, “How can I sustain my creative flow so I don’t crash?”


While the answer may seem obvious and simple to some, changing up my habits, isn’t so easy. I’ve had a breakthrough thanks to working with the root chakra. I’m realizing that I need to not only eat for energy and get to bed early, but I also need to schedule my creative lulls.


When my husband approached me on Saturday afternoon inviting me to go on a spontaneous road trip to Maine for the weekend, I couldn’t resist. I quickly packed a bag and we headed to Camden, Maine where we stayed for two nights.

Here was my chance to do an experiment, to leave everything behind and enjoy some R&R. No agenda. No to do list. No expectations.

Could this overachieving, workaholic truly getaway?

Can you even plan your creative lulls?

Even before we left the driveway, I felt like a kid.

“Adventure is out there!!” I exclaimed quoting my favorite character from UP!


There were magical moments at every turn.

At the top of Mount Battie, we watched the sunset on one side of the mountain and the nearly-full moon rise on the other side. Since it was also the Autumn Equinox, I thought about my personal harvest, the many lessons and blessings since the Spring Solstice.

I’m sure you are curious to see the view. I promise to show you when I get my hands on my husband’s photos. He has a sweet Sony camera and a talent for capturing landscapes.


Most people know me for my work with mandalas. Rightly so as I paused a lot of my other interests and pursuits to focus on this one area. For about four years I’ve been studying and building a body of work around mandalas to include my book, workshops, and programs.

Before this all-things-mandala period, I loved going on outings with my camera and blogging about my creative and soulful life. While my husband has a knack for landscapes, I take the type of photos that you see in this post – vignettes, stolen moments, ordinary objects overlooked by most people – and where the elements of line, shape, texture, and color come together. Typically my subjects don’t move and are naturally poised in day light. In other words, I photograph still life.


Every sense was delighted on this trip.

We stopped in a yarn shop in Camden, Maine. I don’t knit or crochet, but perhaps one day I will so I can start collecting luscious skeins of yarn.

I adore color and I’m impressed with its healing properties; it can be energizing or calming. Each color has a vibrational frequency that corresponds to the chakra points in our bodies. I’ve been exploring and experimenting with the healing aspects of color in my chakra series.


On our way home, we stopped at Popham Beach, a location that has been on my bucket list for 7+ years. While others look for shells and other treasures to collect, I collect interesting shadows.


I also steal shots of Mr. Wonderful who refuses to pose for my photos.


Here’s a look at Fort Popham. Doesn’t it look so medieval? I love the lighting, colors, and textures.


Wherever I go, I carry a little notebook to record my ideas and creative flashes. This trip offered lots of inspiration for my upcoming workshops and programs, especially the sacral chakra which is about passion, creativity, and play.

Here I kicked off my shoes to show off my cute little iridescent blue toes. “Making Waves” was the name of the color and another example of a recent spontaneous outing where a friend and I took a morning off to have breakfast in Portsmouth, NH followed by getting pedicures. It felt so luxurious, nurturing, and decadent to pause the work to practice some self-love.

This stepping stone is one of several that you’ll find just outside the Camden Public Library.


I’ll leave you with this last photo taken at Peter Ott’s on the Water Restaurant in Camden. From where I was sitting, my view was of a fireplace with this fabulous distressed wood and jar of flowers.

For 2-1/2 days and two nights, I left my work behind. I unplugged from social media and savored time with my husband, camera, and the beautiful setting. I came back feeling so rested, rejuvenated, inspired, and ready to dive back into my creative work.

I also rediscovered my love for photography and blogging.

Now, I’m eagerly awaiting my next creative lull. I wonder where the adventure will take me?

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{soul hugs}


outings & adventures, photography, sacred sundays, watercolor

Sacred Sundays, Lupines, and Lobster Coves


Seven months ago I made some lifestyle changes and declared Sundays as sacred. What makes them sacred? I unplug from social media and I don’t do any work; I spend quality time with my husband, savor nature, and create art. The idea is to slow down.

What I’ve discovered is how much I look forward to Sundays. My body, mind, and spirit deeply relaxes and I experience an inner peace and joy. I had no idea how much stress I was carrying until I made time to rest and renew on a regular basis.

Last Sunday, my husband and I ventured over to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine.


It’s lupine season here in New England and I was in awe of the reds and dark pinks found at the gardens.


I’ve only seen the blues, light pinks, and white lupines.


Hens and chicks are a favorite of mine from the succulent family.


I snapped these shots to give me ideas for color combinations to use in future mandala projects.


Here we find a little shelter from the hot midday sun where the shadows captivated my attention.

While many flowers were not blooming at this time, I enjoyed how the wind played with the sculptures.


Often when we set out, we have an idea of where we’ll go but we are always open to the unexpected blessings and surprises that show up. Much to our luck we discovered a sweet spot on Lobster Cove for a picnic.


When we arrived late on a Sunday afternoon, we had the place to ourselves. It felt incredibly peaceful. The swing on a beautiful old tree called to me. I couldn’t remember the last time that I sat on a swing. As I kicked my legs out and back, I allowed my mind to relax into the moment. The crispy cool air chilled my face as I watched it gently ripple the water. It was the perfect way to end our day.


Sometimes the weather isn’t conducive for an outing or work demands our attention. Sacred Sundays then become Sacred Mondays or in this case Sacred Thursday. I googled, “breakfast with an ocean view” and found a restaurant called, “The Lobster Cove” in York Beach, Maine.

Our late morning arrival on a weekday meant we had our pick of seats on the deck.

We had ocean views on one side and …


views of this marshy area on the other side.


Looking down, little shadow mandalas dotted the deck.

As I look at the shadow photos in this post, thoughts go to Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain who both appeared successful and having so much light to offer the world yet this week both took their own lives. While I don’t know the underlying issues and reasons for their deaths, what I do know is that our culture needs more Sacred Sundays, more unplugging, more time face-to-face hanging out with loved one, more time in nature, and more time getting creative or active.


For today’s Sacred Sunday, I was inspired by the recurring “lobster cove” theme from our recent two outings. I pulled out my Arteza water-based brush pens to create this colorful lobster. There is a spontaneity and unpredictability with watercolors and it’s so much fun to see how the water interacts with the colors. I find myself giddy and playing like a kid.

How about you? Are you always plugged in? Carve out some time this week to pull the plug, find a swing at a nearby park or gather up some art supplies to make something.


outings & adventures, photography

Don’t forget to look up.


Earth Day was on Sunday. My husband and I felt called to one of our favorite places, the ocean, specifically, the Marginal Way that’s located in Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, Maine.

The well paved path, just as it’s name suggests, hugs the margins of the ocean.

Here was our first stop shortly after we started our walk. What called me was not the bench so much as the trees.


Maine is known for where the “forest meets the sea.”


It’s remarkable how strong and sturdy these windswept trees are especially when we see…


where they stand. The rugged, rocky coastline steals my heart, every time I visit.

If I were a tree, is this where I’d want to be planted?

True, the views are incredible but is my constitution strong enough to endure the elements? Could I adapt?

Here’s where I get a wee bit philosophical…

I look at these trees and I compare where they stand with where I’m standing in my life. Hmmmmm….I’ve weathered many events in my life and know my share of loss and disappointment. Resilience is one of my strengths of character. Perhaps, I’m more like these trees than I first thought?

As I was juggling my camera with the camera bag to grab a different lens, I tapped the view screen against my tummy which in turn took this photo…


Look at that! This happy accident gave me a completely new and unexpected perspective. There are times when I look up and take photos but on this day, I was looking down and outward.


While the photo isn’t in focus, I love the feeling of it and it’s a great reminder to not forget to look up.

Do you get so focused on the rocky parts of your life that you lose sight of your why?

My busyness has slowed down in the last week. In that doing, doing, doing there is little room for being. There is little room for listening. I’m good at keeping myself busy. My grandmother even gave me that advice. She said, “Don’t be idle. Always keep yourself busy. If you’re idle, you’ll end up feeling sorry for yourself.” It’s advice that I’ve put into practice. I’ve been known to say, “There’s isn’t time for fear. There’s only time for doing.”

Over the years, I’ve also come to know the value of being. My body, mind, and spirit require that I balance “being” with “doing.” Add to that there is no amount of doing that can mature an idea like the quiet of incubation time.

This quiet time, however opens up a space for where those inner critics like to show up.

Yesterday, I was chatting with a friend. She started our conversation, “I’ve been wondering how it’s going for you since you made that big decision to leave the day job. How are you doing?”

I told her how I’ve been so busy that there was little time to panic until this last week. Here’s what I do when fear grips my heart: I allow the tears to surface, I listen to what the inner critics have to say, then I step outside for a quick walk to clear my head. When I come back in, I get back to work. Sometimes I journal it out. Other times, I create a mandala. I can’t let myself get stuck in fear. There is a lot of work to be done to make my business a success. Momentum is key.

When a “should do” becomes a “get to do.”

One of the biggest challenges of an entrepreneur is to keep up with social media. This week, I started a new Facebook page and Instagram accounts for True North Arts. It has been on the “you should do list” and I was dreading the idea of starting these new accounts, building the following, and finding time to post to them. As I sat down to finally do it, I found myself feeling more and more energized with each photo and post. I love my work and it makes my soul jump for joy. I feel lucky to have these sites as they offer another way to share the beauty of my soul work and to connect with kindred spirits. Now that’s cool!

As I bring this blog post to a close, and looking back at the tree photos from Earth Day, my inner critics are quiet. You see, I’m feeling up for the challenge to grow where I’m planted. I’ve shifted my focus from the rocky parts to my “why” which is the work that makes my soul happy.

Three things that make me happy these days…

Oh and one more happy thing…

journal, mandalas, musings, photography, soulcollage

Celebrating Ten Years


When asked, “How did you get to where you are today?” I reply, “I followed my curiosity and paid attention to what energized and excited me.”

It’s been ten years since my first blog post and I’ve come a long way. Those first posts were so awkward and dry. I didn’t know what to write but I showed up anyway posting photos of my art experiments.

I poked around Bloglandia and connected with other bloggers. We exchanged encouraging comments that inspired me to keep posting. I remember my very first comment came from a woman in Germany. I was impressed that my pictures and words were seen not only by someone I didn’t know, but someone living in a country so distant from my own. This exchange held the same awe and mystery that I felt sending and receiving pen pal letters some thirty years earlier.  Within a couple of months of blogging, my authentic voice began to emerge as I wrote about life as a single mother rediscovering the joy of creating for her own pleasure. The more I opened up, the more others connected with my words and ideas.

A whole new world opened up for me and my curiosity would lead me to try various mediums and techniques for expressing my inner landscape and philosophy on life. Within four months I found myself publishing weekly Soul Journal prompts and moderating a Yahoo board.

Now ten years later, I’ve published thousands of blog posts, offered a range of online courses, and trained with some highly skilled and talented facilitators. The best part has been connecting with kindred spirits from all over the world.

I’m grateful to have documented my soulful and creative life in blog posts, journals, photographs, and creative projects. This provided a record of where I’ve been and what I was thinking, feeling, and experiencing. To my surprise, I found evidence of an intention that would set the course to where I’m at today. In the very first year, I recorded my deepest wish: “My mission is to create and connect. My dream is to design inspiring hands-on activities that connect people with their Self and others.”

It’s so clear how all of the experiences and projects over the years stem from this one positive intention set ten years ago and today it remains true only with more clarity, confidence, and experience.

Highlights from the last ten years.


  • The Collage Diva blog was named after my love for cutting and gluing paper since I was child. The name also reflects how I see life as a collage with random experiences coming together in a cohesive, unexpected, and meaningful way.
  • 04/06/08 – The date of the first post. It wasn’t planned but the month, day, and year differ by two.
  • For my 40th birthday, I hosted a SoulCollage® Tea party and hired a facilitator for a private workshop for my friends.


  • Within four months of blogging, I started posting Soul Journal prompts and moderated a Yahoo board.


  • After a year of blogging I launched the True North Arts blog. The first post featured mandala art created by people who were following my Soul Journal series.
  • Over the course of the next nine years, my artwork appeared in a variety of exhibits and published in several books and magazines. I documented in photographs many adventures and outings over the years.
  • In 2009, I began studying Ikebana, Japanese flower arranging.
  • In 2010, I completed the SoulCollage® Facilitator Training. I started a study of the Olympic Greek Goddess Archetypes.
  • In 2011, I hosted gatherings called Dream Circles for SARK fans in the New England Area.


  • In 2012, I hosted a Virtual Wedding Event with my husband. It would be the first of many very creative online events.
  • In 2013, I completed the Virtues Project Facilitator Training. I learned the empowering practices of speaking the language of the virtues and the Art of Companioning.


  • In 2013, I developed the Journey of the Heart Journal and online course.



  • In 2017, I ditched the day job to focus full-time on my business. I traveled to Hawaii for the Ram Dass Open Your Heart in Paradise Retreat and piloted my Goddess Course.


  • I began 2018 teaching a mandala program at Kripalu Yoga and Health Center.
  • In 2018, I opened the Sharing Circle as a free membership website. Started the monthly mandala challenges in January.
  • In 2018, I completed the Soul Coaching® Facilitator Training.
  • In 2018, I developed the Soul Journey Mandala Series.
  • 04/06/18 – I relaunched True North Arts to offer an array of creative and contemplative activities for connecting with the wisdom of one’s soul.


Where do I stand today?

What is my mission? What do I see, hear, feel, do, and love? I took the figure from the center of my timeline mandala and answered these questions. At the heart of what I’ve been doing these last ten years is creating and connecting soul-to-soul.

With this new True North Arts website, I’m delighted to continue my exploration of the mandala and to return to where I began with blogging, vision journals, SoulCollage®, mixed media and documenting my soulful and creative life in photos and videos.

My latest curiosities are nature based as I explore the fascinating world of Shamanism. I recognize and celebrate that I’m a strong intuitive and want to guide others to listen and trust their own intuition using the expressive and contemplative arts.

It feels so good to have such clarity and conviction. I’m excited to see where my curiosity will take us these next ten years!

Celebrate with me!

Each month I host a mandala challenge and for April, I’m inviting you to celebrate by creating a “Celebrate 10 Mandala.” I talk about the challenge in the video above.

Challenge Details

Mandala Gallery: Celebrating 10 Years!

Fourteen members of the 100 Mandalas Community created these mandalas to kick off the celebration. Click on the images for a closer look at each mandala and to see if you can spot all of the ways that they worked in the number 10. I am touched by the messages that each artist sent along with their mandala. You can read them when you enlarge the view.