Dear Uncle Walt,

Dear Uncle Walt,

I'm trying hard to keep moving forward, to continue to believe in the magic, and to let my curiosity lead me down new creative paths.

Warmest regards,
Me

The above rose is officially called "Disneyland" and grows in these amazing bunched clusters, looking like live bouquets on the bush. These specimens are blooming in my garden here at Rosehaven Cottage.
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Preserves

Preserves

Some things are just meant to be preserved
Luscious juicy berries picked right out of the garden
Recipes on yellowed paper written in fountain pen
Memories of the women who wrote them
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Make a wish...

Make a wish...

...let the seeds of hope float on the breeze to be carried to heights unimagined.
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Cherry Parfait

Cherry Parfait

When I first saw the name of this rose "Cherry Parfait", I fell in love even though it was just a bare-root package with no foliage, encased in a plastic bag with a picture of what the rose would hopefully look like someday. Not far from it on the bare-root display was another rose named "My Fifi". Again, I fell in love with the name.

The two roses came home with me and went into the ground opposite one another with only a small walking path dividing them.

That was only a couple of years ago. Both are stellar performers in the blooming department. Their blooms are great for cutting and putting in a vase.

I'm glad I went ahead and bought them even if only for their names.
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Rain-kissed chamomile

Rain kissed chamomile

Every year when the rain starts, chamomile sprouts come up in different places throughout the garden. Sometimes its in a pot. Sometimes its in a planter. I never know where I'll find the lacy green leaves popping up. But I'm always glad when I find them. Rarely do I pull them up. I let them grow so I can see their sunny little blooms... looking very much like miniature fried eggs... sunny-side up of course.
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Compassion

Compassion

I took this photo at the end of April up in the hills to the south of us. I was struck by the verdant green of the grass, the moodiness of the sky and the poignancy of the sign next to the winding roadway.

As I've post-processed this photo, I've reflected about the symbolism that lies within it. No one knows the road I've traveled just as I don't know the roads others have traveled. It's simply because the road one travels is theirs and theirs alone. My life's road has had bends, turns, ups, downs, lovely vistas and bleak horizons. I assume everyone's does.

Through all those changes of scenery and particularly through traveling the most difficult stretches of road, I've learned one thing--compassion.

It is because of the challenges I've faced that I am a better human being. Without them I wouldn't have empathy, compassion, charity, hope and a myriad of other important life acquisitions that can only be attained through traveling the most difficult of life's roads.

I have to be honest... when faced with an uphill climb, huge pothole or some other trial in my journey I'm the first to grumble and fuss. It's never fun. I rarely have very good perspective in the midst of the trial. And I certainly don't blissfully sit back and say, "I am SO thankful for this!" Nope. I'm a whiner.

But once the trial has progressed, once I've just bent over and headed into it (even if I complained as I did so) at some point when the trial begins to ease up or has completely passed, I see the blessings that have come along with the hardship.

And very often one of the most precious blessings I've received is compassion.
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Learning, creating, growing


I love the spring because my whole inner self seems to come alive with the desire to learn, create and grow. I have a similar phenomenon happen in the fall when I want to learn (a throwback to a "back to school" mentality).

Fortunately for me, during this time when I want to create and learn Heavenly Father often hands me just the right project from just the right person. This time it came by way of a referral from my sister. Her friend is finishing up her certification as a footzonologist and needed a logo as well as a website of some sort for an online presence.

I love projects like this... the ones that start out with a completely blank slate. Karen hadn't even settled on a business name yet so I was fortunate to be a part of all of that brainstorming--probing with key questions to stir her own creative juices to bubble up and come to the surface with exactly what she was envisioning down inside. It's exciting to be a part of that.

In the end, I was able to give Karen a logo she loves and a blog to match. What Karen gave me was an opportunity to use my Photoshop skills, my illustration talents (for the footprint in the sand) and stretch my skills as a Blogger developer, learning some new tricks along the way.

I am grateful for projects like these. Somehow the successful completion has given me more courage to explore other creative ideas that have been simmering in the background because I've been too fearful to jump in and try (I call it "perfectionist paralysis"). Little by little... line upon line... precept upon precept the Lord is getting me back in touch with my inner artist and helping me be courageous in my creativity again.
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Thank you, Stephanie (Nie Nie)



I have followed Stephanie Nielsen's journey almost as long as I've had this blog. On the days I need strength, I go to her blog and read. She always writes exactly what I need to read. Since she doesn't take comments on her blog, I can't think of a better way to thank Stephanie than to share this short film about her here on my own blog.
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