:: Sometimes Mondays ::

An ongoing series of Monday snapshots and quiet reflections.

Sometimes Mondays look like Christmas on the porch.

 

P.S.  There’s still time (till midnight PST tonight) to enter the giveaway with Jane Hinchliffe.  If you didn’t read our conversation yet, click right here to visit with her (she’s lovely) and leave a comment to enter her giveaway (it’s a good one).

 

 

 

An Interview + A Giveaway {Jane Hinchliffe}

It’s been a while since I’ve hosted an interview + giveaway.  This is a series in which I introduce you to very special people…individuals who work equally hard at their craft and at living an intentional life….individuals willing to share thoughts on creativity and discussing current work dear to his/her heart. Each individual who joins us will also generously offer some sort of giveaway. It could be a handmade item, a spot in a workshop, a collection of stones or crystals…anything that’s connected to the feature artist’s work and life. Their gift to you is of their choosing. This series will, I hope, create space to explore what creativity looks like to different people; I hope it will also create space to spread a little love through the gifts of our guests.

I met today’s guest, Jane Hinchliffe, in an online class this past summer.  Jane is an artist working hard to build an intentional business, and I appreciate the work she’s doing.  She approached me a few months ago, inviting me to be part of an upcoming online class of hers.  It’s a yearlong class (you’ll hear more about it below) and it looks to be wonderful.  I thought my interview series would be a perfect opportunity to introduce you to Jane, her painting, and her upcoming class.  So let’s get to know Jane…

I love hearing what creativity means to other people. Will you share with us what creativity means to you?

A great first question and one that I love hearing the answer from other people too.  For me, creativity means freedom, play, self-expression, encountering the sacred, contentment and at times, challenge.  I say ‘challenge’ because whenever you’re creating something from the heart, you’ll encounter your inner critic – it doesn’t stop me though!

Can you tell us about your creative work and business?

I’m an artist and online art teacher living in the UK.  I create online art classes for women who want to embrace and re-discover their creative spirit.  Life is so busy for many of us and I’m passionate about helping women take some time out for themselves to fill their own well.  Art helps us to slow down, be mindful, process (often subconsciously) emotions, memories, worries and dreams – it even boosts our immune system and lowers blood pressure.  My classes aim to help women find their own unique way of expressing themselves using art, often when there are no words.

Do you have any rituals surrounding your creative work? 

Rituals – well, before I start painting, I like to say a brief prayer and will often do some journaling in my combined bullet journal/sketchbook.  I also love candles and will light one or two – my favourites are nestled in china tea cups, one of which belonged to my great, great aunt. Being English, I love tea and always have a mug of piping hot tea next to me – I just try not to put my paintbrush in it though! I sometimes play podcasts and occasionally music but for the most part, I like silence because otherwise I find I’m too distracted.

As a mother and artist, I’m curious how you weave your creative work into that of family and home.  How do you honor your creative work while also being a mother?

Our teenage boys are both at a local high school and so after we’ve dropped them off and walked the dogs (often with my husband), I tend to settle down in my studio, look at my planner and see what I need to accomplish and then have some journal writing time with prayer.  I get some work done for a couple of hours whether it be painting, writing a blog post, drafting a Heart Letter (my newsletter) or recording a new art tutorial; then after a break for lunch, I get back to work until it’s time to collect our boys from school.

The other part of your question is quite a tough one for me because there is always that push and pull towards being a Mum and a creative business owner.  I love to create and if left to my own devices, I would happily paint and create all day, especially as time flies by!  However, I have to pull myself away and put on my ‘Mummy hat’ which is a struggle (I’m not going to lie), especially if I’m in the middle of a project or creating a new class.  Saying that, I also adore being a Mum and enjoy when it’s the school holidays and weekends.

Does being a mother inspire your painting?

Being a mother does inspire my painting at times.  I created a body of work called HeadsUp50 and this was based on mixed media collages and my past experience of depression. Some of the collages feature children and families. My work very much speaks of the lives of women – life stages, the struggles and the blessings – all combined.

You have a new online workshop coming up.  Please tell us about that!  What inspired you to create this special yearlong workshop?

Yes, I’m really excited about this new year-long online class!  It’s called The Art Of Contentment and every month I’m going to be creating a mixed media portrait tutorial as well as introducing a guest (and I’m so glad to have you as my first guest, Michelle, for 1 January!). Each guest will share their insights into what contentment in a busy world means to them.  I believe that art can help us switch off from the pressures of a busy world and enable us to reconnect with ourselves, refocus our priorities and slow down.  I think it’s going to be amazing to witness women giving themselves this monthly gift and immersing themselves in portrait painting, slowing down, finding rest, hearing from inspiring women and discovering an inner contentment.

Now some fun ones…

What’s the weather like in your corner of the world today?

The weather is yucky!  It’s very windy, grey and rainy today but the oranges, russets and brown colours contrast beautifully with the smoky, charcoal sky.

Do you have a favorite food?

My favourite food varies depending upon what I feel my body needs.  Sometimes fish is what I crave, whilst other times it might be a classic chilli con carne to a yummy cheese omelette with salad and some fries.

Are you currently reading a book?  If so, what is it?

My current book is:  Very difficult to choose just one because I love to read. I’ve just finished Virgin Earth by Philippa Gregory,  I’m now reading A Book Of Silence by Sara Maitland and Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller. I always have an art book on the go and currently it’s Textile Landscape – Painting With Cloth in Mixed Media by Cas Holmes.

What are some ways you like to relax?

I like to relax by reading (especially in bed), taking family walks with our dogs here in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales where we live, painting (of course), cooking, time with friends, watching birds from the window, learning something new and taking a delicious afternoon nap every now and again.  Being a very visual person, I love to take photos wherever I go (it drives my family nuts) – I particularly enjoy textures from nature such as moss, rough bark or rusted old gate that’s peeling.

If you close your eyes right now, what word comes to mind?

Word that comes to mind is: contentment.  Seriously, I know I’m creating an online class around this word but it’s personally on my mind too.  How to find contentment throughout the ups and downs and all in a busy, fractured but utterly beautiful world.  For me, the simple, humble (and free) things are always the best.

And now for the giveaway…

Jane is giving away a free spot in her upcoming, yearlong (!!) class The Art Of Contentment.   You can read more about the class right here.  I’m honored to be one of Jane’s guests for this class, and am also looking forward to taking the class myself.

 

 

To enter the giveaway, here’s what you need to do:
Leave a comment below.  You can simply say hello, but we’d especially love if you share what brings you contentment.  Comments will close at midnight PST on Monday, December 10, 2018. The randomly-selected winner will be announced here in this post on Tuesday, December 11.
Comments are now closed.

 

The randomly-selected winner of the giveaway is Donna!  Donna, an email is coming your way!
Thank you to each of you who left such thoughtful comments on what contentment means to you.
Jane and I wish you much contentment in your coming days.

 

If you didn’t win the giveaway (how I wish you all could win!) Jane is extending her generous discount to YOU through this Friday, 12/14.  Discount code below.

 

But wait!  There’s more:
Jane has created a special discount code just for you, my dear readers.  With this code, you can register for class at the price of GBP £95 (approximately $121 USD).  Regular price is GBP £150  (approximately $192 USD).  What a generous discount!
Use this code by Friday, December 14 to get your spot in class: MICHELLEHEARTSCONTENTMENT
Click here to register.

Thank you, Jane, for being here with us today.

 

Sending a little love your way, m

 

Jane Hinchliffe
An artist and online teacher, I’m passionate about sharing soulful, creative and practical tools I’ve discovered through my life’s challenges. My journey has encompassed depression, the life-threatening illness of a child and more recently, a diagnosis of high functioning autism for my two youngest children. I’ve learned to approach life and all that it entails from a place of gratitude, warmth and honesty. I help others slow down, reclaim their identity, embrace play through art and find an inner contentment and joy in a busy world.

 

 

:: Ten Things ::

Ten Things.  Right Now.

1.  the wind…it’s cold, but it feels so good…it lifts (branch, hair, spirit)
2.  the pup at my feet…her loyalty, her furriness, her unconditional love
3.  the sky…vast, open…covering, holding, reflecting
4.  the last of the leaves…falling…unpretentious, somehow regal
5.  my fleece jacket, my handknit hat, my son’s old gloves…so many kinds of warmth
6.  this pause…after the work…before more work
7.   anticipation of weekend visitors…happiness
8.  strength
9.  the end of a month…the beginning of another…the way it all flows along
10. this spot, beneath the birches…home

 

And you?  What is your right now??

Sending a little love your way, m

 

***
P.S.  Tomorrow’s the last day to register for Just Five Things.  We begin Monday!

The Good We Can Embrace

When I sent out my closing post for Gratitude Week, I shared this quote:

What if, today, we were grateful for everything?
~Charlie Brown~

Ah, the wisdom of sweet Charlie Brown.  And I know some of you may be shaking your heads, thinking immediately of circumstances in your life – or in the lives of others – that one could not possibly be thankful for.  And I get that.  I can think of questionable scenarios too.

Is it possible to feel grateful for everything?

I honestly don’t know, and I won’t try to answer that for you or anyone else.  But here’s what I do know and feel…

It’s hard to feel grateful for forest fires raging in California.  But it’s easy to feel gratitude for all the people working to save the people and the forests, to see the communities that gather to support one another.

It’s hard to feel grateful for gun violence.  But it’s easy to feel gratitude for the people working hard to make a change.  (here’s an easy way for you to insert your voice)

It’s hard to feel grateful for loved ones suffering chronic health issues, but it’s easy to feel gratitude for the families and friends who gather round, for the health professionals who dedicate their lives to alleviating pain and disease.

These are just a few injustices to illustrate the point that, at surface value, some things won’t seem worthy of our gratitude but that, if we shift the place from which we stand ever so slightly (figuratively, sometimes literally), might offer a softening of the heart.  This softening won’t erase anything, but it might make the continued journey – because that is what we do, living here on this Earth, we journey – a wee bit pleasanter.  A tad easier to wrap our brains around, if only for a moment.

I’m not asking anyone to be grateful for everything.  That’s a pretty tall order.  But maybe we can shift the way we understand the interconnectedness of people and things, of life.  So that, somewhere down the line, there’s a glimmer, a spark, a recognition….of the good that is ours to embrace.

always the love, m

 

P.S.  Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving in the United States, or are having a regular day/week somewhere else in the world, I wish you love and kindness.  I wish you strength to shift perspective, as necessary. I wish you grace to rest wherever you are, always.

P.P.S.  There’s still time to sign up for Just Five Things

Gratitude Week 2018

I’ll be posting just once as we begin our week together.  I’m sending out Gratitude Notes each day and I’ll be posting daily on Instagram, but, here, I’ll post just once.  I encourage you to leave comments and/or links to your own blog posts and/or links to Flickr shots or share on Instagram with #GratitudeWeek2018 on any day of the week! If you share your thoughts and links, we can visit and share your gratitudes with you. xo

There are many, many things to put on a gratitude list.  I find myself, as I sit to write this, wondering where to begin.  And when I find myself wondering such a thing, I know that I need to begin with right now, then flow from there.  And so here I go…

 

For the wind that gusts outside.  For the rustling leaves.  For it being just warm enough to crack the windows so that I can hear the leaves.  For the birch trees, whose leaves are the ones falling and rustling.  For trees and sky and earth.

 

For the freshly-mopped hardwood floor and the way the late afternoon sun makes it glow.  For the pup who’s stretched out upon the floor.  For the comfy couch on which I’ll sit later this evening, and for the people I love who will sit close by.  For the roof over our heads.  For the flannel sheets on our beds.  For comfort and softness and warmth.

 

For my desk where I sit to write this.  For my cameras close by.  For my journals and notebooks, filled.  For my planner, nearly filled as we move toward the close of this calendar year. For pens and pencils and erasers. For memory and dreams and love.

 

For the avocado I ate earlier.  For the glasses of clean, fresh water I’ve drunk all day.  For the comforting dinner we’ll eat in a bit.  For the time to prepare meals and tuck in a little love. For nourishment and contentment and convenience.

 

For the luxury to share in a space like this, with people like you.  For the privilege of living in a country filled with freedoms.  For the relative ease in which I live my life, knowing this isn’t the case for everyone.  For hope and tenderness and understanding.

 

For the things I’ve listed here.  For all the things (and people) not mentioned, but resting in my heart.  For all of that and them and more.

 

Sending so much love today and this week, m

And you?  What are the gratitudes in your heart right now?

 

***
Here’s how you can play along with Gratitude Week:

  1. Share your gratitudes with #GratitudeWeek2018 on Instagram.
  2. Leave a comment below and/or link to your own blog post. You can share in this post any or all days.
  3. Send me an email…I love them, I read them, I respond to them.
  4. Reflect privately at home.

Sharing Here and Sharing There

We begin Gratitude Week on Monday and, if you haven’t signed up to receive Gratitude Notes yet, there’s still time.  I’ll be sending out a welcome note on Sunday; we officially begin on Monday. Click here to sign up for the (free) Gratitude Notes.

 

On Monday, I’ll be sharing a gratitude post here and I invite you to use that post as a touchpoint throughout next week.  Share your own gratitudes in the comments section, as well as links to blog posts you might be sharing on your own blogs.  Visit one day, or every day.  I look forward to exploring gratitude with you.

 

In the meantime, I’m pleased to be sharing a photo essay with the wonderful folks at Holstee this month. So instead of reading more here today, I invite you to click over there.

 

I hope you enjoy that read, and I’ll see you back here on Monday…

 

In gratitude for you and
Sending a little love your way, m

 

P.S.  If you like photography and quotes, Barbara and I have a new pairing today.  Have a peek here.