Category: Studio Diaries

Studio Diaries (2022, Week 37): Back in the Studio

It’s Friday afternoon and I found myself with a bit of time and inspiration to show up here and share a bit from my Studio Diary.  It’s the first week of a new season and that felt just right too.  This is a quick and personal round-up of this week in my studio – and remember, our lives are our studios!

The big excitement is that classes are back in action. A new cohort of amazing artists has stepped into Devotion this fall. This week, we started getting to know not only one another but also each of the artist’s visions for the season ahead. I have learned over many years the power and transformation available within a season. I use that three-month measure as a container for all that I plan, prioritize and do. For me, this fall I am clear on my priorities: Devotion, my well-being and my loved ones. I also have some amazing projects waiting in the wings and as and when I have time, I will reach over and invite them into the studio to dance.

In addition to the new Devotion artists, I hold an ongoing mentorship circle for Devotion alumnae and we made a start on Wednesday.  In the original program, artists are learning to create an unshakeable relationship with their art. In the seasons that follow, the mentorship circle helps hold and strengthen that relationship within the context of everyday life and all its opportunities and challenges. What is so deeply fulfilling to me is seeing the deepening clarity and confidence of each of these artists as they continue their practice of devotion. It is a wonder to witness.

And speaking of wonder, look at these dahlias! They are one of the richest blessings of this end-of-summer time of year.  I was thrilled to see that our local farmer’s market has a flower vendor this year and when I saw these dahlias, they spoke to me!  Earlier this summer a dear friend, a fellow artist and intuitive told me that dahlias wanted to work with me this season. I am happy to invite in the wisdom and beauty of dahlias! Of course, I could look up all the meanings these flowers traditionally symbolize but I prefer to build a personal relationship with these beauties, letting them speak to me directly.

Though we have started fall classes, we still have just under a week of summer left. I can tell the season is changing by the dark of the mornings, the chill in the air (though I insist on open windows) and the diminishing pages in my Studio Yearbook.

We’ve been through quite a time with the yearbook of late.  The behind-the-scenes demands had started to take over and I found myself spending more and more time tracking packages and dealing with paper prices than working where my true gifts lie – creating work that wakes the untapped magic that lives in creative hearts.  So I decided to let it go… and then to bring it back. The more I thought about it, the more DMs and emails I received, the more I talked to people about the  practice, the more I realized the yearbook itself is a core offering here at the studio. The problem was with the logistics not the offering itself.

I worried that people would think it was a ‘ploy’, that I had it in mind all along. (I didn’t.) I knew that to keep it, I’d have to switch to PDF only, and I worried about that too.  Would it be a barrier? Would people still want it? I didn’t know.

But what I did know, was this journal makes a difference. This simple daily practice has changed things for people, truly changed things. People have started drawing for the first time. They have started to take risks. They have recognized the beauty in their life. They have shared it with their sisters, their kids, their neighbours, their nieces and their dear friends. They have remembered what it is to dream. And it’s a part of my life. I use it every day and it matters. It reminds me to think like an artist every single day and I do.

So over the next week, I’ll start to draw my summer yearbook to a close. I’ll go back and fill in some things I missed. I’ll glue in pictures and have fun with washi tape. I’ll print out some of the pieces I’ve written and glue them in. I’ll look over some of the markers that have made this summer. Then I will close the book and have a fresh and beautiful slate for fall.

Okay, I have promised myself to keep Studio Diary entries easy and light so here’s a quick round-up of some other small or significant things that happened this week in the studio:

  • On Tuesday, September 13th, I started officially writing my book about Devotion. I have been doing a lot of writing for it for the past two years but this time felt different, like I was no longer wrangling the invisible but instead moved into knowing what this book wants to be.
  • I started slowly and intently reading the classic Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. This book has been on my shelves for over 20 years but now, in the year where my word is ‘rewilding’, it is the perfect time to read it.
  • I’m working on a secret project and, with the help of my sister-in-law’s sewing skills it is coming to fruition. I’ll share later when it won’t be a spoiler to the people it is for.
  • I tried something really cool with my Studio Yearbook after the full moon. I identified 12 themes in my Full Corn Moon dreamboard and used one of the Focus Pages to do a bit of writing about what dreams live in each of those themes. I loved it and will do it again! (My dreamboards have taught me so much over the years.)
  • Another way I can tell it’s getting colder is Shibumi is interested in cuddles, LOL!

Studio Diary: Packing, Planning & Art

I am so thankful to start my weeks with Mindful Mondays. Our practices and the group energy root me into my self, my community and my dreams. It helps me prepare powerfully for the week ahead. When we finished this week’s session, I felt like I had been immersed in a pink cocoon of love lit by twinkie lights. With so much going on in the studio and with the renovation, it’s precisely what I need.

In preparation for the reno, we’re getting ready to move. All of our things will be put in storage while we stay with family for the spring and summer. Packing has been an incredible exercise in focus and self-knowledge as we figure out what to bring and what to store. For me, this has been particularly true with art supplies.

I recently faced my big white bookcase that holds everything from paper to paint to chalk pastels. What did I need to bring with me? What could I safely put away? What was it time to let go of? What principles would guide the way?

Three things helped me decide what to keep with me:

  • What do I use all the time?
  • What doesn’t make much mess or take up much space?
  • What will I need for the class that I am taking (Year of the Collage)?

This gave me clarity as I put aside collage materials, basic drawing and colouring supplies, papers, watercolours and a few acrylics. Everything else,  I packed or let go of. Of course, in our very next class, what did we need? Oil pastels!

Art Day

Luckily, Shannon hosted Art Day and she had plenty to share.

Transparencies on Tape

We also needed packing tape. Funnily enough, that was something I had plenty of! It’s amazing how creative you can get with such a functional material! Here’s what I made…


It’s not just art supplies that are being assessed, packed and parted with. This past weekend, I worked on books! Oh… books, how we love you.

I’ve already packed plenty of boxes of books but was down to more difficult choices. I sat on my bed, looking through each one carefully and calmly, wondering how I was ever going to decide. It made all the difference when I decided to let my current reading practices guide the way. I spoke about that on the BTS and hope to write more about it later.

As I continued clearing and packing, I came across the binder I had created when we first moved into the house. It was full of our hopes, dreams and plans. My favourite thing was the collection of paint chips of the colours we chose. I still love the names: celadon, quahong, batter bowl green, hydrangea blue and French blue. Why do they ever just use numbers when the names hold half the appeal?

Favourite Chicken Recipe Card

I also went through my recipes and was delighted to discover this recipe card I’ve had since forever. This sesame chicken came to be known in our family simply as “Jamie’s favourite chicken” and I love it to this day. You cut chicken into little pieces, dip it in this simple batter and fry it up. The last time I made it, everyone was sneaking bits of chicken each they got something out of the fridge. It’s that good!

And speaking of delicious food, one of the things I am trying to do as we go through this intensive process is stick with making nutrition-rich food. It is so easy to let this go when you are working hard and tired. It’s so tempting to pick something up or pop something prepared in the oven – and I know we will do that – but, as best I can, I’m going to focus on vegetables. This week we had Pinch of Yum’s Bangkok Coconut Curry Noodles and wow! I just loved them! I seriously can’t wait to make this again. Pinch of Yum never steers us wrong!! Everything recipe we have made has been stellar.

As I write this entry, I realize the through-line of trying to stay grounded during a period of major transition. My intention is to keep my roots strong and to keep myself (and my loved ones) nourished as best I can as we go through the biggest creative project yet!

Studio Diaries: Schedules, Home & Cats


Studio Diary: Friday January 11, 2018

My Studio Diaries gather raw and real inspirations and insights of life in my studio. They are not finished pieces but works in progress intended to let you in to the world of this one creative heart.

Cat in the Hood

Just when I thought I was scaling the mountains of busy-ness, it turned out I was a mountain to be scaled! In the midst of a very full and demanding week, this magical moment happened. I was out for a walk delivering some important letters to do with our reno when I met this sweet tabby. Just as I was kneeling down to get closer, he walked right up my back and settled in! It was as though he were thoroughly ready for me to take him for a ride! What a joy. This was truly one of the most memorable “cats in the hood” experiences ever!

The Studio Yearbook

It’s hard to believe but it’s already time to start working on the spring edition of the Studio Yearbook. Now that we’ve completed our first year’s cycle, we’re making some changes – not to the yearbook itself but to how we share it with the world.

Every season since its inception, we’ve chosen one growing edge to focus on with each yearbook. For example, in the fall season I learned how to print postage from the studio instead of having to take boxes and boxes to the post office in my granny cart. That was particularly good for the winter edition!

We’re always trying to improve and we’re always trying to grow. There are a million things on my list of possibilities for what we can do to nourish the yearbook and its community. It’s hard to not try to do it all at once! But one thing I’ve learned from plate-spinning is to get one thing going smoothly before you add the next.

The Reno

As we prepare for the reno and, like everyone else, as I binge watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, I am focusing on the things that are truly near and dear to my heart, like Otis.

On one of our early anniversaries, Justin and I walked into a toy store and each bought one thing. He ended up with little red binoculars and I fell in love with a sweet bunny puppet I named Otis. He accompanied us on the rest of our date. He talked to kids on the streetcar and had his own seat at dinner. Now I even have a portrait painting of me and Otis. (Thanks, Shannon!)

He’s a little worse for the wear but he’s a keeper for sure.

And speaking of the reno, I am just so happy right now! We’re a few weeks away from the committee meeting which will determine whether we can go ahead with the reno in the way that we would like to. One thing that can impact our chances greatly is letters of support from neighbours – and we got one!  I hadn’t been too hopeful, honestly, but now I am beaming with gratitude. Thank you to our neighbours and to the Universe too – and maybe even to that little tabby who blessed my letter-delivery outing!

My Schedule

Ah… writing that makes me realize how often I use that strategy, including moving into the season. This week was my first full-time week in the Studio, including returning to the BTS. Next week, I start working with my coaching clients. The next week Mindful Mondays and Journal Club begin. The next week the Studio Yearbook should be available and Awakening begins. Throughout all of this, I am trying to work with a new schedule, one that puts my priorities in focus and makes sure I include my practices in the mix.

Already I see what’s most likely to get dropped (my writing) and what things are fairly established (basic home tending).  I also see how often I want to veer away from the schedule. Most times it’s simply habit that tries to pull my attention away.  I have some things built-in to the schedule that are helping. Let’s say I want to check my email or social media. I know I have two times during the day that are dedicated to that. It’s easy to say no when I’m really just saying, “Not yet.”

Even though I’m still experiencing the discomfort of trying to adhere to something new and rigorous, I am also feeling the benefits. I was very productive in the studio this week – plus I did get to my meditation, yoga and writing way more than I have in ages. I also managed to have a couple of lovely quiet nights, getting to bed early and even *gasp* having a bit of time to read.

It’s still an adjustment but all of these things seem to suggest I am on the right road.

Feel the Love

And nothing caps off a Friday better than cat videos and Sarpur Duman’s YouTube channel and/or Instagram feed is a rabbit hole that I am more than happy to explore.  The joy is never-ending!

Studio Diaries: The Day that Got Away

Studio Diary: Tuesday, January 8, 2018

My Studio Diaries gather raw and real inspirations and insights of life in my studio. They are not finished pieces but works in progress intended to let you in to the world of this one creative heart.

The Funny Shape of Productivity

The overarching theme of today is getting bumped off track. This morning after filming the first BTS of the season, I discovered a technical problem with all of my domains and had to go down the well of tech support in order to get it resolved. Just like that, the rest of the morning was lost.

Then we got an email rejection letter from the city for our reno and were sent in a tizzy!! Luckily it turned out to be simply a revision of the original refusal letter but, just like that, my focus was lost!

Those bumps and bruises continued to arrive and by the end of the day, I felt a pummeled. It seemed that I had gotten nothing done. I have two practices that revealed to me that this was simply not true: daily check-ins with a friend and my “Day in the Life” file.

Every morning and evening I have a daily text check in with my dear friend Kim. We tell each other what we plan to get done in the day ahead and then share what we actually managed to do. We each give the other gold stars for every accomplishment.

I also keep a running file called “A Day in the Life” where I note all of my activities during the day. I originally called this practice “My Day at Work.” I set it up when I became an entrepreneur so that I could have some perspective on what the “right” amount of work was to get done in a day. It was instrumental in being able to declare my work day complete. With the upcoming reno and some other new priorities, I’ve decided not to limit it to work activities but to record life stuff too.

Today both the check-ins and the A Day in the Life practice helped me see that despite not accomplishing what I had set out to achieve, I did get a whole heck of a lot done.


Last night right before I went to bed I had two big thoughts, one about Studio Diaries and one about blogging.

Studio Diaries: I’ve been wanting to come back to Studio Diaries for years and make them a regular part of my practice. I’ve had all sorts of different ideas about how to approach this and many different reasons to be unsure of how to start. As I sit down to do this writing and sharing I realize once again, you can’t know what something wants to be until you start creating it! That moment of inspiration has just enough juice and info to get you started but not enough to provide a blueprint. You must start and try and experiment and listen and it will slowly but surely become what it is meant to be. You have to be willing to risk, to get messy and to be in process. As the creator, your job is to listen to the inspiration, get into action and step-by-step follow the path as it lies before you. I am here.

Blogging: Many times and with many people I have lamented the loss of the early days of blogging, the days when people were sharing from their heart not from their marketing strategy, when bloggers were actual people not influencers, where we could be a community of creatives finding one another around the world. Yesterday my perspective shifted from mourning to blessed when I realized how lucky I am that I found blogging when I did, that I was able to experience that unique moment in time, a time when blogging was raw, real and a lively frontier, where everyone was making it up as they went.

As with so many things, I’m realizing the key is to be filled with gratitude for the experience without trying to hold onto it or resenting its departure. Life moves on. Things grow and change. It’s natural and inevitable. Blogging (or anything else, for that matter) cannot remain stagnant – nor should it!  There are blessings in its new iterations too! Instead, what can serve as a constant, is the love we have of the qualities that made that time or that thing special – in the case of blogging: sharing from the heart, creative community, the realness and risk of being on the frontier. All of that magic can (and will) simply take new form.


So, in the midst of a wonky day, there was still insight and productivity. There was even an actual rainbow! Even better than that, I was able to yell downstairs to my sister Suzie that she should come up and share in this beautiful sight. It reminded me of when she was just a little girl and someone named “Mr Rainbow” phoned her and asked her to step outside and say hi to him, which she promptly did. I wonder who that might have been?

I guess there are some things that don’t change.


Studio Diaries: Back in the Studio

Studio Diary: Monday, January 7, 2018

My Studio Diaries gather raw and real inspirations and insights of life in my studio. They are not finished pieces but works in progress intended to let you in to the world of this one creative heart.

In the Studio

Today was my first full-time day back in the studio with the out-of-office message officially off.  It was a busy day but the beautiful thing was that at several points throughout the day there were affirmations about some core ideas I have moving forward. I always trust those synchronicities and let them guide the way. It’s great to come back and feel on-target and on-mission.


As I sat down to get clear on my priorities and plans for this week, I found myself pushing a little bit. I stopped and simply returned to our Mindful Mondays practices of starting with meditation and journaling, imagining the week that I want to create and then building my plans around that. Much better! I felt instantly more grounded and, in fact, that inspired my touchstone word of the week: grounded. That’s exactly what this week is about for me – getting grounded in the studio, my schedule and my practices so that I can build a beautiful and successful year on that!


I’m continuing to work with a new daily schedule, trying to refine it until it feels just right.  Today I did not get my morning writing in and I felt its absence. This affirmed for me an earlier wake-up time is important. Holidays are over :)

But even though the holidays are over… I did have a gingerbread man to enjoy with my tea!


And speaking of food, one of my goals this year is to establish a lovely set of nutrition-rich, tasty recipes that work for our household. Everyone’s needs and tastes are different but I hope to get a good roster happening and have been doing some experimenting. The best resource by far has been Pinch of Yum. Every recipe has been a hit, including tonight’s Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo.  It took about the estimated 45 minutes to prepare and was quite straightforward. Tempering the egg mixture was the only tricky bit but, honestly, it was just a matter of taking it slow and steady. The result was a delicious and creamy soup that would be a win for anyone who likes lemon-dill flavours.


I am so excited by Carla Sonheim’s one-year course for 2019: Year of the Collage!! It’s being taught by Carla, Lynn Whipple and Ann Marie Grgich. I have studied with and learned so much from each of them. I can hardly wait to get started. Just one more sleep.


Studio Diary: Experiments & New Beginnings

Studio Diary: January 6, 2018

My Studio Diaries gather raw and real inspirations and insights of life in my studio. They are not finished pieces but works in progress intended to let you in to the world of this one creative heart.

The Studio

I’m officially wrapping up holidays and ready to get back into the studio full-time. I’m excited about the season ahead and ready to return to my regular practices – starting the week with intention with Mindful Mondays, wrapping up the week with the wonderful women of Journal Club. I’ve also got a new project – a brand new class that’s all about dance: Awakening. It’s been awesome doing “research” by playing songs and moving and grooving around the house! I cannot wait to share this experience and hope that lots of people will sign up and welcome dance into their life this February!

A Clothing Challenge

Friday nights are sister time and this week Suzie, Shannon and I took on a clothing challenge. Could we go to Value Village and buy an entire outfit for just $20? I shared the experience live on Instagram Stories and am currently writing a post about the process – how we did and what we discovered. It was interesting to see how looking for an outfit changed our approach to shopping!

The Reno

This category is bound to start showing up more and more in the days ahead. On Saturday Justin and I went out to a local coffee shop with our notebooks and started exploring our plans for the house in much greater detail. Over coffee we plotted out our entire main floor from flooring to trim to lighting. Now we’re deep into researching banquettes and gas fireplaces!

We were also playing around with the idea of some additional walls (Yes, even though everyone loves open-concept, it’s not necessarily our thing) so I popped into Value Village again and bought a $4.50 King-size sheet that we could pin up as if it were a wall. It gave us a quick impression and helped us experience what it would feel like if that new wall was there. This experiment resulted in a “no” for one location and a “yes” for another. Progress!

We’re also experimenting with furniture layouts throughout the house so that we can plan based on what’s working for us. On Sunday we flipped the living room around entirely!! Couches, lighting, the television – everything was moved into a new location and lots of sweeping and dusting was done! At first the change felt awkward and I was thoroughly unconvinced but bit by bit, as we solved problems and came up with ideas, the room started to come together in a new formation.

With each layout there are wins and losses. In the new setup, we gain ease in the flow of traffic through the room (a priority for Justin), the seating is tucked away in a more private spot (I liked this a lot) and the one window we have becomes more of a focal point for everyone. On the other hand, we lose some seating (a concern for me) and too easy flow through the room might make it feel more like a hallway than a cozy welcoming space! We’ll keep it this way for a while and see how our opinions shake out. I certainly found myself liking it more than expected.

Justin has a real gift for setting up spaces and this change was all him. My contribution was honestly simply being open to the change! Now… I can’t say the cats feel the same!

Studio Diary: Winter Wardrobe

Studio Diary: January 3, 2018

My Studio Diaries gather raw and real inspirations and insights of life in my studio. They are not finished pieces but works in progress intended to let you in to the world of this one creative heart.

Winter Wardrobe

One of my goals this holiday season was to get out and fill in the gaps of my current winter wardrobe and today was the day!  Over the past several years I have been changing my approach to fashion, inspired a bit by the concept of a capsule wardrobe.  I’ve also recently been blown away by stylist Christie Ressel‘s concept of the “module.” A module is a group of clothes that all mix and match. It includes an outer layer, 3 tops and 2 bottoms. Those 6 pieces will give you 12 outfits! You could create a “work” module and a “home” module. You could create an “artist’s” module, a “polished casual” module, whatever you like.

The main thing that both the capsule and module approach have taught me is to think in terms of outfits and to be sure that everything coordinates well. Instead of falling in love with a piece of clothing, I try to fall in love with my wardrobe as a whole! How will that piece contribute to the big picture? Will it add to it beautifully? Open up new possibilities? Sit all alone because it has no one to play with?

It helps to be clear on your colours. I know to stick with cool tones and focus on black, grey and white with a splash of metallics, sparkle, blue and pink. Each season I think about choosing a colour I’d like to focus on or add to the mix. Last winter it was teal. This season I’m just loving my greys.

I took some time to get clear on what was missing from my winter wardrobe: a pair of nice pants, a couple of sweaters and maybe a pair of rough-and-tumble short boots. A quick look at my Pinterest style board reminded me to stick with simple, clean and elegant styles – with a hint of drama (of course). I want to stay true to my style, to have clothes that fit and flatter and to be able to put together outfits for a variety of occasions with ease.

It never takes long to realize that it’s easier said than done! I tried on dozens of clothes that were a quick no (some that didn’t even make it all the way on) and some that were a “well, maybe.”  I was just about to resign myself to the latter when I found an outfit that I just loved.

It’s not that the pieces are tremendously exciting on their own; it’s that when I tried them on, I felt like me. I had that *zing* of looking in the mirror and thinking, “There I am!” I don’t mean that it felt familiar. It’s not a relaxed, leaning back feeling but a shiny, uplifted feeling. It’s what Marie Kondo calls “sparking joy”. This outfit definitely did it!

Not only did I buy the pants and the shirt but that *zing* made me reevaluate everything else I was considering. It allowed me to set a new standard. If my reaction had been, “Yeah that’s okay” or “I can make that work,” I let it go. I’ve been getting by with the clothes that I have so getting new pieces wasn’t urgent. I could take my time with the process. I learned the importance of wardrobe patience years ago when I worked with stylist Safina Khimani. She took it in stride that 98% of what we looked at wasn’t for me. Where we so often internalize that this is an indicator that there is something wrong with us, that we don’t ‘fit’ with the norm, she took it as a matter of course. We are one wildly unique diamond in the world; it makes sense that we’ll have to search for the just-right setting!

I left with five pieces, all in my colours: a cozy grey sweater, a sexy black top, a slightly dressy pair of plaid pants, a comfy pair of black jeans that fit and some flexible blue leggings. I felt so inspired by these pieces and the new standard I was aiming for that I cleared out my closet and put back only items that I loved, that fit and that I plan to wear this winter. We’ll see how it goes.

It’s all a part of taking January’s message in the Studio Yearbook to heart!