Wednesday, October 31, 2007

No witch was actually harmed in the making of this slide show...

The witches fingers that appear in this slide show were actually short bread cookies from Brenda and Peter Hammond. They brought them over last night and they are now long gone... and they were really good!

Also the slide show used some background papers and images from Lisa Dozier of Digital of Scrapbook Artisan Guild, Katie Pertiet of and Christine G. of Clever Crow Design Studio. Christine is very generous with her freebies! And the link for Christine came from jaihn's blog so make sure you visit Truly Spacious for more Halloween fun!

Jan Bartlett sent me an ecard from Jaquie Lawson and I had to laugh out loud when I saw it. If you have cats and if they love to find and "play" with mice, this is the card for you!

You can preview her collection here.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Things that go bump in the night...

Digital collage by Lani with text from a free download quote challenge by Pattie Knox of

From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, good Lord, deliver us. -Scottish prayer

Monday, October 22, 2007

Links and inspiration

Collage by Lani for a 14 Secrets tip-in.

So here are my newest finds gleaned while looking for answers to questions and exploring this virtual world!

Do you know Daniel Gilbert's "Stumbling on Happiness"? Here he is giving a 20 minute lecture on natural happiness vs. synthetic happiness, or happiness that comes from some external source vs. the happiness we can create ourselves. We are more able to create our own happiness than we think!

The Health Benefits of Altruism - How Giving Back is Good For You.

Green, sustainable choices for the shopping addicted!

Treasure Chest of Healing Stories from the Healing Story Allaince.

For a visually enjoyable explanation of Zen click here!

On her blog, Superhero Journal, Andrea Scher asked this question:
What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?
She has over 90 wonderful answers from all her readers.
When she read through these, several things came to mind:

"I'm not going to say What are you waiting for? or If not you, then who? or What's stopping you?

Unless of course, you'd like me to.

What I will say are a few things that struck me as I contemplated your comments this week:

There is nothing wrong with you if you don't realize these dreams.
You are still good.
You are still perfect.
You are still your superhero self.

The things that scare us are often what bring us the most joy."

Do you know "The Dot" by Peter Reynolds?

Do you know George Burns' "101 Healing Stories: Using Metaphors in Therapy?"

Or his "101 Healing Stories for Kids and Teens: Using Metaphors in Therapy?"

So what WOULD you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Simple pleasures to brighten your day...

Collaged image from Paperbag Studios

Simple Pleasures to Brighten Your Day from Zen Habits, a very interesting blog.

Every Thursday is Happiness Day on Zen Habits, so the Thursday blog is always something which will promote happiness.

A simple thing that Leo Babauta (the author of the blog) likes to do to make his days more pleasant is to find those little, ordinary pleasures and sprinkle them throughout his day.

So in the morning, he might have a cup of coffee, and sip it slowly to enjoy it fully while watching the sun come up, and marveling at the world in pastel hues.

For breakfast, he might put berries on his cereal, savoring each one, closing his eyes. These are all little things that don’t cost much, but they are deeply satisfying. He thought a list of simple pleasures that might spark ideas from readers. So here are a few of Leo Babauta's simple pleasures.

1. Berries.
2. Walking barefoot in grass.
3. Listening to good music in the car.
4. Taking a long, relaxing shower.
5. Coffee.
6. A good novel.
7. Popcorn and an old movie on DVD.
8. The smell of fresh-cut grass.
9. Watching the sunrise.
10. Walking on the beach.
11. Yoga or stretching or meditation.
12. Snuggling in bed with your partner.
13. Watching the sunset.
14. Hugging your child tightly.
15. Good wine.
16. Dark chocolate.
17. Dancing like you’re crazy.
18. A long conversation with a good friend.
19. Being lazy on a Sunday.
20. Waking to a clean house.
21. An uncluttered room.
22. Singing in the shower, loudly.
23. Dancing in the rain and stomping in puddles.
24. Watching your child play.
25. Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
26. Helping someone in need.
27. Making someone smile.
28. A nature hike.
29. Watching the stars.
30. Making a sandcastle.
31. Floating in the water.
32. Taking an afternoon nap.
33. Serving your spouse a surprise breakfast in bed.
34. Watching your children on Christmas morning.
35. Looking up at clouds.
36. Watching the ocean.
37. Getting a massage.
38. Iced green tea.
39. Taking a hot bath.
40. Blowing bubbles.
41. A gentle breeze.
42. The smell of a new Moleskine notebook.
43. A fresh snow.
44. Swinging on a swing.
45. Watching animals in nature.
46. Staying up all night talking.
47. Having a picnic.
48. Swimming at night.

What would your simple pleasures be?

Southern Illinois University

"What is Important is Invisible" by Tim Liddy. (Paraphrasing the Little Prince "L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.")

Reflecting on another resilience and puppet-making workshop, and what a delightful group of students and professors! Carol Lark, Patricia "Gussie" Klorer, and Shelly Goebl-Parker were wonderfully welcoming. I got a tour of the campus and saw the library's collection of Louis Sullivan's architectural bits and pieces including an old elevator, learned about the art work of Tim Liddy, and found this wonderful bead store. Carol Lark took lots photos of the paper puppets that emerged from the workshop as well as well a wonderful pot luck dinner so here's the slide show.

If you want to read a student perspective see Kelly's blog.
For more of Carol Lark's photographs click here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

"How to fall in love with the Earth again" happiness challenge!

Collages by Lani with Gioia's photos and some of Lani's in Wales.

Try this:
Find an area of earth that is without noticeable human intervention. This could be in a forest, in a corner of a park or urban garden. Create a gift for the earth, something beautiful, made by you with what ever you find at hand. Stones, sticks, grasses, moss... Make art or a fairy dwelling or a shrine or altar. This exercise works really well if you are a child, a child-at-heart, or you are accompanied by a child! Have fun.

For more blogs featuring environmental posts please see jaihn's blog which is FULL of inspiration today and Blog Action Day!

Friday, October 12, 2007


On my way to a talk and workshop at Southern Illinois University, I enjoy reflecting on the ideas of one of my favorite teachers.

True happiness comes from a sense
of peace and contentment,
which in turn must be achieved
through the cultivation of altruism,
of love and compassion...

Dalai Lama

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Video Blogging about Art Journaling!!!

This came from Nicole Brandstrup.

I ... thought the concept of video blogging was kinda cool. I enjoy seeing people's artistic processes. Now the star, Suzi blue, is a bit eccentric, but the concept and art is wonderful to view. She did have something on their about paper people, I could not get it to open. When I found this site I thought of the both of you. so here it is

I had to go check this out and I loved it. I love SuziBlueTube! And she's not all that eccentric, she's just North Jersey! What fun! She also has a blogspot and a website and a secret plan to get us following our bliss as boldly as possible. And how bad could that be? (Thank you Nicole!)

Trick or Treat; Digital Fun

Collage by Lani using scanned cabinet card, Obsidian Dawn's Photoshop brushes,
Katie Pertiet's "Halloween What Nots" at Designer Digitals, and Jess Gordon's freebie digital curled paper. What fun!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Puppets and storytelling

Liz Hartz, one of the 230 attendees at the BATA Symposium asked me about the story with which I generally start my (smaller) puppet making workshops. It's a Mohigan story from a Joseph Brushac collection. Liz asked if I could send her the story, so I did but thought I'd post it here as well. Joe Brushac has collected quite a few stories that are very inspiring and this one comes from a Mohigan story teller.

I generally introduce puppet-making with my story teller puppet who tells the story while 3 volunteer group participants act it out.
Sweet Orr the storyteller puppet.

The princess with her little puppet.

So here's the story:
Once upon a time there was a beautiful Mohigan princess who lived in a village by a river. What she liked to do most in the world was play in the woods and make dolls and puppets. One day she was playing (and there's always props when you tell a story this way) with a little puppet when along came a wise old woman, a magical wise old woman. They talked and became good friends. When it was time to part the little princess became quite sad. The wise old woman told her not to worry, that if she was ever in trouble, she could whisper to her little puppet and the wise old woman would hear her. And so they parted, vowing to stay friends forever.
The wise woman who has a few tricks up her sleeve.

The little princess went back to her village and the next day was a big feast day. Now the whole audience can be tribe members and we can all be eating our really wonderful feast. (Here I encourage group participation.) Then the smells of this feast waft through the forest where a monster lives. So the monster sneaks up to the edge of the forest and looks around. Yummy. He decides he wants to take someone home for dinner.
The monster and side kick which appears at the end of the story.

Now all puppets have special gifts and the monster was no exception. His special gift was this: when he sang everything fell asleep! So he opened his mouth really wide and the villagers all fell asleep. Then he went around and smelled everyone to see who he would take home with him. (The monster can actually go around and sniff everyone - kids love this) After smelling all the villagers he choses the princess of course. And then he takes her to his cave in the forest while she's still asleep and puts her under some deer skin, thinking he needs some greens with diner. So he goes out into the forest looking for greens.

The princess wakes up and finds herself in a difficult spot(you can ask the audience if they remember what she can do if she's ever in trouble)! Our princess remembers to whisper to her little puppet and magically the wise old woman appears. Yes, indeed, the wise woman agrees that the princess is in a really bad place so she says they must put the little puppet under the deer skins and mumble some magical words over it (mumble mumble) and then the puppet looks just like the princess. The real princess is a little worried about leaving her puppet but the wise old woman reminds her that she can make new ones as soon as she's safe in her village again. So off through the woods they go.

Then the monster comes back and discovers the puppet, which looks like the princess but sure doesn't smell right. And he goes out into the woods again and starts to track them by smell. The wise old woman has a few tricks up her sleeve though. She takes out a rock and throws it on the ground and mumbles more magic and it becomes a mountain range. But the monster smells his way right over the mountains. Then she takes out a branch and throws it on the ground and mumbles more magic and it becomes the densest forest anyone had ever seen. But the monster follows them right through that forest by their scent.

Now if someone follows you by your scent what can you do to throw them off your track? (I ask the participants and there will be lots of ideas and someone will always have the right one about water) So the wise old woman and the little princess come to the river's edge and the wise old woman pulls out a toy boat and mumbles magic words over it and it becomes a big boat and they sail down the river to the safety of the princess's village.

The Mohigan story ends here but I like to resolve things for the monster as well. So one day the princess is playing in the woods with a new puppet and along comes the monster. They have a conversation, and he confesses that he's so monstrous because he never had any friends. He never got socialized or learned about consequences (kids like it when you give the monster some of the problems they face) so it makes him a little monstrous. The little princess has just the thing for him! She teaches him to make puppets and dolls and the wise old woman comes along and they all play together happily ever after.

It seems like a really good way to introduce puppet making and various idea like "all puppets have special gifts" and "the most interesting stories have a problem that can get a little worse but then gets resolved by the characters' special gifts" and that "puppets don't have to do everything themselves," that working together with a wise elder can be a good thing.

Here are some links for paper puppets, shadow puppets, and narratives and folktales:
Lani's Paper Puppet People zine
"Owly Shadow Puppets - Lesson Plan
Professor D. L. Ashliman from the University of Pittsburgh has an amazing collection of stories, a wonderful resource.

And finally here's a slide show of pictures from the BATA symposium. These are paper puppets and the BATA altered book pages all interspersed. Thanks to Ellen, Gretchen, and Jennifer Schwartz Wright.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Peace Making ... Please

Using Obsidian Dawn brushes ~ thank you jaihn and of course generous Stephanie!

My friend Adela sent me this:

"for peace, joy and delight to prevail we each must first decide
it is no longer our obligation to dislike, oppose, despise, destroy
or teach any other sentient being a "lesson"."

This seems quite perfect to me, but not that easy. I've learned to constantly look for what I dislike, oppose, despise as well as who needs what "lesson" right now. But after my trip to Ohio, hearing and seeing evidence of political distress, fear, and polarization, I'm feeling a longing for peace-making. I'm weary of looking for what I oppose, dislike, or even despise.

So here's a quote that come into my inbox today from
If we want to be safe, we have to build safety. What do we build to be safe? Not a fortress, not bombs or airplanes...
Safety can be built with your way of looking, your way of smiling, with your way of walking. It can build confidence. Show the other person that you are truly not harmful, that he is safe in your presence, in the way you think, the way you breathe, smile, and walk. Everything you do is peaceful. So by expressing your peace, your compassion, the other person feels very safe. And when the other person feels safe, you are safe. Safety is not an individual matter.
A country cannot be safe if it doesn't do something to help other countries feel safe, too. We cannot just think of our own safety — because safety is not an individual matter. We have to think of the safety of other groups of people, of other nations, too. If the United States wants to have safety, then they have to take care of the safety of the people of other nations. If Great Britain wants safety, then people there have to think of the safety of other groups of people.
from — Thich Nhat Hanh in Friends on the Path: Living Spiritual Communities

I am so weary of things divided and torn apart, I'm going to make an effort to stand with those I might normally oppose, with those who are angry or fearful, with those who suffer, whether they are in Burma, the United States or right here in Nova Scotia. May all beings find peace, joy, and delight in their lives and on this planet.