Welcome, 2021!

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2020 was an extremely difficult, sad year for everyone, myself included. I pray for comfort and strength to all who experienced the loss of a loved one as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020’s troubles have spilt into 2021, but even so, the new year brings with it a promise of hope for a better future. I’m grateful I still have a home, a job, and relatively good health. I look forward to a year full of sweet times with family and friends (virtual for now, but in person eventually), simple pleasures, creative pursuits, and opportunities to bring a bit of happiness to others.

I mostly worked on sewing masks and making greeting cards last year, but I did complete a couple of colored pencil drawings:

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New Year Love

My goals for 2021:

To BE and DO: To be true to myself and follow my bliss.
To lift up truth, justice, peace, goodness, kindness, and love.
To live a simple, joyful life and do everything with love.

Be blessed, take care, and hang in there no matter what happens. ❤️

Prayers and Actions

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I started this blog a little more than 8 years ago, in December of 2011, just before retiring from being a full-time middle school teacher for almost 26 years. Back then, I was excited about starting a new chapter of my life that would focus on slowing down and living a simple life. My touchstone goals were to:

1- Seek daily God’s presence and guidance.

2- Reach out and be a blessing to others.

3- Practice a green and healthy frugal lifestyle.

4- Participate in inexpensive, enriching activities and pastimes.

5- Follow a simple, joyous, slow-paced, common-sense way of life.

6- Actively pursue my God-given dreams.

7- Seek beauty, serenity, and a higher path.

Since then, I’ve worked part-time as a substitute teacher, part-time as a school para-librarian, and eventually full-time as a public library circulation clerk (economic pressure forced me to go back to working full-time.)

I’ve now been working full-time at the Hampden Branch of the Denver Public Library for close to four awesome years. I love my job, and I love that working at the library has allowed me to stay true to the touchstone goals I embraced those eight years ago. I don’t have as much free time as I had hoped for back then (hence the fewer blog posts), but I have much less stress, and I can still slowly move forward in my creative pursuits, and have been doing so consistently (turtle steps!).

Monday, March 16, all Denver Public Library branches closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All employees were sent home for what could be a month or more, and everyone was encouraged to stay home as much as possible.

So here I am, at home with my daughter and my cat, reflecting on all that has transpired in the world, our nation, and my life since the day I started this “Catch a Butterfly” blog. I’ve been terribly sad these last few years as I’ve witnessed the sufferings of the needy and vulnerable, the continued destruction of our biosphere, and the relentless attacks on truth and the way of love, but I’ve also grown tremendously as a person – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m taking advantage of this unprecedented break in the order of things to PRAY (so much to pray for!!!) and to self-care, and I urge everyone to do the same.

But most importantly, let’s figure out how to help those in need. Encouraging phone calls and emails, positive social media posts, a check or gift card in the mail, online shopping in support of small businesses – these are some of the actions we can take to help others in this difficult time.

Let’s pray and take care of ourselves and others. ❤️

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ~Mother Teresa

2020

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2020 is off to a terrifying start. May we all take care of ourselves and our friends and loved ones and be extra compassionate and kind to everyone we meet. May we all do more for the planet and for those in need.

My touchstone word for the year is “more.” To be more and to do more. That includes making more art, for art is medicine for the soul.

“Let art get you through the dark.

Kindness

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My wish for the holiday season and the new year: a kinder world.

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“There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” –Mr. Rogers

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” –Dalai Lama

Baby Turtle Steps

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My daughters and I joke about how we seem to take turtle steps when it comes to advancing our creative work, but that it’s okay as long as we continue to move forward. 

Lately, because of job responsibilities and the mental stress we’re experiencing from the numerous depressing situations affecting our nation and the world, we’re moving even slower, and we’ve taken to calling them “baby turtle steps.” 

To encourage myself as I s-l-o-w-l-y move forward, I’m keeping track of all my baby turtle steps in a planner. My goal is to take at least one baby turtle step each day. It’s motivating to see how quickly they start to add up and result in a completed task or product.  

(I’ve been working on getting ready to reopen my Etsy store: making greeting cards, preparing colored pencil art prints, and improving my store’s appearance.)

Making art, whether you’re creating amateurish, masterly, humble, or grand pieces, and regardless of the medium or style, is one of the most uplifting endeavors you can dedicate time to when you’re feeling depressed. The end result may certainly bring you joy, but the process is what’s truly beneficial: calming, meditative, and inspiring. 

Now I don’t mean to say that we should use art as a way to ignore the world, but rather as a way to guard our mental and emotional health so we can be a force of good in the world. Making any form of art (including writing, making music, dancing, etc.) can be a temporary haven where we can go to recharge our minds and souls. 

I like the way Picasso put it: “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

I know of only one other equally uplifting endeavor and that’s enjoying the beauty of nature. Nature nourishes, informs, and inspires art.  I try to do both—making art and enjoying nature—as often as possible. But like I said before: it’s okay if all I can do at present is take baby turtle steps.

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Welcoming the New Year

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Welcome, 2019!  There’s a lot of turbulence ahead, so we better brace ourselves!

My new year goals and guideposts have stayed the same for several years (see my January 2, 2017 post).

Here are the guideposts:

1- Seek daily God’s presence and guidance.

2- Reach out and be a blessing to others.

3- Practice a green and healthy frugal lifestyle.

4- Participate in inexpensive, enriching activities and pastimes.

5- Follow a simple, joyous, slow-paced, common-sense way of life.

6- Actively pursue my God-given dreams.

7- Seek beauty, serenity, and a higher path.

My words for the year: kindness, purpose, and action.

My new calendar, planner, and journal are ready, and I’ve completed a very specific 2019 “To Do” list. May God bless all my efforts.

May God bless all your efforts as well. Have a happy and prosperous new year!

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” —Saint Catherine of Siena.

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Happy Holidays!

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It’s been a year full of sorrows and joys. On a personal level, one great sorrow: my mother’s passing, and one great joy: the birth of my first grandchild. For our country and the world, many sorrows: hate, violence, man-made and natural disasters, and a continued assault on truth, science, and universal values. Kindness and hope, however, continue to abound, and there are many lights that continue to resist the darkness.

Art, books, music, and nature are medicine for my body and soul, and my faith in a merciful and loving God gives me the spiritual strength needed to move forward with my creative work.

Finding quality time to create is a challenge when you’re working full time, but I press on! I’ve learned to accept that I can’t get as much done as I’d like (especially blogging!), but that I musn’t let that diminish my bliss.

I love working at the library, and I’m learning ways to use my job to complement my creative work. Being a library clerk also gives me the opportunity to make small but significant connections with many different people. Making someone’s day a little brighter brightens my day in return. Add to that the blessing of having access to thousands of awesome books!

All things considered, I’ve had a productive year. I’ve completed three bilingual picture books (text only), three children’s illustrations, and seven botanical drawings. You can take a look at my art at E. Pla Art. Some of my pieces are presently on display at the Hampden Branch Library Staff Art Show, which is a fun and encouraging way to end the year.

Wishing you all a blessed holiday season!

“If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.” —Joseph Campbell

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Catchers in the Rye

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Wars, violence, dead children, natural disasters, hate, greed, injustice, the rejection of truth and knowledge, a shameful government that’s dividing and harming our nation… How do we move on with our lives in the midst of all this turmoil? I often feel depressed and at a loss for words. Still, I hold on to my faith and seek a respite in books, music, and art, and I continue doing the little good I can — so little compared to all that’s needed!

Tomorrow children will march in remembrance of the victims of the Florida school shooting and in an effort to fight gun violence. Children. Marching for their lives. In our country. Think about that for a moment.

So many children have recently died or been injured as a result of the violence here and in the war zones of the world. I am reminded of the famous passage in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger:

“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”

Can you imagine if we all wanted to be catchers in the rye? If we all cared that much for the world’s children?

Indeed, terrible and tragic things are happening on a daily basis, but I don’t lose hope. Gentle, kind, and loving people still abound — I meet some of them everyday, at my work and everywhere I go. That gives me hope that things will get better. That the madness will stop. That someday soon humanity will wake up to love.

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