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A Grateful Heart

Hi Everyone,
Earlier this year, someone in my immediate family was facing surgery with a probable cancer diagnosis… and I was shocked, devastated and terrified when I heard the news. As I tend to do in times of crisis, I work through my feelings by putting pen to paper… and tonight I’d like to share a few pages from the journal I kept that week. These are unretouched photos of the thoughts which poured from my heart… I'd recommend reading the journal pages, then going back to read the notes I wrote about them.



I instinctively place my words where I think they will most express how I feel. For example, in the piece above, I wanted to convey the impression that I was cowering in a corner…On the page below, I changed the style of lettering, and had the last word run off the edge of the page in an attempt to visually communicate being breathless.

And this page is where my soul spilled out… it expresses my total disbelief at what was going on. I used question mark symbols as dots on the 'I', to add a sense of surrealness. 

This next page was a fervent prayer…

While I didn’t awaken to discover that the whole thing had been a bad dream, my family was lucky enough to receive good news… and to have gotten through this particular health crisis. Unfortunately, some of my friends and family members have not been so lucky. In the past few weeks, six people that I love have lost people that they love… and my heart grieves with each of them. Several other friends are fighting valiant battles against cancer; their strength, grace and courage continually inspires me. In their honor I am dedicating tonight’s blog post to everyone who is living in the shadow of loss, facing a life-threatening illness, or supporting someone who is. 

In America, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I created some new Zenspirations® Pink Ribbon art to help raise awareness… (while we are on the subject, please remind those you love to schedule their mammograms!). Below are three designs that you can download, print and use as a springboard to let your coloring and creative skills shine. The first is a greeting card:

Click here to download the Pink Ribbon Survivor card.


The next two are Create, Color, Pattern, Play pages:

Click Here to download the Pink Ribbon Circle design.


Click here to download the Pink Ribbon Flower design.


I’d love to see how you interpret these designs, and invite you to post your finished piece in the albums I’ve set up in the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play  Facebook Group ( I encourage you to reach out to someone you know who is dealing with cancer and send them a card and/or coloring page, along with a note letting them know you are thinking about them. It always helps to know that others care, especially when you are facing a life-threatening illness or mourning the loss of a loved one. 
And while we are on the subject of loss, many of you have written to me to ask where you can get a copy of my new book, When You Lose Someone You Love
I’m delighted to report that you can purchase it at two venues: Sam Flax, Orlando’s awesome local art supply store, and at the Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park. The Morse is one of my favorite museums; it houses an incredible collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, and is well worth a visit. And, for those of you who do not live in Central Florida, the Museum Shop is willing to ship within the continental United States. So if you have been patiently waiting for a book, please reach out to the Morse.                       
Before closing tonight I want to share one last page from the journal I kept earlier this year… written before the surgery. I did this page as a reminder to myself that looking for the blessing in every situation— especially the truly challenging ones— is the best way for me to stay grounded in gratitude, for it is when my heart is grateful that I truly feel connected to God. 
I would love your thoughts on the journal I shared tonight... do you think I should turn these journal pages into a book? If so, should I make it the same size as When You Lose Someone You Love, or should I keep it in a vertical format? I'd really appreciate your leaving me a comment with your suggestions.                          
Stay Zenspired,



The Coloring Connection

Hi Everyone,
Wow! Yesterday was an incredible experience. I feel blessed that so many of my friends were able to come celebrate the publication of my Kickstarter book, When You Lose Someone You Love, 

as well as the launch of my new Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play books: Birds & Butterflies and Expressions of Faith


Knowing that I’d probably be busy signing books (which I was!), I asked a few friends to come help out at different stations. For those of you who weren't able to attend, let me tell you a little bit about the event. First, here’s an overview of the room:

Just to the right of the entryway was a table where my friends from the Scribes of Central Florida were hand-lettering names and demonstrating calligraphy. Special thanks to my good friend Linda Ross for organizing the Scribes.

The Sharing Station was next to the Scribes, and CZT Adele Bruno, author of the popular ‘Tickled to Tangle’ blog took the lead by showing off the cool magnetic frame product she developed.


My inspiring friend Carolyn Moor, founder of the Modern Widows Club, was on-hand to mentor and coach those dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Part of what made the day so special was the camaraderie, creativity and sharing… and, of course, the coloring! My publisher, Fox Chapel, sent a display for the books, and was kind enough to print out a 12 foot banner of my art for party attendees to color. My daughter Samantha got the coloring party underway.

In addition to the banner, there were four different coloring stations: one for kids, one for grown-ups, one for families, and a special one for members of our awesome Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play  Facebook Group ( Tracey Lyon and Ranae Davidson, both amazingly talented artists who are not only active in the FB group but also created ‘inspiration samples’ for the new books, were kind enough to demonstrate coloring techniques and answer questions while I was signing books. Tracey is demonstrating patterning in the ‘Heart rope’ design below: 

And Ranae is sharing color-blending techniques in this photo:

One of the coolest things about coloring is that it is an activity which can be enjoyed by any age group, which helped make the family coloring table especially popular. 
Since you can’t have a Book Launch Party without selling books, my good friends Jill Goldsmith and Terri Misek came to help take orders. 
I enjoyed the afternoon tremendously, mostly because it was great to be able to see so many of my friends— and to meet some of my FB friends in person. I have always appreciated photographs of friends and family, but since my husband died four years ago, that appreciation has been heightened. Photographs are tangible reminders of special moments in your life, and I will always treasure the photos that were taken at the party. Heartfelt thanks to the incredible Dorian Eng (far right below), who drove down from Jacksonville and took most of the photographs I included in tonight’s blog. Dorian has been a light in my life since we met a couple of years ago. A CZT and talented crafter, Dorian surprised me with this beautiful embroidered Dangle design when she attended the Zenspirations® workshops I gave at A Small Cleverness in Jacksonville.
A few months after we met, I was preparing for an upcoming workshop, and needed ‘Guinea Pigs’ to test the material for me, and invited Dorian, who suggested I also invite some of her fellow CZTs. That's how I met (continuing from the right) Adele Bruno, Sindy Levine and Tracey Lyon. Like the calligraphic community, the CZT community is fairly close-knit, so I wasn't at all surprised to discover that Dorian, Adele, Sindy & Tracey all knew my good friend Jo-Ellen Mathews (far left). 

Jo-Ellen and I filmed a video together a couple of years ago called Zenspirations Color, Create, Pattern, & Play - Coloring Activity for All AgesIf you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you’ll take a few minutes this week to watch.

I belong to a number of different communities, and was truly touched that they all came to support me. Here is a photo of some of the more active members of the new FB group (from left to right) Ranae Davidson, me, Jill Goldsmith and Tracey Lyon.

And I love this photo of me with some of my friends from the Modern Widows Club: (from left) Durga Landry, Debbie Graham-Mastrantonio, me and Vickie Garcia. 

The Book Launch Party was wonderful… but wouldn’t have been possible without my family & friends… my deepest thanks to each of you who helped. I’ll try to post an album of “Book Launch Party” photos on FB later this week, but there is one photo I can't wait to share-- it's one of me and my children in front of the display of coloring books. I’m proud of the books, but even prouder of my kids, and it meant a lot to me that they were there to share this special day.

And the celebration seems to be continuing, because Color & Creativity Enthusiast Ranae Davidson is staying in Orlando for a few days, and when she came to visit tonight I asked her to pick the winners of this week’s contest.


Congratulations to:
Nancy Duso, who won the new Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play books: Birds & Butterflies, Expressions of Faith, the mini Perfectly Portable Pages” Expressions of Faith, and the new Judaic Expressions; 

Terri Brown, who won a set of the first three Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play books: Flowers, Inspirations and Abstract; and                                                                                                                   
Puneet Sekhon, who won a signed copy of my new Kickstarter book, When You Lose Someone You Love. Ladies if you can please e-mail me your addresses I’ll get the packages underway.

Special thanks to all of the Color & Creativity Enthusiasts who have done such WONDERFUL inspiration samples this week. Although the winners have been picked for the prizes, there is still an opportunity to have your work considered for inclusion in my next book, Judaic Expressions. You can download the images from last week's blog, add your creative touches, and then upload your completed designs to the appropriate album in the FB group by noon on Thursday (Orlando time). My editor and I will review them Thursday afternoon, and I'll let you know next week which pieces were selected.                                                              
Stay Zenspired,




Book Launch Celebration!

Hi Everyone,

I’m getting REALLY excited about my Book Launch Party on Sunday, and wanted to share the flyer I designed with you:

I’ve never been to a book launch party, much less hosted one before, but I think it will be really cool. I’m planning a bunch of different ‘Stations’, with all kinds of activities.                                                                    
There will be Coloring Stations where people can ‘Create, Color, Pattern & Play’ with some of the pages from the new books, as well as try out different tools and materials.                                                              
Friends from my local calligraphy guild, Scribes of Central Florida, will be at a Calligraphy Station where anyone interested in lettering can chat with a calligrapher, and try out Sakura’s new Pigma® Calligrapher® pens.  
There will be a Crafting Station where some of my creative friends will take turns demo-ing their favorite crafts;                                                                                                                                                       
Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play Station where blog followers and members of the new FB group can hang out together,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
Kickstarter Station where local Kickstarter supporters can pick up their books,                                            
Shopping Station for those who want to buy books for themselves or to give as holiday gifts;                       
and a Signing Station where I’ll be inscribing books.                                                                                     
I’ve also invited friends from the local chapter of the Modern Widows Club to host a Connection Station for people who are interested in information about the organization and/or grief support. MWC made a huge difference in my life after my husband died, and I believe in the work they do so strongly that I’m giving a small percentage of sales from When You Lose Someone You Love to MWC. I think it is important to give back, and I’m proud to support MWC in the important mentoring work it offers to widows around the world. If you or someone you know has recently lost a spouse, I’d highly recommend reaching out to MWC: There are chapters across the US, but even if you don’t live near a chapter, the on-line community support is phenomenal.                                                                                              
If you are driving distance from Orlando, I hope you’ll come help me celebrate… and hang out with other Creativity Enthusiasts. I’m trying to get a rough head count, so if you plan to attend please leave a comment to let me know.                                                                                                                                               
In addition to the Book Launch I have more news to share— my publisher asked if I could fit in one more book by the end of October, and although it’s another CRAZY deadline, I said yes! It’s to make a set of four faith-based books which will be distributed by one of my favorite gift companies… so I’m really excited about it. The working title is L’Chaim: Celebrate Life; Judaic Expressions, and I’m hoping that some of you will help me create inspiration samples for the newest addition to the series. Since the contest we did last time seemed to be a lot of fun, and garnered lots of amazing inspiration samples, we'll do another contest for this book. 

Below are five designs for you to download, print, color & create. I have set up albums in our new Facebook Group where you can share your interpretation of the designs. You’ll have to join the group in order to post, and it sometimes takes me 24 + hours to respond to requests to join the group, so if you plan to submit and aren’t a member yet, please join the group now, and then you’ll be able to post your designs when you finish them. Here is the link:
For every design you post (and yes, you may post more than one version of the same page), your name will be entered into a random drawing for one of the following prizes:                                                                  

1. A set of the new Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play books: Birds & Butterflies, Expressions of Faith, the mini Perfectly Portable Pages” Expressions of Faith, and the new Judaic Expressions.

2.  A set of the first three Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play books: Flowers, Inspirations and Abstract:

3. A signed copy of my new Kickstarter book, When You Lose Someone You Love
If you post two designs, you’ll have two chances to win; if you post five designs, you’ll have five chances to win. The prizes winners will be selected at random; the pieces to include in the new book will be selected by my editor and me.

Although it is fine to simply color, what sets Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern & Play apart from all of the other coloring books on the market is that there is room on each page to add your own patterns and special touches before coloring. Therefore I’m looking for people who can add patterning (and/or other enhancements) as well as applying color.  
1.      You will need to post your creations by end of day Sunday, September 27th. 

2.      My editor and I are looking for designs which will inspire others by showing a variety of coloring and patterning techniques, so don’t be afraid to try different things. The more you do the better your chance to be included in the book or win a prize!                         

3.     VERY IMPORTANT: PUT YOUR NAME, e-dress and phone number on each design before you scan or photograph it!
4.  Post your images IN the appropriate album in the new Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play Facebook Group. You can get to the albums by clicking the Photos button underneath the imagine banner.

5.      If your art is selected, you’ll need to send my publisher a high-res scan (300 dpi) or the original art so they can scan it, and you’ll need to sign a Permission-to-Publish form.
6.      Because the books will not be printed on paper which accepts wet media, please DO NOT use watercolors or any other type of wet media. Color pencils, gel pens, markers and crayons are all fine. 
7.     Submitting pages is not a guarantee that they will be selected for inclusion.

8.  Artists whose work is selected will be given credit in the book, and will receive two free copies of the book when it is published. 

9.   Since I always like opening doors for young talent, I’d be happy for you to share this info with any promising art students (or fellow artists) you know who would like to have their work published. 

10.  You can e-mail me ( if you have any questions: please put  “ZENSPIRATIONS® COLORING ENTHUSIAST QUESTIONS” in the subject line.

Here are the five designs:
Click here to download your free copy of SING UNTO GOD:

Click here to download your free copy of JERUSALEM:

Click here to download your free copy of APPLES & HONEY:

Click here to download your free copy of TREE OF LIFE:

Click here to download your free copy of THE LAST BUTTERFLY:

I look forward to seeing your interpretation of them! 


Stay Zenspired,



Soul Growth

Hi Everyone,

Have you ever heard the question “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” It’s a question that I try to ask myself every few months, especially when I am feeling complacent. Being a creature of habit, I think it is extremely important to remind myself that ‘soul growth’ (which I strive for) can only come when I have the opportunity to react to new situations and explore new ideas. Tonight I’d like to share a few of my ‘morning journal’ pages on this theme.

Give yourself permission to begin… over and over if necessary! If we don’t allow ourselves new experiences, we are denying the sacred responsibility we share: to continue to grow towards the light as we grow into the people we are striving to become. 


So I try to give myself permission to experiment, to try new things, and most importantly, permission to begin again. We can't grow if we are so afraid of failing that we are unable to try something new. 

No matter where we are in our creative journey, it’s important to keep forging forward. We are each blessed with unique abilities… and discovering them is an essential part of the ‘soul growth’ process.


One of the best ways to do this is to give yourself not only permission— but the necessary time, space & tools— you need.


Listen to the ‘still, quiet voice’, then


I’m about to start working on my next Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play book, which will be called Heartfelt Expressions, and before I start designing the pages, I need to decide what sentiments to include . As usual, I would welcome your comments letting me know to which journal pages you feel a special connection— and also which ones you think would make good coloring/patterning pages. I’d also like to know if you enjoy seeing ‘raw’ images, or prefer me to share designs which I have polished and colorized.

Thanks in advance for voicing your opinion… it means a lot to me!

Stay Zenspired,                      


PS I wasn’t able to finalize all the details for my upcoming book launch yet… so I may surprise you with one of my rare mid-week blog posts. :-)



Grace & Gratitude

Hi Everyone,

I know I’ve been talking about this for weeks… but I’m delighted to report that my new Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play books are finally here!!! 


I got my sample copies last week, and Amazon pre-orders have already started to ship.  I’m so excited about the new coloring books— and my new Kickstarter book When You Lose Someone You Love— that I’m planning to have a Book Launch Party to celebrate! If you will be in the Orlando area Sunday afternoon, September 27th, please save the date and join the fun. I’ll post the details next week.                                      
One of the things I plan to do at the Book Launch Party is have a coloring station where people can create their own interpretation of a design. It’s amazing how many different ways one design can be depicted… and tonight I wanted to do an Artist Spotlight on Helga Cuypers, a talented calligrapher and crafter from Belgium. Helga created three different versions of the Believe Dove design that I posted a couple weeks ago. If they hadn’t all been by the same artist I would have included all three versions in my next book… but since I’m only allowed to feature one version of a design per artist, and I love them all, I’d appreciate knowing which is your favorite.
The first is a Christmas theme, which I like because it shows a holiday interpretation of the design.                

The second is a globe theme with beautiful mountains in the background, and a hand-lettered quote in the border. 


The third also has an inspiring quote framing the design, with an awesome sky and shell.                                


You can see Helga's wonderful work, and also how other Color & Creativity enthusiasts interpreted this design in the photos section of the new Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play FB group. Here is the link:  

I've been so impressed with the incredible imagery people are sharing, I started doodling while wondering where all the members lived. I posted my question to the group, and have been delighted that more than 240 people have responded!

Special thanks to Ardis Ferdig, who volunteered to create a map showing where everyone lives… so far we know there are members in at least 20 countries!!! And I got a surprise overseas call this afternoon which totally made my day. Grace Bower, one of our New Zealand members, took the time to call and tell me how much she enjoyed reading the blog… and mentioned that last week’s blog post was especially meaningful to her because it arrived on her 70th birthday. Grace, it was great to hear from you, and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to talk longer… but this is for you, with gratitude. Hope this is the start of a wonderful, creatively inspiring year for you.


I have discovered that Grace and Gratitude are often intertwined. When you are grounded in gratitude it is much easier to achieve a state of grace. I have often written about this in my morning journals, and thought I’d share an example with you:  


I was dismayed to discover that there was a problem leaving comments on last week’s blog, because I really want to know your thoughts on the pages I shared from my morning journals. Tech support has (hopefully!) fixed the problem… and if you have a few extra minutes I’d be grateful if you would leave a comment letting me know which of the ‘morning journal’ posts touched you… I’d also love to know if you journal… You should be able to leave a comment on either last week’s post or this week’s post… and I look forward to reading them. 
Stay Zenspired,