With a Kiss…

-Mother Natures Kiss Cover

 

Well, Friends, my new book, Mother Nature’s Kiss has hit the ether! That means you can order it online and if you do it today it will arrive by mid-December.

It is a rhyming, dreamy drift from a cottage window, out over the water and into outer space and back again. This unique bedtime story will hopefully become a new family favourite.

As the back cover says, it “… will unite us all with a wink and a kiss.”

-Mother Natures Kiss Back

Over the spring and summer, I have worked with my publisher, Tellwell Talent to bring this new book into the world. Yes, it took about nine months ;). It is finally ready and I can’t wait to share it with you.

I have blogged about the journey with previews of a few of the illustrations. You can see how long it takes to create a physical book from an idea! This was actually fast! 🙂

I have dedicated the book to my grandchildren.ded

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As I said in the book, they are my heroes and the leaders of tomorrow.

Thanks to all of you who have championed me along the way. You will find many of your names on my Acknowledgements page. (If I have forgotten anyone, I am sincerely sorry.) I feel like this book has a community already. Please spread the word to make the Mother Nature’s Kiss community bigger!

Order one for you wee ones in time for Christmas! Click HERE to go to Amazon.

Enjoy, enjoy!

With gratitude and lots of Mother Nature love to all! xoxo

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Hold Onto Summer!!

I don’t know about you, but it feels like we never had much of an autumn. All of a sudden, snowflakes were flying! As Thanksgiving approaches, I would love to share the feelings, the love and the memories of summer.

Remember those soft, warm nights with a sky filled with stars? Or the touch of a silky evening wind on your face? How about the dazzling blinking of a firefly or the sparks from a bonfire? How many new friends did you meet? Were you ever lulled to sleep on a boat? Weren’t the sunsets amazing, and those Northern lights? How many times have we looked up to the night sky and marveled at the depth and beauty of the universe?

Well, Friends, my new book which is a bedtime story, Mother Nature’s Kiss, has all that and more! As our summer of 2018 closes, we can still grab those special moments. This book is for anyone who loves to look out onto a body of water and dream. The relaxation of letting your mind drift as you look out – no matter where I am – it is my happy place.

I wrote and illustrated Mother Nature’s Kiss with little ones in mind. It is a bedtime story that gently guides your imagination across a lake and into the possibilities of a twinkling night sky. We meet a firefly, a sleepy family on a boat, campfire kids, new friends, a lonely alien, a fanciful angel and, finally, Mother Nature! We feel the breath of a warm evening wind, silky across our cheek and the wisp of the magic of a good bedtime story.

Hold onto summer, with all the charm and memories of a warm, starlit evening. I invite you to a sneak peek at the images in Mother Nature’s Kiss.

 

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Coming soon to Amazon and a bookstore near you!

Warm wishes for a lovely Thanksgiving. xoxo

Gifts for the Irish

When an author, artist or musician sets out to create, it is usually a personal expression of something they hope to viscerally touch the masses. Because the end product is a personal expression, one can’t expect it to be understood by everyone, but hopefully, the impact intended will move many in one way or another.

I have friends who are artists and they pour themselves through their media, making themselves vulnerable to the expectations and judgments of the masses. Some like, some love, some don’t get it. That’s ok. It’s expected.

Recently, I went to Ireland and at the last minute, I threw some of my books, Gifts of the Crysnix, into my suitcase. I hoped that of all people, the Irish would “get” the story. Centered around a small seaside town, the story could be set anywhere in the world, and that is what I intended. I wanted it to be personal to many but to the Irish, I wanted it to be viscerally owned.

On our travels around the Ring of Kerry, we went by the beautiful town of Kells and its small cove. I turned to my husband and said it could be Galvin Cove! He smiled and nodded. With its cluster of houses overlooking the sea and the amazing Blasket Islands in the distance, this was the kind of place I envisioned as the setting for the book.

Emboldened by this, I took a few books under my arm and went looking for small bookshops to see if they would be interested in selling  Gifts of the Crysnix. To my happy amazement, I was well received.

In Dingle, there is a small bookshop called An Cafe Liteartha, which was my first success. It is an ancient (by our standards) shop where you can buy a book in the front and have a small meal in the cafe at the back and crack your new purchase. The place is tiny, homey and bursting with charm. The manager was so excited about my book, she immediately wrapped it in cellophane and displayed it in the front window! How fun for me to see it there as I walked on.

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The adorable gift and bookstore, Sweet Pea just drew me in! On a quaint corner in Dingle, it offers beautiful treats for the home and person. Jewellery, candles, books and gifts are displayed in the little shop that just brims with personality. I was so honoured to have my book welcomed there!

 

 

In Dublin, two gorgeous bookshops are now home to my book. True to the historical beauty of the storefronts in the Emerald Isle, Books Upstairs and Jewels and Gems can be found in age-old architecture. Books Upstairs is nestled in the heart of Dublin and has seen hundreds of years of history played out on its front street.

Jewels and Gems is a sparkly store offering jewellery, gifts, books and wait for it – chandeliers! My book’s front cover looked pretty nice in there.

There is a very special place called Moy House. It is a boutique hotel near Lahinch that boasts an amazing history, a view to die for, hospitality, service and food to make you think you have died and gone to heaven! Along with the many, many touches of old world charm, there is a library. I couldn’t help wanting to donate a book to it.

I am so happy that I have shared my story with a bit of Ireland. What a gift! It is a story of endurance, faith, honour, courage and being true to yourself to bring about your best life. Very much like the history of Ireland and all that the Irish people have endured.

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It may not appeal to some, but I think it is enjoyed by those who like a bit of charm and magic to help us on our way. I wrote it from the heart. After all, I am Irish. The town of Galvin Cove is named after my family name, Galvin. It is a fictitious place but hopefully will feel like home to all who read the book.

Cheers and Slainte (good health) to all. xoxo

P.S. Christmas is coming! How about purchasing Gifts of the Crysnix for the young dreamer in your life? Check it out HERE and HERE.

Can you say edit? Can you say neurotic?

Jeez! I am driving myself crazy! I can’t imagine how my editor, book designer and publishing consultant feel! You have no idea how many decisions go into the final stages of producing a book! Endless word and font changes, page weight, glossy vs matte, BISAC codes, SEO keywords, and my personal favourite that has kept me up for the last two nights – THE FRIGGIN PRICE!

Without seeing and feeling the final result, I am flying blind when I choose the price. I just hope it is a wonderful surprise and the value is more than the price I chose.

All this drama and the hard work of promoting hasn’t even begun yet! Argghh!

Anyway, I have to say it felt pretty good to finally press the A-OK button! Now, all that is left is the final signing off and to the printer, it goes!

This really has been a journey and I thank all of you for your amazing support and excitement that you share with me. My only regret is that I didn’t have the book ready for the lake/summer season. However, if I really think about it, I would be wanting to start the promoting and be traveling now and I am really happy to be enjoying this beautiful summer doing my lake hopping.

I intend to promote the book online over the fall and winter and see a lot of you in person next spring when I launch it for the 2019 summer season.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these last days of summer. All my very best to you for a lovely Fall. xo

 

I Did It!

Whew! I finally sent in my manuscript and illustrations to my new publisher, Tellwell Talent out of Victoria, BC. It has been a journey of exhilaration, self-doubt, commitment, fear, abandon, determination, oh – and I said exhilaration, right? The process is tough and fun but the hardest part is trying to get it RIGHT. As I said in my introduction in the book, writing a book of poetry is never finished. I have agonized over the wording and syntax and I can’t tell you how many sleepless hours I have had over this darn project! Anyway, at some point, I have to let go and today, I have. (Now comes the exhilaration part.)

 

 

I am not so green as to think this is the end, though. I will be working for at least another 6 weeks with the book designers to get the placements and hues of the illustrations right, the fonts and editing correct as well as designing the front and back covers. Then comes the first printed draft for me to approve. You just never know how it will turn out until you see it and hold it in your hands!

You know, the process can be crazy and you can’t think that all will go smoothly. Knowing I couldn’t rely on my own scanning and printing equipment (oh yeah, I have run out of ink how many times on a tight deadline?????), I decided to have a professional scan the illustrations so they would be at 300 dpi (high resolution for commercial printing) and put them on a USB stick. Easy, right??

 

 

The first time the paintings were scanned too dark so I brought them back to be rescanned and lightened. The second time I brought the stick home and started to download all my info to find the link only accepted jpegs and not pdfs – of course mine were pdfs. The third time I went back and had the info changed to jpegs but when I got home to download everything again, I found THEY GAVE ME THE WRONG USB STICK!!! The fourth time I went back to the printer, I received my correct information on another stick and happily went home and uploaded my manuscript and illustrations. Oh, but maybe I forgot some people to thank in my acknowledgments!!!!! SHIT! Whoever you may be (I won’t embarrass you here) who was a cheerleader for me along the way, I hope I mentioned you and please forgive me if I missed you.

I have to say a huge thanks to all of you who “like” my posts. It is incredibly encouraging when this writing thing is a lonely process.

 

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I want to be able to get “Mother Nature’s Kiss” out to you before the end of the summer but it is now in the hands of the publisher. I chose a Canadian publishing house this time as I felt I can keep the price at a competitive point without worrying about the Canadian exchange working against me. In other words, all my American friends can buy it for a real deal!!

I’ll keep you posted but in the meantime, keep enjoying the summer and looking up at those beautiful starry nights.

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As I wrote in the introduction:

I wanted to share it as a common love for a warm summer evening.

The idea of Mother Nature is one of universal and perfect love. It crosses borders, culture and time.

May we be reminded that with every shooting star and every warm breeze, Mother Nature is reaching out to all of us.

Happy July to you all. xoxo

 

 

Star-Gazing

“Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight. Wish I may wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight.”

How many of us have looked up and allowed a star to touch our dreams? Or maybe launch them? As children, we would look up and chant at the brightest early evening star, holding onto a sacred wish deep in our hearts.

For my part I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream.

  download-5Vincent Van Gogh

There wouldn’t be a sky full of stars if we were all meant to wish on the same one.

 images-2 Frances Clark

The stars call to all of us, not just the artistically gifted such as Vincent and Frances. They are there, day (you just can’t see them) and night, and they touch each and every one of us who live on this planet, uniting the world with a sense of wonder.

Imagine… If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.

images Ralph Waldo Emerson

They inspire us to live a better life, be a better person and to challenge ourselves to make a mark. With all that inspiration, they succeed in making us feel humble and very small.

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I’ve loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.     

Galileo Galilei

 

The power of stars is amazing. Just by looking at them, we are filled with a sense of awe. How many time in our life have we looked up and taken a deep breath, stopped what we were doing and breathed out, “Wow.” Some believe the stars have a healing power. I don’t know but I can say that one of my favourite things to do is sit and look out on a starry night and let my mind drift. It is so calming, it must be healthy for me!! 🙂

I have loved painting the stars for my latest book, Mother Nature’s Kiss. I was inspired by the circles in Vincent Van Gogh”s Starry Night, above. I wanted them to be loose and fun so I thought I’d share how I create a night sky.

 

While I am painting I listen to my favourite starry music:

So Long Lonesome, Explosions in the Sky play it here , Light the Night, Tracey Chattaway listen here and Glow, Lights and Motion yes, you’ll love it!

My dreamy music takes me away and lets me create, feel relaxed and happy as I paint and play as I go.

This was just a fun post to share and say hi. I hope you are having a great day and I wish for you a beautiful night. Check out the stars!

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xox

 

The Making of an Angel

Procrastinate No More! My head was full of doubt when I woke up and said to myself, this is the day! I have been putting off painting the last few illustrations for my new book, the bedtime story, Mother Nature’s Kiss. I don’t know what gets into us to create doubt and fear, but it is insidious.

The most daunting illustration was to be of an angel flying with a comet to accompany:

Out in the galaxy, angels abound,

Flying with the comets with all the stars around!

Zooming by, they smile and shine down their love

And sprinkle twinkle stardust from Heaven above.

I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t find it within me to begin…

But I did.

First, I like to search for visuals on the internet to help me find an inspiration. I didn’t find what I was looking for so I started sketching and after a couple of duds, I came up with this.

Now, I had to commit! I started sketching on the final paper and tried to trust myself. I put in my earpods, fired up spotify and went to work!

Just for fun, I’ll show you a progression.

I looked around for a cool image of a comet and finally came up with this:

Here she is! I think I’ll call her Stella.

Stella has taught me to trust myself. Maybe it’s a bit of twinkle stardust that helped me today. I hope you felt some too. xox

Mother Nature’s Kiss

An Interesting twinkle light has caught my sleepy eye tonight…

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I am working on a new book about falling asleep at the cottage on a warm summer night. It is going to be called Mother Nature’s Kiss and is based on a true event. One night, many years ago, I lay awake at my cottage trying to figure out what was the cause for a bright light that beckoned from way down the lake. I was sure it was never there before. The words for a poem came to me and stayed and then beckoned me to write this dreamy book.

I am using the view in the story based on the view from my cottage and I have to say, it’s pretty fun and special to be painting that beloved landscape again and again as the story progresses.

My Mom painted the painting on the right 55 years ago and it hangs in my bedroom. Looking out has always been calming and beautiful in any weather, any season and now in my memory.

The story goes on to wonder, through each verse, what the light could be and the musings get farther and farther away…

More souls in the universe and one turns to the sky…

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…Until we realize that it is…

Mother Nature winking as she blows a kiss good night…

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The process of designing a new book is always much harder for me than actually writing it. This poem has been with me for a long time and now I have to go through the process of working with a publisher and the parameters of creating the layouts and illustrations. All a fun and exciting creative challenge!

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And it can get messy at times!! 🙂

 

 

 

This poem was called Night Light until I added two more verses that described how Mother Nature’s kiss felt as well as how it looked. I shared it on Scriggler and was amazed at the positive response. To date, 2087 people have read it and loved it (with 100% approval rating!)

I will let you know when Mother Nature’s Kiss is published. Until then, enjoy the view of your life. xox

There is Magic in the Forest

Yup, science-based, fact-based magic can be found and experienced in any forest in the world. Anyone who has taken a walk in an autumn forest lately knows it can boost your mood. I love to write about the magic of the power of thought and I back it up with a bit of science to make it real. There are natural, magical forces at work in the forest that are amazing in their complexity if you take a closer look.

There is a certain slant of the sun this time of year that shoots through the leaves andimages-8 turns them neon and just seeing that beauty begins the magical experience. By seeing that burst of beauty your body reacts by releasing chemical reaction of producing the GABA molecule in the brain. “The Anti-Anxiety Molecule” GABA is an inhibitory molecule that slows down the firing of neurons and creates a sense of calmness”, says Christopher Bergland in Psychology Today. 

images-2Surrounding yourself with beauty can bolster your creative flow. Thoreau, Nietzsche and many other creative types have claimed that walking gives wings to the imagination. Last year, psychologists gave this empirical support. Walking, either on a treadmill or around Stanford’s leafy campus, bolstered divergent thinking: the free-roaming, idea-generating component of creative thought.

Once you have taken those first few steps and start to feel calmer, you take a deep breath and inhale scents of pine, birch, eucalyptus, grass, water etc. etc. Now, think about it – when you walk into a spa, what is that amazing scent that wafts over you and draws you into the magic? Yup, pine, birch, eucalyptus, water etc. As we walk through a forest the natural aromatherapy of the forest scents cause us to breathe more deeply, “triggering neurons in your brain which tell the body it is time to relax, a new study has found,” Sarah Knapton, Science editor of The Telegraph says. She goes on to explain:

“Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California have identified 175 brain cells which spy on the breath and alter the state of mind accordingly. For thousands of years, yoga students have been taught that controlling their breathing can bring a sense of calm, while it is a well-known truism that taking a few deep breaths can lower rage. But until now nobody knew why it worked. The neurons which link breathing to relaxation, attention, excitement and anxiety are located deep in the brainstem.”

After a few minutes of walking your heart rate begins to climb. Oh, the magic of cardio!images-7 We all know the benefits of raising our cardio levels but to put it in a nutshell scientifically, recent evidence points to a pleasurable and pain-killing firing of the endocannabinoid system: the psychoactive receptor of cannabis.

One fascinating study randomly assigned a group of 59 men and women to either an aerobics-focused program or a stretching and strength-training program. After 6 months, sophisticated brain scans using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) showed that the aerobically fit adults had significantly more activity in the frontal cortex of the brain, the region associated with executive function (planning and long-term memory storage), as well as the parietal cortex, the seat of spatial orientation — two areas often associated with age-related cognitive decline.

While cardio does increase blood flow to the brain, that’s not the whole reason for aerobics’ impressive effects. Instead, the researchers believe that many of the positive changes could be attributed to an increase in BDNF, the “Miracle-Gro” brain hormone. The brain that enjoys cardiovascular training, the researchers say, is “more efficient, plastic, and adaptive, which translates into better learning and performance.” Not too shabby for a daily walk in the woods.

On a typical walk through the forest, you may take music along, run into a friend and visit for a while, sharing a laugh or two and pull out a chocolate/vanilla health bar to share. Oh, the happiness chemicals are surging!!! According to studies from Readers Digest:

  1. Listening to music you love triggers joy by unleashing feel-good brain chemicals. “The Bliss Molecule” Endocannabinoids are self-produced cannabis that work on the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors of the cannabinoid system.
  2. Group exercise has some distinct advantages, according to a recent study. Not only will friends spur you on if you’re flagging, but the shared effort may give your endorphin levels an extra boost. Researchers in 2009 found that college crews who rowed in synchronization had an increased rush of these feel-good hormones compared with those who rowed alone.
  3. Laughter is sometimes described as ‘inner jogging’. Research has shown that it can help to: • Lower blood pressure. • Reduce stress hormones. • Boost immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting cells. • Trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. • Produce a general sense of wellbeing.
  4. Chocolate-lovers will be delighted to hear that dark chocolate provides protection against heart attacks and strokes. Thanks to its high content of polyphenols and other antioxidants, dark chocolate reduces inflammation, lowers blood pressure, reduces ιbad᾿ LDL cholesterol, boosts ιgood᾿ HDL cholesterol and protects the health of your arteries. It also contains chemicals that prompt the release of endorphins! Add the benefits of vanilla, which helps reduce anxiety,  often associated with depression. According to a study at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, patients undergoing MRIs who breathed vanilla-scented air reported 63 percent less anxiety than those who breathed unscented air.

Volare Solus Cover ImageTo me, the science of the functioning body is magical. Every second, the delicate dances of balance, growth and decay are performed with precision. A simple walk in a forest can ingite and excite so many bodily chemical reactions, it is boggling. It is a testament to how we are all connected in our delicate dance of life.

Another magical forest experience I took part in was the Oregon Family Forest Fest. Imagine the fun of having 130 young families with around 200 kids age 0-5 camping, playing, singing and dancing on a magical farm complete with moss-draped West Coast cedars and a babbling brook.

49ca7e_6dd61703f2864288ab4b1cbb529b9afa-mv2Off we went to the Leaping Lamb Farm for 3 days of a festival like no other. The weather was perfect and the babies slept… all good. 🙂 The Family Forest Fest is in its second year and was definitely not a disappointment! Entertainers, movies, speakers, giant bubbles and dress-up parades were some of the highlights.

Please check out Family Forest Fest info HERE  and visit The Leaping Lamb Farm HERE

Finally, I’d like to introduce you to a phenomenon in Korea, called Salim yok” and “Shinrin-yoku” in Japan or “Forest Bathing”. The practice of forest bathing is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of well-being. Similar to Finnish traditions, doctors have recognized the numerous health-boosting effects of being in nature. In contemporary times, The Korean Forest Research Institute has found that chemicals from conifers (specifically Torreya Nucifera), phytoncides, are associated with positive health effects. Packaging and proliferating phytoncides in workplaces and elsewhere have been shown to increase productivity. In fact, out of workplace lunchtime has many people seeking forest to walks to rejuvenate themselves over that period.

So friends, I don’t know if it really is magic or science or just a beautiful thing, but what I do know is the forest does have a resonance and power to make us feel better, be younger, smile and be happy.

Take that walk soon and feel it.

Sources and more info:

8 Ways to Naturally Increase Endorphins

The Neurochemicals of Happiness

Deep Breathing Calms You down

How Physical Exercise Makes Your Brain Work Better

Beautiful Leaping Lamb Farm

Family Forest Fest

Forest Bathing

Finally, I invite you to check out a sneak preview of my new book about finding magic in the forest, “The Adventures of Presley and the Mighty, Noble Knights” coverknight PresleyMK  

(CLICK on Presley MK)

Thanks for coming along on my journey through the woods. I always like to back up magic with a little science.

Cheers! xoxox