Celebrating the Sacred New Moon by Kelli May-Krenz

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

There are so many ways to celebrate this blessed life we have been gifted. Looking for the ordinary moments that are so special and celebrating in your own way creates beauty. I have always adored moonlight. I love how it lights up the night with a beautiful magical force. It’s as if the heavens turned on the most crystal bright chandelier just for us. It is with great anticipation that I await the new moon, the full moon, the healing glow in the sky.

Collecting a variety of crystals and learning about the energies they bring to us is part of my world that I love and share with others. I believe by placing your crystals, rocks, shells, written prayers outside on the night of the full moon (new moon) extra blessings with wash over your precious items.


Perhaps the moon water gets charged with energy we cannot capture other ways?

Water has always been a source of energy in my life. Just being in water can give me a force of clarity, ideas, calmness, true focus. Perhaps, this can be true for you too?


Some write it is a blessing water. I believe it is.

The water can be used to drink and heal (if you believe) it can be used to bathe your crystals before bringing them inside as a source of bringing new energies. You can add the water to your bath water, light candles and relax with a new clarity.

I believe with my whole heart that magic, a love for living is found where we seek it and plant it.

Everyday is a new chance to make special to honor those moments that we love the very most. You can celebrate anything you want (secretly just for you) or sharing with others to help bring inspiration and love into this big world.

I celebrate the new moon, I celebrate so very many simple moments knowing that these are the sacred gifts I have been given. Just listening, looking and knowing anything can be beloved.


We are all beloved souls. Love more.

About the Author: Kelli May-Krenz

Kelli May-Krenz BioKelli May-Krenz is an award-winning graphic designer and illustrator with more than 20 years’ experience. Her ability to capture, express and visually communicate the needs and visions of her clients has produced designs and promotional materials for everything from independent boutiques to Fortune 500 companies.

Her new stationery line, Pearl Button’s World, recently debuted at the National Stationery Show – where two of her designs were selected as finalist for Best in Show – and she has been featured in an array of print publications including Somerset Studio, Art Journaling, Somerset Life, Somerset Memories, Somerset Apprentice, Room to Create and Uppercase magazine.

Connect with Kelly on Facebook and Instagram.

Wurzeln (Roots) by Æverett

Leaf by Hiroyuki Igarashi via Unsplash

Leaf by Hiroyuki Igarashi via Unsplash

You stand in front of the mirror, muscles tired, and watch your own skin.

You flex and stretch and watch your body move, like some force of biological magic.

Then, you see it — tendrils. Creeping roots. Pale blue and branching. Your veins under your untanned skin. This is what they mean by “translucent.”

You cup your breast up, away from your ribs and twist slightly, stretching your side-body to observe the thicker vein descending from your hip into your pelvis. To memorise it’s limbs, branching, reaching up toward your ribs. To see the tendrils weaving over your ribs, latticing about the Cage. Lacing across your chest, under your collar bone, from your shoulders, like wadded spiders’ webs.

You imagine my fingertips running over them. Tender touch. Gentle breath. Whispered kiss.

You feel no shame in your pale state. You are beautiful in your biology. Your blood flooding to tired muscles.

Should you break the skin it would flood out.

I want to remember it.


About the Author: Æverett Æverett

Æverett lives in the northern hemisphere and enjoys Rammstein and Star Trek. He writes both poetry and fiction and dabbles in gardening and soap making. She has two wonderfully old cats, and a dearly beloved dog. He also plays in linguistics, studying German, Norwegian, Russian, Arabic, a bit of Elvish, and developing Cardassian. Language is fascinating, enlightening, and inspirational. She’s happily married to her work with which she shares delusions of demon hunters, detectives, starships, androids, and a home on the outskirts of a small northern town. He’s enjoyed writing since childhood and the process can be downright therapeutic when it’s not making him pull his hair out. It’s really about the work and words and seeing without preconceptions.

Image Copyright: issaystudio / 123RF Stock Photo

Nourishment by Daryl Wood Gerber

What do we need as people for nourishment? Food.

What do we need as authors for nourishment? Inspiration.

What do we need as fans for nourishment? Good stories.

Life is great; reading makes it better!

These are the three reasons I like writing the Cookbook Nook Mysteries.

The first: they’re about food, so I find myself writing about food, thinking about food, coveting food, and taste-testing recipes.

The latter happens to be the most fun. If my recipes don’t work for me, I won’t share them with my readers. As I pick a theme for my next book and pour over cookbooks searching for ideas for recipes, I find myself nourished at a whole other level.

The second: whenever I do research for my Cookbook Nook mysteries, I find so much inspiration.

Why? Because I gave Jenna’s father, Cary, a fun quirk. He loves memorizing quotes so he can turn to words of inspiration when in need.  He shares this love with Jenna and her pals. As I look for pithy quotes, I find I’m inspired. I’ve printed out many and have posted some around my workspace.

“The primary sign of a well-ordered mind is a man’s ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company.”

[This sign hangs in Cary’s hardware shop.]

“Courage is not the absence of despair; it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.”
Rollo May

[Shared when Jenna had to move forward with her life.]

“Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.”
–George Bernard Shaw

[This one made me laugh!]

The third: Like you, I’m a reader, too. I love a good story. Because of that, I try my best as an author to give you, my fan, a good story!

This means that whenever I’m writing, I try to think like a fan. What would I like to read? Yes, I write about murder because I love a puzzle. But I also write about family. I think that’s why my readers like my books. I delve into these complex relationships. Family matters to my protagonists. Also I explore the depths of friendship because my protagonists have so many “extended” family members.

“People need dreams; there’s as much nourishment in them as food. ”
–Dorothy Gilman

“The nourishment of our souls comes from the smiles of others. ”
Steve Maraboli

“Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s nourishment of the soul and body; it’s truly love. ”
–Giada De Laurentiis

Nourishment. We need it. We crave it. We love it.

My dear readers, may reading good books fill your souls. May reading about food inspire you to cook and/or fill your tummies with tasty treats. Savor the mystery!

So…what nourishes you?

About the Author: Daryl Wood Gerber

DarylWoodGerberbioAgatha Award-winning and bestselling author DARYL WOOD GERBER ventures into the world of suspense with her debut novel, GIRL ON THE RUN.

Daryl also writes the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, and as Avery Aames, she pens the Cheese Shop Mysteries. Her latest Cookbook Nook Mystery: Grilling the Subject publishes August 2, 2016.

Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote”. She has also jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and hitchhiked around Ireland by herself. She loves to read and has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky. Visit Daryl at www.darylwoodgerber.com.

Sunday Sanctuary: Hope, Perfection, and Learning to Let Go


There’s nothing like the feeling I get when I walk into my home and see polished floors, clutter free counters, dust free end tables, and those freshly vacuumed floors. The bathroom – oh the bathroom – is a thing of beauty: spotless glass showers and streak free mirrors and gleaming sinks.

gleaminggreatroom1I experience my home like this about once a month, when Hope comes.

Let me be frank: at heart, I’m a bit of a hot mess when it comes to natural tidiness.  I am at my creative best when there are no cluttery distractions around, but the “during” process means a misplaced coffee cup, stacks of papers, and open cabinet doors.

I love food and cooking, but an observer arriving after I’ve cooked dinner will typically find spatters of olive oil on the back of the stove, flecks of spices like pepper, garlic, and oregano scattered across the cook-top, and a poor leaf of spinach (or two) plastered underneath the pot after failing to land in it.

Now, I’m pretty good about regular dusting. I never mind scrubbing toilets. I gain great pleasure from those odd jobs like cleaning the shower drain, dusting baseboards, and removing all the smudges on light switches.

But mops and brooms and I have never gotten along.

I’ve finally resorted to vacuuming my hardwood floors (which makes up most of my main floor) with a nifty “floor genie” attachment, and I praise that Shark Vacuum to be worth its weight in platinum. Still, the only way I’ve managed a sparkling kitchen floor isn’t a perfect mop, but to get down on my hands and knees with a bucket and a sponge.

That’s why I am so grateful for Hope: a woman reflective of her name. In a three-hour period of time, she manages to leave my bathroom sparkling, my kitchen without a stray crumb or smatter of olive oil, and every inch of wood floor gleaming.

The downside after the moment of elation at the vision of all that beauty comes at the next moment: I want everything to stay perfect.

I don’t want to cook and return the spatters and crumbs and errant spinach leaves to the kitchen. I even ponder perfectbathroomshowering in the guest bathroom, which has a shower curtain instead of a glass door.

In Hope’s wake, I am frozen like a bunny is when she senses a hawk nearby: paralyzed.

Then, there’s that wild moment when the perfection demands a witness: John arriving home to see our well-tended safe haven. A neighbor popping over unannounced, asking for a cup of sugar or an opinion on the latest HOA saga. A girlfriend stopping by for a visit and lingering over coffee and conversations.

I’ve accepted this wild moment as a natural part of being, just human nature. We all want those moments of being perfect housewife to be noticed, just as we all want our stories to be considered prize-worthy and our appearances to receive admiring glances from strangers.

I’ve also accepted that those perfect moments are so rarely seen because life is inherently messy.

I have long held perfectionistic tendencies, especially when it comes to my environment. A messy room was a source of scolding when I was a child and a deep sense of shame when my mother would throw up her hands and scour my room whilst I was at school. A messy house led to many an argument with my first husband, who never quite understood why I couldn’t prevent the girls from strewing their toys about, or keep up with the mountains of laundry a family of four produced.

When my house is perfect, that’s the moment when I believe my mother would nod at me in approval and my ex-husband would be wowed at my obvious new self-discipline.

Fortunately, John doesn’t see my natural messiness as a detriment to our relationship. That acceptance has allowed me to loosen up when it comes to believing that a perfect home would win me approval, acceptance, and love. I am loved for all of me: wild hair, stack of papers and books, and a spattered stove.


That love has translated into me finally finding my way as the caregiver to my home. I tidy up at the end of most days, or at least on Friday afternoons.  I clean a toilet the moment I notice it needs a little attention.  I run the vacuum when I see crumbs hiding under the cabinets and and swipe dusty coffee tables as I gab with girlfriends on the phone.

And once a month, Hope arrives and rescues me from anything I’ve overlooked.

Despite the moment of wanting the house to stay perfect, eventually, of course we must use those immaculate spaces. I shower. I cook. I sprawl on the couch and the coffee table become littered with journals and books and magazines and glue sticks.

The spell breaks. I release that momentary flashback of needing the house to be perfect in hopes that someone will approve of me.

The acceptance of who I am as a housekeeper and the balance of that one moment of gleaming floors giving way to the natural messiness of life has become a domino effect of my other spaces of perfection. I allow my hair to be curly and messy instead of maintaining standing appointments for bi-weekly blowouts. I run errands without make-up, and don’t cringe when I run into a neighbor or friend.

Most importantly, loosening my grip on my perfectionist tendencies has allowed my creative life to blossom.

As a child, if I couldn’t perform a task perfectly the first time, I was unlikely to try it again. This meant my dreams of rolling skating like the Olympic ice skaters was a one-time trip around the garage til I fell and painting without the paint-by-numbers made me give it up because my pictures on the canvas never resembled what I imagined in my head.

As an adult, I was less likely to attempt something I could fail at, even writing, because getting the words on paper as elegantly as I desired to convey them. I wanted a first draft to serve as a polished document.

Just as I’ve learned that an spotless house doesn’t prove my worthiness, I’m now learning that I don’t have to craft a migrationdayflawless story in order to be a valued storyteller.  Not having artistic skills as a painter doesn’t mean I can’t find pleasure in dragging a brush around a canvas or discover joy in creating a collage.

There are those times when we experience an impeccably perfect moment during the act of creation, but just as it takes Hope to help me obtain that moment of household perfection, I’ve learned that having other folks assist me with the editing and polishing allows me to have that moment of creative perfection.

It’s up to me to continue creating, though, because if I were to choose to live within that perfection of one story, I’d never unfold new ones.

And the rest of the creative process is just that: process.  Just as life is inherently messy, so is creating.

About the Author: Debra Smouse

debra_Smouse_mclDebra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Create a Life You Love: Straightforward Wisdom for Creating the Life of Your Dreams. She resides in Dayton, Ohio where she practices the art of living with the Man of Her Dreams.

When she’s not vacuuming her couch, you’ll find her reading or plotting when she can play her next round of golf. She’s the Editor in Chief here at Modern Creative Life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Afternoon, for Instance by Lisa Zaran


we all go drifting from a dark bedroom
to a sunlit porch. even when a day feels
flattened and depression seems like the
only open door, hope abounds.

maybe it’s a skirt turning in summer sun
catching refractions of yellow light

it’s the gentle phrase of a stranger saying
have a nice day
maybe it’s just the afternoon
God’s mid-day break, sighing.

About the Author: Lisa Zaran

LisaZaranBioLisa Zaran is the author of eight collections of poetry including Dear Bob Dylan, If It We, The Blondes Lay Content and the sometimes girl.  She is the founder and editor of Contemporary American Voices.  When not writing, Zaran spends her days in Maricopa county jails assisting women with remembering their lost selves.

Be the Light, Everywhere You Go by Christine Mason Miller


“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
-Edith Wharton

It is hard to know what to do sometimes isn’t it? Especially on days like the one we recently had – oh wait, it wasn’t just one. It has been one after another after another. I’m talking about days when we’re jolted by the lightning flash of a news bulletin relaying the death toll from the world’s most recent terror attack. We hear the news, absorb the CMM_Light2first shocking numbers and then despair as they rise over the next few hours like floodwaters in a basement.

It is easy to feel helpless. How to make a difference in the face of such hatred? How to soften the blow of these particular strains of violence? We aren’t watching news reports from warring nations; we are seeing innocent people attacked while celebrating a holiday, walking to work, shopping at a market, marching for their beliefs and dancing with their friends. What can we, as individuals, possibly do to heal our collective wounds?

I think it comes down to very small things – very tiny acts of compassion, kindness and sincerity. It comes down to the way we move through the world, day in and day out. It is about how we treat our partners, our families and everyone we come into contact with as we go about our days. It is about those details.

At the Brave Girl Symposium last week, one of the many lovely souls I was meeting for the first time  commented on the way I made eye contact with her. She appreciated it in the moment we first met and continued to comment on it over the next couple of days. It is not the first time someone has acknowledged this, and I doubt it will be the last. The intensity of my eye contact is something that has, quite frankly, kind of freaked people out (in a really sweet way) in a variety of situations.

I don’t exactly wake up every morning saying, “I’m going to stare intently into the eyes of everyone I encounter today,” but making eye contact is an intentional practice. I do it with my friends, I do it at retreats I facilitate and I do it in line at the bank. And I find the most consistent reaction I receive in return incredibly fascinating: it startles CMM_Light4people, as if being seen is something they weren’t expecting and aren’t accustomed to. I get double-takes, I get sheepish smiles, I see an immediate softening, I see tears well up.

With so much of our attention gobbled up by mental to do lists, the frightening state of the world and all of our devices, it is easy to walk right by one another without any real acknowledgment that there is a living, breathing human being in our midst. I feel this most acutely in places like drug stores and grocery stores, where I see too many people hand over their debit card and pay for their items without ever looking up at the person who is assisting them. I know we’re all busy and have a lot on our minds, but this is what I mean about small details. We are all busy and have a lot on our minds, so let’s all take a wee moment, even if it is just the space of a single breath, to look one another in the eye and create a real connection.

I talk a lot about ripples of inspiration – about how a single act of kindness or a single step taken toward realizing a dream travels farther than we ever realize. Every single action taken in love, kindness, respect and joy matters. When one person has the ability to wreak havoc on a hundred lives in a single instance, it is the one thousand tiny expressions of light we can shine throughout our days and weeks that will help combat these dark forces.


Imagine this: Someone you don’t know and might never know has woken up this morning in despair over his or her life and the world. Perhaps this person looked up to the sky and said, “Please give me a sign all hope is not lost.” Later that day, you end up looking this person in the eye, and there is kindness in your face. You might even say hello.

That could be enough. That could be the sign this person was seeking, assurance that not all of humanity has lost the ability to, well, be human. You might think this is an unlikely extreme, but I’m not so sure. We are all looking for signs. We are all searching for comfort. We are all desperate for evidence that the world is still OK. And we all have the ability to provide such assurances for one another.

What to do in the face of unfathomable horrors? Imagine you are standing in a dark room with no windows. You can’t even see your own hand in front of your face. Now light a match. See how that one small flame lights up the space? Be that light, everywhere you go.

Be that light, and heal the world.

About the Author: Christine Mason Miller

christinemasonmillerChristine Mason Miller is an author, artist and guide who lives in Santa Barbara, California.

Buy her book on Amazon. Go on Retreat .  Join Christine at her upcoming retreat in Ojai with Wild Roots, Sacred Wings.

You can follow her adventures at www.christinemasonmiller.com.

Your New Moon Creative (Full Buck Moon)

What nourishes you? How do you fill the well so that you can continue to create? How does connection and community nourish you and your creativity?

When it came to the desire to build connection and community here at Modern Creative Life, we decided to offer prompts to inspire your creativity. Our #NewMoonCreative Prompts  are shared with you as the moon cycles to “new”… this is the traditional time to launch new efforts and open ourselves to creativity.

And we circle back on the date of the Full Moon to see what was created.

The full moon will bless us tonight, which means it’s time to celebrate how our creative endeavors have come to bloom. We have a tiny offering this month in response to New Moon in Cancer and here is a taste of what was created in response to our “New Moon Creative” prompts:

Daily Cup:


No matter how early or late I begin the day, it starts with this: a cup of coffee. It’s a grounding ritual: to sit and sip at least that first cup in an unhurried way. When I look at how I nourish myself and fill the well, it includes the combination of #coffee and #words: reading the words of others (Like today’s read: House of Secrets by @bradmeltzer ) and the words I inscribe on the pages of my journal. It’s a small thing, really. To spare at least 20 minutes each morning to sip and read and write. Yet, so many of us feel parched by the demands of life, drawing and drawing upon our reserves and never remembering that we need mental and spiritual nourishment as much as we need food. #love #soultending This is the art of creating: to remember to fill the well so that I don’t become too depleted. This is day 63 of #100daysofcreativeliving for the #100dayproject and in honor of the #NewMoonCreative Prompt for July 4th from @moderncreativelife : #DailyCup

A photo posted by Debra Smouse (@debrasmouse) on

Open Space

Necessary Supplies

Jeanie Croope: Today’s Modern Creative Life prompt for ‪#‎NewMoonCreative‬ is “Necessary Supplies.” Yes, these are!

NecessarySupplies Jeanie Croope

A Tiny Now

A summer storm is brewing and the air is thick with humidity. Four miles on the bike, and since I’m already sweaty, I head downstairs and tend the flowerbeds. I intended to only pull the weeds and grass encroaching the periwinkles, and find myself stripping away dead strands from the daylilies. It’s before 9 AM and I’m feeling pleased as punch about my morning productivity. Now to sit a moment, sip some sparkling water, and breathe before I head inside, take a shower, and start to work. This is the art of creating a life: to honor the holiness of a tiny now in our day. This is day 65 of #100daysofcreativeliving for the #100dayproject – and in honor of @ModernCreativeLife #NewMoonCreative prompt for 7/7 is: “A Tiny Now”. #love #soultending #creativeliving #latergram

A photo posted by Debra Smouse (@debrasmouse) on

Real Mail


A photo posted by Becca Rowan (@becca.rowan) on

Last summer about this time, a friend and I decided to begin writing letters to each other about our Creative Lives. Taking paper to pen to share thoughts about this thing called Life and Creativity and how the two merge has been one of the most nourishing and inspirational things I’ve done for my creativity. Somehow, pen and paper allow me to share those vulnerable stories in a safer way. Letters have also forced me to be more thoughtful and introspective, has invited me to honor my need to create as a high priority, and has allowed me to connect on a deeper level with my friend and myself. I think about the number of hands my stories are touched by before the arrive in her hands: my post lady, the folks at my post office, the central distribution center, her central distribution center, her mail carrier, and then finally her. I imagine it gives each person a little pleasure that real mail still exists. When I saw @jbelthoff ‘s Love Note Project, I joined, happily sending postcards to pen pals (and maybe extras to folks who aren’t my official pen pal). More stories. More hands. More witnesses. More love. This is the art of creating a life: to realize that old-fashioned ways of communication still hold tremendous value in our modern times. This is day 70 of #100daysofcreativeliving for the #100dayproject – and in honor of @ModernCreativeLife #NewMoonCreative prompt for 07/08 is: “Real Mail”. #love #soultending #CreativeLiving #latergram ##lovenotesjb

A photo posted by Debra Smouse (@debrasmouse) on

A Warm Embrace

Our next New Moon Creative begins August 2nd

We hope you’ll join us and share your creations with us.

A Journey for the Senses by Julie Terrill

Whether traveling domestically or internationally, I go to farmer’s markets to feel the pulse of the region. There I can begin to understand the local people, indigenous crops, handcrafts, economy, and pace of daily life.
hong kong market

Hong Kong markets were a cacophony of unfamiliar sounds, smells and products, which whirred with crowds that carried me along.  The large street markets that stretched on for blocks in Chiang Mai, Thailand were an amazing experience. One can purchase everything from live frogs to tiny peppers packed with heat or dried fish by the barrelful. There is even an entire market devoted entirely to bananas.  However, I discovered I much preferred the small markets in the northern rural areas of Thailand where I communicated with farmers, fishermen and artisans in a pantomime exchange, as they offered me food to taste or used gestures to convey information about their wares. I tasted everything that was offered.

Almost everything…

When an English-speaking man strongly urged me not to eat the chunk of greenish gray gelatinous stuff handed to me by the fish lady, I thanked her graciously, pretended to take the tiniest of “no-thank-you-bites” and heeded his advice.  I once even witnessed a flash mob dance through a market in Frankfurt.


There is no need to leave your hometown to take a veritable field trip for your senses. Local farmers markets are one of my favorite simple pleasures and I try to go weekly. Fruits and vegetables remain in the field until ripe. Colors are more vibrant. Grapes taste grapier. Freshly harvested herbs and spices have a sensual, earthy quality that is traded for the convenience of dried grocery store herbs.

I buy handmade pasta, breads, cheeses and juices as well as local seasonal produce, flowers and honey. I like to be  proactive and know where my food comes from, that it is sustainably farmed and is organic.

Spice Market

Farmer’s markets broaden my culinary horizons as well. In Maine I bought fiddleheads at a small market  from the woman who picked them. She happily taught me how to prepare them in her favorite manner.

Ojai California’s market has an amazing fromagère who produces the best lemon quark I have ever tasted… Okay, it is the only lemon quark I have ever tasted but it is, in fact, stupendous!

When I asked about watermelon radishes at a market two miles from my home, the farmer was only too happy to cut one in half, revealing a lovely pink sunburst inside, and shared several recipes as we munched the crisp treat. His son said that his favorite way to eat them is roasted, which I discovered is also my family’s favorite as well. The caramelization on the outside is a wonderful contrast to the savory fuchsia middle.

If you too strive to be a traveler, not a tourist, and want to eat like locals, don’t only dine in restaurants. Visit the local markets as well.

smoky market

About the Author: Julie Terrill


Julie Terrill is a photographer and writer with a passion for travel. For ten years, she’s told stories of empowerment through the lens of her camera in an array of unique landscapes, environments, and projects – from a shelter for children rescued from trafficking in Thailand to Faces of Courage, complimentary portrait sessions she offers to cancer patients in her community. She is a photographer and facilitator at Beautiful You and Soul Restoration retreats.

Connect with her at: JMTerrillImages.com


Sunday Letter: Grateful for the Garden

Dear Neighbor,

When my husband and I moved into this condo community back in 2012, we received such a warm welcome from everyone we met, we immediately felt we had made the right decision to move here. And as we met and talked with people, nearly every one of them said the same thing at some point in the conversation.

“Make sure you visit The Secret Garden! It’s fabulous!”

“Secret Garden? we asked. “What garden? Where?”

You know how it is…they would explain in that vague and often confusing way people have when attempting to provide directions. “It’s just around that first bend right after you come in the entrance,” or “I’m not sure what street, but it’s kind of hidden along the back of the property,” or “You can’t see it at all from the road, you have to meander around behind that first group of homes.”

It was late September when we moved in, and what with unpacking and getting settled and then a long Michigan winter, we had forgotten about The Secret Garden.

Until spring, when another neighbor reminded us.

“I’m going to The Secret Garden,” she said one afternoon. “Let me show it to you.”

Imagine my surprise when I learned it was an easy bike ride from my house! And yes, it is most definitely tucked away along the back of the property. Truly, you can’t see it from the road, which is what makes it so charming and – well, SECRET.

But what it really is is ENCHANTED. When we walked down the path into the deep, shady bounty of the garden, I felt like a child again. Between the flowers, the sculptures, the bird houses hanging from within the trees, the wind chimes tinkling in every tone imaginable, the little stream babbling quietly, I felt as if I’d been led into a fairyland.

“Who made this beautiful place?” I asked, when I could finally find the words. My friend pointed at the condo right behind us, whose upper deck looked out over the beauty of these acres.

“The couple who live in that house right there,” she said. “I’ve never met them, but I heard they love to garden and when they bought the house started clearing the woods behind it and over the past 20 years have turned it into this. Word soon spread, and they opened it to the community for others to come in and enjoy.”

In the past three years that we’ve lived here, I have come to this Secret Garden countless times, and so Dear Neighbor, a note of thanks to you is long overdue. I am beyond grateful for the sense of  peace this spot provides, for the benches where I can sit and listen to the birds, watch the butterflies flit among the blossoms, and bask in the deep green shade of the trees. The past three months, I have been grieving for my mom who died in March – she who loved flowers and gardens and quiet outdoor spaces. Your Secret Garden has been a destination for me, a place I can come on my daily walks or bike rides, a place that offers respite from the trials of my journey.

Sometimes we go about our lives engaged in activities we love without realizing how much those things can mean to others. You obviously love to garden, and I’m sure all the planting and tending must be rewarding for you. But did you imagine that your garden could be a place that eases the troubled heart of your neighbor? A place that makes complete strangers smile and feel enriched for just a few moments before they go back to whatever life might hold in store?

That is a gift, Dear Neighbor, and one I appreciate so much, especially this summer.

Before I close, I wanted to share this poem with you. It’s from a favorite poet of mine, named Mary Oliver. She writes of the beauty and importance of the natural world and the lessons it teaches. This poem, appropriately titled “The Gardener,” is a newer one of hers.

Have I lived enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough, have I
      come to any conclusion?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?
I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.
       Actually, I probably think too much.
Then I step out into the garden,
where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,
       is tending his children, the roses.

Being here in this garden you’ve made gives me a place to quietly reflect and consider. I leave rested and renewed, to go back to my world and be sufficiently grateful for the happiness I experience, to be graceful in enduring this new loneliness. I go back determined to plant and tend seeds of compassion, empathy, and peace.

So if you’re looking out your upstairs window some afternoon and see a short, dark-haired woman sitting on the first bench by the stream, you’ll know that’s me. Someone who is ever so grateful for the gift of your Garden.

With sincere appreciation,

Your neighbor


*Poem The Gardner, by Mary Oliver, from her collection, A Thousand Mornings

About the Author: Becca Rowan

becca_rowan_bio_may2016Becca Rowan lives in Northville, Michigan with her husband and their two dogs. She is the author of Life in General, a book of personal and inspirational essays about the ways women navigate the passage into midlife. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. This summer she has developed a newfound love of gardens, and you’ll find her spending lots of time outdoors, either in the Secret Garden, or puttering around in her own flower beds. She loves to connect with readers at her blog, or on FacebookTwitter, or Goodreads.

Solitude – by Patricia Wellingham-Jones


filled with books and bird song
chosen for rounded edges
not lonely

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.