Post-Book Blues

I’m struggling. The truth is I’ve been struggling ever since I finished my book.

This book took so much of me, from me, every single day -for so long. For the last 18 months I was getting up at 4:30 am to start working on it. I would already have a full day’s work by 11am. It consumed me.

But now that it’s out of me and its no longer sitting inside my ribcage, rocking back and forth, begging me to bring it out from underneath the waters and into the crisp air, I miss it. I miss the way it made me come to the table every single day, my inner-compass beckoning my complete presence. I miss the discipline. The focus. I even miss the weight it bared down on me as I walked through the aisles of the grocery store, the way it called me when I washed the dishes after dinner and how it woke me up in the middle of the night with a single word or phrase. I felt like I was working on the biggest project in the world. It was all mine. A secret world that I alone was bringing to life.

Now, I sit here with these stories completely on the outside of my body, the weight no longer pinning me. I walk around the grasses light footed, unsure, and with a hollow chest. I don’t feel the way I thought I would. I thought I would feel free. Closer to peace. Happier. I’m none of these things. I’m a ten year old child nervous for her first day of grade 4. Hopeful, anxious and hesitant about the new year. And my best friend has just moved away.

I never thought finishing something I worked on for so long that hurt so much would be this difficult to let go. But it is.

I never read this in any of the how-to books. The part where you feel like you lost the best part of yourself after you finish spilling your guts and blood and heart onto the blank page. The part where you now have to take a step forward and pay attention to what’s calling you ahead. A tiny spark. A thread to another world. A gentle hand trying to lead you onward, where another story is yearning to be told. The part where you have to say good-bye.

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Endings and Beginnings

I finished my manuscript!  Done.  Cue the freakin’ band!

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“The past grows inside of you. Will it be a tumor or a story that can be shared and spread across the sky?” Ann-Marie Macdonald

A story. A book. A memoir. A collection of 15 connected stories that illustrate everything my heart has been accumulating.  The unspeakable. THE TRUTH. steve and owen
Those who meet me today, might be shocked to learn how much darkness I was carrying, how much pain I was storing, how broken I was. It was agonizing for me to write this book, to go there and sit in it, again and again. It NEVER got easier.

Several times I reached out to other writers and asked them hard questions about writing true stories. I even asked the Universe for signs to stop writing this book, it was just too hard! But, all I ever got back were clear signs to keep on trucking, words of wisdom from other writers I couldn’t ignore and an irrefutable ache within my own heart that told me I just couldn’t give up.

I put it all on the page. I had to go inside and turn it all inside out. I had to carefully choose each and every word and tell THIS story. I have so much more to say about the actual writing of this book, about the process of writing (mama mia), about the content, but I really can’t right now…

Right now, I just want to let you all know that I did it. I finished my book. (This is where I’ve been for so long.) I went back inside the fire. I ran ten marathons. I climbed the tallest mountains. I put one word on the page after another, day after day after day. I finished it because I couldn’t live with the burden of not finishing it anymore. I made it to the other side.

I’m still catching my breath.

Love d xo

My Secret Garden

I have been taken hostage by my muse. Last Thursday afternoon, I could not resist the call to paint. It was SO strong that I finally had to give in, despite my original plan of writing through the day, once more. I have SO MUCH to tell you about the writing of my ‘big girl book, but for now, I have to share what happened to me during my 48-hour-creative-fever.

IMG_1621 It was this drawing that called me to my studio. She kept begging me to paint her as I typed on my keyboard upstairs. I finally surrendered and painted her. But I eventually abandoned her. I think she knew this would transpire… I think she knew only she could make me leave my writing. What happened next, was me just giving into it: the nudge, the desire to paint something TOTALLY different. NEW. Fresh. I trusted my intuition. I unwrapped a LARGE canvas and just started splashing colour on it. Bright, cheerful hues. And, in the end, I was left with this.

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The following day, the power was out. My plans for working on my computer seemed mute. It was going to take a minimum of four hours before we had electricity again, according to the people. Sure, I could have worked a little on my story until my computer ran out of power, but I thought maybe this power outage  was a sign for me to finally unplug for a whole day and head down to my studio like I used to do before I began working full-time on my book. So, I did. While I was cold and not caffeinated, I continued to paint by candlelight. And paint. And, well, PAINT. I could not paint fast enough.

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The result is a WHOLE NEW BODY OF WORK that I am calling My Secret Garden. Maybe it’s because this has been the LONGEST winter EVER with record snowfalls and cold temperatures and it feels like the snow will be here until June. Maybe it’s because I wish I had a green thumb and could grow tiny plants in my home, waiting for the grounds to thaw. Maybe it’s because my heart cannot go one more day seeing white or grey because I long to walk in the woods and feel the sun on my face, without freezing my nose or my toes.

IMG_1677 Like Spring, I am ready for a rebirth, a new beginning and a growth spurt of sorts. I’m learning to surrender to all those things that are taking so long, like the changes of the seasons. I am giving thanks to the gifts that Mother Nature is always giving me, no matter how much it may seem otherwise. Because, in my desperate want and hunger for Spring, I have created my very own garden.

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I hope you will love them as much as I do.
I hope they’ll help you believe that even the darkest days can can bring you the greatest hope.
These ORIGINAL PAINTINGS are now available in the SHOP!
love danielle xox

Finding Momo

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I am SO EXCITED to share this NEW book with you!
Owen and I brought it with us to North Bay this week,
while we visited with Steve for a couple of days during the March Break.
We put our pyjamas on, jumped into bed and cracked the book open.
I don’t ever remember another book that made me CHEER out loud before.
It filled us both with so much JOY!
Every page was an experience.
Let me tell you why.

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This is a photography book, but it is not like all the rest.
Every photo in this book has Momo, Andrew’s border collie and best buddy hiding in the photo.
We had SO MUCH FUN trying to find Momo!

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Some photos made it more challenging than others.
I was particularly stumped on pages 62 and 63,
but Owen helped me find Momo.
But, on pages 79-80, we were BOTH unable to find him.
Thank goodness for the helpful answer-key at the back that helped us to finally locate him.
(these photos not shown here)

IMG_1560This is a book filled with color and design, place and story and of course Momo. The images are so beautiful and I admit that I was surprised to see that so many were taken in my hometown. Andrew’s artistic eye has transformed the way I view the place I live. He also has taken this photo expedition on the road by including photos from across the US. (New York, Vermont, New Jersey, Chicago, Philadelphia, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts…) You might even see him in your hometown. Look for a bright yellow 1977 Volkswagen.

IMG_1562This is a book for the whole family, for people of all ages,
for dog-lovers and for those who appreciate really good photography.
If you want to witness a trust and bond between a dog and a man who travel the various landscapes together
in search of extraordinary ordinary moments then buy this book.
BUY TWO.
I guarantee it will make you happy.
You will smile. You will cheer.
You will fall in love with Momo AND this hide and seek photography book!
The world needs more books like this.

IMG_1561Congratulations Andrew Knapp!!!
(Please note, the photos I have shared on this post can be found in the book Find Momo.
I am not a photographer and these are my humble attempts to take photos of his photos.)
They are so much prettier in the book.

You can follow Andrew Knapp and Momo on Instagram here. Go and see where they are today.

This heartfelt book can be purchased here.

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Owen gives this book TWO BIG THUMBS -UP!

(He also wants to keep it in his library)

Read more. Paint more. Write more.

love,
danielle
xox

Paper Dolls Deconstructed

I am back from the mountains of Santa Cruz… I spent the first two days by myself writing in my hotel room, stopping to take walks in the sunshine. On Thursday I headed to the top of a green mountain in Los Gatos where An Artful Journey 2014 began! It was a bit of a culture shock for me to be surrounded by so many beautiful people after working by myself for the last year, especially these last few months as winter has been so hard on us back home. But, it did not take me long to warm up to all of the kindness and smiling faces that had gathered for this very special retreat. It also did not take long for me to get used to THIS view outside our classroom… (GREEN and not dirty snow!)

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Teaching with Mindy was already enough to fill me right up. I was not prepared for the overhaul my heart would experience with meeting and sharing three whole days with the women in our class. I really wasn’t sure how the paper dolls were going to transform in the end as I had never taught this class before . I’ll be honest, I was a little worried… But, the creative process that unfolded and evolved over the next 72 hours absolutely astounded me. Each one of their dolls was so unique and no matter what the example looked like, they made it very much their own. And as a teacher, this is the MOST rewarding feeling. I just can’t even tell you.

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Bev, Heather, Sylvan

 

 

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Jackie, Courtney, Char

 

 

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Annie, JenEve, Mindy

These dolls were created using the simplest of materials and the biggest of imaginations. Every one of their dolls had a story and I am so grateful to every one of you who shared that special story with me. The thing that has marked me the most is the joy I witnessed watching you all create these little dolls ; how you brought them to life, layer by layer and step by step! I will forever be grateful to those of you who trusted me and jumped in with whole-hearts. It was a total honour to spend these rainy days by your side.

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Danielle

Dear Jennifer, Courtney, Sylvan, Jackie, Jenni, Char, Catherine, Karen, Kylie, Annie, Bev, Lisa, Crystal, JenEve, Stephanie, Heather, Tracy, Nellie and Mindy, thank-you for the MOST wonderful artful journey together. I will cherish this time and your dolls always. Let’s all stay in touch.

Much LOVE,
danielle xox

*For those of you who have already been messaging me about a possible online doll class… It’s coming. Sooner than later. Sign-up here for the newsletter to be the first to find out when it will be available!