September 7, 2009

As Summer Turns to Autumn...

I love the advantages of every season so much, it's difficult to choose a favorite. Perhaps even more than the seasons, I enjoy the changing. The sense that something new and different is on the way. The letting go and the moving forward. Important principles that have kept me sane for decades.

Letting go:
As night-time temperatures drop here in the Appalachian foothills of Southeastern Ohio, let's take a moment to remember the summer of 2009. The blessings and the challenges. What we enjoyed and what we survived. Dreams that came true or hopes that were dashed. If the latter, can we find anything of benefit in it? If the former, what's next?

We let go of the lake, the hot sun, the sounds of children playing in the water... we let go of the way a cabin smells, popcorn cooked in a big kettle over an open fire, teenagers falling in love. We let go of languid evenings spent on vacation, or action-packed efforts at waterskiing, biking, rock climbing, canoeing. And now is the time to remember, to print those photographs out and place them in an album... to give thanks for anything good that came our way in the last twelve weeks.

The child who grew from kid to high school student. The mother who visited and deepened a connection with grown children. The sister who loves flea markets and always gets us. The flowers -- snapdragons, day lilies, roses, peonies, geraniums... The abundant forest, the sweet small yellow and black birds who love thistle and are the first thing I look for each morning.

The grill, the steaks, the corn on the cob. The tomatoes! The farmer's market. Cooler weather "up north." Summer camp. Riding horses, riding rails. Cheap thrills or expensive indulgences. Graduations of all sorts. Summer romances.

Now it is time for welcoming autumn -- the beautiful, vibrant, golden tease of quiet, reflective winter.

I spent 17 years in Florida and you could not over-estimate how much I missed the changing seasons, the hills, the ebb and flow of life "up north." Now, tucked away on this hillside, the trees and air alone tell me what is next. And it seems each year at this time I'm drawn to reflect on the past and plan for the future. This is when I think of goals, of what I want to do with my life, what I want to do with my time. What went right, what might need some fixing.

Living creatively means living consciously -- aware of not only what is going on around you, but what is going on inside of you. Learning how to let all of life happen around you but not necessarily within you. Protecting that part of you that holds a dream -- not coddling it, but treasuring it, and also asking something of it: What will you do? For any reflection that doesn't close, eventually, with a plan of action leaves us unsatisfied and incomplete. It's the action that leads to our dreams.

Hope is a great thing, but it isn't the thing. The thing, for each of us, is something we can remember, document, tell our kids about, photograph, write about.

As summer turns to autumn, what will be your thing: your hope materialized? And what can you do to reach it? Tap into your personal creativity, and the collective creativity of your place on earth, to make your dreams come true.

September 1, 2009

Big List of Halloween Links

Halloween is coming up before you know it, and it's not too early to browse the Web and find great clip art, baking recipes, and costume ideas. I've saved you some time from your busy schedule to locate and categorize these helpful Halloween-related websites. Enjoy!

Right-click to "open in a new window" and visit these sites.















This links list compiled and copyright 2009 by Janice Phelps Williams. Okay to copy up to THREE categories, but please give link back to If you want to print out this entire list of information and distribute to your class or group, that's okay. Please credit this blog as well.