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“It is when you’re going through the most difficult chapter of your life that your hero is revealed, and how beautiful it is when you finally realize you have the strength to save yourself.” — Author Unknown


founder

&

creative director Kellene Giloff publisher@stampington.com

editor-in-chief & director of publishing Christen Hammons directorofpublishing@stampington.com senior managing editor Amber Demien associate editors Jana Holstein Kelly Kirchner Danielle Williams Devon Warren Gracy Wilkins newsstand consultant Susan Harold

how to contact us Bella Grace™ 22992 Mill Creek, Suite B, Laguna Hills, CA 92653 U.S. Toll-Free 1-877-STAMPER (1-877-782-6737) Phone: (949) 380-7318 Fax: (949) 380-9355 www.bellagracemagazine.com customer service For customer service and subscription inquiries, please call U.S. toll-free (877) 782-6737, fax (949) 380-9355, or email retail@stampington.com, or visit our website at www.stampington.com. editorial Please see the submission guidelines on our website at stampington.com. Brief email inquiries are welcome at bellagrace@stampington.com, or write to the editor at the address above. No phone calls, please.

art manager Erika Bousema graphic designer & marketing design assistant Meghan Horan graphic designers Kaitlin Mendoza Erin Solis junior graphic designer Eirene Nguyen director of photography Johanna Love assistant photographer Sara Wilkins general manager Jonathan Giloff operations manager Cheryl Kui customer service manager Alondra Marin marketing manager Jordan Burnier marketing graphic designer Nadine Alvillar social media accounts manager Sarah Donawerth

retailers If you are interested in carrying Bella Grace in your store, please call customer service at (949) 380-7318 or email wholesale@stampington.com. marketing For marketing inquiries, send an email to marketing@stampington.com. postmaster Send address changes to Bella Grace c/o Stampington & Company, 22992 Mill Creek, Suite B, Laguna Hills, CA 92653. Changes of address must be submitted in writing to the publisher. Stampington & Company will not be held responsible for missed issues due to delinquent changes of address or vacation holds. Publications Mail Agreement #40045993 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: P.O. Box 2601, 6915 Dixie Rd Mississauga Ontario L4T 0A9 Canada Bella Grace (ISSN 2377-9950) is published quarterly (Mar/ Jun/Sep/Dec) by Stampington & Company, 22992 Mill Creek Suite B, Laguna Hills, CA 92653.

Product names referred to in this issue are trademarks or registered trademarks of particular companies. The names are used in editorial fashion only to the benefit of the trademark owner, with no intention to infringe on the trademarks. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Copyright 2017 Stampington & Company, LLC. All Rights Reserved. ISSUE 10

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Dear Friends, L

ike many of you, I spend far too much time on Pinterest. I use it to get ideas for our publications and I use it to keep track of all the things I hope to make one day, if I ever find myself with endless free time. Though I’ve created many boards to keep track of everything, there is one that is my absolute favorite. It’s where I pin anything that gives me a cozy, warm feeling when I look at it, and naturally, it’s named “In Search of Cozy.” I feel like I’m forever in the search for cozy. To me, there is no greater feeling and I am always trying to capture it in various aspects of my life. My office has twinkle lights strung around, and there is an armchair with a blanket for when I need to create a sense of calm in my busy days. I also have a few playlists that make me feel like I’m sipping coffee at a coffee shop or at home on a rainy day. At home, my sofa is loaded with pillows and throw blankets and is just calling to be curled up on with a book and tea. Candles grace whatever surfaces the cats can’t rest upon and stay lit late into the night. I try to keep something delicious, whether sweet or savory, cooking in the oven. When the television is on, it’s usually turned to something that is charming, uplifting, and comforting. With how busy life can be, I am not at home nearly as often as I’d like, so I like to make our house a nice escape. Creating a feeling of coziness all around me is something that fills me with such warmth and joy. In many ways, I aim to make Bella Grace feel cozy. When you pick up each issue, my goal is for it to feel like a warm, fuzzy throw blanket, or a cup of your favorite tea. The stories chosen are so that you, our kindreds, find comfort in knowing

that you are not alone in this world, and there are so many others out there with the same hopes and fears as you. We’re all trying to find our way in this world, seeking out pockets of cozy wherever we might find them. I hope this issue becomes one of those pockets for you. My best,

Christen Hammons Editor-in-Chief

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Table of Contents 06 Sentiments 08

Reclaiming Winter Play Holly Clark

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Two February Coffees by Aaron M. Brown

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Worksheet: 30 Days of Random Acts of Kindess

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A Hot Chocolate Party i n the Cold by Annette Gendler

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89 Beautiful Days of Winter by Erica Gerald Mason

28 Less of More by Stephanie Horning

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Worksheet: Say Yes to Less

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My Girl & Me by Tracie West

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Seven Wonders in Every Wonder by Sarah Lea Richards

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Worksheet: Re-Creating that Magic

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52 Tiny Moments that Make Us Pause by Our Readers

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Worksheet: Moments that Make Me Pause

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Instagram Spotlight: Jamie Jamison

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A Year's Worth by Donna Hopkins & Rebecca Lily

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25 Habits to Break Before You Turn 25 by Brittany Bowen

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Worksheet: 25 Habits to Adopt

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The Sisterhood by Holly Clark

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Room to Breathe by Hannah Marcotti

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New Adventures Between the Shelves by Kayla Dean

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A Friends Forever Lexicon by Suzanne Walcher

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Worksheet: My Earl Greys

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32 of Our Favorite Winter Traditions by Our Readers

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Worksheet: My Winter Traditions

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How to Let It All Go by Chloe V. Roberson

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Between Everything & Nothing by Joy Jordan

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Rememberer, Collector, Creator, Connector by Jessica Sparks-Mussulin

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One Word at a Time: Writing a Memoir by Christine Mason Miller

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Go for the Glow by Jennifer DeVille Catalano

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Worksheet: Get Your Glow On

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Instagram Spotlight: Jaime Greenlaw

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Tea, Toast & Lemur Kisses by Hannah Marcotti

118 13 Ways to Embrace the Magic of a Snow Day by Ella Wilson 124

When Cabin Fever Sets In by Ella Wilson

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Worksheet: Creating Summer Vibes in the Middle of Winter

128 Aware by Britnee Bradshaw 130

Solstice Unplugged by Joy Jordan

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Worksheet: A Day Unplugged

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I Am Not My To-Do List by Lisa Leonard

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Life's Tattered Edges by Beth Bartels

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Of a Life by Elle Harris

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A Fondness for Sadness by Staci Kennelly

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Tips for Making Your Writing Come to Life

152

Submission Guidelines

154

Prepping for Print

156

Photo Credits

159

About the Publisher bellagracemagazine.com

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Sentiments

Love this so much, I got my sister hooked who normally NEVER likes magazines. But let’s be real, this is so much more than a magazine. It’s a place to curl up with a nice cup of tea and be yourself. — Sharon Carson, Facebook fan

@tinabreit

I want you to meet someone ... Actually, it’s not a person, but if it were, she would be soft, beautiful, adventurous, encouraging, and lovely. Her name is Bella Grace and I’ve been anticipating her arrival for months. Her pages are thick and quality and they possess words and pictures that feed my feminine side. She offers places to share my own thoughts and dreams and encourages me to be myself. We all need this sometimes, or at least I do. Sometimes, all you need is refreshing. A little beauty, softness, a good book and a cup of your favorite drink. Sit in your favorite spot, take a few minutes and just be a woman. It will do your heart good. @kodakmoments_bynina

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@paperm00n

— Debbie; A Million Skies


I am 22 years old, and I just wanted to say a brief, but HUGE thank you for putting out the Bella Grace. This magazine has spoken to me so many times when I needed it the most. You have inspired me beyond words and let me know that there are in fact others in life who are like me. I can’t describe the way your magazine makes me feel and the way it causes me to come alive. You stir things up in me that I didn’t even know were there. Thank you isn’t enough, but thank you to everyone and all your hard work. You guys have been life changing. I anxiously await the next issue. — Alexis Larimer

@gingerfancy @the_jems_life

I love this magazine and have every issue so far. They look incredibly beautiful on my bookshelves. I’ve taken to do the writing bits on really pretty stationery and just sticking them into the magazines that way when my daughter is older she can see my answers but the magazine is still free for her to use if she wants. — Vanessa Winn @dullbluemoonlight

@kristinstusiakphotgraphy bellagracemagazine.com

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Reclaiming

Win ter Pl ay Words & Photographs by Holly Clark

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he last time we had a snowstorm this big, I’d just graduated from college. I’ll never forget cautiously driving home through massive white tunnels banking the highway, before crawling up the long drive to my parents’ house moments before the roads were closed. Back then, I relied upon my trusty Canon Rebel to record the beauty in my life on film, frame by precious frame, each image a deliberate choice to be developed later. We snapped off a few shots that night on top of a huge hill of discarded snow shoved aside to clear space for our dogs. But other than recording the house in a sea of snow, along with a few playful images of the dogs and ourselves the next day, I don’t have many photos of the blizzard of ’96 despite the excitement I remember from that storm. »

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You see, as a kid, when the seasons turned cold and the ground began to freeze, I anticipated the first big snow with intense longing. My sister and I spent most of our weekends on ski slopes, and countless hours after school creating an intricate network of sled tracks out back, carefully observed by the haphazard snowmen that we’d create. Each winter, our local fire company flooded a small area in the community park, creating a tiny ice rink for the neighborhood kids to ice skate. We’d tuck our skates into the denim carriers our mother had sewn us for Christmas — personalized with our names — and she’d drive us to the little rink to skate circle after circle until our toes got cold! A bonfire cozily burned beside the frozen pond, where we’d warm our feet, drink hot cocoa, and toast marshmallows before heading home. Other than carefully venturing onto the ice for a shot while photographing an event a few years back, I can’t remember when I last skated. My long-discarded skis never saw this century, and now that I’m in the city, a wet winter means slushy sidewalks, dirty carpets, and a serious lack of parking. Snow, it seems, should be enjoyed in the countryside, away from traffic jams, slippery sidewalks, and mounds of salt burning my poor

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pup Major’s sensitive paws. So when a possible “storm of the century” brewed off the East Coast last winter, I looked forward to the peaceful silence an extended snowfall brings, but I also rushed to the grocery store with a herd of mindless others frightened into buying milk and bread before rushing home to find parking near my house. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the snow, if not the whole season. But I learned early on in my renewed love affair with photography that cameras coming in from the cold return to warm houses with a shortened battery life and a foggy lens, and as I upgraded my equipment, the weight of my once light-and-easy camera became a heavy burden tucking it into and out of my jacket on our walks. So outside of recording a few snowstorms for posterity’s sake, I generally left my DSLR at home. Then something changed. Some unexpected things came my way, changing my attitude toward winter photo fun. First, I bought an iPhone, which quickly became my camera of choice. Then, I was gifted fingerless mitts and a pair of striped gloves with a tiny opening in the thumb and forefinger so I can easily take photos without exposing my fingers. And I finally purchased a waterproof case so that wet, snowy flakes can harmlessly melt on my screen! It seemed my winter gear list was now complete! » bellagracemagazine.com

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And although it didn’t live up to the memory of snowy days from my childhood or even the Blizzard of ’96 (as if it could), last winter’s storm certainly came close! Once those first fuzzy flakes dropped through the night sky, I was ready, capturing the storm as it progressed from evening into night, and then standing over my front stoop with my morning coffee, where I discovered that our stairs had disappeared! Later that afternoon, Major and I ventured out into the quiet, snowy afternoon to see how the rest of the neighborhood coped. We visited the corner park, wading through snow up to my knees and burying Major up to his chest! We hiked through the swirling snow into a pictureperfect winter wonderland on Main Street, where people laughingly strolled down the middle holding hands, dogs frolicked with their owners off-leash, and everyone seemed in high spirits, faces full of smiles, laughter all around, before quietly walking home along the towpath. Major, prancing ahead of me, hopped through the deep snow before turning around to check on me every few hundred feet.

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In the days that followed the blizzard, we captured the neighborhood as the snow slowly changed from frozen ice tundra with beautiful blue skies, as it melted across Belgian pavers sparkling at dusk, and until all that remained were a few inches left at sunset in the park. We even found a little love along our walk one afternoon, a heart-shaped bit of snow on the sidewalk that seemed to be waiting — perhaps just for us — shining love on a new kind of winter play, no skating, sledding, or skiing required.

Holly Clark is a Philadelphia-based photographer. She’s on a personal quest to find the best life has to offer at home and abroad while shooting it along the way. You can visit her online at viewfinders.io and soupatraveler.com.

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Ania

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently?

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And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt, and perhaps it says, ‘Go to sleep, darlings, 'til the summer comes again.’” — Lewis Carroll

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Two February Coffees Words by Aaron M. Brown

O

n a cold February evening, I randomly purchased two cups of coffee for an older couple while in line at the gas station. They were blown away by this random, generous act. They thanked me over and over again. More times than I can count. More times than I deserved. At one point I was even called an angel. I could not understand their gratitude. I only spent $2 on coffee. You would have thought I had given them a million dollars. Five months later, I ran into that gentleman in a different gas station across town. I didn’t recognize him, but he approached me with a huge smile. He introduced himself and reminded me of that day in February. He was only buying one coffee, so I asked him about his wife. He told me he was on his way to see her in the hospital. She was dying of cancer. She would be entering hospice care soon as she only had weeks, maybe days, to live. He thanked me again for those two February coffees. He wanted me to know that the day I bought those coffees was the same day she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was the worst day of their lives and my gesture gave them hope that good things could still happen to them. Two simple cups of coffee were more than cups of coffee to them that day. He was so happy to see me. As we finished our brief conversation, he told me he could not wait to get to the hospital to tell his wife that he saw me again. He knew that it would make her smile. I couldn’t believe it. A woman, who was dying, with only days to live, would smile because her husband saw a stranger who spent $2 on coffee five months ago? It was one of the most emotional moments of my life. We said our goodbyes, I purchased my soda, and I left the gas station in tears. It was a moment that I will never forget. Since that day I have been living every day on purpose with purpose. Everything we do, regardless of the size, has the ability to change a life forever.

Aaron M. Brown is the co-founder of Impact 52, a family service project that aims to “inspire change one week at a time.” To learn more about him and Impact 52, visit impact52.org. 16

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PROMPT

30 Days of Random Acts of Kindness It doesn’t take much effort or money to brighten someone’s day. A simple compliment or a flower tucked behind a windshield wiper are just two small things you can do to spread a little kindness. This winter, commit to performing a month’s worth of RAKs. Plan them out here.

DAY 1

DAY 2

DAY 3

DAY 4

DAY 5

DAY 6

DAY 7

DAY 8

DAY 9

DAY 10

DAY 11

DAY 12

DAY 13

DAY 14

DAY 15

DAY 16

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DAY 17

DAY 18

DAY 19

DAY 20

DAY 21

DAY 22

DAY 23

DAY 24

DAY 25

DAY 26

DAY 27

DAY 28

DAY 29

DAY 30

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A Hot Chocolate Party

in the Cold Words & Photograph by Annette Gendler

It began on a cold December day many years ago. I was visiting my in-laws with my 4-year-old son. At the time, they lived in an apartment building in Munich, Germany. That day, after being cooped up in smoke-filled rooms all day, my son became restless. He wanted to go out. However, it was past four in the afternoon, when dusk sets in — not a time to go to the playground. What to do with an antsy kid, adults who could use some peace and quiet, and a dark and cold outside? Thankfully, inspiration struck.

, “Let s have a hot chocolate party outside,” I said to my son. My in-laws’ apartment featured a balcony, perfect for slipping outside and getting some fresh air. I set the water kettle to boil, heated some milk, stirred spoonfuls of cocoa powder into mugs, and arranged them on one of my mother-in-law’s dainty trays. Then I stuffed my astounded kid into his snowsuit, slipped into my winter coat, and I announced to my bewildered in-laws, who were busy watching the news, “We’ll be on the balcony.” And there we were: My son happily slapped the snow off his grandmother’s patio chairs and climbed up to gaze contentedly into the dark where thin snowflakes danced in the light of street lanterns. We set our tray on the frosted table. All was quiet, even my otherwise rambunctious child. What luxury to sit outside in winter! Even if surrounded by last summer’s debris — window boxes not quite cleared out, dry stalks sticking out of planters, and the sun umbrella slopped into a corner. What little gift to sip the warm beverage, to wrap our mittened hands around the toasty mugs, to watch the steam rise from the hot cocoa. Obviously a hot chocolate party in winter doesn’t last long; eventually the cold seeps in, but it is truly magical to spend some time sitting outside in winter, not just standing or walking about as we usually do in cold weather, but rather being still and listening to winter’s silence. What began as a ploy to entertain a child has, in the meantime, become a winter ritual; even with my teenagers, at least once each winter, we put on our coats, prepare a tray of hot chocolate, maybe add some cookies, and sit outside on the porch at dusk, taking in winter.

Annette Gendler is a writer and photographer who lives in Chicago with her family. Her memoir, “Jumping Over the Shadows,” is forthcoming from She Writes Press in April 2017. To learn more about her, visit annettegendler.com.

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89

Beautiful

Days of Winter Words by Erica Gerald Mason

W

Tara Romasanta

elcome to winter, all 89 beautiful days of it. Cold weather offers us tiny quiet moments of love and ritual. This is a time for warmth, no matter what the thermometer says or how early the sun sets. A time set aside for traditions both old and new. For activities that warm our hearts as well as our hands. And for hot apple cider. There’s always time for hot apple cider. 

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Marta locklear

Here is a list of one lovely activity for every lovely day of the winter season. 1. Wear fuzzy slippers and drink champagne 2. Go on a Christmas light photo safari 3. Make homemade hot chocolate 4. Collect pinecones 5. Have a movie marathon 6. Watch the snow fall 7. Wear a flannel shirt ... 8. ... with cashmere socks 9. Bake sugar cookies

11. Wear a long shirt and tall boots 12. Go on a winter hike 13. Make homemade Christmas cards 14. Make popcorn on the stovetop

Javier Pardina

10. Make construction paper hearts

15. Wear cozy sweaters with long, comfy sleeves 16. Play board games 17. Volunteer at a food pantry 18. Make pumpkin spice pancakes 19. Wear woolly mittens 20. Start a winter journal 21. Bake cinnamon buns 22. Spend the afternoon painting with watercolors 23. Buy a new, fluffy pillow 24. Reread a favorite book from childhood 25. Do a crossword puzzle by the window 26. Take a nap

28. Make a house of cards 29. Have a chocolate taste test party 30. Drink hot apple cider 31. Pay for a stranger’s coffee 24

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Beatrix Horvath-Gallai

27. Hang a string (or more!) of Christmas lights in the dining room


32. Watch your favorite classic TV Christmas specials

39. Spend a Sunday afternoon at a museum

33. Make a winter vision board

40. Make chili

34. Heat cinnamon, water, and orange peel in a saucepan on a low simmer for a sweet (and natural) home fragrance

41. Learn how to make an origami bird

35. Eat dinner by candlelight 36. Attend a local craft fair

42. Snuggle under the covers with a good book 43. Donate to a toy drive

37. Host a card party Play poker, hearts, even Old Maid!

44. Walk through the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights. Remember to bring a flashlight and a friend.

38. Send a love letter

45. Hang a holiday wreath. Âť bellagracemagazine.com

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Mali Maeder

46. Treat yourself to afternoon tea 47. Buy a new mug 48. Make snow angels 49. Take long, hot bubble bath 50. Try a new coffee shop 51. Tour a local winery or distillery 52. Spend an afternoon in a bookstore

Jacqui Miller

53. Have pancakes for dinner ... 54. ... and a BLT for breakfast 55. Watch the moon rise 56. Learn to knit 57. Have a snowy afternoon, at-home spa day 58. Have antipasto for dinner 59. Bake a cake for your local firefighters 60. Buy an armload of scented candles in the same color 61. Write a letter to an old friend 62. Glow-in-the-dark bowling! 63. Have an ice skating party 64. Spend the afternoon at a thrift store

68. Buy Christmas presents from local artisans

65. Put on your mittens and drink your coffee outside Or at least, near a window

69. Write about your favorite Christmas in your winter journal

66. Listen to Christmas music from other parts of the world

70. Play ping-pong

67. Go see the Nutcracker 26

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71. Take part in the annual Audubon Society’s Christmas bird count


snapwiresnaps

72. Organize your bathroom counter

82. Write a winter poem

73. Keep a warm and cozy blanket on your couch

83. Make a gingerbread house

74. Make a big batch of homemade soup

84. Wear a red scarf

75. Have an indoor picnic

85. Dress up, and go to a restaurant for dessert

76. Read a book by the fireplace

86. Give a small Christmas gift to stranger

77. Attend an antique auction

87. Take black-and-white photos of the leafless trees

78. Host a flannel pajama party

88. Make a popcorn garland

79. Go to the Thanksgiving parade

89. Cut out snowflakes to hang in your windows

80. An evening of puzzles and red wine

Erica Gerald Mason is an author, poet, and blogger living in Georgia. Her book of poetry, “i am a telescope: science love poems� is available on Kindle and paperback on Amazon. Find her blog and poetry at ericageraldmason.com.

81. Take a craft class

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Less of More Words by Stephanie Horning Photography by Claudia Guariglia

T

here was one point in my life when “more” mattered. I wanted more money, more experiences checked off a list, more projects in the works, more outfits in my closets ... more, more, and more of more. I thought that more was better. In my youth, I struggled with food and believed the more fresh-baked cookies I could pile on top of my emotions would mean the more comforted I would feel. In my teens, I turned to material goods and thought more expensive handbags would result in a heightened experience and a cooler, more confident self. In my college years, I thought more partying, more distraction, and the more pounds I could drop would equate to more happiness. And recently in my 20s, I thought the more I could accomplish in my dayto-day, the more fulfilled and powerful I would find myself. I thought that if I could accomplish more that I could on some level be able to value myself more. I have always thought more was the way. Wow, was I wrong. I am sitting alone in a lawn chair enjoying a glass of wine and one of my favorite books. I’m on a high after teaching a cooking class to a group of inspiring individuals. And it just hit me. I am done with doing more. More is not what my soul is yearning for. In fact, my heart wants less. My soul wants less so I can accomplish the things I truly and authentically want to do on a higher level. I want to make an impact, to help people elevate the way they experience their lives. And the ways that I choose to do this, I want to do them well and not necessarily more often. I want less stuff around me and to make room for the people and things in my life I truly love, relish, and find inspiring. I want less responsibility for taking care of stuff and to open up space for what my soul yearns for. I want less filler and more real. More real passion and love and more in love. And to get this type of “more” living, I realize now that I have to do less. I want to do less, and do it well. There is a quote by Elizabeth Gilbert that I came across recently, that really resonated: “One of the oldest and most generous tricks that the universe plays on human beings is 28

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to bury strange jewels within us all, and then stand back to see if we can ever find them.” I think doing more gets in the way of discovering our true gems. Doing more often means distraction from your true self and tapping into how you want to authentically live. At least for myself, when I do more, it’s hard to listen to myself, to my innate wisdom and authentic self. It’s hard to be guided in the direction that I was meant for. In today’s world we go and we go and we go. We push hard. I see it all the time. I see it on the tired mom’s face who is aching for a moment of peace. I see it in the anxious woman who is so uncomfortable in her body she just wants out. I see it in the people who just don’t seem to be able to look me in the eye. I see it in the arguing couple on the street corner. I see it in the frowns. I know I am guilty. I tell my husband proudly most days of all I accomplished while he was away. And it’s usually a lot. And I’m normally exhausted by the evening and I find it hard to then enjoy my family, my husband, and my selfcare to the maximum of my ability. But what if I were to simply do less? How about doing less, lowering expectations, and making space for more impact? How about feeling great and inspired and on fire around two things you have accomplished with all of your heart instead of the 90 to-dos that could have, in reality, waited. This is the type of life I am dedicating myself to. One of more passion and beauty and presence. One where there is more space to see the opportunity, miracles, and love around me. Less of more. Starting now, my intention is to be proud of how little I’ve accomplished but with all of my heart and soul.

Stephanie Horning is a holistic nutritionist and wellness coach who resides in Pacific Grove, California. She is passionate about wellness and helping others attain a happier, healthier, and more inspired state. You can find more of her thoughts on life, recipes, and well-being tips at stephaniehorning.com and on Instagram (@stephanie__horning).


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PROMPT

Say

Yes to Less

In a world where so many people are looking for more — more money, more clothes, more busyness — there are some of us who are actually looking for less. We’re saying yes to less clutter, less time watching television … we just want less!

What do you want less of?

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“It was one of the best days of my life, a day during which I lived my life and didn't think about my life at all.”

Nina Hurum

— Jonathan Safran Foer

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My Girl & Me Words & Photographs by Tracie West

I

love goals and resolutions. I also love to choose a new word for each year. It’s something I begin brainstorming about a week before the New Year arrives. The first thing I do is think of my word for the year, and then I think of a creative project I want to enjoy. When January rolled around I already knew I wanted to do a project with my one and only daughter and that it would involve my camera and pictures. Pictures of us. The very first image we took also included our individual words for the year. It was nothing fancy, but it was us. It was the beginning of something very special. 

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While throughout my kids’ life I would make home movies or take snapshots of them, and later tons and tons of digital images, I never once thought to include myself in them. This is the part where I encourage other moms and dads out there to use their timer and take turns passing the camera around so they can also be a part of the family digital memories. When I look back on photographs of when I was a little girl growing up through my years before adulthood, I have a small handful of images with my mom. I have noticed that as I grow a little older, I get very nostalgic. What better project than a motherdaughter portrait project with the littlest and only girl? 34

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We call it “the mother/daughter project,” and as most grand intentions go, we began with a lot of zest. We faithfully came together each week for our portrait. I used my timer alot, and sometimes we even handed the camera to Motorcycle Man to help us out. Motorcycle Man is the littlest and only girl’s dad, my husband, in case you might wonder. We kept this up for 16 weeks until we realized we were maybe a little too ambitious in our idea to take weekly photos. We have decided that once a month will be a more reasonable goal. We plan to make it happen for as long as we possibly can. We began midway through her 8th grade year and because I have two boys ahead of her, I already know just how much a child can change between 8th and 12th grade. I want to document it and keep them all in a special album. My plan is to gift her the album when she decides to leave the nest. As much as I would like to think she will be the only one who changes as this projects continues, I know deep down I too will see some crazy changes in myself. » bellagracemagazine.com

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We have had such fun with our project already. Sometimes we take a simple shot of nothing very fancy while other times we sit together and plan things out, even buy props from our local thrift shop. It’s so fun, and I’ve come to realize that it’s also very good therapy. We laugh a lot and even when the mood has been heavy, all it will take is a silly jump shot and we are both laughing so hard we almost forget why we were so moody in the first place. Sometimes. Not always. Teenage hormones are kind of unpredictable. My hope in sharing this project is that moms and dads who have sons and daughters might consider a similar project or at the very least make an effort to be in the images with your children — not just be a part of their memories growing up that will forever live in their hearts and minds but to have a physical image to revisit as we continue to change with each day. I do have regrets of not taking more pictures like this with my boys, but instead of beating myself up for not starting sooner, I will just start now. It’s never too late. Looking back has always been a favorite pastime of mine; let’s have something good to look back on.

Tracie West is a Southern California girl who is madly in love with Motorcycle Man and mom to three gifts. She loves to take pictures daily, capturing all the moments she possibly can — happy, sad, beautiful, and broken. She must write, especially letters to friends and family. You can find her at lifeinthewyldewest.com. 36

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Seven Wonders in

Every Wonder Words by Sarah Lea Richards

Through my child eyes, the ordinary was made extraordinary — the ivory delicacy of snow in a Florida winter, the heat that made the roads shimmer like infinity pools, the chocolate milk that came from “How Now Brown Cow,” the kaleidoscopic rainbow of a pepper mélange under a microscope; stargazing in the backseat on the way to Poplar Bluff, Missouri, counting the diamonds, collecting seashells that washed up like mermaid Christmas ornaments, blowing the dandelion seeds to twirl like tiny pinwheels, the fascination of lying under the Christmas tree, the candy lights sprinkling me like a cupcake; »

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spinning in a chair ’til I got dizzy, sliding down the hall in fuzzy winter socks, swinging in the air, head back, flying with eyes closed, jumping up and down on the bed ’til the box springs broke, falling back on a pile of pillows, taking the breath from me;

Tara Romasanta

singing songs through the fan on the floor, my words rippling like music notes on a page, the feel of bubbles, like glassy mother-of-pearls, popping like a raindrop rainbow on my sunburned face, blowing on the window and drawing swirls and smileys and hearts with names inside them;

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Christina Kilgour

the feel of the wheels rumbling up my legs during a hayride, standing on a stepladder and seeing things as my father did, running through the sprinklers in bare feet on freshly mown grass, sitting on the screened-in porch swing with Grandma and Grandpa, watching the lightning merge day and night in 30 microseconds, feeling like I was inside-out and outside-in all at once; watching a helium balloon float to the moon while I imagined it landing on Mars with my name on it for an astronaut to find, the underwater ballets at Weeki Wachee Springs, butterflies, hummingbirds, and things that glowed in the dark; As a child, there were Seven Wonders in every wonder, and through my child’s eyes, I live the magic all over again.

Sarah Lea Richards is a mother, wife, full-time student, and writer. Find more of her writing at saraleastories.com.

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PROMPT

Re-Creating THAT

Magic

Childhood is such a magical part of most people’s lives. It’s often not the large moments we look back on, but the little ones. That feeling when you learned to pump your legs and soar into the sky on a swing. Your first snowman. What makes childhood magical is something so personal to each of us. There's no reason why that magical feeling should be limited to kids. You can recapture some of it in your life now.

What are some ways you can bring that childhood magic into your adult life?

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“You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.”

Jillian Lukiwski

— Anne Lamott

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52 Tiny Moments

that Make us Pause 1. I pause when I step outside into a fresh breeze and hear the wind rustling the leaves of the oaks and maples in my neighborhood. It sounds like the roar of the ocean, waves building and crashing, and for a moment it takes me back to my childhood. It’s the melding of two worlds for me, both places that I call home encapsulated in a single beautiful moment. — Melissa S. Snyder 2. Stepping outside in the morning after a few rainy days, the sun starting to shine through, illuminating the last drops of water on the trees, making everything all the more brilliant. — Peggy Noon Clark 3. When life has you running, surrounded by constant noise, and suddenly there before you is someone struggling with a basic need. You stop, pause, and unplug the noise and help a fellow human carry their groceries in. Simple kindness always makes me pause.. — Brandi J. Myers 4. Smiling at a stranger with eye contact that lingers and says with no words, “I see you” and “They truly see me!” Then the smile isn’t just polite anymore; it’s real. The whole world seems to pause and what was once rushed gets remembered. — Julia Monroe 44

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5. I pause each time I get a quick “I love you” text from any one of my four kids. We have all been through a lot and the fact that we’re all together, as a team, on the other side was a tremendous amount of work and has resulted in joy. — Lee Currie 6. When I look at my boyfriend doing everyday, normal things like brushing his teeth, I think of how far we’ve come. — Erica Rohaidy


7. Living in the desert with the mountains right outside my door, there are many moments that make me pause regularly. At sunset each evening the mountains are bathed in the more gorgeous purple light as the western sky becomes engulfed in brilliant colors. Butterflies and hummingbirds keep us company all through the fall months, but the sign of a butterfly in December makes me pause for a moment longer. The smell of the rain in the desert is an experience like no other; it’s impossible not to stop and appreciate the crisp freshness of a desert rainstorm. Then after the rains the usual brown landscape is filled with the purple blooms of Texas sage bushes everywhere. And because of our high elevation the stars in the night sky seem so close you could touch them if you stretched just a little bit. — Cindy Blake 8. Me with a book or knitting and a cup of coffee, listening to my husband and sons immersed in some project and laughing in the next room. — Annabel Lee 9. The moment I turn to go up the hill instead of down just to see the sun peaking over the mountain and bathing the valley that is shrouded in fog, highlighting the golden trees and slowly turning the blue into an amazing array of color. — Leslie Parks 10. I pause at the door, in window and disbelief, when my little granddaughter stretches and yawns in the morning. When she sees me standing there, I often receive the most wonderful sleepy smile. — Judy Wood bellagracemagazine.com

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11. When I’m rushing around the kitchen after work making dinner, I turn and our two cats are sitting on the floor, tilting their heads at us and asking with those big green, soulful eyes, “Aren’t you even going to say hello?” I immediately stop and pet one while my husband picks up and cuddles the other. They remind us to turn off our auto-pilot and take a few minutes to love and be loved. — Debby Adams 12. On an early foggy morning, I pause as the turkeys cross my road. — Patricia Ann Smith 13. I pause as memories flood in when I hear the first bars of a Latin jazz Christmas album that I had as a child. Instantly, I can smell my mother’s fudge cooking on the stove and I feel the same holiday excitement as I felt then. — Elizabeth Sharp 14. Crisp, beautiful fall days, when the windows have been open and the sun has been shining all day. I walk in and the whole house smells like sunshine and linedried sheets. It’s heaven. — Elizabeth Robertson 15. I love the very early crowing of my three roosters as they converse back and forth, and the braying of my three donkeys as they wait for their morning treat. — Mary Ann Potter 16. I melt when I come home after a crazy day to find a surprise hot bath, candles, and music waiting for me. It always makes me stop and appreciate the way small gestures of love from my husband touch my heart the most. — Heather Miles Dixon 17. When my 4-year-old throws his head back and laughs so hard that it turns into squealing giggles. There is nothing on Earth as wonderful as the smile that accompanies that sound. — Emily Hoffman 18. I pause when clients at the food pantry let down their guard and trust me enough to engage in a meaningful conversation knowing that I’m not judging them. — Beth Mcwilliams 46

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19. Opening the windows after a long, hot summer, letting the cool air swirl around me as I lay in bed on top of the covers, watching the curtains blow in the breeze. — Elissa Hogan 20. When an adorable older man in the mark is shuffling his feet alongside his wife of a lifetime, holding her hand so sweetly, smiling at their infinite love. When the crickets start to sing their autumn songs, telling you it’s time to put on your boyfriend’s sweater and fire up the teapot. — Crystal Dawn Froberg 21. My 3-year-old asks me to wait for him so he can smell the flowers, and it reminds me to pause with him and smile because I taught him that small things matter. — Shelly Hesse 22. When my dog interrupts my worrying by putting her head on my lap for a scratch. She reminds me that we only have this present moment. — Suzanne Garnish Segady 23. The smell of hot pavement after a fierce thunderstorm. — Kat Sunshine


26. When a dark storm moves on and a rainbow appears along with new sunshine. — Shannon Ross Johnson 27. Our dogs sleeping peacefully after a playful afternoon. Gazing at the fireflies amount our trees, the sky lit with stars. — Cynthia Sumagaysay-DelRosario 24. The gentle melodious jingle of wind chimes as the breeze softly blows through them. — Heather Taylor 25. Jars of buttons at the flea market or an antique shop always make me pause. I have to stop and look and reflect. Someone once upon a time took the time to tie matching buttons together with string. Were they from a sweater that was worn to church on Sunday? Were they front a desk that was worn to a dance with a true love? Were they from the shirt of a farmer, sewn by his wife? They all have a story to tell, if only they could talk. — Penny Kleiner

28. When you are so comfortable in bed, but awake and know that if you move at all it will not be the same. — Isabelle Belanger-Brown 29. Watching a full moon rise. — Patti Nepean 30. The smell of warm pine needles in the forest. — Lisa Kerner 31. The first tip of my paddle brings a type of peace that sets the tone of my day. — Linda McLaughlin bellagracemagazine.com

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32. Watching the sunrise on a pond as the fog lingers. — Rose Devore 33. Birds in formation against a rising or setting sun. — Lanecia Rouse Tinsley 34. That first scent of woodsmoke in the crisp, winterlike air. — Erica Hopper 35. There is a family of eagles that lives in the woods near my lake house. When they come out to hunt and soar above the bluff over my house, riding the lake breezes, it takes my breath away. — Lisa DeShantz-Cook 36. When a monarch butterfly is in my yard. To think they will fly from my yard in North Carolina all the way to Mexico with those amazingly delicate yet strong wings is truly a miracle worth stopping to be in awe of. — @moontreeapothecaries 37. The moment I catch dust particles in the wind under a ray of light … they look like snow. — @americanflavorlatinspice 38. Seeing the bright golden sunshine making the crisp new blanket of snow look like crystals shimmering. — Michelle Moore 39. The thunder of horses’ hoof beats and swoosh through the pasture and the sight of their breath on a cold fall morning. — Amy Leibold 40. Hearing the geese or sways flying overhead on a morning beach walk. — Deb Miller 41. When I’m sitting beside my dad and he moves his arm so he can wrap it around me. — Sara Gearheart 42. The smile on a fourth-grader’s face when learning is fun. — @darlynnsnap 48

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43. Opening a new container of coffee … that smell! — Caz Sultz 44. The wind signing in the trees or swirling my skirt or caressing my face. — @privetandholly 45. There is nothing more peaceful and inspiring than walking through a fresh snow in the early morning. The softness that surrounds you during the silence of winter will always make you pause and reflect. — Deanna Wisman 46. Laughing with my sisters over movie lines. The way my husband stares at me. Sunrise at 6 a.m. in the fall. Streetlights in the summer. Hot baths surrounded by candlelight. The smell of rain on a warm day. Boat rides on the cap. Bonfires with friends. — Sara Finer


47. Toes in fresh mud. — @tedde1978 48. When my 6-year-old son, who has nonverbal autism and cerebral palsy, nails something in therapy. — Sarah Madland 49. Fiery leaves shimmering on an autumn tree. Rain silvering the pavement while thunder gently rumbles. Sourdough crust just starting to pop in the heat of the toaster. Steam swirling magically from a fresh mug of tea. A notebook pressed open to a fresh page. A random group of paper scraps scattered on a tabletop. — Sara Kiiru

50. Closing a book you just finished and loved. — Kristy Greer 51. That moment when you see your loved one at an airport. That moment you settle in at home. The first bite of a traditional food you only have once a year. The pause when you’ve set the holiday table and everything looks gorgeous. — Janae Fletcher 52. The teeniest of green shoots peeking through rich dirt. The first sight of the surf when I have been away from the ocean a while. Witnessing my child carrying on with living oblivious to my gaze. — @bbeachboard

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PROMPT

Moments that make me Pause These days it's so easy to live life on autopilot, going through the movements of life without stopping to appreciate the beauty and kindness all around us. Close your eyes for a few minutes, take a deep breath, and think about the tiny moments in life that stand out to you.

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“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary seabird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.�

Anna Drozd

— Virgina Woolf

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@alajamie

Jamie Jamison Living a Bella Grace life is about remembering that everyone and everything has many layers and a story to tell. We all have chips and dings and are a little weathered over time. These little imperfections add character and make us perfectly unique and lovely. I embrace wrinkles, patina, and all that is worn because it shows a life well lived and that there is beauty at any age.

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A Year’s Worth Words & Photographs by Donna Hopkins & Rebecca Lily

W

hen we first began our journey into photography, we never expected our lives to be touched by an unexpected kinship.

We first met and established a friendship when we were published together in the Autumn 2015 Issue of Artful Blogging. Since that time, we have each begun a daily practice of photography and writing. We publish one picture every day along with a journal entry, and will continue to do so for an entire year. The idea behind the 365 challenge was to bring practice and discipline to our photography and to foster our own artistic growth. But behind the scenes of our daily posts, we have exchanged hundreds of emails, letters of truth and encouragement that reveal both the light and shadow of our inner lives. Our correspondence illuminates the struggles we have faced through this project: finding our inner voice over taking in outside influence, facing fears, accepting rather than avoiding discomfort, embracing imperfection, and learning self-acceptance. Âť

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March 15 Dear Donna, I’m so very happy that you’ve decided to do a daily photo project. I knew the 365 would be a challenge, but what I did not know was how much it would stir up inside of me and force me to examine and deal with. My perfectionism for one — the comfortable and stale place where I was creatively — the dull routine I had gotten myself into. This project has been changing me. My personal life, my own inner space, has become a reflection of what I see developing in my photography. I feel more comfortable in my own skin, more confident in my ideas, no matter how different they may be, much less concerned about outside perception, much more inspired by and content with my everyday life.

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April 5 Dear Rebecca, How beautiful might your work be if you were convinced that you are already enough? To be in this moment, where each picture is felt deeply and moves you in some direction, even though you might not know where — this is a gift. I love that we are both learning to accept ourselves, exactly as we are.

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April 6 Dear Donna, I love your picture from yesterday, with the discarded old chair and the ‘‘for rent’’ sign and the cat. There is no such thing as worthless. All things have worth and value, sometimes it just takes the right eyes to see. I’m so happy to hear that the 365 project is helping you too with perfectionist tendencies. This was always my biggest struggle. I could not tolerate sharing any photograph that wasn’t perfect to my eye. I felt so much pressure to constantly top myself, to always do something better than I had done before.

April 11 Dear Rebecca, Even though I love the 365 project, I can see that I am still trying too hard to present myself in a certain way. Sharing imperfection and being vulnerable are still hard for me. »

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April 15 Dear Donna, I understand your struggles and the drive you have to make other people happy, even through your photography and writing. Letting the people in your life see your vulnerabilities, your growing process, your insecurities, your imperfections, your messy corners with dust and clutter, the disorganized thoughts or places that you normally keep hidden, will not diminish anyone’s acceptance or admiration of you. In fact, the opposite — you will invite a connection at the deepest heart level. We like to idealize how we should be, rather than embrace who we are.

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April 16 Dear Rebecca, I jumped out of bed this morning, struck by the sunlight on the bedside table where my husband puts his eyeglasses each night before bed. This scene is part of my everyday waking, and I wanted to capture the sweet feeling of reassurance that he is by my side. As I took the picture, I noticed the dust on the table and stopped to wipe it clean. Now I realize just how engrained in me this need is to make everything right. Wish I could put the dust back.

April 21 Dear Donna, I know that life is a learning process and there is no place to “arrive” really, but I still wish I had listened to my heart a little earlier, instead of drowning it out with listening to other people. I think as an artist it’s really important to safeguard your inner child (where the creating comes from) and let it be playful and express itself freely, without allowing other people to tell it what is right or wrong. I am trying to treat whatever that creative source is inside myself with a lot of care. » bellagracemagazine.com

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April 22 Dear Rebecca, I am coming to embrace photography for the joy of it. As long as I continue to seek validation outside of myself, I think I will be doomed to keep chasing — to never be satisfied, happy, content. I will never forget how my doubt of my own self can hurt others, can limit me from my potential gifts, and does not honor God. So you see, treating the creative source inside yourself with care has consequences far beyond the pictures we make. My photography, as it is for every artist, is so much more about what I feel than what I see. I respect that we both manifest our creativity — what we see and feel — in our photography and our writing. We are not perfect, but simply moving forward with the unfolding of our lives.

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May 8 Dear Donna, I learned growing up to question myself constantly. Is it right for me to think that way, feel that way? I always stepped outside myself and examined my heart as some kind of moral judge. I thought of my feelings as either right or wrong, rather than allowing them to be what they are, without judging them. Feelings are always valid. I feel my mind expanding lately, my whole being opening up as I realize how small I kept myself, in this little prison of fear and perfection and outside expectations, and how large my heart can be if I nurture it, and let go, and accept it for what it is. My capacity to love becomes greater as I learn to love myself. Âť bellagracemagazine.com

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May 30 Dear Rebecca, I do believe that to show my work and make it matter, may well mean that I must show even the photos I think of as mistakes or less than perfect. The funny thing is that when I look at my pictures for each day, they mostly all seem ‘‘good.’’ This is not to say that I am a perfect photographer, but more that my definition of a successful photograph has changed. I feel so deeply about these pictures. To accept the story that the picture has to tell, without interfering or constructing a prettier version . . . it is contentment with things just as they are.

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June 1 Dear Donna, Would you ever imagine that something like a 365 project could be the catalyst for so much change in a person’s life? That comes from walking through discomfort and learning what it has to teach. Not running from it, or hiding from it, or avoiding it. I posted a quote recently about art coming from discomfort, not from comfort. True art comes from the deepest part of yourself, and going into the deepest part of yourself and making yourself vulnerable — every single day — is not always comfortable. But my favorite photos that I’ve ever made have been created from that very place — where I allowed myself to be vulnerable and where a feeling or emotion carried me. Where I didn’t think anymore. Just felt.

Donna Hopkins and Rebecca Lily invite you to connect with them. You can find Donna at donnamhopkins.com and on Instagram (@donnamhopkins). You can find Rebecca at 2016.poemswithoutwords.com and rebeccalily.com. She’s also on Twitter (@rebeccapatience).

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“She always had that about her, that look of otherness, of eyes that see things much too far, and of thoughts that wander off the edge of the world.”

Bethany Louria

— Joanne Harris

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k a e r B o t s it b a H 25 5 2 n r u T u o Y e r o Bef

Jovo Jovanovic

Words by Brittany Bowen

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1. Being attached to your phone and ignoring what’s

happening around you. Learn to embrace your surroundings, enjoy the people you love, and make time for the things that matter. Your phone will be there later, but the chance to make memories won’t.

2. Impulse shopping. Buy only what you need, no matter

how tempting that BOGO sale may be. (OK, so the occasional retail therapy doesn’t count. Sometimes shoes are the only pick-me-up that will suffice. Just know what you’re spending and stay within your means.)

3. Asking your parents for money. See above. 4. Holding grudges. You don’t have to forget the past, you

just need to accept it for what it is. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but holding grudges never hurts the other person, it hurts you. Let yourself heal by forgiving. Let your heart be free of bitterness, fear, and distrust. Make peace with your past and embrace your present.

5. Spending too much energy trying to find love. The

thing about love is that if you have to chase it, it’s not love. And the more time you spend chasing love, the less time you spend loving yourself. Until you truly find your soul and make time for just you, you are not really living. Stop looking for someone else to make you whole, because you’re enough just the way you are.

6. Too much takeout and food delivery. Yeah, I know, that’s a tough one. But seriously, it adds up.

7. Having negative feelings about every Facebook post

being an engagement, marriage, or baby bump. Look, we’re at that age. It happens. Don’t let it be a reflection of your own life. You do what makes you happy and be glad that someone else is making choices to make themselves happy, too. That’s what life’s about it, isn’t it?

8. Drinking more than you can handle. In college, binge-

drinking and 24-hour hangovers are actual things. Postcollege, they shouldn’t be. For me, tequila is a no-go. The consequences generally outweigh the benefits and it took multiple poor decisions to reach that conclusion. But at this age, it’s time to learn.

9. Gossiping. This was meant to be left way back in high school. Be so focused on yourself and your own goals that you don’t have time to gossip about others. Trust me, life is so much better that way.

10. Slacking on sleep and exercise. I’ll be honest, I haven’t totally grasped this one myself. But, the truth is, when I take care of my body and get the sleep I need, I feel so much better about myself and that’s reflected in the decisions I make, the work I do, and the happiness I feel. Creating healthy habits is always a good idea. » bellagracemagazine.com

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Aila Images

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Texting conversations. It isn’t that having conversation over text is inherently negative, it’s that phone calls and in-person conversations are much more meaningful. Five years down the road, you won’t remember the texts you sent. You’ll remember the memories you’ve made. So make them. Posting every nuisance of your life on social media. Every person online does not need to know your personal drama, your dating habits, or your trash-talking. Whatever you want your close friends to know is your business, but be cautious of what you’re putting online. Not asking for help. It can be difficult, but the older I get, the more I realize that asking for help is necessary. Every one needs someone at some point and that’s OK. Don’t be too nervous to ask for guidance if you need it. Running from change. Change can be painful — it can even seem insurmountably difficult. But nothing is more difficult or more painful than staying in a place where you don’t belong. Be open to what comes next, be ready for new adventures, and allow yourself to grow. Know that the future is rarely what causes your unwillingness to move forward, it’s repeating the past that makes you anxious. However, creating a new happiness and moving on from the past can only happen when you decide that you’re ready to make a change. Not saying “I love you” when you feel it. When you love someone, tell them. You never know when you won’t have the chance anymore. Dressing and acting certain ways for the people around you. You’re the most attractive when you feel comfortable in your own skin. Know that. Embrace it. Ignoring the news. Whether you’re politically oriented or not, it’s important to know what goes on in the world around you. Thinking that mental health issues are weaknesses. Don’t ever be embarrassed for seeking help. It’s common for people in their 20s to experience mental health concerns, and far too few people do anything about it (thanks to social stigma). Let yourself heal, let yourself be happy. You deserve it. You deserve to free yourself of the social pressure surrounding mental illnesses. If you need help, if you need to tell someone how you feel, do it. Trust me when I say that no matter how difficult taking the first step is, it’s worth it every time.

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19.

Keeping every opinion to yourself. You’re almost 25 … it’s time to stop beating around the bush, it’s time to stop sugar coating, and it’s time to stop letting other people’s voices dictate your life. If you have an idea, a goal, an opinion, SPEAK UP.

20. Stressing out about the future and ignoring the 21.

present. Live in the moment. You’ll never get it back. Being ungrateful. A simple “thank you” can go such a long way. Not only with the person you’re thanking but for yourself. Remember to expect nothing and appreciate everything.

22. Letting what other people think about you influence who you are. If you know yourself, you cannot be harmed by what people say about you. Take that to heart because truly knowing yourself and knowing what you want are rarities.

23. Reacting in the heat of the moment. When people

hurt you or offend you, you don’t have to hurt them back. Learn to understand and to have compassion, even for those who have hurt you.

24. Giving only half your heart to your school, your job,

or your relationships. If you’re going to commit to something, commit to it with everything you have. Be passionate about what you do and who you love. Give your all to everything you do, because if you’re only doing things to get by, then what’s the point of really doing those things? Do all things with love and ambition and you’ll never regret them.

25. Overthinking everything. Twenty-somethings have

a tendency to overthink things until we ruin a good thing. Learn to keep yourself occupied and your mind off the things that make you unhappy. Think positively. Never worry about what might happen in a year, a month, or a week. Worry about what is happening right now and what you can do with every moment to get you closer to where you want to be. After all, that’s what matters.

Brittany Bowen is an aspiring novelist and future lawyer. When she’s not writing, she’s a world traveler, red lipstick aficionado, and wine snob. She likes Olivia Pope, taking personality tests, and debating politics over breakfast.

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PROMPT

25 Habits to Adopt Not all habits are bad. In fact, some can be downright fantastic for you! What better time to start some new habits than during the New Year? Waking up early so you don’t have to rush in the morning, committing to a new skincare routine … what are some habits you’d like to adopt in this coming year?

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“Refuse to be that person that, like so many others, is still driving down the same road, years down the line, mournfully longing to go back in time to be given just one more chance to take the road that they know they should have taken because they dismissed all possible, extraordinary signs. It’ll never get easier to make the leap and this is your chance; so make the change. Take the road now.”

Micky Wiswedel

— Victoria Erickson

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The Sisterhood Words & Photographs by Holly Clark

She gets it. She gets you. She understands your constant need to cradle a camera in your hands, because she’s holding one too. Her fingers, like yours, hover over buttons, quickly spin dials and fiddle with countless settings — be it rapid-fire digital, old-school film, or an effortless mobile phone — just because she gets it. It’s as simple as that. Your desire to capture the moment in quiet stillness or with quick humor is her desire, too. »

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When your fingers fly over the smooth surface of your cell phone during a conversation over coffee, you’re not being rude, just editing photos; you’ve caught every word she said. She understands. With her hands encircling her cup, she’ll pause looking up at you, as if to say, “Don’t you want to capture this before I take my first sip?” And you will. Because the light was just right, and the barista did such a fine job with that heart in her latte, that naturally you’d have to photograph it before one drop crosses her lips. And then she’ll capture your cup too, because how can she resist? When she catches you struggling to photograph an object in your hand, she’ll hold out her own, calmly displaying whatever caught your eye: a tiny succulent, a heart-shaped rock, a glass of white wine, and then she’ll present both glasses to you displaying them as long as you need to find your settings and fiddle with focal points before freezing this soothing moment stolen from your hectic schedules. She orders food you’ll want to photograph and will teach you how to bake bread while standing “just so” in the light, because she knows you’ll want to capture her step by step, hands deep in the dough, so that later on you’ll have a visual guide for your first solo attempt.

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She stands beside you when you aim your camera downward toward your toes. She wears colorful clothing because she knows your camera will love it. She’ll even don a tutu in the middle of a train station to make that jump shot more exciting, or because lime green on a gray winter day makes a bench shot that much better. And when you ask her to wear something pretty to go berry picking, she’ll show up in a complete ensemble — sure to complement the berries — never complaining about the 100-degree heat. Instead, she’ll swear her long skirt saved her from the pesky gnats hovering around the blue pints of berries. She knows she’s fair game when your camera’s nearby, just as you know you are too, and you’ll photograph one another taking photos of each other every time you meet. As she raises her camera to make some magic, you capture her joy-filled face that lights up the frame, exposing her true beauty. And you’ll pose for one another even when you’re uncomfortable — or maybe because of it — since you both need the practice on both sides of your camera, sharing an unspoken pact to never publish an unflattering photo. Besides, you feel brave breaking out of your comfort zone together — not to mention that since you’re both usually behind the lens, portraits are often a rarity. She’ll shower your work with praise, even when it lacks technical precision, because she understands that a beautifully composed, emotive moment trumps perfection every time. In fact, she’ll tell you that your passion made it that much better. When jealousy eats away at you while comparing your work to others, she understands that you don’t really mean it, and reminds you that your unique eye holds valuable meaning. » bellagracemagazine.com

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When she embarrasses you in public by firing off conspicuous portraits of your mortified face, you won’t care; the hilarity of the moment eventually consumes you, and soon you’re laughing too hard to notice. Every time you see that photo afterward, your face breaks into a grin and you wish you could relive the magic of that moment once again. It was worth it. It always is. Sometimes when you’re together, despite the cameras resting in your laps, you forget to take one photo — you’re too busy catching up! But afterward, you’ll wish for visual reminders of her encouragement and your friendship. “Next time,” you’ll say, “we won’t forget.” She understands taking pictures when you’re sad, or when you’re mad, working out your emotions through your lens, permitting you to grasp reality by transforming it into something more workable. Forging beauty out of sorrow, creating order out of chaos, capturing life as it swooshes by, sharing your vulnerable heart. »

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And her hands, her beautiful, magical, helpful hands. Always offering them up: to hold something, to call attention to unexpected moments, to press buttons, to spin dials, to fiddle with countless settings. Her amazing, capable, extraordinary hands capturing you in your finest moments, while holding you in your worst, and then, helping you to embrace the beauty in between. Because she gets it. She gets you.

Holly Clark is a Philadelphia-based photographer. She’s on a personal quest to find the best life has to offer at home and abroad while shooting it along the way. You can visit her online at viewfinders.io and soupatraveler.com.

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Breathe

Room to

Words & Photograph by Hannah Marcotti

I

cross my eyes and the brown wooden slats of the deck railing double. As they become two I can see through them. I can see the lake glistening behind each one. What seems solid now has this magical transparency and I imagine reaching my hand into them like when you slip your skin into water and you somehow are part of that water.

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The glass jar with coconut sugar is sitting next to the coffee jar. I eye it. Both my parents drink their coffee sweet. When my girlfriends stay with me one of my joys is fixing them coffee and serving it to them in bed or wherever they have cozied up for the morning. They like it sweet. I don’t know how much sugar to add so I always sip it before bringing it to them. It feels like dessert in a cup. I don’t drink sweet coffee. It is one of the rules that I forgot I had made, one that is so deep inside of me. I grab the jar and stir in a spoonful of this gorgeous brown sparkling powder. I sip. Add more. Stir. Sip.


The sweet coffee in one hand, my computer in the other. My ankle still aching from a sprain a few weeks ago won’t allow me to sit cross-legged, even though that is how I have always written. Cross legged. With my coffee with no sweet. I tuck one leg underneath myself and look out at the water. I sip. It feels strange and my body is confused. I go inside and pour a second mug. This time without the sweetness. Only the familiar. Sip. That one doesn’t taste like the comfort I have remembered. It hasn’t in weeks. As though something changed inside of me and the she who drank her coffee this way isn’t inside me anymore. I went through my closet and pulled out my kimono collection. I fell in love with kimonos a couple years ago and started collecting them but never wore them. I told myself I was collecting them for retreat photo shoots or beach coverups or ... . The way the sleeves drape and the fabric folds feels strange on my skin. It is new. It is different. I take the kimono I have been staring at for weeks off. I try a different one. The only way to move through new feelings as a highly sensitive person is to let yourself be in them for a bit longer than you think you are able to. I feel beautiful draped in their fabric. I feel hungry for feeling beautiful again. I feel. I feel. Oh boy, do I feel. Neither coffee feels right. The sweet one I keep coming back to, allowing myself to be inside of the change, the “rule breaking” just a bit longer than I am comfortable with. I adore coffee. It has been my warmth and desire for how I wake up since as long as I can remember. When I was pregnant was the only other time it didn’t taste right. Because this being inside of me needed something different and I was in charge of listening and growing that little seed into a beautiful human. Now it seems I am growing myself. The she who is on her way. Already here and asking me to be inside of her just a bit longer than I am comfortable with because that is the only way I can learn to integrate the newness. She wants to wear her kimonos. She wants to do crazy things with her hair. She wants to eat toast and put sweet in her coffee even though, especially because, it is against the rules. She wants to break from patterns and behaviors that have her questioning who she is and her worth and value. She wants to be able to sit down and have a beautiful conversation inside of truth without falling apart or acting like a child. She wants to believe that she can slide her hand through the transparent wooden slats as she crosses her eyes but not her legs and that when she reaches through to the other side of whatever is beyond, she wants to believe that she will be held and safe and loved just as the water holds her body when she is able to trust. She wants to learn to put her face under that water and hold her breath and swim to her newest edges. I sip each one again. Then put on water for green tea. The space between the two — the was and the becoming — needs room to breath. My job is to love them both up. Release the discomfort I have been allowing myself to sit in for longer than I am comfortable so that I may feel comfort again. The toast pops up and the mayo starts to almost melt into its warmth as the runny egg and soft slice of cheese top it. Toast. And tea. A kimono sweater. A hand reaching through transparent double slots to the magic beyond them, where only seconds ago stood solid bars claiming space. Hannah Marcotti is a quietly impassioned motivator who serves as a guide to living the gorgeous life and deeply believes that change is sexy. You’ll find her celebrating life through story and soulwork and is often found tattooing joy on the spirits of those in her community. Visit her at hannahmarcotti.com.

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New Adventures

Bet ween the

Shelves Words by Kayla Dean Photography by Hoag Bin

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B

ookshops have always felt like home to me, whether they’re the major chains or the quirky little places where you find the most unexpected of books. One of my favorite places to venture is the latter, where an artificial bird sanctuary hangs from the wooden beams that strike across the ceiling, packed bookcases are arranged by alphabet, not taste, and a bunny dwells by the back cash register, never mind the printing press that’s near the front of the store. Yet no matter what bookstore I find myself in, the books ultimately matter more than anything else. There’s


something sublime about staring at a bookcase adorned with scintillating titles — some in sans-serif, others in bold handwriting. Like people, they’re all different types: trade paperbacks, hardcovers with pristine dust jackets, older books wrapped in cloth covers. When I’m in my favorite bookstore, I like to forget what section I’m in and just focus on the tomes that fill my vision, picking up whatever book interests me. But sometimes I just like to intuit what they might be about before I make the choice of which one I’ll adopt for my own little library.

Oftentimes, I can’t resist reading the book flaps to not only discover the potential of the story within its pages but also to find out more about the author. Yet my absolute favorite thing to do is read the very first sentence of every book I can find, seeking out those inimitable openings that captivated just the right person and changed another’s life. It’s the possibility of reading someone’s words, of connecting to a kindred spirit whose work just might confirm my belief in all that is essential. Like us, these books are all in dialogue with one another. They may be silent sitting upon the shelf, but as soon as we open the pages, they resonate with us in more ways than we can quantify. Their words build within us. It might be the voices from the past, like Jane Austen, the Brontes, or Virginia Woolf, but it can also be those new writers who confirm that words will always matter. The print book still lives and their language is what stories are made of. Since most of my weekends consist of trips to the bookstore, this thought rises to the wavy surface of my thoughts regularly. As a writer, I find that the elusive dreaming space that forms the inspiration we so desperately seek can be found in something as simple as a pile or row of books. Sometimes the simplest things inspire us to keep creating, even the very placement of the books on the shelf, moved by an enterprising bookseller into the view of their frequent patrons. That’s where the real power is. You see, a really incredible book is like a house. The cover is the façade, which inspires something in us, like love at first sight. The first sentence is the welcome mat, the trail of language that leads me inside. The characters are the reason I stay in that great big structure of a story. They’re the ones who make it feel like a home that I can return to no matter how many years go by. Yet that beginning place we find ourselves in, among the quirky, nascent touches that make a bookstore a place of wonder, started that journey. I once read about a linguist who said that language is like a big wave trying to approach truth. The more precise the word, the closer to truth we find ourselves. To me, a bookstore is filled with that knowledge. In our lives, we may never get to read every book we want to read. We may not even read every book we desperately need to read, yet the sum of everything the world knows can’t fit into our favorite one-room bookshops. We’ll never read all the books. That possibility, that hope that we can discover beauty and truth not only from an idyllic mountain view but also in the corner bookstore? That’s why I visit bookstores for inspiration.

Kayla Dean is a Vegas-based writer who reports about arts and entertainment. She also interviews writers and blogs about living a creative life on kayladean.com. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest (@kayladeanwrites).

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A F rien ds For ever

Lexicon Words by Suzanne Walcher Photograph by Kellene Giloff

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I got you Lemon Lift, my pal said, setting a cup and saucer before me with a tea bag nestled next to the hot water. It was either that or Earl Grey, she explained, wrinkling her nose just slightly as she settled into the cafe chair. Someone must like it, I replied, shaking my head as I tried to imagine such a thing. Chuckling companionably, we bobbed our tea bags in the steaming water, two peas in a pod who would never choose Earl Grey.

I added the “right now” because the chamomile, cilantro, and plain Greek yogurt were evidence that one’s tastes could change. As mine did favorably, a year later, for Earl Grey. Yep, you read that right. In a pinch last summer, I accepted a cup of Earl Grey tea — the dubious flavor that inspired this story — and I liked it.

What about cilantro? she asked.

Which made me wonder how many other “Earl Greys” — things, experiences, moments — I passed over at first because the idea didn’t appeal or I had tried it once and it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Or plain Greek yogurt? I replied.

(Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

Pink jelly beans? she countered.

I still don’t like pink jelly beans, but my Earl Grey moment taught me that I should keep trying new things and new adventures, despite my initial hesitation.

I used to hate chamomile, I admitted, but it’s grown on me.

With the exception of the pink jelly beans (what flavor is that, anyway?), we agreed that there are some tastes that require numerous exposures before you truly like them, if you ever do, at all. Later that same day, while scouring a vintage shop for treasures, my friend held up a funny little dress, its fabric a riot of 1970s colors.

Who knows what wonderful gifts might await. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in. — Isaac Asimov

That might be an Earl Grey, I responded, and as we laughed, a new phrase was written in our friends forever lexicon. An Earl Grey: Something that appeals to someone, somewhere, even though it doesn’t appeal to you (right now).

Suzanne Walcher loves polishing words and photos until they shine, endeavoring to capture moments that are beautiful, ordinary, and, often, in between. You can find her collecting small joys at privetandholly.com.

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PROMPT

My Earl Greys These two friends define an “Earl Grey” as something that appeals to someone, somewhere, even though it doesn’t appeal to you (right now). Take some time to jot down some of the things you enjoy and love but maybe don’t appeal to very many people.

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Luxury, to me, is not about buying things; it’s about

living in a

way where you

appreciate things.”

Nina Hurum

— Oscar de la Renta

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32 Favorite

Andrey Pavlov

of our

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Winter Traditions 1. Every year around Christmas, my grandmother and I take a day to go Christmas shopping and go out to lunch, watch Hallmark Christmas movies, and bake homemade Christmas cookies, recipes courtesy of my great-grandmother! — Rebecca Hartje 2. I love quotes and stories that mean something. My gift to friends is that every day they get an emailed “thought” of the day that has to do with the holiday or winter season. It is either something to think about or something fun. — Carolyn Quackenbush Russett 3. We do a family tour of the local neighborhoods to see who has the biggest and best light displays. We gather back at my parents’ home after for mugs of hot tea. — Debby Adams 4. I am a teacher and when school is cancelled the night before because of an incoming snowstorm, I go for a late-night walk with a fellow teacher. We travel by foot to visit other snow-day recipients and make the first evening a magical one like we are kids once more. The snow falls heavy around us and yet we are warmed by the company and the certain comfort of our beds waiting for our safe return home. Teachers love snow days, too. — Britta Taylor

5. Riding the Polar Express on the old steam train! — Diane Hamilton Coe 6. Every winter I pull out my baby-blue ski bibs and jacket from the one and only time I went downhill skiing back in 1979. The crazy thing is I hated skiing but love wearing my ski outfit to shovel the driveway. I don’t care if we have only a couple inches of snow or a couple feet — I love putting on the ski bibs and jacket to shovel snow or ice off the driveway. I feel good wearing them because they still fit, they keep me warm, and they make me happy. I will go out multiple times during a snowstorm to clean off our driveway. I love shoveling snow in my ski bibs. — Donna (@whatrugoingtodoaboutit) 7. Snow puts me in the holiday spirit, so every year on the day of the first snowfall, I watch a Christmas movie, whether it be late October or some time in November. — Patti Nepean 8. On the winter solstice we spend the day decorating outside and inside with natural ornaments. We cook a big hearty meal before the sun goes down. Once the sun sets, we spend time by the fire pit before coming inside to a home lit only by candles. We spend the evening celebrating the dark and the returning light. — Melanie Mamasté Levy

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9. I find it crucial to spend time with family, but it is equally important to spend time with those we choose to call family. We invite friends over for Thanksgiving to share in the feast and play games. We also spend a day together getting our Christmas trees, enjoying warm beverages and candy canes from the tree farm. Then we end the year together with a big game night as we wait for the ball to drop. Friends, family, love.

16. “The Nutcracker,” Zoo Lights, The Singing Christmas Tree, and The Polar Express Train are things we always do, but my favorite winter moments are the simple ones. Hot chocolate, snuggles, and Christmas movies by the fire. Maple candy on snow. Catching snowflakes on our tongues. Knitting on a rainy day. The big traditions are beautiful. The simple traditions, though, are pure magic. — Melanie Neal Juhala

— Michelle Dority Kroll 10. Watching “Miracle on 34th Street” while we put up the tree, baking goodies with the kids in my life — my own son and my pals’ kids — when my girlfriends and I get together, sipping warm toddies, and sharing holiday books and stories. — Annamarie Davis 11. My family and I make homemade chai spiced lattes and watch “The Polar Express” as the evening turns into night, the fire is crackling, and we are cozied up on the couch. You don’t have to be a child when you hear the words, “Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.” I get goose bumps every time I hear that!

17. Early on Christmas Eve day I would wake to the sound of my mother in the kitchen, busily handmixing the key ingredients to our family recipe of Swedish meatballs. I would join her, being designated the person to shape the meatballs while she fried them. We would make a Crockpot full and carry them through the deep, chilly snow to our neighbors’ home for their Christmas party. Now it’s a favorite tradition for my fiancé’s family, who I cook the meatballs for on Christmas Eve. — Erica Hopper

— Sharon Carson 12. My husband clears a huge rink-like area on our frozen lake and we ice skate with the kids. We then watch neighbors skate and kids play hockey from our window while we warm ourselves by the fire. — Courtney Learnahan Johnson 13. We have a nearby county park that I love to walk through after the first snow. The hush that overcomes the earth is so refreshing after the loudness of summer. — Sarah Huizenga 14. My grandma always went out and turned a somersault after the first big dumping of snow. I now do the same thing. — Donna Roberts Bell 15. Hot cocoa with marshmallows, horror films, candles, warm socks, Star Wars sweatshirt, blankets, cuddles, and Gilmore Girls marathons! — Robin McQuay 90

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18. In the summer I stash away a few boxes of sparklers for the first big snow. Something about running outside with a little bit of summer in the midst of a good snow is just magical. — @moontreeapothecaries


19. I live on Main Street in a small Midwestern town. Every Christmas Eve at sundown, all the people who live on the street place luminaries along the sidewalks in front of their homes. It is absolutely beautiful to see the walkways all lit by candlelight. — @ohhowsheglows

21. Every day when I’m done at work, I strap on my snowshoes and take our two pups out for a hike in the woods behind our house. I love watching them barrel through the snow after a day of being inside. I also love listening to the sound of snow falling through the trees. Growing up in northern Wisconsin taught me to love the winter, especially when there’s snow! — Ali Pichowski

20. I put on Christmas music or a movie, make hot tea and a fire, and sit on the couch and cut snowflakes, tons of them, each one unique, until I have enough for every windowpane and a few extras to slip into cards. — Deb Miller

22. We have a Winnie the Pooh fest. We get out all our old Winnie the Pooh videos and watch them back to back, eating popcorn. Mind you, the oldest is 24 and her hubby is 30, and our youngest of five is 15. It’s such a great throwback to their childhood! — Mary Denman

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Pavan Trikutam 23. I live in Minnesota, where winters are long, cold, and dark, so decorating with light lifts my spirits and brings a touch of magic to the season, every year. Fairy lights, candles, lanterns, and a fire in the fireplace make everything special and cozy. — @privetandholly 24. My mom (now 81), sister, few cousins, and I have Christmas shopped the weekend before Thanksgiving wearing matching sweatshirts. We’ve been doing this since I was a kid. — @cindybee85 25. My husband, our two teenagers, and I buy Christmas pajamas in December and have a fashion show with each of us strutting around in our pj’s while the others hold up score cards. On Christmas Eve we put them on again so that when we wake up we are properly dressed to open presents! — Marie Murphy 26. We put up our tree in December but never turn on the lights until the whole house is dark on Christmas Eve. Seeing all the light and beauty from the tree for the first time while reading the Christmas story on Christmas Eve is truly magical! We’ve been doing this for over 30 years. Our now-grown children tell us they loved the Christmas Eve tree-lighting ceremony even more than Christmas morning, just because of the beauty. Once the tree is lit, the rest of the house is lit with candles only until we all go to bed. — Julia Monroe 92

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27. Every year since I was pregnant with our son, we have gone and picked out ornaments for each of us to paint. We drink hot chocolate and listen to TransSiberian Orchestra. Our tree is now full of handmade ornaments that are like old friends. Each year we hang them on the tree, remembering all the past Christmases together. — Maralie Thomas 28. Winter is always a time for me to dust off my favorite pair of gloves. They are simple but have been on my hands for so many times in my life and are one of the few material items I’d be sad if I lost. — @scarletdgn 29. After the loss of our son we began a tradition of giving back. We do random pay-it-forwards throughout the month of December. It has grown into a family thing we all look forward to as we share the joy he once brought into our lives. — @ ryzmomplus2 30. I am a writer because of my grandfather who, though a talented writer himself, never pursued it professionally. But one of his short stories was published in a book. It talks about the early morning hours of crisp air and clear skies on Christmas Day in a rural town of eastern Switzerland. Each year on December 24, the day he passed away, I take out that book with its aged leather-bound spine, and read his story. In the warmth of a roaring fire, beneath a Christmas tree, it feels like he never left. And each year I can hear his voice, with that sophisticated British accent, telling me how proud he is. — Patricia Ernest


PROMPT

My Winter Traditions What are some of the things you love to do each winter?

What are a few things you’d like to start doing this winter?

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How To

Let It All Go Words by Chloe V. Roberson

make sure the lace curtains don’t strangle with ideas about what could have been or what isn’t sorted yet put so much honey in your tea and sip long and soft — watch those curtains settle ends brushing carpet tips white sing lullabies to the dog who waited long for home, curled up neatly in the curve of your side — brown eyes closed to the night breathe thanks and then think less and less until all your thanks are breath and grandma’s lace curtains sway smooth like they do at mama’s when the night sings slow

Chloe Victoria Roberson currently lives in southern Alabama with her dog, Zelda Sayre. A recent graduate from Lindenwood University's MFA program, she teaches English and writes poetry, creative nonfiction, and is finishing her first Young Adult novel. She seeks the magical in the ordinary, and firmly believes in the impossible.

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Between Everything & Nothing Words & Photographs by Joy Jordan

O

n a Wednesday I received news from Bella Grace: two of my articles would be published. (Happiness.) That Friday I heard news from my dermatologist: the growth on my calf was a basal-cell carcinoma. (Fear.) Weeks later, the carcinoma was removed on the same day I learned my mom was dying. (Relief overshadowed by primal sadness.) The morning of my mom’s death, I took a long walk. Children laughed as they made their way to school. An ordinary day for them; an extraordinary day for me. Life is unpredictable. I wish I could control the uncontrollable, but I realize that’s impossible. Freedom comes from letting go. Good news doesn’t mean life is “right” and bad news doesn’t mean life is “wrong.” Having my work published doesn’t mean I’m worthy; having skin cancer doesn’t mean I’m unworthy. Some days it feels that way, but if I stay the longer course, I see life moves between gain and loss, pleasure and pain. And I trust this as the natural cycle of things. Teacher Nisargadatta Maharaj said, “Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything. Between the two my life flows.” My mom loved me unconditionally. She never told me hard truths. She made me feel like I was everything. Still, my harsh inner-critic said I was nothing — a child’s unskilled understanding of difficult circumstances. Eventually, I found a middle path: I’m loveable, unique, and beautiful; I’m imperfect, in-process, and humble. My life matters, yet I’m not a big deal. »

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As my mom died, we encircled her with care — me lying in bed with her, hand on her heart; my sister next to Mom, stroking her forehead; Dad, bowed forward, holding Mom’s feet; my other sister soothing Dad’s hands and my feet. It was a circle of love, wisdom, and awareness. We couldn’t change the situation, but we could bear witness. I opened my heart and tried to let go. Because this wasn’t about me; it was about Mom: honoring her choices in her last hours of life. The process was both terribly difficult and deeply important. After the funeral, I asked Dad if he was OK. His response: “No, I’m not OK. But, yes, I am OK. And that’s all OK.” This became my mantra. Life isn’t just one way. It’s many things, often at the same time. A method of control is to think — to intellectualize the ineffable qualities of life. But thinking doesn’t take away my grief nor does it magnify my joy. I feel most alive when I let things flow — between sadness and peace, boredom and wonder, fear and happiness. This requires me to stay with my experience, whatever arises; it requires me to feel. Staying isn’t easy, but it can be cultivated. And it must be reapplied again and again. When I pay attention, I see that life doesn’t happen to me in a choiceless vacuum. I create my life through intentional actions and nonactions. Before Mom’s death, I attended a silent meditation retreat. On the last day, I set an intention: bring loving-presence and compassion to more moments. This intention applies inward as much as outward — love in, love out. I allow for my tears, and I also notice Mom’s laugh in my own laugh. From this place of compassion, I can flow between everything and nothing. And it’s all OK.

Joy Jordan is both a teacher and student of mindfulness in Appleton, Wisconsin. She lives, teaches, writes, and photographs with a curious mind and an open heart. You can find her at bornjoy.com.

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‘‘Do you know,’’ Peter asked, ‘‘why swallows

build in the eaves of houses?

It is to listen to the stories.’’

— J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

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Rememberer, Collector, Creator, Connector rks-Mussulin

Words & Photographs by Jessica Spa

I remember. Somewhere deep in my passed down memories, I remember times when crystal and herbal remedies, meandering gypsy wagons, and magical moments were a way of life.

I collect. My eyes are always scanning the ground. Something shiny, something round, something colorful. A moth wing, an empty snail shell, a piece of blue kyanite. Feathers, seeds, stones, leaves, bones, and petals. All collected and placed in glass jars. A library of nature.

I create. As gardeners, herbalists, stonalists, healers, and medicine women, we all have our inner gardens — the plants, stones, and critters we are drawn to work with and that we miss deeply when we are away from our home. I create so women can keep their inner gardens with them as they venture away from home, whether it be going to work for the day, or going on a grand wandering.

I connect. In a fast moving world of distractions, I create in order to connect others with the things they have forgotten, the things that are easy to miss when you are glancing at your phone or running your to-do list through your mind. The beauty of a dragonfly wing, the magic of sea glass, the sparkle of a crystal, the dreaminess of a milkweed seed, the way each season feels to us internally.

I am a rememberer, a collector, a creator, a connector. Jessica Sparks-Mussulin is an herbalist, a stonalist, a creator, a gardener, a daydreamer, a rockhounder, and an apothecary wanderer. She can be found online at moontreeapothecaries.com and on Instagram (@moontreeapothecaries).

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O n e Wor d a t a Time:

Writing a Memoir Words & Photographs by Christine Mason Miller S te p O n e: T a lk abo ut writin g your b ook fo r a t le ast f iv e ye ars . The idea to write a memoir first came to me in 2004, when I thought I’d share the story of how I took my dream of being an artist and turned it into a licensed brand and business called Swirly. I wrote about 20 pages and then promptly forgot about it. Years later, after my second husband and I got married and I overcame some potent blended family tangles, I started thinking, “I have to write a book about this!” This proclamation was sprinkled in casual conversations for the next four years until I finally put words to the page during a spontaneous, weeklong writing binge inspired by the discovery that my ex-husband was having a baby. I worked day and night to craft a 15-page story about our divorce and all of its accompanying drama, which I then submitted to various writing contests and literary journals. I was rejected by all of them, so I tucked the story in a file on my computer and never looked at it again. In the meantime, I went back to saying, “I just have to write a book about my family!” »

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S t e p T w o : D o wh ate v e r yo u h ave to d o t o h o l d y o urs e lf ac c o un table. By early 2012, I’d grown weary of hearing myself talk about writing the book. I reasoned it was time to either write it or stop talking about it, and set about doing something slightly drastic in order to hold myself accountable: create an e-course on how to write a book. I’d actually written, published, and self-published three other books, so I had a fair amount of knowledge about how to take the spark of an idea and turn it into an actual book. After partnering up with two friends and mapping out a plan to build the course collaboratively, I started compiling tools, lessons, and resources that I was testing myself with in real time. In other words, the commitment I made to write my book happened at the same time I made a commitment to create an online course. All the tools I was developing and using to get myself organized, motivated, and on task for my own book were immediately packaged for the online course. They say you teach what you most need to learn, right?

S t e p T h r ee: Re me mbe r yo u do n ’t hav e t o d o i t alo n e . Yes, I’d written books before and I’d had a fair amount published in blogs and magazines. I was somewhat of a pro at the 800- to 1200-word essay. I knew how to present an idea, share an inspiring anecdote, and then wrap it up with a tidy string of words. But writing a real book — one with no artwork, no other contributors, and no one’s stories but my own — well, that was a different idea. I had a long list of stories, but were they enough to warrant an entire book? How was I going to piece them all together in a way that made sense? What was this book actually about besides my family? I had so many questions and felt so out of my comfort zone, I knew it warranted a specific kind of guidance. I needed long-term editorial support, which wasn’t just about making sure all of my typos were corrected, but about helping me figure out how to weave my stories in a way that was clear and compelling. Once I understood this was going to be the difference between a pretty good book and a great book, my intuition spoke loudly and clearly: “Hire Christianne Squires.” Once I hired her at the beginning of 2015, she proceeded to coach, guide, and support me all the way up until the final copyediting stage more than a year later. When I say I wouldn’t have been able to write the book without her, what I mean is that I wouldn’t have been able to write the book without her. 106

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St ep Fou r: Wr ite. If I had only had 10 minutes in the midst of a hectic day to write, then I’d write for 10 minutes. On days I had a block of time set aside for writing but didn’t actually feel like writing (it sure would be nice to re-arrange my silverware drawer), I’d still sit down to write. I said no to coffee dates. I turned down other projects. Whenever I could, I’d write. Writing is the before, the during, and the after. It is, in fact, the only thing.

St ep Five: Finish the book. After nearly two years of working on the book — writing, printing, shipping manuscripts, sorting through feedback, revising, re-arranging, and fine-tuning — I was finished. At the beginning of 2016, my memoir was complete. Which meant one thing: It was time to think about publishing. I’d decided months earlier to print 125 hardcover editions on my own and give all the copies away. One idea I stressed throughout my online course was that any publishing-related goals need to be put aside during the writing process, because trying to write a book that one hopes will be popular and sell will only pull the writer away from his or her real voice. I was open to the idea of having my book published on a wider scale, but for this first round I wasn’t trying to impress a publisher or agent. All I wanted to do was share the book with an intimate circle of family, friends, and kindreds. The work to get the book published was technical and administrative, and it was work I kept putting off. I avoided to-do list items such as “double-check page numbers” and “choose a typeface.” I procrastinated, and I complained. “I’ve already written the book, and now I have to do all this?” It finally hit me that my very busy summer was fast approaching, and if I didn’t get this phase of my work wrapped up, I wouldn’t be able to give it any serious attention until fall. After letting weeks go by when I barely looked at the book, I finally created a timeline to finish the formatting, send it to the printer, review the electronic proofs, and have the books in my hands by mid-June. This meant I’d be able to share the book with the 10 women who’d registered for a Conscious Booksmith live retreat. (See Step Two.) » bellagracemagazine.com

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S t e p S i x: C e le brate . I held a private book reading in our home in late July. More than 20 of my family, friends, and neighbors showed up — many of whom were written about in the book, or who had, at the very least, witnessed much of what was in it. When the group gathered in our living room and I sat down on a stool in front of everyone, the room was so tense with emotion I refused to look anyone in the eye. If I happened to share a split-second glance with anyone, tears immediately formed for both of us. It was as if we were all on the same emotional tightrope, trying to be as still as possible to avoid falling over in a heap of tears.

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Once I began reading, I was suddenly on that tightrope alone. My mind needed to maintain a laser-sharp focus on simply reading the words on the page, because if a single stray thought wandered to a place where I was tapping into the emotion of the experience I was speaking about, I would have fallen apart. I was conscious of the sound of my voice, doing my best to keep it steady without sounding monotone, exerting the muscles in my throat to avoid any cracking. At the same time, the faint sound of intermittent sniffles kept registering, sounds I needed to let float into, and then immediately out of, my awareness.


Is there a book you’re longing to write? You don’t have to do it alone. The Conscious Booksmith has been spiffied up with new content and lifetime access. For details, visit: http:// animyst.com/online-workshops/the-conscious-booksmith/ Christianne Squires was so inspired from working with Christine on “Moving Water," she decided to pursue more bookrelated editorial projects and launched Bookwifery in the fall of 2016. Visit ookwifery.com to learn more about her offerings. Liz Kalloch designed Christine’s book cover, and she is also an expert at book layout and design. Visit lizkalloch.com for details. Before you write anything, read Steven Pressfield’s "The War of Art." Trust me on this one!

When I finished the last passage, an audible exhale came from the entire group. The only other time I’d experienced anything like that was when I heard Mary Oliver read her well-known poem “Wild Geese” in front of a packed auditorium at UCLA years ago. That night, it was as if we were all afraid to breathe until she finished. When I felt the same visceral relief in my own living room, I was reminded of that moment with Mary Oliver and what it was about. It was an almost desperate longing to hold onto every single detail of an experience that everyone knows will never come again, yet represents so much of what we all long for — love, connection, truth. That day, I wasn’t sure I’d ever felt so loved before.

Ste p Seven: Let go. My memoir, “Moving Water,” is finished. I am proud of this book, not merely because it is evidence that I did what I set out to do, but because of the sense of community it created. My friends cheered me on, read my early drafts, provided honest feedback, designed my book cover, and showed up for my reading. Most everyone who’s read it says the same thing — that they can’t put it down — and also that it made them feel less alone. “Moving Water” might get published elsewhere or it might not. Whatever has happened with the book up to this point might be all that ever happens. I will do whatever I can to put wind behind its sails, but its ultimate fate is out of my hands. Whatever the future holds, I know one thing for certain: I really did have to write this book about my family. There was no ignoring that call. It wasn’t about publishing or selling or building an online platform. It was about telling my stories, and in that crafting, making connections — one word, one sentence, one page at a time.

Christine Mason Miller is an author and artist who has been inspiring others to create a meaningful life since 1995."Moving Water"is now available for pre-order. Visit christinemasonmiller.com for details.

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G o for the

Glow Words & Photographs by Jennifer DeVille Catalano

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hildren have an innate glow about them. Perhaps it’s their sparkly clean auras. Maybe it’s a combination of the sunrays, moonbeams, and stardust from which they came. Or it could be the pure beauty of their innocence shining forth. Regardless of race or gender, children come to us so fresh and full of light. Each one has unique gifts and challenges, yet they all beam in their own way. Even as adults, I believe each of us shines. We might not glimmer like dragonfly wings in the summer sun, but everyone has a shimmer to share. That can be hard to remember when world events and personal experiences cause our lights to dim. It happens to each of us in one way or another. Loss, betrayal, fear, heartache, shame, and disappointment fatigue our spirits and threaten to snuff out our inner light. Time and time again, we fan the embers until our flame reignites. I feel as though I’ve been continuously fanning my flame since I became a mother. It’s undoubtedly one of the best yet hardest things I’ve ever done. The amount of energy, patience, creative problem solving, and perseverance motherhood requires surpasses description, yet anyone walking the path of a caregiver understands just how hard it can be. So how do we keep going when our fire is fizzling? How can we bring our youthful sparkle back? Is there a way to overcome the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion when so many tasks need tending and our loved ones are depending on us? At first, I tried going to bed earlier, even when the kitchen was a mess, the mail (both paper and electronic) was piled up, and there wasn’t a clean pair of matching socks in the house. Once my children were tucked in (for the umpteenth time), I let my body sink into the mattress. I melted into a delicious sleep most nights, but still wasn’t ready to get up in the morning. There never seemed to be enough time in the day, so I’d repeatedly forego my morning walk to catch up on laundry, pay bills, deal with the dishes, or address the messes that had accumulated. Then one morning, I crumbled. The kids were bickering, the cats were fighting, and my husband and I were both tired, grumpy, and hungry. Somehow I ended up half screaming, half crying that I needed two hours every morning to go walk by myself. The combination of nature, solitude, and physical exercise never fails to replenish me. My mind clears and I tap into energy I didn’t know I had. But how can I claim so much personal time each morning when my husband is searching for clean underwear, my kids need breakfast, and the litter boxes reek? “Get up earlier” was my husband’s honest suggestion. Ugh. That’s coming from a guy who wakes up while it’s still dark outside to do his yoga, by the way. How on earth can I get up earlier

when I’m so freaking tired, I wondered. And what if one of the kids starts crying for me while I’m out walking and my husband is lying in savasana? It turns out those problems weren’t as difficult to solve as I thought. The barrier I had to overcome was a mental one, not a logistical one. The next morning, I got up earlier and set out on my walk. I listened to the songbirds as I moved. I worked up a sweat. I enjoyed the warm light and the soft breeze. I began to notice some sparks within me reigniting, some synapses firing, some voids slowly filling. Then I spent a little time with the lupines and the buttercups. Oh how I had missed the wonderful feeling of being surrounded by flowers. By the time I got home an hour and a half later, I was relaxed, refreshed, and ready for the day ahead. There were still plenty of challenges to face, but I was more patient, more present, and more optimistic that day. Even though I had given up some of my precious sleep time, I felt energized. I’ve been getting up early every single day since then, because when I noticed the difference, I knew the sacrifice was worth it. » bellagracemagazine.com

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Admittedly, the system is not perfect. Some days I barely squeeze in an hour for myself. There will inevitably be colds and flu bugs this winter that temporarily put me out of commission. In the event of thunderstorms or snowstorms, I resort to the treadmill and the free childcare at the MCA. It isn’t quite the same as being alone in nature, but I make the best of it. As the machine hums underfoot, I take a few moments to picture an autumn sunrise over the meadow, vibrant green grass in spring, or the burst of summer sunlight shining through the trees at the end of the road. What matters most is that I no longer skip vital selfcare for the sake of getting things done. So my message to myself and to each of you is this: go for the glow. As infants, we were born with it and as adults we don’t have to live without it. We are happier and the world is a better place when each of us tends our flame and shines our light. We’re better friends, colleagues, partners, and parents that way, too.

Jennifer DeVille Catalano is a wife, mother, writer, and photographer. She seeks light in everyday life and feels most at home in a field of wildflowers. Visit her on her personal blog, someplaceserendipitous.com as well as the collaborative blogs sheisthree.com and makingsofmotherhood.com.

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PROMPT

Get Your

Glow On

Give yourself the gift of time this week. For seven consecutive days, commit to getting outside for some fresh air and movement. An hour or more is ideal but not always realistic. Even if you have an extra busy day at work, allow yourself at least 10 minutes to walk outside on your lunch break. If you’re having a tough day at home with your children, try bundling them up and pushing them in the stroller. Better yet, rake leaves together or go sledding with them this winter. You’ll all benefit! Before you take your walk (or run or rake or sled ride), write down how you feel. Do you have a headache? Are you lethargic? Tense? Worried? Angry? Pessimistic? Upon returning from your time outdoors, take note of any physical and/or emotional shifts. Has your headache eased at all? Do you feel refreshed? Are you slightly more relaxed? More cheerful? Use the before-and-after comparisons to inspire you to keep going for the glow. Only you can reignite your light and keep it shining!

Before

After

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

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@snow_kissed_birches Jaime Greenlaw

Watching the snow’s delicate descent as it kisses the birch tree outside my window. A quiet, comforting moment of understanding between friends. The way the dust swirls and dances in lazy sunbeams. Noticing the magic in these small unassuming moments, allowing yourself the time to unequivocally enjoy them, this is what living a Bella Grace life means to me.

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Tea, Toast & Lemur Kisses Words & Photograph by Hannah Marcotti

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T

hey have an elaborate bedtime ritual. It starts with tea and toast. Sometimes warm milk. They are always starving at night. I pile a plate high with buttery toast and the four of them make it disappear in moments. A teapot we found at the swap shop at our transfer station holds their ritual of honey tea. The ones who want warm milk use either a small mason jar or a tiny green butterfly mug, and I heat their milk to the perfect temperature for them.

A belly rub and foot rub with each head in my lap on a sheepskin rug.

Then we move on to their drops. Calm and sleep, four drops on each tongue. Once the little tongues have the sweet drops, they hold out their wrists for sweet repose. Sometimes I add another to either calm their nervous systems or love up their heart center using my intuition on what they are needing.

Usually at bedtime I am exhausted and wanting to punch the time clock. This ritual and time together is something I look forward to all day. It is snuggles, giggles, words of affirmation, sleepy smiles. They are my joy bubbles.

Then things get a little silly. The first time we rubbed the oils on their wrists, one of them told a story about how lemurs rub their wrists together to secrete their scent and mark their territory. So now they become little lemurs as they rub the oils on their wrists. Each of them then take turns lying down and getting their foot cream, which now is belly button cream and foot cream.

Then bed. Kisses (often lemur kisses). Nightlights and library books. Sleeping bags and giant stuffed bears. I need to pee. Can I have a glass of water? I forgot to tell you something. Did we have dinner? This is how we create gorgeous secure attachment. This is how ritual guides us and eases them into the transition of wake to sleep.

Hannah Marcotti is a quietly impassioned motivator who serves as a guide to living the gorgeous life and deeply believes that change is sexy. You’ll find her celebrating life through story and soulwork and is often found tattooing joy on the spirits of those in her community. Visit her at hannahmarcotti.com.

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13 Ways to Embrace

the Magic of a Snow Day Words by Ella Wilson

“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment, then where is it to be found?” — J. B. Priestley

O

Alexander Dummer

utside my bedroom window, large snowflakes tumble and fall like white feathers. I stand still, watching the crystalline dancers waltz with the wind. The flakes twirl and bow, blanketing my lawn with white wonder. For me, snow casts an enchanting spell that wakes some wonderful childhood memories. My inner child smiles, remembering how to embrace this event, when my world becomes blanketed in fluffy white.

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1. Before the local news cast predicts the chance of snow,

place a piece of black cardstock or construction paper in your freezer. When it starts to snow, grab your frozen black paper and dash outside to catch snowflakes. The cold paper will allow the snowflakes to keep their unique shape long enough for you to admire them and take photos. You will need to be quick as you look at their profound beauty.

2. Pile on your winter garb and pull on your boots to

go outside and make a snow angel. If there isn’t any snow in your world, don’t let that stop you. I have been known to make a few sand angels at the beach during winter when there wasn’t snow. Anyone who sees your snow or sand angel will smile and want to revisit this magic. You might inspire an angel creation party.

3. Be the first one to walk in the snow. Allow a sense

of exploration as you venture out into the fresh, undiscovered terrain. Stomp in the fluffy whiteness, catch snowflakes on your nose, tongue, and eyelashes.

4. Make ice cream with the first snow. Fill a huge bucket

with pristine whiteness to use instead of crushed ice in your ice cream maker. Somehow, the magic of cream, sugar, and eggs blending with a kiss of vanilla beans creates the taste of heaven. Cold ice cream enhances the memories of snow and is a ritual you will come to love as much as I have. »

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5. Make food backward. Think white chocolate hot cocoa with chocolate marshmallows. Dr.

Seuss would approve, I think. When my kids were little and it stormed, we would have a Silly Seuss Day. Between snow ventures, we would wear funny clothes and do silly, wacky things. I would make small pizzas the size of pancakes for breakfast or lunch and the syrup would be ranch dressing. We would read Dr. Seuss books and speak in rhyme.

6. Give a snowman or snowwoman a makeover. Decorate snow people with cookie cutters for eyes and get silly with the decorations. A star cookie cutter looks like your snow person is winking. I like to shape snow hands and connect my snow people. The moon casts a theatrical spotlight on the snow people, adding a glittery glow. Snow people holding hands in my yard melts my heart.

7. Make snowballs out of laundry detergent. There are recipes online using both the laundry detergent and soap. Making snow is fun, so if it doesn’t snow in your world, use Ivory soap flakes and make soap-ball bath bombs.

8. Go sledding or pull a plastic toboggan around your neighborhood to gather pine boughs to decorate your window boxes. That is, of course, if no one wants a ride.

9. Bake snowball cookies. I like to change it up and sometimes add different nuts and orange or lemon extract. Snowballs do taste good.

10. Blow bubbles when the temperature drops below 32. The bubble will freeze and you can observe a rainbow on a snow day. I love to see a rainbow when it gets captured inside a tiny snowglobe-like bubble.

11. Feed the birds. Give them seed, stale bread, crackers, or tie baked goods on a tree. You can also make a traditional popcorn Christmas tree garland for your outdoor trees.

12. Paint the snow. Fill a spray bottle with water and food coloring. My kids and I used to

spray our snow people so they wore colorful clothing. These days, I like to spray quotes in the snow in royal blue. It makes a bold statement in the neighborhood.

13. Don’t let the no-snow vibe prevent the magic of snowball fights. I have a basket in my

Aaron Burden

living room filled with white pompoms of various shapes and sizes. My family counts on both indoor and outdoor snowball fights.

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Ella Wilson is an artist and writer who adores tea in a vintage bone-china cup, mailing cheer, and finding ways to be green. Visit her blog at ellasedge.blogspot.com, and find her Etsy shop at ellasedge.etsy.com.

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“Every time you do a good deed, you shine the ligh t a little farther into the dark. And the thing is, when you’re gone that light is going to keep shining on, pushing the shadows back.”

Robert Kohlhuber

— Charles de Lint

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When

Cabin Fever Words by Ella Wilson

O

utside it’s sleeting; I hear it ping-ponging on my deck. My mood is fragmented like the weather. I linger like origami, tucked and folded in a pilly oatmeal throw on my couch, wishing to escape my reality. Cabin fever has settled in as the local weather forecast warns everyone who is listening to stay off the roads. Sleet will turn over to snow — and lots of it. I go to my kitchen and notice the butterfly magnet on my fridge. Glancing at it reminds me that I need to transform my thoughts and allow my imagination a chance to soar. My soul needs a life preserver, something to cling to — an idea, a new recipe — something to keep my spirit afloat. Ideas are the wings that change my awareness and give me something to look forward to. I am alone this Sunday morning. My husband is out of town, my kids are away at college, and I need a diversion, a project, a way out of my rut. Days seem to blur together when the weather is like this. I find myself frozen, not with fear, but by a lack of motivation. It’s like my wings are iced shut. I am in a winter cocoon, waiting for the weather to change. Lately, I have transformed from being active to sedentary. I need to set my spirit free. I must find ways to inspire my soul. Winter isn’t going to hold me hostage. I need to burst out of my stillness and find inspiration. I grab pen and paper and start making an idea map of ways to steer my energy and try something new. Here is what I came up with.

❄❄ Invite the neighbors to a barbeque. Everyone else is stranded, so why not light the grill and have some food and laughs?

❄❄ Redecorate your nest. Take furniture from the

S et s In

❄❄ Give yourself a spa treatment. Use honey and

oatmeal to make a body scrub. Cornmeal works too.

❄❄ Dress like citrus fruits — think key lime, bright

lemon, or orange glow. Go neon. It will brighten the room and your mood.

❄❄ Spread a beach towel on the living room rug, rub on a little coconut-scented lotion, and stream a summer flick.

❄❄ Play Frisbee in the snow with your dog. ❄❄ Find vibrantly colored scarves and tie them over your living room pillows.

❄❄ Throw a picnic blanket on the kitchen table. Grab

some silk flowers or make paper ones and fill a vase with some sunshine.

❄❄ Paint your toenails a tropical shade of blue or even Hawaiian Punch red.

❄❄ Freeze some canned fruit and make a sorbet in your blender.

❄❄ Throw a quilt on the living room rug and have an

indoor picnic. Don’t forget iced tea and potato salad.

❄❄ Play music that reminds you of summer, and dance. Sheryl Crow reminds me to “Soak up the Sun.”

❄❄ Make a batch of sangria with winter citrus fruit. All these colorful ideas have lifted my spirits and opened my wings to embrace what I have on hand. I don’t feel so blah anymore. The next time you’re feeling the wintertime blues, plan a day of summertime fun.

bedroom and bring it into the living room. Move an end table or stand, and then gather items in a color you love and redo the coffee table.

❄❄ Give the plants a spa treatment, such as a misty

shower in the sink or wipe their leaves with cold diluted tea.

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Ella Wilson is an artist and writer who adores tea in a vintage bonechina cup, mailing cheer, and finding ways to be green. Visit her blog at ellasedge.blogspot.com, and find her Etsy shop at ellasedge.etsy.com.


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Creat i ng

Summer Vibes

In the middle of win ter

Ella Wilson has shared some terrific ideas for beating the wintertime blues. What are some ways you'll add some color to your cold, dreary days?

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"Y es, I read. I have that absurd habit. I like beautiful poems, moving poetry, and all the beyond of that poetry. I am extraordinarily sensitive to those poor, marvelous words left in our dark night by a few men I never knew."

Anna Drozd

—Louis Aragon

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Aware Words by Britnee Bradshaw Photograph by Angie Lambert

The aroma of fire and lavender Mixed roses and fresh water The taste of cinnamon and apples Vanilla bean and chamomile tea The sight of low lights and a sunset Blushes and blues kissed with gray The sound of Corinne gently singing Melodies and lyrics that calm the soul In this moment, I meet beauty In this moment, I am aware

Britnee Bradshaw believes that God is calling his people to rise and echo his glory to every nation. She is a wife and mother, a poet, a singer/songwriter, and serves on the worship ministry at Kingdom First Ministries. Visit her blog at britneebradshaw.wordpress.com or on Instagram (@jusbcoo).

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Solstice Unplugged Words & Photographs by Joy Jordan

M

y husband suggested something radical: Let’s celebrate winter solstice by staying home, completely unplugged. I hesitated, not sure if holiday preparations would be complete. Soon I realized his radical idea was just what I needed. The shortest day of the year invites stillness and quiet. Choosing to step off the grid provides two benefits: connection with nature and nourishment for my spirit. The solstice is now a vacation day on our calendar. The night before, we remove clocks, disable gadgets, and grind coffee beans for the French press. These preparations set a mood for the following day when we use limited electricity — only the furnace and fridge. As a photographer, I’m accustomed to watching light, but there’s always more to learn, especially on the solstice. With no lamps in the middle of Wisconsin winter, I see subtle changes in light. I find nooks in the house where it’s easiest to read and create. I notice how the pace slows dramatically. With time and externals removed, there’s room for intention and deep connection. Our nieces and nephews ask in amazement, “What in the world do you do all day?” The answer is easy: we meditate, read, talk, cook, eat, and create; we practice yoga, write letters, explore nature, and make music. When darkness descends, we eat by candlelight

and reflect on the day. Eventually we make a fire and settle in. There’s a gratitude jar on our kitchen counter. We fill this jar with pieces of paper — everyday moments of appreciation. On solstice night, we read aloud these small remembrances. It’s a joyous and heartfelt review of the year. During our unplugged celebration, what’s most noticeable is heightened awareness. Without electricity, a peaceful feeling — free of noise and unnatural light — fills our home. It’s a reflective day for both of us. Our actions are intentional; our conversations relaxed; our senses awake. The quiet and calm are made obvious when we re-enter “normal” life: There’s excess, bustle, and separation in daily activities. It’s easy to get pulled back in, but it’s also clear that I have choices. A simple pause is powerful. Any purposeful break from technology and busyness has a big impact. There are many nonradical ways to nourish my spirit, and the solstice helps me remember.

Joy Jordan is both a teacher and student of mindfulness in Appleton, Wisconsin. She lives, teaches, writes, and photographs with a curious mind and an open heart. You can find her at bornjoy.com.

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PROMPT

A Day Unplugged So many of us spend our days chained to a computer or cell phone. Then after our work day is done, we head home where we sit in front of the television for hours on end. This season, take a day and unplug completely. Turn off your phones, grab some board games or a book, and disconnect. Reflect on your day here.

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“I want to get into my car and drive until I find what I’m looking for. Maybe it’s purpose or maybe it’s a new start or maybe it’s a sky with unclouded stars.”

Ellie Baygulov

— author unknown

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I am not my

To-Do List Words & Photograph by Lisa Leonard

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y to-do list has a dark side. There are days when my to-do list glares at me while I sip a second cup of coffee or whispers words of condemnation when I lay down for a nap. My to-do list can be harsh and judgmental. I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this — but my to-do list actually called me a worthless failure the other day. Unbelievable, right?! Who gave my to-do list that kind of power? Well, I guess I did. Every morning, for as long as I can remember, I wake up and start making a to-do list. Some items are small, like “wash dishes” or “schedule doctor visit.” Other items are bigger such as “go through the boys’ clothing” or “plan marketing presentation.” I love seeing checkmarks next to each item on my to-do list. Ah, isn’t that the best feeling? It makes me feel like a superhero! I know I’m not the only one who feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day. I hop out of bed and hit the ground running. Between emails, dishes, meetings, grocery shopping, and signing permission slips, I barely have time to gather my thoughts. The day rushes by — and I know by evening I’ll hit a wall of exhaustion. We’ll have dinner, cuddle on the couch while watching Netflix, and then fall into bed. The next day it starts all over again. But recently I’ve been rethinking my to-do list. I give it too much power — way too much power. I’ve been letting my to-do list determine my self-worth. If I accomplish a lot, I’m a wonderful person. On an unproductive day, I’m a waste of space. Both of those statements are lies. I am me, just me — creative, kind, imperfect, unique, and amazing. I actually need downtime. I thrive when I have space to do nothing. Making time to clear my head and think brings new ideas and clarity. Rushing isn’t effective — in fact, it makes things worse. And when I’m tired, I’m such a grump. My meltdowns are not fun to watch.

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I’ve been experimenting with a different approach. I still use a to-do list but there’s a lot less on it. I’m learning I can only accomplish a few things each day, and I have to prioritize what’s most important. Instead of getting everything done, I’m getting the most important things done. I’m intentionally slowing down and making room for peace and calm.  Yesterday I didn’t make our bed like I usually do and it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t make it to the grocery store, but we got by. I didn’t fold the clothes in the dryer. I let them wait. I didn’t return emails. I just didn’t get to it. And I didn’t stress out. I got some other really important things done. And it was enough. With my more streamlined, kind-hearted to-do list, life continues to move forward — everyone is bathed, dressed, fed, and healthy. The world hasn’t spun off its axis. In fact, although not everything is getting done, I’m getting the important things done. I’m prioritizing what matters most. Instead of trying to do everything halfway or “good enough,” I’m doing less but giving it my full attention. I’m rushing less. I’m scheduling less and making room for downtime. I feel stronger, more peaceful, and present. Overall I’m better. It’s been life-changing. I think I’m hooked. My to-do list doesn’t determine my self-worth. I’m already worthy and loved. I’m already enough, just as I am.

To learn more about Lisa Leonard, visit her blog at lisaleonardonline.com/blog.

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Life’s

Tattered Edges Words by Beth Bartels Photograph by Kellene Giloff

T

here is a Japanese art known as wabi-sabi that embodies the idea that beauty resides in imperfection. It means discovering the beauty in imperfection, nature’s profound impact on us, and learning to accept the natural cycle of life, growth, decay, and then death.

orphaned wildlife; there were those with missing wings, missing eyes. My own brokenness gradually began to heal. A gentle awareness slowly dawned. Broken, imperfect, yes. Yet still beautiful and worthwhile — very much like the wounded birds and animals at the museum.

A reminder that we’re all temporal beings, wabisabi celebrates wrinkles, rust, and tattered edges and all they represent. It extols the beauty of cracks and tarnish, marks left behind by the loving use of those who came before us.

There is a Native American word “chui ta ka ma,” which means the place of choiceless awareness. Each of the animals at the museum — the one-winged eagle unable to fly; a one-eyed red-tailed hawk; the cougar rescued from a man in Nevada who had virtually starved her — and all of the other injured and orphaned wildlife would have chosen different lives if given the chance, lives of freedom, in the wild. Still they are here. They are ambassadors for their species. And for us. They live and teach us, despite their impairments. Beyond what I learned about each animal’s natural habitats, they also made me realize there is beauty in imperfection and courage, such courage, in continuing to live a life removed from all that is familiar.

Thoreau’s cabin in the woods would have been considered wabi. The root of wabi, “wa,” means harmony, balance, peace, and tranquility. Humble and simplistic, unmaterialistic and in harmony with nature. A person who is completely herself without desiring to be someone else is considered wabi. Sabi, alone, is defined as “the bloom of time.” It denotes time’s natural progression, cracks or rust, tarnish on something that once gleamed, and the concept that beauty itself is fleeting. Its meaning has changed over time from “to be desolate” to “to grow old” and has finally evolved into deriving pleasure from old and faded things. The root of wabi-sabi lies in Zen Buddhism with its ideals of austerity, unity with nature, and a reverence for daily life and living in the present moment. It is the art of imperfect beauty and the celebration of that imperfection as an integral part of our existence. Over a decade ago, after a particularly difficult divorce that had precipitated a breakdown, I volunteered for five years at a local wildlife museum. They also had a rehabilitation hospital that cared for injured and orphaned wildlife native to California. It was a fallow period of my life, a transitional period, a time when I was unsure how my life would progress, and I was still extremely fragile emotionally. I wasn’t altogether sure anymore what I was even capable of doing. I worked among the injured and 136

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It is necessary for us to push ourselves beyond the familiar, to discover that same courage and embrace a life that doesn’t always come naturally, one we have to work at and one that will ultimately reward us the most. Recognizing that we’ll never be as perfect as we’d like, that others may disappoint us more often than not, that life is really only about finding beauty wherever it is, and celebrating it in all its wonder — be it your grandmother’s wrinkled face that traces time or a piece of lace, no longer white and gently unraveling, that somehow reminds you of your ancestors. This is our only choice, we have no other, life. And to experience all the beauty and imperfection that lies between.

Beth Bartels is a writer. She welcomes emails at bbartels68@gmail.com


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It’s all a matter of paying attention, being awake in the present moment, and not expecting a huge payoff. The magic in this world seems to work in whispers and small kindnesses.

Lynn Palazzo

— Charles de Lint

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e f i L

Of a

Words by Elle Harris Photograph by Helen Rushbrook

M

y mother once told me that cemeteries weren’t something to be afraid of. She said they were lovely and that they held history. At the time I couldn’t comprehend this and held my breath when passing them as superstition tells a child to do. But as time passed, I came to grasp her words all those years ago. Maybe I’d simply needed time to understand — time to let life pass — and realize that life does indeed do just that. It passes — it carries on — albeit without our permission to do so. Maybe it was when I lost my own precious collection of someones that I realized what my mother tried to teach me. Graveyards are beautiful because, like precious books written in every genre, they mark the endings of a thousand stories. Like the ancient light of the stars that still shine above us, we are looking at a memory, an echo of what used to be. And while the ending of every story is sad for the simple fact that it is an end, being over has never made a story less beautiful.

Elle Harris is a lover of words, wonder, and the whimsical delights of everyday living. Caught in the creative place between reality and imagination, Elle is always working on bits and pieces of someday dreams. Please join Elle in pursuing life with intention on her blog, thisquotablelife.wordpress.com, or find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ElleHarris82).

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A Fondness for

Sadness Words & Photographs by Staci Kennelly

F

or most of my life, I did not feel like I belonged. When I was small, I was the first of my friends to have their parents divorce. In junior high, I was mercilessly picked on and harassed. It caused a great depression, and because I did not have the tools to handle the pain, I attempted suicide at the age of 15. I spent 70 days living in an upscale mental institution. Where I, once again, did not belong. I was the only teen in the ward who did not do drugs and was not sexually active. It was there that I learned some coping skills and, more importantly, I learned to appropriately hold and appreciate sadness. Âť

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I have had a thing for sadness ever since. For so long I believed that happiness was a major life goal. However, happiness could never be counted on, nor did it ever fulfill me. For me, sadness is a feeling I have a deep fondness for, and I have learned to value the strength in it and even look to capture it in my photography. Do not get me wrong — I enjoy finding happy moments in each day and anyone who knows me knows I love to laugh. But sadness is where I feel the most at home. Being prone to sadness does not bring friends knocking on your door. When I was young, I would conjure up counterfeit joy and happiness in hopes to keep people from walking away from me. Ten years ago my life fell apart, I sunk into a depression, and I couldn’t be anything but sad. Happiness was impossible. Everything made me sad — music, sunsets, sunrises, food, people, and even laughter made me sad. I lost many friends that year. Slowly, my heart began to heal, and I began to entertain joy and happiness again. But now, the expression of joy and happiness are solely for me. In the past, I would roar with laughter because I wanted others to think I was funny. Now, I save all my laughter for what I find funny. When I was hopeful in the past, it was so others would need me. Now, it is because it is impossible for me to be anything but hopeful after living a miracle. Slowly, I began to realize that I have felt left out for so long because I wasn’t brave enough to allow others to know the real me. I was so worried about making friends; any friend would do. I had to learn that I was worthy of caring, compassionate friends who knew who I really was, and only then would I feel like I belonged. Living life as wholly myself has given me so much freedom. I no longer feel like an outsider to my own life. I belong wherever I go, simply because I know who I am and I love who I have become and am becoming. This has provided me a constant campaign in myself that has allowed me a great confidence to love others well and be loved by others well in return. I have also surrounded myself with people who know me — really know me — and they still find me to be fantastic. They love me for who I am, whether that be incredibly sad or contagiously joyful. Being seen and loved in this way has helped me know that I always belong right where I am, simply being me.

Staci Kennelly likes her cameras old, her shoes comfortable, and her whiskey neat. Visit her online at alifedeveloping.org. 144

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Tips for Making Your Writing

Come to Life

Throw out everything you learned about writing in school. This includes forgetting about five-paragraph essays, introductions that drag along, and long-winded sentences.

Delete your opening paragraph. Some of the most compelling stories drop you right into the middle of them. Write more.

Get to the point. Simple sentences are often the best way to go.

Read more.

Don’t overly complicate things.

Use your true voice. Write your story as though you are telling it to a friend. In fact, try recording it first. This adds an air of authenticity. Don’t be afraid to make up words.

Buy yourself a beautiful journal and use it.

Pour your heart out onto the paper without trying to make it perfect. You can clean it up later.

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“I realized this week that I just

cannot

do it all.

So I will choose to do what I can,

fabulously.” — Clinton Kelly

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Words and Photography by Diana Foster

The sharp focus of a water droplet on a flower petal is dramatic and beautiful. There’s something fascinating about the ordinary, something that draws you in to the very simplicity of the subject. Close-up images are compelling, even magical. With all the chaos and hubbub of everyday life, seeing something so simple and plain can be a breath of fresh air. It can help you appreciate what life has in store and allow you to stop, ground yourself, and get ready to jump back into the chaos once again! Viewing the world up close through macro photography has become a prominent feature in my work. This intimate point of view dramatizes the fragility of life and lets me live in the moment, allowing me to find the visual message in simple, everyday objects and events. It is a way of seeing the ordinary as the extraordinary that I find myself falling deeper in love with every day.


a blog about life’s ordinary magic

If you feel macro photography calling to you, here are some of my tried and true tips for achieving close-up images.

Switch it up! Ask yourself, “How can I make this shot different?” Changing perspective can create stunning results.

Observe small details throughout your day. A fabulous macro shot isn’t “big picture,” it is discovered in the tiny details. The handle of a teacup could be more interesting than the entire cup.

Practice, practice, practice. I suspect the hours of practice I have with my macro lens is a huge factor with how successful I have been at shooting my photos!

Simple backgrounds work best. The backdrop shouldn’t compete with the subject. A solid-colored wall, piece of white foam board, or piece of fabric can function as a lovely background.

Isolating the subject can create drama. This might be as simple as moving the subject away from a distracting background. Changing the position of your camera equipment or zooming closer can frame a perfect shot. Only include things that add value to the image.

Press the shutter halfway down to focus and all the way down to capture the subject in your image.

Get very close (1-2 inches) to the subject.

Backlight (sunlight) can help capture extra details. The source of light shines directly into the camera lens in this technique.

You don’t need to go far to find interesting things to shoot with your macro lens. Head to your own backyard or a local park. It is constantly changing with the seasons.

Most DSLR cameras accommodate switching lenses. Look for the “flower” icon which usually indicates the macro setting. Since I am a Nikon user, my favorite lens has always been the Nikkor 60mm 2.8 macro lens which allows for crisp focus and a dreamy blurred background. This lens is a perfect choice for low-light situations, especially indoors.

Each time my macro lens and I romance everyday life, I fall in love with macro photography again. Take the ordinary and turn it into something amazing with the guidance of a macro lens by your side. Diana Foster, owner of The Studio 56, is a lifestyle photographer and photo card designer. She is wife to one, mother of two, sister to many, a musician, a blog addict, and a hopeless dreamer. To learn more about her work, visit her blog at thestudio56.com /the-blog and follow her on Instagram (@dianafoster56). She welcomes email at diana@thestudio56.com.

Want to read more stories like this? Discover inspirational reads about finding magic in the ordinary at:

bellagracemagazine.com/blog


Treat yourself, and a very special friend, to the gift that lasts all year! All gift subscriptions include a beautiful gift announcement card that is artfully wrapped in Divine Twine and tucked inside a special gift envelope.

Subscribe and Save Nearly $10 Bella Grace Subscription • 1 Year / 4 Issues $79.96 $69.99 U.S. • $95.96 $85.99 CAN • $111.96 $101.99 INTL

To subscribe, visit bellagracemagazine.com or call us today at 1-877-782-6737.


T he Collection

Discover beautiful things and more ordinary magic at: bellagracemagazine.com


Submission Guidelines WANT TO BE A PART OF BELLA GRACE?

Bella Grace is a print publication devoted to discovering magic in the ordinary. Our aim is to touch the souls of our readers through beautifully penned stories and striking photographs that capture life’s beautiful adventure. Our publication is completely supported by submissions from our readers. At Bella Grace, we believe that:

• Every cloud has a silver lining. • An ordinary life can be an extraordinary life. • There is beauty and magic to be found everywhere. • It’s OK to embrace imperfection. • Life should be lived with a full heart and open eyes.

Bella Grace is currently seeking submissions from writers and photographers who share these same beliefs. WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR Narratives We are currently looking for original narratives and poetry that focus on the idea that “Life is a beautiful adventure.” Submitted work can be about simple pleasures, life lessons learned, slowing down, embracing your authentic self, and more. The more specific, the better. Written submissions can include accompanying photography, but we will also pair writers up with photographers if necessary. Photography Picture submissions should capture the spirit of Bella Grace. They should depict simple moments, bits of romance, feelings of happiness, etc. Photography can be submitted on its own and will be considered for use with narratives or as the background for some of the quotes featured throughout the book. Here are a few of the themes we frequently publish: • Books • Coffee mugs • Landscapes • Strong, beautiful women • Handwritten letters/stationery • Beds • Windows • Children at play

Bella Grace is released on a quarterly basis. Submissions are accepted on an ongoing basis, but submissions for specific issues much be received on or before these deadlines:

Summer issue— December 15 Autumn issue — March 15 Winter issue — June 15 Spring issue — September 15

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Lists Who doesn’t love making a great list? Creating lists can be a very effective and inspiring form of writing. They’re also incredibly fun to read! We aren’t looking for your grocery list, we’re looking for your life lists. A few ideas include 10 Ways to Turn a Day Around, 5 Times I Laughed Uncontrollably, and 15 Things I’d Tell My 15-Year-Old Self. Make it funny, make it sweet … the choice is yours. Instagram Collections Who doesn’t love Instagram? As artists and creatives, it’s such a great way to beautifully share our days with others. It also serves as a diary to help us document our days. In each issue of Bella Grace we feature a few Instagram collections. We’re now opening this up to submissions! All you need to do is send 20 images that you feel capture your Instagram and a statement about what living a Bella Grace life means to you to bellagrace@stampington.com. If selected, you will need to provide high-resolution images that can be printed at 5" x 5", 300 dpi. IDEAS TO GET YOU STARTED We are happy to receive general submissions, but in case you need a few ideas to get you started, we are also looking for responses (photographic or written or both) to the following prompts: Stories of Self-Love Most of us have our own bag of tricks we turn to when we need to show ourselves a little love and kindness. For our editor-in-chief, it’s a quiet night spent under her very favorite blanket and the first book in the Harry Potter series. It never fails to brighten her spirits. What is it you turn to? What’s your recipe for self-love? (Lists and narratives accepted.) Small, Random Acts of Kindness It’s been said that you never know what another person might be going through, so it’s important to be kind with everyone. A small gesture, such as a flower placed on a car windshield or an anonymous note left for someone to find, can make a huge impact. For an upcoming issue of Bella Grace, we are hoping to gather as many ideas for committing random acts of kindness as we possibly can. Furthermore, if you have a story to share about the impact an act of kindness has had on you, we’d love to hear it. Super Sassy Bios One of the most challenging assignments can be to write a biography for yourself. No matter how short the requirement, the task can be daunting. While perusing blogs, we’ve spied some really clever bios, some so unique that we can’t help but feel we know that blogger. In 30 words or less, what can you say about yourself? Don’t be boring and follow the usual format. Make it fun and attention-grabbing.


SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS All digital submissions should be sent to bellagrace@stampington.com. Please note that if accepted for publication, photographs and illustrations will be needed as high-resolution images (300 dpi, at least 6" x 6"). It is imperative that they are saved in the proper manner in order for our graphic designers to work with them. If you use a digital camera, check your settings before taking photos to ensure you are saving the best-quality images possible. If you cannot provide large enough photos, we may not be able to print your photo, no matter how much we like it.

You may also send a CD with your high-resolution images or narratives to Stampington & Company: Editor, Bella Grace 22992 Mill Creek, Suite B Laguna Hills, CA 92653 With all submissions, please include your name and mailing address. We need your mailing address so that we can send you a complimentary issue of the magazine in which your submission is published. Failure to follow all submission requirements may result in your work not being considered. Sometimes, something submitted for one issue may be better suited for an upcoming issue. Other times, submissions are forwarded for consideration to the editors of our sister publications. For these reasons we may hold your sample for an extended period of time — 9–12 months is common. In the meantime, if you move, please send a postcard or email to the editor with your new address. All samples, queries, and correspondence should be sent to the Editor, Bella Grace, 22992 Mill Creek, Suite B, Laguna Hills, CA 92653. The editor also welcomes brief email queries: bellagrace@stampington.com. Should your submission be selected, you will be notified by the editor. No telephone calls, please. Stampington & Company only accepts original submissions for publication consideration. All images used in submissions must be copyright free. Any techniques featured in submissions that are not the artist’s own must be attributed to the proper instructor, book, artist, workshop, etc. It is the responsibility of the submitting artist to ensure that no copyright infringement has occurred and that all submitted work is their own. Stampington & Company will not accept simultaneous submissions. While your work is under consideration we ask that you do not submit the same idea to competing Web or print publishers. Likewise, artwork that has already been featured in other competing publications or sites will not be accepted. Publishing on your personal blog is permitted, but we ask that you adhere to our reproduction guidelines. Any questions can be directed to our editorial staff.

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Prepping for Print

mac or pc

photo shop

Making sure your photos are large enough for the pages of Bella Grace

What you need to know: Computer screens and printed magazine pages have

Getting the Software

different requirements when it comes to image resolution. A photo that appears to be huge on your monitor, may in fact be only a couple of inches wide when printed on paper.

This is a good option if you already own Photoshop or Photoshop Elements; this program does not come standard and must be purchased, however it is widely regarded as the best photo-editing tool.

So how can you tell if your images are large enough?

Instructions

This guide will walk you through the process of converting your images to 300 pixels/ dots per inch (ppi or dpi), the desired resolution for print. Once you change the resolution, you’ll be able to see image dimensions (in inches, cm, or mm) that will give you an accurate idea of how large your photo will be when printed on paper. Please refer to the table below for our requirements.

Open Photoshop, then go to File>Open and select your image. Now go to Image>Image Size. A box will open like the one below.

What you will need:

Aside from your digital photo file and your computer, you will need image editing software. To get started, select one of the three programs on the next page — choose according to your operating system and/or what is available to you.

Image Requirements width

height

r e s o lu t i o n

Preferred for articles

8 . 5"

1 1"

300

ppi

Minimum for articles

4"

6"

300

ppi

Preferred for banners

6"

any

300

ppi

If the resolution box already reads 300 ppi, you’re done — just compare the image dimensions with our requirements (listed on Page 1). If the resoultion is lower than 300 ppi, read on.

tips & troubleshooting I’ve followed the steps shown on the next page, and determined my photo is too small to meet your requirements. What can I do? Unfortunately we can’t enlarge a small photo without compromising image quality. We can work with it to an extent, but it needs to be as close as possible to the preferred sizes above. If you’re working with an image you pulled from your blog or Flickr account, go back to the image file that came straight off the camera — perhaps in the process of editing and uploading the image was inadvertently resaved at a smaller size. Can I use image editing software that isn’t mentioned in this guide? Yes. However not all image editing software has the capabilities you will need. Check to see if your favorite image editing program has an image resizing dialogue box similar to those shown on the next page. It is important that it diplays resolution (dpi/ppi) and dimensions (height and width, in inches and pixels).

Make sure the Resample Image box is unchecked. This is the most important step.

What are some possible reasons my photos are too small? First take a look at your camera settings. Most cameras have different photo quality options (usually small, medium or large) that determine the size of the photos they output. In general it’s a good idea to use the largest setting. Next take a look at how you are storing and editing your photos — especially if you use sites on the Internet for either of these needs. Get informed about how the sites you use resize and alter your photos. For example, a free Flickr account will not store your original, high-resolution image, but only smaller web-friendly versions of the photo (not adequate for print). Similarly, the Picnik photo-editing site, is set to automatically resize a large photo to make editing over the internet a faster experience. In some cases there are ways around these issues (for example, a Flickr Pro account will save the original photo you upload from your computer), but the takeaway here is the importance of getting educated about the tools you are using. Read the FAQ section on your favorite photo sites, and test things out yourself by using the process on the next page. 154

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Now type “300” into the Resolution box. The width and height dimensions should change. Take note of these dimensions and compare them to our requirements on Page 1. Click OK, then save your photo. For instructions on different programs, please visit http://stampington.com/calls-and-challenges#gra


Photo Credits: Johanna Love, Brianna Morrison, D Smith Kaich Jones, Angie Woldman, Daniel Kim, and Chris Zielecki.


Photo Credits Cover

Nina Hurum, instagram.com/kodakmoments_bynina

Inside Front Cover

Alexey Kuzma, kuzmafoto.com

Pgs. 8–13

Reclaiming Winter Play Holly Clark, soupatraveler.com

Pgs. 14 & 15

Go to Sleep, Little Darlings Ania, flickr.com/people/mytidbits

Pgs. 16 & 17

Two February Coffees Johanna Love, stampington.com

Pgs. 20 & 21

A Hot Chocolate Party in the Cold Annette Gendler, annettegendler.com

Pgs. 22–27

89 Beautiful Days of Winter Tara Romasanta, tararomasanta.com Javier Pardina, pardina.co Beatrix Horváth-Gallai, beatrixgallai.com Marta Locklear, martalocklear.com Mali Maeder, pexels.com/u/mali Jacqui Miller, stocksy.com/jacquimiller Snap Wire Snaps, snapwiresnaps.tumblr.com

Pgs. 28 & 29

Less of More Claudia Guariglia, flickr.com/photos/enyouart

Pgs. 32–37

My Girl & Me Tracie West, lifeinthewyldewest.com

Pgs. 38–41

That Look of Otherness Bethany Lauria, instagram.com/bethanylouriaphotography

Seven Wonders in Every Wonder Melanie DeFazio, melaniedefazio.com Tara Romasanta, tararomasanta.com Christina Kilgour, christinakilgour.com

Pgs. 66–69

Pg. 43

Pg. 71

Two or Three Feet Ahead of You Jillian Lukiwski, thenoisyplume.com

Pgs. 44–49

52 Tiny Moments that Make Us Pause stokphoto.com

Pg. 51

The Solitary Seabird Anna Drozd, instagram.com/aalmadr

Pgs. 52–53

Instagram Spotlight Jamie Jamison, instagram.com/alajamie

Pgs. 54–63

Donna Hopkins, instagram.com/donnamhopkins Rebecca Lily, rebeccalily.com 156

Pgs. 64 & 65

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WINTER 2017

25 Habits to Break Before you Turn 25 Jovo Jovanovic, jovojovanovic.com Aila Images, ailaimages.com Take the Road Now Micky Wiswedel, mickywiswedel.blogspot.com

Pgs. 72–79

The Sisterhood Holly Clark, soupatraveler.com

Pgs. 80 & 81

Room to Breathe Holly Marcotti, hannahmarcotti.com

Pgs. 82 & 83

Between the Shelves Hoang Bin

Pgs. 84 & 85

A Friends Forever Lexicon Kellene Giloff, stampington.com


Pg. 87

Pgs. 110–112

Luxury, to Me Nina Hurum, instagram.com/ kodakmoments_bynina

Go for the Glow Jennifer DeVille Catalano, someplaceserendipitous.com

Pgs. 88–92

Pgs. 115 & 116

32 of Our Favorite Winter Traditions Andrey Pavlov

Pgs. 94 & 95

QuiEt Wonders Allyson Marie Photo

Pgs. 96 & 97

How to Let it all go Caitlin Strom, caitlinstrom.com

Pgs. 98–100

Between Everything & Nothing Joy Jordan, bornjoy.com

Pgs. 102 & 103

Rememberer, Collector, Creator, Connector Jessica Sparks-Mussulin, moontreeapothecaries.com

Pgs. 104–109

One Word at a Time: Writing a Memoir Christine Mason Miller, christinemasonmiller.com

Pgs. 130 & 131

Solstice Unpluged Joy Jordan

Pg. 133

Instagram Spotlight Jaime Greenlaw, instagram.com/snow_ kissed_birches

Pgs. 116 & 117

Tea, Toast & Lemur Kisses Hanna Marcotti, hannahmarcotti.com

Pgs. 118–121

13 Ways to Embrace the Magic of a Snow Day Alexander Dummer Aaron Burden

Pgs. 134 & 135

I am not my To-Do List Lisa Leonard, lisaleonardonline.com

Pgs. 136 & 137

Life’s Tattered Edges Kellene Giloff, stampington.com

Pgs. 138 & 139

Whispers & Small Kindnesses Lynn Palazzo, instagram.com/lynnpalazzo

Pgs. 140 & 141

Pgs. 122 & 123

Of a Life Helen Rushbrook, helen-rushbrook. format.com

Shine the Light Robert Kohlhuber, kohlhuber.net

Pgs. 124 & 125

Pgs. 142-145

When Cabin Fever Sets In Johanna Love, stampington.com

Pg. 127

A New Start Ellie Baygulov

A Fondness for Sadness Staci Kennelly, alifedeveloping.org

Yes, I Read. Anna Drozd, instagram.com/aalmadr

Inside Back Cover

Amber Yoshida, amberyoshida.com

Pgs. 128 & 129

Aware Angie Lambert, angielambertphotography.com

is a reader-supported movement. You make it possible for us to provide what matters most – 155+ pages of inspirational content in every issue without any paid advertisements. These stories are meant to be heard. Please help us share them, by introducing Bella Grace to your friends and family.

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Who We Are S

ince 1994, Stampington & Company has been a leading source of inspiration for artists, photographers, and storytellers around the world. Launched by President and Publisher Kellene Giloff, the company has expanded to include over 30 bestselling publications.

“When it comes to the art of crafting, no one does it better than Stampington & Company.” — Mr. Magazine™ Samir Husni PUBLICATIONS Known for its stunning full-color photography and unique reader-submitted content, the company’s magazines provide a forum for writers and photographers to share their beautiful handmade creations, tips, and stories with one another. Somerset Life provides an abundance of inspiring ideas to infuse readers’ daily lives with simple pleasures, art, romance, creativity, and beauty. Artful Blogging shares the uplifting stories, moments of self-discovery, and mesmerizing photographs from the world’s most creative blogs. Willow and Sage offers more than 70 unique recipes, uses, and beautiful packaging and gift ideas for homemade bath and body products in each semiannual issue. The success of Where Women Create — a collaboration with Jo Packham — has warranted a popular cooking edition called Where Women Cook and a groundbreaking title that divulges tangible tips for women with a passion for success: Where Women Create BUSINESS. Bella Grace is a 160-page book-azine devoted to discovering magic in the ordinary. Compelling stories and striking photographs capture soul lifting moments that celebrate life’s beautiful adventure. GreenCraft Magazine honors and inspires those who find artistic, functional, and eco-friendly applications for normally discarded resources. Mingle is an incredibly unique publication that explores the art of entertaining — from various types of intimate, creative gatherings to larger-scale art retreats. Somerset Home exemplifies creative living. Each issue showcases hundreds of tips, techniques, and charming accents designed to enlighten, organize, and beautify any dwelling place. For more information, and to look inside these publications, please visit: stampington.com/publications To learn how you could be published in an upcoming issue, go to: stampington.com/calls-and-challenges LET’S GET DIGITAL Stampington & Company is creating all-access digital editions, so that you can now read your favorite magazines on all of your devices – from your laptop or desktop, to your tablet or Smartphone. We’re even rolling out some of our current releases in an effort to make our magazines more readily available. Let’s face it – shipping can be expensive, and no one likes to wait. How about having the option to download a must-read issue instantly? Now you can! Explore our entire selection and learn more at: stampington.com/digital-magazines

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“My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Bella Grace Issue 10  
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