Looking For Balance

I was filling out a questionnaire in preparation for a harp lesson with Deborah Henson-Conant (which will be an entirely different blog post) and was asked to answer a question about what I thought stood in the way of my creative life.

In yet another occurrence of “I don’t know what’s going on with me until I write about it,” my pen informed me that my creative life was very out of balance. I spend nearly all of my creative energy and time on music. It’s not that I don’t love every minute of my time with my harp and my recorders. But with all my time going to music, I’m not allowing time for writing, for photography, for playing with my art supplies.

Knitting keeps that part of me that needs to make things, that needs to bring something into the world with my own hands, happy and content. But the part of me that thrives on images is feeling ignored and abandoned. I spent all of 2011 creating a 21-page visual journal, yet since then I’ve finished only four more pages. It’s been over a year since I last made a Soul Collage® card.

In France I spent every day exploring with my camera. Every day I thrilled to the feeling in my body that happens when I am deeply looking at the world around me, when, as my mind quiets, I settle into my own skin, totally absorbed by seeing what is revealing itself in response to my attention.

Yet the first time my camera’s been out of its case since the end of my France trip was last weekend in Asheville.

Something had to change.

I was clueless about what I could and would do to bring image-making back into my life until receiving an e-mail from Lisa Sonora describing her on-line art workshops. The one that stood up waving a flag in my face while shouting “pick me, pick me” was Dreaming on Paper: The Creative Sketchbook or “How To Make & Keep A Visual Journal for Discovery, Insight, Healing, and . . .Pure Fun!” The class description promised four sessions of “visual journaling techniques that incorporate mixed media collage, photography, painting, and writing.” Here was a path of return to everything I love to do, and everything I miss.



I promptly trotted off to A.C. Moore for the recommended supplies: a new journal, fresh glue sticks, and new bottles of craft paint in my favorite colors. All that was left was the waiting for the class to begin.

The first session’s instructions arrived in my inbox last Wednesday. The creative task this week was to experiment with different techniques for putting the craft paint on journal pages, using non-traditional painting tools.

We haven’t yet explored the process of creating a finished journal page in Lisa’s class. But I’ve been thinking about my word for the year, “Vision”, and how I wanted my word and its acrostic to be in the new journal.

I liked the way the painting experiment turned out on this page, so with some rubber stamps, stencils, markers, and torn papers I gave my word a home.


Lisa’s next lesson will be in my inbox tomorrow morning. And last night’s ice storm will keep me house-bound another day – perfect timing!!!

(All images © Janet Hince, 2015)



A Beach Morning

I awake this morning to a cloudless sky and twin suns: one above and one reflected in the mirror of the ocean. Pelicans are already on the wing, gliding mere inches above gentle swells being pulled towards land. Bluebirds and purple martins perform acrobatics above the dune vegetation, warning me that today the sun will be warm enough to coax gnats and no-see-’ems from winter slumber.

Despite this morning’s late winter chill, I bring coffee and journal to the deck, where the entire arc of the horizon is unobstructed. The weathered oak bench soaked up the night’s freezing temperature, and my pajamas offer no resistance to the cold. The sun is not yet high enough to offer much countering warmth. No matter. Coffee warms from the inside out.

Terns are cavorting in the ripples of the morning’s small waves. Like small children, they leap over the approaching breakers and with wings still flapping, settle back into the water to float until the next wave. There’s maybe a hundred of them playing in the waves, waiting for the new tide to deliver breakfast. As the current carries them down the beach it is harder and harder to distinguish the sparkling white of their wings from the white of the wave tops.

Despite the cold, the air is still. The winter-bare stalks of sea oats barely waver in the morning air. Ocean sounds fill the air. The land birds are yet silent, and slow to greet the morning. The sounds of shore birds are drowned out by the swishes and booms of waves. Even these small foot-high swells have a big voice.

So begins my last peaceful morning at the beach. Tomorrow morning will be filled with carrying my things down the 30 steps to my car, and readying the condo for the next arrival, whoever and whenever that may be. I am grateful for this calm, clear morning, for the sunrise that called me out of bed to see this day begin. The sights and sounds and feel of this morning are my spiritual breakfast, a communion offered by Creation to all who sit at Nature’s table.


Phoneography Challenge: My Neighborhood

My “smart phone” is only a C student. With only a 3.2 megapixel camera, photos lack the high-resolution and clarity of those taken with newer models. But it is what I have, so it’s what I used to document this morning’s walk in my neighborhood.

Maple Flowers
Maple Flowers

This was the first sunny weekend since mid-January. The sky was brilliantly blue, the sun was bright, and the maples in my front yard responded with their first buds.

Despite the snow and frigid temps of three weekends ago, camellia bus survived unscathed, without their edges being burnt brown by frost.

Camellias Survive Snow Nicely
Camellias Survive Snow Nicely
Grandfather Tree
Grandfather Tree










I live in one of the first suburbs developed in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. My rural curbside mailbox indicates that my neighborhood was well outside the city limits when it was built on what was forest and farmland. There are still a few old growth trees standing sentinel and providing havens for barred owls and red-shouldered hawks that also call my neighborhood home.

The city grew up around the neighborhood, but there are still aspects that make me feel that I am living in the forest. Fifty years of uninterrupted growth makes even the landscape trees that were planted when the houses were new, create a canopy of branches.

The Urban Forest
The Urban Forest
Deer Super-Highway
Deer Super-Highway












My neighborhood is crisscrossed by creeks, which the neighborhood deer herd uses as super-highways to my vegetable garden. I’ve seen as many as thirteen deer come up from this creek bed and cross the road in front of me.

My neighborhood is characterized by what are now, in the age of McMansions, modest brick ranches and split-level houses. But there is always someone who has to be just a bit pretentious.

Sign of the Times
Sign of the Times











The neighborhood weathered the financial crisis fairly well. Now that housing prices are beginning to rise again, I see a lot more for sale signs on my walks.

I hope you enjoyed a Sunday morning walk in my neighborhood.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home


This handmade cherry and walnut Windsor chair is my harp bench. The chair was designed for a cellist but works perfectly for playing the harp. It was custom made to fit my leg and back lengths by “Michael the Chairmaker” in eastern North Carolina.

Sitting on this chair, with my harp pulled back on my shoulder, is where I feel the most at home.