What better time than the new year to think about dreams? Some people are born knowing who they are and what they want to be. (Musica) I was not like this. I searched for meaning in my life for a long, long time. I read books and books and books looking for answers. I just wanted someone to make it easy, put it in black and white; I wanted the ABC of
I didn’t think that was so much to ask. Other people found their dreams. Now all I had to do was find those people and see if they wrote a book about it.
I ended up reading a lot of books, lots of biographies; but for the most part, I only found clues; I never found the list I was looking for: first you do this and then you do that; I had to try and put two and two together.
Some books had more clues than others, and one of those was called How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci. I picked it up because, it seemed to me, after seeing the title, if I could learn to think like the genius that painted the Mona Lisa, my life might get better.
And, really, how hard could it be? This book said there were just seven steps to thinking like a genius every day!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha !
I was young.
It just happened I was going away for a few days, so I took my new book with me, up to Bretton Woods in New Hampshire, to a historic old hotel built in 1902 called the Mount Washington Hotel. It looked very much like the Grand Hotel (which I’d seen in the movie Somewhere in Time); I’d always wanted to go there.
I started reading my book in an old wicker rocker on the huge curving porch of the hotel with a far view to forever in front of me, and the cool smell of the high mountains surrounding me. The hotel was a little run down in those days, in a genteel way, scruffy and peeling around the edges. It had a big dining room with high, gilt-edged, ornately plastered ceilings and an old-fashioned menu that included quail, liver and onions, Jell-O, and a relish tray with hot peppers and crushed ice on it. They also had normal things on the menu so I took my book to lunch there, and that’s where I discovered that Leonardo Da Vinci worked much harder on getting to know himself and finding his dreams than I did. Much.
“The essence of Leonardo’s legacy is the inspiration for wisdom and light to triumph over fear and darkness.” ♥ Michael J. Gelb
Michael J. Gelb, the author of How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci, had made a sort of workbook. He wrote about the principals of genius-Da Vinci-thinking and then combined them with self-assessment checklists and exercises to help the reader connect to a different place, one that even I could understand. One exercise was called “Realizing your Ideal Hobby.” Which helps the reader to work out a strategy for realizing their dream hobby — those life enriching, creative hobbies such as learning to play a musical instrument, learning a new language; studying dance, drawing, painting, acting, tennis, golf or sculpting and so on . . . the meaning of the words “follow your bliss.”
He even talked about sharpening question-asking skills, because how can you ask a question, if you don’t know what it is?
I’m barely skimming the surface in my description of this book; there is so much. But my favorite exercise of all was something called “Mind Mapping,” inspired by Leonardo’s approach to note taking. It’s a method for generating and organizing ideas. I read that a person could use mind mapping for personal goal setting and discovering “their own originality!” A clue! I thought, Count me in!
I’d woken early on the second morning, gotten dressed, grabbed my book and walked down the wide creaky staircase, gravitating toward the stone fireplace in the massive lobby under crystal chandeliers. It was a chilly morning and the all the guests still seemed to be in dreamland except me. I found a cup of tea, pulled my shawl tighter, and settled into a creased and lined leather sofa in front of the crackling fire to read. I was inspired by the explanation and a diagram of “Mind Mapping,” so I pulled a piece of paper from my notebook and following the directions in the book, I drew this:
Squiggles on paper, not supposed to be art, but supposed to help me find time to nurture myself, live a healthy life, to achieve balance, and to do better. Each mind map, I read, can cover a different subject; your dream vacation, a perfect evening, your hope for the future, your plan to execute your plan; pretty much anything that interests you. It’s an exercise that is supposed to train your brain to a higher level of personal awareness.
You can have neither a greater nor a lesser dominion than that over yourself. ♥ Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo’s way of saying Be Your Own Chaperone! 🙂 I’ll never have all the answers, but what I learned so far (I’m still on my quest) was that my dreams weren’t out there in space somewhere, big, unreachable and even unseeable; fragmented like the milky way; they were inside me, small and tidy and complete, I just needed to go inside to find them.
There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates loot on Treasure Island. ♥ Walt Disney
Now what I have to do is mind map my way into getting my new book finished! Onward and upward girlfriends! Have a wonderful day! ♥ XOXO
Thank you for this post, it comes at a perfect time. I don’t know if it is because it is a new year, or perhaps because my children are almost out of the nest, but I am looking for something new and creative to do with my life. The Da Vinci book you wrote about sounds like a wonderful place to start. Thank you!
Thanks for commenting Jean! Good luck!
Jim and I took a little trip today to take care of some business, and it was a glorious day here (IN) with temps. in the 50’s yes I said 50 on Jan. 5th?? We will surely pay for this mild weather soon?? Anyway, we passed a little Church in the country and their sign out by the highway read….”Trust in the Lord…he will not let you fall any further than your knees”….just wanted to share that. We are going to the market tomorrow to pick up my sirloin roast for the weekend, and Susan I’m “virtually” sending a big piece your way!!! Enjoy
I have been a fan since I first read Vineyard Seasons years ago and want to tell you how much I love your website. As a really, really busy working woman, Wife, Mother, Nana and golden retriever Mommy I find the time I spend reading your blog (or Willard – looking forward to the first one of 2012) is like snuggling up in front of a crackling fire with a dear friend and a great glass of wine for a lovely visit.
My husband and I moved to Monterey, CA from the north shore of MA 9 years ago and everything you write about, in terms of where you live, I identify with. I lived in Bethlehem, CT, which is close to Southbury where Stillmeadow is located, in the 1970s and became a Gladys Taber devotee then as I discovered her through the Village library. I have reread her books many times and they always touch me.
So, thank you Susan, for your wonderful and refreshing take on life. It’s a treasure when we find a kindred spirit and you need to know that the way you see the world and your unique and creative way of expressing it resonates with many of us.
Very nice of you to take the time to tell me Janet . . . we are developing a fine little community of kindred spirits here! I moved ‘cross country, it truly is another world isn’t it! Wonderful things about both coasts. Thanks for being here!
I love this post. Will look for this book!!
I have also sat on that rocker at the Mount Washington Inn looking out at that view. We love it there. Isn’t new England just a wonderful place to be? Oceans and islands and lakes and mountains. All within a 2 hour drive. Just lovely.
(Although, the west ain’t bad either :-))
This is true . . . isn’t it fun to drive the back roads, was so surprised the first time I came to New England, there are so many lakes and ponds and streams and rivers!
Susan….I just have to say, after reading many blogs, and listening in on many forums on the web, yours is truly my very favorite! I have had a wonderful, encouraging time, enjoying your timely post, and all the comments shared by a group of honest, brave, adventurous, remarkable women. Love that everyone is always so positive and encouraging. Your gift Susan, (one among many) is bringing out the best in every lady! ………With too many irons in my fire, I’m still trying to zero in on that “one”. (Does there have to be one? I love doing them all! lol ) A favorite quote~ “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” ………which is what you and the others have all been saying here. ♥ Enjoy your day!
You too Lisa, that was so nice!! I just love everyone’s comments!! Thank you!
This is my very first time commenting on a blog and the only blog I read.
It is magical to me at 52 and I want to thank-you from the bottom of my heart
and soul for you and your creativity. I’ve been a fan for a very long time,have all
your books. You speak to me and give me joy ! It’s the very small things in life that count !
How sweet you are to take the time to say hello. Love to have you here Wendy. xoxo
Thank you Susan – I too – really appreciate the timing on your post. This very day, before opening your blog, I had been thinking about this very thing and God told me – again – “If you can dream it, you can do it” – Well, I log onto your website and BINGO – you say the very same thing. I’m really, really going to create something positive for myself and others before I leave this world. Even if it’s just creating a lovely day for someone – each day. Thank you for being my friend!
Thank you for being mine!
Hi again Susan, it’s me , Jacki, the poet back with another one to share and my dream and I KNOW it WILL COME TRUE…. Have a book or two of my poetry published ….
” 2012 ”
Here we are once more
At that time again
Where we ponder and consider
Create goals to which we can actually achieve and maintain
Family and Friends
Chocolate and Sweets
Faith, Spirit, Love
God or whatever Blessed Being Soul you worship
Bringing you Positivity from above
Contemplate and Do
You have Jams and Jellies and Preserves to shelve
Let’s hear it for this year of 2012…
I love the all caps! Love the poem too! Happy 2012 Jacki!
Oh it just feels like it will never happen. I have just spent so much of my time and energy to raise kids and help my husband with his dreams. Then grandkids came along and they needed time. Time I loved giving but I looked up just the other day and 30 plus years are gone. Gone to a good cause but gone all the same. I so appreciate your posts and artwork and sweet nature. I think all of us are always searching. Some find, some don’t. We all have dreams that we set aside because we are grownups and we have to. I just never thought the dream I set aside would be me.
It’s never ever too late to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again.
Miss Susan, This is wonderful!!!! I keep the letter you emailed me regarding this same subject and re-read it often. Each time I gain more insight and determination to “know myself”. Thank you so very much. Hugs to you, Elaine
Thank you Elaine!
Oh Susan, How I wish I knew you in person!! You bring out the ‘girlie’ in me, and I love everything you share. I even noticed you have MY STOVE~! We just had ours rechromed on top..it looks like new at about age 65+. Thank you for all of your wonderful, inspiring, feminine, delightful, cherishable words and art. Why didnt I get to know you in person like all those lucky friends of yours?????
Happy New Year, and keep those Willards coming! I hope I get the LOVE book!!
This is still another perfect example of why I NEED to answer every one of these wonderful comments. Help!
See above with lots of love~!
You would absolutely love the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island here in Michigan.
They have a huge porch with lots of rocking chairs. The island is a delightful place to visit…no cars allowed!!
I just love your books…and your website and your blog. You are so inspirational to all of us. Something about your writing and artwork and photography help us to get through all the difficulties and struggles of the day. It’s such an escape. Keep it up…and can’t wait to see a new book!
I love your books, Susan. When I read one (or re-read one as I’ve done many times), I feel all warm and cozy and inspired to do something crafty! I’ve also enjoyed scrapbooking with your stickers and other craft supplies. I’ve always wanted to draw; alas, I can’t. So I’m very glad that you can!
Thanks so much Carol!
I wonder if you have ever heard the story of the moonspinners? When the moon is waxing the old ladies in the sky are knitting out their yarn. When the moon is waning they ar winding up their yarn. The days between the moon waxing and waning, when there is no moon is when they are winding up the yarn into a ball again to start over. These dark nights are called the night of the moonspinners.
I just love everything coming from your way! Hope to win the book “LOVE”.
From another Susan Branch addict
To know, know, know you is to learn, learn, learn from you … and I do!
That was a good one!!! LOL, thank you!
Absolutely love your books and blog. Years ago I received from my best friend your book “Girlfriends Forever” with a note that said cake always makes another birthday easier to swallow, bon appetit!
PS, love the pictures of Jack, what a cutie, hope your exercise program is going well,I should be exericising, but I’d rather eat cake.
Susan, Every year your calender is always the first item I put on my list for Santa Clause! Back in 2008 when I took a year leave from my teaching position and moved up to Ketchikan, AK, I mailed up boxes of books that included your cookbooks, that I wanted at my finger tips. Thanks for all the wonderfully delicious artwork, and works that you so liberally share with your “friends”. Wishing you a Happy New Year to you and your very handsome husband!!! I saw a photo of him here on your blog:) Suzanne
I’ll tell him you said that, he will love it! Thanks Suzanne!
I would love to win your valentine book. I never noticed the “s” was missing. There were so many neat things to read otherwise! Thanks for all the time you invest in your blog. It is my favorite place to visit.
A dear and special friend, Karen, shared you with me last year at Christmas time. She is one of your “best girlfriends”. Since Karen gave me your website, I have been one of your “girlfriends” ever since. At Christmas time, my husband surprised me with three of your books as a gift! I thank you for the joy and laughter you have brought into my life. Your books and website are so helpful with ideas of expressing love and caring for others. Thank you!
XOXO! I like your husband too! 🙂
I have your calendar and I must say I didn’t even notice that reasons was misspelled. 😀
I love your creativity. You inspire me Susan . Happy New Year to us all!
Love you for not noticing! 🙂
Oh, Susan! I Just love your Willard’s, books and calendars. Please enter me in the contest to win your “Love” book!
Susan- I have most of your books and would LOVE to add “Love” to my collection. I don’t just collect the books; I read them seasonally…share bits of them with my daughter…and prop them on the kitchen bookstand so they are accessible. Please continue with Willard and your blog as they brighten my day! Elizabeth
Thank you Elizabeth, it’s so nice to hear it!!
I truly enjoy “Willard” and look forward to the arrival in my incoming email box. The photos of the moon are awesome! I too enjoyed the wolf moon, it was definitely a glorious bright one! Thank you for the bookmark.
We too had the mild weather a few days ago who would have thought of 50 in January, in NW OHio! Today is a very cold, snowy and blustery day in this
corner of the Buckeye state. My daughter, is 18 and a senior in high school, and school was cancelled because of the weather. We have just enjoyed a good hot cup of tea. I had been out to the coup feeding my chickens and I needed to warm up!! Tea does the trick. I love your books and all that you create. I have been a fan for many years. Have a wonderful weekend.
I could really use a good snowstorm right now, we have wind and it looks stormy, but its still in the 40’s, so I think we’re going to miss it!
Just want to say “thank-you” for the inspiration and love you give to us all the time- your “violets” are gorgeous; the violets reminded me of my Grandma right away – she was the only one out of our whole family who could somehow magically grow the prettiest and biggest violets of all-she just had that “special touch”. And the mind-mapping ideas are thought-provoking – I think I will add this to do to my New Year’s to-do list. And your kitties – I love them so and they make me smile, or laugh, each time. I’m sure you are a great kitty-mom. I just went and visited my local bird store after I got out of work and when I walked in, she had this large grey kitty curled up in a large basket and a fluffy white bunny hopping around the store, and two morning doves that follow the owner all around. Within 5 minutes I was in love with all of them. Isn’t it something that God’s smallest creatures can be our favorite pals! Thanks, again, for putting a little sweetness in our days! Hugs to you, and please give your kitties a hug from me!
Hi, Susan! How about a new cookbook in 2012? I keep hoping you’ll do another one soon! Love your website and blog!
It’s on the way!
Just commenting on your calendar “goof.” Just so you know, when they “misprint” items on postage stamps, it makes them soooo valuable. I can only imagine that your 2012 calendar will one day be worth millions. Unfortunately, Amazon is O-U-T and I wasn’t able to get one this year (JUST found this out a moment ago). My dreams of one day selling your 2012 calendar on e-bay and making a boatload of money are now dashed! We all still think you are perfect (and human like the rest of us). Remember – “To err is human, to admit it, superhuman.” Doug Larson
Missed your Calendar this year for the first time.
I always get my friend Kathy Nagel one and me one for her birthday and it’s my Christmas present. Kathy ‘s picture is on your Book page . She has red hair and always write her blessings in for the past 13 years in your Day’s book. You will just have to make more calenders’s.
I also miss your PJ’s we both had a pair and they were the best so cozy. Please bring them back . Happy New Years,’ any idea where I can get a Calender for me and My Friend? I tried the web no luck unless you want to pay 149.00. Thanks
good morning girlfriend, when I got home last night from watching my “grannies” basketball and soccer games [five games total] and checked my e-mail your new blog was there BUT I decided to save it until this morning to read. Since it is -10degrees here this morning instead of getting out my snowshoes I made a pot of coffee and sat down with my gratitude journal. After filling my pages with wonderful heartfelt thoughts I came to the computer to read my letter from you. How special do I feel to get to be girlfriends with you?? VERY!! I love your blogs and your heartfelt sharing of your life. I tried to order your LOVE book but you are out…….darn. I will try Amazon later. Any ways, thank you. I will keep you in my gratitude journal for I truly try to live a life filled with gratutude. have a wonderful day in your studio………..Nettie
I am so excited to be able to read your website/blog, how wonderful the tech world has come. My first book of yours purchased many, many moons ago, has brought me to this page, how grand is life. Hopefully my trips to come will be as colorful as yours. Thanks!
Finally had a couple of very wintery days on the 12th and 13th here in Lou. KY…..The sun was going in and out the clouds were rushing thru the sky…while the wind was blustering thru the air…the temps were one and two digits Burr!!! It was cold…Burr!! Saw the Wolf Moon you were talking about on Friday the 13th when my kitty and I were walking to the mail box and back in the flurries of snow. Didn’t know it was called a Wolf Moon. Love UR Blog…and the simple things in Life! Can’t wait to read the book you want all of us girfriends to read “A Short Guide To A Happy Life.”
I have all of your books, your scrapbooks, post cards and stickers and lots of stuff with your unique styling on it. My three daughters are grown and have homes of their own. I send them your books, postcards and recipe cards for holidays. Loving your watercolors and books is something my girls and I have in common. Thank you for all the delight and calmness you send out with your art. It always sets me straight about what is important – family and all that goes with it. Happy New Year and thanks again for all the hours of fun.
Good morning, Susan!
I would love to be the proud owner of your book….I love Valentine’s Day and all that it entails. Wishing you much LOVE on Valentine’s Day and all of 2012!
I am so BUMMED…I waited too long to buy the Heart of the Home 2012 wall calendar. I have one from every year. It is outrageous that people are selling them on Amazon for over $166. If they were true Susan Branch fans, they would want to share your incredible creativity and not try and rob someone. Please print more….it won’t be the same without your calendar hanging on my closet door. It’s the first thing I see when I wake and the last when I go to sleep. boo hoo…
Look through here and find Pat Mofjeld — she comments often, it may be in the last post, I don’t think I’ve seen her here yet today. She told me she saw a bookstore with eight of the calendars!