2015, A Golden Year

Gulf heron

The Wheel turns, and it’s New Year’s Eve once again.

I spent Christmas week down with a bad cold. Once I surrendered to it, I began to enjoy the deep rest. I read, napped, and watched old seasons of Downton Abbey on my iPad. I wasn’t online much and didn’t even pick up my phone-camera. I curled up on the sofa, sinking into the dark stormy days and long nights lit with candles and twinkle lights, while others bustled around me making Yuletide meals. I wish we could all give ourselves that kind of rest without first getting sick.


This week, I’ve been immersed in making art, putting in long, joyful days at my drawing table. Somewhere in there I managed to look back at 2015 and do my annual life review.

2015 was a pretty great year for me. I woke up every day thankful for good health, for my home, for the closeness between my husband and me, for my friends and community, for the work I am honored to do in the world. There were no major upsets this year — no new grief, no new trauma. In some ways, 2015 was a “golden year,” one of those years you look back on with a contented sigh, because it was so beautiful. I’ve lived long enough by now to know not to take such periods for granted, because they never last. Some kind of challenge always comes along, it seems, to shift and change the pattern of our days. And so I hold every golden day close to my heart.

And yet — it would be wrong of me to live in fear, asking myself: How long can this possibly last? — as I am often tempted to do.

Instead, I am practicing trust. I am trusting that this golden time, and the way I have savored it and honored it, is the foundation and launching pad for whatever comes next.

My key goal for 2015 was to finish the manuscript of a book I had been working on since late 2012, with the working title Wheel of a Woman’s Life. I didn’t finish it by April, my original goal, but I did finish it by the end of August. Hooray! It is sitting and marinating now, awaiting revision, as I work on the art for the book (see a sample here) and write the book proposal.

My collage and meIt became very clear to me in 2015 that I want to shift the focus of my work life away from services (reading, teaching, etc) to products (creating more art, books, decks). It feels like I have this creative fire burning in my belly that just wants to erupt after too many years of being tamped down. This realization — as well as a summer away from teaching, that allowed me to finish writing my book — led me to commit to three new major projects: 1) Wheel of a Woman’s Life manuscript, art, and book proposal; 2) a new majors-only tarot deck done in beeswax collage; and 3) a new tarot deck that I’m creating in collaboration with a friend. It’s still under wraps; we’re not quite ready to unveil it and show people what we’re working on.

My key goals for 2016 are to 1) finish the manuscript, art, and book proposal for the Wheel book  and find a publisher; 2) finish the majors-only tarot deck and self-publish it; and 3) finish the artwork for at least half, if not more, of the 78 cards in the new deck.

When I mapped out my calendar for 2016 — a true act of magic — I gave large swatches to time (at least two weeks a month) to art-making time. This feels very daring to me! And very exciting.  I will continue to teach my online courses and lead retreats (also the work of my heart), but this year, making art is in the top priority slot.

So may it be!

Looking Back at 2015 . . .

Planned out the year, giving lots of space and time to the Writing Muse.
Created first 30 Day ecourse, “30 Days of Brigid.” Thrilled with the response.
Worked on Wheel book.
Did the Whole30 food program. Felt great.

Little altars everywhere

Created first Sacred Art video course, “Lady of the Radiant Flame: Make a Mixed Media Prayer Painting (Icon) for Brigid.”
Worked on Wheel book.
Created a tarot art video course, “Personal Tarot Icon,” for 21 Secrets.

In process w/pencils

Hosted Gaian Soul Retreat with Lyn Belisle at our beloved Aldermarsh.
Loved learning mixed media techniques from Lyn.
Welcomed Spring with lots of walks around the island.
Created “30 Days of Persephone’s Return.”
Worked on Wheel book.

Lisa the Pilgrim
Replanted, restored my herb garden at Heron House.
My mother-in-law died in Spokane. We sat vigil at her bedside for her last days.
Visited granddaughter Grace in Maine. We made lots of art together!
Went to the Readers Studio in New York after an absence of several years. Had a truly wonderful time.
Created “30 Days of Bringing in the May.”


Played with beeswax collage.
Gave birth to ideas for two new tarot decks.
Created a video class on making Spirit Dolls for Bri Saussy’s Spinning Gold course.
Worked on Wheel book.


Hosted EarthDreaming Retreat with James Wells at Aldermarsh, my first retreat for both women and men. It was lovely.
Co-hosted the best Summer Solstice celebration ever.
Worked on Wheel book.
Signed contract with Schiffer Books for new edition of Gaian Tarot, to be released in March 2016. Edited book and art files for them.
Started work on a new tarot deck with a collaborator. Keeping it mum.

silly selfie

Worked on Wheel book.
Met with collaborator once a week to work on new deck.
Spent a lot of time outdoors, with friends or alone. Went to the beach a lot. A perfect island summer.
Bought a bike!  Went bike riding around the island every day.
Took online encaustic (beeswax collage) class.
Did the Whole30 food program again with two friends, and had weekly Whole30 potlucks. Really fun and tasty.


Continued meeting with collaborator once a week to work on new deck.
Went to BATS and gave a talk that was well-received on “Reading the Book of Nature.” Had a grand time.
Rode my bike a lot and spent as much time outdoors as possible.
Finished!!! the manuscript of Wheel book and sent it off to my writing mentor for feedback.

bike & blackberries

Hosted Gaian Soul Retreat at Aldermarsh. Lovely, as always.
Created “30 Days of Harvest.”
Continued meeting with collaborator once a week to work on new deck.
Created first card for the new tarot deck.
Delighted in island life and spent a lot of time outdoors.
Created videos for new online course on making Ancestor Prayer Cards.

morning moon two

Visted Grace in Maine.
Visited Lyn Belisle in San Antonio and had three days of one-on-one tutoring from her in beeswax collage. This was beyond fun!
Went to Padre Island with Lisa Blinn for a mini-retreat. Love those Gulf waters.
Created “30 Days of Hecate.”  Gobsmacked by response, as over 400 people registered for it. Created a Facebook group for the class on request, which became very active and very healing for those who participated in ti.
Taught the Ancestor Prayer Card class.
Continued meeting with collaborator to work on new deck.

encaustic play

Created art for the Wheel book, “Dark Madonna & Daughter.”
Found myself “called” by Guadalupe, the Blessed Mother. Began a new devotional practice.
Continued meeting with collaborator to work on new deck.
Made plans for 2016:  Key priority is making art!


My devotion to the Blessed Mother grew.
Created “30 Days of Yule.” Wonderful response to it.
Hosted three holiday gatherings at my home.
Felt very nourished by the dark days and long nights.
Created three more cards for the new tarot deck.


I hope (as we all hope) to have another golden, blessed 2016.

May your New Year be full of good health, prosperity, and soul-shaking joy!

So shall it be!

12 thoughts on “2015, A Golden Year

  1. Lovely year; thank you for sharing! I most intrigued by the beeswax collage…..it’s stunning and another deck I’ll be looking forward to!

  2. Thank you for this beautiful post. You have inspired me too. May I ask, what encaustic course did you take? I have been wanting to learn this medium myself and have found it somewhat daunting.

    1. Thanks Julianne! I actually took two courses … one with Michelle Bento and one with Clare O’Neill. Michelle’s was more basic but Clare’s was more detailed about what I wanted to know.

      I took this course from Michelle, which is now available on a DVD:

      She also has this one:

      Clare O’Neill runs her course fairly frequently:

      The next one starts January 25th.

      Have fun!

  3. So lovely reading over your 2015. I, too, wrestle with the angst that come from a good year. . . shuddering to think that it can’t possibly last. My WOTY is Believe, in hopes to help me gain faith that whatever the year brings me, I am strong enough to rise above it and learn whatever it is the Universe is trying to teach me from it. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone.

  4. I marvel at your creative year, and how you continue to flourish. i am inspired and as I plan my year, I will feel into you…did you plan out the things you accomplished ahead of time, or did they arise??? I am toying with the difference between planning and flowing, seems that I am being called to create structure so I can accomplish more of what I desire.. many blessings dear Goddess, sending love your way, Rhianne

    1. Hello Rhianne … I planned. I am a big planner. I always do it in November over a weekend. I make lists of projects, possible classes to teach, retreats (how many in one year?), and creative projects. I do journal writing and work with tarot cards to help me get clear about which ones I really want to do. Once I am clear about one major goal for the year (could be increasing income, or expanding my reach with courses etc, or creative projects), I figure out what courses and events I want to either host or attend. I also have an income goal, so I have to keep one eye on my income streams. Then I get out a calendar for the year and I start marking it up. First thing to go in is events and travel plans I’m already committed to (like my retreats, going to visit my granddaughter in Maine, tarot conference etc). Prior to this year, I would have put in courses next and plan the dates to prepare, promote, and teach them. This year I marked the calendar up first with creative time, assigned to specific projects.

      Each month I have a list of Key Tasks for that month, and the calendar for the month ahead gets more detailed. Every Sunday I plan out the week ahead and my to-do list for the week gets extremely detailed, including time for walks and errands and cooking and reading and watching Downton Abbey.

      This is something I’ve refined over ten years or more of planning out my year, and it works well for me. I still tend to put more on my to-do list than I can accomplish, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t get it all done. And certainly there are occasions when I am seized by a creative flash and I throw something out in order to free up time to do something else.

      I have heard really good things about Leonie Dawson’s planner .. you might want to check it out. https://shiningacademy.com/2016-workbooks/ I bought the very first one she did, but found that I was already doing most of what she suggests. Blessings to you, Rhianne!

    2. I used to plan out my life in more detail, but my last ten years seemed to be more spontaneous, healing, travel, establishing a new life, home, boyfriend, now, I feel so ready to plan and accomplish and live my dreams instead of watching others like you, accomplish. I have my HeartWisdom Council Oracle, and my art, jewelry, session work and so want to create my website and e-courses. I am inspired. I did get Leonies book, and found it somewhat helpful, but rather simple..I think that your methods, which you have shared a bit in the past, are more helpful to me. Did you have a course about it? about planning. I remember printing out calendars from you. I am in the planning stages right now. I have found a design for a website I love, and with the new themes, with somehelp, I believe I will be able to maintain and work with it myself. I am laying out the design, pictures needed, and copy. I still am refining my message, it is similiar to the message of many women I follow and love, you, Jen, Hiro, Leonie, etc. I am one of you, just a quiet one, who has had some challenging years, and is now ready in spite of some setbacks, to share and create. I think that my heart is ready to enjoy planning rather than seeing it as difficult or threatening. I believe that I want my life to be more like a ritual and ceremony again. The magical and Enchanted realm of my heart wishes to emerge and share…just like you do in your way, so beautiful, so deep, so real, so devoted. May this year continue to be golden for you dear Joanna…so glad that, after a few difficult years you had, things are now different. sounds like moving back to your home really helped..your sacred cottage, with your beloved. I have created a sweet home with my beloved, He is truly a beauty, one of the best men I have ever met. He is much younger than I am, but it seems the Goddess has brought him to me, and me to him, for a tremendously loving and supportive relationship. My health is improving, my connection to the Goddess growing stronger again, after somehow diminishing for a while. I love you and look forward to meeting one of these fine days, until then, thank you for taking the time to share with me, I appreciate more than I can say..
      blessing right back at you

      1. I found the 2012 course you created , time out of time, I am going to look at it. I am feeling very excited and enthused about the coming years..and I know that by planning, I can accomplish and get to feel and experience so much more of life!!!
        I am not a virgo, a sag with cancer and scorpio..but somewhere in there is a planner!!

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