Saturday, January 29, 2011

Open the Gate...

Open the Gate
Photograph by: Karen Holmes

"As for me," wrote Walt Whitman, "I know of nothing else but miracles."

Just think, in this very day, you could open the gate to new life... you could experience a miracle.
Open the gate... walk through...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Come Sit...

Come Sit...
Photograph by: Karen Holmes

"Where you stand depends on where you sit."
-Nelson Mandela

Sometimes it is helpful to take some time to take a seat and rest awhile, before you decide where it is you intend to stand. My grandfather and I passed a lot of time just sitting together and not really saying much of anything; from those times, I figured out that I wanted to align and stand for many of the same important things he stood for. You can learn a great deal if you are willing to just sit back for a bit... before you stand!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Accidents

Happy Accident?
Photograph by: Karen Holmes

"Look for ‘Happy Accidents’ and appreciate them!
Seek to discover what has creatively occurred in spite of your influence –
you might find it to be most unpredictably stunning,
and will go far beyond your initial imaginings.” 


Years ago, I attended my first quilt show. Perhaps I should have been more inclined to remember a certain intricate pattern or exquisite design, as there were many on display. Instead, I took away an unusual gift of understanding, and it has served me well throughout many years, most particularly at times when I find I have made a mistake (big or small)...

Quilters of long ago would intentionally create a “mistake” tucked within their quilt pattern. To the quilters, the mistake gave homage to Divine presence - God lived right there within the faltered stitch that diverted away from expectedness. When I happen to come across an aged handcrafted quilt, I look intently to discover if the quilter included, unreservedly, their mistake within the beauty of their creation – if I find it, I simply smile knowingly.

In my own life, I have learned to become far more open to the inspirational influence secluded within my mistakes. I am humbled, yet if I go beyond my initial humiliation, I seem to attract the prospect of something else that was best described as a "Happy Accident" by my former art instructor,Vicki Fish.

Sometimes, when I do see, or even remember, my mistakes… I realize it is okay to simply smile softly and recognize that appreciation just might be my very best response...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Forever Friends

Immersed in Friendship
Photograph by: Karen Holmes

"So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: If you is fishin for a friend you just goin' catch and release,
then I ain't got no desire to be your friend...
But if you is lookin for a real friend, then I'll be one. Forever."

My grandmother, who was also one of my very first "forever" friends, owned a sweet antique shop, which I loved to visit. On the walls of her shop were dozens of carefully selected, beautifully handcrafted ancient clocks; they had literally and figuratively "stood the test of time." A lot like viewing my grandmother's precious timepiece collection, I can look back over my shoulder and gaze into the devoted faces of long-time friends, and become mesmerized by their distinctions and the time that has passed within the comfort of their steadiness. Those individuals have become a priceless collection of  mine... I am deeply, deeply grateful for how they have graced my life with their "forever friendships."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

House of Belonging

Memory Porch
Photograph by: Karen Holmes

"You are warmed and sheltered.
You are completely at one in the house of your own longing and belonging"


When I was little, I spent hours upon hours creating home environments for my dolls using books, blocks and other found objects. Therefore, it is not terribly surprising that much of my life path has revolved around identifying and securing comfortable home surroundings for others. What I have learned along the way is that we are a lot like birds - we are naturally equipped with our own sensitive and custom navigation and migration patterns; we innately know where and what home is in the depths of our hearts. I have also learned that even if you move and leave behind a beloved home, the imprint of that "heart place" will remain secure. Rest assured, nothing is ever lost... home, indeed, is where the heart is.

 Home Waits for You
Photograph by: Karen Holmes

Friday, January 21, 2011

Grow, Grow!

Support a Star
Photograph by: Karen Holmes

Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers,
"Grow, grow."

-The Talmud

Each and every day we are touched by greatness and the loving influences that stood in the shadows and whispered "Grow, grow." With a touch of a finger we effortlessly turn on a computer; or watch a small child's unsteady gait (you can almost feel the parent's warm arms they fell into after the first step); or, we see a small business confidently throwing open their doors for the first time, boldly ignoring the recession's glare. We can wonder: who were the angels behind all of those efforts (and so many more unspoken here)? Who were the ones who encouragingly stated: "You know, I think you would be good at this! I think that is a good idea and you certainly have what it takes! I support you! I believe in you! Absolutely, you can do it! Keep going!" You might want to pay attention to those who wander onto your life path... perhaps their timing is perfect, and they have been given an assignment: to be your "growth angel"... or maybe you are theirs! You can even take turns...

Angel Writings
Photographs by: Karen Holmes

Surround yourself with people who respect and treat you well - Claudia Black

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Visions and Dreams

Getty Inspiration
Photograph by: Karen Holmes

"To become truly immortal a work of art must escape all human limits:
logic and common sense will only interfere.
But once those barriers are broken, it will enter the realms of childhood
visions and dreams."
- Giorgio De Chirico

How many times is something begun, and for one of a million reasons, our paths veer and flow in another direction? We often question such diversions. We say things like: Must my child grow up so soon? Must I pause with my education? Must I say good bye right now? Must I give up my dream? Of course we say those things to ourselves, and from there those questions either become a stepping stone or sticking point. To my way of thinking, they are perfect stepping stones to rather interesting answers that begin with "Yes, and." Yes, and I will become witness to my child's graduation or the birth of their child. Yes, and I will become a student of life and return to finish my degree later. Yes, and I will hold that person in my heart forever and be grateful. Yes, and I will create a new dream, and in doing so, respectfully give a kind nod to my old dream that helped me along my way.

Often our lives are about acknowledging, appreciating and using experiences to grow our confidence to welcome the next vision and dream - for when we simply say: "Yes, and..."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

True Vocation

Mt. Calvary Courtyard Cross before the Fire
Photograph by: Karen Holmes

"In that meeting between personal character and vital opportunity,
lived out with fidelity, constancy and creativity over time,
we find our truer selves. We discover our vocation."
- Br. Robert Sevensky OHC, Superior

In the fall of 2008, a powerful firestorm swept up the Santa Barbara mountaintops and claimed my beloved Mt. Calvary Retreat House... The inner courtyard Cross, once embraced by lovingly-maintained gardens and walls that sheltered Order of Holy Cross Brothers and guests, had somehow remained; the Cross stood against the odds. I am grateful for the sanctuary I received from such a sacred place, and for the lessons I gathered during my more than 12 years of visits. I am grateful for the loved ones who made time and said yes to my invitations to share the beauty of Mt. Calvary. Recently, following contemplation and prayers, the Order chose to sell the fire-scarred land and simply hold on to the good history that will forever reside in so many hearts; it is the Brother's dedication and vocation that matter most. I have seen what happens after a fire - if you look carefully through the lens of hope, it is not too long before gentle rains soft as tears blend with days of sunlight and rebirth begins. Things become different, and if you hold on to the truth of your vocation, in many respects things become simply better... they call this healing.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bakery Parking

When you die God and the angels
will hold you accountable for all the pleasures
you were allowed in life that you denied yourself.
- Anonymous

Over the weekend, the season's unusual and lengthy pelting rains gave way to an abundance of sunlight and warmth - outdoor wanderings and small adventures naturally followed. As is often the case, any small adventure can turn instantly into something beyond our initial imaginings (the trick is to be open to such things!). As was the case this weekend, pulling into a new nursery and finding the vacant space exhibiting a "Bakery Parking" sign. In that very moment you are free to accept a serendipitous invitation to find out how on earth a Bakery came to be located on the outskirts of a nursery. "Our customers travel for miles to indulge in our weekend cinnamon rolls," says the trendy-glasses, calm man behind the glass counter displaying the morning's array of sweet treat offerings. "Because you are a first-time customer the coffee is on us"... and the adventure grows even more generous. Things aren't always as they seem. Sometimes they are simply better.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Seeds of Change

Photograph by: Karen Holmes

Let the beauty we love be what we do,
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
- Rumi 

"Seeds of Change" is a favorite seed company of mine. I appreciate both browsing through their catalogs and also their gentle "world-hugging" philosophy of existence. Awesomely inspirational are their stand-tall-take-a-look-at-me sunflowers that burst radiantly out of their particular seeds! To me, their very name embodies the anticipation of positive change and influence that swirls around us in January, hinting ever so sweetly of the radiant spring-birthing that is just around the corner. In parts of the country - and perhaps also in parts of our being - things are a little frozen right now. I invite you to take this time to dream on your spring garden ... include the "seeds of change" that are wanting to take hold in your own life... take that "next step" and cheerfully watch for what comes up!

Photograph by: Karen Holmes

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gifts Within

Photograph by: Karen Holmes

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who belongs to me within my clan?... one might wonder.
What gifts find their way to me through tiny, winding, long ladders of DNA? 

My great-grandfather was as an exceptional Baker. I have stood outside the very old building in Oberott, Germany that once housed his Bakery. If we were given a delightful first opportunity to visit together in person, would my great-grandfather teach me about owning a bakery and how to knead a perfect loaf of bread... or... do I already know these things because he bestowed those gifts upon me unaware? Could it be that each time I create a baked good ... my great-grandfather and I visit together in a small miraculous and comfortable manner?

I like to imagine that when a newest member of the clan is about to be born, they are being gifted in two ways. Firstly, by all of those on earth anxiously awaiting their arrival... and, secondly, by all those in heaven who are giving that tiny soul their unique departure gifts - the ones that will be discovered along the way throughout their entire life in the form of talents and "unusually familiar" joys...

Photograph by: Karen Holmes
Cake by: Karen Holmes and her great-grandfather Friedrich Wolf

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

You are Invited!

"Party Happening!"
Photograph by: Karen Holmes

Whoever is supposed to be at the party, will be at the party...

Every single day is an invitation to your own life's party... will you accept the invitation, dress up, and arrive with cheerful expectation... please R.S.V.P and bring the signature gift of yourself!  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Strongly Held

"Strongly Held"
Photograph by: Karen Holmes

"I don't know what the future my hold, but I know who holds the future."
- Ralph Abernathy

In each of our lives there are waiting rooms: cubicles of time reserved for what comes next.

We wait for:
a sweet baby to be birthed and held for the first time; a job that will more clearly define and ignite our God-given talents; a benevolent boss; a medical report that optimistically points towards healing and good health; a well-planned holiday that cheerfully beckons restoration; a new much-longed-for business of our own; classes that will teach and thrill us with pathways to discovery; a return home; a graceful, loving resolution for a relationship that lingers at a crossroads of mending or departure. 

It is up to us to decide how we will reside in our life's waiting rooms: either relaxing enough to receive a much-needed respite in the womb-like shelter, or giving in to anxiety and fear. Of course, we are free to choose the simple idea that we are held divinely and strongly... even if it feels daunting or unsure. The answer will eventually come... how will you choose to wait during the time in between?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011



My new friend Pam crochets charitable gifts of children's sweaters. The small sweaters are prayed over, and leave Pam's final stitch to be mailed to an organization that will then send the sweater to somewhere in the world where a tiny child is needing added warmth. I like to think of Pam walking down the street in a far off city and recognizing one of her signature bright-colored sweaters on a happy child as they wander by... the very same child she had prayed over stitch-by-stitch. We do not always know where our prayers go, or who will receive our gifts as lovingly as we attempted to send them... however, we can choose to accept that every single small stitch of effort is worthwhile even if it simply serves to make our own hearts more open and gracious. I am grateful that Pam has taken the time to teach me to crochet... I receive it with the loving grace in which it is given, and I hope to someday send off a sweater of my own to a sweet prayed-over child I may never meet.... except in my heart.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happiness Shelter

"Pals Heading Out Together"

It is in the shelter of each other that the people live. - Irish Proverb

A very dear, long-time friend of mine sent me an email yesterday, and I realized it had been quite awhile since I had heard him sound so happy. Joe said, "Life is pretty darn good. No complaints. Happy, busy, healthy!" What I realized after reading those simple words of his, was that I was happy about him being happy... but he had also inadvertently given me another gift of friendship: he had motivated me to be more positive, too! It is really that simple: just get busy with what inspires you, recognize your happiness, support your good health, and welcome with vibrancy the repeated offerings of inspiration and connection with others!

Life is pretty darn good! Thanks for the inspiration, Joe!

"Friendship Connection Refreshment"
Photograph by: Karen Holmes

Monday, January 3, 2011

Be Healthy!

Morning Beach Run

Become an active person.

How inspirational that the New Year brings along with it an abundance of messages supporting excellent health. Market bins overflow with colorful fruit and vegetable choices, magazine articles shout from the newsstands "eat healthy, feel better", and sleeker-looking friends start peppering their language with excited conversations of new workout trends and attire.

Simple: eat healthy, get active, and feel so much better!

Photograph by: Karen Holmes

Be sure to eat plenty of things that come from the earth.  - Dr. Oz

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Winter Oranges

The cold crisp mornings of winter. The sight of our breath rising on the air.
- Santa Montefiore's "The French Gardener"

I have had the good fortune of living in a town that grows oranges; they are coveted worldwide for their particular bursting rich flavor. I have also lived in other remarkable places where every single season is clearly defined: winter, spring, summer, and fall. And what I have found in considering the two is that in places where oranges grow, the boundaries of seasons are far less noticeable, which requires one to pause long enough to actually see what is going on. A New Year brings on similar indicators of restrained change... and it occurs to me that it is worthwhile to take the time to notice.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Community Celebration

Circle of Community - New Year's Morning 2006 - Encinitas, CA
Photo: Karen Holmes

The purpose of art is not a rarified, intellectual distillate - it is life, intensified, brilliant life.
-Alain Arias-Misson

Days before the event, The Coast News reporter invited the Community to a New Year's "walk through artwork"; artist Kirk Van Allyn "Kirkos" had been commissioned by a local architect to create the New Year's morning low-tide sand drawing as a charitable effort in support of local art organizations. 

I accepted the generous invitation of an outdoor museum showing, and what I found was unforgettable; for all my days it will signify a brilliant life event. By the time I arrived, the labyrinth was already completed, created against the backdrop of a melon-colored morning sunrise, blue-white breaking waves, and seasoned surfers. Kirkos had been extravagantly generous with the outpouring of his talent, and the community was already taking to the "wandering path" and adding their own contributions of sand-steps, meditations, prayers, hopes, appreciation, flowers, and carefully placed stones. 

What lesson did I learn on that breathtaking New Year's morning?
Kirkos, and his Community audience, taught me that our own authentic boldness of expression, talent, and gratitude will indeed continue to radiate and ripple out in brilliant inspiration long after a new tide comes in...  

New Year's Morning 2006 - Encinitas, CA
Photo: Karen Holmes

About Me

My photo
I have always been inspired by my Grandfather's particular generosity and encouragement, along with his love for others and nature. His spirit lives on, and the influence is quietly with me as I write and share. This is my small offering that I pray will bless others and allow them to become Simply Inspired. warmly, karen -xok.
Each day provides its own gifts.

- Marcus Aurelius

Thank you for visiting with me here...welcome.

please be courteous

Unless otherwise indicated, the photos and writings are by Karen Holmes. You may link; however, the material on this blog is copyrighted and requires consent for duplication. For permission to use information from this site, please contact Karen Holmes via email. Thank you for your consideration.