The Small Things

Ah no… this is not a post on gratitude.

It is about other little things, not the ones we should pay attention to and be grateful for. I admit, the picture there is misleading.

I recently dug out from the bottom of a cabinet our fondue set: new lockdown, new menu. Allez, some enthusiasm!

Only thing missing was some burning alcohol to get the little flame underneath the pot going.

Our local supermarket has a cookware section so “I’ll get it next time I do the groceries” I thought.

In the meantime I checked different kinds of recipes and ways to use the set: cheese fondue, chocolate fondue, Chinese fondue, fondue Bourguignonne, fish fondue with coconut broth…I am telling you!

So now here I am doing my groceries. We decided to go with cheese fondue, and I am not buying the ready-made fondue in a bag so: three different kind of cheese, dry white wine, garlic and all the other ingredients.

Only thing missing is the fuel, let’s go.

As part of the provincial regulations to contain the pandemic, at the moment, in Quebec, shops can only sell essential items.

Well guess what: fondue fuel is not essential.

So here I am in front of the cookware section cordoned off with yellow tape, looking in. I even think I see it, the damn fuel, there on the shelf.

I have tears coming up into my eyes and a swell of thoughts around the pandemic that I didn’t even know I could think. I mean, I have been so chill about the whole thing since March that I am surprising myself. Really? No fuel for my fondue? I already bought the ingredients, I checked out all the recipes, I got the right kind of cheese (gouda for smoothness, swiss for flavour,  and cheddar… because that’s what we eat here in Canada), I never complained since March, I followed the rules, wore my mask, heck I even made masks for charity!, I didn’t party, I didn’t fly back home (nor to the Caribbean for that matter) and I can’t buy fondue fuel? For my cheese fondue? Really?

Come on Maddalena, it is just some fondue fuel. We can eat something else. We will be fine. (That is me talking to myself, I do it all the time.)

Fondue fuel. A small thing, right?

Small things are sometime precious little triggers that help me notice where the big issue is. It is seldom about the fondue fuel itself. Or my teen mumbling something rude, or the dishwasher that nobody unloads, or that comment my colleague made…

If I give the little things that trigger me enough attention, instead of just reacting to them, they point to where it hurts and help me take a pause.

So, in the end, you are not all that cool about this pandemic eh, Maddalena? (this is me again, talking to myself, I do it all the time) It is actually, somehow, weighting on you…even if you are an introvert, even if you don’t like parties, even if you know you are one of the lucky ones…Is it because you are one of the lucky ones that you shouldn’t be complaining?

The pause I take is full of questions and some will not find an answer. But it helps me be more aware of my feelings, the reasons behind my actions and reactions and it allows for pent up emotions to be expressed in a healthier way. I can certainly cry at the supermarket because I cannot buy the fondue fuel that is right there on the shelf, but I feel better when I finally admit that I too find this all thing difficult, and long and draining.

By the way, a small hardware store down the street sold the fuel and we had our cheese fondue 😊.

Just for Today

As many of you know I am a Reiki Master.

It’s kind of funny to write “I am a Reiki Master” because I find labels of this kind, of any kind really, to be somehow limiting and limited. I mean, Reiki is so many different things to different people that I can’t help wondering what kind of associations come to mind when I wrote that I am a Reiki Master. Reiki is a spiritual practice to some, a healing modality to others, a way to channel Universal Energy, a relaxation technique, a form of meditation, a way to recharge and energise, a source for inspiration and creativity…

Regardless of what Reiki become through your experience of it, there is something every Reiki student learn pretty early on that I find has a power of its own: The Reiki Principles.

Originally expressed in Japanese by Dr Usui, the father of Reiki, they are interpreted in a few different ways, but generally translate in their simplest form as follows:

              Just for today, don’t get angry   

              Just for today, don’t worry

              Just for today, be grateful

              Just for today, do your best

              Just for today, be kind to everyone

When I first read the Principles, about 20 years ago, I remember I kept of going back to the first part of each one of them, the “Just for today” bit. I mean, I knew it was wise to not anger or worry and important to be grateful and kind and to always do my best. Those were concept I had already encountered on the path of personal development.

But I thought that “just for today”, was simply genius.

For me, “just for today” reframes everything – especially challenges and difficulties. It breaks anything down to a manageable form that I can handle, at least for today 😊

It helps manage a sense of overwhelm and deal with the unknown, because if it is” just for today”, I know I can do it. And it became a habit so, depending on the situation, it may sound like this:

Just for today, I will be gentle with myself

Just for today, I won’t think about that issue that only drains my energy

Just for today, I will be super productive and won’t be on social media

Just for today, I will only notice what makes me laugh

Just for today, I will let myself grieve

Just for today, I will work on (insert project)

So while we get ready to close gently the door of 2020 – or to slam it, up to you! – and to walk into 2021 I invite you to try it too, to see if “just for today” you can ….

Happy Solstice everyone.

Mirror, Mirror…

I was recently asked to create a lasting memory of a magical day with the bride’s bouquet.

The idea is to create prints with the flowers and leaves of the bouquet so to lock on fabric the energy and the memories of the event for years to come.

The simplest thing would be to print a scarf. This time around though, given the kind of bouquet, the time constraint, and the full moon of October, something else started brewing at the back of my mind.

Ideally, I am told beforehand when the event will be and what kind of flowers and foliage will be used for the bouquet. That gives me time to prepare the fabric and plan the final product.

This time it was a last minute’s commission and I had to act fast, with what I had on hand, once given the beautiful bouquet. After printing a sample from the different leaves and flowers in the bouquet, I discover that with the fabric I had I could rely only on the weeping baeckea for a good print.


The opportunity to work on a bride’s bouquet got me thinking about marriage and relationship of course, the magic of the beginning and the work it takes in the long run.

 I ended up printing on cotton, and on two separate cloths. Each cloth is the mirror image of the other.

It is a reminder of how two persons, in a relationship, always mirror each other.

It happens in a marriage, but also in a friendship and in any kind of relationship. The main difference being that, while with other relationships it is easier to take “breaks”, with a romantic partner, or the kids, the mirror is always there for me to look into it…and see myself.

The strengths I see in my partner is my own strength; the beauty I am able to see, is my beauty.

The trick is that a mirror, being a mirror, reflects everything, also the things I like less or really hate to see.

The weaknesses of my partner are also a reflection… of my own weaknesses, his imperfections, a reflection of my own imperfections.

The wish with this work is to honor and acknowledge a less romantic or pleasant side of a close relationship, one that in my experience grants personal growth and has the potential to bring two persons closer together with understanding, compassion, empathy, acceptance and love.

So when I am triggered by something my partner, or my son or my daughter do (thank you lock down for providing plenty of opportunities!), I try to go beyond my need to be right and look in the mirror the other is holding up:

Do I ever do the same thing that is bugging me right now, maybe without being fully aware of it?  – Am I ever selfish? Do I ever lie?, for example.


Would I like to do the same thing but don’t allow myself to? – Do I allow myself to think about me first sometime? Do I give myself permission to lie sometime?, for example.

(I am obviously not suggesting this kind of processing in a relationship that is an any way abusive)

It takes a measure of self-honesty but most often than not, the self-inquiry is an instant de-fuser. When I see myself in the mirror, it becomes easier to understand, accept and love.


Make Magic

I love making talismans, amulets, and charms: little object infused with hope and magic.

I believe in magic. Do you?

A talisman translates my dreams and desires into something beautiful that I can touch and carry with me.

In any given situation, after I have done all in my control to create a favorable outcome, I pray, hope, and wish that what is not under my control arranges itself for the best result possible. The talisman represents those wishes: it acknowledges my limits and triggers my willingness to keep on doing what it takes to see them realized.

Because yeah…I still need to do the work, I still need to take action. The talisman will not make things happen for me otherwise.

The talisman is a reminder, a trigger for the magic, a prayer in physical form. It can be carried or hanged in our personal space.  

Like most of my creations, my talismans are entirely made with recycled materials and are strongly connected with Nature, my greatest teacher.

The eco printed fabric carries the imprint of the leaves gather in the neighborhood and in my garden. It speaks of home, safety, and habit in the sense of the everyday little things I do that make me feel grounded in the here and now.  It respects the cycle of the seasons and the limit of when and what can be gathered at every given moment.

I make all the talismans by hand and I want the stitching to be bold and untamed. Talismans carry hope and all sort of emotions: nothing that can be represented by subtle marking.

Since the talisman I make will end up in your hands, my role is to create a vessel and a “trigger” for your dreams and desires. Its use will be your decision and one that can change over time.

I put a seed in your talisman, symbol of good things to come and trust in Life and its cycles. And I leave an opening for you to complete the talisman and make it yours with a word, a poem, or a small object.

Because the talisman does not make magic, you do.

“Trust the process, let go of the result”

“It is about the journey, not the destination.”

I am sure you heard it too.

It is a beautiful concept. I need to constantly remind myself of how true it is. The practical and goal-oriented side of my personality often struggle with this idea of letting go.

And isn’t it one of the main reasons why people don’t even try to make art? Focussed on the result so much that we give up before even starting to enjoy the process. We forget that the results we measure ourselves against are the products of a long journey of learning through trials and errors and horrible blotches.

Eco printing forces me to focus on the process and completely let go of the result since it is a technique with many variables, and we can never be sure of what our efforts will reveal.

For as much as I like for things in general to have a clear purpose, the free spirit in me lights up when given time and space to explore for the sake of it. I listen to what is there at every step of the process, instead of working towards a preconceived goal.

It is so, I learned with time and patience, that exciting projects come to light.

Like when a second-hand garment somehow tickles my interest.

It comes home with me and hangs in my living space for a few days so I can look at it while I go by my everyday business. Slowly but surely, I get my answers on what technique is best to use, which leaves would print better, how to prepare the fabric. Since I preferably work with what is available in nature locally, many factors come into play: the kind of fabric, the season, the weather, foliage availability, etc.

This one has been hanging for a while, I still don’t have a first step…

Cannot rush it either. I mean, I could order dyes and modifiers online and have them ready to use whenever I want but I prefer to take the time.

Take iron for example. Iron is a substance I can use to modify the color of leaves’ print. I could order Ferrous Sulfate online and have it shipped and ready every time I need it.

Or I can look out for rusty objects on my walks, submerge them in water and vinegar and get the same result. It is safer than the ferrous sulfate since I do not have to deal with the powder that is easily inhaled, but it does take at least two weeks for the iron solution to be ready.

Same goes for dyes. I can order powdered goldenrod dye or acorn dye: one spoonful in a liter of water and voila’! the dye bath is ready for your fabric.

But I thoroughly enjoy collecting the goldenrod out in the country from the beginning of August and I get really excited when I find acorns in the neighborhood! It maybe less efficient, slower, tide to the seasonal cycle, but more sustainable and more eco-logical, don’t you think?

I feel there is more of myself in my art when I take the time to pick the yellow parts of the goldenrod off the stalk for the yellow dye, or when I lightly smash the acorns or the walnuts to give out the most dye and my fingers get all brown.

There is more of me in your dyed shirt when I boil the acorn until I decide the dye is dark enough and patiently let it sit for days! so all the color the acorn can give is released.

So yes, the process, as a purpose in itself.

Results will come.

And they do:

Originally white, this cotton tunic was lightly kissed by the Goldenrod

Art and the Baby

Friday, I told myself, Friday is the day I will dedicate to this blog. That was three weeks ago.

Then yesterday – yes, Friday – I was too engrossed in finishing the project you see above, and I did not write a word.

But while I was working, I kept on thinking about the baby. The new project in my hands, the new baby in my head.

Earlier this week I had the joy to hold in my arms a little newborn: I always forget how little they are when they come out of the womb.

Not even a week old, baby E slept in my arms for nearly three hours, and I felt it again.

Disclaimer: what follows, is not the Truth. I have no idea what the Truth is. I chose to believe certain things because, as a human being, I am comforted by the illusion of having a few answers.

When I hold a newborn, I always have this feeling that I am with someone that knows it all. I think baby E still remembers where she is coming from (past lives and all) and knows why she is here this time around. Most of all she knows who she is, her essence.

We are fooled by the fact that she totally depends on others for everything, and we do not see how her soul is so…aware. Have you ever noticed how wise a newborn seems?

Where does all that wisdom go?

We grow. We start forgetting who we are, and start believing what we are told we are by family, friends, society: female, male, clever, skillful, clumsy, bossy, mother, artist, husband, fat…..and so on with all the “labels” that define our identity. And the wisdom is lost, amid all the “I am…” and the roles we play.

Sometime, during a lifetime, some of us start un-learning what we learned and gain a bit of wisdom back. But do you know what I think?

The work I do at the hospital – Pre-Covid19 I was regularly giving Reiki sessions to oncology patients at a local hospital – allows me to be witness to illness and death.

So what I came to think is that, right before death, we remember again. Like at the beginning of our life, at the end of it too, we get to know and understand it all.

Makes me think I will want to be there when I die, like really there, as present and as alert as possible. You know, in case all of this is the Truth 😊

My name is Moment, Present Moment

A few weeks ago, something happened that changed completely my understanding of the famous present moment. I find the whole thing quite intriguing and maybe you can relate?

I always understood the present moment to be this one moment in time, the here and now.

I thought that reaching this present moment meant to kind of “isolate it” from everything else. This is what all these practices help you do, right? Mindfulness, Yoga, Meditation, Reiki. Everything else falls into the background and you zoom in to the here-and-now: no past, no future, no attachment, no worries, no fears.

So, to me, the present moment, has always been the result of a process of “stripping away” everything else to get to the core. The idea was always to “shrink it” down, reduce it, to the here-and now.

And honestly, I thought I had a good grasp of it and knew all there is to know about the subject. What the present moment is, how to get there, what are the benefits.

Then the following happens. And I love it, because it is Life again, keeping me up to date to the fact that I know nothing, really.

It is a very ordinary summer evening. I am sitting on my porch because there is a nice breeze outside and because it is about the time our neighborhood owl flies in on the trees in front of the house and if I am lucky, I get to see it.

Suddenly, just like that, while I am sitting there, feeling the breeze, looking up at the blue sky and the top of the trees, I meet my Present Moment.

And it is not like I experienced it before.

All the elements necessary to be in the Present Moment are there, I can see that: I am not doing anything in particular, I am relaxed, my senses are engaged. But what I meet completely surprises me.

This here-and-now is EXPANSIVE, it is huge, without boundaries.

I know this kind of expansiveness, but I always experience it as a something related to “space”. For example, there is a point in a Reiki session – or during meditation – where the body seems to melt into everything else, the physical boundaries disappear and I feel One with everything. I always perceive this to be a physical sensation of my body in relation to the space around it and beyond.

But this, on my porch is different. Or deeper? Or just another aspect of the same experience? Or one more layer to this Oneness idea?

In this Present Moment on the porch, nothing is “stripped away” to get to it, on the contrary. In a split second – even less, really, it was a glimpse! – I “see” flowing before me, the decisions I made in the past that led me here and now, on this summer evening, on my porch in Montreal, Canada, waiting for the owl.

The present mixes with the past in a continuum that is not chronological but that somehow makes sense. And I do feel at peace with it all: no attachment, no worries, no fears. Just what is, and gratitude.

My Present Moment, as I understand it now after this unexpected experience, is not isolated from everything else, instead, it encompasses everything that led to it.

And I wonder: does it also encompass the future that stems from it?

Because really, it feels like being One with Time, here and now.

PRINT or RESIST? What kind of leaf are you?

Ecoprint is a technique invented by India Flint, as a way to decorate a surface – paper, leather, ceramic, textile – with natural imprints from leaves, flowers, barks, and other botanical material.

The keys to obtain the mark are contact and heat. The process is totally natural: even on the sidewalk under a tree you may happen upon the mark left by a leaf fallen during the night storm (contact) and baked by the sun the next day (heat).

Working closely with all sorts of leaves in my ecoprint practice, I learned to appreciate their unique “personality”.

Some leaves create a clear print; a strong, detailed mark obtained by pressing them against the surface and boiling or steaming the whole thing up.

Some other leaves, exposed to the same conditions of heat and pressure, act as a resist, preventing some of the effects of the dyeing process  from taking place.

A print has a more active quality to it, a resist a more passive one. One leaves a visible mark, the other protects the surface underneath from the surrounding influences.

When I work with Nature, my mind tends to make connections and find correspondences between the natural phenomena and the way us humans go about life.

It is so that the first kind or leaves, the one that make a mark, are my “go-getters”, the doers of this world, loud and determined. The second ones, the ones that protect the surface underneath are my “thinkers”, shy and protective, quietly creating their own kind of mark.

I find them both equally useful and beautiful.

Print or resist…it’s not all there is to printing with leaves, of course. Or to human nature for that matter…

We also have some precious leaves that print an amazing mark on one side and create a resist effect on the other, or that behave differently when in different conditions. Always a surprise, those leaves are my jolly, with their adaptable “personality”.

Some other leaves, don’t print at all and what looks like a resist is actually a “discharge” of their chemicals on the surface below. The discharge don’t leave a mark but interacts with the surface changing it substantially, often with spectacular effects. What shall we call these? The “influencers”? The “gurus”? :))

And you?

Which kind of leaf are you?

Do you go about leaving strong marks?

Do you protect? Or tend to influence?

Are you adaptable? Flexible? Do you blend in?

How do you contribute to the beauty of the final piece?

Where is your center?

During the pause forced on us by the Covid 19 situation, I started drawing. The biggest problem for me with drawing is always “what” to draw. Looking for inspiration, I explored symbols of various nature until an old fascination of mine popped up, and I was completely sidetracked into the world of labyrinths.

A labyrinth is another great tool that can help reaching that liminal state I like so much – you know, the magical place where the mind quiets down, all is suspended, all is possible?

Usually people would walk a labyrinth as a moving meditation rich in symbolism: mindfully walking towards the center of the labyrinth supports the process of going inward towards our own center. There is only one path to follow, therefore there is no risk of getting lost like one would in a maze, and the winding trail eventually leads you where you need to be: here and now.

The same happens with a finger labyrinth, where instead of walking, you can mindfully trace the path with the index finger of your non dominant hand. Various researches show how the repetitive movement up/down, left/right can elicit a relaxation response helping lower stress levels and improve focus, concentration and the ability to solve problems.

Labyrinths are ancient symbols found all over the world. They come in different designs and usually feature only one path that leads towards the center: one need to walk or trace that path back to exit the labyrinth.

The design I chose for my finger labyrinths is different. Here is why.

When asked “where is your center?” (in your body) most people seem to point at the solar plexus, some others point to the heart.

I am drown lower, deeper, into the womb.

I’m sure I am not the only one. And I understand that the perception of where one’s center is can change, according to the circumstances. Still, the womb seems to better represent my center, most of the time.

So it came natural for me to chose for my embroideries the design of the Baltic Wheel Labyrinth – also known as the Goddess Labyrinth.

It is the only recorded labyrinth design which does not terminate in the center. Where most other labyrinths, with their Christian influence, are based on reaching the goal as the focal point and then tracing your steps back out; the Baltic Labyrinth goes to the center and seamlessly continues towards the exit.

The path itself is the goal.

One is led inward – to the center, the womb – and come out the other side, reborn.

Isn’t that beautiful?

My finger labyrinths are embroidered with thick linen thread, so to create the track to follow and are decorated with glass beads. I don’t use a template, but trace each labyrinth by hand on the fabric, so they all have their own story. They come in different sizes, can be folded, are easily portable and washable.

We can work together to custom make your labyrinth using your favorite colors and including symbols personal to you.

Alone but not lonely

“On my Own”, like many of my projects, was born on a morning walk with my dog Kika. On the ground of a back alley I found the cicada wing who triggered the whole thing.

There was immediately something poignant about the lone wing. Cicadas and their sound always bring me back to my young Italian summers and their long slow lazy afternoons when it was too hot to do anything.

Was this one wing the lost one? or the one left?

I know it takes two wings to fly in the real world, but I imagined there was still a lot of flying left in this strong wing.

It was one wing alone, not a lonely wing.

“On my Own” turned out to be an ode to the strength I find in being alone and to the ability to still fly with what is left.

On my own

I make my own path

I find my true self.

In solitude

My needs and wants

are clear


I am present


I am enough.

The wing is stitched – that’s how strong it is! – to ecoprinted paper. The inside of the folded paper is richer than what the outside would lead one to believe.

People are like that, there is so much going on on the inside. Much more that we want to show.

Framed in a shadow box frame, the folded paper lets you peak inside…still, one needs to notice.

“On my Own” was exhibited at ‘Us, Connecting through Art’ gallery at the MUHC Cedars Cancer Centre at the Glen site during the exhibition “Beauty; a subjective term by nature, encapsulating and evoking emotions; it is not only seen, but felt.

On my Own” is 54x43x4cm, framed .

Cicada wing on ecoprinted folded paper, stitched on ecoprinted cotton.