“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


The Year of Catching Magic

My niece has just turned 12.

We are graduating into a different conversation.

She recently sent me one those emails that requires you to send 12 copies out to 12 friends in 12 minutes if you really love them - or some such thing - including the person who sent it to you. Instead of just forwarding it on to her, I replied with this added message: "I am sending this back as a reply. I have loved you since BEFORE I met you - remember, I knew you then!"

The next night I received this message from her: "though i didn't actually meet you in the hospital, if babies had that kind of intelligence I'm sure I would have loved you, too! :-)"

Be still my heart.

Change happens.

One year ago tomorrow, the 23rd was a Saturday in a leap-year February. I'd had another panic attack, another one that made me ill, another one that made me mad. I'd taken my medication, grabbed my "panic attack bag" (Yes. I am not afraid to admit I have such a thing, full of crossword puzzle magazines, pens, Boxcar Children books, trash bags, toilet paper - you never know! - extra Pepto Bismol) and headed for my office, where the computer was, where I could be not disturbed, where I could fight this thing with everything it required, play Tripeaks, try to keep a handle on the rising panic & sickness until my medicine took effect, try to distract my thoughts from the overwhelming fear that it would never go away.

That Saturday, I got lucky. As I began to feel better, I picked up the copy of Artful Blogging I'd bought a few weeks earlier - the copy with Bridgette & Maddie - the copy that had so astounded & bewitched me when I'd opened it - the copy that contained some kind of magical spell, leading me to believe that I, too, could do this. And that Saturday, fortified with medicinal bravery, I did. Oh, I thought, this will make me take my art seriously, and if I take my art seriously, I will be able to address that protective-girl part of me who thinks I need protected - she who perceives things as dangerous when they're not, she who sends all that extra adrenaline flooding into my belly. I'd named that part of me, that little girl who fought so to keep me safe, but I was unable to let her go, to say goodbye. I'd given her permission to push that panic button, and if I let her go for only doing what I'd told her to do, what kind of a person was I? And if I did let her go, then who would I be? I'd always been The Scared Girl - if I let that go, who was hiding beneath?

So I'd made a plan - an homage to her. A piece of art. A collage, an assemblage, an altar. But I couldn't do it. I would just freeze - I could see it in my head, I knew the pieces it might require, but I couldn't do it. So, I thought, I'll start a blog. I won't tell anyone, no one will know, but perhaps if the words are out there . . .

So I picked a name, and EmmaTree was planted, with the first branch posted before I left for my niece's basketball game. I was absolutely giddy. And of course, I had to tell someone, so I emailed Christy. She'd been through this anxiety business with me & would not only understand, but I knew she would support me. Later in the day, I called the ever-wonderful Michael. I emailed my brother & sister-in-law. A couple of days later, I told Katie & Robert. I kept playing with the banner, until I got what I wanted, and I kept writing.

And therein lies the big change. The writing. I'd always been "a writer" - I'd won awards at school, I'd never had a letter to an editor or magazine go unpublished. Writing had always been "easy" for me, so I never took it seriously. Until I began to blog. And while I've made more art & sold more art, I admit that the writing has become the reason I blog - I have graduated into a new conversation with myself.

So it's been one year tomorrow - the 23rd. So many changes. So many changes. I've learned so much about about myself, my world, about the people around me. I've gained so many new friends - I still can't believe someone would take time from their busy life just to see what I have to say today. And I've been published!

But I still haven't built that altar. At least not physically. Sometimes, however, I think of this blog that way. My protective girl is here, and my scared girl, and they whisper in my ears while I write, and I give them a nod, and promise them new pairs of yellow shoes, and I pat them on their lovely little heads, but I keep writing.

I keep having this new conversation. And I am lucky - now I am having it with y'all. But there are too many thank-you names to list here, and there is a cat across the street in an empty house, waiting to be fed. I know you will understand. Thank you all.

Above is the painting that started it all.
I have been catching magic for a year.
and now I am crying


  1. Magic is catching__
    so the fairies say__
    for all who breathe
    the magic air.
    I have been infected!

  2. Your words are always lyrical and magical to me. I don't think I've ever read a post you wrote that I was not completely impressed with your creative nature. Congratulations on the milestone. Writing is balm for the soul.

  3. happy one year! glad you made the leap. you just never know what's going to be out there to catch you.

  4. Happy one year Debi! You are magic expressed. :)

  5. Even though I only recently started visiting your blog, I’m pleased to be here to witness your one-year milestone. You set out this time last year on a journey into the great unknown, trusting your talents and comforting you fears, and here you are, 252 posts later, celebrating and looking eagerly ahead to the next turn in the road! Congratulations!

  6. I am so incredibly proud of you! You've come a long way baby....
    Thank you for the privilege and honor of coming along for the ride. I love you. You are always and inspiration to me.

  7. It happens every once in a while: I am following a blog because it speaks to me, and then one day there is a post which makes me catch my breath. People open in a way I would never have thought possible before getting into this adventure - blogging. This is why I love blogging, too: The sharing of fears, of emotions, good and bad. I feel privileged to belong to this sort of community.
    Happy anniversary! And I wish you all the best for you personally and for your artistic venues as well.

  8. i hope you keep catching magic and sharing it... it's wonderful!

  9. Debi,

    Happy Blogiversary!! Your phrase describes blogging exactly. Catching magic. I'm so glad I've found you and that you let me share a little bit of your magic with each visit. Be well. Here's to another year full of magic. And joy.

  10. While catching magic, you let some fall through your keyboard and into a world wide web. We're out here catching the magic you drop our way. Thanks for sharing.

    PL&HB, Rhonda

    PS: Deb, this whole blog would be beautiful in print on actual paper bound in an actual book. I'll buy the first copy, if you'll sign it.

  11. Oh! How absolutely lovely! Both what you wrote and the painting!

  12. Hi Deb: Everyone above has said it all so well and so eliquently. I just wanted to add my own congratulations on your blogiversary and thank you for sharing your magic with us. Your words are very inspirational to me and your art is absolutely wonderful, I'm am soo happy for you : )
    Blessings, Sandra : )

  13. Wow. I am impressed with your blog, but the description of your anxiety and how it led to writing/blogging feels like my story. Anxiety is difficult for those who don't suffer from it to understand. Mine, held in check for most of my life, was let loose after my husband's death 7 years ago. Drugs and alcohol helped me over the hump but I am looking for better and more appropriate ways to deal. You have summed it up nicely. Thanks for the inspiration.

  14. absolutely beautiful. i am sitting here with a huge smile basking in your achievements.

    and that painting? it has always been my favorite amongst all your magical pieces of work. it hums with enchantment.

  15. This is such a lovely post, thank you for sharing so much of yourself. Your art and worlds move me to tenderness and care. Happy Anniversary!


  16. Happy,happy anniversary to you! I count myself among those deeply touched and enchanted by your magic. :-)

  17. This is beautifully done and touches so many chords. I wander on here every once in a while and always find something wonderful and soothing. Like stained glass.

  18. Happy Blogiversary indeed! I'm so happy to have found your wonderful tales and musings and the sommerset issue I think, is what led me here. You are truly gifted with words, it is a joy and a pleasure to have you as my blogging friend.

  19. I was in the bookstore today and saw this wonderful hardcover book sitting all by itself on a table. I can't remember the title..something about growing trees from seed. It was the picture on the cover that grabbed me. It was a picture of a tiny plant growing out of a split open acorn.
    I am smiling as I am reminded of it again as I read this beautiful story of your emmatree seedling..it has grown into a lovely tree. I have quietly hung my own swing from one of its branches. Hope you don't mind. ;)

  20. Congratulations! May all the coming years each be full of their own magical wonderfulness for you - hope you continue to share it with us.


come. sit under the emma tree & let's talk. i have cookies . . .