Blue Heron Writes

Sharing to Inspire through Words and Pictures

An Unexpected Blessing – Celebrating Mother’s Day


In 2012 I wrote the following for a special event celebrating Mothers. My mother-in-law, Muriel Nichols, is now 92 and still as vibrant and beautiful as ever. Today I share this writing again to honour her, the memory of my own mother, Beatrice Amelia (Livie) Donabie, and all the wonderful women in my life who are mothers whether in body or spirit. Happy Mother’s Day!

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

On the evening of May 12, I will be reading at an annual event called, “Walking In My Mother`s Shoes” This evening on Mother’s Day weekend honours mothers through the arts (the written word, music and visual arts).

DSCN1640As I thought about what I would write, I found myself contemplating the recent blessings in my life. What great good fortune to meet and fall in love with a wonderful, loving man who brought me to live in God’s country. Here surrounded by walls of pink granite, guarded by tall pines I found a safe haven to explore and develop my creative gifts. This would have been enough for me but more came with this new relationship.

I quickly connected with artists and writers who shared my passions and interests. Heaven – this had to be heaven. And this was enough.

But there was still more to come.

Mum in 1979

In  1982, I lost my mother to cancer. I hadn’t realized how connected we were until she was gone. Over the years our relationship experienced ups and downs from teenage rebellion, through divorce and loss of a son-in-law she loved, my second marriage to a man she struggled to accept and finally loved, and culminated in our deep and abiding friendship as she battled the disease ravaging her body.

I missed her terribly. I felt lost without her. When my father passed away, I was 15 and my mother took on the role of both parents. I learned to depend on her as I entered adulthood and now she was gone. I went on with my life, yet, an emptiness remained.

This emptiness only worsened when my husband died in 2006. During his illness, I had constructed a steel-reinforced concrete wall around my heart. However, during that time I also developed several close women friends. I discovered a sisterhood I had not known before and I trusted them with my deepest feelings. In a way, they replaced my mother.  Yet, I still missed her,  especially on Mother’s Day when we take time to celebrate those who gave us life, who raised us, put up with our antics, kissed our booboos, hugged us when we cried, encouraged us when we struggled and cheered on our victories.

I never expected to have another mother in my life. My mother-in-law died in the 1980s and after my husband`s death I determined I would live a single life unless the right man dropped right in front of me.

Doug, me, Hugh and Mom (Muriel)

Then two years ago, it happened. There he was right in front of me and my wall of protection came crumbling down. When my spouse and I began dating, he arranged for us to have breakfast with his mother, Muriel, and her special man, Doug. I approached that day with trepidation having no idea how I would be received. Would she like me or hate me? I needn’t have feared. The moment we met, I felt embraced and loved. That’s what mothers do. They desire the best for their children and when they see happiness reflected in the eyes of their sons and daughters, they rejoice.

We don’t live close enough to see one another often but the times we spend together are precious to me.  They are comfortable times, as though we’ve been doing this for years and years. Whether we simply sit and talk, enjoy one of Doug’s incredible dinner creations, walk through the garden or down a country road, we find lots to laugh about and share. Muriel and I particularly enjoy taking on the guys to a game or two of euchre. Occasionally we let them win.

During a recent visit with Muriel, I took her aside to ask her if she minded me calling her “Mom”. It seemed so natural for me. She hugged me and said, “I’d love it.”

Mom will be attending the event on May 12 so I will be able to share my thoughts with her.

These will be my closing words, “Mom, you are an extra special and unexpected blessing in my life. Tonight I have this perfect opportunity to let you know how much I appreciate you and to tell you publicly, I love you. You have effectively filled that empty corner of my heart created especially for a mothers love. Thank you and Happy Mothers Day!”

© Wendie Donabie 2012

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

DSCN1419Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers, Mothers-in-law, Mothers to be, Step-Mothers, Grandmothers, Great Grandmothers, Foster Mothers, Spiritual Mothers and any other Mothers I have missed!


Artist of the Month at MUSKOKA TOURISM

DSCN8004Are you headed up to Muskoka during the month of May? If you are, please take a few minutes to drop into the Muskoka Tourism Information Centre on Hwy 11, 2 km north of Severn Bridge, just south of Gravenhurst.

I’m the Featured Artist from May 1-31! You’ll find a selection of acrylic, oil and watercolour paintings as well as blank note art cards to view and perhaps take home with you!




The Tourism Centre is the best place to obtain information about places to stay and eat, events and things to do during your stay in Muskoka. In addition to brochures, maps and souvenirs, the knowledgeable and friendly staff will respond to all of your questions or concerns. It’s worth your while to stop by.


To view more of my paintings, please visit…… Thank you!

Celebrating The Mother of Us All – Earth Day

Today in honour of Earth Day, I am reposting a short piece I wrote 2 years ago.

Mother of Us All

Is our Earth simply a large, chunk of rock to you, or do you think of her as a sentient being – the Mother of us all – with whom you can have a personal relationship? Have you ever taken a moment to connect with her? Long ago, indigenous peoples developed a relationship of respect and interdependence with Mother Earth. They felt her rhythms, recognized her cycles, listened to her voice and learned from her.

The rock taught them faith, wisdom, strength and endurance while the trees illustrated honesty and uprightness.  As the sap flowed through them, so must honesty flow through the people. When they trod upon the grass, it bounced back teaching them to be resilient, kind to themselves and others. Animals taught companionship, how to care for and protect one another.

Today, Mother Earth continues to share these lessons; she teaches us to be human. And as her children, our job is simple – listen to her and care for her.

While walking through the forest, I feel her support beneath my feet as she responds to each footfall. Feel me, touch me, embrace me, she says.

Her scent wafts through the air filling my nostrils with the living smells of the earth, water and plant life. Breathe deeply, I hear her say, fill your body, heart and soul with my abundance.

From quiet lakes, gurgling brooks, rushing rivers, roaring waterfalls and mighty oceans, I hear her enduring heartbeat. She tells me, We are one, each a part of one another. What affects one, affects all.

Her voice travels on the wind, through the calls of birds; her messages are seen in the movement of wildlife and heard echoing through her canyons and valleys. Know me, know your brothers and sisters. Care for each other. Everything you need is here for you to use, not abuse. 

My experience is a spiritual one. But just as each child relates in a different way to his or her mother, your connection with Mother Earth will be unique. I encourage you to develop a relationship with her. She is a wise advisor and . . . we need her.

Although many cultures still honour parents, in western societies we are less inclined to respect and care for our elders. Perhaps this is why we have begun to so easily take Mother Earth for granted.

Today, while strong voices do exist, working to raise awareness of the desperate plight of our planet, others continue to ignore Mother Earth’s cries, seeing her only as a place filled with abundance to be exploited until there is nothing left. Yet, as we strip her of her wealth without putting anything back, we are most assuredly killing her and eventually all life on the planet. If we would all take the time to acknowledge our mutual interdependence, examine the natural cycles of Mother Earth and learn to live by her rules, we just might have a chance of saving her and saving us.

Please visit this link to view a short video, We are All One, that reflects my heart and concern for our planet.  Thank you.

Copyright Wendie Donabie 2015

To view Wendie’s Paintings, please visit


Earth Day 2015!

April 22 marks Earth Day 2015.

In honour of Mother Earth, here are two paintings I’ve done in the past couple of years to reflect her beauty and remind us of our  shared roots as human beings and our dependence on the planet for our very existence.


Mother Earth - Our Shared Roots

Mother Earth – Our Shared Roots. 24 x 24 inches, Acrylic on Canvas, Copyright Wendie Donabie – SOLD

Mother Earth lies nestled in the arms of a tree – without trees we would not have the oxygen needed to sustain life on our planet.

Breath of Life

Breath of Life, 48 x 36 inches, Acrylic on Canvas, Copyright Wendie Donabie – SOLD


Do you have plans for Earth Day? I’d love to share your ideas here on my blog.


Inspiration from the Forest

The Muskoka Arts & Crafts 38th Annual Spring Members’ Show takes place March 27-29. 2015 at the Bracebridge Sportsplex. Each member can enter 3 pieces of art.  I’ve chosen, Puppy Love – The Only Love That Come Between Us and The Red Canoe as two of them.

2015-1 Puppy Love - The Only Love That Comes Between Us, 12 x 24 inches, Acrylic on Canvas, Copyright Wendie Donabie

Puppy Love – The Only Love That Comes Between Us, 12 x 24 inches, Acrylic on Canvas, Copyright Wendie Donabie

2015-2 The Red Canoe, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

The Red Canoe, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

My third is a creation painted for the Muskoka Conservancy’s theme – Muskoka Woodlands. Having hiked and photographed the beautiful paths around Bracebridge, I decided to paint a subject many never notice.

DSCN1707Here in Muskoka, Cedars grow in abundance. When they age-out and fall to the ground, the remaining stumps continue to decay as they provide nutrients to feed tree saplings that shoot up around them.DSCN1464






But before this transition occurs, they create magical structures that stir my imagination. I visualize a kingdom of elfin creatures living within these moss-covered towers of greying wood.  Here are photos of just three of them. Each architectural wonder is unique which adds to their mystery.


With these images serving as my inspiration,  I painted, Forest in Transition – my third entry into the spring art show.  Feedback is always welcome!

Forest in Transition, Acrylic on Canvas, 20 x 30 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

Forest in Transition, Acrylic on Canvas, 20 x 30 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

 If you are looking for a great place to spend a few hours next weekend, please stop by the show.. Here are the details.

Muskoka Arts & Crafts 38th Annual Spring Members’ Show

Opening Reception & Awards Presentation

Friday, March 27, 2015, 7pm-10pm

Demonstrations of art & craft techniques

Saturday, March 28, 2015, 10am-5pm
Sunday, March 29, 2015, 11am-4pm

Admission by donation
Free parking

Bracebridge Sportsplex
110 Clearbrook Trail, off Douglas Drive
Bracebridge, Ontario

Please visit to view more of my art!


May You Be Blessed Movie

“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown again into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.” This is a quote from Albert Schweitzer, but it captures the essence of what “May You Be Blessed” is all about.

via May You Be Blessed Movie.

How Do You Find the Story in a Painting?

Girl With A Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

The Girl With A Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

In my Artist’s Statement,  I use the quote, A picture is worth a thousand words. I’ve always believed this to be true. A photograph, drawing or painting can convey so many meanings depending on the interpretation of the viewer. For me, I paint to draw the viewer in, to tell my stories and share my experiences. I know why I created a particular painting, what my message or story is, so I’m intrigued by what others see in my work. After all, each of us views the world through our own life encounters which influence how we interpret what we see.

Author, Tracey Chevalier, talks about this in her TEDX presentation on finding the story in a painting. She reminds us about our pre-disposition to story-telling as a way to make sense of our crazy world. Tracy found herself doing this while visiting art galleries. When attracted to certain work, her imagination would create a story to explain the image. Her lifelong fascination with Johannes Vermeer’s, The Girl With A Pearl Earring, resulted in her best selling novel of the same name.

So, what’s the story behind my painting, The Red Canoe? I leave that to your imagination and invite your comments.

2015-2 The Red Canoe, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

The Red Canoe, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

If you would like to view Tracy’s fascinating TEDX presentation (14 minutes), please click on this link, How Do You Find the Story in a Painting.

About Tracy Chevalier

Novelist Tracy Chevalier is the author of Girl With a Pearl Earring. Chevalier pulls stories from paintings and historical episodes, finding the human thread behind opaque images. Her other books include The Lady and the Unicorn and Burning Bright, about two children who become neighbors of William Blake.

Please visit to view more of my paintings.

New Paintings – Getting It Done

Here’s what I’ve been up to since my post, The Creative Struggle, in which I explained my recent difficulty taking my art and writing ideas from inspiration to application. In writing that post I actually did experience a breakthrough in my art. For a few weeks, several painting ideas for a themed show, Betwixt & Between, competed for my attention.  This annual  Muskoka Arts & Crafts Members’ Show allows artists to interpret the theme in whatever way they choose.

Prompted by my spouse, I finally settled on one with a humorous feel. I couldn’t think of any better image than a fluffy puppy asleep between the feet of his two ‘peeps’. The idea made me chuckle. Here’s Puppy Love – The Only Love That Comes Between Us for your enjoyment.

2015-1 Puppy Love - The Only Love That Comes Between Us, 12 x 24 inches, Acrylic on Canvas, Copyright Wendie Donabie

2015-1 Puppy Love – The Only Love That Comes Between Us, 12 x 24 inches, Acrylic on Canvas, Copyright Wendie Donabie

With Puppy Love complete, I pulled out an unfinished landscape painting I’d had sitting in my studio for a couple of months. The Red Canoe is finally ready for sale and will be one of my entries in the Muskoka Arts & Crafts Spring Members’ Show.

2015-2 The Red Canoe, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

2015-2 The Red Canoe, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

With these two paintings under my belt, I’m feeling on track again. My next step – creating a realistic schedule to complete the paintings and writing needed for upcoming shows and events. Comments and any tips are welcome!

To View more of my paintings, please visit

Simple Strategies to Increase Writing Productivity

Wendie Donabie:

As someone who is constantly struggling to get back in touch with my writing Muse, I found this blog post refreshing and thought it might offer some ideas to other wordsmiths….

Originally posted on Conversations With Self:

Simple Strategies to Increase Writing Productivity
Everyone has tricks that help to keep their writing moving in a forward direction. I consider this to be an ongoing process of finding out what does and doesn’t work for me. So, here are just a few of the tools that are proving to be effective in my writing process right now:

View original 1,073 more words

The Creative Struggle

Joseph Chilton Pearce quoteIt’s really a lack of confidence and some basic insecurity on my part…I’m still a little afraid of being wrong in my technique or unoriginal in my thinking. This is my creative struggle . . .

Can I write something the engages a reader or paint a picture that captures the viewer’s eye and imagination? I’ve done that but can I do it again? Is there a limit to my creativity?

These are the things that fill my mind and plague me, that stifle me and cause me to procrastinate, rather than getting down and doing the work.

I’ve ideas for both writing and painting projects yet I’m having trouble moving to the next stage….the outpouring on computer, paper and canvas……I need a kick in the posterior!

We have a members’ art show coming up very quickly in February and I’ve yet to start the two paintings floating around in mind….and our writing group meets this week . . . and I’ve nothing new to read . . . YIKES!

Ideas do crowd my mind

  • a landscape
  • a poem
  • a short story
  • a character wanders from my mind into my living room, stretches his lanky, tall form and settles into the wicker chair across from me . . .

“Who are you?” I ask.

“John Franklin,” he replies.

OMG . . .  this is great . . . the creative juices begin to flow. This is fun.

I’ve got something here.  

I don’t know where John and I are heading but I’m going to enjoy the journey!

I’m off and running. Now, I only need to get back to the easel . . . With the muse awake, I feel confident I can move on.

* * * * * * * *

It’s really so simple, you know. When I’m struggling creatively, I only need to start anywhere with anything at all and I’ll end up somewhere
surprising with something special every time . . . Why is it that I forget how it all works? Maybe this time I’ll remember. Maybe!

©Wendie Donabie 2014

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