Wednesday, February 10, 2016

book reading and craft night

Just a quick local announcement! I'll be reading, crafting, selling and signing at the end of the month, and I'd love you to come if you're somewhere close by. Below are the details:

Join local author, Maya Pagán Donenfeld, for a book reading
and craft night! There will be opportunities to share and talk about meaningful making and coping with loss and then create items directly from or inspired by Hope, Make, Heal.

When: Thursday, February 25th
Time: 6:30-8:30pm
Where: Dolce Delight
1080 Danby Road Ithaca

This event is free and open to the public. A small donation is suggested to cover costs of the materials provided.

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Monday, February 8, 2016

aurora shoe co

On the other side of my beautiful lake (Cayuga Lake of the Fingerlakes) is a pretty little village built directly on the shore called Aurora. Right before you arrive, a sign for The Aurora Shoe Company can be seen from the road.
I'm so excited to finally be wearing a pair of Aurora Shoes. How lucky we are to have THIS handmade shoe company in our area. I've been in Ithaca for 15 years, and it seems like everyone has a pair. And if you look on instagram at the #aurorashoes you'll see they're popular all over the globe! They are so well constructed that they last for years and, as I'm experiencing first-hand, get sweeter with every step. They're so comfortable it's all some folks will wear! 

Aurora Shoe Company was one of maya*made's first sponsors back in the day when this blog used to have sponsorship... but I'm embarrassed to say it's taken me years to finally go check out their brick and mortar workshop. What a treat for someone who appreciates the creative process. David, the owner, gave me a tour of each step that goes into building a shoe. From stretching the leather to cutting the straps, He and his sister, Alyssa (who is does all the marketing and photography), grew up down the road from the shoe company. David bought his first pair when he was 13! Years later, when he was working as an industrial engineer, and wishing to relocate his family back to his childhood town, there was word that the Aurora Shoe Co was for sale. It was an exciting opportunity, and he took it! I love stories of small business bravery! Under this new ownership, the shoes are still lovingly crafted by hand by most of the very same folks that have been making these tried and true shoes for 30 years. David brought in a few new modes of efficiency(engineers are so good at that!) and Alyssa has worked to create an internet presence with lovely photos... but so much of the what has made these artisan shoes such a staple remains the same. 

In today's fast-paced world of consumerism, it's always inspiring to see a business model based on slow, intentional and quality craftsmanship. Here are some pics from the tour and several courtesy of Alyssa.
After observing the fascinating process of leather stretching and examining the vintage shoe making tools, I was invited to try on a few different pairs and go on a photo shoot with Alyssa. Dreamy!
It was windy with flurries, so we only lasted a few minutes out by the lake before we ran into the Aurora Inn to warm up by the fire.  Here is a link to more pics of the photo shoot  and you must see their new boots!  And if you love to enjoy farm to table food when you wear your handmade shoes do check out the link to the menu at the inn. It's a favorite special occasion spot for me, for sure.
Thank you David and Alyssa for keeping alive such a lovely handmade business. Thank you Aurora Shoe Company for such a fun morning!

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Mindful Making

Ellen Abrams and I have been friends for many years... raising our children in the same small community and always wishing for more time together.  As a marriage and family therapist, with an established meditation practice, Ellen began offering weekly groups for people working through grief a few years back. In her lovely words- she began running "trauma informed mindfulness groups as a place to explore oneself through the lens of kindness and to develop, with support and connection, practices that cultivate a positive sense of self, equanimity, and nourishment". 

 I was writing Hope, Make, Heal and deep in the process of examining my own loss and how it impacted daily living. I signed up. Right away!  It was a game-changer. With her guidance, I discovered new ways of finding peace within, even during the most turbulent times. What a useful tool... for everyone. I invited Ellen to contribute meditations to the book I was writing. And she did! They begin each section. 

Collaborating with someone you love and respect is always exciting... so we're not stopping!  We're joining forces to merge mindfulness and creativity into a live workshop. It's going to be so good!

Sunday March 20th 1-4 pm 

Vernal Equinox
Trumansburg, NY

What a wonderful way to celebrate the first day of spring! We will make Open-hearted Journals, Lights for the End of the Tunnel  and/or Inner Altars. These projects from the pages of  Hope, Make, Heal will beautifully support a new (or renewed) meditation practice. All supplies will be provided. Additional personal items will be suggested in an optional materials list.

Fee: $75

(Scholarships available)

For more info and to register email:
mayaluna(at)yahoo(dot)com or
ellenabrams1(at) gmail(dot)com

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Be strong- eat for power!

"The act of healing will look different for each of us. There is no need to rush—nor a clear timetable for traveling through the unique terrain of each loss. Death of a loved one, a traumatic life event, or deep heartbreak are all wounds that have the potential never to leave us. The scars remain to remind us of what we’ve felt, whom we’ve loved, and how we’ve grown. They become part of the fabric of our lives.
I sew. A lot. The metaphors that surround needle and thread seep into my thoughts often. The British proverb “A stitch in time saves nine” is a favorite. The meaning is simple: sew up a little hole with one stitch now so that it doesn’t expand and turn into something greater that may need nine or more stitches. It’s a saying that refers to doing things well the first time and not putting something off until later. Healing well from the start is an unhurried and deliberate mending. The frayed and broken fibers of our stories can almost always be woven back together, but how we choose to repair and patch ourselves up determines quite a bit. A quick fix is sure to leave you weak for unraveling. This is true in the literal sense, such as stitching up a hole in a seam. Why wouldn’t it also be true for our souls?
I believe that taking supremely good care of yourself will strengthen every muscle— including your heart. You’ll be ready for that moment..."
This is an excerpt from Hope, Make Heal currently featured in Spirituality & Health.  Click here to read the entire article and how green smoothies were a life-saver, plus get the recipe for this favorite of mine.
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Monday, February 1, 2016


Ahh! You know how much I love when a new month is on Monday- so fresh and good!
The above picture is from February 1st- three years ago. I remember just how fragile I felt as I carried those stitched paper map hearts into ithacamade for a February window installation. Giant heart maps- I was holding every metaphor with a death grip in those days. My internal GPS seemed to have worked- and I found my way. Happy February- I'm blowing a kiss to all of your tender hearts.

I announced the winner of the feather banner and Hope, Make, Heal on instagram just now. Congratulations @artytarsh! There will be more instagram giveaways coming soon. But for those of you not on instagram- I heard your messages and will find a way to include you, too in the future! 

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Thursday, January 28, 2016


Hello lovely friends! I'm still here- just spending most of my time over at instagram these days. I do hope you'll join me there- it's quite cozy and I'd love to stay connected with you. In fact, I'm hosting my first instagram giveaway over there right now. I'm offering a signed copy of Hope, Make, Heal along with the original feathered banner from the last chapter. I will be tucking in a surprise or two, as well. Heading to my studio right now to work on a little something for the sweet winner.

If you'd like to enter, hop over!


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Tuesday, January 12, 2016


It's been said by many that the energy in the room was wonderful at the Hope Make Heal launch at Buffalo Street Books. It was a very receptive crowd, who not only were so supportive of me personally, but also were clearly happy to take a copy of the book home with them... either for their own use or for a friend. Here were my opening lines before I read excerpts from several of the chapters:

"Welcome and thank you for coming to celebrate with me today. My first book, Reinvention, was published at the beginning of 2012. It was not a time for celebrating. At the exact moment that it was coming off the press, I was reeling from the unexpected and very sudden loss of my 16 year marriage. The last four years have been a wild ride filled with hope that I would survive the pain, the making of a new life for my children and myself, and then the healing of the places that had been broken. That grieving and rebuilding process evolved along side this second book that I hold in my hands today. Hope, Make, Heal was published exactly 10 days ago and I couldn’t be happier and more ready to share it with all of you... to celebrate!"
I  introduced my dear friend Ellen Abrams (sadly not pictured here- send me pics if you have them friends), who contributed the meditations to each section. Ellen is a local therapist who also leads Mindfulness Meditation groups for people who have experienced trauma. I was attending it during the writing process of the book and knew it was an important component to include. She led a beautiful meditation and then there were paper feathers offered for writing intentions on. Templates for six of my feather prints are located in the back of the book for using in various projects!
Then it was on to signing... Buffalo sold out, but have let me know that more copies will be arriving this week.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

book launch party!

Feathers played an integral part in my healing process- painting, carving and collecting them. I've included some of my favorite feather prints in the back of my book for using with several HMH projects or some of your own. 

I'm now stamping and cutting out bunches of them for this weekend's launch at Buffalo Street Books. If you are local, I'd be so happy to see you! Come by at 3pm this Saturday, 1/9/16 for a signed copy. I'll be doing a reading and sharing an activity around setting intentions for this year. There will be light snacks, sweet conversation and good folks- so do join us for the celebration if you can!
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Tuesday, December 29, 2015


This week, three years ago I had done everything within my power to give my children a beautiful Christmas and my daughter a happy birthday. Although almost a year had already passed since their father had moved out without warning,  it was our first december on our own. The winter holidays have the potential to be a time of magic, as well as the tendency to illuminate loss and magnify grief.  I remember making it to this last week of the year and thinking- I'm almost there. I will survive this hellish year after all. I chose my word for the upcoming year: HOPE. Here is that post, like a little time capsule.

Thank goodness for my kids. They were the reason I made myself get out of bed every morning and that I was doing more than just making it... I was determined to to heal for them.
To learn everything I could about how to face darkness and come out on top. 
To thrive and help them to do the same. 
It was the hardest challenge of my life. Desolation was always at my side in the beginning, but I acted brave for them... until one day it was true.
By that Christmas in 2012, some good days were sprinkled in with the constant rough ones. I started seeing glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel. And I began writing down my process. As a writer and an artist, there was an overwhelming need to document my return towards wholeness. I blogged and journaled the tools I was discovering (and most often creating) to guide me forward.
 My second book was emerging long before I was ready to actually write it. But it was the book I was wishing someone could place in my hands at that very moment. So I began. I knew it was about hope and creating. I prayed it would bring my healing and maybe help others who were struggling through one of life's inevitable transitions. Several years in the living and making, and TODAY it goes out into the world!! TODAY!!

Hope, Make Heal is filled with the 20 projects, plus recipes and meditations, that brought me to this point today. I am a confident and proud single mother of two very healthy and amazing kids (one getting ready to head out into the world in a matter of months). There are fresh traditions and new people in our lives, as well as wonderful (bittersweet) memories of a different life long ago. I can now hold the story in my heart without feeling crippled by it. I laugh. A lot. And so do my children.
I am so happy to have arrived at this moment!

*all photos in this post our projects from Hope, Make, Heal- 20 Crafts to Mend the Heart.
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Thursday, December 24, 2015

santa cookies

 I love that we had all the ingredients for these cookies in the cupboard. My kids love an addition of crushed candy canes to everything this time of year, and I do believe that it elevated them to the perfect treat to leave out for Santa tonight.
I hope you have a wonderful few days filled with love and sweets and joy!
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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

gift bags on creativebug

It's the count down to Christmas, and if you haven't started wrapping your gifts- it's time to start thinking about it! I have a great new class that was just released on Creativebug. I show you how to make two kinds of burlap bags- a boxed edge stand up tote and a frayed edge bag that features weaving. Both elevate the gifts your giving and are quick and satisfying. Bonus- they cost nothing (or close to that!). They also double any gift you give because they are re-usable. Whip up several at a time and put the wrapping paper away! You can check it out right here.*

*I'm an affiliate with Creativebug, so if you sign up by linking over from here, I receive a little "something".  Thanks so much!

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Monday, December 21, 2015


Wishing you a cozy and peaceful Solstice. This shortest day of the year brings the annual hope of light returning us- the perfect metaphor for anyone traveling through a dark time. The holidays can be challenging for so many. Missing loved ones that can't be here, or the knowledge that life doesn't always match the parades of perfection flaunted by every ad campaign. Our lives are complex and often fragile.  Sending you all so much love and strength as we turn towards the sun.

This handmade message candle is one of the projects in my new book. I call them "Lights for the End of the Tunnel".
Hope, Make, Heal 20 crafts to Mend the Heart will officially hit bookshelves next week (yes-finally!!)... and freshly printed copies will find their way into all of the mailboxes of folks who pre-ordered it a few months back and even today. A brand new year is the perfect time to begin the process of using creativity for self-care and renewal... my wish is that this book finds its way into the hands of all that need it right now.
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