Today’s *shared stories* come from Julianne Lyons and Geralyn Gray


Juli Lyons

“…Poetry arrived

in search of me.  I don’t know, I don’t know where

it came from, from winter, or a river.

I don’t know how or when…”

~Pablo Neruda*

I don’t know how or when but I do know where.  I remember exactly.  I was in the green hills of Yorkshire, England, at a creativity retreat.  That’s where poetry found me.  It had found me before.  It wasn’t the first time, but it hadn’t visited for quite a while. Or, perhaps, I hadn’t been listening.

I had been in search of my creative self.  I’d left her behind, by the side of the road. Dropped her off when, maybe, the car of life was packed too full.  Or, perhaps, she got out on her own, not feeling welcomed.  Either is possible.  Life was full.  Busy.  Stressed.  Whatever it was, I could no longer feel her presence.

And, suddenly, I had to find her.  I needed to connect with her – my creative self – again. I wasn’t sure what it meant, this sudden need, this arising intuition, that I had to bring more creativity into my life.

And, so, I embarked on a journey to find the answer – to find her.

Not knowing a soul, off I went across the Atlantic to London, and by train and, then by bus, to a beautiful place just outside the town of Yorkshire.  It was the Do What You Love retreat for art and creative enterprise.

And, that’s where it arrived, just kind of knocking at the door, my first poem, in a very long time. I remember that I was a jumble of emotion, pouring myself into the beauty of the place, coaxed and nourished by the many creatives around me. I was struggling to find my own voice, my own creative expression.  There were painters and designers, and photographers – artists of all stripes and experience.  It was a wonder.

But, where was I?  What was I doing there?  I knew I was in the right place, but I had much to discover, and the earth beneath my feet was beginning to crack – wide open, and that’s maybe where the poetry came from.  Or from the wind blowing the grasses in the field.  Or from the wild yellow gorse flaming across the hills.  I can’t say for sure. But out of my pen and into my journal, poems started to flow.  Not near perfect..not near good.  But true.  Reflecting something in me.  And, that was enough.

And, that was the beginning.  Creative spirit found, right there in those hills.

Since then, more poetry,  photography,  creative writing,  blogging.  It’s all been opening up.  Two blogs started  Photography courses at Kat Eye Studios.  A blogging course now with Susannah Conway.

I write two or three times a week.  I work on my photography almost daily.  And, I’ve begun to share my work more widely.  Gulp!  A major blast of courage required to do that.  But, for me, it’s not a nice-to-do, it feels like a have-to-do.  Like I have to do this – be brave and get these things out beyond my own eyes.

So, to answer the question that this series asks – what does ‘doing what you love’ mean to me?  It means pursuing that thing that’s nudging from the inside.  It means expressing the creative in me, and  it means overcoming a lot of fear to do it.

It means joy!  Photography and writing bring me joy.  They bring me into the moment, into connection with myself, and with creation – nature, God, spirit – with something intangible, yet present.

And, it means community.  Six of us from the Do What You Love retreat, artists all, from Britain, elsewhere in Europe and North America, formed an artist’s group, and we have stayed in touch all these months – supporting and encouraging one another in our distinct journeys in creativity.  What a gift that has been.  And, the on-line community of creatives – photographers and writers – is extraordinary and generous.

Wishes for the future – lots of them – I’d love to see my work published, I’d love to have a photography show some day, I’d love to teach poetry, and travel doing it.  Those are some of my wishes, at least for today!  I’ll have to see what my creative spirit has to say about it all!


Here are a couple of Julianne’s poems:

Winter’s Grace

There’s a silence that comes with winter.

Even a winter that’s barely there.

The season beckons us inward – not only to home and hearth – but inward to meet our selves.  To rest.  To renew.

That is winter’s grace – to enter silence, and wait.


The In-Between Time

Found this, frosted beauty.

This sign of the shift.

From autumn to winter.

The calendar claims it’s autumn, but the days are so short, and the wind has taken all the colour off the trees.  Winter coats, hauled out from basements dark and dry, along with mittens red and striped and warm and made-by-hand – these are the necessary things, the new uniform of life as we prepare for the shift.  As we ready ourselves.  For we are entering the winter-time.

But, not yet.  Not quite.  It’s still just a hint.  A flirt.  A come hither look from winter.

For autumn lingers.  Faded leaves litter the streets.  The earth still warm enough to melt the morning’s frost; the sky not cold enough to let the season’s first perfect flakes of snow last for long.

But, soon, autumn will kiss winter on the cheek and say good bye.  Leaving us behind.  To dance with this new partner.

For now, it is the in-between time, when the two seasons walk down the street together, frost and leaf, hand in hand, leaving a trail of signs of the change that is to come.


Lazy Day

Feet stand still.

No running.

Not of errands

Not of exercise

Not of doing


Getting things



Sounds. Sweet.

Traffic hums

Birds chatter

Neighbours putter

In their gardens.


Books stacked…

and so are the dishes!

You know which ones are beckoning…


Back door opens, and…




Pours into the house.


And my doing, organizing, worrying,

exercising and choring






And, spirits lift

In this sweet, green bliss.

In this breath of spring.

On this




[All images courtesy of Julianne Lyons. Find out more about Julianne on her website or on her blog]


Geralyn Gray

Our store ‘Greetings from Geralyn’ is located in Asbury Park, NJ. This is the story of our store, and after being married for thirty years, my husband and I are doing what we love and doing it together.

My husband even spelt out Love last year with products he made for the store.  My husband and I met when I was eighteen and he was twenty three.  We married in 1982.  He was a union carpenter and I was a waitress.  I eventually got a college degree in Art and worked retail.  We have twins who are very Artistic and attend the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  Needless to say we were both hard workers and the economy has not been too kind to us in this century.  But, my husband had dreams of retiring and that has come true.  My work situation has been tough most jobs I had lasted nine years and ended because of store closings.  When my children  started college three years ago I started a dream job as Assistant Manager of Paper Source in Princeton, NJ.

Six months into this job, though, I awoke every morning with dreams of opening a store of my own.  I always had this dream, but was always filled with doubt or fear.  I really don’t know what got into me…after a year I quit my job and the next day signed a one year lease for a space in Asbury Park’s downtown.  I had high hopes and took a leap of faith.  A few months into it……I wondered what did I do?  I was staying open all kinds of hours trying to figure out when the good business was……..there wasn’t a good time.  My husband would join me on Friday and Saturday nights and we would sit outside our store watch people walk by.  Then since we are baby boomers who are downsizing we decided to make some bowls out of a box of records we did not know what to do with.    Well…….it made people stop in their tracks.  By, the holidays we were very successful making clocks, bookends and scrapbooks made from records.

When my lease was almost up I was faced with a hard decision.  Do I stick with this?  Then a realtor came into our store and she asked if we considered having a store at the beach………well my thoughts were doubtful and fearful again.  But, this time I had my husband say let’s give it a shot.  So, now we have a little space in Convention Hall.  We actually have an ocean view looking out our doorway.  And, now I can say……”Look what we did”!  We had a great first year and have signed the lease for 2012.  During the summer we are open seven days a week and twelve hours a day…….and we can’t wait for summer to begin!

So, in the couple of years the lessons in owning your own business are:  Take the leap…….if you can don’t borrow money…….make something from nothing to lower your buying costs……..make sure you have the support from the one’s you love……the best lesson is the one we knew all too well but, I went by emotion and not research and that is….LOCATION!!!!!   Have a way people can contact you on the internet.  We have an Etsy shop and I have a blog.  Soak in every kind word spoken from a customer.  I have been in retail for more then twenty five years and since I have  my own store I have been treated like royalty by my customers.  From the moment they walk in the door, my husband and I get to hear the most kind and generous thoughts from people……NEVER take that for granted!!!!  It is what makes doing what we are doing such  a joy.

[Images courtesy of Geralyn Gray. To find out more about Geralyn on her blog]


See here for more inspiring *shared stories


Want to get closer to doing what you love? Why not join the transformational Do What You Love e-course, to identify your passion and make it a greater part of your everyday life? Class begins on May 14. Find out more and register here.