I love when I walk onto the beach and I can hardly tell where the sky meets the sea. It’s almost as though it gives me permission to simply feel what is present, physically. My thoughts can disappear with the lost horizon and I feel the sand on my feet and the breeze on my skin. I hear the waves and the movement of air, water and birds. I can pay attention to my next breath and quiet my mind until anything is possible in the world. Even love and acceptance. Even the letting go of all that doesn’t serve me.
While on a weekend trip to New York, I was swallowed up in the energy of the city. I walked among a constant throng of people and things made by people. I walked on pavement and tile, through hallways of polished marble and through concrete. I walked among artists and engineers, writers and taxi drivers, bankers and shop owners. In order to catch a glimpse of nature, I stood still and looked up through the tunnel of buildings into the sky, alive with color, and watched as the clouds swept past, leaving me dizzy.
As I drove away from the city, the enormity of the skyline became smaller and smaller until the buildings became something tiny, reaching for the glory that cannot be tamed. All at once I saw that something which had been engulfing me, an entire city, was nothing in comparison with something that was not made by human hands. All that was left was inspiration growing and steeping inside my soul and a feeling of gratefulness that someone as insignificant as I can be intertwined with God and Man alike. Divinity and humanity surround us constantly and we get to call it Home.
I have a dear friend who challenged me to “paint ADD.” It took me about 2 years, because I would start painting and get frustrated and hide it away. Then I would take it out and paint some more feelings onto the canvas and then set it aside again.
Let me introduce a brief history of my experience with ADD. As a child I lived in my head a lot and could tell that although I was imaginative enough, adults often scolded me for not accomplishing tasks. When I was in elementary school, I noticed that I was placed in the “lowest” reading and math groups. I didn’t feel dumb, but didn’t understand what I was doing wrong, or what I could do differently to be rewarded with being moved into a “higher” group. When I was in middle school, it became more noticeable that I was falling behind academically. I couldn’t fully grasp what was expected of me, although I could understand that I didn’t seem to be measuring up and it filled me with shame. As I took tests to see what could be the problem and searched for learning disabilities, there didn’t seem to be any answers. Luckily the IQ test reassured me that I wasn’t a complete failure, but it did add to the confusion of why I wasn’t performing to my potential. I built up walls and hid behind them. I pretended that I didn’t care. I became disruptive in class. If I was asked to perform with kids who loved memorizing and recalling names and dates and numbers, I stepped aside and put my feet up on the table, my face a study of indifference and boredom. If I knew I would fail, then why even try?
When I was in college, we started hearing about this thing called ADD and when I took my first pill for it, I swore it didn’t do anything. But then I realized that I had willingly sat at the front of the classroom and raised my hand during the discussion. I had participated without thinking about it and I sat thunderstruck.
There have been times in my life when I have taken medication and times when I haven’t. Both have been necessary for me to thrive.
So many of my weaknesses and shortcomings have been blamed on ADD by myself and other people. I believed that as truth, and blamed ADD, becoming bitter toward my wonky brain. Believing you’re broken and that the only thing that can fix you is a pill is a sad place to be, especially when the pill produces it’s own set of problems. But the problem isn’t the label of ADD or the pill, but the believing you are broken.
Now, as a mother I meet with my children’s teachers and gain a new perspective. It is excruciating to relive my challenges by watching my children struggle. Just because I lived my own version, doesn’t mean that I know how to solve anything for my children. They are their own people. Their history is as individual as mine and the strength they need to overcome can only be built from within. Yes, I can help and will always try to build them up and strengthen them in any way I know how, but they must do the work themselves, as with all of us.
Neurodiversity is something we should be paying attention to. The numbers are steadily rising. How different brains work should be valued, demystified and talked about openly so we can find the strengths that come with that diversity, rather than focusing on the problems that it poses in structured environments. As I have journeyed through life, I have learned that there is not one right way to learn and that the food we eat has a profound effect on our brain health, as does the environment we choose to live in.
Don’t we all ache with vulnerability and then put up walls when we are hurt? It doesn’t matter whether it was at school or at home or at church or the grocery store. We all have shortcomings and feel like failures. It is a human condition. We are hurt by strangers and loved ones alike. We hurt strangers and loved ones alike. It isn’t because we are monsters, but because being human is so complex and we are trying to navigate it while striving for growth and progression.
Sometimes I think that the way my brain works is a burden. Other times I am ever so grateful for the perspective and wisdom that I own, and know it is only because my brain works the way it does that I am given these glimpses. There are moments when understanding opens up a portal to loving my fellow humans so greatly that my whole body aches with it. All of us have our strengths and all of us bear our weaknesses, but make no mistake, those weaknesses are there to help us grow. They only spur our potential upward, especially if we are willing to see them and work on them. Especially if we are willing to recognize that we are all alike in our fumbling. Especially if we are willing to forgive ourselves and those around us who need our forgiveness. Let’s take a deep breath and start fresh. I bet there’s a way I can make the world a little better today. I bet you can too.
When I am going about my life, there are moments that stop me and make me feel like I have been given an invitation to stop and meditate, or to climb higher, or to explore more in depth. This series is moments like that which have prompted me to investigate further by putting paint to canvas and, in the process, dig a little deeper.
In the meanderings or the chaos of my everyday life, I can’t help but notice that God is in the details. He sends me moments of clarity and peace, and in those moments I am able to make sense of it all.
Bottle Meditation 8 x 10, oil on canvas
I have a collection of bottles that tends to make its way around my windowsills and reflect the natural light. Durning this moment, I was running around trying to get everything done and forgetting to take time to notice the beauty that surrounds me daily. As I walked past my kitchen sink, the complimentary colors glowing through the leaves of the blue spruce and Japanese maple caught my attention and I felt the invitation to stop amid the chaos of every day life and spend a moment recognizing my blessings and remembering the things I am thankful for. Afterwards I was in a better place emotionally to take on the challenges set before me.
Fleeting Light 16x20, oil on canvas
I remember when I had 2 or 3 small children and people used to say (all the time), “Enjoy every moment, it goes so fast!” And I would want to punch them in the face because I was so exhausted and it was going oh, so slowly. But now all these years have passed and I can see how it flew right past in the midst of long, hard days. It reminds me of my favorite times of day—dawn and dusk. The light is so beautiful and everything it touches seems like it is infused with magic, but it is so fleeting. I believe that is one of the reasons it is so beautiful—because it is so temporary. I have learned that when the sky is changing color and infusing its magic onto everything around me, to stop what I am doing to take it in and breathe deeply and let my heart fill with joy and thanksgiving. And just like that, the moment passes and I am better for taking in the beauty of this life.
You Can Make the Pathway Bright 16x20, oil on canvas
The principles of kindness and optimism are taught a lot at my house. Because, being human, we have a tendency to get frustrated with people and situations. But for as long as I can remember, I have been able to see that when you treat someone with kindness, you will brighten their day, and that kindness has a tendency to come back around to you. When you are filled with frustration or anger or negative feelings of any kind, making a list of things that you are thankful for brings a light into your day. I believe we have control over how we treat people and whether our attitude is positive or negative, and both of those things effect not only us, but the people we come into contact with. Sometimes a little light is all I’ve needed to fill my heart to the brim.
Onward and upward 16x20, oil on canvas
When I was younger and trials came, I would struggle through it, figuratively kicking and screaming the whole time. I would question why me, and how long? But as I get older and have gone through more struggles, I have come to trust in myself and God. I have learned to stay calm and watchful, because I know the lesson is just on the other side of the hill and I will have grown stronger and wiser and more beautiful in every way. I wouldn’t say that I welcome trials, but I have come to understand their importance and recognize the potential growth and beauty that inevitably comes when walking through them with a positive attitude and a prayer in my heart.
Hope Shining Brightly Before Me 11 x14, oil on canvas
This is overlooking a marsh in Ipswich, MA. My family and I were on a walk and I felt so renewed after an uplifting day. As we rounded a corner and looked through the trees, I saw the sun waning and my chest swelled with the comfort that comes when you feel hopeful for the future. I felt the invitation to allow myself to find this feeling again in the coming weeks when I would undoubtedly feel overwhelm and anxiety.
Peace Like a River II 12x12, oil on canvas
I was feeling some anxiety and took advantage of the invitation that popped into my head to take a little walk. When I get back in touch with nature it helps me return to my deepest self—like a reset button. As I walked, I was in an unfamiliar place and wasn’t finding what I was looking for. I was passing houses that were looking a bit downtrodden and the neighborhood wasn’t giving way to nature like I had hoped. Toward the end of my walk I came to a bridge and passed over this quiet river. It was so calm and all sounds and worries faded away as I stood there watching the water flow by, ever so slowly.
Luminous 22x28, Oil on canvas
This painting spilled out of me one night as I was overjoyed. It was one of those moments that everything aligns and my mood was high and everything seemed hopeful and right in the world. You know those moments when things that bring you down take a backseat and you are filled to the brim with happiness? I never know when those moments are going to come or how long they will stay, but when they do, I take it as an invitation to fill myself up to the tippy top and place that piece of light in a special part of my soul.
Intentional Living 24x24, oil on canvas
I have painted my neighbor’s laundry line several times. It seems like every time I see her clean clothes hanging in the the fresh air, it reminds me to slow down and take a deep breath and notice the beauty around me. It invites me to ponder the many ways I am living intentionally; where I am flourishing and where I am floundering. From my small house on a little plot of land to the food I put in my body, to the ways I spread love and kindness. Clothes lines seem to point my mind toward a simpler time and invite me to ponder what I can let go of to simplify my life and in turn have the space to receive joy.
Follow Your Path 8x10, oil on canvas
I recently went to an art workshop—I love learning and taking classes! I find that I learn so much just watching someone do what they excel at. I hope that I will always accept the invitation to continue learning how to better myself and grow in every dimension. This painting was done during that workshop.
...blogs were something that were fun to read and they weren't all about the hustle? Yeah, that was fun. You want to reminisce? Go head on over to my oldie bloggie Whatever & Stuff ! I might go visit some of my friends' old blogs and think about the good old days.
I am starting studio art classes back up in November. I just have two dates right now, but I'd love for you to join me.
Wednesday, November 1st
Wednesday November 15th
This is an open studio concept class. The class size is intentionally small so there will be plenty of one on one instruction time. You come to my studio with an idea of what you would like to work on (feel free to bring photo references). Time is spent in a creative atmosphere with short lessons and demos determined on what the class members are interested in learning. You are welcome to bring any supplies you would like, but are welcome to use my supplies. There is a 24 hour cancelation policy since the space is limited.
Contact me to secure your place in class! I love spending time in my studio with all the peeps
I did this in my sketchbook while processing a discussion that I had recently with my daughter about education. I won't get into it right here or else we will all end up with the same expression on our faces as this guy right here. xo