We’re always told – “look at the big picture,” “the grand scheme of things.” I understand what that means and most of the time I agree, but I must admit, I can often be overwhelmed by the “grand scheme” of anything.
Every day I swim laps in the pool. Often times 100. But I never start out counting backwards from 100. I tell myself, just do twenty. And when I finish twenty, I think, well, 30 is easy, and I can do twenty easily later. So I do thirty. And slowly work my way to 50. 50 is fine for the day, and if I want to more later, I do it. And most days, I do. Et voila! 100.
This is the way I do most things. It works for me. Bit by bit. I need the tiny wins. So I let myself have them.
It wouldn’t be possible to paint a giant canvas every day. Not for me. It would take too much of my heart and soul and brain. So I make sketches. Small paintings. And it fills me. Gives me practice. Gives me joy. Confidence. Sets me up for the larger works. So I paint a small vase with a small apple on a small table. And it is complete. It is enough. I am enough. And I guess that’s where I’m trying to get to every day — where we all need to get to every day — that place where we know we are OK, we are good, we are enough.
Take the journey today. Lap by lap. Table by table. And know that you are enough. What could be more “grand” than that?
I have lit candles in churches from the top of the red rocks in Sedona, Arizona to the Sacré-Cœur in Paris. In Rome. And New England. Minneapolis. Sometimes I say a prayer. Names of those I love. Wishes. Hopes. Sometimes I just breathe. Not in search of miracles. And I have chased them for sure, but it seems my handful (heartful) of miracles never came in moments of flee, but only moments of calm. It makes sense then, I guess, to give thanks in the same way, in the quiet glow of a candle.
I was gifted two new candles recently. And the real gift is, they know me! I love candles. And I light them immediately. I can no more imagine saving a candle, than saving love. I want to experience it now! So I lit the new candle in my bathroom yesterday, and for the first time, it seemed so clear — I wasn’t just lighting a candle — I was lighting a candle! (Sacré-Cœur). Every moment is special, sacred. Prayers and thanks are as real and magical in the ordinary as the extraordinary.
My heart smiled. It is not a cathedral, but it is my heart, my life, and as the song says, “I’m gonna let it shine.”
We’re all guilty of it, for sure – projecting, delaying our happiness into the someday. “Someday, if we just have more time… more money…”. “Someday, when I lose five pounds, get that promotion, change my hair, fall in love… well, then…”. How is then that different from now?
And even for the small things. Watching YouTube, I’m told I won’t be happy until I get this deskpad, or this computer, or certainly everything available at IKEA, not to mention the “must haves” from Amazon. And I will admit I have lusted after the gray wool desk pad from Grovemade – I’m only human… but my work life doesn’t depend on it. I can still create my blogs, make prints, cards, email my mother, do everything I need. So I’m happy. Today. Without that beautiful pad. Today is the someday that I celebrate.
I have to make an effort. It doesn’t always come naturally. Returning from vacation, I can easily slip into old habits, wearing the same thing, eating the same thing, but then I catch myself, and try to live better. Put on the scarf. Light the candle. Eat new things. Enjoy the view. Celebrate the day for what it is – the gift that is given. I have to remember that this, in fact, is my someday. I give thanks, and begin… today.
The yard will need a lot of work when we get home. Living in an apartment for years, I never really knew what it took to keep up a yard, a garden. There is digging and moving and poking and nourishing and raking and watering, and mowing. It takes sweat and time and faith. And then it’s calm. The peace of the green grass under a blue sky. Serenaded by the birds. Calm. Home.
I suppose that’s what we all want. I thought that’s what we all wanted. Peace. And yet, here we are again — war. As if we’ve learned nothing. And I’m at a loss for what to write. What to paint. Does it make a difference? Does it make a difference if we post the pictures of those suffering, scared, fleeing? And it’s so easy to say “look how wrong they are” and then fight with our neighbors about masks and politics. We have to do better. We know better – don’t we? Please, let us know better.
Spring is on the way. A most glorious time of year. Beauty at every turn. But it expects things from us. It expects us to participate in all this glory. We have to participate. Be sowers of green. Of peace. We have to do the work. With our hands and our hearts. And we can’t give up. We know after each winter, there will be work to be done. And so it is with peace — constant work to be done. I don’t have the answers, but I have hope, and hands and a heart, and I’m going to keep trying. For calm. For home. For us. For all. Peace.
I was watching something on netflix. I don’t even remember the movie. But an image I’ve seen a million times, on the screen, in real life, a young child being carried. And it struck me so – I wish I could remember that – that feeling of being lifted. Of being carried. Of being relaxed. Feet dangling. At ease. Held up. I have no memory of this. I’m not sure most people do.
I went to bed after the movie. Still a bit anxious from the news of the day. He knew that. I explained thoughts in fragments. Puzzles of emotions. He has a way of brushing the tear, not from my eye, no, he lets it fall to the bottom of my chin, and then catches it. Telling me it’s ok to feel. Allowing me to feel. And he’ll be there. He is there. And I know it. I release the air that worry tries to trap in my lungs, and I breathe. And breathe again. And I sleep. Feet dangling. I do remember.
The kids and I played a game last night. Well, game is a funny word – no winners or losers, wait – I guess all winners. Anyway, we started with a blank piece of paper. One pen. One person started by drawing a line, or a shape. Passed the paper to the next one. They continued. And soon that line turned into something. For instance, a pirate — Jack Sparrow no less. We did this for an hour. Talking. Laughing. Drawing. One scrap of paper. One pen. We had so much fun.
It was not lost on me that about 5 feet away there was the Christmas tree. Gifts piled all around. So many presents. They aren’t up yet. Soon they will be rejoicing, and ripping and laughing for all the new! Before they do, I just want to spend a little more time in the moment. The moment when all it took was a connection. That moment will return. This is what I give thanks for, in the morning calm.
Now, I love a good present. Love to give them. Love to get them. I will soon gush over the purse that I picked out myself and then wrapped and put beneath the tree. But this moment. In the quiet, when I know that I already have everything, this may be the greatest gift of all.
The blessed dawn of Christmas Day.
Merry Christmas! 🎁
I must admit that I love summer. I would much rather be warm. But I’m glad I know it — the cold. The need to bundle. The having been through.
Just as you entered my grandparents’ house, there was a rack for coats. It was always full. Being a farm, someone was forever working outside, all through the year. Through rain. Through snow. And it was the coats, I suppose, that told you the story. Wet. Worn. Worked. Through. My heart, comforted with the damp smell, not of the weather, but the return. No matter what they had been through, they came back. I imagine this is the comfort I was seeking. To me, there was nothing warmer than trust.
Isn’t that what we are all seeking? This trust. This place to come in from the cold. To be bundled in a love that will always return. No matter what.
If you ask me today, where I came from, I will tell you someplace warm — someplace very warm.
We walked to the fish market yesterday. It was a lovely day for a walk. 60 degrees. Sunny. No wind. They are doing construction just down the road from us. Cars were waiting. Blocked. We easily walked by. Smiling at the simplicity of it all. We strolled through the fish market. Such beautiful things. Les fruits de Mer! (seafood) But neither of us were really hungry, we had had lunch not that long ago. It’s hard to think about dinner when your belly is full. And what a glorious problem. We didn’t buy anything. On the walk home, we marveled at the luxury of it all. Such beautiful things offered, and us having no real needs.
We walked past a car accident. Construction chaos. Horns were honking. We easily walked by. Now I feel bad for the people involved, of course, but what a gift not to be a part of the chaos. And I understand life doesn’t always allow us this luxury, but I think a lot of times we can make the decisions that keep us out of the continuous horn honking. Because make no mistake, it’s always out there, always will be, but I don’t want to be a part of it. I like a calm heart. I always have.
I think one of the most romantic pieces I have painted is the blue VW on the side of the road. Some might question this, but I feel it. The simplicity of the car, the street. The colors that don’t shout, but embrace. The quiet beauty of being in the right place at the right time. The certainty of calm. Your heart will tell you when it’s home, but you have to be able to hear it.