My life is changing lately, and I’m excited to see where my journey will take me next. Well, of course, our lives are always changing. But now I’m learning to do it on purpose, and to conspire with the Universe. It is much more fun.
As I know many of you have also found, inspiration comes from all over the place when you look for it. One of these for me was a book my eye fell on at a checkout…an impulse purchase! 🙂 It isn’t the deepest book I’ve ever read, but there are little gems buried in there. Like this one: “At any given moment, you have the power to begin your next adventure.” -Christine Mason Miller. Well, I’m a little embarrassed to put that one in because it seems so obvious, sitting there in black and white. But I’ve been stuck for a long time and this little line jumped off the page and smacked me right in the forehead.
And here’s another: “You never know when, just by being yourself, you’ll be someone else’s gift.” – Kate Swoboda
Boy, I hope that is true. Many people have been gifts to me, and I’ve been wanting to grow into the person who might be a gift to others and not just a kid who sits in her studio making paintings or dreaming out in the field, soaking up impressions.
As an artist, I’m usually pretty confident. As an entrepreneur, not so much. And this has led me to one of my big insights. I am learning to open my mind and notice what is right in front of me. Instead of, say, what I want or expect to be there and them am frustrated when it isn’t. If it happens to be something that appears “bad”, I can ask it questions and learn more from it than from all the “good” things in the world. When I come to see what appear to be undesirable events or conditions as the gifts they actually are, it is then that I truly feel the love the Universe has for me. I am deeply moved that the Creator of all things cares enough about me to send me lessons crafted in such a way to catch my attention. Sometimes what appears to be a barrier is really a sign post.
And so, with a humbled and lightened heart, it is back into the studio with me, to work on my next painting and to craft my new life as an Expressive Arts Facilitator and Guide.
You may remember my telling you last year that my favorite place, Illinois Beach State Park, was closed due to fallen trees. Freak winds turned the woods into jack straws~ I’ve never seen anything like it. I rejoice to say that most of the trails are open again. Getting to walk “my” trails after a whole year of separation was kind of emotional for me. I realized just how much this place meant to me. Here are some images I took:
It’s hard to really grasp how much damage occurred here. Well, damage may not be the right word. Although I have never seen anything like this happen in these woods, I know that the ecosystem as a whole thrives on disturbance. Now that so many of the black oaks are down, the canopy has opened up. Plants like the lupine are quick to respond to increased light…
Along the way, I met this handsome young fellow :
Isn’t he a charmer? So long as he and his kind stay in balance numbers -wise, I’m delighted to see him.
I love this quote:
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill
On the subject of being a great artist, Martha Beck has this to say: “Great artists embrace the full catastrophe of our condition and find beyond it an even deeper truth of peace, healing, and redemption.”
What a striking thought this is. I remember one time I painted a self portrait immediately after an extremely painful experience. I was hesitant to exhibit this piece, yet over the years this is the one that people will gravitate to. That’s great…except I don’t want to paint this sort of thing. What I want to paint, as I’ll bet you’ve guessed, is nature. What may not be obvious is that the nature I paint has, in fact, gone to hell and back. I am so fortunate to live here in “Chicago-land”. Long ago the men who designed the city had the foresight to set aside large tracts of land, even along the lake front. Over the years we have learned that merely setting it aside is not enough. Many of our preserves have been downstream of pollution, or been used for dumping, off-roading, and a variety of other destructive practices. It is with a sense of celebration that I look at these places now.
Prairies, wetlands, woodlands and savannas still exist here, but not in large enough pieces to be self-sustaining. This brings me to another treasure to be found here in the Chicago area: many, many well-informed people willing to roll up their sleeves. Volunteers work with Forest Preserve Ecologists to keep invasive exotic species at bay, to restore water flow, and maintain the balance of systems. We conduct prescribed burns, cut buckthorn, pull garlic mustard, and collect seed.
Being a part of this for over 20 years has taught me that things can heal. Bird populations can rebound, prairies can reestablish, even a broken heart can learn to feel joy once more.
When I listen to the news it sure sounds like the whole world is going to hell. What a relief to know we can come out the other side, bringing with us new understanding that we can use to lift up others.