With the arrival of summer vacation, we’ve placed our Summer Jar on the coffee table. For the last several years, we’ve used the jar to inspire fun activities to help us make the most of our summer days. The summer jar “things” are really just ordinary. Yes, some are fun trips to take or experiences we want to repeat. But, some things are just things we do at home. Some things nobody would understand but us. But, when we look back at the end of our short 75 days of summer vacation, I hope the Summer Jar “things” will help us know we’ve had a summer. And we’ve lived it. And loved during it. We tend to rush. And, sometime we need reminders to slow down. To enjoy one another. To find joy. And to capture each moment fully.
For me, along with Summer Jar, part of my desire for the summer is to recapture some of my own creative spirit that’s been germinating over the last few months. I want to pursue some new ideas, some new media, and some new and more unfiltered ways of sharing thoughts… of telling stories. Today’s “sketch story” is a small glimpse. I don’t have a grand plan. I don’t know if I can really explain what I want to do, and if I could, I would need way more space than what I have here. So, I’ve decided to embrace the sprit of wonder and curiosity and real thought, and just go with whatever comes next. I hope to infuse this blog space with an even more authentic glimpse of my heart and creative pursuits. So, you may begin to see some changes and experiments. I hope you’ll take these steps with me, and that they’ll perhaps offer some inspiration in chasing your own dreams and ideas.
Woo Hoo! Summer is here. We finished up the school year today, and I’m so proud of my little ones. You made it!! Let’s celebrate!
Our summer vacation begins officially on Wednesday afternoon when the school year ends, and we can hardly wait! I’m very excited to have my children home with me for unscheduled time. The summer is usually a crazy balancing act of enjoying family activities and keeping up with freelance work for this short season of play and fun. 75 days. That’s how much time we have before another school year begins and they continue the inevitable rush to growing up. But, for summer, we all seem to stand still and just enjoy each other. I’m determined to take advantage of every minute — even those minutes when we are doing nothing special. Last year, in my daily journal, I wrote the number of days remaining in our summer vacation in the corner of each day’s box. It was a bittersweet discipline of watching these precious free days with everyone together, and recording our adventures. This morning as I added the countdown numbers to this week, I was reminded of this favorite quote from Thornon Wilder… “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” Here’s to a summer of seeing and soaking up treasures!
To my babies. To all our babies…
Today is hard. It may even be very hard. So hard you are tired of it. Very tired. You may be hurt. Or confused. Or afraid. You may not think there’s an end to what you face. But, there will be. You may not think you can make it. But, you can. You CAN. You may not believe you are strong enough. But, you are. You may not believe you’re worth it. But, you are. You may not think there’s a shred of hope. But, there is. There IS. Today, you may not believe there’s a way through this struggle in front of you. But we can find one. Together. You may not feel brave. But, a day will come when you are. Another day will come. Give that day a chance. Just a small chance. Today is hard. Very hard. So hard you give up on it. Just, please. Please. Don’t give up on tomorrow.
I’ve been nurturing the salvia around my studio bay window through the Spring, especially as we’ve started getting some days in the 80s. I’m trying to discipline myself to take note of the small, daily moments of beauty!
I hate it when I see Baby Girl shy away from finishing something or decide to put an activity aside because she’s told herself that it isn’t perfect or that some part of it is “messed up.” Not long ago, she was telling me about one of her ideas for an art project, and somewhere in the conversation I heard that self-doubt creep in… “I know it won’t be perfect, but…” That but, which relegates her amazing thoughts to something less than the unique and wonderful creations they are. I told her, as I have to tell myself almost everyday. Perfect is boring. The more interesting pursuit is toward what makes each of use so incredibly unique and special in this world. It’s a good reminder again today.
Elisha and I have just finished up reading The Horse and His Boy, the third book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. It’s a great romp with talking horses, war lords, intrigue, battle scenes, lion chases, and a peasant who finds out he’s the heir to a throne. Last night we read to the end where Bree, the proud, talking war horse who was captured and taken from Narnia for most of his life, balks at the reality of returning home for fear he might not know what it’s really like to be a Narnian after all. Elisha commented that Bree was really just looking for a way to fit in. Aren’t we all?
At various points in the story, Aslan, the great sacrificial king of Narnia makes himself known to the characters as more than a myth. We see that he has been by their side throughout the journey, protecting, pushing, shielding, and even inflicting pain in order to ensure not only the unfolding of their stories, but the strength of their character. Finally, as we see Bree struggle with his next steps, Aslan reveals himself unexpectedly and bids the humbled horse to “draw near.”
“Do not dare not to dare!” Aslan implores him.
What an amazing admonishment! We all have struggles. We all have humbling experiences and seasons of life. We all look for ways to fit in. We all wonder if we can. And, we all wrestle with being fearful of what comes next. I love this lesson that often the greater risk comes in NOT daring to step forward.
March is coming to a close with all its fickle Southern tendencies! For a month that always ushers in the Spring season, this year’s has sure given us the full spectrum of Mississippi seasons from winter freezes to summer heat. My children were out of school for Spring Break a few weeks ago, and we were able to spend the week at Busy Bee, our family farmhouse in Noxubee County. I always enjoy taking time there to unwind, enjoy unstructured family time, and get my fix of pasture walking and breathing in country air. This year, our Spring Break weather included some cold and rainy days, but we made the most of it, squeezing in at least a few of our favorite farm adventures.
I don’t know if it’s because of the burst of warmer weather we had early in 2017, but I can hardly remember a time at Busy Bee when the pre-Spring days were SO green! Although we had some freezing temperatures, the pasture carpet was full of new life. In these early Spring days, the green seems the most lush before summer’s heat has the chance to tire it out. Of course, I always have my camera with me, and it was fun to capture a few glimpses of how Spring on the farm cracks through the more stark color and contrast of winter. For us, it was a week of seeing two seasons at once, sometimes in the same frame. I came home with renewed energy and excitement for the ideas I’ve wanted to tackle this year.
We are well into 2017, and I had not really intended to continue my Letter to my Daughter series of painting practice this year. I have taken a nearly two-month break from painting except for a few client projects, and I’ve enjoyed the change of pace. When I was thinking about goals for 2017, I hadn’t decided if I wanted to do another themed series. I’ve really been craving trying out some new looks and media, and I think maybe feeling a little bored with just lettering. I’ve been wanting to produce pieces that are more “solid”. And yet, I seem to always come back to some variation of words + pictures in my work.
THEN, I had a fun experience with my Baby Girl yesterday. I chaperoned her 3rd grade gifted class on a trip to see a science themed “circus.” During the course of some crazy plate spinning, bubble antics and mime activity, they discussed several scientific principles we encounter every day along with an encouragement toward curiosity. One of the performers told the children about the importance of “knowledge” and seeking knowledge for your whole life. But, in answering the rhetorical question of why mimes and boomerang tricks were included in a “science” program, he let the kids know that even when you don’t have knowledge about something, you always have your imagination. And that can take you places!
Baby Girl’s eyes lit up when she heard that statement. She looked at me with pride and said, “I have a lot of imagination!”
Indeed. It reminded me again that against all odds and in spite of any cost, we must treasure the blessing of imagination. In dark or uncertain times, it is imagination that allows us to believe in the reality of hope. In times when we don’t understand something, it is imagination that allows us to believe in the possibilities. And, in times when the flaws of a situation seem to take over, it is imagination that allows us to envision a changed world.
I doubt I’ll begin painting “letters” every day again. But, the journey of sharing with my children will never end, and neither will all the things they have to teach me! The discipline of painting is just one way my soul processes the beauty of these extraordinarily ordinary experiences. Thanks for letting me continue to share them.