Today’s lettering practice is brought to you by two exciting pieces of information…
One, it’s summer. I know that’s old news, but THIS is the week I’m trying to help us settle into some kind of flexible routine with getting client work finished, moving forward with Pond project ideas, achieving a measure of the “lazy, hazy” summer element, AND taking advantage of the blessing of all my kids at home with me for this season. We’ve spent the last two weeks in celebration mode that school is out and spending down time at the farm, and now, we’re home where at least a little bit of routine and intention are needed to keep the balls rolling. This is the second year we’ve chosen not to participate in any kind of summer care-giver program for the kids, and the first year I decided not to fill their time up with various camps. I’ve been feeling through the last semester that they (and I as the mommy/schedule maker/logistics coordinator) needed a break from so much scheduled and structured activities. I wanted us all to have free time – a concept that seems to be so undervalued in these days of rushing toward achievement after achievement.
So, the big question abounding is time! How do I manage it and capitalize on it all at the same time? Along with feeling like it’s ok to waste it every now and then? I’m still working through those decisions and balancing how and when I focus on work. And when I choose to set it aside. These days are precious. There are only a few years, really, when the concept of “summer vacation” is even possible for all of us in the same way, at the same time, in the same place. And, although I don’t like to think about it, there may be few years when all three of my little ones actually WANT to hang out with Mommy. So, today, I want to be able to say “Yes, I have time.” Even if I feel like I don’t. Even if it means I’m on Illustrator at the crack of dawn or rolling out block printing inks at midnight. When they have time. While we all have this rare and blessed time. I want to say “yes.”
The second bit of excitement sponsoring today’s practice is more of a programming note… my nifty Benks flexible arm iPhone holder arrived this week, and after a squeal of delight, I decided to try it out for overhead videos this morning! I have a small tripod that I sometimes use, but I was looking for something that could get more of a straight-on shot. It clips right onto the desk or table, and you can swivel or position the arm to capture your workspace. I’m still experimenting with making sure the shot is stabilized because I wiggle so much when I’m painting and my work table is showing its age. But, I love how it works, and I see tons of possibilities for this little tool. There it is in my set-up from this morning — cutting open the Amazon box to painting on camera in about 15 minutes (including time for choosing morning tunes!).
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 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.
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.
We woke up early this morning to the sound of a small thunderstorm! It’s been quite a while since we’ve had rain in the South, so it was exciting to hear the drops hitting the roof. Who knew a rainy day could generate excitement? Sometimes, perspective is everything.
It’s not a perfect democracy. Not a perfect process. And they’re never perfect candidates. But this right — this privilege — is one of the reasons this whole experiment got started… “in order to form a more perfect union.” So, even when our citizenship stretched us. Even when it requires us to step outside what’s easy. Even when it requires us to make a hard choice, we VOTE. We speak our voice freely at the ballot box. Because many in our world don’t have that privilege. And many died to make sure we do.
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