“What good shall I do this day” is one of two quotes found in Benjamin Franklins daily journals. His other quote is a follow up, “what good have I done today”. Two questions he asked himself, one first thing in the morning before he began his day and the second, in the evening as he reflected on his day. Yesterday I felt guilty for being too busy, for filling my time up with productivity and not enough quiet reflection. Today, the good I can do is to find pleasure in each task I set out for myself, by being in the moment with each task. “True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.” Quote by Antoine de Saint
When I wake up each morning my son Jason is on my mind and his message of “I just want you to be happy” is like a mantra in my mind and heart. His message gives me energy to do my best for the day just to honour his wish. The key, for me, to a happy life is living in the moment and as the little Buddha says “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way”. This morning with happy anticipation and wanting to use one of my new “Postit” page markers, I chose one with a key. My mini masterpiece on this day has been a pleasure to paint all through the process a sense of calm surrounded me as I was reminded of what the key represents….happiness is the way:))
When I create little villages it makes me feel at home or that I have a home. No matter where I am if I paint, doodle, sketch a little village I begin to feel soothed. The little village below is no particular place in the world. Just a place in my mind. As I painted it, I wondered if this is the home I seek; am I attempting to create something on paper that is so illusive to me in life. When I practiced Transcendental Meditation back in the 70’s I used a mantra to carry myself into a meditative state. I like to think, my mini masterpieces are, just by by painting the same old familiar scenes of villages or fields, my path to nirvana!
My art card for this day began very slowly. My inspiration seemed so absent; I sat down, held pen, stared at the tiny card, willed action. Finally just went to my familiar place of doodled country scene and through experiment ended up using my acrylic paint as a water colour. The tiny space seemed to necessitate thinning out my colours, and I do like the affect, one I will try again. The whole process of creating this mini masterpiece was so familiar, so easy to do and came with such flow I forgave myself for turning to the familiar when in doubt. There is a kind of comfort and pleasure in the known and familiar action, which bodes the question, will I find my way to comfort and pleasure through the unknown. I’ll need to experiment at some point.
As I worked on my mini masterpiece I recalled being with Jason while he was in hospital and colouring in a little note book I bought for the purpose. It was meant for Jason to use and ended up a collaborative effort by both of us, his kids and other family members. Of course I’ve kept the note book as a reminder of last happy times together.
April 28, 2014
Recently someone tried to give me a book on grief suggesting it would help me with the sadness I feel each day as the result of the loss of my son. I was taken aback as it is not a book on grief I need. What I need are books on joy or how to find joy and happiness? The quote below by Lao Tzu was one I had seen many times before without really taking notice. Then for some reason it took hold of me when I read it again about two months ago. The message has been instrumental in helping me manage to live with grief through seeking joy and looking for the good… by living in the moment.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
At the time I had just begun a journey of thirty days of art trading cards or what I like to call mini masterpieces. The art cards are hand decorated, or hand painted cards measuring 2.5″x3.5″, meant for artists to trade with each other. Hence the name “art trading cards”.
My art trading cards are not for trading, they are for 30 days of therapy. The 30 day idea was incepted after I had introduced a friend, with supposedly no artistic ability, to art cards.
We each did two on that first day and while we worked away we became relaxed and floated into almost a meditative state as we worked side by side. The art cards were a success on many levels. Soon I got an email saying she had enjoyed doing the cards so much she was intending to make a commitment to herself of one card a day for thirty days. I decided to join her.
As it happened the new month was March and that is when we started our cards. By chance we began our thirty days on a new moon, an auspicious time for starting a new trip or new venture. Today is also a new moon, a very lucky time for beginning new projects. Until the next new moon, I’ll be sharing the cards I painted, how the process went and what making these mini masterpieces has meant for me.
Do you believe in magic? I do…some time ago I spoke aloud , a wish to meet a like minded person, someone close to my own age, someone who lived close by, an individual who could share creative endeavours with me. I was as specific as possible then forgot all about my wish…..And wallah! Through what appeared to be chance I met Susan at a grief support group. A like minded person who had also lost an adult child, she is my age, and is living in my little village. The only thing she claimed was missing was an aptitude for art. And so one day I invited her for lunch with a plan to introduce her to Art Trading cards. She took to the cards and a day later in an email she shared her plan to do a card a day for a month. Loving the idea I decided to join her and from our separate residences we have begun.
I like to call my cards “Mini Masterpieces”. They measure just 2.5″ x 3.5″ and can have as much or as little detail as possible. I was no stranger to art cards and know the process to be quite meditative. Never being one to sit still long enough to actually meditate this instantly seems to provide a therapeutic element that may have the effect of a good daily meditation practice.