For those who know me well, yesterday’s post of a new location is no surprise. Going back as far as our first home purchase we have owned 13 properties. We find the ugly duckling on the block and from curb to bath we transform it. Never going large with a gutting of walls floors etc. we look for good bones and needed small updates, paint, flooring, an update to the kitchen, a new bathroom or two maybe some crown moulding and landscaping. It’s the project we love to putter with, over a year or two or five; when we are all done we seek something new. During my morning meditation this day a city emerged, complete with high rises, low rises, theatres, parks, beaches, a walkable community and I was sold. No lawns to mow, ground to hoe, just a lock and go. Another lifestyle for a future me to consider… country mouse or city mouse, which will I chose?
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I dreamt of Jason again. It was the middle of the night, when I woke up his presence was clear to me, as if he were in the room. So clear I knew I’d recall the details of his visit when I woke in the morning , and I have not. Not the details, just the hazy memory that he was here. My favourite dream is Jason coming out of the boreal forest to give me a hug. Remembering the forest and that very special Jason hug has gotten me through many days. Somehow this days painting reminds me of a boreal forest. My session began with ease, emerging to be bright and beautiful, fertile and full of growth while holding tight to hidden secrets. Lush, life sustaining, impenetrable, self sufficient.
And Wow I love this mini masterpiece. I’m drawn to the vibrancy and boldness of colour. Before I began to paint it I listened to restful, new age, meditation music and meditated. My frame of mind went from searching for a way to paint to instinctively knowing the way. I can understand why a routine of daily meditation has been adopted by so many. The music coupled with taking a few minutes to meditate before painting results in a feeling of double joy, double pleasure, double easy feelings while I paint and for the day ahead.
I’ve got rhythm and my body does too…The past three days theres been a struggle to find a meditative spot where inspiration streams forth. While I sat and placed my pen on paper, just because that is how I start my mini masterpiece, with black gel pen I draw a few lines…. My pen moved seemingly all on its own and in the end I painted something new. Instead of relying on the usual acrylic paints, I tried out water colour pencils; the white spaces began to fill with colour and I felt like I was returning from the dark place I had been on day ten and eleven.
Or perhaps it is how I started on those days. Wanting to try something new I skipped using the pen and went straight from brush to acrylic on paper. I didn’t use my pen at all to begin my mini masterpiece or during the process. The pen may be an integral part of my painterly and meditation style. And now I wonder if my three days have lacked lustre due to a poor meditative start. Just as these cards have become my morning meditation, so has my pen become my mantra. I love the result of this mornings mini masterpiece.
When I woke up this morning, my first thought was Jason and Mother’s Day; I survived. We invited friend Susan and her husband for brunch. A brunch for bereaved mums, a good time was had by all because it was on the agenda; having a good time was our intention.
To live intentionally or to live with intention could have been my mantra while I parked myself before an empty art trading card with a strong desire to paint. Jumping right in I settled into another field and slipped into the art zone where all time stands still, completely alone with my art and my head. The little bird in the right corner is a symbol of hope. And I am hopeful, of what I do not know but life is a series of opportunities and I plan to be open to many. Finally I am beginning to be glad I am alive.
Yesterday I was so sure of my ability to stick with doing a card every day. Today though, when I sat down to paint, feeling totally void of enthusiasm and inspiration, my incentive seemed to have left me. Reminding myself to be in the moment, I stayed seated, resisting distraction and the temptation to give up and waited for inspiration to strike. When it did not, I went to my comfort zone of painting a field. A field like none other I have ever painted. Normally the fields I paint, sketch or doodle are pleasant places where there’s evidence of growth and development, they are hopeful fields, not so with today’s field. Today field is a barren place of little hope. The little bumble bee I pressed into the left centre of it all is a reminder that if we humans don’t protect them our precious bees will perish, and then so will we. Although I’m not impressed with today’s rendering I feel success in lurching across the lack of incentive hurdle and just getting it done.
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:))
The phrase “A new beginning” went through my mind when I made the commitment to follow through with painting a mini masterpiece a day. So far in my life I’ve had trouble finishing what I start or maybe I hadn’t found something compelling enough to pursue. When I say follow through, I’m talking about doing something for the love of it with no apparent reward, no money to lure me to the end line. Without a monetary reward dragging me along to culmination of a project my interest often lags until it just fizzles out completely. I’ve had to find something within that makes me want to be faithful each day to this project and now it’s only day 8 and already I’m feeling pretty sure of myself. Except for one thing…today’s subject. Having a minor success yesterday I wanted to find and feel the same sensation of glory. In the end my attempt is another pleasing piece. All the while I painted I could hear the voice of my son, Jason, saying “just go do something mum”. And finally I am; it is the knowledge of Jason’s pleasure from wherever he is, that help will me reach the finish line with only 22 days to go.
Several years ago we upgraded to a large and lovely draw leaf refectory table to accommodate a growing family that in the end never used it. The table then represented unfulfilled dreams and I grew to dislike it and the ugly reminders of my loss. Recently I found a small round copper table for sale, it is the duplicate of my mothers kitchen table where wonderful memories were made. I bought it on the spot to replace the large and lovely and ugly table. Now I sit to eat, read, paint, entertain, write my blog, my journal, drink tea and coffee, share a telephone call or stare out the window in wonder at the view and all of this, while making new memories. Totally inspired by my new table and feeling full of painterly confidence I decided, on this day, I could stretch out of my comfort zone. While looking out the window I saw right in front of me, on top of my new dining table, a drooping vase of tulips from my garden. I’d found my subject for the day. Another memory in the making at this new dining spot that has become so much more. The knowledge that I can paint from something real has surprised me! Good surprise though eh?
I’m finding comfort back in the fields again today. Painting the familiar feels like a lovely meditative place where I can forget the pain of my grief, recalling all the things I love in this life and in the life I had when Jason was alive in this world. The brush strokes just came as free and as easy as I could hope for. Doing experiments with pastel colours and again using more of a colour wash than a heavy acrylic is new and exciting. Painting on these tiny cards has necessitated I learn to find a way to use the acrylics that is conducive to small spaces. I love this particular mini masterpiece; something about it makes my heart swell with happiness and love and a yearning to go there, to the place, to that field and make it my home. And I guess it is my home, my comfort zone, the place I love to go to. After all I keep painting in this or another field of my dreams.
Today when I settled down to paint I knew exactly what would happen when I began. With the knowledge of my own permission given yesterday I was excited and happy to stick with the old and familiar “field of dreams”. And there was a time when farm life appealed to me and I suppose that is why fields are my go to place. I was given some lovely little page marker post its, with birds or bees, dragons flys, a heart or and a key at one end. Clipping off the featured bird I pressed it into the corner of my mini masterpiece turning it into a piece I feel quite at home with. Adding the branch and fruit was a stretch for me but it seems to have worked too. My session with the cards this day was a free flow of pleasure. And as I had imagined, a perfect meditation. All my worries fell away and allowed me to be in the moment, for the moment. All the while I felt the glow of Jason’s presence and my own peacefulness.
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.