New Painting – Apple Orchard

Watch oil painting “Apple Orchard” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Another autumn painting for the new collection “Seasons“, and another one toward my lifetime goal of 1,000 finished paintings!

Orchard Season

Watch this oil painting of an apple tree branch come to life

in 1 minute (time lapse)

Have you been enjoying pumpkin spice goodies and apple cider flavored treats? Besides actual apples and pumpkins, there are so many sugary desserts and hot drinks to try. I made a from-scratch pumpkin bread loaf with whipped cream cheese frosting over the weekend. It was delicious! Today, my husband brought home some apple cider and apple cider cookies.

Traditions, customs, seasons, and trying new celebration foods is a pleasant distraction from worries and uncertainties, and can give a person respite from grief or hardship. Being cared for is nourishment for both body and spirit. A friend of mine said that her family’s motto is, “When we can’t fix what’s broken, we feed them.” 

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Memory Lane

The current White House Christmas decorating theme was released this week, and I was reminded of the 2018 event that I was inspired to paint

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Secrets

Watch me paint this apple tree branch in 1 minute (time lapse)

If we’re being honest, there are no secrets to life’s happiness. What we need to be happy is intuitive. The real secrets are the ones we don’t tell: why don’t we do the things we know we should? Perhaps we’ve yet to learn the answer because we’re not ready, or because we choose not to know. Change is difficult. We may feel as if we can’t face up to it, but more truthfully, we probably aren’t willing to do what it takes. 

Because, no matter how weak and broken we are, we can find a way to be strong. There are stories of prisoners of war or victims of enslavement who had spirits of iron. They never gave up hope, even when they had nothing left, and were abandoned to a declining existence of abuse and eventual death. Yet they stayed strong in their minds and hearts, willing their bodies to survive.

What we ask of ourselves is seldom anywhere close to that magnitude! Most days, we are simply battling fatigue, discouragement, anxiety, stress, and fear about things that may or may not even happen. Many of us have the freedom to choose how to fill our time- at least a few hours a week- even if we are busy. The words “I can’t” are only in our vocabulary if we choose for them to be.

“Secrets” to Life (that everyone knows!)

  • Develop long and short range goals. The short range goals will encourage us to keep going, as we see a fast result. That will keep us on track for long range goals that will improve our lives in a bigger way. Stick with these goals. Win. Make new goals. Win again. Repeat indefinitely. Never give up. When stuck, try something new. Never quit, but know when to move on (listen to the song “The Gambler”!). Never bend, never break. Be determined, persistent, and strong!
  • Become strong by doing things that will produce a healthy mind, body, and spirit. These things are science based, as they can be proven to work. For example, if we improve our nutrition, we become healthier. The effects of eating good food go beyond the physical, as our mental acuity and emotional stability also improve. The singular act of improving our diets can effect hormones, blood sugar, and other factors that have an impact on our total health package (mind/body/spirit). The same is true for other obvious areas for improvement: exercise, fitness, being outside, spending time in nature, limiting screen/media/Internet time, creating art/music/other, spending time in positive social situations, investing in intimate relationships, etc.)
  • Choose love. Choosing a loving response for any situation in life is likely to bring inner peace. Why? For several reasons, but among them are these: a loving reaction encourages us to feel as if we’ve done the best we could do and can now let go of negative experiences, thereby avoiding resentment that interferes in the ability to be happy; a loving reaction eases stress as the body responds differently to peace than to aggression; a loving reaction is in alignment with a spiritual journey and therefore produces happiness in people of faith.

Because we already know the above life coaching advice, these things aren’t “secrets”, no matter how many books are sold that use Secret in the title. How to become happy isn’t a secret, but our happiness should in some ways BE a secret. As in, we have within us a precious private space where we are known only to ourselves and God. This space is highly valuable to abusive persons, organizations, and governments. Dysfunctional relationships involve invading our private spiritual self, and attempting to know our inner secrets for the purpose of power and control.

Whether the abuser is a controlling parent, friend, spouse, or boss, personal relationships can become too invasive. Allow yourself to have secrets from people who don’t have your best interests at heart, but instead abuse your private information. When someone knows our inner selves, do they use that information to manipulate us into doing what they want? Do they know what pushes our buttons? Do they know what type of flattery and praise motivates us? Do they steer us toward certain emotions to benefit themselves, caring little for how their power plays affect us?

If the abusive relationship is with an organization or government, it’s even more important to keep our inner selves secret. Why reveal what truly makes us tick? Abusers want to know what triggers would manipulate us to comply. Protect yourself from powerful abusers knowing what your breaking point might be. Guard the secrets to your happiness, known only to you and God.

For what is claimed to be a secret, is no secret at all. And what should be kept secret is stolen from us through manipulation, betrayal of relationships (employer/employee, spousal, parent/child, etc.), abuse of trust, illegal spying (corportations/governments/etc.), deception, misuse of authority, and more. It’s important to know the truth about secrets. I talked more about this in my other blog post featuring an apple painting: “Are we Unpredictable?

Happiness is not a secret. It is a gift available to all. We may have to work at it very hard, with our full hearts, but it is never impossible to pursue- and find- the happiness that is known as inner peace in the darkest of times, ranging in escalation to pure joy in the best of times.

Never listen to the snake who tells us we must eat the forbidden fruit from the apple tree to know the best kept secrets. We already know everything we need to be happy. Happiness is a spiritual gift. 

Specific tips for establishing inner peace: “Do we want Peace?

More about developing strength: “Peace through Strength

More about happiness: “Balance

More about breaking free from dysfunctional relationships (personal/work/government): “Dark to Light

More about happiness: “Be a Lamb

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“Narrow Way”

Watch Natalie paint “Narrow Way” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

This art is part of the collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by my Christian Faith

From Natalie: “Inspired by Matthew 7:13-14: ‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’ (I focused on the paths/roads) But I kept imagining an apple tree in the middle… between the two paths. I couldn’t let go of that image, so I looked it up to see if there was anything that could grow on a tree that is poisonous, that looks like an apple. There IS. It’s called a Manchineel Tree, or “tree of death”. Then I knew what the apple tree image was about. The half that is near the narrow path bears good fruit- red delicious apples. The half near the wide path bears poisonous fruit- in fact, the tree on that side is so poisonous that even being near it can be fatal. The tree that bears good or poisonous fruit also reminds me of the fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-23 ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’ When we choose the narrow way, we may receive the fruit of the Spirit, which is the secret to a lifetime of happiness- and beyond.”

Small Print “Narrow Way”

All small prints are approximately 8 x 10. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.

$33.50

Medium Print “Narrow Way”

All medium prints are approximately 16 x 20. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.

$65.50

Large Print “Narrow Way”

All large prints are approximately 24 x 30. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.

$98.50