Today I was flustered, as I was preparing for the taping of the Christmas show and I realized with a sinking heart that the first segment I did had not recorded! I had to re-do that, setting my schedule behind. As I loaded the memory card back into the camera to tape the whole thing over again, a flurry of movement caught my attention. Just outside the patio doors was one of our favorite cardinals, a bird that came to our feeder as a juvenile that my daughter noticed looked like it has a mohawk hair style. The cardinal made eye contact with me as if to say, “Calm down. It will be all right. It always is.”
And it was. All went well. The show will be ready on time, despite the failed recording, a dead battery that required a delay and a switch to another one, and several other mishaps, like when my feet got tangled up in my dress and I almost did a face plant, or when my daughter didn’t realize that the camera was rolling and spent several seconds itching her nose after the faux fur on her dress jacket tickled her face. Or how about when I completely forgot the lyrics to a song, or when I was ready to paint but had forgotten my palette (the paint!)? My body aches from all of the climbing up and down the step stool to tinker with the camera, moving the easels and props around, and bustling from one task to another since early this morning.
It was a crazy day, but in the end I will look back on it fondly and remember the fun we had in trying to get this to come together. Hard work is always worth doing when we feel a sense of purpose and a connection to the people we share it with. A long day like this brings on a good kind of tired that leads to a deep, peaceful sleep.
I hope that you will enjoy the show and will feel uplifted by it. I expect it to be ready to share by next week, in plenty of time for Christmas! Please do share it far and wide when I announce it here on the blog. Thank you!!!
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I have quite a lot on my heart about Advent, but this will have to keep until tomorrow. I need to wash some paint brushes as I’m running out of time to get my special Christmas paintings done on time and I’ve made a mess of my supplies. When my best brushes are all dirty it’s a frustrating session. I also have a kitchen full of dirty dishes, and a family that has a very early morning of final exams and other stressful events that they need support for. So, it will be a bit of a late night for me and a very early day tomorrow. Today I baked an important cake that went well for the most part. I will explain more about that later also. Sorry to push my stories off, but I’m sure you understand. Life is about balance. When I need more time to take care of the household, I prioritize that. I will “see” you tomorrow. Until then, good night, dear friends. Sleep well and God bless you.
After we moved to Georgia, we visited the same beach on Tybee Island several times. It became our favorite place. One day this graffiti was on the pier: “I love life”. I stopped to take a picture of it. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a shadow. I turned to see that one of my daughters was taking a picture of this too. This is a favorite memory of mine.
Here’s another favorite memory… singing with my daughters at a senior living facility for Christmas.
Do you see what I see? Do you see signs that say, “I love life”? Do you share that vision with the people you love? Be joyful in all that you do. Look for magical moments of spontaneous connection, serendipity, connected consciousness and hope. We see what we choose to see.
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Can’t you just hear the jingle of the sleigh bells? Christmas is coming soon! Do you have plans for how you will celebrate this special time of year? Maybe you’d like to try something new?
My family started a Secret Santa tradition that is a bit different from the usual. Instead of exchanging presents, the “secret” is a home-cooked meal. We don’t know what each other is planning to cook for us until it’s dinner time on their scheduled day to be the secret (chef) Santa. I haven’t decided yet what I’ll do for my turn, but I plan to go BIG!
Last year I knew exactly what to make and that’s a bit of a funny story that I’ll tell you about tomorrow. I’m afraid I have to leave you in suspense for now because I am tired and need to get to bed. Goodnight, dear friends!
This painting was inspired by a rare snowfall in the Deep South (Savannah, Georgia), the first year we moved here. Of course it would snow! It would have been the first year of my life to live in a place that doesn’t snow, and yet it snowed, just like it had in Ireland where it can be somewhat rare to get measurable snow. It seemed that endless winter followed me wherever I landed. I was born in upstate New York where we had “lake effect” snow which resulted in snow banks so high that it was impossible to see cars coming at a crossroads. I remember a snowy day when the snow was up past our front door and it was hard to get out. I lived in places in the Midwest and up North in Minnesota, where it was not uncommon for snow to start in October and the last snow to drop in May! I grew to feel despair when winter was settling in.
So, I was looking forward to something new. Funny how the locals all told me that it “never” snows in Savannah (untrue, it snows every few years). It was amusing and not surprising that my arrival felt like the reason why it snowed heavily that first winter, between Christmas and New Year’s. It was a blessing for us, as our son was upset about no snow and was having a hard adjustment in general. It was as if by a miracle it snowed in the Deep South. It was a Christmas present to our family and helped us through that first winter.
Finally, the following year here in Georgia there was no snow for the first time in my life, and hasn’t been since. But, it’s cold tonight and there is a possibility of dropping temperatures below freezing. This may be another rare Southern winter in which there is measurable snow. We shall see!
I like to use this painting for my updates. The music in the video is an instrumental version of “Be Thou my Vision”. The lyrics are appropriate for how I feel as an artist.
My update: Well, today isn’t going to work out for painting. I do plan to have the next one ready to share soon, but it probably won’t be tomorrow. I’d planned tentatively in my head for tomorrow, but I’m fine with a delay. I’m ahead of schedule, as I’ve been working on the 2022 collection for a while now. This gives me leeway to take my time if other things pop up or if lighting conditions aren’t great (natural sunlight coming in through the windows is preferred over solely artificial lighting).
In other news-
The holiday show is coming along. It’s a Christmas one, and will be the last live-taping event show I do for 2021. You’ve met my whole family by now in the videos I share, but this will be the first painting variety show in which all of them will make a guest appearance at the same time. I hope that you tune in when I share it and please share it with others. There are so few of us producing original shows that are positive and authentic. I want my work, and my family’s gift of their time and talents as well, to make a difference. For a short half hour, may we bring hope and smiles to you through our singing, dancing, art, and happiness (and one surprise act that I’m not telling you, as it would be a spoiler!).
In the end, it’s not about the talent, work ethic, or social power of what we create. It’s about the lives we touch and the love we share. These are challenging times. We need for every lit candle to light another. So, please do share my special show when I share it with you. And if you could also hold supportive thoughts for us as we begin to tape this show soon, I’d appreciate that as well.
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This painting is about serendipity and events that make us think about how the puzzle pieces of life fit together, and how important we are to God. I blogged about this painting in a March post called “Roads Unseen“, in which I told the story of this art, and an update. But today, I’m reminded of it because of the alternate reality vibe of this painting.
In the story of my art, I was at the right place at the right time. But what if I hadn’t been? Apparently my role was important to the life of that stranger I met, and whose name I don’t remember. Evelyn? Probably not. I am not likely to ever see her again. But stranger things have happened.
Today’s story is about something entirely different, but along the alternate reality lines. I thought something had happened and because of this, my mind raced through an avalanche of thoughts. Let me start at the beginning, which happened a few weeks ago.
I’d splurged and purchased a little garden sign post and small flag. I call it a “splurge” because I don’t usually buy things that aren’t necessities, related to work, or to help a family member. This seemed like an indulgence, but it feels important this year to show a strong Christmas spirit that begins early.
My plan was to buy a few garden flags to switch out, ending with a Christmas one. I started with an autumn flag that made me laugh when I saw the picture online. It is autumn themed with a pumpkin, apples, a sunflower, and leaves, but also features a cardinal (which if you’ve followed me for a while, you know that cardinals are special to me and I’ve painted them severaltimes), and also includes coastal images (I live near Savannah, Georgia). How hilariously spot on with what our family is about! I didn’t know how I’d figure out what our holiday display personality is, but this was definitely it!
Well, can you imagine my shock when I went outside and looked at my lovely display to find an EMPTY flag holder! I froze and stared at the sign post, as if I wasn’t seeing it correctly. I looked around. Maybe the sign had blown off. If so, the flag should be somewhere nearby. It wasn’t. I took a closer look at my flag stand, which is a bit different from the one in that product image. Mine has a much tighter holding area.
I snapped a picture of the empty flag holder and texted it to my husband with the message “STOLEN!” I then waited for him to arrive, as he was on his way home. He pulled into the driveway and before I could say anything he told me that he’d removed the flag because it was windy and he thought it would blow away or get damaged.
This whole thing took place over ten minutes or less, but that was enough time for me to stew, and mentally accuse imaginary persons of stealing my flag for vindictive reasons. These unknown vandals might strike again! We’d had some dangerous situations of violent crime in the neighborhood (SWAT teams involved, murder charges) as well as drug busts. Some of these things happened right across the street, while we watched the whole thing unfold from inside the house, while US Marshals were staked out in our driveway. This isn’t the best neighborhood, but it’s not the worst either. Yet, maybe I was a fool to think I could put something nice in the yard where anyone could steal it.
Taking my little flag felt like such a spiritual slap in the face. I had finally had enough trust to put something personal in the yard, only to have it stolen! That’s what I get for letting go and trusting life! All kinds of negative thoughts flooded my mind and my heart while I paced the yard, glancing mournfully at the empty flag. And here all along, my husband was protecting my flag for me!
Such a powerful message: we may leap to wrong conclusions, and assume that life is out to get us, when the exact opposite is true. What we think is stolen, gone, or empty may exist outside of our knowledge; held for our protection. Friends, we are loved by God. We may not always feel it, but it’s true, even when we can’t see it.
This is the season for orange and black, especially this week with Halloween coming up in a few days. A tiger is always in a good costume for autumn parties! No parties for me, but I did bake chocolate cream-filled cupcakes topped with orange icing, so that’s my orange and black for the year.
I’ve been busy with gardening projects and other things that have come up, but I finally started my new painting today. I have two more autumn/harvest related oil paintings to finish before I make the seasonal change to winter/Christmas. I’ve also put some time into the Christmas show and I hope you’ll join me and my family for that. I will share it right here on the blog, so please subscribe if you haven’t already. Don’t miss it- it will be joyous and special!
This “Christmas Star” art is included in the 2021 collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Nature” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas. The Christmas Star occurred at the close of 2020 during the winter solstice on December 21. This special sky event occurs when Jupiter and Saturn line up to appear as one star. It was the first time in 800 years that the Christmas Star was visible.
You can watch Natalie paint “The Christmas Star”, featuring Mary and baby Jesus, during the live taping of the Christmas Show.