Heaven Again

Watch “Flying to Heaven” oil painting come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I’ve been telling you about my ongoing project to upload my oil paintings to YouTube. This has resulted in editing some of my older work, changing copyright-claimed music, and/or tweaking a few things that could be improved. In this case, I found the original footage (the raw files from the camera) and I re-did the video from scratch, adding a little bit about the context of this painting (why it was painted and what it was for), a painting used as an illustration in children’s book “Grandpa Smiles” about grief, the loss of a grandparent.

The footage is more grainy than you’re used to seeing from me. That’s because I still had our old home camcorder then. I wish I could go back in time and give my past self a better camera, but what’s done is done. I had no way of knowing that it would be important to me in the relatively near future to have clearer (HD) footage of my work (not that I have a fancy camcorder now either, but it’s much better than before). When we start out, staying within our budget is sometimes not only important, but we may not have any other choice at the time. As we change and grow, we can upgrade how we do things. But it makes for a bit of a mess if we’re hoping to have a consistent look and feel to the collection of our work. And here’s where today’s metaphor for life comes in…

We may wish for our lives to be nice and tidy, consistent, with clarity from the start. But that’s not usually how life goes. We may be out of focus, living on a shoestring budget, taking one day at a time- not knowing if what we do today matters for the future, not knowing which things will succeed or fail, and not able to secure anything with absolute certainty. We never know what tomorrow may bring. The best we can do is live our lives one day at a time.

If at some point in the future, we wish we’d had it all figured out sooner, then we are truly blessed. It means that we’ve lived long enough to look back. It means that we learned how to be better.

God bless and keep you, this day and always. “See” you tomorrow.


Please subscribe if you’ve not already done so. Thank you to all who visit me each day. I appreciate you.

New Year’s Day 2022

Watch this oil painting of a tiger come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

2022 is the year of the tiger according to Chinese tradition. Tiger years are “all about going big or going home”. The tiger is known for power, daring, and doing everything on a GRAND scale. Courage, leadership, quick action, and crazy dreams are also traits associated with “tiger years”.

I found this interesting, even though I know nothing about these traditions. From my own perspective, I was floored because when I went to write tonight’s blog post, my tiger painting sprang to mind as the one to share, so I looked it up to see if it was remotely possible that I’ve painted an animal that is “the year of” for 2022. I about fell off my chair when I saw that this year’s animal is a TIGER! Wow. So, even though I don’t have any connection to those traditions, I *do* have personal experience with mysterious serendipity, intuition, and thoughts or feelings pressed upon us that we can’t explain in the natural world.

Happy New Year, dear friends! May you fully embrace your “tiger year” with good courage, big dreams, and risks based on hope for the future. God bless and keep you, this day and always, and well beyond 2022!


Please subscribe to stay connected to this blog. Thank you to all of you who are a part of my daily life. I feel you here and I appreciate you.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve!

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

Are you ready to say goodbye to 2021 tomorrow night at midnight? I think most people are impatient to see these troubled years go. We are reflecting on the past, in the hope that the future will be better. Yet we are all here at this particular time in history for a reason. May we experience the joys regardless of the grief surrounding us, may we see the beauty of time, even when the journey is painful, and may we find healing when we are broken. Here is a blog post that may inspire you to believe in the perfect synchronicity of your individual life and time:

The Beauty of Time The mysterious and miraculous story begins a little way down the page, scroll past the quote in the brown box. Here is the opening paragraph: “When I was Mom’s caregiver, I knew her little apartment inside and out because I was the one who cleaned it. Yet it looked completely different when Mom was no longer in it. That first time I entered the place after she had passed was when the first round of grief attacked me. Her tea cup was still sitting by her chair. It wasn’t right that it should be there if she was never coming back. Yet moving her cup was wrong too…” What unfolds is much more than a coincidence, serendipity. It is a reminder that every life matters, and we never leave or enter this world without our time here divinely connected to a greater picture. Think of each life as paint on a canvas. Separately, we may think we don’t form anything, but together we are a masterpiece. Read this story.


Red Flower is REAL

See oil painting “Dancer in a Floral Forest” come to life

in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I painted this as an imaginary landscape, but it turns out that those red flowers are real, and I may soon have one in my possession! The flower looks remarkably like it to me, anyway. My daughter took a photo of a red flower that looks very similar to these red ones I painted and said that she always sees hummingbirds near those flowers on campus. Later, she texted that there will soon be a plant sale on campus. So we’re hoping that they’ll be selling those red flowers!

If not, we’ll track down where to buy them, and eventually we’ll have new red flowers for the hummingbirds. I love it when there’s a new surprise quest to find an elusive (elusive to me, the flower doesn’t seem uncommon for this area) new nature treasure. Sometimes my paintings seem to foreshadow future events in ways that are quite mysterious. In this case, it’s just a simple red flower that becomes a joyful treasure hunt and special memory with my daughter, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

When I one day have this red flower, I’ll take a picture of it- hopefully with a hummingbird near it at the same time. Small quests give us something to look forward to. The more quests we accept, the more we are given. When we expect to be surprised by serendipity and joyful connections, we are!

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Back to Work!

The past few weeks I’ve been preparing for the new show series “Inspired by Natalie” vlog, uploading my painting videos to YouTube (not done with

Read More »

Update

First, the above oil painting is one that I’ve shared with you several times before. I’m happy to report that this one was already on

Read More »

Golden Path

I shared this one with you recently, but today I re-edited it for YouTube and it’s somewhat different. It’s another painting video that I needed

Read More »

Slow Change

This lion painting has had several changes of music. This is the latest version for YouTube. The emotional vibe is entirely different, depending on what

Read More »

Heaven Again

I’ve been telling you about my ongoing project to upload my oil paintings to YouTube. This has resulted in editing some of my older work,

Read More »

Inspired Vlog

First, about the re-edited Sparrows video: You may notice this version has new music dropped in. This is part of my ongoing effort to use

Read More »

Protected

I’m continuing with my project to upload my painting videos to YouTube, after a long break from using that platform. It seems that my videos

Read More »

To be Hated

I decided to give YouTube another try. My videos weren’t been seen on there anymore so I gave up on it. My subscribers weren’t getting

Read More »

Angels Mourn

The story of this angel is one of mourning, looking over the mass graves of children tragically killed long ago. This painting was inspired by

Read More »

Planning

Don’t these parrots look engaged in conversation, with one parrot more chatty than the other? This was my daughter and me this afternoon as we

Read More »

The Day After

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired from all of the Christmas festivity. I stepped things up this year by trying new baking projects.

Read More »

O Holy Night

This song is part of the 45 minute Christmas variety show featuring 2 oil paintings, singing, and dancing: 2021 CHRISTMAS SHOW. Please share with anyone

Read More »

My Turn!

Yesterday was my son’s turn for our Secret Santa game. And today was my turn. Both of us managed to pull off a surprise that

Read More »

Secret Santa!

You might remember when I talked about my family’s Secret Santa game in blog post “Santa Claus is Coming to Town“? Our Christmas fun involves

Read More »

Seeing the Future

Watch oil painting “Autumn Forest” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

You might remember when I painted this and shared it on the blog in August. At the time I predicted that I’d want to share it again in autumn, maybe around October. I was right. Wow, I could see the future! I’m being silly, but the truth is that we all have limited abilities to see the future. Some have an amazing gift of prophesy and others may only be able to predict things that are obvious, like my example above.

Life is like this painting. We see part of the path, but not all of it. How much we can see at one time depends on our perspective. We may have strong intuition about what’s ahead, or maybe we’ve detected a pattern and have logically analyzed our situation. Or maybe we have no idea what’s beyond our view, but we’ve accepted the not-knowing.


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History

Watch this oil painting of the day (July 23, 2020) that the Statue of Liberty in New York City looked to have been struck by a lightning bolt, go from blank canvas to finished art

in about 2 minutes (time lapse).

It’s easy to feel as if this amazing and powerful weather event is something more, something metaphorical, symbolic- a portent perhaps. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know me as mainly a nature and faith painter, not a historical or political one. But sometimes I am deeply moved by something that happens and I put it to canvas. 

In this way, I feel that I contribute to a time capsule of sorts, and one day my work might be included when people of the future study this period in history. I believe that I represent a perspective that is marginalized, while the overwhelmingly recorded view is falsely promoted as “marginalized” work that needs more attention. No, untrue. There is an agenda that is recruited, and there is certainly no shortage of opportunities for those artists who fall in line. What we are missing is something real, beyond the propaganda and the ideology of those who control art and free speech.

I paint what I feel, period. I do not answer to anyone. I do not bend. If it means that I will be forever an entrepreneur doing solo shows, that’s fine by me, because I love having creative freedom. I believe strongly that we need artists who create an authentic witness of history to add to the time capsule of collective works that will one day be discovered by others. We need more sides to a story, more perspectives, more shades, more authenticity, more truth, and more empathy for how it feels to be a human being living in this age. I am blessed to use my talents for this purpose, and I hope that many more will be inspired to join me in adding genuine personal perspectives so that the future isn’t written by those who wish to control us, but is recorded by those who want to set us free.

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Back to Work!

The past few weeks I’ve been preparing for the new show series “Inspired by Natalie” vlog, uploading my painting videos to YouTube (not done with

Update

First, the above oil painting is one that I’ve shared with you several times before. I’m happy to report that this one was already on

Emotion and Logic

When I uploaded this one to YouTube today, I was thinking about how art is a language that fills in the gaps. How can we

Saving for Good

Here’s the painting video I uploaded to YouTube today, as part of my ongoing project to upload my art to that platform. This time, the

Golden Path

I shared this one with you recently, but today I re-edited it for YouTube and it’s somewhat different. It’s another painting video that I needed

A Stone’s Throw Away

Here’s another painting video that I needed to change the music I’d originally used, to avoid copyright claims. I like how the new music works,

Slow Change

This lion painting has had several changes of music. This is the latest version for YouTube. The emotional vibe is entirely different, depending on what

Heaven Again

I’ve been telling you about my ongoing project to upload my oil paintings to YouTube. This has resulted in editing some of my older work,

Preview! Sneak Peek

Whoa! Isn’t this cool? Here’s a sneak peek of my new show- just a still shot though, the video would be too big of a

Peaceful Change

A personal challenge is waiting for you at the end of this blog post, so I hope you make it to the end. More of

Inspired Vlog

First, about the re-edited Sparrows video: You may notice this version has new music dropped in. This is part of my ongoing effort to use

The Journey

I saw this double rainbow above the trees behind our house. You will see these trees and a rainbow in the video I share next.

Protected

I’m continuing with my project to upload my painting videos to YouTube, after a long break from using that platform. It seems that my videos

Different Perspective

I remember the day that I wandered around a park in Savannah, the one where the iconic fountain I painted is located, and took extra

To be Hated

I decided to give YouTube another try. My videos weren’t been seen on there anymore so I gave up on it. My subscribers weren’t getting

Can we Trust Ourselves?

Can we trust ourselves to always feel or act in a predictable way? Do we ever take ourselves by surprise by doing something that seems

Photographs and Memories

This oil painting features a cameo of me- it’s an unexpected self-portrait. That’s me in the red dress with my camera, taking a picture of

Hidden Danger

When we wade or swim in the ocean we risk contact with jellyfish, as we can’t see them until it’s possibly too late. Every time

Invasive or Beautiful?

This beautiful white rose is the state flower of Georgia. But due to their thorny and hardy nature, they are considered an invasive species when

Mysterious Fruit

The inspiration for this art came originally from the allegory and metaphor found in the Biblical concept of the narrow way (Matthew 7: 13-14), but

Angels Mourn

The story of this angel is one of mourning, looking over the mass graves of children tragically killed long ago. This painting was inspired by

Planning

Don’t these parrots look engaged in conversation, with one parrot more chatty than the other? This was my daughter and me this afternoon as we

Hope Set High

Like a lighthouse that guides us home, may we have our hopes set high that the best is yet to come. As we look ahead

New Year’s Resolutions

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? I thought I didn’t have any, except for my ongoing lifetime goal of 1k finished oil paintings, but

Do you need rest?

Watch oil painting “Docked Boat” come to life in under 2 minutes

(time lapse)

I blogged about this painting in the post called “Painting Rest“, which I invite you to read if you missed it when I first shared it. Tonight, I am in need of rest myself, so I’ll say very little. I spent the day catching up on dishes, cooking, and preparing for my next painting- the last painting in the 2021 collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Nature“. I feel the winds of spiritual change in the air and it’s caused me to pause in my work. I wasn’t ready for this one to end.

When I finish this next painting I will paint in a new direction for the 2022 theme. It seems that what I paint mirrors my life (and my life mirrors what I paint), and sometimes even seems to foreshadow what’s to come, or perhaps manifest the future. This is something that took me a while to realize, but now that I am aware of it, I feel the weight of this when I’m about to change course. So, I wasn’t quite ready to complete the final painting for the 2021 collection. But I’ll get a good night’s sleep tonight and I will start it tomorrow.

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Letting Go

Watch this Angel Releasing Dove painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse), using broken pieces of shells I found on the beach, and a tiny “dove” from inside a sand dollar I also found there, at Tybee Island, Georgia.

There are times when we must let go, and let our hearts say, “Go in Peace”. This may be a spiritual letting go, a time of grief, or a physical letting go. It’s back to school time for many families and those of us who are facing this transitional time may be feeling more anxiety than usual. After deferring college or other situations, we may have expected a better situation for this year, only to find that the situation has escalated.

Letting go is difficult under ordinary circumstances, but when we are pushed harder than anticipated, it can be more challenging to reach spiritual acceptance of the change of seasons. School is just one obvious example, as it affects so many of us at around the same time every year. But all of us are touched by the change of seasons, as we see summer end and the passage of time has brought new things into our lives that may have been expected or wanted, or may be unexpected or unwanted. Either way, change is difficult.

Even good and happy changes bring a strong degree of stress. It may help to imagine our spiritual self as this angel, and the dove may represent the peaceful outcome of letting go, accepting that life is changing. If the change involves another person, we may wish blessings and a glorious, happy, prosperous, hope-filled flight into the unknown. May we rely on the strength of our love for others to see them through to the other side, if they have passed, or to see them into the future if they are launching into new experiences.

Perhaps the process of letting go is about ourselves. When life changes for others, it impacts us. Even if no one in our personal circle has a major life event, the seasons still pass. Time itself brings changes that cause us to reflect upon our lives and adjust to our new self. As we see July slipping into August, we may feel the change of seasons closing in. We may not have control over time, and future events, but we always have a spiritual choice about how we respond to change.

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Growing or Thriving?

Do you remember when I first posted “Strawberry Flower” (when I painted it in April)? At the time, the strawberry wasn’t actually ripe yet. Indeed, it was barely a strawberry when I chose to paint my daughter’s strawberry plant that hangs outside. I painted into the future a bit, by imagining the strawberry as already ripe and ready to eat. Shortly afterward, my amazing prophesy came true! 😉

This morning I checked on my patio garden and I was alarmed to see that the cucumber vine had found my beloved new peach tree! ACK! I will need to end that monstrosity! I’ll unwind the coiling tendrils from it’s grip on the young peach tree trunk and attempt to “train” the vine to go where I want it to go. Diverting the vine from grabbing hold of random things nearby has been an ongoing battle with this crazy cucumber plant, which now looks like Jack’s beanstalk. Suppose I shall climb it someday to see what’s beyond the clouds?

On a happier note, I’ll soon have a bumper crop of cucumbers, most of which I plan to make homemade pickles with. They’ll make sandwiches taste delicious! I’ll also include other vegetables when I make pickles, so there’s plenty of flavor. The nutrition is better than buying pickles from a store, but not as good as eating cucumbers raw without any added sugar. The ones we eat straight from the garden will offer the best benefits.

And now for the vine metaphor that this blog post is leading to… thriving vs growing:

The cucumbers and strawberries are both are big success. My oldest daughter and I were wistful after seeing my youngest’s prized project, so we now each have strawberry plants too. Ours are also thriving. All three of our plants have grown vines that suspend below the pots. It’s possible to grow more strawberry plants from the vines if they grow roots. So, not only do we have delicious strawberries today, but we may have more plants for the future. And as I’ve already mentioned, my cucumber vines are sprawling endlessly. 

However, my wisteria vine is merely growing. The first year, we had plenty of beautiful, truly gorgeous, draping purple blossoms swaying from the expanse of its vine. The following two years, we had no flowers at all. The vine simply grew and grew, winding itself around and around and around, teasing us with leafy foliage, some of which would then die off and leave a mess behind. 

This season, the wisteria vine produced a single flower. That’s it, just the one. Then the vine continued to grow, spiraling around everything in its path. Before I caught it, it had wound itself around my dear red roses and snapped one of the established budding stems, severing it! It killed one of my roses! That got my Irish up, so I was quick to yank the wisteria vine and move it to the “naughty corner” of the garden where it is now sentenced to winding itself around an ugly post. It has beautified the post, and it has no roses to harm. From there, it’s fine that it may do nothing more than grow and grow, without ever producing the flowers that it is capable of.

With my metaphor firmly rooted, let’s ponder this philosophical question: Are we growing or thriving? When we simply muddle through life, adjusting to the changes in seasons by adapting and surviving, we may grow without thriving. We may even be a harmful influence on others, as our energy overpowers those who were flowering or producing fruit, suppressing them or even breaking their spirits. 

When a vine grows and grows without producing much, it may be more invasive than beneficial- like the wisteria. Even if a vine will one day produce a bountiful harvest, like the cucumbers, if the initial growth is a vine that latches on to everything else to pull itself up, it may harm the garden as the vine gets itself where it wants to go. The method to our success matters. A truly thriving spirit doesn’t need to pull others down to raise themselves up.

The strawberry plant has dropped vines that are not only producing fruit, but are floating below the plant, swaying in the warm breeze like it’s dancing. My daughter has placed a window planter box on a table below her plant (the plant I painted in the video at the top of this post), and the vines are gently hovering over it, nearly sweeping the soil now. Soon, they will land and we’ll see if she can grow more strawberry plants from these pretty vines.

A person who is thriving will dance through life without hurting anyone. When they succeed, they will drop their vines to inspire others to grow and thrive as well. There is a big difference between growing and thriving, and it also matters greatly how we get to where we want to go: if we keep climbing without ever reaching down to lift others up, or if we remember where we came from and look back to help those who are left behind.

Whether an underachieving and toxic wisteria, or a successful but overpowering cucumber, if we are a vine who goes on whatever path we want, with no regard for others, we aren’t thriving. We’re just growing, until one day we are no more. In the end, we’ll have nothing to show for our time here, but a withering coiled vine that eventually fades away.

But if we are a strawberry vine, we leave behind the ones we’ve inspired. We are never truly gone, as our energy carries on into the future. This is a life that is not merely growing, but thriving.

Maybe we’ll remember my wisteria-cucumber-strawberry metaphor when we feel too lazy, tired, or discouraged to work and invest in others the way that we know we should. I include myself in this. Whenever I come up with these metaphors for you, I put these seeds into my own mind as well. I feel instantly hypocritical if I don’t practice what I preach. So, I’ll strive to be a strawberry plant. And it just so happens that my favorite color is red!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Back to Work!

The past few weeks I’ve been preparing for the new show series “Inspired by Natalie” vlog, uploading my painting videos to YouTube (not done with

Read More »

Update

First, the above oil painting is one that I’ve shared with you several times before. I’m happy to report that this one was already on

Read More »

Golden Path

I shared this one with you recently, but today I re-edited it for YouTube and it’s somewhat different. It’s another painting video that I needed

Read More »

Slow Change

This lion painting has had several changes of music. This is the latest version for YouTube. The emotional vibe is entirely different, depending on what

Read More »

Heaven Again

I’ve been telling you about my ongoing project to upload my oil paintings to YouTube. This has resulted in editing some of my older work,

Read More »

Inspired Vlog

First, about the re-edited Sparrows video: You may notice this version has new music dropped in. This is part of my ongoing effort to use

Read More »

Protected

I’m continuing with my project to upload my painting videos to YouTube, after a long break from using that platform. It seems that my videos

Read More »

To be Hated

I decided to give YouTube another try. My videos weren’t been seen on there anymore so I gave up on it. My subscribers weren’t getting

Read More »

Angels Mourn

The story of this angel is one of mourning, looking over the mass graves of children tragically killed long ago. This painting was inspired by

Read More »

Planning

Don’t these parrots look engaged in conversation, with one parrot more chatty than the other? This was my daughter and me this afternoon as we

Read More »

The Day After

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired from all of the Christmas festivity. I stepped things up this year by trying new baking projects.

Read More »

O Holy Night

This song is part of the 45 minute Christmas variety show featuring 2 oil paintings, singing, and dancing: 2021 CHRISTMAS SHOW. Please share with anyone

Read More »

My Turn!

Yesterday was my son’s turn for our Secret Santa game. And today was my turn. Both of us managed to pull off a surprise that

Read More »

Secret Santa!

You might remember when I talked about my family’s Secret Santa game in blog post “Santa Claus is Coming to Town“? Our Christmas fun involves

Read More »

Downsizing our Dreams

Watch me paint these peaches in 1 minute (time lapse)

When the company that my husband worked for sold their work overseas and “downsized”, he had to train his foreign replacements before eventually losing his job. We sold the home we’d built, downsized, and moved. Our expectations for the future were downsized as well. Or were they?

Since we no longer had jobs or a house, we were free to travel and move wherever we wanted to go. That journey is a long story that would take many blog posts to write. We are forever changed; we are stronger and better. But I’ll skip ahead, to when we returned to the United States with no savings left, nothing but a plan for how we’d start over.

The days of owning our house and having large garden are now long gone. Our plans for a new life are underway, but we’re still a couple of years from finishing our 5 year plan. My husband went back to school. He’ll be an intern in the fall and graduates next spring. It will be two or three years until we are in a position to move from our current station in life. 

So, it’ll be a few more seasons of working from my “studio” in the kitchen/laundry room/living room space (a section of wall by the patio doors) with only patio space available for gardening. Because of this, it’s wise not to plant anything too big. So, when I asked my husband to look for a peach tree, I was very clear that I meant the dwarf variety that is suitable for patios and small spaces. 

He came home with this.

It blots out the sun in this picture I took this morning! 😲

I took one look at it and said, “It’s bigger than I thought it would be. It’s a dwarf variety?” The expression on my husband’s face told me all I needed to know. 😂

Well, it’s mine now! I dreamed of having a real peach tree ever since we knew we’d move to Georgia. I’d downsized that dream to a dwarf patio tree because I thought that was my only option. But… I’m pleased that my husband didn’t remember my lengthy conversation about dwarf peach trees and bought a REAL full sized glorious tree!

And look! There’s already a peach on it! Now, this one may not develop and may fall off before maturing, as this peach tree is young, but it’s still such a beautiful symbol of hope for the future! I took more pictures… I love how the early morning sun made these look powerful.

In the picture below, the branches on the left are from an established mature tree on the property. So you can see that this peach tree is quite tall. My husband says he can trim it down if necessary when we move. It will be a challenge, but he’s determined to transport this tree to our unknown, yet-to-be-realized future home. We are quite crazy, he and I (the good kind of crazy that makes life worth living).

The peach tree soars above our container garden trellises. Speaking of which… the trellis on the left is for my cucumber plants. I plan to make homemade pickles, like I used to do ten years ago when we still had our house. The trellis on the right is for the grapevine I rescued from the dead. It was a nearly discarded, nearly dead vine when I got it. I nursed it back to health and now it’s thriving. Its leaves cover the entire trellis and will soon go over the top! There were some early grapes, but they were tiny and sour. Someday it will produce sweet juicy fruit!

You can see my garden more in this shot. There are bell peppers, a blueberry plant, and herbs in the bottom part that I need to transplant soon. The big leafy “tree” on the right is the grapevine I was telling you about. The view of the lagoon and the woods is quite pretty and I appreciate it very much. It’s the common view that all of our houses on this row share. One last picture, below.

Here you can see my work for today, besides painting of course… and housekeeping that’s gone amiss. The vertical garden on the left is new. The five planters are all empty (the leaves you see are from the tree behind it). As I mentioned earlier, I need to transplant the herbs that have overgrown their pots (the ones in the bottom of the gardening cart). I also have new seeds for salad greens that I’ll be planting. 

To the right, those pots where things look dead and scraggly are my roses. They usually do very well but are in a temporary barren state because they were treated for a fungus. Their leaves die off when this happens and then grow back better. They are prized roses normally, and I’ve painted them in several of my art projects.

I thought I’d have to wait two or three more years to have a food garden, but my daughter showed me otherwise. She was pining to garden and we bought her a container garden of her own. It’s on the secondary patio square that used to have an outdoor dining set on it (I cleared that so she can garden, the chairs had fallen apart anyway). 

Sometimes we do things for others that we really want to do for ourselves, but have not given ourselves permission to do so. Of course I was aware all along that I could start a container garden and did not really need a home of my own or a yard. Obviously if I can grow roses I can grow food. But doing so felt like I was committing to this temporary life. I stubbornly refused to plant anything too permanent, anything that would involve an investment. 

For weeks I watched my daughter blissfully tend to her plants. My resistance was starting to crack. I even painted her strawberry plant for the new art collection. Remember this one?

She won’t get much of a harvest since she’s dabbling with only one plant or a few plants of each type of fruit or vegetable she wants to try. So, the only way the rest of the family will get any fresh garden foods is if I plant my own garden, and we are passionate about our perpetual evolution to a healthier lifestyle. So, really, I’d be doing what’s right for my family…

Once that seed was planted in my head, it was only a matter of time before literal seeds were planted in soil. Of course the garden expanded beyond my original plans to just get a couple of peppers, and maybe a few herbs… how about cucumbers for pickles… don’t we need salad greens? We need oregano, surely. How about a PEACH TREE! 

Just when we resign ourselves to downsizing our dreams, life has a way of presenting us with opportunities. Do we take on a peach tree that requires we really do get a house of our own again, with a yard to plant this before it grows too tall? Do we expect our dreams to come true, or not? Sometimes it seems we are asked to commit to our plans. Maybe it’s a test. If so, I passed! 

Is there anything in your life that would give you enjoyment if only you gave yourself permission to do it? I tell you, I made “compound butter” (butter that is whipped until creamy, then fresh garden herbs are added such as rosemary, parsley and chives, then the butter is whipped again and molded into a log to wrap with waxed paper and chill), and it was DIVINE! I put it on fresh bread but I’ve read that people use it as cooking oil and put it on meat as well. I watch my calories so I’ve not buttered everything yet, but when I can fit it into my diet I’m going to add it here and there. It’s DELICIOUS!!!!

I was so proud of myself for making compound butter, even though I didn’t actually make the butter itself. My husband had made butter for us a few times back in the days when he had a part time job milking cows at a dairy farm. He’s led an interesting life, that man. And because of it, he’s learned how to do a wide variety of things. But, we aren’t making our own butter for this project. What makes it so fabulous are the fresh herbs combined with the creamy addictive nature of butter. It’s amazing how trying something new elevated my spirit!

I have long term goals to reach, and the day-to-day of it can feel confining sometimes, especially since I work in such a tight space. I can reach out and touch my art easel from my computer desk. If I spin around in my chair, I can reach out and touch the kitchen table. Beyond the table is the kitchen itself. The din of an active family clanking and splashing around in there at all hours is only a few feet from my head. Then, there’s the laundry machines, which my son has currently packed full of all of his clothes without sorting by color (no, I’m not going to bother having that conversation). The machines are in a “closet” in the kitchen. None of this is artist zen, not even close!

We are starting our fourth year of this living arrangement, and I could have the attitude that I must steel myself up for a couple more claustrophobic noisy years of working as hard as I can to reach our goals, or… I can view this chapter in our lives as a beautiful time in which our kids are rather trapped into living under our roof and we’re all muddling through with people we love. There will be a day when I’ll miss this togetherness, these days of managing moods flying at me from all corners on the intense days, and laughter filling the space on the good days. Sometimes the tears and laughter change from minute to minute.

Whenever your dreams feel downsized, perhaps you’ll remember my story of the peach tree, and use it as a metaphor for whatever it is that you have put off doing. You can “plant your tree” now. Don’t worry if it seems you’re running out of time. You can trim it back. One day, you and that tree will be where you want to be, and you’ll have beautiful fruit when the season is right. Until then, enjoy the journey, because no matter how difficult these days may be, they will end. 

Time is precious. Downsizing our dreams doesn’t mean that we stop living. It only means that we plant our future gardens in a temporary space.

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