Moving is so hard and bittersweet. The passage of time is on display with every box that is packed, every room that is emptied. Today we loaded my son’s LEGO collection onto the moving pod. The LEGOs have been shipped to Ireland and back, and have been moved across several different states in the US as well.
He has long outgrown playing with these favorite toys, but keeping them as a collector’s item and to perhaps pass down to children of us own one day is why we still lug these heavy bins of plastic bricks from place to place. These bins contain memories of a boy who loved to build things, and all the hours of joyful play indoors and out. I look forward to seeing where his LEGO bins end up in the future, and the family he will build for himself. One day he too may rake up a pile of leaves- just for his children to jump in.
Ever feel that you live your life with reckless abandon, like these wild horses? What do they care about consequences or the worries of tomorrow? Sometimes we have a season in life when we have to take risks. One risk may lead to another, and a state of emotional numbness may take over. There’s really no point in fretting anymore if the stakes are higher than we can control. It’s time to let go, let God, and let our hearts freely and wildly hope, with no constraints, no disclaimers, and no holding back.
Yes, we may fail. Our dreams may shatter. Our hearts may break. But it may be that a leap of faith- going “all in”- a complete surrender of fear, that makes the difference between getting what we want or not.
Tomorrow the second moving pod will be delivered and Thursday we should find out the results of the appraisal on the house we’re trying to buy. If you’ve been following my journey, it’s been a wild ride. We got our vacate notice and have to move out by May 31. My husband has a job offer that doesn’t start until June. The homeowner was not willing to let us stay on for a few weeks past the lease so we were really in a bad situation during this housing crisis (not enough houses to rent or buy for the glut of people who need/want them; driving home prices above their asking price in bidding wars- selling on the first day of listing- and the rentals as well. People are actually bidding on rentals and driving the rent up higher than the asking price!).
We have had many twists and turns, including our first bid on a house not being the winning bid and having to start over, and we’re running out of time, but it looks like we will make it. Our initial plan to rent a house failed, and buying, ahead of our plan to do so next year, has been only through many unexpected and undesired paths, but here we are. If all of this goes through, we love the house and will feel we’ve won a very happy future! If the deal falls through, we have only a few weeks left to find a place to live. It’s WILD HORSES time!
Joshua 1:9: “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Well, we’ve made some progress on decision making after yesterday’s shocking news. Talking with a mortgage officer put some numbers into our heads. There’s good news and bad news. The good news is, after my husband graduates and starts his job, we should be able to qualify for the mortgage range we were hoping for and can start house hunting! The bad news is that we have to vacate this house in about two months and that’s not enough time for him to graduate at the end of this term, take his licensing exam, and start work. We’ll miss the move-out date by two or three months.
Qualifying for a mortgage ahead his job would require a lot of hoops that are discouraging, and would involve a co-signer, higher interest rate, and other disappointing factors. We’d also have to find a house we’d like to make a big commitment to very quickly, from the few homes that are randomly available during this short time frame. So, I highly doubt we will try to push a door open that really isn’t ready yet.
We’re now looking at rental listings. It’s depressing to see how much more money we’ll be spending per month than our current rent. It’s not fun at all to look at the photos and imagine living in yet another place that isn’t ours, is temporary, and where I don’t want to be.
And, my garden! I used portable grow pots and containers, but even so, I can’t move the entire garden to a new location. I have many vegetables and annuals growing in many, many pots. It would be insane to spend a lot of money and physical labor to take them all. And I doubt a homeowner or housing association would be happy with my many, many grow bags. As it is, I don’t want to let go of my potted peach tree, evergreen trees, blueberry bush, grape vines, roses, etc. that are perennials. They are investments in our future.
My trees and flowers will one day flourish at our future new home (assuming they can handle all the moving), and we’ll have a history with these plants; it won’t feel like we don’t have any connection or memories in our new space. So, I’m committed to those and it’s already too much heavy lifting and quite an investment in moving plants- I can’t bring my whole garden! I spent weeks growing the garden and now I won’t get to see it through to harvest. I’ll be having a plant sale to try to recoup some of my losses and fund some of the move. I’ll sell pepper plants, zucchini, eggplant, cucumber, green beans, peas, watermelon and more.
I thought I was helping my family avoid rising food costs and potential shortages, and boosting our nutrition, but it seems I just invested many hours only to invest more hours trying to sell these plants. Sometimes it feels like life beats me down whenever I start to see progress. But the truth is, I did enjoy planting the garden, even though it was work. It gave me a reason to be outside and get exercise. For part of that time, my daughter helped me and we spent good time together. On other occasions my family took my garden “tour” and we ID’d the plants by their seedlings. I did make memories doing this, and I’ve learned how to grow a large garden. I can do it again someday.
But not next season, because we’ll likely be moving again- to our own home! We’ll finally be home again after many years of transitional temporary living. “Temporary” turned out to be a semi-permanent condition. I’m a completely different person from who I was at the start of this. I prefer the new me.
I do wish we’d been able to stay here until next spring, instead of having to move again, but we will get through this. I don’t look forward to the move though, and I dread that first night in the next rental house, when I don’t feel like I’m home. Tossing and turning, smelling unfamiliar smells, possibly having asthma or allergy reactions, jumping at the strange sounds, and feeling disoriented about where things are in the dark- waking up throughout the night, remembering that I’m somewhere new, and wishing I wasn’t.
I will adjust eventually, and then adjust again when we move again. I’ve been through far worse than this. There were times when I wasn’t sure if we’d have any place to go. And there were times when I grieved so bad that I couldn’t imagine ever feeling that life would ever feel good again. Besides my past experiences, world events are incredibly dark and oppressive- my personal struggles are trivial in comparison. This is not a big crisis, and with the right attitude I’ll make the most of it. I will attack each day with positive energy, and even feel excited by the challenge. New adventures are good for us!
But right now, I’m tired from a long day. I’m sad I’m losing my vegetable garden, and other losses (things we can’t bring with us, more money spent on rent, deposit, the cost of moving twice, and more). I’m worried about how this will all come together, and how my family will adjust. Most of all, I just want to be home.
When things like this happen, even if the world is falling apart and others have worse problems, our struggles matter. Even if our past selves had bigger crises, this moment also matters. So I’ll give myself permission to feel disappointed with how things are going. On a happier note, I’m nearly finished with the dress I was making for the Easter show. I bought the basic layer and then built the dress up into an original creation- you’ll see! The show must go on. I’m looking forward to how the troubles of the day are forgotten while painting and singing.
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.
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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!
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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 TimeThe 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.
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!
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.
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.
Watch oil painting “Docked Boat” come to life in under 2 minutes
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.