Are you limiting yourself?

Watch oil painting “Steamship Savannah” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I shared this painting in March in a blog post called “Power of Steam“. Today I’m reminded of this again, as I had a creative and productive day. I put in two sessions on two different painting projects and I also did some gardening, and researched a few baking ideas for the upcoming holiday season. And that’s when I learned that I was limiting myself without even realizing it.

Because, it had never occurred to me before now to learn what that fancy large sugar is on top of gourmet desserts, sugar that looks like tiny pieces of broken glass. I just never questioned what it is, or how I can get some. I knew my place, and I stayed in it.

I come from a family who was offended if any of us acted “bigger than our britches”. Doing something more than what the family always did was being fussy, fancy, or acting like we’re better than everybody else. So, we baked from-scratch cookie recipes with few ingredients, the same kind everyone else made. We did not make scones!

For quite some time, I didn’t even know what scones were. But one day, I had a scone and it was glorious! It had fancy sugar on top. It was part of a world that didn’t belong to me, and I knew my place. It wasn’t the sort of thing I’d make.

Today I looked up a recipe for scones. From the list of ingredients I clicked on a link for sparkling white sugar, or sugar crystals. So, that’s what that fancy sugar is called. It never occurred to me to look this up before now, or that I could simply purchase that kind of sugar. It’s not even an uncommon type of sugar. There was absolutely no reason not to know about this ingredient. It’s hardly magical, and it’s not out of reach for an average person, or even out of reach for a below average person. I didn’t need to super-achieve to rise to a level where it’s socially acceptable to purchase fancy sugar to decorate scones. But now I can even extend my new class status to muffins!

It’s silly that I’ve limited myself all of these years. I could have known the secret of fancy sugar all along, but I never thought to look for the answer. Even though I love scones, I didn’t give any serious consideration to making them. I just stayed in my lane. I knew my place. Why? Why did I do this? I don’t know. It’s like apathy or laziness of the brain. Then, today, I had an epiphany. I could learn how to make scones.

Scones were NEVER out of reach. It’s crazy that my mind had shut itself off from them without even entertaining the idea of trying. Scones are a trivial example of how we don’t see what’s possible, but it’s a delicious one. Are you limiting yourself? Is there something you’d like to do that you’re blind and deaf to the possibility of doing? Sometimes we stay where we’ve always been and we’re not even aware of our mental habit.

Embrace the pioneering spirit and exhilarating freedom of the Steamship Savannah! Our everyday ordinary lives can be more joyful if we don’t limit ourselves. Whether it’s learning how to make scones, or something much bigger, may we push ourselves to explore more possibilities and approach life with an adventurous spirit.

Power of Steam

First, the oil painting, then the story behind it… make sure you don’t miss your challenge invitation. Do you accept?

Watch me paint this seascape in 2 minute time-lapse. It was my first time painting on a canvas this large.

“The Steamship Savannah was the first ship to cross the Atlantic by steam. What a happy, exhilarating feeling it must have been to stand on the shores, watching this pioneering ship set sail... When anything is possible, everything is. May we be inspired by those who took this maiden voyage and showed us how to dream and achieve.”

- from the book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Update to the above story…


I’d planned on more voyages of my own. After our return from living in Ireland, there was no reason for the adventures to end, but our travels were ill fated. The only places we were “going”, were through the spirit of discovery of the mind.


Pioneering new ways to think, create, and share is a bit like the power of steam. Steam power was invented as a solution to problems, namely as an engine to pump out flooded coal mines. We too often discover something new through the “power of steam”, an innovative solution to a problem that sets us sailing on an unexpected and exhilarating adventure.

Natalie Buske Thomas at Celtic Sea Coast

Tomorrow is the launch of my pioneering oil painting adventure, using technology in a way that no artist has ever done before. I’ve seized the opportunity to try Amazon’s new feature to embed video into e-books, and the book will be offered in a free promotion that should get a lot of attention. I’m ready!


This spirit of discovery wasn’t quite the thrill I’d been pining for… for years now I’ve wanted my art to “come alive” as viewers read my books, but it’s a grand start! For the first time, the technology exists to pioneer merging books and art in an innovative way. As time goes on, I plan to step up my game and create the illusion of a story coming alive as its being painted.


Because my file sizes are enormous for e-book format standards, today’s technology (available to us average yokels) doesn’t yet have this capacity. I could only choose one moving picture (one video to embed). The others had to be linked to. Viewers must click on the link and watch my painting videos hosted on my own independent website. But, in one glorious part of the voyage, my art “comes alive” inside the book, or so it should… if the reading device works as expected.


Another somewhat disappointing bit is that the video doesn’t spontaneously play. It seems that viewers must click play. I also had to downsize my 100+ images a little bit. They are still high resolution though, and such a very long way from the early days when a single image would crash an entire website! Now we can put sharp, full color, massive images and VIDEO into digital books.


Wow! I’d have eaten all of this up when I was a child bookworm. But who says I can’t be excited now, in 2021? Aren’t we all still that child inside? Embrace the thrills of the future! What can we do tomorrow? What can we do TODAY?


When life took an unexpected turn of unemployment, hardship and grieving the loss of a parent I was the caregiver for, my reaction was to flee. I escaped with my family into a whole new life of travel and adventure, selling most of what we owned, and leaving it all behind. But that journey ended abruptly and with no hope of continuance.


How would I solve the problem of being “grounded”, perhaps for years to come? Like the power of steam, a solution to one problem may lead to an exhilarating voyage. I turned my desire for adventure inward, and made intellectual, creative, and spiritual discoveries.


I challenge you to do the same. Perhaps you’re already sailing on new seas, and just need encouragement to keep going, or maybe you’re still standing on the shore. Your hopes and dreams are at reach, believe it! And when we think we’ve reached the end of who we are, we realize that we’ve only just begun.

My lifetime goal: 100 ONE THOUSAND finished paintings

See the page for this art “Steamship Savannah” and the blog post about my oil paintings of seascapes.

Journey with me!
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