Happy

 I did this last night.  I found the photo when I was flipping through my phone the other day. The girl is the daughter of a coworker. I’ll probably paint it again –I keep coming back to this photo–but when I saw the photo it reminded me once again how will never be wealthy, but living in Vermont makes us rich.

The original is going to be a gift, but I am selling 5×7 matted prints for $25 (including shipping):

Print of Happy $25.00 [wpepsc name=”Happy Print” price=”25.00″ shipping=”0″]

Merry Windows

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Often when I’m driving around our sleepy town of 300+/- looking for something to paint, I’m struck the number of widows I see going about their chores, feeding livestock, fixing fences, and holding down the fort — often for decades after their husbands have passed away.

I don’t like to think of life without the Big Guy, but a few years ago he was laid up in the ICU for a week and that became a distinct probability.  For a few days I wasn’t sure if he would be life-flighted to a larger hospital or would he even survive the flight.

I was scared. There was the emotional prospect of losing the one person who is able to put up with me for more than 24 hours a day, but there was also the fear that I wasn’t capable of  managing life and parenting Thing1 by myself.

Thankfully the local hospital was able to treat him, and, after ten days of tears and crossing my fingers until they ached, the Big Guy came home, but I made up my mind that week that if disaster ever hit again, I was going to be ready to do more than just cross my fingers.

I’ve made job and attitude adjustments since then to try and keep my promise, but watching these other women tackle homesteading gives me courage.

Cards and Joy

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Bouquet of Roses

Alice Walker, in her novel Possessing the Secret of Joy, once wrote that the secret of joy is resistance — collective and individual resistance — to injustice (In the case of the book, the abhorrent practice of female genital mutilation).   I have often thought, however, she was also talking about resisting apathy and isolation in the face of injustices you may not have the power to stop.

I was thinking about that a lot as I painted my ‘Cards for Humanity’.

Every hour, if you choose to listen, you can hear another story of man’s inhumanity to man in almost every part of the world. With every inhumanity you can also hear someone justifying their inhumanity and someone else promising more inhumanity in (justified or imagined) retribution and/or simply revenge.

Listening to stories of innocents caught in crossfires, knowing distance and lack of logistical and political where-withal make me only a toothless witness, I was tempted to withdraw from the world. To worry only about the people under my roof and to build my barricades.

Then I began painting a card for a loved who was sick and remembered a connection to them.  I painted another I’ll send out to another friend who is down and remembered my connection to them. Then I painted another for a faceless person who might be suffering, remembering our connection to each other that the people who create the crossfires are trying to sever.

I painted more, knowing flowers won’t stop bullets or bombs, but I did know they will stop my apathy. They keep me from isolating my family from the world and surrendering to fear. And, if the only thing they do is make one person happy, that’s okay too (because, as Jimmie Durante would sing, it’ so important to make someone happy, and you will be happy too).

You can purchase Cards for Humanity at this page: Buy My Art.  After thinking long and hard , I decided that helping is the best antidote to feeling helpless and decided that 10% of sales on that page will go to two causes I really care about: kids and community.

5% of all sales on my Buy My Art page are going to Save the Children to, you know, save the children, a group of people that, as a mom, I’m pretty sappy and passionate about.

The other 5% will go to support education at Hubbard Hall, a community art and theater center in Cambridge, NY.  Why should you or anyone outside of a 10 mile radius care about Hubbard Hall?  Because through their efforts to bring the arts to kids and grown ups of all ages, they have touched the lives of people around the country and the world. They are a model of how to build a vibrant community – something humanity could really use. As devout member of the ministry of encouragement, I support their mission of inclusiveness and nurturing the creative spark whole-heartedly.

Cards for Humanity

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I’ve been making cards for a Holiday craft fair in December. I started making cards with flowers on them after creating a few pieces for family members and then kept painting flowers — get well cards for humanity.

Then I added a few cards for Christmas and  Hanukkah since it’s a holiday fair, but, as an atheist, I felt a little funny at first.  And I wondered, for the umpteenth time, if it was hypocritical and why  we celebrate those holidays at all.

This year, health issues are changing our Thanksgiving celebration, separating us from family members.  We still have so much to be thankful for, but being separated from family on this one holiday that is sacred to me helped me understand why the religious holidays of others are still celebrations for us.

There are the rituals and the memories.  But there are also the holidays themselves.  Hanukkah and Christmas and other religious celebrations that occur concurrent with the winter solstice are often celebrations of light at the darkest time of year.  They are celebrations of miracles against all odds and of physical and spiritual growth even in the coldest winter.  They are perennial demonstrations of communal good will and of hope.

Right now the world is in a dark place.  It sometimes seems like the bomb throwers (literal and figurative) are everywhere. If there were ever a time to celebrate light in darkness – to celebrate and nurture hope and good will in those who want it, this is it.

I don’t have any illusions that the bomb throwers and disrupters in the world are going to come to our house and sit down for Thanksgiving dinner to solve the world’s problems over a bottle of wine. I do, however, look at the very existence of these holidays as unscientific proof that in our species there is an innate, inextinguishable desire for peace and even good will that is as vital as our competitive and destructive natures.  That desire is something I am willing to work for wherever possible.

As an atheist, a belief in an inherent desire for peace not only gives me hope, it gives me faith (something I guard closely and try to nurture) in the future of humankind. And I’m happy to celebrate it by lighting candles, stuffing a stocking, or simply sitting at a table to acknowledge the good in my lives and hope for good in the lives of others.