Remembering to BE a Geranium

It's stifling hot here in the Mid-West.  As soon as I step outside in the morning, the air weighs so heavy on me I have trouble breathing.  My garden is looking a little heavy too and I don't have many things blooming.  My garden could be synonymous for my spirit.  Not much blooming, just trying to bare the heat and stay alive.  Changes at work, uncertainty of tomorrow, the constant longing for....  
It feels like my heart is burdened as much as my flowers are.  

But on my porch in their terracotta pots, the geraniums thrive and bloom.  I can't help but smile yet, at the same time want to kick the pots off the porch.  My "name sake" flower, if you will, geraniums - thrive and bloom best when the hot sun bears down and their soil dries up, reminds me of, well ... me or what I'm supposed to be - strong, independent, capable and best under pressure.  But lately I've been wishing for a little TLC,  a little peace, some cool ground... just a promise and someone who will keep it.

I've been drawn to geraniums for years, ever since I broke down and cried in art class while trying to paint my first one. (Here's the story.) I learned to paint them years ago and have never tired of them.  When I moved to California on my own after nearly ten years of marriage and having to start over again, there were geraniums lining the streets it seemed.  In California, they grow all year long and can handle a great deal of wear and tear.  Baby Kitty liked to sit in a pot next to one on my porch in North Hollywood.  I've left a trail of potted geraniums behind with my friends as I moved from place to place.  Some of those plants are still alive.  I see them in every place I visit and have tons of pictures of them.  And while dating a guy years ago in L.A. he jokingly called me GerAmyUm because I painted them so much.  The name stuck, but he didn't stick around  - thank goodness.  

And even though I have been able to overcome alot, there has been so much that is out of my control that makes me crazy and angry.  I'm tired of bearing up under the heat and pretending like it doesn't bother me.  I have worked hard at creating a life -- my job, my home, my relationships, my art...  I work hard.  Maybe it's time to just BE....  If I bloom, Great.  If not, Great.  Am I not still a geranium?

"Whole hearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.  It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone; I am enough."  - Brene Brown from the blog Ordinary Courage.

Exactly Where You are Supposed to Be

I've had some very interesting discussions with friends this week. (How truly blessed I am to have such an amazing, creative and funny circle of friends.) Anyway, apart from our usual complaining about not having what we want in man, job or life in general and just feeling exhausted from always trying to get to that better place - wherever that may be, (I feel sure it's somewhere in Paris for me - hee hee) my friend Bobbi asked but really stated,

"What if we are exactly where we are supposed to be?"

Wham! That really blew me away. I guess I always feel like I'm having to play catch up. I need to finish this, do that, be here so I can go there. Her comment gave me a moment of freedom and it was wonderful to think I am exactly where I'm supposed to be, simply because here I am. And really, when you can just be satisfied with being exactly where you are for a moment or half a moment, it's so wonderful, maybe even peaceful. I've been cherishing these moments of peace. I've enjoyed some fun side projects that I've really enjoyed with no grand purpose other than to paint. Yes, I'm still working hard on the GerAmyUm book illustrations. But while trying to keep cool in this heat and I've enjoyed working on these little bits of art. (You can see them in my Etsy shop too.)

Along the subject of contentment and being where you're at, I found these questions in a book by Paula D'Arcy (Seeking with All My Heart) that pushed my thinking as well. Hope they bring some fresh light to your thoughts of life as well.

Have I ever fully accepted life on its terms, living in balance with the laws that govern nature, giving in to those forces and rhythms, rather than struggling against them?

Can I see the crises in my life as anything other than errors or disruptions? Anything other than proof that something is amiss or wrong?

... is your life about so much more than these events you are experiencing?

Peace and Peonies

Last week I finished and sent off a commissioned painting of three stages of a blooming peony to a man getting married in Florida. Over the past year we've been in contact over a peony painting for his girlfriend who became his fiancee and now his wife. Three stages - much like the painting itself. Originally he wanted this painting last year, but I ended up selling it, then he wanted one at Christmas time for her, but I was moving to St. Louis when he needed it. This past weekend he presented it to her as a wedding gift. What perfect timing for Julie and Gary. My friend who attended their wedding e-mailed me this morning and told that Julie loved it and cried when he gave it to her. I've not met the couple, but after learning she had an affinity toward peonies and he knew about it and sought them because they made her happy, I was thrilled and honored to be asked to paint for them. Besides, I "get" the woman who is drawn to one particular flower - look at me with geraniums.
I have to admit I found it a bit difficult to start this painting. I love painting. I love peonies. I had a deadline! What was my problem? Painting commissioned work is so different mentally than doing my own thing. When I'm working on a painting for a specific person, I think a great deal about that person and what this work means to them. Before I even put brush to paper, the work has meaning which makes me both happy and overwhelmed. Here I was sitting at my painting station, trying to get through another grey, rainy St. Louis day and I'm in turmoil because I'm both happy for the couple but also struggling with my own "singleness." I'm painting a gift of love with Gary's hearfelt words writtten under each stage of the peony -
Journey... Awaken ... Love
and I feel intensely how far I am from this love. For the next couple hours I have to enter into this personal place of fear about my own desires while I paint. What a delicious smell a peony has. How it opens so quickly with all its fluffy layers and in all the best shades of pink. Much like love! Yet, inside I wonder if I'll ever experience this blooming. So you see, painting is not always technical. Sure practice is part of creating a skill. I work at it every day. But there are strong moments when the spirit/the heart/the soul moves you to work in ways you don't think you can. When I finally finished, I have to say, I didn't want to let the painting go.


The killing at Virginia Tech leaves us all with questions. The biggest one being, "Why?" But even that requires some sense. We can't come at this with sensible, rational thinking. None of that occurred when that troubled boy killed. Sadly, I don't think there will be an answer that will satisfy any of us. I went to college in Virginia at George Mason University, many moons ago, so I'm familiar with the area, the people and several of my friends are Tech alums. Very close to home - even though home is on the other coast. My heart goes out to all the people who lost loved ones. I cannot begin to understand their pain, THEIR questions. My prayer is that those who must bury their loved ones won't let the questions, the anger and the pain destroy their lives too.