I woke up this morning thinking our house was on fire…
Thankfully as I came to my senses, I realized that my hair was the culprit; An hour running away from the smoke around the campfire the night before roasting the most gooey, charred s’mores. My mouth is watering as I type this.
Now it’s afternoon. A different scent wafts through the air around me. Fresh black raspberries from our backyard bramble are baking in the oven underneath a buttery, flakey crisp. I can smell a whisper of sunscreen and chlorine as well; My Kiddo’s swim bag on the floor in the next room.
Summer has been a joy so far (and technically, it’s not even summer yet). Summering, if you will, has been easy. But, it took me a while to get here.
I wish that Katherine May would write a book about Springing, because spring was hard for me this year. The fickle weather left my circadian rhythm stuck in purgatory. A waiting place between winter and summer.
Reading Wintering this past January lulled me into a gentle, cozy slumber that caused me to enjoy the cold months more than I ever have. So much so, that I emerged back into the world late with the herbs rather than early with the daffodils as I have in years past.
Spring had nearly come and gone by the time I got back into the swing of things! But you know what? THAT’S HOW IT SHOULD BE.
Barren branches don’t sprout green overnight. Wildflowers don’t plunge from barely thawed soil with bright, colorful blooms. Transitions take time.
Modeling my life rhythms after those of nature has changed me, and for the better. Summer sun fills our bodies with vitamin D and naturally suppresses melatonin, giving us the much-needed energy to do all of the things!
I'm happy to report that I am now wide-awake :)
Summer solstice party invitations have been sent out and unnecessary but gorgeously whimsical decor has been bought to prepare. Whereas in winter I snuggled up solo with cocoa and a good book, I’m watching GOT with my bestie over a plate of Asian takeout and good conversation. Instead of capping my painting commissions so that I conserve energy, I’m teaching summer art camp and preparing for three upcoming art shows. My kiddo and I have enjoyed many ice cream dates with pals and impromptu play dates at the park. After months of reluctance, my family is attending church regularly again.
Summer is the season of “yes.” I have the energy for “yes.”
Before we know it, the stunning colors of fall will be upon us, and so will the need to wind back down for winter rest. I’ll trade in a spontaneous kayaking adventure for an at-home, early pot roast dinner and warm sheets afterwards.
But until then, “yes” is my word for the season!
In undergrad Art History II, we were assigned a painting from around campus to research and provide evidence that confirmed the artwork’s origins, creator, etc. I was given an advanced challenge, which I hope was because my professor thought me capable of executing it.
My work was Girl on a Path, a possible Renoir (as in no one knew for sure if the painting was an original or a forgery).
At first glance, the adjacent arrangement of complimentary colors and the subject matter alone are convincing that Brenau Women’s College does indeed have a rare gem in the university’s permanent collection. However, I did and could again present 2-3 pages of evidence supporting either side of the speculation. But I’d like to discuss something entirely different, and that is the speculation in and of itself.
Be forewarned that I’m about to get all cringey and existential, but hear me out: The girl on the path within the scene is the only one who knows the truth. What must she think of everyone’s speculation? I wonder what she would think of the Harvard art professional I spoke with during my research that said he concludes the painting is in fact a Renoir original because it is simply “charming?”
How typical of the human experience for someone to label something so complex with such a superficial term in order to support their evidence.
Such is life, am I right? Folks from all walks looking in on us, gathering the most surface-level evidence to support their opinions of us. I’ve judged folks also. We all have.
What I adore about this girl on the path is her inability to affirm or deny the speculations. She just exists.
Therein lies the rub though: I’m human, so I have a ubiquitous tendency to affirm or deny people’s speculations, BUT I can resist. I am capable of at least that.
I branched out to pursue my art business a little over one year ago, and I think that’s how long it has taken me to realize this.
I’ve become at home with myself. I understand what unique gifts and values I do offer the world, not what gifts and values I should offer the world.
Once upon a time when I was a teacher, people would ask me what I did for a living. “Teacher” was a satisfactory answer that gave way to comfortable small talk of security and college degrees. Now, a look of uncertainty overtakes people’s faces when I tell them that I’m simply an artist. Speculation follows, sometimes verbally and sometimes only as nervous energy. The need to affirm or deny the many concerns of these curious folks is relentless; The need to explain that my bills are still paid and I’m more fulfilled emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually than I’ve ever been. But I am happy to say that I’m comfortable just existing nowadays, without all of the explanations.
The thing is, I’m not a PTA mother. I don’t enjoy creating abstract, conversational artwork. Counting macros and doing HIIT doesn’t work for me. I’m an artist who doesn’t thoroughly enjoy visiting art museums. I parent an only-child. I don’t get my nails done or maintain my balayage in a timely manner. I’m a Girl Scout leader who has never been a Girl Scout. I’m not mother-of-the-year.
I am someone who can offer community children the gift of art. I love creating stylized, conversational artwork. I’m a food addict who is making progress with medication. I’m an artist who thoroughly enjoys visiting aquariums. I parent an only-child because my family feels complete. I have dirt under my nails and leaves in my hair because I’m a Girl Scout leader who is choosing to learn to make fires using only sticks. I’m a mother/previous educator who is well-read on child development and is equipped to choose the people, places, and things that will be a part of my child’s life and feel good about it.
I exist as the artist, wife, mother, and person that I am. And that’s it. The cherry-on-top is the secondary ability that comes with just existing: to genuinely celebrate my family and friend’s authenticity because I’ve released the smothering shoulds that overwhelm us all at times.
So, to the girl on the path, thank you for bringing those countless hours of research full circle over 10 years later and offering me countless more hours of existing authentically.
Art business owner journaling about my artistic adventures.