A Beautiful Lesson in the Art of Giving and Receiving

Today I went for a walk, little did I know that I would be taught a most valuable lesson about giving and receiving, from a 4 year old girl.

About 1/2 way through my walk I crossed paths with two women and 5 little girls who were enjoying the sights along the canal. I couldn’t help but notice the little blonde girl walking toward me and how proudly she held four goose feathers in her hands.

She looked up at me and stretched out her hands, “would you like one of my beautiful feathers?”

“Of course I would, thank you so much for such a wonderful gift.”

Her entire body, not just her face, lit up with the pleasure she felt in giving me this very precious gift.

As I walked away, goose feather in hand, I wasn’t sure quite what to do. It was clear that to her, this was not a dirty goose feather, it was magical and beautiful. Tossing it aside wasn’t an option. I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing her face if we crossed paths again and I had tossed aside her gift.

The perfect solution came to me and I tucked the feather into my pony tail.

I thought about the nature of giving and receiving. It’s become clear to me that being a good receiver is equally important as being a generous giver. This tiny girl’s face lit up the world with joy when I accepted her gift, I can’t help but think that her light would have dimmed if her gift had been rejected or ignored.

On the final stretch of my walk I encountered the group again. Tiny brown eyes looked up at me asking, “do you still have the feather I gave you?”

I pointed to my pony tail and turned around on the path, “what do you think?”

“I think it’s beautiful,” she said.

“I do too.”

She held out the three remaining feathers, “would you like one more?”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Oh yes, you need two.”

“Shall I put this one in my pony tail also?”

Tiny hands clapped and she said “yes.”

I tucked the second goose feather into my hair and turned so she could see it.

“Oh my, you look like you have two beautiful birds on your head.”

Words can’t describe the warmth that filled my heart or the smile that spread over my face and hers.

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Artist’s note: The feature image represents my interpretation of the day. Out of context I doubt it has much meaning, but I like to think that my little friend would find it beautiful.

feathers

Rain Doesn’t Make a Day Awful, it Just Makes it Wet

Saturday was a plan C sort of day. A few weeks ago my friend Dan invited me to join him and his parents to check out the Tall Ships Festival on the riverfront in Philadelphia. A trip into Philly to spend an afternoon with friends is always fun and the festival was a unique opportunity to learn a little about naval history.

L’Hermione, L’Hermione, “A French replica of the 145’ long Concorde class frigate of the French Navy.” Image credit: Tall Ships® Philadelphia Camden

As luck would have it, the forecast for Saturday was 100% chance of rain in the afternoon, not exactly the best kind of weather for an outside activity like touring massive ships with very tall masts and impressive sails.

Dan called to let me know that our group had expanded from 4 to 6 people and because of the rain he was organizing plan B, a visit to the Barnes Foundation Museum and dinner in Center City. Exploring one of the finest collections of Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings sounded like a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Between Thursday and Friday afternoon, the size of our group dwindled from 6 to 4 to 2. Dan’s condo is in the middle of a kitchen remodel and since the Barnes Foundation is something that can be visited at any time, it made more sense for his parents to visit another time. It also made sense to move to Plan C, a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

A new exhibit, Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting, had just opened at the Museum of Art and we wanted to see the collection before it moved on to another city. We reviewed the train schedule and he ordered our tickets for the exhibit to allow for plenty of time between the trains arrival and the admission time.

I love taking the train into Philly it’s fun to be able to relax and read or people watch instead of being stressed out by heavy traffic, potholes, and parking in the city. The train station is always lively and it’s not uncommon to hear the beat of drums or a beautiful harmony created by two violins played in unison.music performers in the train station

The clapping hands and tapping feet within the audience energized the drumming, dancing, and singing. I couldn’t resist putting a dollar in each of the buckets on the “stage” that hosted these 5 enthusiastic performers.

Dan and I met up on the other side of the station and ventured out into the drizzle to hail a cab. We started our adventure at a local pub and sampled a couple of beers while catching up and waiting for our assigned time for entering the exhibit to arrive. It was a short distance between the pub and the museum and although we used our umbrellas they barely got wet.

The museum supplied an audio recording to add background and insights about various paintings and artists featured in the exhibit. It was a great idea except I couldn’t get them to work properly for the life of me. Sooo, after trying and fumbling with two different devices I gave up and just enjoyed the masterpieces through my own eyes and interpretations.

At the end of the tour Dan surprised me with a gift of 6 tiny color pencils from the museum gift shop – I think it’s one of the best presents I’ve ever received. 🙂 They’re almost too cute to use.

color pencils from the museum

Our walk from the museum to the restaurant was an entirely different story from the walk earlier in the afternoon. I held my umbrella as close to my head as possible and followed Dan’s feet through the wet sidewalks and puddle filled streets.

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By the time we got to the restaurant our clothes were dripping and we could do nothing but laugh about our state of severe sogginess. I think it’s a good thing that I didn’t look in a mirror, I can only imagine that my hair must have resembled something that belonged on the head of a clown and not anything like it did when I started the day.

The restaurant is located in a renovated firehouse and has some of the best beef brisket I’ve ever eaten. (In case you’re wondering, the person in the picture is a random stranger who was sitting at the bar)

Philly Restaraunt_06_27_2015

It’s across the street from the Eastern State Penitentiary Museum – which is now on my list of “must do adventures.”

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After dinner we managed to hail a cab to the train station, but not quite soon enough to avoid getting drenched again – proving once again that neither of us were going to melt in the rain.

In reality, it would have been tempting to stay home and plan our adventure for a sunny or at least dry day, but we would have missed out on an awesome day and time spent with a good friend.

Truth, Knowledge, Happiness – If I write what I really think…

flower garden doodle journal inspiration

There are no three bigger words in our vocabulary outside of truth, knowledge, and happiness. Each word taunts us, each word beguiles us, each word makes us hope we can figure out why we’re here on earth and what we have to live for.

I started writing and sharing my thoughts publicly a few years ago. My kids and I have had more than a few laughs over my being mystified that people could “find me on the internet.

I’ve sporadically shared my thoughts through writing and art over the past four years. For the most part, each post has been carefully considered before publishing it. Several thoughts in my mind –

  • if i write what i really think, will the people i love still love me?
  • if i write what i really think, will the people i love still respect me?
  • if i write what i really think, will the people i love listen and be open to what i believe?
  • if i write what i really think…..

would it open people’s hearts and minds?

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I think it might.

All is Well in My World

Rain doesn't make a day awful. It just makes it wet

I recently discovered the teachings of Louise Hay, author of “You Can Heal Your Life.” She has an amazing story and her beliefs are very thought provoking.

Her philosophy includes many points which center around loving oneself and how our thoughts affect our present and future.

“Every thought we think is creating our future.”

This sounds like something super philosophical and esoteric, but it’s really very practical and true. A few chapters into the book I had a huge “aha moment” when I read:

“Rain doesn’t make a day awful, it just makes it wet.”

Rain doesn't make a day awful. It just makes it wet

Wow, it really is up to us to make each day a good day or one that we want to forget.

She firmly believes that we can heal what ails us through the power of loving oneself and that aches and pains in each part of the body are associated with things like past experiences, negativity, fear, and a lack of self love.

Self love is not the same as self indulgence or self acceptance. It means that we treat our bodies and our minds well, enjoy the person we are in the present, forgive and release the people and things from our past that hold us back, and embrace our future with confidence.

Part of her teachings include using daily affirmations as a way of changing one’s world for the better.

After reading the book and thinking about this concept for a while, I decided to create a journal with the affirmations from her book that resonated most deeply with me. For the next 100 or so days I will create my book one a page at a time and continue to change my world one affirmation and one day at a a time.

At the end of each chapter is a longish affirmation that speaks to the lessons within the pages before it. Each one ends with the phrase “All is Well in My World.”

Just that affirmation on it’s own has a powerful meaning and I thought it was perfect for the cover of my new journal.

All is Well in My World - Journal Cover

As I see it, the focus of her teachings is for each of us to love ourselves and use our thoughts and actions to “Be Whole,” which is the phrase that came to my mind and wrote on the back of my journal.

Be Whole - back cover of the journal

I already know how the story turns out so I created the final page and glued it to the inside of the back cover.

I Am - back inside cover

It’s interesting to me that this simple phrase, “I am,” keeps appearing in my life through different experiences, authors, and artists. Like, “All is Well in My World,” it stands on it’s own as a powerful affirmation.

I created the backgrounds for the first set of daily inspiration with watercolor. A fun side benefit of this project is the opportunity to explore and experiment with this medium.

watercolor pages for journal entries

The first affirmation is, “I release the pattern in my that created this.” I am at Peace. I am worthwhile.” (Louise L. Hay)

There’s a theory that we often-times create a pattern of chaos in our life without even realizing it. The chaos leads to accidents, mishaps and mayhem. Well mayhem might be a little strong, but the word fit nicely. 

I’ve begun to wonder if we have “strings of bad luck” because we start and persist with internal thoughts that, “life is hard,” “nothing is easy, “things never go my way,” and “I wonder what’s going to go wrong next.”

It could be that life just simply runs in cycles or there could be some truth to the belief that our thoughts create our reality. Maybe it’s a little of both.

release accidents_04_05_2014

I’ll be sharing these daily inspirational quotes on Facebook and Google Plus. In sharing them, I hope the right affirmation finds it’s way to others just when they need it.

Today and every day, all is well in my world.

Be Kind to Yourself…YOU Deserve it!

Be Kind to Yourself by Beth Browning

One of the things I’ve been working to change in my life over the past few years is to end the negative self talk. We all do it and we shouldn’t. One night last week I found myself slipping down that path and decided to address it head on and through art.

While writing in my journal, the phrase, “be kind to yourself, you deserve it” started running through my head like a broken record and inspired me to grab a watercolor tablet and an assortment of my ink pens.

Be Kind to Yourself In black ink

The funny thing is that the very first version had a “writo” and I misspelled yourself . 🙂

The Y reminded me of a tree trunk and trees are a symbols for knowledge and life which seemed appropriate.  The “B” lent itself to a rainbow.

Be Kind to Yourself with a tree and a rainbow

The tree needed some additional color and life. At this point I was torn and wondering if I should have left it in black and white. In the end I think the color makes the tree “pop.”

Be Kind to YourselfWhile I was looking for inspiration for the butterfly one thing led to another and I stumbled onto one of my own posts while searching for pictures of butterflies.

A couple of years ago I tried my hand at colored pencils and drew an interpretation of Snapdragons and butterflies. It was a piece inspired by my grandmother’s gardens and my favorite flower. This became the inspiration for the butterfly.

white butterfly set free

The butterfly took on a completely unique and somewhat abstract look.

Be Kind to yourself

I decided to do the background in watercolor, which is a first for me. I’ve used watercolor pencils before, but not watercolor paint. I learned a few lessons here about how ink and watercolors do (or don’t play nicely together). In other words, it’s a good idea to do to the background first so the ink doesn’t bleed. It’s also wise to place a piece of paper between your hand and the lettering while working on the lettering to prevent smudging.

In spite of some smudges and ink bleeds I carried on and brought the piece to near completion. I’m more than a little in love with how the butterfly turned out.

Be Kind to yourself with color background

The smudging and bleeding got worse before it got better and my beautiful piece of artwork became an experiment in working with the imperfections created by my inexperience. I have to admit that I came close to tossing it out.

It’s far from perfect, but I think it’s beautiful and I’m glad I completed it.

Be Kind to Yourself by Beth Browning

I’m going to set it aside for now and work on the next lesson in my Doodle Arts class but I’m fairly certain I will revisit this and create a new version.

In the meantime, this version is on the mantle of my fireplace as a daily reminder to “be kind to myself.”