The horse's pasture to the East...

Friday, September 30, 2016

AN INDEPENDENT DEFINITION OF PROSPERITY or how I skinned my elbows ... again

Well, here I am without a farthing to my name and it's October, my all time favorite month (or it is tomorrow...wishful thinking!). I spent the morning outside in the fields with horses and a sketch book, trying to improve my drafting skills. It's time to get back to the fine art of being an artist. For some reason I let that fall out of my days this past year. 

I've been doing some research on illustrating to see what kind of additional income I can generate. I have the skill set for it. I haven't done it for several years. And if I can use my own stories then the possible income generated would increase, depending on the success of the book. It isn't huge but it would be enough to make a difference in our comfort levels and, perhaps, would allow me to release some debt and buy a second hand trailer for the horses.

In the meantime I have to go through all of the practice that comes before the actual finished product. I've been experimenting with various papers, water colors, pastels and pens. The cool thing is that I can generate the images and then tweak them with photoshop if I want to. Even better there are programs I can use on line to generate the images. I kind of think I want to paint by hand though. I would miss the process of making my own mess and discovering happy mistakes that always occur when I paint and draw.

That isn't what this post is really about though. It's about prosperity, or my definition of that word. The dictionary defines it as :

  1. the state of being prosperous.
    "a long period of prosperity"

    synonyms:success, profitability, affluencewealthopulenceluxury, the good life, milk and honey, (good) fortune, easeplentycomfortsecuritywell-being
    "she deserves all the prosperity she now enjoys"

Being the stubborn independent that I am, my definition is different. I grew up with periods of poverty and wealth in my childhood. I was happiest when we were poor. Those were years of such freedom. I made extra money babysitting, did well in school (because school was something I could control) and, after chores, I was entirely free to do what I wanted. We lived in rural Wisconsin so I sometimes spent entire days by myself in the woods, wandering. I would take an old beat up, green canvas girl scout back pack stuffed with pencils and paper, a sandwich and an apple, cookies if I was lucky and a book to read.

No one checked up on me. I would turn for home when the afternoon sun was at a certain angle and would make it back by dusk. I'd sometimes came home with mosquito bites or ticks, dirty or smelling like the lake because there were always lakes and ponds to swim in. I loved being by myself. I still do.

I suppose there were dangers but I was a girl. It never occurred to me to be afraid. I loved that time in my life. I had friends because I liked to make people laugh but I never sought them out. I was happy on my own, a prickly independent even then . 

My definition of prosperity was formed by my childhood. 'Things' were nice to have but they didn't make me happy. A good book, some paper and something to draw or paint with, the horses across the road who loved the extra attention and my dog who went with me everywhere, filled my days. I had too many freckles because I never wore the hat my Mom gave me to protect my skin. I wore my hair in a pony tail or a braid so I wouldn't have to mess with it. My elbows were constantly scabby because I was forever falling down and, most of the time, my knees matched my elbows.

Over the years, especially in my twenties and thirties, I thought I wanted things. Mostly I wanted them for my children ; toys and clothes, fancy vacations and all the books they could ever want to read. And I was happy in those years too. But it wasn't things that made me happy. It was being with my family. 

And, later, it wasn't loosing those things that made me sad. It was having an empty house. I had to rediscover and redefine what 'prosperity' was for me.

I see all kinds of programs on various social media sites that teach us how to find our way to wealth and prosperity. They have a certain kind of merit. Usually there are some ideas about how to stay focused and inspired, how to believe in yourself and how to balance your time to reach your goals. Those are all skills worth having. We do need money, unfortunately, to get along in this world. I have indulged in some of those courses and learned a few things, but nothing to merit the costs. 

I think I've been searching for what I already have. Confusing thing to say, I know. But not too surprisingly I've discovered that everything I really need is right here, inside me. I have a family who loves me and they are all successfully launched in to lives that are a thousand times better than I could have wished for them. I am married to my best friend who still surprises me, challenges me and makes me laugh. And I am still that girl who loved being by herself in the woods.

So all I really have to do now is find a way to translate what I have around me in to a story line that I can illustrate for children. The idea of the circles in my life still draw me to them but now it's the stories that are the makeup of those circles that I want to define with color and that inner landscape I've carried all these years. 

It's my favorite time of year and the woods draw me to them again along with horses in the fields, a silly yellow dog by my side and that place inside me that has been waiting for me to catch up all of these years later. I'm still who I've always been and it isn't the things that define me. It's the story I have to tell and the circles that need completing. 

Time to get back at the fine art of living and discovering...

I am, ever yours, Nancy, out the door with a beat up green pack, something to draw with and an Apple to keep me company, smiling!

PS. And horses...always horses. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A BEGINNING AND AN ENDING, and it's all good...

A friend of mine is leaving the world. She's been sick for a long time and has fought the good fight. We've known each other for thirty years or more. Her son and my son were best 'get in to troubles together' skate boarding buddies. I've known it was coming for a while now. And I couldn't stop it. 

I spent the evening outside in the moonlight with my herd and my dog. They always ground me. And they remind me that there are natural cycles we all are a part of. But I admit that I cried too. I'm kind of greedy that way. I don't care for endings. I've always been a 'beginning and middle' kind of person. I've had to teach myself to accept the endings and to see them as a completion of the circle.

We spent a lot of time together over the years laughing, crying, being frustrated with each other and bickering the way old friends do. We worried about our sons together and laughed at some of the things they did, although we never let them know that.

I was her son's Mama2. He's grown in to a man with his own children and lovely wife, an exciting job where he sees the world from the top of giant buildings. He helped me, years ago, when I was struggling with a business I couldn't manage. He came in to help on some of the weekends without accepting money. He was there as one of my sons. He helped to keep me grounded and focused when I was so tired and frightened I could barely function.

And she has been my friend for all these years. She tried to teach me how to use a sewing machine, much to both of our chagrins. Being patient with fabric and threads is not my talent. But it was hers and I loved her for it.

Favorite memory : After we lost our gallery and home, we moved out to where we live now. It's a wonderful, funky place with crooked doors and windows and rolling hills and woods around us. The whole center of the house was once a barn so the floor plan is a bit eccentric. 

She came to see me, I think to check and make sure we were OK. We were sitting in the kitchen having tea and talking about girlfriend things when she looked up, jumped and nearly fell out of her chair. I had forgotten that another friend had given me a joke gift of a huge, full feathered and very life like rooster. I'd set it up on a ledge in the kitchen to roost, so to speak. She had no idea it was there.

We both laughed until we were bent over with it. God, that was a good day! Laughter has carried me through all of the hard patches that life always gives to us. That day was a good place to begin the healing. And the rooster is still sitting up there right where I put him. He's become a fixture here and I always laugh when I see him now.

I've decided to say goodbye by living larger. I'll do my best not to take anything for granted. And I'll try not to whine about the challenges but, instead, to see them as a place to change and grow from. I'm going to paint brighter, ride further and dig deeper. And next year I'm planting thousands of wild flowers for her too. I always do that when someone is born and someone else dies. I'll buy a pound of seeds and drive around doing guerrilla seeding, throwing seeds in to the wind from the truck and singing to old Beatle's albums. 

She has been a true force in my life, filling the room and shifting the walls when she is around. Just because she leaves her body doesn't mean she won't be doing more of the same. This year is going to be a good year and so will next year and the year after. In fact it's all good.

Tomorrow I will go say my good byes. And tonight I will sit quietly and watch the stars and remember. It's been a wonderful ride together. And I have no doubt she is going to rock it when she gets to her Heaven.

I love you friend. May the road rise up to greet you and the sun be always at your back. I'll see you somewhere down the line. It's good. It's all good.

I am, ever yours, Nancy, smiling and remembering