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. 

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