Roots and wings are treasured things when learning how to fly. If roots are deep and branches wide, then when you leap and spread your wings, you’ll catch the wind and ride. -Emily Little
Long time, no write…again! Not for a lack of desire to share. More from a standpoint of shifting priorities and the transitional nature of the last year.
In the aftermath of the fire that burned our home last October, life became both simple and overwhelming at the same time. Simple because we had very few belongings or responsibilities in the sweet little cottage we rented. We realized we needed very very few material possessions and very little space to live comfortably and contentedly. Everything in our temporary home was either given to us, rented for us or bought with money that was donated to us. Over the course of the last year, we replaced very few of our possessions. We had no storage and no idea what would be restored from the fire so we waited. We got a few clothes, a couple of pillows, some pretties for Sophie’s room, but we didn’t even have the desire to get things. Simple.
But it was also overwhelming. The scope of the damage and the enormity of the restoration seemed to grow exponentially the first few months. Originally, the rebuild was supposed to take a maximum of six months, but it took one week shy of a year to get into the house and another month plus nine days for all the odds and ends to wrap up. Just last week, we still had plumbers, painters, electricians, fabricators and carpenters at our house. It is finally done. But it consumed us. More than the fire at times. The volume of decisions, the difficulty of codes inspections, the bureacracy of insurance, the setbacks, the backorders, the budget.
Something had to give. And since I am a wife and mama first, that something was my art. My first priority was making sure that Sophie did not feel the stress and anxiety and frustration and fear that we felt at times. Life had to seem normal. We needed to go to the park and do puzzles and potty train and play ball and dress up and read books and BE PRESENT. Not distracted or sad or angry. She saw the house burn. She heard the sirens. She lost her lovies. She was two years old and still sleeping in a crib. Our attitudes and actions would set the tone for her . It was pivotal that she feel safe and loved. She may not remember details of that night and this year when she is older but hopefully she will remember a tone of gratitude and the imprint of generosity.
Although I fashioned a makeshift studio out of a small bedroom, I found that I did not have the space or time to produce and as six months turned into a year, this became a source of a great personal struggle. Deadlines missed, inventory dwindled, commissions lingered, opportunities passed, doubts flourished, frustration mounted. What had been a budding, possibly flourishing, art career just stalled. As a people pleaser and workaholic, I have struggled with balancing mamahood and career all along but this has been the greatest test for me. I do not doubt for one minute that I made the right choice this past year to focus on my family and my home, but that does not always make me feel better. Just being honest. If I don’t create and produce, there is no business. Period. Boom.
But now we are back in our finished, restored, beautiful, dream of a home. We feel like we are on vacation. We have never had a home that did not have a laundry list of repairs. We have lived in fixer uppers that we fixed up and sold. We’ve never enjoyed the true luxury of a new home. We don’t have blinds or cookware or lamps or nightstands, but we have more than we could ever have done on our own and in a much shorter time frame. And it feels like us. You walk in and it feels like our family. It all just fits. And my studio…oh my dreamy dream dream of a studio. Because of the fire, we were able to add lighting and ventilation and built in desks and raise the dropped ceiling to full height. It is no longer a dingy afterthought. It is a showstopper. Slowly but surely I am turning it into a space that my whole family can enjoy. We have a couch and a TV and Sophie’s easel on one side so that I do not have to be separated from my favorite people when I am painting. I can’t wait to share pictures once I get it all done. It is a phenomenal space and I do not take for granted the luxury of having dedicated space to create that is not only functional but also beautiful.
I am still not back in full production mode. There is much to do to feather my nest..and there are field trips and fall breaks and flu shots and birthday parties and dirty laundry and distractions aplenty. But I can see a glimmer here and there of “normal” life and routine returning. While I have been strong and content regarding the fire and the house, I have not been patient or trusting or faithful at all in regards to my work. I have cried and complained and vented and railed and pouted and snapped. I am working hard at letting go of things I cannot control and trusting God who gave me the gift of this art career. He has plans for me. I just need get out of His way.
My first show in 8 months is almost here. The Fine Art in Brentwood Show at Brentwood Academy is December 6-7. This show is so special to me. It was my first show after the fire last December when so much of my inventory had burned. They could not have been more gracious or encouraging. Please come see me and all the other crazy talented artists juried into this show. My personal favorites will be there and I can’t wait to pick out some new pieces for my fixed home!
And thank you so much for your patience and continued support over the past year. Whether you bought an original or purchased one of my licensed products or if you liked my facebook page or sent me a message to tell me how much a piece spoke to you or you waited patiently on a reply…those acts of grace really sustained me and gave me hope that I was not all washed up!
Here’s what I know. Sometimes with my head. Sometimes with my heart. Sometimes with both. Sometimes forgotten. Sometimes kicking and screaming. My job, my real job, is not being an artist. My real job is laying down roots of faith and fun and laughter and character and memories and love for my sweet girl so that one day she can fly on her own. I only get one shot. If I mess up a painting, I can paint over it. I only get one sweet Sophie girl. When you watch your house burn. When you see the ash and soot and insulation and rafters filling the crib that your baby should have been sleeping in, things shift. I am still an artist. I am still a working mom. I love what I do. I am driven. It will always be a difficult to do it all. But with God all things are possible.
Hope to see you at Brentwood Academy!!!