I was reminded that fire changes things. It can damage and destroy, but it can also refine. It is difficult to accept or embrace these kinds of changes. (I painted this from a Boston Globe photograph by Matthew J. Lee of a fire in East Boston in March 2019.)
A recent painting for my "Fire" theme is this fire house in Waltham, Massachusetts. I visited recently with my almost-two-year-old grandson. It was a little overwhelming for him being so close to the huge trucks, but we talked to a nice fire fighter who told us the old fire house would soon have renovations and an another section added with more bays for more trucks. The fire house was built in 1890, and I'm sure has served the surrounding community all these years. It seems like changes and updates to the building are due. Grateful for the work of our first responders.
I made this drawing from my imagination, before I understood much about recovering from childbirth. I thought the man got bigger around the middle, too, as maybe he was eating more as he waited for the birth of his baby. I thought the man's bigger belly would linger after the baby arrived. Now I know the woman's belly takes time to go back to normal. Now that I am a grandmother married to a grandfather, I see our bellies are not so trim. We are talking and working on getting our bellies in better shape. We are also anticipating a birth of a grandchild.
The bright green chair was sagging and sunkin in the seat. When would it have been stylish? I didn't know. It didn't look attractive or comfortable now. Maybe the next stop for this chair would be a dumpster. At one time I am sure it was attractive and maybe comfortable. We have been clearing out stuff at my church to downsize our space. Letting go of things was difficult. There were memories attached, possible usefulness left, and value as recycled material. But we had to let things go into a dumpster. Sigh (of relief and discomfort).
Whether I am sitting by the warmth of a fireplace or walking outside on an icy-freezing-frigid-cold day, these two shall pass. I can tend to get anxious at the idea that either experience could last forever or too long. I can also get anxious at the idea of having to let go. I might not appreciate either experience if I had never experienced the other. I hope all of my life's varied pleasant and painful experiences will lead me to live in the moment and have gratitude. "This too shall pass" can be a comfort during uncomfortable circumstances. But maybe any circumstance would get uncomfortable if it lasted too long. So for today, I am grateful that life changes.
Change is certain. I've been painting this house as it has been rebuilt after a serious fire. I have painted about 20 paintings of it. I like to notice and document, through my paintings, the changes. Sometimes I felt impatient when I saw no changes. Then I realized changes were happening inside the house that I could not see. My last painting had a "for sale" sign on it. I figured it was done. No more changes. Then I thought that the new owners would certainly make changes. Maybe they would make paint color changes inside, furniture, decorations, and then moving furniture around from time to time. So even if the rebuild part is complete (for now) there will still be constant and certain changes. It was reassuring and comforting to me. Sometimes I think I should be finished and arrived at some place of adulthood. But I am not finished. I continue to learn new things, have old wounds heal, gain some new ideas and attitudes. I can celebrate being unfinished.
I have written about "change" for a lot of months. I see the theme of this blog--"letting it go" a lot like change. Nothing is constant and trying to hold on is not useful. So goes the story behind this painting. The two blue coffee mugs were sitting on the desk where our computer is. I drink tea, so I knew the mugs were not mine. I was annoyed that they were staying there, and I didn't want to remove them. Days went by while I tried to ignore the mugs. Then I saw the nice way the light, mugs, plant, and other junk went together. I decided to do a painting. When I paint from real life, I take out my art supplies to work and put them away until the next time I paint. Well I was well underway on the painting and feeling calm about the mugs. Then one day I planned to paint, the mugs were gone. Someone had put them in the dishwasher. Well, to be able to finish the painting I had to take two clean mugs out of the cabinet and place them on the desk. My resentments were gone, and I found lightness and humor in finishing this painting.
This was our pharmacy basket many years ago. There were vitamins, medications for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), asthma medications, inhalers, and I think, something for headaches or fevers. I don't have a pharmacy basket anymore. Some of the ADHD has moved out of the house, and the ADHD that is still here is being handled with other types of adjustments or frustration or both. I think I may have too many things I am trying to focus on (not uncommon for ADHD). I have let go of one responsibility, and am considering adjusting others. I like that my life is full and am grateful for many, many things in which I can participate. I want to give good attention to the things that matter to me most. It is a hard process of evaluating and praying and thinking about where I want to put my focus.
Sometimes I think I am not enough; or, that I don't have enough; or, that something or someone else is not enough. Perhaps that feeling is common. I think of the story in the Bible about Jesus feeding a big crowd with a boy's lunch of five loaves and two fish. That lunch certainly didn't look like enough. I can't imagine expecting anything to eat if I were in that crowd. The story says the people were satisfied and there were leftovers. When I am in the "not enough" mode, it helps me to think about what I do have. Sometimes I go through the alphabet thinking of several things for each letter that I am grateful for--"A" apples, animals, asparagus, Alice; "B" bananas, babies, b vitamins, .... It is a risk to trust that what I have and who I am will be enough. This painting is also on the home page. I put it there when I first put out this website. It reminded me of a trust exercise to put it out there and trust God. It is still growing and changing, but I'm glad I took the risk.
I painted this in 2003 during recovery from Guillain-Barre Syndrome. That year I learned how to drive a wheel chair, use a walker, then canes, and to walk unaided again. I was reminded of this painting because my husband had to use crutches for a time after an accident. And now I am limping from a sore toe that I stubbed last week. And I know some other people facing surgeries, recovery, and interrupted plans. I am glad for tools, like this walker, to aid in times of impairment. My time of impairment helped me to have gratitude for things I had taken for granted--including blinking, walking, balance, sight, muscles that work, calm nerves, ability to eat, sleep, and use the toilet. I am grateful for recovery that happens sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly. One day at a time.
LeTtiNg iT gO...BLoG
Linda T. Hurd. I don't feel like a real writer or artist, but I am both.