My daughter, Do not aspire be good, pretty, sweet, quiet, pleasing, or perfect. It is your job to develop yourself and create a life you love. Cultivate the wondrous garden that is your soul, nurture your spirit, be self-reliant, curious, and engage in this life you've been given in every way. Be confident about who you are and show up even when you'd rather hide.
Here are 20 things I'd like you to remember:
1. Stand on the stage and sing. Play your heart out on the field. Engage in the classroom debate, talk to that person you would like to be friends with. Give a toast in front of a crowd. Throw a dinner party. Travel by yourself. You might experience anxiety or feel self conscious, or you might fail when you do these things at first. That's okay. You will feel uncomfortable. That is not what matters. What matters is that you put yourself out there in the world to participate fully. Practice that. Be fearless, even when you don't feel like it. When you walk through fear you learn the most about who you are. Its okay to be afraid. Its not okay to give in to it. Be brave, my girl.
2. Learn about powerful women in history. They have universal traits you want to build in yourself. Strong women were called witches and hanged. They were beaten and put down to silence their voice. They were called inferior intellectually and morally. These are commonalities many oppressed people share. Be aware of that. Remember it. Women before you have had to fight like hell for every right we have today: the right to vote, to get an education, the right to work or stay home, to have a career, to break the glass ceiling. The right to support yourself, and make choices for yourself. Don't take your voice for granted. It was fought for with blood, sweat and tears.
3. Be a voracious reader and lover of books. They are your friend, teacher, time machine, magic carpet and muse. Books are gifts given from other times and places, from souls you would never have the chance to know, except that they left clues and treasures in their words and observations, ideas, diaries, poetry and humor. They put down on paper tragedy, love, mystery, and the very essence of life itself. Never stop reading.
4. Develop your writing. If you write well, you can think well; honing your ability to clarify and organize your beliefs, thoughts and ideas. It is a creative outlet and can help you to process feelings, information, or a bad day. The habit of writing cultivates an understanding of oneself. Thoughts and emotions many times come out on paper before you are cognizant of them. Make use of this gift. Use pen and paper.
5. Nurture your creativity. Music, art, writing, theatre, dance- let all of these things blossom. Your life will always have dimension and passion if you develop your art. Creativity feeds your mind and soul, it develops your sense of self and adds depth to your spirit. A life without creativity is no life at all! You, my dear, are an artist in every sense of the word. Bedome a Renaissance woman and a creative spirit to be reckoned with!
6. Do not be afraid to not know everything. What is essential is that you ask questions. Ask Questions. Loudly. Louder than the boy who sits next to you. Ask questions even if you think they might be dumb questions. It does not matter. What matters is that you keep asking. The word "amateur" means love. A love of something. Be in love with what you don't know. Don't be afraid of it, you are developing your world, your ideas, your art- Ask until you are satisfied. Hopefully you never will be.
7. Make your bed. Create habits that help you and energize your life. Cultivate self-awareness to recognize where a new habit will be beneficial. The more skills, routines, and good habits you create early on, the more automatic they become. This allows for more freedom and creativity in each day. By having a routine for the mundane, everyday tasks, you free up time and space for Life.
8. Seek out what it is that you love. You already know deep down. Your job is to pay attention to hear it's voice. Listen to whatever it is that engages you completely, stirs your imagination, or fires up your curiosity. You truly can do anything you want to do if you set your mind to it. Become a searcher of what you love and want in life.
Work hard at what you do. Be a self starter. Fulfill your responsibility. Start building a vision in your mind about the kind of life you want. This is powerful medicine. You will create what you envision and believe about your life, so make sure to keep clarifying and building on your dream.
9. Know how to take care of yourself, and do it. Be independent, self reliant, and confident. This is how you learn about yourself. Remember once you have a degree, no one can take that away from you. Get your education. Learn how to change a tire, use a drill, clear a sink, invest money, buy a car, and a house. Make enough money to support yourself and learn to live within your means. Prioritize your goals accordingly.
10. Spend time and energy on people who are kind, compassionate, honest and funny. Believe people when they tell you who they are. They will. Pay attention and trust yourself. Find at least one friend who you can completely be yourself with. You can disagree, cry, see each other at your worst, not see each other for a long period of time, yet you never have to worry that they won't be there when you need them. They are a part of the fabric of your life. Be a solid and loyal friend. Form new and varied friendships. They will form your "tribe". Your tribe will have your back and share your life. Protect your female friendships. Your true friends are your lifeline and will be there for you through it all. Prioritize those relationships.
11. Be active and involved in causes that help the people around you. Give back to your community in some way. Be a part of something that you believe in. Always be ready to help others, to serve others and to love them, because Christ told us to do that. Serving others, helping others who have less, fills your spirit and gives you an understanding of fellow human beings unlike anything else. Take a stand. Use the opportunity to nurture and hone your voice. The world needs it. Speak out for those who don't have a voice. Do not be intimidated. Your thoughts and opinions are important and the world needs your voice.
12. Decide what you will look for in a partner for life. Have a very high standard. Someone who is kind, makes you laugh, allows you room to grow .Pick someone who not only shares your life but makes it better each day just by being in it. Someone you cannot imagine living without. Wait for him. Dating is practice. You will date toads, but they will all point you in the direction of the one created for you. Be confident in finding someone who is your soulmate when the time is perfect. You will know if you give yourself time and trust yourself.
13. Be strong in body. Eat foods that make you feel good. Make decisions about food on the basis of how healthy they are for your body rather than taste. Your tastes will follow suit. Eat the birthday cake and enjoy it! Move your body in a way that invigorates your mind. Walk or run outside in the sun, wind and rain. Rest when you need to. Your body is miraculous and can heal itself, be deliberate about what you put in it and how you treat it. Being thin is never the goal. Being healthy and strong is. Don't judge your body or anyone else's. Only weak and fearful people judge others on looks, size, or color. We are all doing the best we can with the one body we were given. You are perfectly and wonderfully made. Take care of your body and treat it with love.
14. Practice making goals in every area of your life and accomplishing them. You are capable of achieving what you want. Keep track of your growth. You think it will take too long? Time passes anyway. Where you end up has everything to do with how you spend that time. Anything you want is within reach by setting goals for yourself.
15. Be true to who you are. Take up space with your body, mind and voice. You are not only allowed, you are obligated to do this. To come out from the back of the room and make your presence known to yourself and to others. Never let any other person, circumstance or problem define you. Knowing who you are and becoming self-actualized is something to strive for, all of your life.
16. Take time to be quiet each day. Get off of the screens. Seriously. You have been robbed of knowing a time without technology. It was slower, kinder, and more gracious to your soul. Teaching yourself to slow down will help recover all that is lost in living life inundated with information, social media, texts, and memes. So make a time each day to pray, meditate, sit quietly, walk, draw, dance, or whatever makes you pay attention to the moment without distractions.
17. Trust yourself. Trust your choices, your feelings. You are smart and instinctual. Do not ignore your gut when it tells you when something or someone doesn't feel right. The slightest feeling can sometimes make all the difference if you pay attention. It is usually right, even if there is no logical reason for it.
18. Remember that you create the life you want by your choices. Do not let life happen to you. Make decisions that light your path and guide your way. There are things we can't control, certainly, but for the most part, the small decisions we make every day add up to big choices. Those choices define our life. Be aware of the choices you make and be deliberate in making good ones.
19. Never stop learning, challenging yourself and trying new things. When you are a mom, remember this. Don't forget to nurture yourself along with your family. Work out, write, get your hair done, roller skate with your kids. Go on a solo trip or take a girlfriend to the beach. When you are 60 and want to be comfortable, remember this. Travel to Europe, learn the cello or take Tango lessons. Be the ornery grandma. Don't follow the rules. Be passionate and in love with your life.
20. Trust God and learn about Him. Life is filled with the good and bad, dark, light, mysterious and beautiful. You will experience happiness, love, accomplishments and wonderful things as well as confusing, scary times, consequences of bad choices, and failure. Its all life. But trusting it to Him and letting him guide you will ground you, give you hope and joy through it all. Study his word. Pray that God will use you and that you will continue to grow into what He created you to be. Don't be afraid about anything. Practice putting your trust in Him. His plan for your life is good, and He wants to you live it fully. Remember that.
My Daughter, do you know who you are? You are a bundle of strength and tenacity, intellect and beauty. You are sunshine. You are genuine, athletic, creative and talented beyond measure. You are decisive and loyal and grounded. You are mighty, my girl. I love you.
Kintsugi is the Japanese term used to describe the mending of a broken object; using gold to repair the broken or cracked piece. The philosophy behind Kintsugi is that by bringing attention to the broken places, and by mending those places with care and intention, the piece becomes more valuable, transcending what it was before it was broken. There is no attempt to hide the damage, in fact, the broken place is literally illuminated.
I don't know about you, but I'm not too excited about my mistakes and flaws being illuminated. But -those flaws- which are uniquely and obtusely our own, can become opportunities to transcend old wounds and cause new growth.
The paradox here is that being a whole, healthy human means allowing the cracks and mistakes to be there. By acknowledging the brokenness, we allow the pieces to be put back together, and become not only whole again, but more beautiful. Gold fills in and seals the cracked areas. There is room for grace and healing when we accept that we are imperfect and damaged.
In this way we develop and become who we are meant to be. The broken place is a catalyst toward dynamic movement deep within . A place in our spirit that has been stunted at some point and desperately needs to continue it's path forward.
When painting, as the work comes into it's own, it must pass through stages of incompleteness. Stages that are awkward and primitive. Watercolor has an innate ability to do what it wants to do, and there are many times when something unexpected happens that must be integrated into the work. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But by pushing through these stages you learn the lessons you were supposed to learn and get your painting to the next level . And it is only at this level where the true beauty is revealed, colors illuminated, shapes and patterns clarified. The revelation could not have happened without the layers of incompleteness, challenges and mistakes underneath.
Those things in ourselves that are ugly, awkward, and sad, even the most devastating hardships and disabilities, are layers of the bigger picture we were created to live. But only if we have the courage to forgive and hope and love. Our broken pieces are waiting to be illuminated to create a whole, new, complete life. Our ugly scars and broken places can truly become the spring that save us from ourselves . It is the place we ask God to enter.
This process of time and integration of our whole selves is much like a birth, forcing the life taking shape at this very moment to develop a new completeness and depth of spirit that could not have happened before. Be courageous enough to own your life, every part of it, especially the dark corners.... shine the light of day on them and become who you were meant to be.
There is a plan. You are loved, and there is always hope.
" The wound is the place where the light enters you" - Rumi
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I was able to be a part of the Augusta Missouri Plein Air event at the end of April this year and had an amazing experience. I got to meet so many artists that were willing to share their experiences and advice on plein air painting, got to become a part of the landscape in an absolutely beautiful setting, and enjoyed every minute! Augusta Missouri is known as having the oldest vineyard in America! Older than the Napa Valley. There are vineyards, hills, ancient trees, quaint old village- like streets, ponds, idyllic country scenes, barns and old stone fences.
If you have never ventured out with your watercolors to do plein air painting, and admittedly- I was one of a very few of the watercolor "gang" - It is worth giving it a try. At the very least, you will gain spontaneity in you work and get over some of your obsessive hang ups with perfectionism. There isn't time to be a perfectionist out in the sun and wind! The demands of painting with water and paint out in nature require that you must condense everything you know about painting into a small window of time. Which is intimidating, but so incredibly valuable. You are forced to find the essential. Some tips before you go out
1. Do your homework on site and prepare thoroughly before ever picking up your paintbrush.
2. Use a viewfinder, and follow the instructions it gives, matching it up proportionately to your paper, dividing it into quarters, so that the composition you choose remains constant on your paper stays on track throughout your painting. I got mine at Art Mart.
**I found this incredibly helpful, instead of "eyeballing" everything, you have a guide right there on your paper of the center, top and bottom of the scene you want to paint.
3. Do several value sketches and compositional thumbnails, and then begin your painting. This is a very important step. Do not skip it.
4.Do not go at this unprepared. You need STUFF!
1. A good portable easle and chair if you choose.
2.Tape, scissors, a head light( for night painting),
3.Clamps for windy days, an umbrella for sunny and rainy days. Glare is a killer!
4. A small, portable palette and a couple of paintbrushes
5. A few basic, transparent paints.
6. A can for water, small spray bottle and extra water bottles.
You need to choose solid , even ground for your easle. It took me a couple of times to realize this doesn't have to be a comedy routine, chasing after papers, dropping water cups, easles falling over, you get the idea. So don't worry if you have a hard time at first, everyone does.
5. If you find you don't have another more experienced plain air watercolor pal, watch a few YouTube videos just to see the rhythm and approach of artists who do this kind of painting often.
If you are used to studio painting, be ready for a faster, looser technique. For instance, have an idea of how you want to lay down the sky and clouds quickly, deal with shifting light and shadows, and leave out extraneous details.
The main thing is to go out and enjoy the experience. What a gift to be able to go meet other artists, all learning and teaching and sharing, and do it in beautiful surroundings. Plein air painting will stretch you artistically, and although it can be intimidating, it is well worth the challenge. It is all about valuing and enjoying the process, getting over perfectionism in our work, and pushing ourselves to embrace the essential in our painting.