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Not to jinx anything but I feel like I’ve had a breakthrough recently. It’s hard to describe but I’ve entered a new level of confidence and competence.

It’s been coming on for a while but boy howdy does it feel good when it shows up on the easel. It begins, I’ve come to learn, with a step backward: Nothing works the way I want as my new reach exceeds my grasp. I find myself stomping out of the studio a lot, and - worse -thinking of excuses not to go there in the first place. That’s when Steve might suggest a break as he did a few weeks ago with the idea of a camping trip to Vermont for some leaf peeping.

A few days in a tent, cooking over an open fire, walking in the woods, and waking with the sun to watch the morning mist rise up from the lake was just the ticket to get me out of my own way. I did some plein-air painting, but mostly I was content to let mother nature paint the day while I stirred the embers and read by the fire.

And just as the morning mist slowly dissolved into the clarity of day, so too did the confusion and complexity of thoughts winding their way through my head. Then suddenly (or  seemingly so), I’m back in my studio and it all clicks. I’m ”there” at a new level and it feels like I’ve always been there. I’ve got energy, enthusiasm and my brush suddenly knows how to do what my brain has been begging for it to do, but was unable to make happen until now.

Painting Betwixt (above) I felt as if I’d passed through a threshold into a new place. It’s of a scene we passed one morning on the way back from a sunrise photo shoot. The sun was peeking over the distant hills, enough to warm up the scene but not overwhelm it. In that moment, between dawn and day, it all looked soft, quiet and patient. 

I wish I could learn to be patient and better honor that time betwixt. It’s frustrating and often scary to be in between but unable to push through. Maybe realizing how necessary it is can help us relax into it. Birthing requires labor after all.

I'm also aware of the lovely, yet somewhat childish idea that if I can just manage to push through this one difficult spot, I will find myself where I want to be, where I was destined to be, and live happily ever after, amen. Whereas in real life, the minute we find ourselves on the other side of that dark labor the only thing that we can be certain of, for sure, is that there will be a new challenge, with a new darkness up ahead. Which is not to say we should give up or that we should not celebrate every new dawn. But I’d like to find a way to celebrate the in between time as well, even as it hurts. Even when it scares me. Betwixt!

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