We're all struggling to remain sane amidst the chaos. I’ve found two coping mechanisms that provide me with a little peace…
Staying present is my first and best prescription. It pulls me out of the anxious swirl of wondering what’s going to happen about things over which I have no control. But how? Nothing helps me stay in the moment like walking. Ideally with a friend, sometimes alone, walking along the river, through the woods, or at the nearby reservoir always returns me to a calmer place in my heart. The fact that it's (perhaps not coincidentally) good for the body as well as the spirit is an added benefit. Painting also grounds me in the here and now. When I turn on the music, put a canvas on the easel, and pick up a brush with thoughts of color and composition dancing in my head, life gets very simple.
I started the painting below in a place of mental chaos. To stop the chatter I gave myself this exercise: Take an antique frame for which no standard canvas fit, cut a panel to size and paint something. I walked outside and this lovely rose beamed up at me. I thanked her for helping me, and got to work. I often miss out on the beautiful flowers in bloom throughout our garden (thanks to my husband and gardener Steve) because while in bloom I tend to think, they’ll be there tomorrow… and tomorrow… until they are not. And this transience, whether the first rose of summer, the life of a lady bug, or our time here on earth, is another useful tool for me to stay grounded. For while there's much to be disturbed about, and much to be done, it is equally important to stop and smell those roses, to change your perspective for a bit, and to feel the peace that comes with knowing that we are but a spec in space and time. Perspective is my second prescription for peace. Whether it's pulling the lens back on us in space, or time, our relative insignificance is itself a balm.
And as if to drive the point home, as I sat to write this post I heard a ruffled, muffled flutter. I tilted my head, as did our lab, and with ears perked we simultaneously recognized it as the sound of a bird frantically flapping. We both leapt up (with very different intentions) and raced to the kitchen window. There, flapping fruitlessly, was a little Junco trying desperately to escape. I opened the door to the back yard but she wanted to go through the glass. I yelled at Bene to stay back and the bird froze, letting me scoop her up in my hands and walk her outside. As I set her free, I could tell Bene was pretty disappointed but watching her fly off into the trees made my day and drove home the lesson of Presence and Perspective.
May your day bend toward joy.
"Pink Rose" - 9x7" Oil on panel