Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
CLICK ON THE RABBIT ( yes, those are cabinets) TO SEE MY PORTFOLIO, AND LEARN MORE ABOUT MY SERVICES...theartofthehome.com

Monday, January 30, 2012

Radical Gratitude

I started my Monday dropping my van off at the mechanic's, and walking home in the frigid morning air.  Nothing wrong with the old girl (the van, not me!  Well, nothing wrong with me, either but...oh, hell, you know what I mean), just taking her in for an oil change.  I could've had a ride from Jill, mama of my Monday morning art student, but there was nothing wrong with walking the few blocks home, either.  In fact, it gave me time to reflect on the past year, and spend some time fuelling my soul with gratitude.
Here's a little teaser for a blog post coming next week...

A year ago, this week, I was walking into a divorce mediation that I was hopeful would allow me to remain in this beautiful house until she sold, and maybe even give me a six month grace before I had to put her on the market.  I had no money to hire an attorney, and in fact,  I was stretched so thin financially and emotionally, it's amazing I wasn't transparent...or maybe I was, and most folks were just too kind to say so.  In spite of the stress, I had come to a place of peace with the whole situation, and held as my intention the prayer, "I trust this to resolve for the highest good of all concerned".  I was not legally required to go through mediation, but I assured the mediator that it felt like the wisest, fairest, cleanest way to finish something that had been dragging out for several years.  Within two hours, he had us settled, and I walked out, stunned, with my house.  Not for awhile, but forever.
I'm learning to stylize animals for the mural that includes the dolphins shown above.  Tune in next week to see how Coyote, the jokester, appears on the wall, along with a bunch of his friends.
So, my gratitude list today started there.  But I did have to backtrack.  Though I wouldn't have ever asked for things to unfold the way they did, I will not say I regret the 15 years spent with Mr. Q.  Though there aren't years of fabulous times to remember fondly, there were some sweet moments, but more importantly, there were lessons learned.  Lessons about honoring the authentic voice inside that warns a woman she has stepped out of her own skin.  Lessons about when helping becomes enabling, and martyrdom being an act of ego not grace.  Lessons about authentic loving, and hardest of all, finding a way to respect the Divinity in a person whose behavior appears anything but respectful or respectable.  Lessons of sheer faith, in the face of fear and sorrow.  Deep hard lessons, for which I am deeply grateful.

When the papers arrived, all was not suddenly blissfully rosy.  In the midst of the divorce, I lost a friendship that was precious to me, and with that arrived a whole other set of lessons, some of which I'm still deciphering.  For the friendship I had, and the lessons that smacked me so hard they knocked the wind out of me, I sent a prayer of gratitude into the frosty air ( I did say it's radical, though it really doesn't feel it once you get the right perspective), and continued my cheerful walk homeward. 
Here's a project that will finish up this week.  Should be done in time for Thursday's post.

Gratitude lists are a one-thing-leads-to-another sort of thing, so of course, the next thing I thought of was the growing circle of deepening friendships that has spread like a ripple this past year.  Some of these friends you have met on this blog, some are scattered across the globe, some are newly made.  Some are right here in this funny little town, with a few driving past me as I walked smiling, back toward Belle Ami this morning.  There were several honks and waves (and a few calls throughout the day to find out why my van, which is a little hard to miss with it's circus wagon paint job, was parked at John's Mobil), making me feel so incredibly grateful to have been welcomed by these people, who mostly aren't quite sure what to think of the gal in the paint rags who lets her dandelions grow, and doesn't attend either the Lutheran or the Catholic church (this is a big deal in the Midwest, especially in small towns, in case you aren't familiar with regional American culture).  They may not quite get me, but they watch out for my well being.
Simple Abundance is a beautiful book about developing a practice of living in gratitude.

Others watched out for my well being this past year.  Starting fresh with pretty close to nothing in the bank, I had some close calls on the slippery slopes of finance.  The trade-off for the house was taking on more of the debts, many of which were perilously past due by that time.  I knew then, as I know looking back, that the days the cupboards went bare were a chance for me to grow my faith in a Divine source.  The cupboards did go bare, more than I would like to admit, but every single time I asked the emptiness, "well, okay, where is dinner coming from, then?", it appeared.  Sometimes, it was a phone call inviting me for a meal at  the home of friends, sometimes a box of produce dropped off on my back porch, by gardening friends who have done so off and on for years.  Only once did it come intentionally from a friend who caught on that finances were that bad, and gifted me not only a bag of groceries, but also a little stained glass sun catcher of a symbol that has specific meaning for me, and literally answered a prayer I had sent up minutes earlier.  It was a very humbling moment, and an unforgettable lesson in Grace.  I learned to say, "Yes, thank you", in the deepest sense this past year, and thinking of this, I walked the last half block home, grinnin' like an idiot, enjoying the bright morning sun, and the rosy glow on my cheeks.

I arrived back at Belle Ami to see Artgirl, Faith, waiting for her Monday lesson.  A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but the fact that I start every work week with Faith gives great delight to my word-nerd mind.  Today, I hugged her "Hello", as usual, but feeling unusually grateful.  I have learned radical gratitude this past year.  Gratitude for the gifts that do not smell like roses, nor look so pretty, but today, there was no radical needed, for which I am joyfully,

Today, I celebrate with enormous gratitude, a calendar that began rapidly filling back at the end of November, and which is currently scheduled solid for the next two months (which was the norm before the economy did its nosedive), with a queue of jobs extending beyond that, to be scheduled as the current ones move toward completion.  Today, I have not only my own books that I am writing, but also a new related venture with another author, that may well be a very long-term partnership, and a glorious adventure.  And today, my cupboards are brimming with the nicest things, and the commitments I've made to share meals several times this week, are not requiring me to breath deep and remind myself that it will, somehow, be okay.  I'm not traditionally Christian, but don't even think of arguing with me the veracity of the loaves and fishes story.  I tested that one way too many times to doubt it. Having plenty in plain sight is a nice change, though.

Some of you will wonder why I'm sharing such a personal story, one that some would be ashamed of, so publicly.  Gratitude.  To tell those who helped me directly, or who simply believed in my ability to create a beautiful life, that they are never forgotten.  Mostly though, I tell these very personal truths to let others in hard times know that things can get better, and they get better faster when you hang onto your faith, deepen your spirit of generosity, and maintain a willingness to give, even when it seems there are no resources to share.  Oh, and make sure you are saying, "Yes, thank you!"

Choosing JOY,
in the face of challenges,
in spite of difficulties,
because of difficulties~
that's  Radical Gratitude. 

It changes your life.

If faith is a wobbly thing for you, and you haven't other resources you feel good about, you might like to connect with Unity, which honors all paths to whatever you call God.  This is not the same as Unitarian, by the way, though that may be your path.  Unityofthevalleymn.org is the spiritual center I spend time at.  You can google Unity and find one in your area.  You can also call Silent Unity, at 1-800-669-7729.  My experience is that these are gentle, respectful people who do not push one way of believing, or one concept of God, and I absolutely promise, no one will ask you if you have found Jesus (a popular question in the rural Midwest, that always brings out the smart ass in me...).

Wishing you abundance, joy, and beauty (and every good thing your heart desires).


Susan Turney said...

What a beautiful, thoughtful, thought-provoking post. I'm sure anyone who reads it will take something beneficial away.

Dawn-Marie deLara, Artist in Wonderland said...

Thank you, Susan. I fell asleep after writing it to uneasy dreams, but awoke with a song running through my head. It wasn't the post I intended to write. It just started coming out, so I figured it needed to be shared. Grateful for your readership, and just for you.

Mary K said...

Thank you for this lovely post. I'll send it along to a friend who's in the midst of an ugly divorce. Even still, she was able to write this poem:

Winter encloses.

Like seeds,
we nestle
in shells
gathering energy


Spring approaches.

the shells


Burst forth!
Come explore
our colorfully


Michele Templer said...

Mary K. sent your blog to me. You say so well what I've felt, what I'm striving to learn. And you describe so clearly the very strange, unexpected journey that divorce can become. By speaking your truth, you are speaking universal truths, and letting others know we are not alone on this path. It brought great comfort as well as inner smiles. THANK YOU so much.


Dawn-Marie deLara, Artist in Wonderland said...

Thank you, Mary K for sharing my blog with Michelle, and Michelle for sharing your beautiful poem, which has been read and appreciated by many. To all you others who have read and shared, and emailed to tell me, thank you. The thing we do for work is not always the thing that matters most to the world, I'm reminded yet again.