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A Year of Gratitude
I had a big birthday this year- the one where you get your AARP card. (How did this happen? Wasn't it yesterday I was wearing my Violent Femmes T-shirt in art school, or quietly rocking my babies?) My friends joked with me, asking me how I feel to "officially be old." Like the saying goes, I am older, but wiser. Very happy not to be so easily influenced as I was in my younger years. There is much to be gained from the good and (especially) the bad life experiences that got me here, to the mid 50 club. I know who I am and what matters. So how does it feel to be officially old? I feel truly blessed.
Many do not get the privilege of growing old.
In February of this year, dear friends of ours lost their son in a tragic accident. Just a sophomore in college, Greg was a ‘mini me' of his handsome father, and fiercely determined like his mother. Just like both parents, he was devoted to his family and faith. Surrounding the sorrow and tears is a sense of being cheated when we lose someone so young. There is that haunting “why?” that will not be silenced.
Tragedy such as this causes us to pause, reflect and not take things for granted.
This year I hugged my children tighter, sipped my coffee slower, and spent time in the beauty of nature whenever possible. I found joy in watching my garden flowers bloom and double in size as they fed the busy bees. I spent time with those closest to me who I could relax with and be myself.
I didn't waste time with people and things that aren't important. I traveled and found myself laughing and crying as we snorkeled in the clear blue ocean, thankful to be in such tropical beauty with the sun on my face.
Back home in my studio, I painted with intention, enjoying the process, open to letting go to allow the painting to lead the way. While reworking a painting in February, I didn’t do much thinking,
I put on some quiet music and got to work. It was one of those magical sessions where I feel like I've been painting for 20 minutes, but glance up at the clock and suddenly it's 3 hours later. My hands were busy while thoughts of my friends, grief, loss and what happens to us after we die filled my head.
Soul Plan (Ascension) encaustic on panel 16x20
In Loving Memory of Gregory Anthony Anstine (January 11, 2002 - February 4, 2022)
There is a beautiful line from Wallace Steven’s poem, Harmonium (1923), that says,
‘Death is the Mother of all beauty.’ I have found this to be true.
The awareness of the fragile, impermanence of life cultivates appreciation for every moment we are given. Grief brings mindfulness to our everyday moments. Grief embodies all of the unexpressed love we have for those we have lost. We grieve the moments we are unable to share with them.
However, through the pain, we must remember that those we loved deeply are always with us. Because they ARE us. Who we love makes up who we are.
Our culture needs to normalize mourning and unexpected tears. They are not just tears of grief, they are moments of remembrance and appreciation for what we love.
We need to cry freely and talk about our loved ones often, because this is what makes them eternal.
I am selling prints of this special painting, available for purchase on Fine Art America.
The proceeds of this sale will be donated to a scholarship in Greg Anstine’s name.
The site will let you select a poster, fine art print on paper or a print on canvas. The work can be framed to your specifications and arrive directly to your door. You can view and purchase here:
Thank you for your support this year! 2022 was a big step forward for me, and I am excited for what 2023 will bring. I wish you a happy, healthy and inspiring new year!