Is it Possible to Change yourself into a Better Person?

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Growing up, I was always told “Imagine the person you want to be, and eventually you’ll become that person.” The know-it-all who said that was only partially right. They forgot to tell me about innate talents and gifts, or about the years of effort (and money) it takes to develop a skill. They also didn’t mention that the image I had for myself may not have been in my best interests.

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“Namesake” 24 x 18 acrylic on canvas

When you’re young anything seems possible. You dream. You explore. You try on various personality types. Sometimes you allow your halo to slip thinking that character may not be so important after all. But experience and the things you were taught come bubbling to the surface, and you make adjustments.

Reality also plays a part. We may find that we don’t have the finances required to fulfill our aspirations. There may be other responsibilities that interfere with our best intentions. We may pursue one golden butterfly and discover a counterfeit; a false glimmer of hope that led to fool’s gold and broken promises.

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“Home at Last” 16 x 20 acrylic on panel 

 Your determination must fuel every thought and action. When you know what you want, a decision is made in your mind that ignites and propels you forward. At this point, nothing can stop you. If you let go of this momentum, you may never reach this level again. There is no turning back. It’s now or never.

Your Willingness to Ask for Help is Crucial. What if you feel yourself slipping back into old habits and comfortable ways? Don’t hesitate. Reach out for help.

We all need hand holding at times; a friend we can lean on, and someone we can trust. Your progress depends upon it. This may also be the time to reach out to your higher power. Others may give us that extra push that helps us break free. But God can give you the strength to continue.

Sometimes you have to adjust your vision. You must learn to be content with what you have. Better yet, turn your anxieties and frustrations into acceptance. What will you have gained? Peace of mind and the knowledge that you gave your internal struggle your all.

Gratitude for each moment of your life, the good and the bad, will help you weather adversity when it comes, and it will come again. None of us is exempt even you. Be grateful for the small steps and the large ones. As long as you’re making some progress, you haven’t given up.

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“With these Hands — Love” 24 x 18 Oil on canvas

When Hope is Gone we Cease to Dream; we Stop Living

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"Ibis on a Perch" original drawing

“Ibis on a Perch” original drawing

Our church is a praying church. People in the community and friends of members often ask for us to pray for them. A school teacher requested prayer for her daughter who was a drug addict. When she went missing, there was general panic in their circle of family and friends.

Sadly, the prayers were too late. She was found dead in her car at a shopping mall. The car had been sitting in the same place for seven days and no one even noticed. She died from an overdose of heroin. Oh, the risks people take. The dangers they ignore. The willingness to dip their toe into deep waters until they sink in so far it’s too late to turn back.

They’re caught in a vice. They lose control in a downward spiral that ends badly. Their names are found on missing person’s reports, in obituaries and on tombstones. Others try to help, but cannot supply the will to live nor the decision that plunges their loved one into a gut-wrenching tragedy. Warnings have no effect. Peer pressure drives their actions. The end game is sometimes final.

"I Stand on the Brink" original drawing.

“I Stand on the Brink” original drawing.

Like most teens, I walked that narrow ledge. What kept me from crossing over? I didn’t want to hurt my parents. I knew that a failure on my part would crush them. Their love kept me close and harnessed my wild flights of fancy.

The state of the family in 2015 is a sad one. Children are disobedient and disrespectful to parents and they disdain authority. Gangs are taking the place of family in some communities. Parents, for the most part, are working to keep the family financially afloat. They are absent and uninvolved in their children’s activities. Rampant divorce has created homes without fathers and mothers who try to be both.

Love is not always enough. Parents often lack time and desire to give their children more of themselves. Unsupervised kids roam the streets and get into trouble. Children not only need to hear the words “I love you,” on a regular basis. They need to have it affirmed in action. When you spend more time with them, they see that you mean what you say.

Children today need hope in the future. Their lives need to be grounded in something larger than themselves. Secular parents prize what money can buy more than they do the lives of their children. Prayer is something they may participate in once or twice a year on Easter and Christmas or never. Faith is a word many have never heard of, let alone practice; some willingly and others from ignorance.

Parents need to get back to their roots. In addition to the love that should bind families, traditions and culture provide the arms that encircle us and link us to our ancestors. Foundations of faith, service and promise were once strong and sound. Today they are crumbling around us and we wonder what has happened?

History does repeat itself. If we want to survive in this dangerous world, we must learn its lessons and build our own dreams on the building blocks that those who have gone before have built for us.

Forward March "Hut, Two, Three, Four" . . .

Forward March “Hut, Two, Three, Four” . . .

Less is Sometimes More, and More is sometimes Letting Go

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“Blending In” 11 x 14 acrylic in barn wood frame (see how the feathers replicate the petals?)

I’ve always been a recluse. Even when forced into the outside world by opportunity and obligation, I always returned quickly to the comforts and safety of home.

Of course, in order to write and paint adequate space and uninterrupted quiet are required, and that’s not always easy to find.  Most of us deal with what we have, whether it’s a house full of kids, a noisy or talkative husband, or the constant ringing of the telephone. Today, robocalls burst our imaginative bubbles with irritating pauses, eager politicians, scammers or thick-headed salesmen.

First Daffodil

“First Daffodil” acrylic on canvas

There’s never going to be a perfect time or place. Deal with it! You either ignore the phone, unplug it, insist on solitude, at least some of the time, and get off your rear end and create that novel or masterpiece.

I’ve spent my whole life catering to other people’s needs; and yet I still feel selfish, even now, when I do the things I love or want to do. I shame myself into believing:

  • I’m too old
  • It’s a waste of time
  • I’m not Van Gogh or Renoir
  • I should be cleaning my house
  • I should cook more often
  • Why can’t I be like “other women?”
  • Why do I always have to create something?
  • I’m getting a hump from sitting at my computer
  • My fingers are starting to cramp
  • I can barely hold a paint brush
  • By the time I finish my chores, I’m too tired to create

And on and on we go, making excuses, putting ourselves down, and blaming others for not being able to fulfill our own needs. Whine, whine, and whine! We all do it. Every day!

"With These Hands -- Wonder" oil on canvas

“With These Hands — Wonder” oil on canvas

Recently I heard a T.V. commentator repeat what Dr. Phil had once said: “Why do you always settle for less?”

Indeed! Why do you think you’re not worth success? Why do you either marry or choose friends who are ill suited for you and who don’t live up to your expectations? Some may even go so far as to say: “friends who are beneath you, at least in compatibility.”

Don’t get me wrong, all people are of value, at least in God’s eyes. But that doesn’t mean you have to date them or marry them. How many times in the past have you “settled for less” when you could have had more?

Prisons and mental institutions are filled with people who have low self-esteems. Sad people who believe that this is all they deserve. And, of course, that’s all that they get.

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“Beach Buddies” acrylic on canvas

Perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board. The adage: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question that can be asked over and over again. As long as we have breath to ask the question, we should keep adjusting our goals and our dreams for as long as we live.

Too often we end up focusing on the end of our life and see time running out. Wake up, my friend! “Life is eternal.” You do not close your eyes in death and “go out” like a burnt out flame. You do not cease to exist. Once you realize this, the possibilities are endless.

The essence of what you are is inside of you. Everything you need to live fully and richly resides within your mind and heart. Your job is to find it and hold onto it with every fiber of your being. You are magnificent. Once you discover your divine potential nothing can stop you!

What is it about those Peeps?

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Yes, I admit it; I’m a Peep freak. I slink around the Easter displays and casually drop a few boxes into my cart hoping no one will notice. I’m embarrassed at the checkout. I hope the clerk will think it’s for my grandchildren. I go through this anxiety every year, but that doesn’t stop me from buying them.

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“First Daffodil” acrylic on canvas

You either love Peeps or you hate them. There’s no in between. It’s an acquired taste. Not everyone likes the soft melt-in-your mouth sweetness of marshmallow, especially if it’s doused in colored sugar. Plus you have to lick the sticky residue on your fingers afterward. Of course, some people dry them out so their chewy and semi-soft, but I can’t wait that long.

After the holiday, prices are slashed on all Easter treats; a sad assortment of chocolate bunnies with broken ears and hard jelly beans gathering dust. I search the display, but don’t see any peeps (and you thought no one liked them!).

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“He Lives” oil on wrapped canvas

I was a young mother before I discovered that Easter was a celebration of Jesus’ atonement and resurrection and not all about chicks and rabbits. Even as a child, my parents only focused on the fun parts of the holiday. I was told that the Easter Bunny went around to all the children and filled their baskets with candy and treats. My mother, playing Easter Bunny, hid the eggs we had colored in the house, and we excitedly combed the cushions in the sofas and under the furniture to find them.

One year, we stayed overnight at my aunt’s farm. The eggs were going to be hidden outside, and my sister and I would compete with our cousins to find them. That night I dreamed that a giant rabbit hopped to my bedside with goodies in his paws. I was terrified! Perhaps the strange bed and the new surroundings had triggered an anxiety attack. I awoke screaming. After that, I was never big on the Easter Bunny. When I had children of my own, I never told them about him for fear they would have nightmares, too.

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“Americana” 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas

My children loved coloring eggs, but they knew that their parents were the hiders and that we provided the goodies, too. The kids seemed fine with that; much better to pretend than to be terrorized by a furry five foot rabbit that hovers over your bed while you’re asleep.

One year we colored two dozen eggs with our six children. Their father and I hid them after they’d gone to bed. I made the mistake of relying on my memory instead of writing down their hiding places. After the hunt, the eggs were dispersed to each basket and some of them were gobbled down for breakfast. I never gave the count a second thought.

Fast forward, eight months later. The faint smell of sulfur still greets my nose each time I enter our family room; but once I’m there, I can no longer pinpoint where the smell is coming from. Christmas is right around the corner, and I want everything to be clean and fresh.

On impulse, I take down two woven baskets that are hanging on the wall filled with greenery. I plan to wash the greenery of dust and put them back. Lo and behold, in the bottom of one basket is a boiled egg which has split open and essentially dried out; so dry that there is barely any sulfur smell remaining. The riddle was solved!

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“Lady in Waiting” 11 x 14 oil on canvas

I will tell you that after that experience, I not only counted the eggs that were hidden, but accounted for them when they were found. I even drew a quick sketch of their hiding places instead of relying on my memory. I chuckle each Easter when I remember that missing rotten egg. The embarrassment of that horrid stink and not being able to locate its source will haunt my Easters forever.