When I carefully choose what I want to pay attention to, my heart swells.
When I let the world be in charge of what I should pay attention to, my heart sinks.
“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.”
― Louisa May Alcott
When my flowers are on their last leg I put them outside on my front porch. They’re visible then from my living room and I like seeing how the elements affect their beauty. It’s gotten cold here in Burlington, VT and yet, as they fade, the flowers take on a certain strength of character in their inevitable demise. It seems like an appropriate metaphor about life to keep in mind. Chin up folks…we can’t stop what’s coming, but we can stand as tall as possible for as long as possible.
The photograph of HWY 18, a South Dakota two-lane hasn’t let me go yet. My apologies if you’ve had enough. Actually, not really. I write and create art for me and my hope is that something I write maybe resonates for you too. If not, well, that’s OK.
I created this series while thinking that the imagery of the road is both going AWAY from somewhere and TOWARD someplace else. For the early part of my life the road represented away from someplace and now it’s shifting. This image is my childhood home in Burke, South Dakota.
When I started working on these images I was trying to tell a lot of different stories. Why kids leave small towns. Why they should go back (I’ll still write about that). Why I left South Dakota. Why, at fifty-years-old, I would now consider going back to South Dakota. How small towns or wherever our upbringing was shaped us as adults. I’ve created so many images all telling different stories. I had to narrow my message. So, I decided to get more personal and less about rural development.
I’ve lived in Vermont since New Year’s Day 1990. I moved to Burlington with a friend, Melissa from my Sioux Falls College days. Three weeks later I met my husband, Jeff. Now, almost twenty-seven years later I’m deeply rooted here in New England. I never expected to be here this long. If had put a limit on my time in Vermont, well, it wouldn’t have worked. I was in love and adaptable. Isn’t life wonderfully unpredictable?
I’m longing for spaciousness, freedom and simplicity. I crave all of this more now in middle age. As the poet e. e. cummings wrote, “it takes courage to grow up and become who you really are”. I had to allow myself to get quiet enough to listen to my inner voice. As a younger partner, mother and artist, I wasn’t such a good listener. I’m grateful the prairie won’t let me go now, she clearly has a lot to say lately and I’m listening.
This image is the backyard of my home in Burlington, Vermont. We’ve lived in this house since August 1991. It holds many memories and has been through numerous renovations. I love the house, but I’m restless. I desire some change.
This piece is layered with one of my paintings. My need for change isn’t always easy on my family. I’m trying to be more understanding about how they feel. They are trying to do the same. Inevitably though, things will change and we will all adapt just fine. I know that my work is to keep listening and trying to understand what messages I’m receiving.
I’m very curious about how our interior geography affects our moods and choices in life. I find myself at nearly 50 years old realizing that I need a lot of spaciousness to feel most comfortable in my own skin. I truly understand how growing up and forming my identity on the prairie instilled an interior geography within me. I want to understand this better.
I layered these images of flying into South Dakota and the Town Neck Beach approach in Sandwich, Massachusetts. The vastness of the ocean gives me the same feeling of ease that the prairie gives me. It doesn’t matter if I’m driving country roads in South Dakota or kayaking the Cape Cod Bay. The inner feeling is the same.
I just ordered this book: Geographical Psychology: Exploring the Interaction of Environment and Behavior by Peter J. Rentfrow, PhD.
“The research described in this volume indicates that personality, political ideology, well-being, happiness, human virtues, and personal concerns are related to several important geographic social indicators.”
I can’t wait to delve further into more understanding about this subject. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
I’ve experienced deep sorrow this week with the loss of a friend due to a long, painful illness. Through that process I’ve realized what a unique gift sorrow can be in understanding ourselves and our place in the world. I know that my friend would’ve been very open to a discussion about this topic—she had an enormous capacity to explore the psychology of the soul.
a feeling of sadness or grief caused especially by the loss of someone or something
: a cause of grief or sadness
: a feeling of great happiness
: a source or cause of great happiness : something or someone that gives joy to someone
Sorrow & Joy I believe exist in the same place in our hearts. They just feel a helluva lot different. I feel that both emotions need each other to be fully acknowledged, accepted and better understood. Thank you for this, my friend.
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