Spring: Beauty Keeps Hope Alive

Jan 5, 2022

Inward

Spring i

This is just the third day in this series and I have already found it to be so fruitful and I hope it has been insightful for you too. I am trying to allow this good experience to motivate me to keep writing because the next two seasons of 2021 were really difficult. I am reluctant to want to turn inward and explore their depths. Much of my spring and summer was covered in a heaviness that I am tempted to just skip reflecting on those hard parts. Telling myself I am not ready to return to them.

But I know that is a lie. So here I go, back into depths of a thing just beginning to heal. The recovery process for physical wounds is a journey filled with discomfort and often more pain. Yet this is not to be shied away from and is necessary for healing. Why should I expect something different for an intangible pain? Though these next handful of posts may be hard, I know that it will also be good.

Context

My father lost his battle with cancer just after midnight. He went peacefully surrounded by family and friends. My immediate family was awake well into the night even after everyone else had gone home to sleep. We had to contact the hospice nurse and the mortuary and say our goodbyes. Beyond tired, my husband and I blearily stumble into the guest bedroom of my mother’s house. The familiar atmosphere was comforting and I fell asleep instantly. Yet just a few hours later I awoke, unable to sleep. I felt restless and stifled and needed to be outside.

The cold crisp air welcomed me. I walked through the quiet tree-lined neighborhoods as the golden light peaked over the horizon and the dawn chorus began. It all felt so surreal. But I took some small comfort that my dad was no longer suffering. And that on the first day of spring, he was experiencing new life.

In March of 2020, my dad had been diagnosed with cancer and essentially given a year to live. While he went through treatment I cared for him. Caring for him was hard but at the same time so beautiful because it provided us the opportunity to build a relationship for the first time in my life. For the first few months, he was responding well to treatment and overall doing really well. But cancer is so unpredictable, and in January 2021 we got the bad test results that told us the cancer had spread all over, and he had 6 weeks left to live, at most.

As you can imagine, all sense of normality was gone. Not just because of grief but also the insane amount of tasks that came with helping him prepare for the end and then, as his executor, carrying out his will. The brief days I did have at home, I would often just sit in the dirt in my garden and look at the flowers. And somehow their beauty helped. I can’t describe why but they did. And on days I was feeling up to it, I would also cyanotype. The familiar rhythm comforted me and the beauty of the flowers reminded me of a hope that I was very much in need of. The pieces that I made during this time would eventually come together to create the Spring Garden Collection.

Challenges

The main challenge while creating this collection was simply the chaos of my life. Before my dad passed I was driving an hour to my hometown 3 – 5 times a week, to take him to appointments, meet with hospice, help him get his will in order, and just spend time with him and my family. After he passed, I took two full weeks off, to give myself space to be and grieve. But there were many urgent and time-sensitive tasks, like mortuary logistics, planning the memorial, cleaning out his house, and putting it on the market, just to name a few. Even now, I am still working on getting his estate settled.

How was I to continue work amidst all of this? Finding time to create wasn’t the hard part. Like I mentioned above, it was life-giving and therapeutic. The hard part was all the time and energy that goes into preparing to release a collection – photography, blogging, scanning, web design, product listings, social media, etc. All of that seemed very overwhelming, so I decided to try and release this fcollection in a different way. My typical method is to simply release the whole collection at one time. But for the Spring Garden Collection, I decided to release one piece each week for the spring season. It was my hope that this would be more manageable with my chaotic and unpredictable schedule.

Reflection

Something I’ve come to realize is that life isn’t just all good or all bad. There are many degrees of both all woven together. Acknowledging that is easy. Learning to notice both, without letting one eclipse the other is the real challenge. I’m no expert but last spring gave me a greater capacity to hold both at the same time.

Think of something hard that happen last year. What is something good or beautiful it created as a result?

Take note of things that were life-draining last year. Are any of those life-draining things also good? How can you change your perspective or experience of them so that they become less life-draining?

Now note some things that were life-giving. Is there anything on your list that was hard but ended up being life-giving? How has this insight changed your perspective of that thing?

Collect the Artwork

Most of the pieces from the Spring Garden Collection have been collected. However, there are a few originals left as well as a few framed prints created from prints sourced from this collection. I’ve linked them below.

ORIGINALS

“As Though I Were a Flower” 12×16 Original

“Dew Tinted Morn” 11×14 Original

“Seek the Quiet Hill” 11×14 Original

 

“A Thousand Blended Notes” 8×10 Original

Prints

Framed Print ii – 5.75 x 7.75 antique wood carved frame

Framed Print v – 9 x 11 Vintage wood frame with brass floral detailing

Framed Print viii – 13.5 x 21.5 hand-carved antique frame

Reflecting on this season was hard but ultimately good. I hope it encourages you not to shy away from reflecting on hard or difficult parts of your year. Tomorrow I’ll be reflecting more on the collection itself and what I learned from it. As usual, there will be a few questions to help you dive inward along with me. Below is a quick reference guide to all the posts in this series.

Winter: A Dream in Bloom

Winter: A Desire for a Creative Life

Spring: Beauty Keeps Hope Alive

Spring: Failure is a Gift

Summer: Darkness a Safe Retreat

Summer: Art as Connection

Autumn: The Burden of Expectations

Autumn: Unity in romance & logistics

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