In My Camper, Along the River

Journal Entry for Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It’s amazing to think of what my life is now and of my journey to get to this point. Here I am in a beautiful camper sitting along the Mississippi River watching the swift current as I bask in the lovely warm sun and drink tea from a handmade mug from my favorite spot in Florida.

I remember being in the throes of motherhood – dishes, diapers, runny noses, dirty floors, constant school work to grade, mounds of laundry- all the while feeling ill and wondering if I would ever get through. There were joy-filled moments, but because of my illnesses, I was often depressed and just hanging on. My being was filled with unexpressed creativity with no time to release it. I saw people travel to interesting places, but we always visited family, not only because we wanted to see them, but also because it was affordable. In my spare moments, I escaped through Christian novels to things new and exotic. The older mothers told me to cherish those times because they go so quickly and you long for them later. I really thought I might drown in overwhelming exhaustion before I would get to that point.

But here I am. My beautiful, energetic boys have grown to handsome, successful men. They have grown and flown. Our nest is empty. I admit to having struggled for a time without my boys. And still at times missing them startles me with sudden waves of pain. I have, however, made it through the mid life transition. I almost felt like I had to free myself of “the homeschool mom” mentality by getting rid of all our homeschooling materials and the bookcase after bookcase filled with books. And ultimately, I needed to sell the house in order to move on. I couldn’t figure out who I was in that house without homeschooling. And the boys I had trained to clean it weren’t there to help anymore! Lol.

So the books have found new homes. The home has found new occupants. And I have found a new identity: Traveling Artist. Creativity has always wanted to pour from within me. And new places have beckoned me to “come, explore.” So, here I am in my camper, watching the barges traverse the rapid waters and clinging to God in this new phase of life. The life after little kids. The life that doesn’t seem to have quite as much purpose as raising the next generation, and yet is filled with time. Time to rest and rejuvenate. Time to heal my body. Time to meet people, look them in the eye and listen to their stories. Time to see my husband as more than a life-line that shows up after a day away at work when I am at my rope’s end. Time to learn how to reign in my thoughts and enter in to joy.

And time to draw ever closer to the one who made me to be the creative person that I am – my Father – THE Creator and Lover of my soul. He has blessed. There is Hope. There is Joy. I will enter in. I will embrace this new phase of life and live it with abandon, with the excited expectation of God using me again, even if my life is so very different than it was or even than other women my age. And that’s okay. I am right where I am supposed to be. Along the river. In my camper.

Watercolor Journaling

I’ve pretty much fallen in love with journaling.  Although I like to write and always thought I should keep a journal or diary, it just didn’t happen. Filling an entire page with words seem intimidating. So did art journaling, at first.

But, it’s just paper! I can fill it however I want…words, drawings, paintings. I might even start taping things into it. Some things just beg to be painted, like the man in the hat at the pool. I’m not sure he realized he was begging to be painted, but I just had to do it.DSC_0888 2-001

In trying to paint each day, I’m finding it a bit challenging to find subjects. It was time to paint the Portland Head Light again, this time for me. I felt very brave and sketched this one in pen first. No pencil!DSC_0890 2

Working from my photographs is really wonderful. It brings back all kinds of memories and is a way to notice each detail once again. This nuthatch was one that I photographed on Christmas day one year at my son and daughter-in-law’s house. As much as I love the bird, this also brings back fond recollections of our time with family.DSC_0886 3

Next, I worked from another photo to paint a building in Sarasota that reminds me of Italy. I got even braver and did this one by painting without sketching first at all. I added some ink lastly.  This one I need to do again, on location!DSC_0934 2-001

While looking for subjects, Matt kept saying, “Why don’t you paint the roses I gave you?” Those beautiful red roses of love looked really difficult to me. So, I put it off until they were on their last legs and then thought, “Why not try?” I laid these three on the picnic table and gave it a whirl.DSC_0944 2

Now, I’ll always remember the lovely Valentine’s gift from my sweetheart! So glad I tried it out!

One last watercolor to show you. I’ve been working in journals that are made for watercolor and thought they were fine. But I am enjoying being part of a artist journal group on facebook and kept hearing about Moleskine journals and how wonderful they are. I decided to get one and try it out. What a difference! I think I’ll be using Moleskine from now on. What better way to start the new journal than with one of my favorite creatures?DSC_0948 2

Have you kept a journal? I’m sure glad I started. Already, I love leafing through the pages I’ve completed. It shows a journey of art and adventure. Well, I’m off to look for another subject…

You may enjoy another post about watercolor painting here and this one too!