Perfect Day

Today I executed the exact perfect day – for me. I woke up early and wrote, ate a healthy breakfast and headed to a yoga class in town. After yoga I came home and painted, prepped dinner and called my dad as I pickled vegetables. I showered and ate lunch with my husband, headed to school for a performance, talked with my grandmother on the way. We picked up dessert at the bakery, delivering treats and the children home safely. I meditated and I am writing. 

Even with all those good things, the day still had it’s ups and downs. I felt rushed and eager to finish things. And may have ruined a painting because I did not have the patience to wait for the right color. I am not happy with the end result. But I didn’t want to wait. It felt like I had to finish something. Like each of those statements in my first paragraph had to be true. That compulsion to check all of the boxes and if I did not then I would not be doing my best to live my best day. It’s interesting how in attempting to have the, “Perfect Day,” I put unnecessary pressure on myself. How it could not just be a good day, it had to be, “perfect.” 

Rather than punishing myself for using the sticky paint instead of waiting for a fresh jar, I’m going to let it go and instead choose to notice the things I felt drawn to. Making meals from scratch, listening to 90’s country music in the kitchen, and catching up with family. Right now I’m listening to a really good book on tape – Heartburn by Nora Ephron. Meryl Streep is reading, and as always, a flawless performance. I felt drawn to exercise, create, and sit in the sun. And I did not like having to delay my painting to accommodate a lack of proper equipment. 

I noticed on the drive home from school that suddenly the trees in our neighborhood have leaves. Soon there will be sun and shade, color and vibrancy. And this day is not done. I just might sneak over to the pool for the first swim of summer. What a treat to enjoy unexpected fun and whimsy.

I don’t have to have the perfect day and I don’t have to follow the perfect schedule. A good life is made up of a variety of experiences and emotions. None of us are perfect and none of our days are perfect either. It’s just noticing the bright spots, the sunlight through the leaves and the goodness that surrounds and fills us. 

After noticing those things that brightened my day and made the time feel sweeter, I’m planning to incorporate more of them into my life. More 90’s country music, more homemade meals, more calling my family and connecting with the people I love most. Those are the things that fill me and fuel me, the things that make life sweeter. It’s a great day and it may not be perfect, but life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. I hope you take a moment today to think about what brings you joy and find a way to incorporate more of it into your daily life. M

Painting + Flow

There is the patter of rain on the windows and roof, I am settled into my seat, lemon water at my side and my tummy rumbling for a sweet treat – I keep cookies in my desk drawer for these occasions. I am feeling good – processed. I recently missed an opportunity that I thought might be for me. It was disappointing and I allowed myself to wallow yesterday. I needed a day to be angry and frustrated. Today, I needed to get into flow, so I painted.

An easel sits across from me in my office. It typically holds a painting that I am working on or a blank canvas waiting to be filled. Today the paint and my ideas flowed. I am feeling quite satisfied to have created something I know to be beautiful and believe to be good. I also have had the idea to ask the local frame shop if on Friday afternoons I might paint in their front window – possibly to draw customers in and hopefully sell a few of my pieces. It might be fun and it is something that occurred to me as I painted.

That’s the beauty of creative work, it frees the mind to wander. And gives space to let the imagination roam. There’s actually a pile of research on the benefits of somewhat mindless activities like painting. These tasks help us get into slower brain waves that bring us into flow and help us to make connections in our brains more efficiently. When our brains are in the state of flow we’re able to bring together a variety of ideas to create a new and unique solution. To learn more about the research I would encourage you to read The Art of Impossible by Steve Kotler. 

When I create I get to consider imaginary situations, topics that I have thoughts on but haven’t had the time to process. For me painting is meditative. When I am in the midst of my work it is easy to loose track of time. I feel completely absorbed in the best way possible, choosing colors, creating patterns or destroying them. It is powerful and empowering to simply focus on my work and what I want to do next. Painting frees me to finally think clearly. It gives me a fun medium in which I can make mistakes or change my mind and the consequences are minimal. It is freeing and makes my soul sing.

Whatever you do today I hope you give yourself some space to create. I notice that when I don’t make room in my life to act on my inspirations I feel cranky and stifled. Why make ourselves miserable for no reason? With that in mind I am grateful and excited to see what beauty we create in the world next. For now I’m focusing on this canvas and what colors and images come next. It’s a very good day, I hope yours is too!

Staying Grounded in Gratitude

Today is a cold and blustery day. A couple days ago we were savoring the sun and letting it pour into the windows and shine on our faces. Today we are bundled up and seeking out home improvements. Usually in the summer it is the landscaping and the yard that gets most of our attention. When it is unseasonably and unexpectedly cool we start updating the interior of our home. This weekend we will be stripping our closet and taking out the current organization system – a couple of rods and shelves. And while this is progress, it is not lying on the beach. That said, I try to stay grateful for where I am in this moment. Everything I have was once a much longed for dream. While I do have hopes that go beyond this project, I am firmly grounded in gratitude to be here now.

This week has been full of dramatic rises and falls in the family mood and energy, just like the weather. Fortunately we are feeling more at ease. New opportunities and exciting prospects are leveling out. We are not down but we are calm and we stay grounded in gratitude. A friend once described life like a wave. The goal is not to be either riding the crest or in the hallow feeling depressed. The goal in wave riding life is to find comfort in the middle and seek balance. It’s a good idea to stay in humility and humbleness because either you are in gratitude or the universe is on its way to remind you to be.

As I release my second novel – Treading Water July 2022 – I am humbled by all of the hard work and dedication that went into this book. The novel is one that I have read, re-read, edited, and thought through exhaustively for five years. It is ready to launch. I am so hopeful to see the lives that it will touch and how it will reshape the world with its existence. I am eager to hear your thoughts on it too!

But even as I get excited I am staying grounded in gratitude that I have made it this far. I am grateful that I get to write books and that the tools exist so that I can create them on my own terms. It is a joy and an honor that readers let my words into their lives. To choose to invest your time and energy in reading something I have created is a privilege I do not take for granted. When you look at or choose a piece of art I have painted for your own collection, it thrills me. I can’t imagine what you will see, read, or take away from the art I create. It is a joy and an honor to be a part of that process. I am truly grateful that I get to do this work. 

On this windy and chilly day I hope you’ll take the time to do whatever comes next for you. If it’s some small home projects, a gratitude exercise, or simply cuddling up with a good book. I hope wherever you are you feel fortunate and grateful for all of the wonderful gifts you enjoy. I know I am grateful for you.

What dreams have you seen blossom in your own life? What are you most grateful for today?