A New Chapter In My Story

Pictures often say it better than I can put it into words.
This all took place a couple weeks ago.
We loaded all our belongings onto a U-Haul…with the help of these men and several others.
We could not have done it without them.
And several times I heard them ask if we really thought we could get it all in that truck.
We did. They did, those wonderful friends helped my husband stack and pack it all. 
And then the house was empty.
Do you know how hard it is to say goodbye to your home?  I suspect that many of you do.
My husband made that hearth and mantle.  
We left that home better than the way we found it.  
We took the memories with us.  Really good memories.
Two days later another group of beautiful people, young and old alike,
greeted us and helped us clean our new home and then unload all that stuff.
Some of the men accused ME of reloading said truck 
as soon as they would take a box out of it.   
(I was too overwhelmed and tired to lift any boxes by then!)
Again…we could not have done it without them.
This made me think of book ends.  We were surrounded by love in Ohio, 
then we were surrounded by love again in Missouri.
We will make this home a better place than how we found it.
Yes. We like those “fixer uppers”.
Floors are being sanded, gutters cleaned, plans for repair projects are happening.
And somewhere in there we are getting some rest.
Meanwhile, the cats turned out to be great travelers.
They are adjusting to our new digs, gazing out the windows and carefully
checking out the neighborhood from a safe distance,
running and hiding as soon as a new sound or a new person comes their way.
I wonder what they were ‘discussing’ as they sat there among all the chaos?
On second thought maybe I don’t want to know.
Now if I could just find my kitchen scissors…

Seeing through the tears

Mums on the table

Blurred images are not something I usually post here.  I like those that are focused or at least give you a sense of the depth of field…photographically speaking.

However…I am not speaking as a photographer today.  

I chose this image because it more accurately represents my vision today: a bit fogged, rather blurred, and maybe just watery because of all the tears I have cried.  

Just when I think I have regained some control the tears come again.

Mark conducted his last worship service here this morning.  He cried from the first moments, from his first words, and that means we all cried along with him.  I had begun my tears earlier this morning as I wrote a note to my dear friend.

Goodbye is never easy.  Hello is much preferred.  (A card I received a couple weeks ago was all about “goodbye” but the word on the front said “badbye”.How I understand that word now!)

Yesterday I was asked by a very special friend to photograph her artful decorations that she spent hours preparing for a wedding reception.  This pot of mums you see here was part of that.  She and I had worked together for several years in the same office, our cubicles occupying the same room.  We found that creating art was a good release for each of us in our own way, and over time we shared each others projects in photos and fun conversation.  

It was really cool to see her finished product at the reception venue.  When I was finished taking photos we said our official goodbye…and cried.   

Then I participated in a “Paint and Partake” event at another friend’s home last night.  Good food, lots of fall colors, painting an image of a fall tree, and so much good conversation and laughter.  I came home with a painting that I will call “The Farewell Tree” because I know I won’t be painting for a while.

Unless you count painting the walls of our new home.  There will be lots of that.

In my crazy way of looking at life I see that this all connects.  Creating friendships, sharing meals, saying the words from the heart that tell what we mean to each other.  Painting art and enjoying the process.  Perhaps those connections come because we are being our true selves in those times, living from a place of love, listening quietly to the nudges of our hearts.

And then there is the phone call from the new friends in that new place that came later on.  In that new place there are people making preparations for our arrival.  A yard is being mowed, weeds pulled, bushes trimmed, garden spot being tended to, and loving prayerful thoughts being uttered.  They know that today is a tough day for us while they simultaneously are anxious for our arrival there.

My vision is kind of blurred today, yes. 

This image keeps coming to mind like that in a science fiction show: a person is reaching through a wall that looks like liquid silver, touching it ever so carefully because they are not sure what it will do.   And I’m that person. Standing on one side, in the close of a chapter of a book, tentatively reaching through that substance and touching the other side…turning to read the first page of that new chapter.  

Seeing through the tears I see that this is a beautiful place we will leave.  And we will see much of the same beauty and love, possibly through more tears, when we reach our destination.  

When you next hear from me it will be from our new home.  
Please keep us in your thoughts.
 ~ Deb ~

A Collaborative Art Project – From The Heart

Three Homes Art Project

Here is the story of how this image came into being.

Knowing that we will be leaving this home in a very short time to go to our new one, I invited my two dear friends to come over so we could create something.  This time I asked that they only bring themselves, no extra supplies or paints, just come as they are.  And they did.

In my stash of art stuff I found a board and asked Mark to cut it into three equal sections.  Then I put gesso on the rough surface.  I got out my paints and brushes, and put it all on my kitchen table. The pieces of board were placed next to each other tightly so that our painting would look like on large image.  (If you look carefully you can see the seams.)

Earlier that day I had the idea come to me that we had to create an image of some kind and that we could somehow collaborate to make it happen.  Other than that, I had no idea what we would do.

We gathered then and I began this project by making the outlines of three houses…very plain simple outlines with no windows or doors.  

Then the fun began.

Each of us took a turn with the paints, while the other two sat in the other room and did not watch.  Little by little we all added more lines, more color, more expression to this image of the three houses.  

We did this for three hours! Three hours! I knew that somehow we would know when we were done.  Finally, one of the gals said “I don’t know if I can add anything more.”  And I knew we had come to that point.

What surprised us was how each of us brought a bit of who we are to this project.  

The naturalist brought her love of nature and added the elements such as the trees and birds, and that bit of sunset over that mountain.

The spiritual director and teacher added some of the the structural details to each house. And those stepping stones that form a walk in front of all three places.

And with my brush I inserted the white, wispy curls of spirit that inhabit each place, the blue of the sky, green grass, mostly splashes of color.

We totally lost all track of time.  

How can I tell you what a beautiful experience this was?

I took this photo and then had three prints made of it, and now we each have one, along with our own section of the original project.   Something to hang in our homes and remember and cherish.

The hardest part of this?  

For a few days, it sat in my home, all the pieces together.  Today I had to separate them. 


Holding On

Home at the Johnston Farm

Our own home has sold and closing has happened.  And we have found a wonderful place to live in Missouri, complete with a front porch and a garden. (Sorry, it’s not what you see in this photo.)  In just a few weeks we will be unpacking in our new home, and hopefully the cats will adjust.

My replacement has been hired at work and I am training her, a difficult task in that so much of my work is stuff I do automatically over and over…and how do you teach that.  

Today I find that I just kind of look at the house here and think of what I can sort through, and then I’m stuck. Just stuck.  Can’t seem to put one foot in front of the other and begin.  Because if I begin that means this is really happening.

The piano has gone to its new home and a photo sent to me shows all three children in that family sitting together on the piano bench and playing.  Making music of their own.  I am so happy that they wanted to take this on, that the piano can now make its beautiful music like it needs to.  

This moving thing happens in the middle of all the rest of life.  It kind of takes over, but life still happens, the truck that needs repair, the failing health of parents, the joys of new life and new beginnings, and the mundane daily tasks.  

But because it is such a monumental thing, this move, this change of residence and places to work and live, it feels as though the very ground I stand on is shifting.  A virtual earth quake?  How do I keep balance?  

What do I need to hold on to?

If anything has changed with this move it is my understanding of home.  

While I really enjoy decorating and creating a beautiful space in a house, I know now that what makes it home is the people with whom I share that space.  Home is all about relationships.  

Wherever my husband is, there I am home.  

And when I have the opportunity to share time and space with my children and their own families, that sense of belonging, of home sweet home, returns.  

I can say the same about gatherings with my own family of origin, though as health issues affect my parents the fragility of that virtual place increases.  

Even more than this, more than the family ties, the bonds of friendship that have forged over the years…ah.  These places in the heart.  This is home.

Because, where else can you be your best self other than with a true friend?  Or even be your worst self?  

In that sanctuary of friendship we find unconditional love, acceptance, understanding, and the space to grow, to be who we really are.  

I agree with that phrase, “Home is where your heart is.”  Because in my heart will always be those friendships, those relationships, this wonderful marriage with my husband, the incredible bond of love with my children, and those family ties.

That is what I’ll hold on to.