freedom

Fireflies and Sparklers

The first lightning bugs I saw this year were just before the Solstice. I love seeing them flash by now, conjuring memories of childhood and chasing (and sometimes catching) them in the yard with my brother and our cousins. They remind me of happy, sweaty nights running around outside, of mosquito bites and popsicles, of box fans in the windows. Those flashes of light remind me, too, of the sparklers that come with the 4th of July--a holiday that is rushing at us, and will arrive in the middle of next week.

 "Soaring" An original mixed-media collage on watercolor paper, comes matted and framed. $64

"Soaring" An original mixed-media collage on watercolor paper, comes matted and framed. $64

This time of year is a good one to remember how our country became independent, and how it's up to all of us to protect our independence. It's a good time of year for sparklers (if you like them - I . . . like seeing them, but won't handle them), for paying attention to safety rules when it comes to fireworks, and to celebrating with patriotic music and red, white & blue decor. It's a good time for hotdogs and burgers, for clambakes and corn on the cob, for fresh watermelon (hopefully without seeds, though I remember with fondness my grandfather teaching us how to spit them off the porch), and for popsicles. It's a good time for "Stars and Stripes Forever", whether you sing about web-footed friends or not, and for the 1812 Overture (because CANNONS!, though the song was written in 1880 to commemorate the Russians beating back Napoléon back in 1812), and for ooh-ing and ahh-ing with neighbors when your town does its firework display.

And it's a good time to spend a day clearing out your cupboards to get rid of expired food (throw it out!) and stuff you really don't want anymore (donate it to a local food pantry- just because it's warm doesn't mean that everyone has access to food; this is especially true for families who relied on free breakfast and lunch during the school year and now have to figure things out seven days a week instead of just on the weekend, and for seniors who sometimes don't have the same programs available to them during the summer months to help them with food security). Because independence is great, and Independence Day can be awesome, but remembering that we're all inter-dependent is still a good thing, and helping your neighbors (even if you don't know them, really) is a good way to celebrate our interdependence, and to help them feel they're still independent.

It's all about FREEDOM

I know it's not just me who gets their best ideas (or some new insight or clarity) while in the shower. This morning's "a-ha" moment for me was that so much of my art is about FREEDOM, and about FINDING PEACE.

Freedom of movement and/or freedom to travel, represented by all the sailboats and hot air balloons. Freedom of expression, represented by various styles of art as well as all those words and phrases found in my literary collages and even in some of my abstracts. Freedom to make noise and be heard in this world (tambourines, anyone?). Freedom to be my whole self, to paint with abandon, to discover new things.

Below you can see an assortment of my artwork - from large paintings like the Buddha and "Love, Breath, Air" to new hot-air balloons, sailboats, and literary collages.


What a lovely gift freedom is. And so many of the constraints I have been getting rid of or pushing past are limitations I either placed on myself or allowed others to push on me. All those "shoulds" I internalized over the decades. All those warnings meant to keep me "safe" that actually built walls and boxed me right in. 

Freedom to not take on other people's expectations. Freedom to refuse to allow others to impose boundaries or limitations. Freedom to break free of any of those boundaries I accepted or set for myself. Freedom to be seen and heard; freedom to step back from the noise and be alone, too. Freedom to not care too much whether other people will think I'm nuts if I . . . (fill in the blank). 

Freedom to find peace. Peace of mind, for sure. But also the freedom to accept myself as I am, and to be at peace with myself. At peace with my weight, my health, my emotional state. When I'm painting or working on collage, I am so in the moment, in the flow, that there is nothing but peace and the making of art. Maybe that's why so many of my larger paintings have peace built into them: Buddha, a dove, words that invoke a peaceful feeling, meditative elements meant to slow the viewer down and invoke a sense of ease and peace.

What does freedom mean to you right now? What would peace be for you? What are you ready to let go of?