New Year Reflections

Happy 2015!

No doubt you’ve already entertained the idea of a New Year resolution… Personally, I always go back and forth between making a New Year resolution and ignoring the idea all together. The challenge for me is that if I think of a resolution, I’ll more than likely forget about it by the end of the month. Then, I’ll remember again in August and get annoyed at myself for #1 making a resolution if I was going to #2 forget about it like usual. Thankfully, I remembered an old file on my computer that I’ve had for yeeears and years. This document is a list of 26 questions that guides you in reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the new year.

I found some of these questions online (I don’t remember where because it’s been sooo long) and I’ve added some questions of my own that I like to reflect on. You can answer them all or just a few, take some out or add some of your own as well. Shape it to be exactly what you want. Talk them through with a friend or spouse or journal them on your own. (Daniel and I are going to be answering five questions a day until we work through them all.)

For me, I enjoy making time for reflection. I like considering where I’ve found joys, successes, challenges and even disappointments. I think that when I look back and process my life in a healthy way, I’m bound to learn and grow.

So, no matter what 2014 was like, if we make time to consider where we’ve been – and where we want to go –  that can make for a very Happy 2015!

New Year Reflections


Thankful

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Thankful to have some time to do some lettering for our home.

Truly thankful for family, near and far – friends, new and old – a home to decorate – laughing as I hear my husband rap in the other room – Indian corn passed down from my grandma – forgiveness – health – The Elf movie that I already watched – the birds in our backyard – learning a new town – thankful for love – thankful that God first loved me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 


A few deep breaths before I begin…

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Vows

I love having the opportunity to work with wonderful people. I mean really wonderful… like, Kristy and Luis wonderful.

Kristy wanted me to create a piece of custom art that she was going to surprise her husband with for their first wedding anniversary. {I mean, how sweet!} Kristy wanted me to create two pieces of art, one with each of their vows to hang on either side of their bed. She also mentioned that they both love trees.

It just so happens that I love the concept of trees too, especially relating to marriage. A tree digs its roots down and grows from a place of deep security. A tree’s branches stretch out from a place of centeredness (its trunk… just incase I lost you). Trees also weather storms and change with the seasons… growing and becoming more beautiful as they shed their leaves and bloom once again.

I decided to paint a tree on one piece of paper and then tear the paper into two so that each of their vows would share parts of the same tree. In marriage, I think that being able to grow and bloom along with your spouse is a beautiful thing. I also chose to paint the leaves in various shades of green, and brown, to signify the ever-changing seasons that we find ourselves in.

Kristy, I LOVED working with you on these very special pieces of art. Thanks for the opportunity! You were a breath of fresh air.

 

Material: Watercolor, gouache and acrylic

Original size: 14 inches  x 22 inches

Paper: Arches watercolor, hot press – off white


Saying ‘yes’ to scared

When I was in elementary school, my sister and I would often accompany my parents to visit shut-ins and the elderly. (Yes, I was a pastors kid.) I won’t get into the singing performances that they use to make us do at nursing homes but I will say this – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. (Looking back, I’d do the same if I ever have kids… so many life lessons when you learn how to serve.)

One day my younger sister and I went with my mom to visit an elderly lady (looking back, she was probably only 60). I remember it vividly. It was a cool, crisp, Indiana fall day. I was wearing sweat pants (this will be important later). No doubt my sister and I pleaded to go outside and play to avoid what seemed like unending hours of boredom. As soon as my mom said yes, we were off to discover and conquer the great unknown… her backyard. In the course of our exploration, we found an old rusty swing set that was dripping with untapped play potential.

 

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Photo Credit: Philip Childress

I have always been one who has been motivated by challenges. You tell me I can’t do something and you should consider it done. When I was young, I was no exception. I’m not sure if this stupid act came by way of a dare or me just be adventurous. None the less, I found myself on the top of the rickety swing set getting ready to do a front flip. (We called these front hurkies in the midwest circa 1989.) So, I prepared to flip around the bar and when I did, my beloved sweat pants got stuck in a stray hook, along with my inner thigh… while I was upside down… six feet off the ground. I had no other choice but to let go and plummet to the hard, unforgiving, earth. I landed safely with a gash on my inner thigh and shredded sweat pants.

Why am I telling you this? Well, because I’ve been toying with the idea of fear lately. Not kid fear – adult fear. Kids tend to be afraid of things like the boogie man and the dark. They’re not afraid, however, to fall and take risks. (Even though my palms are sweating from reliving the above experience.) As we grow into adults, it seems like we trade fears with children. No longer are we afraid of the boogie man or the dark, but we are afraid to take risks and fall.

We’ve traded adventure for logic and risk for certainty.

Most of us have jobs that are “certain”, bills that are certain, friends that are “certain”. Our lives are pretty neat and tidy for the most part. Sure we all hit a few bumps along the way, but we know what will give us bruises and what will be rewarding. If I’m not mistaken, we all gravitate toward what’s rewarding (if you’re older than 24 anyway).

As my husband and I pray about starting a new business one thought that circles through my mind is – Samira, what if you fail?

I have to remind myself that it’s okay to be scared and do it anyway. It’s okay to fail.

Now I’m not talking about doing anything stupid (insert a plethora of really bad ideas), but I’m talking about being willing to risk it all for something greater. How often do we settle for good enough when best really is out there? We settle in our work, in our relationships and even in the food we eat.

I’ve talked to people who want to go back to school and just don’t, people who want to start a new business and just don’t, or people who want to climb a 14er and well, just don’t. Maybe now really isn’t the right time. Maybe you really will do it in the future. Maybe.

I’ve been reminded lately how short life is. I don’t want to get to the end of it and say, “Whelp, it was fun – I guess. Would’a loved to have done this or try that. {shrug} Oh well.”

Oh well, you blew it. You had your chance… Wait – We still have our chance!! It’s not too late to do what you’ve always longed to do. As long as we are drawing breath, it’s never too late.

As my husband and I pray about the transitions ahead of us, I choose to remind myself that we have one go around at this life. Sure, we might fall and hit the ground head first (won’t be the first time) or we might not. But we won’t know until we look scared in the face, put our arm around its shoulder and invite it into our journey. Because when we say yes to scared, we realize that what we’re really saying yes to is being human.


Splinters, Pity parties and being Thankful.

I just got a splinter in my finger. Again.

We’re working on our new home and the first splinter came by way of a five-inch piece of severed wood that was driven between my thumb and fingernail. With eyes that bulged out of my head, I pulled that stick out of my finger asap. Now on to today, I was cleaning an old window when lo and behold another piece drives into my finger: underneath my nail – Ah-freaking-gain.

If you’ve never experienced this form of torture, be glad. I’m not a lightweight when it comes to pain…. but this my friends, feels like crap. I’d rather getting slapped across the face or forced to do burpees until I fatigue or throw up. To add insult to the literal injury, when I went to pull this splinter out of my finger, it broke off underneath my nail. So I did a few lamaze breathing techniques {or something?} and ran to the bathroom while making little piglet noises.

So, as a reward for all of my hard work, I went on Instagram and got annoyed. (Social media is my kryptonite!) I saw something on there that I wanted and didn’t have, so I became jealous – which lead to feeling inferior – which lead to me feeling discontent. Quickly, I realized I only had two choices:

1. Commit to the pity party and go big, for crying out load (perhaps literally).

2. Remember reality… I have everything I could want and need (maybe besides a Mercedes G wagon – KIDDING – I am thankful for my Nissan) and I live a pretty amazing life.

I’ve been working on changing pathetic attitudes that bring me no where but down. In fact, in small circles, I am known to throw amazing pity parties – for myself.

As I type this post, this is what I’m looking at:

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{#justmoved #nofilter #reallife}

Jealous? Probably not… Mainly because you shouldn’t be.

We are geared to share the lovely, the beautiful and the adventurous with our friends, family, and those who don’t even know us. But is that reality? No. It’s not. I don’t care who you are – you’re life isn’t perfect and poop happens {aka: splinters breaking off underneath your nail}.

I have so many things to be thankful for… I SHOULD be the poster child for thankfulness… But am I? -no- Are you?

Media tells us about all the things we don’t have. But why can’t we be content with being us? Wholly who we were created to be? …No mould, not like any other, authentic and uniquely beautiful.

About five years ago, I was really struggling with being content and found myself longing for everything that I DIDN’T have (imagine that). During that time, I started saying the phrase: “Envy your life Samira.” When I thought about all of the things in my life that I have to be thankful for (I made a list), it started to change my pity party attitude into one of gratitude, peace and contentedness.

So, since it’s time for an attitude change – right now, here’s my – this is what I’m thankful for right now, list:

1. I have all my fingers – even though one hurts – a lot. I almost lost one once – and I am very thankful that it was saved/healed.

2. My husband likes me. In fact, he loves me. Even better – actually – he honors me. And I know for a fact, not everyone has that. I’m thankful for him.

3. I’m thankful that when I need help, I can call out to the Lord and He’s there. {BOOM!} He’s not too busy for me. He just isn’t – and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

4. Even though my house is a “work in progress”, I have a house. Um hello….thankful!

5. And you know what? I like the sofa that I’m sitting on. I think it has beautiful lines, and as an artist, I’m very thankful for that.

… and as I go… I’m feeling better… I’m taking the focus off of what I don’t have and placing on what I do have… Where my focus should have been all along.

So, what are five things you’re thankful for? I bet if you start with five, you’ll think of six and then seven… Because thankfulness grows when you water it.

Be thankful… When it’s hard. When you wanna cry. When you wanna kick the window that gave you the horrendous splinter in the first place. Be thankful. Again… And again… And again. Until I – until you – can’t help but be thankful.

Because even though thankfulness doesn’t make the pain go away (finger still hurts), it does keep my eyes on the big picture… that life – MY life… YOUR lifereally is something to be thankful for.