Water, sunshine and love

Plants are the most amazing things ever. They give us oxygen and take in carbon dioxide. They produce flowers and fruit and their own seeds. Getting them to grow is not all that complicated.

Until recently however, I really did have a black thumb.

I killed nearly every single plant that came into my possession. Now and then there would be a survivor of the heartiest variety, but most fell victim to my neglectful ways. On a few occasions, one of my friends would give me a plant and I would cringe. The pressure to keep it alive was crippling.

Don’t get me wrong. I love plants. I love wandering around nurseries admiring all the beauty. I can barely remember the names or what they need, but I love to look. I stopped buying them years ago, knowing their fate was doomed given my pitiful plant parenting.

About 8 months ago, all of that changed. I am now a successful plant mom. Just look…

Here we have Hibiscus, Petunias, and others, then Cilantro, Basil and Parsley, and Sunflowers that I planted from seeds. At the bottom right, it’s a Miniature Rose plant from Prince Charming. This landscape is nothing short of a miracle.

Right now they all need some water, and it’s thundering but not raining, so I’m waiting to see what happens. Sunshine is a given here (um, yes, it’s the actual Sunshine State)! But the water will have to come from the hose soon if the sky doesn’t open up.

The love part is what I had to overcome. I always thought people who talked to their plants were a half a bubble off center. As it turns out, they know what’s up. Each day I greet all of my plants and check on them to see how they are. I am amazed at the difference this makes. Positive attention is really all that is required. If you’re interested, you can watch this silly video to see what I mean.

Even with all of this growth, I am still lacking in the self confidence department. When Prince Charming gave me the roses, I was terrified. I wasn’t sure I was ready for something so precious and beautiful. He assured me that I had what it takes to keep it healthy and happy. And he was right, so far, so good.

The parallel was not lost on me.

I felt a bit terrified when he and I began seeing each other. I wasn’t sure I was ready for something so precious and beautiful. He assured me that we have what it takes to keep things healthy and happy. And he was right, so far, so good.

It’s true that things don’t come to you until you are ready for them.

Learning to give of myself isn’t always easy. Having a commitment to care for another can feel like a big task, especially when my track record isn’t so great.

And then I remember, it’s just water, sunshine and love.

My past doesn’t define my future. I am learning and growing each day and letting my plants and our relationship do the same. How ridiculous would it be to tug on the leaves and stems? The key is to give freely, and not to force anything. And when everything is blooming, to relax and enjoy the beauty it brings to life.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

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Rewriting fairy tales

Once upon a time, there was a lovely lady who lived in a cute little beach cottage.

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It was perfect. She loved her work and her community. Her children were grown and on their own, but remained close with daily calls and frequent visits.

She took good care of herself. She had healthy habits and fantastic friends. She painted and she wrote. She practiced yoga. She served others. She spent her time and her money wisely. She read books and walked the beach. She knew what she liked and what she needed on any given day.

She was happy. The End.

knight in shining armor with princessAnd then what? What kind of story is that? Where is the tragedy? With the fairy tales of my childhood, every damsel in distress was rescued by a handsome prince. She could not save her own self. She was in dire straits until the prince on a white horse showed up. Only THEN she could live happily ever after.

Not in this story. In this story, the lady is her own hero. No need to be rescued. No need for a knight in shining armor to show up and save the day. Her life is all hers, and it’s beautiful, simple, peaceful and happy. It’s a beautiful tale, but it probably won’t sell.

As you may have guessed by now, the lovely lady is me. I am the hero of my own life. It is lovely and rich and full and I could not imagine how it could be any more delightful. I am living happily ever after.

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And then, out of the clear blue sky, my friend (and coworker) confesses his interest in me. This was a shock to say the least. In fact, he had been dropping hints for a couple of months that went right past me. And while I have always thought highly of this man, I was so focused on creating my own happy life, I never even thought about connecting with him romantically.

It’s been a whirlwind to say the least. We have been on several dates and it’s been unbelievably easy and comfortable (and magical even!). He operates with integrity and works hard. He tells me how he is feeling. He’s a gentleman in every way. He is honest and patient and kind and generous and attentive and faithful. And the bonus? He is tall and handsome and tells me every day that he adores me.

And me? I’m a bit of a mess over the whole thing. My emotions range from joy to fear with all points in between. About 847 times a day I have to remind myself to breathe! Just relax and enjoy! It should not be a surprise that someone wonderful has shown up in my life. It’s simply rewriting the old fairy tales. I don’t have to be in need of a rescue. It’s perfectly okay to enjoy the company of a handsome prince when he appears.

No matter what happens, I’m living happily ever after. The End.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

 

Recalculating…

Can I just confess that I have had a crush on Kevin Arnold for decades now? Surely you can relate to this adorable guy from the Wonder Years. It’s my favorite background noise while I’m painting, and the timing of last night’s episode was profound.

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As luck would have it, a clothing store in the next town was holding a huge clearance sale. As good wives and mothers do, Norma convinces her hubby Jack to take their growing 14 year old Kevin to purchase a new suit. The two wisely obey. They proceed to get lost and refuse to stop for directions (why?). They also get a flat tire. They struggle the whole way. They never get the suit. But of course it ends up being worth it because they make memories and grow closer. What a beautifully scripted happy ending.

Real life is rarely like that. What happens now?  We ask Siri to guide us to our destination. We call AAA to change the tire. Actually we just order the suit online and never leave our couch in the first place.

And families have their own issues, as does the one portrayed in this Netflix series. No one individual is perfect, yet they are held together by love and commitment. You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. These are your chosen family if your given one doesn’t work so well.

Good people – both friends and family – will be honest and they will care. They won’t make assumptions or demands. They will understand when plans change or when life takes over for a spell. They will do and say just the right thing at just the right time because they choose to do so. In tangible ways, good people honor who you are and respect the bounds of the relationship.

How do you know if a relationship is good? Take an honest evaluation. How do you feel when you’re around this person? Is it energizing or is it draining? How do you feel after having spent time with them? Are you sad when they have to leave – or are you relieved that you can breathe again?

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A healthy relationship allows for you to easily be yourself. If a relationship requires more energy than you’re willing to give, then don’t be in it. Sometimes it’s a seasonal hiccup, or sometimes they change, or you change, and you have to let them go. No matter how long they’ve been around, it’s okay to evaluate and make adjustments as needed.

After spending the past few weeks with the tall, dark and handsome man, I realized I hadn’t been honoring myself. Initially when something didn’t sit well, I spoke up, but then I found it harder to do so. There were minor things that I overlooked without protest. As of late, I was finding more energy going out than I was willing to give.

When some miscommunications happened, and hurtful words were directed my way, I chose to completely disengage. I had hoped to have a “farewell” conversation in person, but took the chicken route and sent an email. Spending the energy to sort through it all seemed pointless, given the realization that it needed to end anyway.

Even the best breakups are painful. However, the more painful thing is to allow relationships to continue when they aren’t working. It’s like driving down the road when you know you are heading in the wrong direction. Which, in my case, I guess I didn’t know where I wanted to go in the first place.

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One could call it a directional miscalculation. I knew going in – as did he – that neither of us were really in a place to invest in a relationship. It was just going to be fun, until it wasn’t. I am a firm believer in finding the lesson in everything, and I definitely learned some important ones:

  • Be honest with yourself about how this person makes you feel.
  • Be ready to speak up when something doesn’t sit well.
  • Be willing to sacrifice to make room for this person.
  • Be realistic about how much you can invest (time and energy) in this relationship.
  • Be aware of getting too close too quickly – emotionally or physically or both.

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It’s clear I have some work to do, so I’m not playing the dating game for a while (sorry, alphabet fans). For now, I’ll be painting and basking in the final week of my summer break. I’ll have a heavy class load soon enough. Hopefully the lessons ahead will be easier than this one.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

A very fun six weeks…

For the past few weeks, I’ve been loading up my canvas, brushes, and paints and driving around the corner. There’s a cute little Italian restaurant that has live artists working, and I had the honor of being one of them.

It’s not that I’m all that talented. I mean, I think my work is okay, but it’s not like I studied art or even really have that much experience. I took one class and totally loved it (and okay, I got an A). Largely I believe I was there painting because I pestered followed up with the manager a few times. Moxie for the win! Also, it was summer, I was available, and they had room on their schedule for me.

And then last week, it came to an end. Summer is about over. School is about to resume, and it was time for me to exit stage right.

Which is sad, because I enjoyed it so much.

But it’s also good. And here is why.

I am in a constant state of learning and growing. I now have paintings that are for sale, and I am searching out new avenues in which to sell them. I am launching even further outside of my comfort zone to do this. Oh, have I mentioned that there are a bazillion other artists in Sarasota? And there are packed galleries everywhere? A girl like me could get really insecure, really fast with those kinds of stats.

I could wallow. I could feel sad. I could believe selling art is too hard. I could decide that I am not a good enough artist and that my work is not worthy. But according to Brene Brown, the antidote to scarcity is gratitude.

Fortunately, I happen to be well versed in the practice of gratitude.

For the past six weeks, I spent time next to amazing artists (like Tom, Dante, Karen,  LaShawn, and others). I made friends with the adorable bartender (as one does). I learned a lot about painting and pricing. I even learned how to graciously handle inappropriate suggestions of what I should add to a beach scene I was working on one night. I enjoyed delicious food, a cool atmosphere, and basked in the glow of the whole experience while it was happening.

I didn’t take one moment of it for granted.

I can appreciate the season for what it was, who I met, what I learned, and how it allowed me to grow. Both as an artist and as a person.

With that, I will be keeping my Art page here up to date on works that are for sale. And if you’re not in a big rush, I can take work on commission too. And if you have any great suggestions for me, send them along.

It is my joy to paint, and I will not worry or fret about whether any of it sells. I have found a creative outlet that delights my heart, and that is a valuable thing.

Thanks so much for reading, until next time!
Sherri

 

Fifty words about my first Wild Goose Festival

I have heard about this for years now. I have read through every piece of info out there – including blogs of previous attendees. I have spent significant time with those who organize this whole crazy thing. I attended an official One Day Wild Goose – Intersections – in Jacksonville, FL earlier this year. Heck, I even helped put an “unofficial” Wild Goose event together (Hawkins Road Festival) at my home church this past February.

But none of that quite prepared me for this amazing experience last week in Hot Springs, NC. It’s hard to form complete thoughts and sentences (I’m still absorbing and processing), so I’ll just give you these fifty words…

authenticity
people
laughter
mud
funnel cakes
spiders
children
tapestries
thoughts
coffee
music
trees
friends
oatmeal
trinkets
rocks
sweat
stories
glitter
love
rain
Jesus
yoga
inclusion
veggie things
hammocks
books
river noise
freedom
hard cider
conversations
dancing
puddles
fireflies
beer and hymns
port-a-potties
smiles
walking
acceptance
picnic tables
cicadas
prayers
cool mornings
energy
barefoot
art
grace
challenge
dragonflies
community

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And it just so happens that tickets for next year are available if you’d like to join me. Then we’ll see what kinds of sentences you can form at the end. 🙂

Thanks for reading, until next time!
Sherri

 

At the end of it all…

I could be obsessed with time… seasons, schedules and how to pack it all in. I mean, I think about time a lot. Not like the lady in Chinatown who has nine different Rolexes up her sleeve. She’s just trying to make a buck off of unsuspecting tourists.

My one handed watch was gifted to me a couple of Christmases ago. It’s from Switzerland – not the lady in Chinatown – and it was not “a special low price for you today”.

Continue reading

Time to be happy…

It’s my birthday / week / month!

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It’s always a good time to reflect. I’ve been thinking about where I’ve been each decade and I’ve noticed some things. This year is different in the best possible way.

Stroll down memory lane for a moment with me and you’ll see what I mean.

Age 9 which was (gasp!) 40 years ago. It was not a memorable birthday because kids didn’t get birthday palooza back then. We maybe got a cake and some new sneakers. If we were really lucky we had a friend sleep overnight. We definitely didn’t rent bounce houses and give goodie bags to our guests. There were no caterers or clowns or custom printed invitations for crying out loud.

(Honestly, the best thing I remember about my birthday is that strawberries were in season and we usually had strawberry shortcake instead of birthday cake. And that was just fine with me.)

Age 19. This one I remember for sure. My mom was away at her 20th High School Reunion. My Dad and I were just supposed to sit around quietly and celebrate Father’s Day and my birthday. Once I confirmed that I would be buying the beer, he agreed to the insanity that took over the machine shed and our 3 acre lawn. It’s a bit hazy now, but I remember at least 3 kegs, a live band and 200 of our closest friends. It still holds high status among the “parties to remember”.

Age 29. I was pregnant with my second child. I was in an extremely dysfunctional marriage but convinced that another baby would be the answer. Though she is a joy, she was not the answer. Before she was out of diapers, we were separated for good.

Age 39. I was 5 days away from getting married to husband #2. I was tired of raising the girls on my own and sleeping alone. I was convinced that a new husband would be the answer. He was not. After years of counseling, our last and final separation was 3 years ago.

So at age 19, I couldn’t wait to party it up. I wasn’t 21 yet, and surely being older would bring me happiness.
At age 29, I couldn’t wait for child #2 – who would surely save my failing marriage and that would bring me happiness.
At age 39, I was trying it again – because surely being married to the “right” guy would make my life better and bring me happiness.

But this year – age 49 – is SO very different! I am content and not pushing for the next thing. Finally.

I am content with where my life is. I love what I am doing, where I am doing it, and with whom I am doing it. I am not holding out for the next thing, the next person, the next circumstance. RIGHT NOW I truly have happiness, and it isn’t based on something or someone around the corner.

And that, my friends, is worth celebrating!

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So what did I actually do on my birthday? I painted. At a really cool restaurant where they have amazingly talented artists doing art while people eat dinner. Oh, and the people BUY the art. If it’s not sold by the time you finish it, the restaurant hangs it up and sells it for you. How amazing is this!? And they invited ME to come and paint with them.

So I did.

And they fed me and also gave me a glass of wine since it was my birthday. Also, there were 8 different people that came in to say hi and eat dinner because I was there. I felt  like a celebrity. But really, I am just a happy girl celebrating her birthday, doing what she loves to do.

It’s pretty cool when that happens, isn’t it?

I agree.

Plus I got to do some other fun things like kayaking and eating at fancy restaurants and have more planned with friends later this week. I am already happy, and those things will just add to it, not create it.

I am in charge of my own damned happiness, and I’m pretty happy about that.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

 

I won’t get that hour back…

Or that other one either.

I think dating is kind of like parenting. Once you figure out how to do it well, you’re probably done. Success = finishing = you don’t need to do it anymore. I think we have the equivalent of a second grader. Which if I lost you just now, it means we have a ways to go.

Screening from one stage to the next is so effing hard. How long do you text before you talk? How long do you talk before you meet? There are dangers in letting it all be virtual for too long. But boy howdy, I gotta stop meeting in real life with some of these guys. My last two in person encounters were lackluster. I realize this is a learning and growing opportunity, but alright already.

Letter K – we met for a quick happy hour and enjoyed a beverage and a small pizza. I had movie plans with my girlfriend for later (Wonder Woman – yes it’s amazing – yes you need to see it). Having an after-plan gave us a definite ending point. This is a good practice for a couple of reasons. If it’s a terrible date, you see the light at the end of the tunnel (it’s okay to bail early if it is REALLY terrible). But also, if it’s good, it’s okay to give yourself some space for reflection. And, it leaves them wanting more, right? Well, let’s just say K fell into the former, not the latter. In fact, I enjoyed my conversation with the bartender and the manager more than with K. Which I took as a clear sign, but he did not.

He texted me before I even left the parking lot to ask for a “real” date. I had to tell him I just didn’t see it happening. He didn’t hold my attention and a nice guy like him deserves a girl who is into him. Honesty and integrity…those are the goals. I can be snarky here with you great people, but I don’t need to crush anyone. Besides, we know how fragile the male species can be, right?

One hour I’ll never get back, but hey, it’s a gamble. Onward we go…

After work one day this week, I met letter L. I knew before I left that it was not likely going to be a good connection. Why I didn’t cancel is the thing I need to figure out. It was just coffee, and I didn’t go too far out of my way to meet him. I did give up something that I would have preferred doing though. Like, anything else. Maybe even cleaning the bathroom. Some people enjoy this chore, but it’s not among my favorites.

I know you’re wondering why. Of course I’ll tell you! For starters, he had soft hands and a soft handshake. I can’t handle either one in a man. And, have you ever had conversation with someone who likes to finish your sentences? But they don’t know you very well so they finish them poorly? That was L. Plus, he was ex military and reminded me too much of a drill sergeant guy who used to be my boss. Which is not a complement. Nice enough guy, but not for me. He also texted me soon after to ask for a second date. Again, I let him down gently and kindly.

So two hours down the tubes…

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What in the name of all that is holy am I even doing wasting time? I’ve been super creative and super social with friends –  and I’m working on a huge article for the little magazine to which I contribute. And I’m painting like it’s my new job (but it’s totally not, I’m still working the full time one that I have). I only have about 9 weeks of “no school” to live it up! And even though it’s just an hour here and there, I cannot waste it drinking coffee or wine with someone that I’m not excited to see.

I’m almost halfway through the alphabet. I won’t bother giving anyone a letter unless I meet them. There are a few possibilities in the “chat” stage, so potentially I could have another date or two before the month is over. But only if there’s real potential. A free beverage is not free if it’s costing me something more – which is my most valuable, most highly regarded, most precious time.

In your wait for the next letters of the Dating Hell Alphabet, feel free to check out the art I’ve been doing. In fact I added a page here just to show them off to you. More about that soon…

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

This one is too….???

Ahh…fairy tales. Cinderella, Snow White and Ariel and all the other princesses are not  the best role models when it comes to romance. But Goldilocks? She’s not a princess at all. She’s a simple girl looking for simple comforts. She isn’t searching for a prince or a castle. She is strolling in the woods and seeking the basics. This is a girl after my own heart.

Okay, she happens to be guilty of breaking and entering along with destruction of property, but let’s not focus on this. She is discovering what works for her. I am now claiming Goldilocks as my hero and aspire to be more like her in my dating adventures.

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What would Goldilocks do (WWGD)? How does this taste? How does this feel? Is this comfortable for me? After some sampling, she knew what was just right.

With my hiatus from school, I thought I would jump back in and begin a little summer sampling myself.

Letter “I” is the next on the list (I had to go back to look – it had been so long). After some solid text conversations, we met last week for a walk on the beach. It sounds totally cliche, but it happens to be a carefree way to connect. And hello, it’s a beautiful setting.

We chatted non stop, but it was relaxed and easy. There were several points of mutual harmony – including religion, politics and other points – no small feat there. We agreed it was a successful first date, and made plans to connect over the weekend.

Saturday “I” and I went kayaking and it was comfortable and fun. Our hope was that – barring anyone tipping anyone else overboard – that we would have a bite together after. We remained upright and dry, and thus continued with lunch. Kayaking is one of my “most wanted” activities ever, and the chosen cafe is among my personal favorites. The day was scripted to be incredible.

Overall, the time spent with “I” wasn’t too cold, it wasn’t too hot, but it wasn’t just right. It was more… lukewarm. Which is fine, but with the setting and the activity, I expected it to be more. It was perhaps a little too calm and flat. Maybe we would have been better off with some tipping? head_up_anim

I’m not sure I will see him again. The script is really secondary if the characters are hitting it off.  I don’t want to waste his time or mine if there’s not a spark – the elusive “just right”.

Chemistry has been present in my (crazy) previous relationships, so I cannot trust it to be the sole guide. But I can’t quite discount it either. How long does it take to discover? Can it be developed or is it just there? I don’t really know…

So onward to letter “J”. We made plans to have lunch on Sunday – coincidentally at the same restaurant. (I know, back to back dates. What can I say, it’s a holiday weekend and I had extra time. Plus, their beet salad.) We preemptively packed beach gear in anticipation of lunch going well. It did, so we headed west for an afternoon of sun and surf. “J-man” planned well with a cooler of beverages, complete with Tervis and ice. It was a chamber of commerce day and y’all know how I feel about my toes in the sand. Another perfect script waiting for the characters to connect.

Much like “I”, my time with “J” was filled with non stop conversation but with much intensity. He has a big personality and even bigger adventurous tales. I felt like a one woman audience as he held center stage to dazzle and entertain.

While I felt energized and enjoyed his stories, I was ready to head home after a while. It was more choppy than calm. I’m not sure he’s “just right” either. Maybe it was the undoubted excitement of meeting me? Like a new puppy when you first get home from work? A second date may reveal more. We’ll see if he calls.

cropped-10393-img_2953It was not this hard for my girl Goldie. She had three options, and it was clear which was the best. My options seem endless, and they are not as easy to read as a fairy tale.

I am grateful that I am not on a time frame. I have no agenda for how this ends. I am enjoying the adventure one date at a time. Nothing is at stake. Oh, and my tan is coming along nicely.

Thanks for reading, until next time!
Sherri