For the past two years I have purchased a new houseplant whenever I feel like I've made personal growth or encountered a milestone in my life. I'm taking this moment to recognize a different type of growth: tremendous and long-lasting personal growth that has been happening in me over time--during the past 7 years of my life.
The 'before' 7 years ago image I have of myself could be described as trapped, tethered, striving, exhausted, and nearly extinguished. I had berated the person in that image daily for every small thing that went 'wrong'. She was to blame for everything that wasn't working in her marriage. If she just tried harder, or worked more, or took more classes and anti-depressants, or made better food, or lost weight, or understood, listened. . .
Then, 7 years ago, that worn-out person stopped. I looked at her, she looked at me. We both said, "I cannot keep going in the same way. I cannot survive this way." I made necessary changes at that time and wrote was has turned out to be my mission statement: "And I said, 'Oh! I know! My work is one of joy, kindness, something to live up to," I also said, "I cradle a song in my heart." In time it is morning. I look out my window and prepare for a marvelous leap. That marvelous leap was the most frightening action I've ever taken in my life. I've been experiencing the results of that leap since the day I wrote that; since the day I made the decision to leap into my new life.
In this new life, I am making decisions based on joy, kindness and the song in my heart. This has not been an easy transition and at times, I've felt at the very bottom of that long leap. And I get up to try again. I devote time to dreaming and to living a life of an artist. I work hard and at strange hours. I paint animals and landscapes, real and imagined. I face the reality of anxiety and depression, which I greet with a nod and a recognition that those two do not define me. My beloved dog is my companion and inspiration.
I greet today with a smile because it's a celebration. My collection of paintings called "Portraits of Pearl" are on display at the Joan Truckenbrod Art Gallery on 2nd Street in Corvallis, Oregon. This is my first ever solo art show and it is a big deal for me. The celebration is about how I arrived here: by making those decisions based on joy, kindness, and the song in my heart; by sharing, by loving, by listening and being open to change; by receiving help from others, by leaping. I'm proud of myself for getting here.
For one more week/weekend, you can see Portraits of Pearl on display at the gallery. After that, you will have to resort to online viewing here on my website. You can also follow me on Instagram, Redbubble, YouTube and Facebook.
*Here is one more poem for the road:
Radiance I am a pearl, currently trapped in the tight-lipped shell of an oyster. ! Time is not measured in a way that allows me a birthday— I am still being born, becoming! more and more myself with each passing day. I’m developing! my radiance and am pleased with it all. When the oyster opens his huge encrusted mouth, I will dazzle the world with my ! pearl-essence. J. Eicher, 2018