Today I'm bursting with gratitude. I am celebrating a tremendous milestone of selling 100 paintings, and I'm stunned by the love and joy that has poured into my life along the way. Four years ago I was in the middle of treating Thyroid Cancer, I didn't have a daily creative practice, and I was quite anxious about the impact of this illness on my life.
If you had told me four years ago that I'd be painting daily and have the chance to share my art with so many amazing people, I'm not sure I could believe you. And yet, here I am.
Stepping into a daily practice of compassion for myself and others through painting has taught me the beauty that is possible in life. That the hard things that befall us may have un-transformable physical consequences and yet the spirit has every possibility to open, grow, heal, and awaken to love.
Based on this tremendous opening in my life, and marking this milestone, this is the message I want to share with you, especially if you are going through challenges and can't imagine transformation ahead:
Dear friend in your darkest hour,
Here with you friend. You aren't alone. It hurts. A lot. You are sad. Afraid. Lonely. Unsure. Part of you wants to talk and part of you can't find words.
What I'm going to tell you is going to be hard to believe. it might even feel confrontational. It may very well be too soon for you to fully hear it. And I'm telling you anyway.
This moment right here. It is dark. And this darkness may feel like the end. It might feel like despair. And in many ways it is. And the story isn't over friend.
Stay the course. Take a bath. Talk to a friend. Sit quietly with a cup of tea. Keep going. Do your best. Show up. Cry. Shout. Dance. Move. Be Still. Breathe. Think less. Expand your awareness to others suffering with you. And also contract your awareness down to the inhale, the exhale, the space in between. Be gentle, always gentle with yourself.
Your story is still unfolding in ways you can't prepare for and in ways more beautiful (yes, beautiful) than you can imagine. This diagnosis does not define you. And yet this moment, your response to it, this is shaping you. It is helping you to access something within you, something in the community around you, that you didn't realize was there all along.
You will find a new level of compassion that will change you and change your life. You will crack open in a way that will refuse to be ignored again. You will be able to understand and be present with others suffering more fully. Your heartache is because your heart is opening. Trust it. Know that it won't be your last heartache, and yet you will remember this one, this first big opening. And one day, you will be counting this moment in your blessings. And you will be sharing a message of hope with others.
"What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb." Valarie Kaur
Postscript: To my surprise and delight my 100th original sold has found its new home with a hero of mine, Dr. Dan Gottlieb . And today before delivering this painting I opened up my sketchbook to write a note to Dr. Dan describing my inspiration and reflections in the development of this painting. And to my astonishment I found that Dan's very words were part of the inspiration of this painting. I had created it inspired by his words, not knowing it would end up in his home.
If I could sum up my learning from these 100 paintings
it would be that there is stunning love and joy available to us if we can breathe and be present and courageous enough to accept it.
"We cannot survive without hope. But sometimes hope can keep us stuck waiting or wishing for something to change before we can find well-being. Hopelessness can help us release our grasp on unwinnable battles opening the door to living the lives we have with gratitude."
Painting pictured: "Release Our Grasp" 48" x 48" (c) Bronwen Mayer Henry