Ever feel like you’re walking through life on “high alert”? Like your to-do list for the day is a mile long and there’s no way to finish the day feeling successful? When you know a lot your to-do-list will spill over into the next day, it's enough to start squeezing the life and joy out of you.
For the last few weeks, I've definitely been living in this space. When my alarm goes off each morning, I’m already stressed as my head spins with all the things I need to do that day. By the day's end, I am left feeling exhausted and unsuccessful. Yet another day has passed and I've come up short again (or at least feeling like I've come up short, even if I accomplished a lot of good that day.)
If I’m honest, I lead a pretty chaotic life. I’m writing this as all 3 of my kids and myself are battling a head cold, and 2 of my kids have pink eye. I run an art business, and I’m also the “default” parent in our home—and this is a lot. Any creative entrepreneur or parent can attest to it being a lot. But I know my situation is not unique: we live in a society addicted to the idea of being busy. We equate busy-ness with success (business, personal, and even parental success is often equated with the fullness of our calendars).
So how do we find rest? People have a lot of different answers to this question, and I’m not here to do a deep dive into it, but to share one simple way I’ve found as an artist to intentionally pursue rest, and it’s in a color.
The color green. It’s the very end of March where I live in the Midwest, and I just love all the different greens that come out in the spring. Just looking at the different greens, and really stopping to notice the variety of warm and cool, light and dark, soft and vibrant greens harmonizing together makes my heart take a deep breath in and back out again. It helps me relax inside, a little at a time. The chaos feels less and it feels farther away and it feels less important. This particular scene of an aspen grove invites me to come and sit awhile and drink in the freshness of spring. To rest and to be restored. I named this piece “Among the Aspens” because I want to stop the hurry and dwell there, to really sit in this peaceful and restorative place for more than a brief moment. I want the rest to permeate my being for as long as possible.
One of the magical things about art for me is that I can experience this rest in nature as I’m viewing the scene and again at the easel while I’m painting it. And later someone else gets to enjoy this invitation to rest in their own home as they live with it day to day.
Life is chaotic, and that’s not going away altogether. Life is chaotic, but it's also quiet, lovely, peaceful even. Rather than let the chaos run the show, I choose rest, at least some of the time. I choose it intentionally, and at great cost to the “to do” list. It's critically important that I intentionally and regularly slow down, quiet the noise (externally and internally), and draw my mind back to things that are simple and restorative. Studying the greens in nature, especially in the springtime, are one of the quickest ways my mind quiets, as my soul is allowed to expand as a response to the quiet beauty of the natural world. The noise will wait; the chaos will wait. There is a place to rest, if we will quiet ourselves enough to experience it.
With creativity and gratitude, Angela
PS: If you’d like to explore more about the painting "Among the Aspens", head on over here