Art and happiness flow from love and work.

Jeannette on her blog introduced me to #dangerdust, some stealthy design students who have taken chalkboard art to a new level. I browsed samples of their works, many of which are illustrated quotes, and this one immediately joined with the theme of design to start a new phrase, “designing my life,” floating around in my head.

dangerdust JessicaHische_DSC_9440_

Who is Jessica Hische? I wondered, at the same time knowing that I couldn’t in good conscience take her on as a life coach, a woman who would try to comfort me with quotes as I avoid housework. I’ve found that true comfort can only come from getting at least some of the put-off tasks accomplished.

She is a graphic designer, and perhaps she was just talking about herself when she made the statement quoted above. I hope so, because she’s a little young to be giving advice to the rest of us. But her website is so lovely and clean (those must be really passé descriptors in the design world!) that it makes me want to hang around… procrastinating?

I know that creative work is a tricky thing. Whether it’s a cooking project, sewing or writing, sometimes I dink around and putter about nervously, and even do some other kind of work until suddenly I feel that all my brain-ducks are lined up and I can get going. So which is the work that I should be doing — this is funny, old as I am — for the rest of my life?

Yos 05 G cook 2
camp cooking

At her age Ms. Hische can’t have known the variety and richness of a life like mine, full of so many kinds of work for art’s sake and also out of love for so many dear people. What they say about the breadth of education one can get, the amazing things one can learn and create and enjoy, when one is a woman at home — I’ve found it to be true.

I do know also about the great fatigue and all the interruptions and unfinished projects that are the bane of a mother, but as I look back I also see the clothing and costumes I conceived and made, the gardens I designed and brought to fruition, the realms of knowledge and culture I explored on my own and with my children: history, the arts, theology and literature, for a start.

There was ample opportunity to learn to cook, and I got my children started as well in that skill that can be a loving and reverent creative act. The simple labors of housecleaning go a long way toward making a home homey. I haven’t had to choose which one kind of work to do, thank God. And I thank my husband, who did engage in mostly one occupation, making it possible for me to have this good life.

haircut clip
42 years of barbering so far

I never thought about my life as something to design, so that little phrase that came to my mind doesn’t connect to anything real. Most of the kinds of work I’ve learned to do as artistically as possible can be seen as flowing from love for other people (housework and cooking) or love of the created world (gardening, reading and writing). I wish everyone could have so many happy and useful tasks to do, a long series of gifts that have almost fallen in my lap.

At this moment someone might accuse me of procrastinating, because it’s true, there are several (hundred) things needing done around here. But haven’t we all heard that A Woman’s Work is Never Done? No need to ever be bored! I think I’ll just rest in that reality and work at being thankful for it.

6 thoughts on “Art and happiness flow from love and work.

  1. This post is the reason I began and continue to read your blog. I feel like you have something to say to me. I do not want to sound like a weirdo, but I think stumbling across your bog was an answer to prayer for me. You photos remind me of myself…maybe we are kindred spirits. Thank you for your beautiful honesty and sharing a seasoned life with us. I wish we knew each other in real life! Maybe someday…


  2. I’m so glad to meet someone else who can’t decide what to do with the rest of her life. And I love your expression of doing what you do artistically for the love of others. Yes, yes, yes.


  3. I loved this today as it is something I wish I had learned years ago. I never got anything finished it seemed. You have had a lovely life and I love your photos.
    I always enjoy seeing what your life was like when your babies were small. We I think have been most blessed. Have a wonderful weekend.


  4. Thank you for your visit – I’m so very happy to meet you. After forty years, I still sometimes wonder what I could do with more time. I feel that I’ve lived several lives – mother at home for more than twenty years was the best! I look forward to reading more of your posts.


  5. I have noticed that many of the women who want to give advice these days (articles, blogs, writers who are popular among my friends) are all young women with younger children. It sort of rubs me wrong. Their talk feels empty at my stage of life. And that is why I enjoy the few blogs I read, like yours. And I like what you said here about your artistic work flowing from love. That resonates with me even in the little things I do around here. Today I spent a little time rearranging and fixing a gallery wall…pictures of those I love arranged lovingly. Blessings! -Leslie


  6. I love that you said this: ” I hope so, because she’s a little young to be giving advice to the rest of us.” So true, but the young will spout 🙂 You listed off accomplishments from years of housekeeping — gardens begun and completed, clothing made and used. I’d add houses cleaned and meals made and eaten. And I see a pattern there — so many of the tasks we women do are consigned to being finished and consumed. Clothes wear out, gardens decay into winter, houses get dirty again, meals are eaten and hunger returns. Are there others like this? Yes, I think so. Much of the best works of our women’s hands is so temporary … except the true permanence is in our children, our husbands, our friends. Our work is literally put INTO them.
    Sometimes I mourn a little that I’m not doing more work to be left for posterity — more excellent writing, or some kind of art or handwork. We must not mourn the temporary nature of our creations. That must be part of their beauty too.


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