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The Season of the Emptying Nest

In 1990 when my eldest daughter had just learned to walk, she then quickly learned to run.

We lived on the second floor of a Chicago "Shotgun" style three flat apartment building in Lincoln Park. These buildings were designed around a very long central hallway where it was a single, straight shot or line from the front room and the street to the kitchen and the alley.

Continually, Mary-Margaret would run her perfect little body with beautiful bald head the entire length of the apartment.

Tiny bare feet. Laughing. She would always close her eyes when she was perilously close to the dining room table. And then she would do something marvelous. She would accelerate. 

Eyes closed, accelerating through danger. Wow. Did she learn that in Heaven? What did I pass on genetically to this child as accelerating through danger and change had always been my way.

And yet in this season of the emptying nest where Mary’s youngest sibling is on his own way I have decided that it is time to rethink my need for speed.

I do not slow easily.

I visited my friend Sophie this Spring. We met in Paris for her fiftieth birthday. Our birthdays are six days and two years apart and in 1985 when I was studying in her hometown of Aix-en-Provence in the South of France her parents hosted a birthday party for both of us.

While invitations normally read "Please Come and Celebrate" I remember insisting (so cheeky of me, Sophie was annoyed!) that the invitation read "Venez-Vous Eclater".

A literal translation would be "Come and burst yourself open with Joy".

Sophie and I still laugh about it. I made us look like dorks in front of her fancy friends and I enjoyed it.

Bursting with joy is an excellent option for me now.  Bursting with Joy requires  that I slow down enough to pay attention as this nest that I so carefully and lovingly wove morphs into so many things that I can no longer control.

I am weaving a new word into my emptying nest as well. April 2016 Sophie taught me that the French verb "emervieller" means "to release wonder" and it can be borrowed into the reflexive where it means "I release wonder about myself". I so deeply love this concept.

So this is my plan in this season of the emptying nest. I am bursting with joy and releasing wonder with my eyes wide open, doing my best to slow down and to miss the dining room table. 

And hey, it is still my nest and it's not even empty because I am in it! And who knows who or what will fly by. I don't want to miss the marvelous and the joyful.

It is all in the art now too which is a huge relief. Hopefully that will never change. I had no idea what I would paint for the opening of my new studio. Now I do. You are all so very welcome there on June 17th at 7pm at The Bridgeport Art Center 1200 West 35th Street, Chicago, Studio 3R3210.

Wishing you Love and Joy, Maureen xx

 

"Hurl the former things into oblivion.

do not make your dwelling,

your home in the past.

Look, see, I am doing a new thing.

Do you not perceive it as it springs up before you?

I am making a Way in the desert

and rivers in the wasteland." 

Isaiah 43:18-20

 

"I am going to let it happen to me. Shake it off."

Florence Welch

 

 

 

Do You Know Your Spirit Animal?

My children all know that I am a Humpback Whale, in human form. It is pretty clear why. Humpback Whales love their babies and travel close to them protecting and feeding them over long journeys. To add to the romance, the males of the species sing during migration. Love, light, color and sound filter through the dark and quiet, beautiful places where they live. The Humpback's life is continual change and adventure. They have few predators. They breach the solitude of water for huge breath and the sun. They do not have to forage or even hunt and instead only roll over and filter fish through their baleen. Most importantly they are properly accessorized, the only whale who looks like she might be wearing jewelry. 

I started to really think about this whale when my newest website came online in May. This is my fifth website and the only one to which I really paid any good attention. The first four kind of intimidated me and I shied away from educating myself on what I really wanted. This version is just about everything that I could have ever hoped for in terms of showing and selling my work. It is pretty seamless and intuitive. I even know how to work the behind the curtain bit of commerce, design, metrics, pages, images and social media. It is so darn cool! I never thought that I could do this! I am so empowered! Thank you ever so much Cesar Fishman.

Back to the Humpback Whale. I attribute a long slow burn of tenacity and vision to this animal knowing that they travel great distances through both fearful and majestic water. In preparing to write this first blog I researched my whales and I found out something about them I could not reconcile. I discovered that they never cross the equator. There are Northern Hemisphere pods and Southern Hemisphere pods. They do not hang out together. The Humpback Whale, huge and powerful, capable of weathering all manner of storm and most physical threat has a seemingly arbitrary line that she will not cross. What?

Back to the website. This being number five, in my mind I had already started to plan number six. It started to feel like migration, cyclical, circular. Was there a line that I would not cross?  Was I limiting myself? Did I have an equator? I had identified for so long with this animal. Was I really even a Humpback Whale? And then rolling in the warm and gentle waves of Lake Michigan last week, I realized how very silly all of those questions were because the answer was that whether whale or human I would so totally cross that line. Is there truly even such a thing as a line as long as it does not offend love? I have no idea if I will still be part of the pod and what the perfect analogy might be to the website. I just know that I will be crossing the line when I see it.

I am so grateful to everyone who has ever appreciated or taken an interest in my work. Your kind words and encouragement stick and I want you to know that. I hope that you like my new website and I would be so grateful if you took a minute to take a look. I guess take a good look while you can. It is on to the next thing. Here is to putting the equator in this Humpback Whale's wake.

I am wishing you every blessing and Joy in this new week.

Love, Maureen xx

www.maureenclaffy.com