I played “M.A.S.H.” more than any other game when I was a pre-teen. All you needed was a scrap piece of paper and a pencil or pen, and you were set. We’d play it at school. At recess. At sleepovers. Before athletic games. I remember laughing with my girlfriends as, through the M.A.S.H. process of elimination, we’d predict we’d end up marrying _____ (giggles were mixed with shrieks of “EEEWWWW!!!”) and live in a mansion (M), an apartment (A), shack (S), or house (H). Pre-teen girls thought about their futures. A LOT. (They probably still do, but since I haven’t been one in ______ years, I can’t say for certain…)
Whether it was a Philly/northern NJ/east coast thing or just some unspoken pressure in the areas I lived in, or maybe it was merely a symptom of growing up when I did, females often talked about getting engaged by senior year of college (“ring by spring”), and having 2.5 kids in their 20’s, a dog, a Volvo, and the house – complete with the obvious white picket fence.
What you aren’t told as a pre-teen playing “M.A.S.H.” is that you may not want that lucrative job that will help pay for anything bigger than a “shack” and take a lower paying job doing exactly what you love instead. Or you may decide you don’t even want a house the size of an apartment, all before the tiny house trend actually becomes a trend, because you want to be debt-free, and that will be entirely ok. Or that you may want a pickup truck instead of a Volvo. Or that it’s ok if you don’t have that ring by spring. Or that you may want six chickens, a wombat, PLUS a dog, and that will be ok. Or that you may have multiple miscarriages and limp through fertility treatments, not being able to produce the 2.5 kids, and that will be ok.
When I thought about art growing up, I always thought I’d be a painter. Looking back, I never let myself loose on the canvas, always hesitant to go outside of what I thought was expected of me, when that was the very thing that would have set me apart from being a painter and a good artist. I was a cookie-cutter painter. I painted what I thought my art teacher wanted or what was real instead of exploring the depth that a brush + layers of oil, acrylic, or watercolor could express the soul.
Life looks different from what we imagine and dream it’ll be growing up. And that’s ok.
Someone wise told me years ago that if we could see our entire life timelines right now, we’d be so overwhelmed that we’d crawl into a dark corner and give up. That’s why God doesn’t reveal it all to us at once, but rather gently unfolds our futures to us as we live our lives in His will…or out of it, at times, bumbling along as we search for meaning and try to find ourselves.
Life doesn’t go as we plan. It’s how we respond to the unexpected that defines us. There is no right way of doing life. We learn as we go along. Life is fluid for a reason.
I spent an entire day this past week making what I don’t enjoy making most: signs. Ironic, given how I thought I’d be a painter. The problem with painting is that it calls for patience, a muscle I struggle to exercise daily and more often let it go instead of training it to live up to its potential. But with anything, you have to train if you want to see results. Things are rarely handed to people. And honestly? It’s better having to have to work for something you really want. Then you know how much you value it when you get it.
The signs of this work day show a softer side of Nature Calls, LLC. Most of my pieces are borderline masculine (so I’ve been told), but here is some feminine flare. (Before you scroll down and laugh, hey, it’s feminine for me.)
A few of the 200-year old barn wood signs:
These will be available for purchase (or pre-order if you want one before that) at Garlic & Herb Fest – one of the top 10 Garlic Fests in the world – taking place on Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend in Bennington, VT. I hope you’ll stop by and listen to the amazing bands, sample some equally amazing food and drinks, and shop locally. I’ll be in C-3 near the band if you want to visit. Hugs are free. Because if you are anything like me, life is unpredictable and messy, and in my booth, that’s embraced.
(Painted whiskey barrel lid)