Fabulousness Is Like a Flower

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” ~Van Gogh

The Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh is among my favorite artists. His bright colors and bold textures inspire me to paint. I promise you; I’d never compare my paintings to those vivid beautiful artworks that Van Gogh created. However, this quote helps me to remember even though Vincent is a huge success, now. He too struggled to make quality art.

I don’t believe “fabulousness” just happens. Fabulousness is like a flower. It doesn’t magically appear. It starts from a seed. Then sprouts and grows. The plant blooms after a long struggle against the winds of time. Fabulousness is created by those who are willing to take the time to sitting down, to work, to learn from failure, and to keep trying.

Van Gogh kept trying. In about seven years he created over two thousand works of art.

So, when I wiped my canvas clean last month and wrote about my struggles, that was not the end. I picked my paintbrush back up and started again. And well, I thought I’d share this creative journey towards fabulousness with you. So, here’s my new painting. I’ve still got more to learn. But I’m enjoying the steps along the way.

Thank you for visiting my blog site. Please feel free to share these thoughts and artwork with others. Keep watching for my new children’s book The Unbelievable Topsy Turvy Day! Coming soon!  Leanne M Benson .com

Just Breathe

Have you ever felt intimidated by the wonderful thing’s others are posting? And after browsing the internet, you place that piece you’ve created in a drawer, where no one will ever see it.  I think, at a time when most of us don’t see many people or enjoy fun conversations, these little posts are important. So, let’s chat…


Breakfast with a French Horn

Oh, the places you travel when taking a trip. I came to find out, that it’s not just the spaces. It’s also the faces of our present and past.

The morning sunlight peeked between the roadside trees and flickered through my windshield. It mesmerized my thoughts as I sat watching the long white fences fade off over the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. Envisioning a morning long ago, I could almost see these roads as no more than two five-foot wide buggy wheel tracks with grass growing in between them. Quickly the years flashed before my eyes. I saw women and men raising the sidewalls and facades on each of these buildings alongside these roads.

My trip continued over history hill to an old school where I could almost hear the echo of children’s laughter. I began to wonder how many stories those walls held. Stories of children learning to read, write, and get along with one another.

Shadows grew across a street dappled with two and three-hundred-year-old houses. Images walked before me. I saw a woman standing beside her affluent husband, as he smoked his pipes. And then a sad vision of a woman that sold herself to stay alive. But, then a much more vivid image appeared. The women and the men, darkened with sun and dirt from the fields and the factories walked through my mind. And I understood a little better, the contribution and sacrifices they made for our country. I jumped back into the present moment.

Our seemingly huge RV was now smack-dab in the heart of Center City, Pennsylvania. My husband and I sat on pins and needles at the red light because we were out of place lumbering through an area built in another era for more compact forms of travel. Small cars lined the streets. Bicycles whipped by in their own personal lane. Pedestrians squeezed through every open space. The light turned green for us. There were no arrows or extra lanes set aside for turns. As we began our left turn from a one-way street to another, the traffic stopped. The car ahead of us decided to park on the corner. We were stuck! We couldn’t back up, nor could we continue our turn without running over this parked car. I was nervous, wondering how long before a police officer gave us a ticket.

For just a second or two my mind shifted back to a time when only poor men rode horses and ate lobster. How different from the present where eating lobster and having horses is a luxury. I looked out the window and saw the drivers of the two parked vehicles running out of a restaurant. They moved the vehicles up onto the sidewalk and we were able to make the turn.

Let me tell you, neighborhood roads on the east coast are not designed for nine-foot wide and thirty-six-foot-long motor-homes. It sure would have been easier if our RV had been hinged in the middle.

So, you may be asking yourself, why would someone drive nine-foot wide and thirty-six-foot-long motor-home through City Center, PA? Well, you see, my stepson was moving out east, and we wanted to help in any way that we could. We felt transporting all his belongings was something we could do. So, we packed all the different size boxes into each compartment. It was a bit like playing Tetris. When everything was wedged into place, I turned to find, this French horn. After a long look, I tucked it safely under the dinette table inside. And there it stayed throughout the trip. I guess, at that point, you could say,” it was no motor-home, it was a moving van!”

Sometimes our job as parents is simply being there for kids as they walk across the stage on graduation day. And, at other times it’s traveling with a French horn under your table. No matter how big or small the event, there is always joy and satisfaction in helping them. This adventure was no different.

I hope to live long enough to share many, many more life experiences with our children and grandchildren.  Magical ordinary moments happen all the time, noticing and appreciating them is the key to a fulfilling life.

Side note: Visiting the area where the liberty bell sits, it dawned on me, that Dolly Madison Cupcakes were brought to you by yellow fever. I mean, doesn’t it make sense? Dolley’s first husband died of yellow fever. Dolley then married James Madison who later became the fourth president of the US. It may be spelled different. But I did check, and the baker admits using this well-known name from this sweet first lady. And well, I guess… the rest is history.

Please share your stories with me. Comments are often enjoyable and fun to read. Feel free to share this blog.

Creating a Catalyst

Etty Hillesum wrote a note on a post card and threw it off the train. It was November 30th, 1943. Not long after that she was murdered at Auschwitz. Her writings would later become known around the world.

How interested would you be to read a post card sent to you from a friend? Now, what if that post card had been lost in the mail service for 50 years and that friend had passed away? How would you feel if the person who wrote you had become well known? Elinor Roosevelt wrote a newspaper column called My Day. Her grandson thought all kids read about their grandma in the newspaper.

All of us don’t have news columns, but we can write things for our grandchildren and great grandchildren. Leaving them a keyhole perspective of our lives through a written time capsule that tells of our love, loss, and struggles can help them connect to their ancestors.

And who knows –maybe the things you write will become of interest to someone long after you’re gone. Not many of us take the time to write anymore. Writing a letter or journaling about everyday life may seem a waste of time.

I recently came across a tiny yellow and white box that would change my perspective on writing about the mundane everyday things we sometimes take for granted. This box had been forgotten. It contained letters that belonged to my aunt and uncle. My aunt died years ago and when my uncle recently passed away   All their belongings were shipped to me. It took months to sort through and decide what to do with everything.

I often think of them when I see the painting, ring, and cheese slicer that once belonged to them. Their tiny yellow and white box filled with letters of all kinds opened a whole new perspective for me. The oldest was from my aunt’s third-grade pen pal living in Germany. Another was a letter from someone sending news that their brother had been killed in WWII. The most precious letters to me were the love letters from my uncle to my aunt. I had never known the depth of his warmth and tenderness until I met that loving man in those letters.

For most of my life I’ve journaled. Writing has given me a chance to reflect on what is important to me. Unfortunately, I am not a saver. So, most of my history is gone. However, I’ve decided that I’m going to hold on to some of my writing and put it in a tiny yellow and white box.

You don’t have to write a newspaper column. However, you could start keeping a journal, send a letter, or leave a note for your loved ones to read many years from now. It’s never too late to open a keyhole view of who you are deep inside. You never know who you’ll touch.

I’d like to hear your comments and stories. If you could receive a letter from the past, who would you want it to be from? If you have enjoyed and find value in my blogs, please follow me and share it with others. http://www.leannembenson.com

Drenched With Care

Memorial Day is a day to pay tribute to those who have served our country. And a day to relax! However, my husband and I had some work to do before we could relax. We still hadn’t cleaned up our old boat for the summer. It had been in the water for two weeks. But we’d been too busy to clean it and do the maintenance. Honestly, I was kind ‘a glad, not to work on it. Because it had been unseasonably cold here in Minnesota. Not the kind of weather you’d want to spend near the water.

And so, that Memorial Day morning, my husband and I decided before we went out on the river, we’d spend a few hours working on the boat. We got up early, had breakfast, packed a lunch, and some cleaning supplies, before heading to the marina. It was a leisurely drive. Looking out the window, at the winding road and the Mississippi river shoreline, I sipped my second cup of coffee. When we pulled into the marina, that was the extent of my relaxation.

The early morning sun was warm even though the breeze was still a bit nippy. I put on my raincoat, rubber gloves, and Crocs, then grabbed the pressure washer hose and began washing the boat. It didn’t take long before I was drenched from the over-spray. It was hard work. But I remember thinking, “Once we’re anchored in one of the scenic bays off the main channel of the river, this hard work would all be worth it.”

When I turned off the pressure washer, I realized the marina was filling up with people and thought, “Aah, looks like we’re done just in time!” I took the lunches from the fridge and sat on the aft deck. It was great chatting with all our boat neighbors as they passed by. It was almost a little hard to believe, there was some normalcy to our lives again. I don’t know why, but we hadn’t spent much time on our boat during isolation last year. Maybe that’s what made the day that much more special.

Well, we decided to invite a few friends that don’t get out on the river too often. When they told us their daughter would be meeting them in a few minutes, we opened the invitation to her as well. Little did I realize the kind of adventure we’d find. It was a shorter trip than we’d imagined.

A mile upriver, the port engine started sputtering. With guests on board, we decided it would be best to turn back. The engine kept running just long enough to get us off the main channel of the mighty Mississippi. But as soon as we were out of the strong river current, it died. Just as I turned the key to restart it, the starboard engine died. Both engines had failed. Our 1976 ignition systems were both being fussy today. Being that my husband understands engines better than I do, he took over the helm station, while I went out to flag another boater for help.

Like many activities, boating brings people together. Have you ever noticed, where there’s a commonality in a group, it brings camaraderie? I have to say, “Thank goodness for the willingness of boaters to help fellow boaters.”

The second boat that came by was willing to tow our poor old boat back to it’s slip. As we drifted along, I couldn’t imagine what our friend’s daughter was thinking she got herself into. There was a nagging going on in the back of my mind, “Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to take passengers along on our maiden voyage this season.” However, that weight of embarrassment, began to fade when I notice the crowd standing on the dock. Even the owner of the marina, was among those waiting to help grab a line and pull us into our slip.

There was never a time when I felt unsafe. And I guess, our passengers didn’t mind our wild adventure. Because they all said they had a great time! So, the embarrassment was only my pride and ego talking. I reminded myself of the old saying, “What others think of you, is really none of your business.” And in this instance, I wasn’t even right about what they were thinking. Because our passengers obviously didn’t think poorly of me or my husband. And from the look of all the people on the dock waiting to help, they weren’t thinking negatively of us either. Our little blunder had shown me just how blessed we are to have so many people that care. When all was said and done, it really had been a wonderful day on the river.

I’d love to hear your comments and stories about a trip that didn’t turn out quite like you planned. Also, if you have enjoyed and found value here, please follow me and share it with others. http://www.leannembenson.com