Monthly Archives: July 2013

40 Days of Giving Thanks


heartGratitude is the best place to begin and end, isn’t it? No matter the circumstance, gratitude is always a good idea. Right around my 30th birthday, the idea of birthdays changed for me. The “me-centered,” gift giving, party-driven theme just didn’t fit. What felt more true was to use the date as a time of reflection to look back and give thanks, learn from mistakes and look forward to coming goals, dreams and ambitions.

This year, I have the blessing of turning 40, and how do I feel about that? A overwhelming sense of gratitude. Gratitude for a really great life, bumps and all. Grateful for where I am. Grateful for dreams and reflections. To celebrate the occasion, I am committing to 40 days of giving thanks. My actual birthday is Aug. 12, but I’m using Aug. 1 as a kick-off point. I’d be humbled and honored if you join me.

Here are a few things I am thankful that 40 years of life have thought me:

  • There is no “me.” We are all connected and one can not flourish alone. They say it takes a village to raise a child. I say it takes a village to live a life, and, most definitely, no one succeeds as a island. Every great person I know has a team along with them to champion them, encourage them, believe in them — and sometimes carry the load. Thank you to all my champions.
  • The present moment is all there is. It’s been said so many times before because it is true. Yesterday is history and tomorrow hasn’t happened. Come back to today. When you make art, this becomes even more apparent: You have to be so present with the process. Art isn’t math; it’s not about a formula to achieve a predictable result. It’s more a dance, and improvisation becomes important. So does not judging yourself.
  • Art changes lives. It has that power, and it embodies the miracle of creation all at the same time. While it is greatly undervalued in our culture, I feel lucky — no, unbelievably blessed — to live a life dedicated to art: making it, educating in it, and generally promoting its joy and depth.

All of this gratitude doesn’t turn a blind eye to the struggles and hardships of life. Life is indeed hard. It’s also as hard as you make it. It’s filled with ups and downs. While the making of art is my passion, I would be doing you, my readers, a disservice to pretend it flows out of me like a fountain. Sometimes it’s an all out wrestling match, and I don’t win. Every day, in fact, there are struggles with the paint/canvas and myself. We argue, I get distracted, check my email way too often, worry about the “business”  side of things. I try really hard to not judge this and just accept it is the way of things.

While I am committed to 40 days of giving thanks, I will do my best to share some of the struggles as well, because I think all too often, we are not honest with each other about the difficulties. We are all left feeling alone, and like perhaps we are the only ones who wrestle with this or that. Let’s together also give thanks for the struggles.

With humble thanks, I invite you to join my journey here and on Facebook, and together we will give a whole lot of thanks! I invite you to share with me what you are thankful for, and let’s see if we can start a mini revolution of gratitude!

Painting of the Week: “The Road, the Lake and a Vineyard”



“Traveling with my grandparents in their classic Buick from Grand Rapids to Manistee to go camping every summer is my earliest memory of road trips. With the radio tuned into something like ‘Cruising to the Oldies,’ the beauty of the open road stretched before us, the enchanting scenery passing by us on our journey.

“In my home state of Michigan, this scenery is often strikingly beautiful. I remember these early trips to be just that. Heading to the lake, enveloped in the sense of safety and joy provided by my grandparents’ company. Admiring the layering of summer greens, trees that formed a canopy over the road without a house in sight. The destination was their Airstream trailer — where campfires, s’mores, beaches and board games were sure to be on the agenda — but while on the road, that all remained just anticipation.

“That is the joy of the road to me. It’s so beautiful as a destination in and of itself, and yet, it also holds the anticipation of where you are headed. As I grew older, there were many other road trips, each extraordinary in their own way. The areas of Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas have become very special destinations for me, and I love the roads that take me there. It is that area that inspired this painting. This is about the road that leads to the lake and the vines, and the joy of catching the sunset on your journey.

“Cheers to your own path, and the roads that take you there!”

“The Road, the Lake and a Vineyard”

Size: 20 x 20 x 2
Medium: Mixed media
Price: $320

To purchase Stephanie’s artwork, click here.