Celebrating Birthdays and the Element of Surprise

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Nature’s Birthday Candles 18×36 Oil     http://www.michelleausten.ca

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”  ~Dr. Seuss

My Son Tyler is turning 22 tomorrow. Today I am going to bake a cake.

This morning, as I drink my tea and reflect on all the birthdays we have been lucky to celebrated. Soccer parties, laser tag, bowling, water slides, space center YYC, the list goes on.   We always have a family dinner with a birthday cake. The day he asked for a Costco birthday cake with a soccer ball,  I cried…  moms ego took a hit. Thankfully, that was the only year he requested a bought cake.

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Tyler on his 19th Birthday

I love to bake. Warming up the oven on a cold day, the smell of delicious aroma filling my home, feeling the heat of the oven, hearing the whip of the beaters and seeing the smile on the face of my kids when I surprise them with a cake.

I love the feeling of pushing the icing around to cover the cake with a big butter knife. Making sure I get the peaks of the icing just perfect with lots of variation of shape, covered with colored sprinkles in Tyler’s favorite color.

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Watching the element of surprise when they realize their favorite angel-food cake with colored flecks and boiled icing has money carefully placed inside of it.

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I am a mom and an artist. Not a professional baker, but the feeling is the same in every area. Whether painting, baking or theming a birthday party, the familiar feeling of inspiration arises!  Exploring, experimenting and sharing creations.   Spreading the icing reminds me of pushing paint around the canvas, the way it smells and mixes together, the way it feels. Oil paint is buttery, like thick creamy buttercream icing.

The element of surprise is something I encourage you to do in your art. Play with the paint, let go of a desired outcome.  This approach is more fun and less stressful.  Tyler is the master of going with the flow of life. I learn a lot from him everyday.  He is methodical, patient and kind.

A quiet moment in nature.

A quiet moment in nature.

The painting “Natures Birthday Candles”  reminds me of Tyler.

“Wild” is a magical bear with a great imagination and a quest for adventure. I started painting the bear and watched with patience as the painting came to life. His friends magically show up, they are like the sprinkles on the cake. The elements of surprise that make your day more special, like finding money in a cake or having an old friend show up unexpectedly.  Wild and his friends play with the dandelions, imagining they are birthday candles, blowing and spreading seeds of intent and kindness.  I love the way they play together and support each other.  The dandelions mixed on my palette like they were lollipops or maybe gold coins. Magical. Wild feels it is a perfect day, sitting in a field surrounded by the wealth of friends, sunshine and golden lollipops.

All the details and feeling of softness comes from mixing the paint and getting out of the way of trying to make things perfect. I encourage you to have fun, explore and allow things to unfold naturally like they do in nature.

Not all paintings work out. I sometimes burn the cake, go way overboard, eat too much icing, yell at my children… But in the moment I make sure I am having fun and when I feel the work is complete, I invite my children to see, together we savor the moment and celebrate by eating a piece of homemade cake.

Happy 22nd Birthday Tyler– this painting is for you, honoring the “Wise one” that appreciates nature, family, friends and life. Thank you for being you and for everyday-Living life in the present moment!

Don’t forget to make a wish!

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Make a Wish 20×20 Oil

Love,

Mom

 “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~ Dr. Seuss

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Learn to Dance in the Rain

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My month has been amazing.  Productive, balanced, Magical really…I am so grateful.

So  here I sit with my starbucks coffee, a handful of yogurt raisins and my journal to help me satisfy my unsettled mind.

Yoga was a must today.  Ground and extend, Center and Grow, Get out of the mind and into the body, Process and eliminate the nonsense.  It has been an amazing month.

I ask myself, “What is my problem?”  Maybe it is “To good to be True”  says the Voice.  I conteract that thought quickly with the affirmation- “I have showed up consistently and the efforts are paying off.”   Be Happy.

The Voice is loud and annoying.  The cycle of self-doubt-a very familiar voice.

Today is different,  a shift has occurred.    The self nourishing voice is speaking a little stronger.  I am recognizing the Ebb and Flow of the Process of Creation.  The question remains, “How can I stay in the Flow?”  I am worried that the waterfall is around the corner and soon I will be at the bottom.  What I have come to realize is the Ebb is the time for rest.  The time to rejuvenate.  The time to paint, have fun and create.  The Ebb/Flow is the natural rhythm of my work.  In Art and in life.

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I recognize I need the whole cycle.  It is not about being unrealistic and happy all the time.  It is about the abilitly to recognize where I am in the cycle.  When the Ebb occurs, can I put my anxieties into action and show up to what is NOW.  My life.  The good, the bad, the happy, the sad.  I will admit the Ebb is not as easy to take as the Flow, but I am so grateful for the ability to FEEL.  I am aware that the Ebb is temporary and necessary for collecting my energy for the next flow to be even Bigger, Higher, Faster, full of Abundance and Creativity.

Bet the next waterfall will be Beautiful and I will be standing at the base looking up FEELING JOYFUL, with a smile on my face.

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Namaste,

Michelle