When I was an elementary school teacher, there would be one student every year who knew all the answers—literally. After I asked a question, his—or hers—would be the first hand to shoot into the air. It would wiggle wildly, willing me to look in its direction. Its fingers would stretch desperately toward the ceiling. It was a flashing neon sign begging to be noticed. It wouldn’t be fair to let that one student answer every question, but it wouldn’t be fair to ignore that kind of enthusiasm, either. I would smile, nod, or wink at my genius, giving that “I know you know” acknowledgement before calling on another student—perhaps the one who sat in the back of the room and was often too shy to raise a hand. Everyone deserves a chance to shine.
I was a Brownie and Girl Scout in the 1960s and 70s. I have fond memories of the troop meetings, the crafts, earning badges, and going camping. While I could remember the Girl Scout finger sign, I couldn’t recall the Girl Scout Law. After a search on Google, I found it had been revised from my days in scouting, but the basic idea remains the same:
I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.
If everyone lived by these simple, sound, strong words, the world would be a much happier place.
“The Girl Scout Law”–Watercolor and Ink Pen
While fetch is a popular game with most dogs, only one of my Bostons likes to play. The other two lounge lazily on the deck chairs while I throw the tennis ball for Lucy. She’ll play until her pads bleed if I let her. It is her passion. When my husband is home, she will take turns dropping the ball at his feet, then mine, as if she’s trying to include both of us in her favorite game. I guess we raised her right.
“Fetch”–Graphite and Watercolor
Someone asked me recently if I made time to paint while on vacation. Vacations are supposed to be filled with one’s favorite activities, so, yes, I paint when I travel! I have two different travel paint sets and a variety of brushes, as well as a pencil and a set of pens that are always in my travel tote. With the pressures of everyday life left behind, inspiration often appears when I’m in vacation mode. The real magic is in keeping that creativity flowing after I’m home.
“Paint”–Graphite and Watercolor
On the last night of every vacation, my family plans a special dinner we refer to as “The Last Supper”. It’s a time to reflect on the trip, and share our favorite moments. On our Vegas trip last week, my most cherished memory was renewing my wedding vows with my husband of 18 years. Somehow, those vows meant so much more than they did the first time. We’ve lived through the good times and bad, the sickness and health, the richer and poorer, and we’re stronger because of it. During our Last Supper, when we raised our glasses to toast another fabulous vacation, I locked eyes with my husband, knowing he’ll continue to be my best friend, my love, and my rock for the next 18 years. Cheers!
“Cheers”– Graphite and Colored Pencil on Multimedia Paper
Next weekend, we’re heading to Las Vegas as part of my ongoing birthday celebration. Although Sin City is the gambling capital of the United States, my husband and I don’t frequent the casinos. We typically spend our time in Vegas shopping, enjoying the incredible shows, and sampling the cuisine. On this trip, in honor of my 50th, I have decided to roll the dice a few times. Maybe Lady Luck will be in a generous mood.
“Rolling the Dice”–Colored Pencil on Mixed Media Paper
Tomorrow, my internal odometer will turn over to ‘50’. The last decade was a blur. I believe most of it was filled with school, raising a teenager, chauffeuring, doctors appointments, vet appointments, working out, domestic chores, and searching for purpose. I experienced great joy in my 40s, too: travel, painting, long bike rides with my husband, watching my daughter perform in recitals and cross the stage at awards ceremonies, snuggling with snoring dogs, laughing until it hurt, and spending quality time with family and friends. If I am blessed with another decade of life and health, I vow to slow down, to breathe more deeply, to live every day in a way that is memorable. After all, what good is ‘live long’ without the ‘prosper’ part?
“Live Long and Prosper”–Graphite
While it would be correct to say that I grew up in Daytona Beach, the truth is that I grew up on Daytona Beach. My siblings and I were tan from March through December. We spent so much time in the sea we often felt more ’fish’ than human. Back then, there were no beach tolls or beach patrols– only surfers and skim boarders, body surfers and swimmers—even our dogs were allowed to frolic beside us in the water. The ocean was our playground. We constructed enormous, elaborate sand castles complete with moats—no buckets, shovels, or plastic molds were needed. We built them with our bare hands. We were experts at dodging traffic as we flagged down the ice cream truck that drove up and down the shore, and we learned at a very young age what a ‘run-out’ was, and how to swim out of one. Although there have been many changes over the years to my beloved Daytona Beach, for me, it will always be home—a place to swim, sun, and just hang loose.
“Hang Loose”–Colored Pencil on Multimedia Paper
Whether crossed or double crossed, when the first and second fingers are linked together, it means luck, hope, or good wishes. While it’s purely superstitious, I still find myself crossing my fingers when I’m hoping for a positive outcome. It might not really help, but it can’t hurt, right?
“Fingers Crossed”–Colored Pencil