Where You've Been, and Where You're Going

sailboat pencil drawing in one of my sketchbooks

sailboat pencil drawing in one of my sketchbooks

I’ve been thinking about this online space for a while… where I began almost 8 years ago on this blog, and where I am now.

I’ve been on some cool adventures together with you, and I’ve loved connecting with here.

Over the last year or so though, I’ve felt locked up with my outlet …Not knowing how to get the creative gears going again. Not knowing how to bring value to you as friends and readers. Feeling a confusion and vanity of sorts for sharing my art for the sake of “just sharing my art”. Feeling pressure at my 9-5 job, and feeling a ton of pressure to chase after what our first-world society defines as success.

In 2016, my family experienced a hardship that made me really evaluate where I was putting my attention and what I was chasing. I found out that my daughter was hurt by a stranger. (Her story is not mine to tell, so I’ll respect her privacy by not sharing details.) Since that time, I closed up. I shut down. Grieved hard. Raged hard. Questioned God. Felt God’s love. Thawed out. Opened up. Forgave myself as a mom. Forgave. Forgave. Forgave.

We’ve been through a lot, and we’ve learned a lot together. One thing I’ve been learning is how crisis changes people. In Latin, the meaning of “crisis” is “to sift.” I’m learning that the gift behind crisis is that yes, it unsettles everything and shakes up your life mightily, it also sifts out the junk, the distractions, the less important things. It leaves behind the lasting. …Gems of healing, jewels of deeper love. Commitment, forgiveness, freedom, clarity.

There’s still a corner of my heart that hasn’t known how or where to fit my art outlet into all of this. When I get stuck, I’ve found that it’s helpful to have conversations with my past self or future self (not audibly, but I guess you could do that if you wanted.) With this in mind, the other day I imagined what my 85 year old self would say to Present Jenny in all of her “creative stuckness”.

With her face full of wrinkles and wisdom in her eyes, she’d pat my hand and tell me, “Jennifer, the pressure you feel in this world is misguided. The marketing, monetizing, and social media stuff is unimportant. The stress of your 9-5 job is unimportant. The stress and pressure you feel in general…. Jenny, you need to let that go.” She’d then tell me four specific things: to keep loving big, to keep cultivating my relationship with God, to write and illustrate my own kids book (!), and to save up to go sailing.

I’m telling you all of this because I’m learning that pain and questions bring great clarity. Maybe not right away. Maybe not even after a few years. But it comes. The important stuff comes.

I might not post as often here as I once did, and I might not even know which direction I’m headed with my art (besides that kid’s book), but I’m committed to sharing from my heart; to loving big whether it’s through my artwork, in my family, or at my job; and to saving up to buy that sailboat.

To honor my 85 year-old-self’s guidance, I want to keep encouraging you here. I deeply want people to know that they matter, that they have value, and that they are loved. I have journal prompts in mind that I’d like share with you in this regard. It’ll be a revised continuation of our YouMatter Journaling project. More details are forthcoming. You can join me if you’d like.

I’m also considering sharing 1) drawing tutorials to help equip you to be more creative and 2) interviews with other big-hearted, resilient creatives to help pass along their inspiration. I’ll be sharing my artwork here as well, but only because it makes me happy, not because of any self-imposed pressure. ;)

For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’ve got clarity.

I look forward to sharing our journeys together, where we’ve been… and where we might go.

What words of encouragement does your 85-year-old self need to tell you?

sailboat photo I took last summer at Lake Nockamixon

sailboat photo I took last summer at Lake Nockamixon

Sunday Sketchbook - Iron Sharpens Iron

Sunday Sketchbook and a Rhinoceros Illustration by Jennifer Frith
Sunday Sketchbook and Watercolor Illustration by Jennifer Frith
Sunday Sketchbook and a Rhinoceros Illustration by Jennifer Frith

Some cool facts about rhinos:

  • The name rhinoceros comes from two Greek words: "rhino" meaning nose and "ceros" meaning horn.

  • A group of rhinos is called a crash.

  • Rhinos love rolling around in mud. When it’s dry, the mud protects their skin from the hot sun and pesky insects.

  • Rhinos mark their territory with poop! These dung heaps are called "middens".

  • Because of their huge armor-like bodies, rhinos have no natural predators (besides humans, unfortunately. 😔)

  • Rhinos can weigh up to 5100 lbs (2 tons) and can run up to 31 miles per hour.

  • These big beasts have terrible sight but excellent hearing.

  • There are only about 29,000 left in the wild.

    This is my Sunday Sketchbook in gouache.
    Who keeps you sharp?

    "Iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another."

    - Proverbs 27:17 -

Sunday Sketchbook - Polar Bear

Sunday Sketchbook (Polar Bear) by Jennifer Frith
Polar Bear in Jennifer Frith's Sunday Sketchbook

One of my favorite songs is "Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash. It reminds me a lot of my husband who is very black and white. Whether you like Jason or not (I like him very much😊) you'll always know where he stands.

I, on the other hand, almost always can empathize and understand someone else's point of view. This sensitivity can be a strength, but sometimes the waters get muddied in my brain. "What do I believe in?" "Where do I walk the line?”

I admire people who so strongly devote themselves to a person or cause that there is no question what they stand for. Love and Goodness take a whole lot of courage. ❤️ What song or person reminds you of tireless devotion?

. . .
sketchbook pages in gouache