grace & being the best version of myself

anenome

Dear Tina,

I want to thank you for the beautiful picture you posted remembering my brother John. I have not been myself since he passed last week. Waves of emotions overcome me and I don’t know how to “be”. So much of how I define myself is through positive thought and optimism and I don’t have much of that going on right now. The chatter in my head has been negative towards myself, stuck in the “should haves” and “what ifs”. This doesn’t feel good and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

“Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment,

you recognized yourself as a friend.”

~Elizabeth Gilbert

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This is when grace found me. I haven’t thought that deeply about it until I listened to a two part interview with Elizabeth Gilbert on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Her words were grace to me. She said any voice that attacks you or speaks to you in a mean, judging tone is not your highest self. Deep down I believe this his but needed to hear it. She went on to say,

“Never waste your suffering.

Suffering without catharses is nothing but wasted pain.

Use your power, your thinking, your force, your wisdom and turn it into grace.

If you don’t transform from your pain,

you just suffered for nothing.”

 

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I do not know what my brother’s death is here to teach me but I do know I am surrounded by grace and somehow acknowledging it helps me not feel so bad.

Grace to me is being surrounded by the unconditional love of family and friends who allow me to be and feel any way I want

Grace is every person who stopped by my parents house, called, brought food, baked, cleaned, said kind words about my brother and stood by them when they

most needed them.

Grace is coming back from NH and having a beautiful basket of flowers delivered from my neighbors

Grace is a lovely dinner prepared by my favorite red headed chef and sweet kittens to snuggle with.

Grace is a clean house

Grace is a meal in the fridge made with love so I don’t have

to think about cooking 

Grace is a letter from a sweet friends sharing a similar journey, giving

me words of comfort.

Grace is every card, email, phone call and text message of love I have received.

Grace is as silly as having the TV series, Nashville to distract my thoughts

Grace is going through boxes of pictures with my family, remembering…

Grace is compassion for myself and others

Grace is being there for someone else when they are in pain

Grace is not being able to breathe and having your husband taking you on a boat ride

Grace is seeing a rainbow on that boat ride

Grace is walking on the beach with Brett listening to the wind and the waves, sharing a bottle of wine

Grace is seeing a cross made out of beach stones while walking on that beach 

cross

I couldn’t help but think the rainbow and cross were signs from John letting me know he was okay. Crosses were symbolic for him. He had one on his facebook profile page and also wore a cross around his neck. It came apart and had a scroll inside where he had several sentiments written. One was,

“I strive to be the best version of myself.”

 

I try to live by these words as well. My brother struggled in his life but had faith, optimism and the kindest heart. The truth is we all struggle sometimes and need each other to help lift us up. I am blessed to have so many people who do this for me. I can only hope at some point in John’s life I did this for him. I haven’t been ready to go back to my studio but needed to channel my heart into something and find a way to remember and honor my little brother. I decided to take his sentiment and create a reminder for myself. I played around with different lettering and layouts in my sketch journal.

 

strive1.

These are a few pages from my journal.

best version collage2

I drew out a larger version on watercolor paper and will be adding color. I may do a few different versions and add some collage elements but this is what I have for now.

strive5

I just wanted you to know I will be okay. I am really sad right now but will strive to always be the BEST version of myself. This is all we can ever ask, right? I love you….

xo

LauraSignature

p.s. forever in my heart little J…

john3

 

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “grace & being the best version of myself

  1. Laura, what a beautiful tribute to moving forward. I’m so sorry for your pain and loss. May you find grace and gentle healing at every turn, and thank you for reminding us all of the higher calling. Peace. ~m

  2. Laura I am so so sad that you have to go through this unbearable pain. You are an amazing woman who I admire and respect. I am encouraged that you still strive to focus on how this incredible sadness can be used to build up others. The art that you create even while sad is an encouragement to me and I am sure eill be to others. Love Jenn

  3. Laura,
    This was absolutely beautiful. As you know I’m suffering with the “what if” or “I should have”.
    I honestly have to say after our talk, you were my sign from John. I wasn’t at peace with all of this nor will I be. However if it wasn’t for your words I wouldn’t been able to take that first step.
    Your family and all of your brothers loved ones are in my prayers.
    God Bless and ty

  4. Lovely post Laura about your brother. My favorite poem may relate to your feelings right now…. hugs, Tina

    Wild Geese

    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things.

    -Mary Oliver

  5. Laura,

    It is painful to watch you and your family go through this hurt. There is nothing worse than not understanding the mysteries of life, especially when cut so short. Your images and reflection are so comforting to me because I know that you will be alright. Because you love your little brother and because your optimism and bright spirit will guide you through this dark patch. Thank you for sharing your tender moments and vulnerability. I can’t describe how close this is to my own heart and relationships with family. Sometimes the colors that we see and use as artists only seem to come to light when it is more difficult to see them. Through pain, tragedy, and sadness… only then do we seem to be able to really know what is bright and cheery and perfect. Give that redhead chef and your loving husband a hug from me because they are truly the best. Love always- Millie

  6. I am absolutely gobsmacked by the cross on the beach.
    John knows how much inspiration, comfort and creative fuel comes from nature for his big sissy, so he chose to communicate with you in bright colors and simple symbolism, at your favorite location…..
    Remarkable how love transcends time and place.
    Love you so,
    Sue

  7. Thank you everyone for your kind words. They give me such comfort and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. xoLaura

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