Abundance is “an amount that is more than enough” according to the Cambridge Dictionary. Enough is ” as much as is necessary; in the amount or to the degree needed’. Wikipedia joins in and says that need is ‘something that is necessary for an organism to live a healthy life. Needs are distinguished from wants’. Can I have abundance despite my need?

Is abundance determined by how much money we have in the bank or how many clothes in our closet? Is it determined by the quality of food on our table? Is abundance determined by society?

The story goes that a young man was made redundant and after having paid all his bills had just $5 left with a wife and three little children to feed. He came home having spent the precious $5 on a bunch of flowers for his beloved. She, understandably, wasn’t too happy. I was one of those children and watched my dad have an attitude of abundance even in the midst of need. I saw something that day worth my admiration.

Eckhart Tolle said,

‘Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.’

What do you think? Perhaps abundance comes because our mind is transformed by the acknowledging. Reality /what is may not change at all, but our perspective changes. Our perspective is what makes all the difference. We begin to see the world through a different lens… a lens of good, of positivity, of openness, of abundance. Perhaps it is this attitude that gives us the platform from which to see the good in our lives?

Glass half empty or glass half full?

Joyful in Sorrow

While chatting she asked the question, ‘Can you be both sad and grateful at the same time?’.It’s been percolating on the back burner ever since. Can I be sad and grateful together? Can I be joyful in sorrow? They seem diametrically opposed, but are they?

Once upon a time I would have said a definite ‘no’, but life happens and we learn lots. I wonder now if there is a case to be sad and grateful at the same time. Could I not be sad that something had/was/ was going to happen, but grateful at the same time for the future outcome that would come through this? You would have to have practiced this art of being grateful so that it was a part of your brain functioning. You would have to be able to see beyond your sad emotion. Not all of us are good at not letting our emotions be all encompassing. It’s an art, for sure, especially for the more feeling driven ones amongst us (my peeps). But is it a possibility?

Our Friday Sabbath meal saw me pouring the grape juice into the crystal goblets when, BAM! I was overcome with emotion. (Just to say, this is NOT my norm where communion is concerned, but that’s a whole ‘nother story) Such sadness welled up at seeing the deep red juice flowing freely. Quite different to being handed a little cup already poured or taking a sip from a common cup. This was flowing. This was large. Life-like. How much blood would he really have lost? Not just a little sip worth. How much sadness and grief did He have that his blood separated into blood and water? How much pleading with Father the night before to let this cup pass from me? And yet…

“For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2)

Had He come to the Garden of Gethsemane with thanksgiving first? The Jewish faith is full of thanksgiving and blessings. He knew the psalms well, that talked about coming into His presence with thanksgiving and a joyful noise. Had He learnt this art of gratefulness well enough to enable Himself to see past the imminent pain of death to His mortal body. I wonder how He prayed? I wonder if there’s a time when, even when the sorrow is all encompassing and overwhelming, that God can see that we are looking to Him as our hope.

But wasn’t that Jesus cry ? “Eli. Eli. Lama Sabachthani?” “My God. My God, why have you forsaken me?” Was His hope gone? And yet the book of Hebrews tell us there must have been some joy that was set before Him. ‘For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross”.

Interestingly, the word Eucharist, which many parts of Christendom use for the partaking of bread and wine, comes from the Greek word ‘Eucharisteo’ meaning ‘thanksgiving’. That’s an interesting twist with our joy coming from His sorrow. Other names such as ‘The Lord’s Supper’, “Breaking of Bread’, or ‘Table of the Lord’ are easy to understand. The name ‘Communion’ comes from the word ‘communis’ or ‘common’. Common to all of us who are a part of the body of Christ. Those who share in accepting the redemption of our sins through Jesus’ sacrifice. My sins make me sorrowful. They make a wedge between me and Father. So, once again “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross”. Was my joy part of what He saw?.

I do not pretend to know the answer to these ponderings. But in answer to her question, it would appear that yes, you can have joy and sorrow at the same time. You can be grateful in your sadness. You can train yourself to have a grateful outlook. You can move ahead in joy despite the grief assailing.

I see more lessons still to be learnt.

Just in Time

Yep, we were definitely just in time!

Just in time for our trip to Auckland to spend time with our kids before the country goes back into lockdown. Being grateful for things working out well… that hubby and I didn’t end up separated in different parts of the country, that we had this time together being able to give real physical hugs, before the virtual world returns.

In fact, the whole trip worked out well. Originally, it was just my darling dearest flying up to Auckland to attend the rugby game with the kids. Slowly it morphed into him coming up with me, bringing the caravan, me staying for a week and then him flying back up the following weekend, watching more rugby with the boys, and then travelling back home with me. Just in time for their rugby games too, it seems, as Australia gets hammered by the Delta.

We arrived in Auckland to be greeted by three kids under the weather. Our previous plans quickly thrown out the window and into ‘Mum’ mode. Cooking lots of vegetables, airing out rooms… Actually, it was quite a tonic for me. As they grow up, leave home, do well etc., (which we want them to do), it leaves a kind of a vacuum. Or is it just room for change? Whichever, it was lovely to be needed for a while.

As they each got better, we did things together, filling up the tank further. Lunches out, afternoon escapes, chats in the caravan, watching indoor netball games, trips to the beach, etc. I love to see them in their worlds and enjoy the success that is them. They are each so very individual and going in different directions. Interesting to watch considering they all had the same gene pool, same teacher for the first 15 years of their lives, etc. I can say we were adamant that each one had to be set up to have a base from which to reach their full potential, whatever that might be, and they are all doing that. So proud! And, of course, if I had been there this week we would not have been able to do any of these fun adventures, so just in time!

I got time to do some shopping and walking/exploring by myself as well. Always a bonus to visit the bigger stores when you live in a country area. Retail therapy is no longer on the cards for a while with this present lockdown, so once again ‘just in time’. Oakley Creek Walkway was a new discovery for this trip. I had it all to myself and the dogs, but as of today, if like the last big lockdown, it’ll probably be quite a busy little thoroughfare. Yet, again, just in time.

Selwyn Village lunch date with Janessa.

Now, we are safely home and remembering fondly. Lots of good feels tucked away in this Mama heart. And just in time to be ready for the next big adventure.

Just in Time 🙂

What a Glorious Time! Pt. 4

Waking to another glorious day, I headed off with dogs all keen, to enjoy the morning sun on the freshly washed beach. That early morning sun on the beach is the elixir of life for me. I love it! However, it can be quickly drained away when rascally dogs don’t come when called. It is definitely gone when they are busy licking their lips in joyous rapture when you finally do get to them. ‘Joyous rapture’ means it must have been disgusting! Time for this walk to be cut short and him taken home.

Everybody fed and watered, we decided to venture to the far bank (true right) and see what was to see over there. Lots of fishing poles and eager people for a fresh fish dinner on one side of the sand dunes. And on the other a glorious wetland area, all tranquil and still. I had my paints out in a flash.

I know he looks like quite the gentleman in this photo but don’t be fooled. Hardly had my brush hit the canvas than this rascally dog began whining and complaining something awful. His ‘joyous rapture’ was turning to custard. After a massive throw-up from him, and still no reprieve from his whining, we decided to call it quits and take him home. Honestly, my sympathy was a zero, and my annoyance a full on 10, so I was never going to do a good painting anyways. Gotta control those emotions to paint well.

An hour after being home the next explosion came bringing the most foul-smelling rotten fish. What was he thinking?! Then another of all the sand he’d eaten along with it, and then yet another with froth and bile etc. TMI ? Too Much Information? Apologies, but I was seeing my painting day go swiftly down the drain due to his stupidity. Today I was ‘enjoying’ another of the elements that make outdoor painting such a full-on experience. I can say I showed up but, there was no painting from today. Things I just have to accept.

The girls left the next day, but not before we had a coffee and chocolate cake in the sun while we shared our work with each other. Critique is a really beneficial and important part of growing in your art. Who better to do it with than friends.

An afternoon of solitude at the campground (did not want to take that dog anywhere just yet) was a lovely way to emotionally finish my time with my painting buddies and prepare for the return of my darling dearest. Using photo references I was able to complete yesterday’s wetland painting. It’s never the same as actually being there but sometimes a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. Thanks Charlie, for the lesson.

What a Glorious Time Pt.3

Monday came up gray and cold. I guess it is winter after all. A very bitter southerly straight from Antartica. The locals were saying they had never seen it so cold. BUT, I had a dream and the show must go on. Surely us Tauponians could handle this?! I say ‘us’ because two painting buddies had come to share in the fun…yay!

Wrapped up against this artic blast, we headed off to what I thought was a more sheltered spot. Maybe it was, but on this day I don’t think anywhere was REALLY safe. It was truly raw! Even the seagulls were hunkered down and facing into the wind so they kept an element of body heat.

Today I wanted to paint the gentle eddy at the Rangitaiki river mouth. In summer I can imagine this would be full of children splashing and playing in its gentle water. Fresh water with a mix of salt. The sea breeze coming over the sand dunes to help cool everyone off. But today, we were the only muggins around. So while Claire took the dogs for a romp, Wendy and I set ourselves up and began to paint.

This would be a muted painting of mainly grays. The sky went in easily and well. All the shapes and colours for the far bank were good, except perhaps they were not gray enough. Here’s where those hundreds of hours practising would pay off (I’m not there yet, or otherwise I wouldn’t be in this predicament 🙂 ). As I tried to apply a grayer tone to the first tone, definition of shapes were lost, which I then had to try and recover. The first paint you lay down for a small painting such as this, is the freshest. You can’t recover that freshness once you tamper with it. It’s a reminder for next time which means this painting was a success. I learnt.

But, oh my! How bitterly cold. Painting outdoors was no longer an option so we headed in to check out the studio of a local artist, Maree White. Always inspiring to see other’s journey and the work they are doing. She is planning some plein air workshops which look very exciting. Maybe, maybe…

True to form of this all-over-the-place winter, the next day came bearing bright sunshine that had all our layers gone and indulging in glorious sunshine. What a relief! So we made the most of it and headed over the sand dunes to the main beach. Spicing things up we had watercolour as our medium today. My lesson learned today was to keep my hand in things. For the past 3 months I haven’t touched my watercolour while I’ve been trying out the coloured pencils and primary colours, etc. Boy, did it show! I was all at 6’s and 7’s to start with. But by the time Wendy’s lesson in painting a log on the beach came, I had regained a bit of control.

Being a watercolour day we headed in to Whakatane to the botanical gardens where they have a gorgeous display of native trees. In the late afternoon winter sun, the play of light and shadows was quite enticing and we managed to wile away another hour or two until our longing for warmth and food got the better of us.

The warmth of the girl’s unit was the perfect place to finish the day with warm food and comaraderie. Sharing adventures with others doubles (and in this case triples) the joy. Loving the time with you, my friends. What shall we get up to tomorrow?

What a Glorious Time Pt.2

The storm has passed and we are back at Thornton Beach. We’d packed up the day before so that we could leave early and get straight into it, but on arrival I had such a severe case of the munchies that, while my darling unpacked, I had the cooker out and cooked us up a storm fit for kings living in paradise. With that out of the way I was much better able to focus on art and I had a plan.

Going back to the same spot that I’d drawn from last weekend, I sat again, but this time with my brand spanking new pochade box and plein air brushes. A generous gift from my family. Not a lick of paint on them but I know that was not what the family intended. It was time to christen them.

My plan was to divide a canvas into four and do each scene from last weekend in a small oil vignette. Starting out small means I have to eliminate loads of detail. Big shapes only. The impression of. It’s more of a study allowing time to get colours right and determine light and shadows and is supposed to take approx 20 minutes each. With my darling, and very patient man taking the dogs for a two hour ramble up the beach, I was able to stay focused and really enjoy the process.

As a tip, Pizza boxes make very good places to put wet oil paintings while they dry. From experience I can tell you that wet paint throughout your car is NOT a good thing. So, the next morning we went in to Whakatane, approximately 15 minutes drive away, and indulged in pizza for lunch while purchasing some clean boxes for storing my paintings from this trip. A bench seat on the Whakatane River provided the next spot to draw from.

Once again I discover the same issue as last weekend of wrong perspective. That viewing deck is supposed to be much higher. It still wasn’t right after two goes so I made the very wise decision to turn the page and start over.

My confidence had taken a knock, so I nursed myself along by allowing pencil so I could erase if necessary and correct. Interestingly, once I had relieved that pressure I did it just fine and didn’t have to erase anything. I was actually really pleased, especially with the shading on the boats.

Feeling emotionally bouyant again, I tackled the back of the Whakatane main street shops. So many lovely angles butting up against each other and all nestled in the colourful cliffs rising close behind. No pencil now but straight into the ink and coloured pencil. Getting those impressions down on paper.

Two days done and, sadly, I had to say goodbye to my knight in shining armour. Someone has to pay the bills while I flounce around the countryside with paintbrushes in hand. I love sharing the experiences with him.Not only is he incredibly patient while I dither on about the light here and the colours there, but he’s my best friend. However, another art adventure awaits me tomorrow, so there’s no time for pinning. Until tomorrow then…

What a Glorious Time!!!

Wow! Wow! and Wow!

What a glorious time it has been. A dream has come to pass. It has begun and I couldn’t be happier. It’s as if my inside has been filled up with total joy and excitement.

This dream?

To go plein air painting. But not just to paint any ol’ thing, but rather to stay in an area and imbibe of its essence. To let Father show me the glory He has created in that place. To begin to get down colour ideas and the composition of things. To feel the beauty. To drink it in. and then somehow to put that onto canvas. A tall order and I seriously often question whether I am up for the challenge of my dream.

‘En plein air’ is a term coined by the French which means ‘in the outdoors’. Outdoor painting comes with its own set of challenges. You only get approx 2 hours per painting as the light has changed significantly in that time. If you stay too long your shadows will be coming from the opposite direction, or will be twice as long. Colours change according to the time of day and are much more vivid than in a photo. A photo also takes away the 3d aspect. Battling the elements of weather and insect life help to make it a full immersion experience, which just gets me all excited.

So enough of the explaining and lets get down to what had me buzzing… still buzzing, actually. My first winter beach holiday!

Thornton Beach was chosen because it’s warmer than Taupo, not too far from home and the holiday park allowed dogs off season. Tick tick and tick! Nothing deeper than that.

The first weekend was a scout-out-the-land trip. Was the campground suitable? Was there lots to paint? Was it going to be suitable with dogs in tow? It passed with flying colours. On the first full day there I went out to the point and happily sketched from one spot, moving my chair 90° for each drawing. The objective was to begin to get my eye in the game and really see what was there. So, it was ink (no rubbing out) and no colour. Just keep it simple and concentrate on perspective.

Turn the chair 90°…

Getting better with my values. Liking this one especially with White Island (Whakaari) chuffing away in the background. Good perspective with Whale Island (Moutohara) in the foreground.

Turn the chair…

and whoops! Hhmmmmm… This view is looking back up Rangitaiki River towards Mt. Edgecumbe (Putauaki) but I’ve run into a serious perspective problem. The bridge in the distance should be roughly level with the top of the car, remembering that things get smaller in the distance and bigger as they get closer to you. Better flip the page and start again…

oh, that’s sooo much better! Much more believable! I’m so glad I chose to start again and keep going. Managing my emotions, self doubt, annoyance at myself, discouragement for not being a Rembrandt already (no perfectionism here) etc etc. All things I need to have a good handle on to keep going and enjoy the journey.

In fact, it was soo gorgeous here, that we nicked back home to avoid the bad weather looming and came back the next weekend better prepared. I’ll get that post up tomorrow. But for a first weekend tryout, it was brilliant. Couldn’t have asked for better.

The Gardener

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy: they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922) French novelist

I hear him say he’d like to have a vege garden one day, but I don’t think he considers himself a gardener at the moment. I smile pleased that the seed is there and waiting to germinate.

He comes from a long line of gardeners in every direction of his family tree. And one thing I’ve noticed about gardeners is that they are a generous breed. They may not have a lot of money in the bank or material things, but what they have they share, be it cuttings to start a new plant, advice on how they’ve found things grow best, or sharing of their harvest bounty. This son already has generosity in spades.

His generosity made gratefulness blossom afresh in me this week past. We got him for a few days and I watched him spend time with his dad as they watched rugby together, going with us to walk the dogs, enjoying food together, him giving me his knowledge on cooking… he’s a foodie and I stand in awe, his help in the garden doing things I physically can not. How wonderful it is to have your children become gardeners to your own soul!

I cherish these times with them. The one-on-one time that was a scarcity when they all lived in our nest is a real gift now. The season will change and they will become imbedded in growing their own family, and perhaps their own vege gardens, so I want to make the most of these precious times we have right now. I want to make the most of hearing their thoughts on things, to continue the deep conversations, to be challenged and grow myself along with them.

This one is definitely a VERY charming gardener, who makes me happy. My soul blossoms when I am with him and I am VERY grateful.

A Token Gesture

For all the comings and goings of the last couple of months, I have continued with my daily grateful drawings. Perhaps not every day, so a little catchup had to be played along the way. In hind sight I wonder if my mental health might have survived even better if I had been more diligent to do it daily despite whatever was going on. The first day or two that I am remiss I do not particularly notice but after a few days of not being mindful on the daily, I do begin to notice a difference.

Thankfully, I am up to date this week, and back into the rhythm of daily. Hope you’ve all been doing well, too. 🙂

Contemplating Gratefulness

I met Aya Kowata in a group chat with fellow artists from Created to Thrive Mentoring Group. As we have both spent time in each other’s native country I was interested to get to know her story a little more. She has graciously written today’s post which I am incredibly grateful for, because due to a darling daughter being rushed to hospital, I have been otherwise occupied. Said daughter is now home and doing well recuperating and Aya’s post is perfect timing as I catch up here. Everything works out well, doesn’t it?! So please enjoy Aya’s contemplations on gratefulness…


In contemplating on gratefulness, I must say I’m very grateful that I have now been
given the privilege to pursue art and become an artist.
The first half of my life had been met with many discouragements towards any creative
pursuit. My childhood was full of competitions for good grades at school, comparing and being
better than others at studies. I vaguely remember being very unhappy and having multiple
addictions in my teens and early twenties.
Yet I also remember always having a sketch book on me, being able to draw things
exactly the way they looked without any instruction. Nobody told me to do it, it was already
in me, a gift planted in me to create.

Then I met Jesus in my late twenties when I was staying
in New Zealand. The experience was so life-changing I could
no longer silence my creative voice. I bought painting supplies
and painted whatever I felt to. It was pretty rough and raw
but I didn’t really care. I was finally awakening to what God
meant me to be.
In looking back, the right kind of help came my way
whenever it was necessary. During my time in New Zealand, I
needed a lot of healing and encouragement towards creativity.

The environment I was in was definitely abundant in prayer,
encouragements and freedom to be who I was. New Zealand
was a stranger to conformity, a place where differences and
originality were respected, and I really thrived in it.
After returning to Japan, I started looking really into
developing my art. I found a wonderful acrylics art teacher
online called Will Kemp and started taking his courses. This
really allowed me to progress in my artistic skills. When I
started needing more direction as an artist, I found Matt
Tommey and his mentoring program where I was able to find
like-minded artist believers to encourage each other in becoming the artist God created us to

From there I found more people who can help me
go further in my artistic path. When I needed more
direction in painting more intuitively under God’s nudging,
I found Amy Smith and her abstract art workshops.
When I needed resources for painting my women and
landscapes series, I came across Erika Masterson, a
wonderful artistic photographer in her own field, who
offered her friendship and her photos. When I needed
feedback on my artwork in progress, I found Jan Tetsutani,
another great artist from Hawaii who became my good
friend and mentor. Last year, I was also given the
opportunity to enter a very competitive art exhibition
without really realizing what it was and was accepted for exhibition on the first go.
Most of all, I am grateful for having found something meaningful to do with my life.
Every artwork seems to be a message of love from our Heavenly Father for someone who comes
across it. God seems to be directing me meticulously every step of the way towards what He
has always wanted me to become. It has been an incredible journey and I have a feeling it is
far from finished.
Aya Vi Sophie Kowata