Remembering Moses and the Red Sea

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Do you remember Moses? He was that guy with white long hair from the Bible who was met in the desert by a bush.

Not just an ordinary bush. This bush was a talking, on-fire-yet-not-being-consumed-by-flames kinda bush. Probably the only bush of its kind to ever exist.

Moses wasn’t out looking for power. He had skeletons of shame in his closet. Murder being one of them.

Yet God chose Moses for an assignment that was much bigger than Moses’ talents, experience or pedigree.

An assignment Moses didn’t ask for. Or want. Or feel qualified for.

Rescuing a nation from slavery. Which by the way — involved getting all those people across an enormous body of water — without any boats.

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What are YOU expecting? Thoughts for the start of a New Year…

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“EXPECTING • A 12″ x 12″ oil painting  • ©2016 Marie Scott Studios

“Expecting” is one of many paintings I created during the summer of 2016. But this one was special. I painted it with a friend in mind.

A friend who was expecting.

Expecting. Hoping. Dreaming.

But with a heart that was understandably guarded. A heart that had been on this same course before, but disappointed many times.

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A red and green December… To help you Remember.

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If left to my own devices, there isn’t much Christmas in my heart.

Nothing within me looks forward to December. In my mind, this is a month that feels to me like forced-group-insanity.

  • I don’t like to be told what to do. I don’t like to go along with the crowd. 
  • And I especially don’t like to do things mindlessly, or out of obligation. 
  • I don’t even like the colors red and green put together. Not at all.

None of these are admirable qualities. All of these hard-hearted, prideful tendencies are merely symptoms of a bigger problem within my stone-cold heart.

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Hot water. And a bottomless list of reasons to Give Thanks.

In case you haven’t noticed, a new month is upon us. November. It starts tomorrow. A 30-day chance to break ground and cultivate a more grateful heart.

Off the top of my head, here are the very first three reasons I came up with to Give Thanks. But the list is only limited by time, observation, and the effort I’m willing to expend over the next 30 days.

(These are seriously the first 3 things I came up with. So do not not judge. There is no bad idea. Right?)

#1. Thanksgiving.
Such a generous holiday. It doesn’t require presents, or bows, or multiple trees to decorate.

All it really wants is for you to spend time with somebody you care about. In return, it gives most of us an extra day off from work. A day to rest and reflect. A day set aside to remember all the Goodness in our lives.

#2. Election Day.
No matter how you feel about the Candidates or this most unusual and polarizing political climate, have you stopped to think about how lucky we are to live here in the United States?

Lucky to be given a say in the matter. Lucky to have a vote that will be counted for something.

Regardless of how excited or uninspired you are with the choices, we are still FREE to vote. Without risk to your life, or harm to your family.

#3. Indoor Plumbing.
How often have I thought to Give Thanks for the maze of pipes running within my walls and between my floors and ceilings?

How often have I even acknowledged this interconnected system of genius called indoor plumbing? This hidden luxury which I never give a second thought, allows me the choice between clean cold water to drink — and clean hot water for washing my hands, and dishes, and clothes, and paint brushes.

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“Give Thanks” shown in progress. This oil painting was the cause of MANY dirty brushes. Each of them grateful to be washed in hot water.

The list of luxuries I take for granted is endless…

How many times do I experience a deep, sincere, feel-it-in-your-bones kind of appreciation for the blankets on my bed? Or the food in my refrigerator?

My life is full of endless luxuries which I recklessly neglect to appreciate — every, single, day.

If you are reading this, then I KNOW you have these kinds of luxuries too.

But not everyone does. There are people in other countries — some now without a country — who would trade anything for what we consider simple pleasures. These are people with feelings, and souls, and names.

There are people in our own cities who consider us rich. And dream for our lives. Dream for our “indoor plumbing.”

During this coming month, where the familiarity of the word “Thanksgiving” has been deflated of its once profound meaning, I encourage you to take a few minutes every day this November, to sit down and “Give Thanks.”

Write it on a napkin. Say it to the wind. Pray it aloud while you drive. Just find something that works for you, and then stick with it this month.

Give Thanks this month.

If you do that every day until November 24th arrives, I am pretty sure you will have begun to start to train your brain.

Thanksgiving is meant to be about gratitude. A gratitude which is then celebrated by one big, special meal on a holiday that shares its name. As opposed to the Thanksgiving holiday simply existing as a few harried days centered around preparation, and then the consumption of delicious food.

This is something I would like to change in my own life this year. I would like to celebrate an entire month of Giving Thanks, topped of towards the end with one big delicious meal.

Do you need a reminder? I certainly do!!

To help you grow your gratitude muscles this month, I’ve created a painting called “Give Thanks” which I would love to share with you this November.

Click here to access your own copy of Give Thanks in the form of a calendar that you can use on your computer desktop.

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Let “Give Thanks” be a 30 day-reminder, that a grateful heart is one that is intentional about noticing the infinite luxuries which are so easy to overlook.

  1. Happy Giving Thanks!
  2. Happy Voting!
  3. Happy Hot Water!

Wishing you a 30-day month of Giving Thanks… which begins a new way of life!

Warmly,
Marie Scott

PS To use the November calendar simply click on the link above, download the file to a place you can easily find on your computer, and then set that file as your computer’s wallpaper (or desktop.) If you can’t figure it out, ask Google. Or better yet, the closest teenager.

 

 

 

Gratitude. For friendship.

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Friends are like flowers.

Some flowers arrive to commemorate a special occasion. They are loved for their presence during that moment in time, but they soon fade away. Good memories that were short lived, but still oh-so-sweet.

There are friends like this too. Beautiful “bouquets” who fill your life with a rich fragrance that is remembered even after they are gone.

Other friends are like “annuals.” There with you for an entire season of life. Deeply loved; so appreciated. And despite the limited one-season-of-life you share together, they are still another beautiful memory adding a deep layer of richness to the fabric of your life.

Then there are “Perennial” friendships.

Like their namesake in the world of gardening, perennial friends return back to you season after season; year after year. They may take a break for the winter, but come spring, they are alive again in your garden. Their deep roots making them fuller and stronger as the years pass by, able to weather alongside you, whatever changes may come your way.

Like the countless layers of petals circling the inner core of this happy daisy in my painting called “Charleston Gerbera” — perennial friendships are built upon layers and layers of shared experiences and moments of trust. Petal by petal, they are formed, shaped, built, strengthened.

Bouquets. Annuals. Perennials.

Each of these friendships serving a purpose. Each beautiful in their own way. May your gratitude for friendships of ALL kinds, never end.

gratitude-pumpkin

Would you like to make a reminder?

A reminder to be thankful for your friendships.
[ All you need is a pumpkin. ]

And these directions.

And this piece of art.

“May this ‘Gratitude Pumpkin’ be a symbol to remind you of all the Goodness in your life. As you pass by it each day, let it cause you to reflect on all the different friendships you’ve enjoyed over the years. And how each of those relationships has added to the richness of your life.” — Marie Scott

If you’d like to read how my painting shown above reminds me of some of my own friendships, visit my website at www.mariescottstudios.com

Warmly,
Marie Scott

How the Tide could teach Gratitude a lesson.

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“GRATITUDE” • 8″ x 8″ oil painting
©2016 Marie Scott Studios

The tide flows in. The tide flows out.

Every day, submitting to the moon’s pull. Pouring itself forward into the nearest adjacent, vacant space.

Floating along. Listening to Gravity. Obeying the earth’s rotation.

The tide is a relaxed passenger, riding on centrifugal force. Peacefully lost in thought as it travels along its silky journey.

In blind obedience forging pathways to and from the ocean by its steady, daily acts of reliable compliance.

If only Gratitude were so regulated. So trusting.

Unlike the waters, which listen and then flow where they are told — feelings have a mind of their own.

Unlike the tides, which cause the waters to operate on autopilot — gratitude is not a mandate.

Gratitude is not instinctual. Gratitude is not inherent. Gratitude is not a right.

Then what is Gratitude?
A choice. A state of mind. A reaction. An action. 

For feelings of thankfulness to arise, the tendons of gratitude need to be stretched.

Gratitude is a muscle.

It needs to be trained, strengthened and practiced.

There is no blank check of circumstances which generates automated gratitude. No powdered drink mix that guarantees gratitude to grow.

Like it or not, there are no external forces which bring automatic gratitude.

Rather, it is the way one chooses to look at life that shapes the perspective of the mind.

Oh, that gratitude were as dependable as the tides! Can you even imagine what a different place this world would be?

“Tides are one of the most reliable phenomena in the world. As the sun rises in the east and the stars come out at night, we are confident that the ocean waters will regularly rise and fall along our shores.”

“What Are Tides?” Http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration U.S. Department of Commerce, 6 Feb. 2015. Web. 29 Sept. 2016. <http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/tides.html>.

Gratitude does not happen on its own.

What would it look like to “swim against the tide” of your own mind? This is definitely something worth contemplating in the coming months.

For more thoughts on how to get to “The state of being Grateful” (as Merriam-Webster defines the word Gratitude, visit www.remembergoodness.com in the upcoming weeks, for ideas to train your mind .

If you could use a visual 31-day reminder that gratitude is an active choice, click here to access a free desktop calendar called (you guessed it) “Gratitude.”

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For more reading on the Tides, Salt Marshes, and Gratitude, visit the following articles.

 

 

“Possibilities.”

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POSSIBILITIES • 10 inch x 10 inch oil painting • ©2016 Marie Scott Studios

Possibilities are everywhere.
A new school year. A new month.
A new day. A new hour.

Sometimes possibilities are not quite so obvious.
With your head down, trudging through the mundane, they are easy to miss.

Possibilities yearn to found.
Like fireflies at dusk, they flitter around. So briefly they call out.
Asking to be seen.

Where are your possibilities?
Look up. Listen. Linger in their midst.

They are everywhere.
Glistening on the water. Hanging in the sky. Resting in the distant trees.
Their song of hope, fanning the cool breeze of freedom.

Possibilities are everywhere.
Not all worth chasing.
Yet many more, not worth wasting.

SEPTEMBER 2016 Desktop Calendar

Click here to download this free desktop calendar to use on your desktop during the month of September.

Oh, the possibilities of a NEW MONTH! I hope this calendar reminds you to make the most of it…

Always one to consider every-single-last-possible option (and often to a fault),
Marie Scott 
Print

To see all the POSSIBLE paintings in my entire collection of
vibrant, colorful, paintings,
visit my online gallery at www.mariescottstudios.com

Memories of marshmallows & marshes to mellow your upcoming month.

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MARSH MELLOW DAY • 10 inch x 10 inch original oil painting • ©2016 Marie Scott Studios

“Marsh Mellow Day”

This sweet little oil painting is part of my new Marsh Memories,” series which I’ve enjoyed working on all summer long. When I posted a photo of this finished painting on my Facebook page, the first comment was written by the kind mother of my childhood best friend.

Miss Arlene wrote: So pretty and soft. Like ‘marshmallow’ memories.”

What a perfect compliment. Just the inspiration I needed for the name of this painting, which has become one of my new favorites.

Being *somewhat* of a vegan-eater for the past few years, I just didn’t feel quite right about naming the painting after a food which contains gelatin. (Although, that being said, the inclusion of gelatin has NOT stopped me from eating my fair share of gelatin-laced S’mores this summer.)

MARSHMALLOWS can be sticky.
[And not-so-good for you.]

That really isn’t at all the feeling I wanted to convey in the piece.

Yet, the idea of a “pretty, soft, marshmallow memory” still somehow summed up the mood I was trying to convey so well.

Hmmm….

What about a Mellow Marsh?

What would that look like? What could that mean?

So I looked up the definition of “mellow.” And immediately, Mellow became my new favorite word. My new mission in life.

Mellow means…

adjective
1. (especially of sound, taste, and color) “pleasantly smooth or soft; free from harshness.”
2.
(of a person’s character) “softened or matured by age or experience.”

verb
1. “To make or become mellow.

LIFE can be sticky.
[And not-so-good for you.]

But if not ever allowed to Get Sticky how else does one become “pleasantly smooth or soft; free from harshness?”

The hard and tricky things in LIFE, if accepted and then digested correctly, can be just the ingredient that’s needed to mellow out the sharp, craggy corners in our mind. The steeled callous places that — left to harden — cause not-so-good-for you ways of thinking. And reacting. And then ultimately living.

Marshes are MESSY

Not everybody loves the marshes like I do. They are kind of smelly. And buggy. And full of little creeping things that move. But that is part of what I love about them.

Marsh Messiness is life in action. An ever-changing landscape, providing a different kind of beauty at every different hour of every single day. Marshes are a self-funded, self-directed projects. A type of installation art performance for anyone who is willing to slow down to enjoy the show.

Marshes are MELLOW

Every day, water flows in. Water flows out. Slowly carving a way for itself to engage with a larger body of water. Paths are worn by this slow, gentle process where the mud and muck is “Softened or matured by age or experience.”

I did not grow up around marshes, nor do I live on a marsh. I am a late-in-life marsh groupie. So I might be missing something here.

What I’m confident I’m not missing, is the way a marsh view can slow my breath and fill my lungs with its calming tonic. Its existence a temporary elixir for all that feels stuck within my heart.

Marsh Mellow Day in progress

A summer 2016 “Marsh Memory” painting… in progress.

So what is a Marsh Mellow Day?

Well, that is up to YOU to decide. Think about what that means for you today. And maybe by the end of the month, you will have started to formulate in your mind, what you could look like if you became a more mellow version of yourself.

Maybe putting this desktop calendar as your computer wallpaper will be a reminder to you to ponder the question. Use it with my blessing, and may it bring you peace as you go about the coming days!

AUGUST 2016 Desktop Calendar

MARSH MELLOW DAY • Download this free gift from Marie Scott and it use it for the month of August as your August desktop.

Wishing you a more mellow path this month of August, 2016…

Warmly,
Marie Scott 
Print

To see the entire collection of my vibrant, colorful,
and mostly not-really-very-mellow-at-all paintings,
visit my online gallery
at www.mariescottstudios.com

Summer Freedom. A Marsh Memory painting & calendar for July, 2016.

July 2016 Desktop Calendar

SUMMER FREEDOM • 8″ x 8″ original oil painting • ©2016 Marie Scott Studios • Click on the image to download this free wallpaper for your computer for the month, compliments of Greenville, SC artist Marie Scott. Enjoy the free view!

It is summer, yet I find myself to be remarkably free!

For the first summer since 2011, there is nothing big going on in my life. Or in my business.

For the first time in five years, I am not moving into a studio that is outside my home.

It is summer again, yet for the fist time since 2012, I am not opening a store. Not moving my home in 2013. Not opening a bigger store in 2014. Not closing that bigger store in 2015.

It is June of the summer of 2016, and somehow I find myself not doing anything more than recovering from moving my home this past January (the second time in five years.)

I’ve been enjoying the unending stream of out-of-town company that has taken advantage of visiting us in our more spacious surroundings since January of this year. Also squeezing in the hosting of a 50th anniversary party for my still “happily married” in-laws.

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50th anniversary party

Celebrating 50 happy years of marriage with Tim’s parents and his sister’s family. (The first big party in our new home was a huge success!)

After almost exactly one year since announcing the closing of my store called “Sunflower” last summer, life finally feels settled to me again.

It is summer, yet for the first time in five years, the word “Nathan” has appeared on my to-do list.

This summer, the name of my son is a word I hear myself speaking of and thinking about on a regular basis again. But unlike the many past summers I spent so occupied with chasing after the wind, it is with a new-found-freedom that I “plan” Nathan into my weekday. (Most days.)

This year, the well-being of my child has finally returned to an appropriate place on my list of summer priorities. And this year, not unlike the summer before he was entering into the second grade, I actually have space in my brain for him once again.

I could easily get down on myself — thinking about all that I missed with him for so many summers. But there is no point in that. There is no changing the past. My choices are already in the books.

Before Nathan was born, throughout my entire pregnancy we prayed each day for a child that would “fit into our family.” And God answered our prayers with remarkable accuracy. There are not may kids who could have weathered so well, all the many changes that this child has been through in a decade.

Major life changes that occurred even before the infamous summer of 2011 when somehow our life wandered down a long road of life-sucking choices — all of which were inspired by yours truly.

These major life changes were supported and endured by the other two members of my family. Until “enough,” suddenly became to me, quite apparently “enough.” Enough for all three of us. Especially for Nathan, who’s interesting young life was rapidly passing me by.

There are not many 11 year-old boys who would be willing to go to work with their mom and spend the entire day assembling notecards. Or matting art prints. Or logging prices into an online inventory system. All with a positive attitude more suited for someone twice his age.

This not-so-little-anymore person, did an admirable job of rising to the occasion through each and every change that took me farther and farther away from him. And despite his best efforts to occupy himself for too many summers, I can see now that he did feel the loss. But fortunately for me, it is still not too late to rewrite the course of his childhood.

As I write this, we are on a week-long family vacation. With extended family members. Wonderfully fun, and loving people from gardening zone #5, that my son Nathan doesn’t get to see very often.

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So for the first summer since 2011, I am not feeling any guilt about the fact that I have kept to myself all week. Enjoying a newly-felt freedom to be alone and recharge my introverted battery, while all the extroverts in my clan revel in sandy days spent clinging together as a reunited bed of happy clams.

This summer, I am free from feeling like I need to make up for lost time during one crowded week.

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And that freedom, is solely because I made some terribly hard choices last spring. And summer. And fall.

Choices that put myself into a position that isn’t my first choice — but probably the best choice for my family during this season of our lives. The season before the three of us, will eventually become two again. In probably less time than we can even realize.

A choice to reign in my personal passions and drive. A choice to keep the big picture in mind. A choice to stay true to who I am, but yet somehow figure out how to be that same person, but in a way that allows for a reasonable life.

At first, this surprisingly difficult choice to stop chasing after the wind, felt like it was only for the good of the family. But looking back (and looking forward too) I see it is the Better Choice for me too.

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Me and my two favorite guys.

So here I am, with one month of The Summer of 2016 under my belt. And even more importantly, several seasons of “Downton Abbey” enjoyed together with Nathan in the cool of a darkened room, wrapped in our colorful, summer-weight fair trade blanket, during the sultry hot summer afternoons and evenings we have grown to love.

Instead of chasing after the wind by myself, together we are pursuing the entire story of the Crawley family this summer. Just because we can.

And in the spirit of this newly found Summer Freedom, I am also trying to squeeze in a few restful paintings here and there. Not because I have to, but because I want to.

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“Summer Freedom” [ #1 in the Marsh Memory series ] • 8″ x 8″ oil painting ©2016 Marie Scott Studios

“Summer Freedom” is the first, of hopefully many, quick little marsh paintings that are loose and free from tight detail. Impressions and memories I have of the beauty and freedom I feel while experiencing the salty, wide open Low Country spaces. Pieces that remind me why I love to paint. And what makes me feel free.

I am creating this new series of paintings called “Marsh Memories” this summer to keep my mind happy and healthy. As well as to keep me freer for Nathan than years gone past.

But even more importantly, to keep us BOTH freed up as much as possible, for Lord Grantham and her Ladyship the Countess of Grantham. And Lady Mary Crawley. And Lady Edith. And Cousin Isobel. And even Daisy, and Mrs. Patmore, and Mr. Bates, and Anna.  And of course for Tom Branson — chauffeur, turned son-in-law.

You get the idea…

Yours freely,

— Marie Scott, June 2016

To view the entire collection of my paintings, visit my online gallery at www.mariescottstudios.com
Or stop by my etsy shop at www.mariescottart.com.

 

 

A new calendar for June.

Focus on what is Good…

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SC STATE HOUSE • 40″ x 30″ original oil painting • 2016 Marie Scott

I love plants.

Plants are neutral. Plants are beautiful.

I like to focus my energy on painting plants. That feels more productive to me than gardening, which is an uphill battle. One definitely worth the fight, but an ongoing, never-ending battle, nonetheless.

Paintings of plants don’t grow weeds. Paintings of flowers don’t require water. They are gardens which remain perfect despite the elements. They are givers. Not takers.

Paintings that emit beauty, can bring peace to the soul as they require nothing of you. They have no agenda. All they need, is simply a space to BE. All they want is an occasional glance of your admiration.

I love South Carolina.

It is a place that is prosperous with natural beauty, wealthy in raw loveliness.

Like all places, however, it has its weeds. And unquenchable needs. The neglected, overgrown garden of issues that can feel hopelessly irreparable. 

I love peace.

Which is why I focus the time I spend in my painting studio documenting scenes which allow the mind to rest, and the soul to feel refreshed.

I need more peace. And most likely, so do you.

Just like a real garden, full of needy plants, paintings of beauty will eventually become takers too.

Paintings of peace, in and of themselves, will never be enough to calm whatever it is that eats away at the deepest core of your being. Paintings of gardens will never fill the unquenchable hidden longings of your heart.

There is nothing in this world that can truly satisfy the varying size hole, that each of us has within our soul. And that, is what will ultimately wear you down. And then wear you out.

A “Soul Hole?” Yes.

Wow. That sounds pretty hopeless. And peace-less. And, unfortunately true.

I love Jesus.

It is hope-less to put my trust in plants. Or paintings of plants. Or South Carolina. Or peaceful scenes.

But Jesus? Yes! 

He IS hope. He IS peace.

Jesus is the only person, place, or thing, — where unending, perfectly satisfying, honest-to-goodness, True Soul Peace can ever be found. 

Call me crazy if you want to. He is the real deal. I promise.

More on this, another time… another day.

I love a new month.

Time for a new page, and a new picture. A chance to take a deep breath and re-focus my thoughts. But with a lot less pressure than a new year commands.

Focus on this…

No matter where you are this June, my hope is that this focus-reminder will help to get your summer thinking off to a more healthy start. The words below, are from the Apostle Paul in a letter he wrote to the church at Phillipi while he was locked up in prison, around AD 61-ish.

I plan to spend the next 30 days trying to focus on what Paul suggests. I hope you’ll join me, in my “Focus on what is Good” Summer Thinking efforts. (Feel free to check-in with me on this. You know what can happen with the best laid plans…)

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” Philippians 4:8-9

JUNE 2016 Desktop CalendarSC STATE HOUSE • 40″ x 30″ original oil painting • ©2016 Marie Scott Studios • Click on the image to download this free wallpaper for your computer for the month, compliments of Greenville, SC artist Marie Scott. Enjoy the view!

Wishing you a month of peace…

Don’t forget your Focus!
— Marie Scott
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BTW… If you want to hear some more about this Jesus, from somebody who is an artist both with words and teaching, you can listen to one one of the South’s finest thinkers as he explains the bible in the most accessible way, at http://downtownpres.org/sunday/sermons/