To See The World

A pocket full of dreams

A heart full of hope

Barefoot and expectant

With dreams meant to be chased

To see the world as a child


A pocket full of determination

A heart heavy with injustice

Worn and resilient

With dreams that become visions

To see the world as a woman


Photo Credit: Lori Rensink


Tissues pushed up against my eyes to stop the tears before they can start.

A lump in my throat that can’t seem to be swallowed.

A dread in my gut that tells me what I am too afraid to admit.

The rational part of my brain that tries to tell me everything will be okay.

The irrational part of my brain that wins out by silencing its opponent.

Leaky eyes and leaky hearts.

Tears that can’t be stopped by tissues pushed up against my eyes.

A mouth that can’t say the words out loud, for fear they will become true.

Silenced rationality and silenced words.

A trash can of tissues that still haven’t stopped the tears.

This is my today, but hopefully it will not be my tomorrow.

A resilient soul.

Battered and worn, but resilient.

A lingering hope whispering that tomorrow will be better than today.

One more tissue.

Maybe one more tissue and the tears will finally stop.

One more tissue.

One more.


Photo Credit: Unknown


When the Ash and Smoke Settle

Life can get hard.  It can get so very hard somtimes.  Our scars are a reminder of just how hard this life can get.  We have days that leave us feeling too rubbed raw to pick ourselves up and start again.  Other days we are faced with the unrelenting demand for answers we know we can never have.

I have a rule that I don’t explain my artwork.  I tend to do more abstract art, so I get asked a lot to explain.   I think the beauty of art is that it speaks to each of us individually. Each person sees what they need to see.  I don’t want to ruin your interpretation by forcing my own upon you.

Which is why I created my rule (the one I am about to break).  Only I am not going talk about all of the symbolism and such.  Instead I want to talk about the inspiration behind this series.  This series is about a topic that has been on my mind a lot the last year.

This series is our human ability to mend and to bounce back after incredible defeat. These paintings were inspired by my trip to Africa, were hope and despair are found in equal abundance.  They dance around each other like a perfectly stepped waltz.  You can’t have hope without despair.

There is a Russian word Toska, I think it is one of the most hauntingly beautiful words I have ever found.  Toska as defined by Vladimir Nobokov:

No single word in English renders all the shades of Toska.  At its deepest and most painful it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause.  At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long form a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning.  In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness.  At the lowest level it grads into ennui, boredom.”

That feeling when hope dies, and we feel lost without any hope of being found.  This painting pulls you in with its fire and anguish.

Burning and consuming.

Turning life into ash and smoke.

Turning hope into a distant memory that was never meant for our lives.


Photo Credit: Lori Rensink

There is also a beautiful Portuguese word -Saudade- which as defined by “A deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent.”

The budding leaves gives us a picture of a better world coming our way. The moment when we first allow ourselves to believe that there is more, that there is something better.  Although it may be out of our grasp, we can feel how close it is.  It is a chance for something better and we are hungry for it.  

It’s this hunger that causes our greedy fingers to pull tomorrow’s promise into today’s reality.


Photo Credit: Lori Rensink

And finally like a breath of fresh air, hope draws us in with its childlike whimsy.  The ashes and smoke has settled replaced with raw unadulterated hope.  We thought we would never be okay again, but then subtle and without notice one day we were.


Photo Credit: Lori Rensink

People are made to mend. It’s what we do. We can’t stop ourselves from hoping again, from falling in love again.  Our hearts are made to be malleable.  They were made to break and mend and change and grow.

Strangers will become friends and friends will become strangers.  Hearts will break and hearts will mend.  On the days when you feel broken into so many pieces that you don’t believe there is a way for the all of the pieces to ever find each other, remember this – people were made to mend.  You were made to mend, and mend you will.  

Half Written Songs

Life is a strange thing. One day you are young with dreams of someday and then before you know it, someday is today, and then today is yesterday, and your dreams become just that, dreams. In one day so much can change, yet it feels like nothing is different. One day we are born and learn to take our first steps, then soon we are graduation high school and saying goodbye to the only life we have known to start an adventure all our own. We go to college and have the best and craziest four years of our lives.

We laugh and we cry, we struggle and we thrive.

Then before we know it we find ourselves facing another graduation.  We are given a piece of paper as if that can sum up all that we learned about the world and ourselves over the last four years.We are pushed into society and forgotten about as we try to make sense of a life that is void of the formal education system we have known for most our life.

And we wait.

We wait to find our dreams and we wait for our dreams to come true. We wait to find that perfect job that will make the last fours years of studying all night long and eating ramen worth it.

Day after day passes of nothing really changing but somehow it all adds up to a lifetime of changes. Time is a stranger in that way. We look back at our lives and see all the changes that brought us to where we are today. Sometimes those memories seem like yesterday, and sometimes they seem like they belong to someone else’ life like we are reading them from a book or watching them on a screen. And how on earth are we suppose to feel like we belong in the present when there are so many memories lost in the past and so many questions about the future?

Suddenly we feel lost because we are faced with the immensity of life. That overwhelming feeling of having all the time in the world and yet not a second to spare.

A good friend once told me, “Our dreams are made up of half written songs.” She was talking about her own dream to be a musician someday, but instead she just had a bunch of unfinished songs. She was also talking about every dream that has been held in the heart of someone but never seen fulfilled in the life they lived.

When we are faced with the immensity of life, it can be easy to feel like our dreams will never come true. And I think it is unrealistic to expect our dreams to come true the second we decide to chase them. I also think it is unrealistic to think that life is about our dreams coming true.

Sometimes the beauty is in the attempt.

The bravery we had when we took that first step, the grace we had the first time we failed, and the guts we had to pick ourselves back up and try again. There is so much to be lived in the messiness of life, because those are the moments that define who we are.That is why it is important to enjoy the moments that take our breath away; the moments that make our heart beat a little faster.

Before long that moment will be added to a long list of memories that will one day no longer feel like they belong to you. But if we can hold on to that moment for one second more, we can stop time and know how it feels to be fully alive. Can you feel it? The beating of your heart, the thrumming of your veins? Can feel the way your heart aches after it has been broken? What about the fear you feel when you finally find something worth fighting for?

Embrace that life and this moment are incredible gifts, no matter what you may be going through. Embrace that this moment is shaping the rest of your life. Embrace that you will fail and that life won’t be what you expected it to, but don’t let that stop you from trying.

Embrace it.

Embrace the uncertainty, embrace the fear, and embrace the restless stirring of your heart that pulls you to your feet to chase your dreams. Sometimes the beauty is in the attempt.