Rest In Sweet Peace

Ginny Duffy was one of a kind. I first met her when I was in high school. I was really close friends with her son (my some day husband). On this rare occasion I did not go to the art room for lunch, I actually got lunch and sat with Brian (the aforementioned some day husband). I remember saying to him.

“There is a lady back there with a huge laugh, it is like a party!”

He sheepishly looked at me and returned, “That’s my mom.”

Way to stick your foot in it. Good job, Susan.

Ginny Duffy had such an infectious laugh. She WAS the party. She worked hard, played hard and loved deeply. She was devoted to her family. She was devoted to the earth. She was devoted to hospitality.

I remember when we were first married my inlaws owned about fifty acres in Allegany County. It was a beautiful piece of property. It had streams and trees, hills and railroad tracks. It served as a gathering space for every season. It served as a place where we laughed and celebrated life. I remember each spring, my inlaws would order trees and plant hundreds of them. My mother in law was doing her very best to inspire the green of the earth.

At home, if she didn’t like where a tree was planted that wasn’t a problem, she would move it. Note: SHE WOULD move it. She didn’t call a child or grandchild. SHE WOULD. I admired that so much about her. She was self-sufficient and independent. She was strong-willed and yes, I will say it. STUBBORN. I admired her so much because of that.

My mother in law had a fierce loyalty. She believed in her family with unmatched tenacity. As an artist, mom has supported me through each phase of my career. Even when my work was less than stellar, she made me feel like I was downright brilliant. (of course it helps that I like to paint trees- see above)

Mom was an incredible hostess. When my children moved home ahead of my husband because my mother was so ill, we would often spend weekends with Mom and Dad. (we were gypsies in those days). One morning, I got up at about 7 am. It felt good to sleep in a bit, and there was mom, coffee made and pies in the oven. PieS you ask? Yes indeed. She loved to serve pie for breakfast. It was a special treat and well, there is fruit in pie, so that was healthy, right? I smiled and inquired what kind of pie she had made. (silly me)

Her response was, “I didn’t know what kind of pie you would like, so I made FIVE.” (edit- I was just doing the dishes and rethinking this post – when I realized it was five not what I originally posted as seven. I guess the point is Mom wanted to make sure everyone had their favorite. She was a heck of a lady.)

No, this is not a typo. This is Ginny Duffy.

The last two weeks have been very difficult. Countless hours at the hospital watching this strong woman try to come back from a horribly serious stroke. In the end, it seems it was her time to leave this earth and make pies in heaven. That is what I’d like to think. I have no doubt that this very hard working woman will be working hard somewhere else. I have no doubt that we will feel her in the whisper from the trees and when we clink a glass in her honor.

Ginny Duffy changed the world in such a powerful way. Her laughter, her heart and her special way of giving. She is already missed.

Rest in sweet peace, Mom. I love you.

Welcome spring

For me, it has been about a year long winter. I have struggled to touch the warmth and grace of the sun as well as all the ideas and hopes swirling in my head. I have struggled with some deeply personal work, faced some dragons, and continued the process of letting go. (letting go of a plethora of “stuff” in a plethora of categories.) I have been quiet. I have been introspective. I have been searching.

But there is no magic recipe for success, personal or otherwise, is there?

This is not to say that life has stopped while all this personal development is going on. au contraire, my friends! Between my husband and myself, we have had six surgeries over the last year or so. While none were horrifically serious, they were stressful none the less. My husband had post-op treatments as well. Again, all has ended well and I am grateful.

My business is growing. Again, there seems to be no magic recipe for success. But nine months after quitting my full-time position to follow this dream, I have doubled the gallery’s income and made very positive changes. I have finally started to fall into some sort of regular schedule. While most days it feels like I should have a clone or two to get EVERYTHING done, I am doing okay for a solopreneur. I am grateful for this place.

So why the dramatic opening with a year-long winter?

I suppose I feel the need to be transparent. As humans, we seem to only want to know about the good stuff. We want everyone to be happy, successful, and healthy ALL THE TIME. That just isn’t the way of the journey. Sometimes things are very dark. Sometimes things are scary. Sometimes you downright wonder what on earth you are doing with your life.

I have been in that period of my life for about a year now. At times it has been painful, but I don’t see this as bad. A seed grows in the dark dirt before the sun warms it, inspires it, and assists the bloom. I believe that the bloom is near.

As a small business owner, I have thrown caution to the wind and tried to follow my heart. I do things that do not make good business sense but feel very right to me. I give time, energy, and money away. For me, that IS the right business plan.

However, bills need to be paid, don’t they? The lights, the shopping bags, the rent all need to be paid for and definitely play a part in the decision-making process. I don’t suppose I am stellar in this area. Faith dictates that I really believe that it will all work out, the businesswoman seems to get lost here.

Please put a pin in all of that.

I have offered an opportunity for small business owners for several years now. It’s called, “Marketing Monday”. We gather, discuss a topic I have researched and each participant share ideas for successful marketing. I don’t pretend to be an expert in the arena of marketing, but I do believe that we are stronger together and that was the point of the gathering.

That said, one of the “strategies” I fully believe in, is the idea of “living your fingerprint”. I believe with all that I am when we are authentic, we are successful. This holds true for business, for personal lives, for relationships.

So now… put all that together.

After a VERY difficult week (it is always darkest before the dawn) I have decided to perhaps be a little more dedicated to living my own fingerprint. Simply making that decision feels like SPRING to me. (which is ironic as Rochester where I live got a nice coating of snow last night) I feel like I have been fighting myself with the “I shoulds”, and advice of “you should” and not listening to myself. Not honoring my own heart, my own path.

So. today, a few days late from the calendar, I am declaring Spring on my own personal journey. It is time to fully live MY fingerprint. It is time to stop filling up brain space, journals and sketchpads with ideas and MAKE THEM HAPPEN.

It has been a long cold winter. But it is time to bloom. That my friends is what I intend to do.

with so much love,

Susan