We Need Time to Think

“I need time to think.”

This sentence will never become a popular catch phrase from a TV show or movie, part of a clever meme, or something a newscaster or talk show host will promote.

woman thinking meditating praying calm silent steve henderson drawing

Still and silent, the woman is deep in thought. She’s stepped away from the chatter to a place of calm. Colombiana, art print from Steve Henderson Collections.

Thinking is not something major media outlets want to talk about too much because thinking — deep thinking — requires that we leave the chatter and noise, turn off the box, walk away from the computer, skip the meeting, put down the phone. And if we are doing that, we’re not keeping up on the latest post, bleep, announcement or update.

We’re thinking.

And we have a lot to think about. There are the age-old questions that we too readily hand to experts — religious, medical, political, scientific:

“Why am I here?”

“What is the purpose of life?”

“Why is there so much evil — and what can I, in my small but determined way, do about it?”

And then again, there’s all the stuff that happens day to day, the barrage of information that assaults our eyes and ears and brains. It can be as minor as what some non-entity, famous for what type of conditioner they use on their hair, did last night.

Or it can be late-breaking, catastrophic news that slams into the side of our head and knocks us back into the couch.

Whatever it is, it never says,

“We’re in an overwhelming situation here, folks, and things are changing fast. We actually don’t know what’s going on, but we’ve got a show to put on, so we’ve got to chatter. That’s why we spend so much time talking about what could happen and what might be.

“You know what we all need to do? We need to step away from all the noise, get into a place of silence and calm, and think.

“Feel free to question, to wonder, to imagine, to speculate. You’re as smart as I am. You’re just not paid as much.”

The artwork, Colombiana, shows a young woman deep in thought. We don’t know what it is that is absorbing her so intently, but we do know this:

The TV isn’t on in the background. She’s not scrolling through her phone.

She’s thinking.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

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Some Things Are Out of Our Control

It is good that there are things out of our control.

While at face value, such a thought does not seem encouraging or inspirational, let’s take it a little deeper.

spring springtime blossom hope flowers green steve henderson art

When spring marches forward, she does so more inexorably than any human army. Spring in the Wallowas, art print from Steve Henderson Collections

Humans like control: we like to be in control of our lives and situation. On a reasonable level, this is a good thing. We all want to wake up in the morning and know, with some degree of confidence, where we will be going, what we will be doing. We want to know that we have resources enough to meet our needs, food enough to eat, the physical ability to walk and think.

But for some humans, throughout human history, this isn’t enough. The level of control they want is, to a reasonable mind, excessive. They don’t want just enough money to meet their needs, or even their wants; they want so much money that it cuts into the ability of other people to simply meet basic requirements. We call them “ambitious,” “forward thinking,” “industrious,” “enterprising,” and “aggressive.”

Money often isn’t enough. After all, once you can buy everything you can possibly imagine, what’s next? Well . . . power — the ability to control the lives of others and dictate what they do, where they live, even how they think and believe.

We read about people like this in history books. There may be a mild tut-tut for how they swept through the world and conquered it, but hidden below (especially in poorly written schoolbook tomes) is an admiration for military prowess, financial genius, political acumen. Time softens the impact that such historical magnates wielded over ordinary, real, decent people.

The artwork, Spring in the Wallowas, is a glorious reminder that some things — some very crucial things, are out of human control. Whether an important man or woman wants it or not, spring arrives on the planet in her own time, in her own way.

Napoleon may stomp his foot and order his armies forward, but spring laughs at his overweening pride, his foolishness in thinking that he, through whatever power he wields (and he wielded a lot) can stop the sun from shining, the rains from falling over the landscape, the bushes from blossoming, the trees and grass from bursting into green.

Spring will arrive in her own time, her own way, and will grow and blossom and bear fruit whether or not any human being says that she may.

Hope is a lot like that.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Articles complementing this one are

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Afraid? Don’t Be. You Have the Courage You Need

Most sane people do not go out of their way to find problems or court trouble. Of course, there are those who, in the effort to garner followers for their YouTube channel, Instagram account, podcast, or other, will seek out drama, but then again, I did say “sane people.”

storm maiden woman red wind grand canyon courage steve henderson art

Courage is not something to sell Hollywood movies; courage is what real people show everyday when we face life’s challenges. Storm Maiden, art print from Steve Henderson Collections

Problems, issues, anxiety, fearful situations — we understandably want to avoid these. Life would be so much pleasanter without financial setbacks, relational schisms, chronic illness, job loss, natural disasters, major disease, or distasteful, sniping people who take pleasure in our misery — the list is pretty endless.

Sometimes we’re hit with something hard and overwhelming. Other times it’s a series of small things that add up and chip away at our energy, motivation, and ability to cope. It’s not a rare thought to wish that we were a child again, and that someone would simply solve all this and make it go away.

Or,  that we could run off, run away, put some distance between us and the angst.

Or . . . that maybe Jesus will come back within the next 30 minutes and this will all be over, just over.

But we remain adults. And stay in place.

The artwork, Storm Maiden, shows what it’s like — inside — when we turn and face what it is that we fear. A young woman stands at the edge of a rock at the Grand Canyon. The wind howls. Storm clouds brew. Her dress whips around her legs.

But she stands.

Vulnerable, exposed to the elements, not anywhere near all powerful, she does not turn and run, nor curl up into a fetal position with her head between her hands. Rather, she holds her head high and summons up, somewhere from down deep, the slightest laugh, the slightest challenge back, the insistence that though this is a difficult place to be, she is not giving up her position atop the rock.

That is courage, and we all have that.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

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Technological Innovation: Is the Alarm Clock Really Such a Great Thing?

Technology is wonderful, except when it isn’t.

Take alarm clocks, for example. Not that long ago, high tech alarm clocks featured large, red, glowing digital numbers, and we had our choice of waking up to a series of beeps or a radio station. Prior to that, we wound the things up and they yelled out, with bells.

mountain wilderness lake countryside landscape morning steve henderson art

Morning in the mountains starts slowly, thoughtfully, peacefully and . . . quietly. Morning Sun Salutation, art print at Steve Henderson Collections.

Now, thanks to technology, we can sleep with our phone (some people do this, hugging the unit next to their ear, like a teddy bear). We can awaken not only to a series of beeps, but also electronic robotic default tones, or tinny tunes from the online radio or a music service.

One thing we don’t awaken to is silence.

But how can we, nowadays, when part of our technological lifestyle is that we get up early to devote a chunk of our waking hours — our most active, creative time of the day — to . . . work? (Fortunate are those whose work engages their intellect and creativity; even more fortunate are those whose engaged intellect and creativity economically benefit them and their family, as opposed to a corporation or financial magnate. Would that this were the norm.)

To get to work, which for some people is a couple hours away on a freeway, highway, and series of roads, we need to arise before our body really wants to. And to get our body up before it really wants to, we need an alarm clock.

So our wonderful technology, which is supposed to make our lives easier and more convenient, wakes us up when we’d really rather, and probably need to, get more sleep.

The artwork, Morning Sun Salutation, shows us a different way to start the day, a new beginning that has unfolded itself, in calm silence and the gentle emergence of light, for many, many, many years.

The major sound we hear is silence, broken by the song of (real, not digital) birds who greet the day with cheerfulness. There is no rush, no leaping out of bed and pounding to the bathroom where we get ourselves ready while the coffee is brewing.

And while it may not be “realistic” to dispense with the alarm clock and focus on starting the day calmly and with a sense of peace, perhaps it’s a goal worth reaching for.

It’s not high tech; it’s timeless.

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Fear Blocks Our Ability to Think

Calmness and tranquility — these do not sell. Nor do they make headlines in the nightly news.

What does make headlines, what causes people to tune in at 11, share the post, or click the link for more information (and thereby targeted ads) is


horizon ocean sunset coast beach oregon painting purple steve henderson

We need to step away from the noise and chaos to a place of silence and peace — where we can think. On the Horizon, art print at Steve Henderson Collections.

Fear, uncertainty, anxiety, concern, dread, dismay, panic, trepidation: these sell.

And for this reason, these are what we read about, hear about, are nudged to focus upon. Often, what we are told to fear is nebulous — an enemy (nation, ethnic group, random assailants, lone crazies), the threat of nuclear annihilation (especially popular in the 1950s), a mystery disease, economic despair. The news wrapped around them is what might happen, what could be, what will possibly unfold if this occurs and that develops.

Often, human interest, and thereby added plausibility, is brought in by vignettes of one or two people who have, somehow, encountered a form of the threat. Targeted with limited but repeated information and well thought out, timely visuals and graphics, we find ourselves, if we don’t watch ourselves, announcing that the sky is falling because that’s what everyone is saying.

It’s not to aver that there are no threats or dangers to good, honest, ordinary people. There are. Throughout history, greedy people with a lust for power have ravaged over the lives of others who simply want to live their lives in peace.

And that’s what we get back to: peace, calm, tranquility, meditation, thought — the things that don’t sell, but are the glue that keep our souls from fracturing with fear.

The artwork, On the Horizon, is an encouragement for each of us to take time for silence and thought, to turn off the voices that push us against the wall in a small, small room as they shrilly cry, “Be afraid! Panic! Run! Listen to the people in charge who will tell you what to do!”

In a quiet place, we ponder, question, analyze, the things we are told. We use this time to employ our intelligence to determine their validity. Who benefits by our actions and reactions to the news? Is the source giving the news impeccable for its truthfulness?

Cui bono? (If this is the only Latin phrase we know, it’s enough.)

But we can only do this if we walk away from the noise so that we can hear ourselves think.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

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The History of Real People Isn’t Boring

When I was a schoolgirl, history bored me.

But then again, my only exposure to it was through textbooks, which have a knack for distilling entire civilizations into lists of emperors, kings, conquerors, presidents, financial magnates and military generals, whose insatiable quest for power is deemed the only story worth telling.

forgotten country path house homestead woods steve henderson art

A family once lived here — they had hopes, dreams, struggles, and successes. This is true history. Forgotten Path, art print at Steve Henderson Collections

Understandably, we know more about the superficial trappings of the wealthy and the powerful than we do ordinary people. If any house is going to survive, it will be one that is well constructed to last.  Gold and silver and precious gems are treasured — and kept — moreso than the implements of the poor.

Even today, we focus on the lives of our contemporary nobility, those who have leveraged themselves into a position to purchase power and fame. But if we look to them to tell humanity’s story — his story, her story — we limit ourselves.

Because history is the tale of “ordinary” people — our hopes and dreams, our struggles and triumphs, the many challenges we face (often because of the emperors, kings, conquerors, presidents, financial magnates, and military generals) and how we chip away at them, day by ordinary day.

The artwork, Forgotten Path, celebrates the determination, strength, and dignity of regular, everyday, normal, ordinary people. Along a country path, in the midst of an overgrown copse of trees, a house stands. It has been abandoned for years, forgotten, because the people who lived here are long gone, their story unknown.

But we can piece a story together. The house is decently built: someone took time and care to craft a home for their family. It’s located in farm country, so it’s likely that the family grew crops and kept animals. Children played in the yard. Someone, probably a woman, cooked and cleaned, washed clothes and hung them out to dry.

Each day there was work to do; each night, light glowed from the windows as the family ate, read books (there are volumes, scattered about, inside), talked. We don’t know if the family was a happy one or a sad one, cheerful or angry, but they worked and played, ate and slept, dreamed of a future worth dreaming about, and worked to make it come true.

That kind of history? It’s not boring.

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Problems Are Mountains and Mountains Can Be Climbed

If there is a large mountain in our way, and we have to get to the other side, it doesn’t do much good to pretend that it isn’t there.

mountain lake alpine wilderness landscape trees steve henderson art

To get to the other side of the mountain, you don’t have to get rid of the mountain, so much as figure out a way through or around. The Divide, art print from Steve Henderson Collections.

And yet, we do this all the time, not so much with mountains, as with problems. Large, obvious, societal problems, like high housing prices and low wages, or the inability of many people to afford health care, and many other overwhelming issues that have to do with money — or the lack of it. Those who don’t have enough of it must still come up with it, or else.

(Back in the day, it involved serfs and laborers paying onerous taxes — generally food and goods they needed themselves — to the king. It didn’t matter if the peasants starved; they had a financial obligation to fulfill. For the king, his major focus was getting his “contribution.” For the peasant, it was staying alive. Their perspective on the problems was different.)

“Well, what are you going to DO about it? It’s just too big to handle,” ordinary people tell ordinary people when we muse. Better to “just get on with things.”

If we have to get to the other side of the mountain, however, we can’t just “get on with things.” The mountain looms over the landscape. We’ve got a lot of serious talking to do, because the solution won’t be quick or easy.

But . . . the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging that it exists in the first place.

It seems like such a simple thing, but just coming out and saying that there is a problem –greed, say — oddly, offends some people. Because the problem is so big and seemingly insurmountable, we take refuge in throwing up our hands and letting “the people in power” take care of it. (Just as bad is polarizing ourselves: taking up Side A or Side B, and refusing to budge or listen to one another. Another bad option is blaming people for having issues with the mountain’s existence. If they worked harder, or were smarter, or weren’t so lazy, it wouldn’t be there. End of Discussion.)

The artwork, The Divide, is dominated by a mountain. It’s there. It’s obvious. It is, unlike our societal problems, quite beautiful.

Now one solution to getting to the other side would be to dismantle the mountain, but that’s not the only — or perhaps best — way to reach the other side. We can climb, we can scrabble, we can make paths up and through and over. Whatever we do will have to be in a spirit of truly helping one another, with a sincere desire that we all make it to the other side.

But we won’t begin to start anything until we say, “Hey, look! There’s a mountain in our way.”

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

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Fellowship: It’s Not a Church Thing. It’s a Life Thing

Fellowship with other human beings is one of the sweetest gifts life has to offer.

girls day out shopping friendship sisters paris france steve henderson art

Everyone has something to say, and each person takes time to listen. Girls Day Out, art print by Steve Henderson.

For years, my mental association with the word was limited to church culture, the five minutes before or after formal services in which people were allowed to freely mingle and chat. Although we were repeatedly assured that fellowship was a “valuable, integral, intentional part” of our religious experience, it never seemed to mean as much as the announcements or sermon, and certainly never approached the status accorded to Adult Sunday School.

People milling about, chatting without prodding or supervision by “leadership,” seemed to be more of an annoyance than a blessing.

But fellowship, true fellowship, is rich, rich indeed. And we find it best in places outside of prescribed meetings and supervised convocations.

Around the dining room table, at a restaurant, in line at the grocery store, on the street — wherever we meet and connect with other humans, this is when we have an opportunity to fellowship. And what is this fellowship? It’s essentially talking and listening — not monopolizing the conversation for the former, and truly being engaged in the latter.

Through our times together, communing and communicating, we learn about each other, and the more we know about each other, the less likely we are to shallowly judge. As an added bonus, we find ourselves more poised to be there for one another, to provide practical assistance when and how we can.

The artwork, Girls Day Out, shows a rich, meaningful moment of fellowship and companionability. A group of friends (sisters? cousins? nieces and aunts?) rests after a day of shopping. Who wouldn’t have fun on a day like this, in Paris, no less?

But the true fun, the true goodness comes because they are spending that time together. Each has something to say and share; each takes time to listen and care. At the end of the day they have reaped far more than a collection of colorful shopping bags.

They have fellowshipped.

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Romance: Hand in Hand and Side by Side

Years ago, when my Norwegian Artist husband and I were poor college students, we didn’t have money to go on a proper date. So we took long walks instead.

holding hands romantic couple beach walk love steve henderson art painting

As expansive and broad as the beach are the many wonderful things this couple has to talk about. Hand in Hand, art print by Steve Henderson

(As an aside, we were often passed by a couple in their 80s who jogged together — hand in hand. It was an inspiring sight.)

A major facet of walking side by side with another person is that you talk. About what’s around you, naturally, but often about what went on that day, who irritated you, who was kind, politics, movies, books, philosophy, dreams for the future, and plans on how to get there.

There’s something about moving your feet that stimulates the mind. And there’s something about being under a big expansive sky that makes life’s challenges seem, for the moment, just a bit smaller.

Sometimes, we felt bad because our “date nights” didn’t look like what they were supposed to: we weren’t sitting across from one another at a restaurant, wine glasses in hand, eyes boring into one another’s soul.

“How will our relationship last without real date nights?” was a fleeting topic on one walk. And then we moved on, literally and figuratively, because walking together, and talking a lot, is what we did.

The painting, Hand in Hand, is a celebration of communication and best-friendship, which, when you think about it, are major components in a lasting relationship.

Strolling barefoot along the beach, a couple in love blends into their surroundings  as they are focused on one another. Their conversation is animated, dynamic, inspiring — surrounded by a majestic ocean and under a grand sky, they talk and listen,  question and answer, animatedly agree and just as animatedly disagree.

This is what any true relationship — be it romantic or not — requires: constant, deep, and meaningful communication. The two go hand in hand.

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Posted in Culture, Daily Life, Encouragement, Family, goals, inspirational, Life, Lifestyle, love, marriage, Relationships, simple living, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Driven to Succeed — and Discontent

We are a driven people.

And whether what drives us is ambition or anger, pressure or fear or desire or purpose, the result is that we never rest. There is always something we need to do to move forward, to make the next step toward eventual success. (That’s the interesting thing about the success — it’s always eventual.)

summer breeze boy kite country pretend play steve henderson art

Flying the kite can wait. What’s important is the moment, the imagination, the play. Summer Breeze, art print by Steve Henderson

In the midst of this, many people sigh,

“I wish I lived on a serene tropical island where all my needs were met, and I could just enjoy lazing around in a hammock.”

But the irony is, if they found themselves in such a situation, they’d never find their way to the hammock. It would be “wrong” to “waste” their time doing “nothing.”

Now there’s no discredit to setting goals — most notably if those goals are good and right and kind and honest which, unfortunately, not all people’s goals are — but the goals themselves can become our masters. Our purpose in life somehow becomes to achieve these goals, and nothing must get in the way of that.

The artwork, Summer Breeze, reminds us that there was one time in life when we recognized the importance of things other than goals.

A young boy strolls through a country meadow in the sunlight, the wind catching the kite in his hands and giving it a life of its own. Just like a child, he’s not flying the kite in the prescribed, proper, societally approved manner, but is pretending that it is something else — a sail, perhaps, and he is the schooner; or maybe he is a dragon, and the kite his wings.

You can see that he is deep in thought, intent upon what he is imagining, and there is a sense of contentment, creativity, and joy in every step. Whatever is driving this boy right now, it is not ambition, anger, pressure, fear, desire, or purpose.

Actually, there is nothing driving this boy right now, because he is not driven. He is free.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

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