“The very least you can do in life is to figure out what you hope for.
And the most you can do is live inside that hope.
Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”
– Barbara Kingsolver
I have placed the word hope in hundreds of paintings. I love the sound of it, the feel of it, the way it lifts me when I just say the word. Hope was what got me through the years of my daughter, Mary’s illness. The hope that she would show up each day, that she would find it in herself to keep going. The hope that she would bridge the chasm between the anguish and disconnect she felt, every moment of every day, to the person she could become.
In the early days, going back eight or nine years, I sometimes found that chasm to be so deep and so wide that I had trouble holding on to hope. So I would embed the actual word into my paintings. Perhaps there it would be safe and lie quietly powerful, always there within my creation waiting for a time when I could access it.
Against all odds, and over many years, Mary did bridge that chasm. It took all her Courage and Determination and Persistence and Love. But she showed up every day, and she kept reaching forward, fighting her demons, holding on to love and friendship wherever she found it, and capturing beauty with her camera (in ways that you and I couldn’t). She tattooed the word hope on her wrist, and she used her creativity to bring hope to her heart. It gradually transformed her life.
Mary still battles her illness daily, but she has found ways to be in the world so that she is no longer defined by it. Over nearly a decade of struggle, she has used her creativity to re-claim her life from the teetering edge that severe anorexia brought it to.
Mary often leaves a trail of beauty in her wake. Even during her months in hospital, Mary’s space was always beautiful. At home, her room is a haven of meaningful symbols – living, breathing beauty. And she is blessed not only with the wisdom that comes from great suffering, but with an ephemeral, physical beauty, that radiates from a gentle, kind heart.
Mary is my symbol of hope.
On May 16th, 2015, Greg, my husband of twenty-eight years passed away after a four year stint with cancer. Greg was indomitable, creative, passionate, multi-talented and fearless. He was a gifted musician and composer, and in his years with cancer and chemotherapy, he leaned into his faith and his creativity for hope and healing. I am convinced that it also prolonged his life.
And then there’s my journey. Seven years of chronic fatigue syndrome … art certainly helped me out of that one. But more recently, in the year since Greg died, I had to find ways to climb out of the abyss of grief that I was plunged into in the wake of Greg’s death.
When adversity hits us, it can shift us off course. I am grateful that I found tools to bring myself back.
Hope and grief sat side by side in my heart, until hope won.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you,
but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
– Maya Angelou
Finding Your Way Home is my new workshop where I bring together some of the elements that I used to reclaim my life. I would love to share them with you. If you’d like to join me for two days of painting, stories, friendship and laughter to lead us on our way back home, I would welcome you. Tell me here.
Every time I read your posts, I am so deeply touched.
Thank you for sharing, and I’m happy that you have Hope to steer the course!
I am deeply touched that you take the time to read my posts, Maggie 🙂 Thank you for your loving words. xox
Finding beauty and hope in challenging times. Beautiful. So grateful that you have surmounted so much in your life. Those attending your workshop will be uplifted and inspired there’s no doubt. Much love and success Malini. <3
I know you can relate Suzanne. Life is full of interesting twists and turns, isn’t it? I am deeply grateful for your kind words and thoughts. xox
Malini your courage and honesty in sharing your story inspires and encourages me to find hope in my struggles as I am sure it does for many. Thank you for adding so much value to this world I know meeting you last year had a deep impact upon me and I think of you often.
Thank you Karen. It’s my daughter’s courage that I feel deserves any praise really… it’s been a long and arduous journey for her. And she was brave to let me share it. Thank you for the kind words you sent my way, and your friendship and warmth in Melbourne too. xox
I feel that your acute observations have crystallised out of deep suffering and therefore are full of meaning.
Sometimes it feels that we are tested to (and beyond) our limits in the dark spaces between chapters of our lives.
But is the hope of a new beautiful chapter still to come – born from this suffering, that we must stay focused on
– Thank you for your sensitive and courageous writing that inspires this hope
Hello Grange, I appreciate your thoughtful response – and I love the language “the dark spaces between the chapters of our lives” .
Malini you have had an exquisite life journey.
Your courage to share is amazing.
You helped me bring out of myself the hidden grief that lies deep within.
Many of us have succumbed to grief but you give us hope and joy that we can see the light
at the end of the tunnel.
Thank you thank you Lyn. Such a pleasure and an honour to know you and share the creative journey my dear. xox