Swapping Flow for Balance

It's that time of the year, again. When the garden is beginning to grow and the outdoors is calling me. There are things to do like digging and planting and weeding and tending, but I also just want to be outside.

garden, spring, gardening, columbine, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Feel the sunshine on my skin. Listen to birdsong. Smell the apple blossoms and lilacs and each next thing to bloom.

There's a blackbird nest in the bushes behind our back fence and I can hear them peeping. Deep red amaranth seedlings are sprouting in the bed where I grew it last year. Tree frogs have been singing nearby. The strawberry flowers just started to appear.

garden, spring, gardening, strawberries, strawberry flowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I don't want to miss a thing.

Inevitably when garden season rolls around it's hard for me to stay inside.

A couple weeks ago we had a tree taken down in our backyard.

tree, stump, nature, connection, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It was a hard decision and I was reluctant and emotional about it, but now I have more room for gardening and lots more sunshine. And so many garden projects I want to tackle.

It's a bit ironic because now is the time of endless inspiration. So many flowers showing up, begging me to paint them.

garden, spring, gardening, cinder block raised beds, raised beds, pansies, violas, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

And my ideas for warm weather clothing to sew continue to multiply...

I've tried to craft a balance. I sit in the garden with my coffee and my journal in the mornings when it's nice instead of writing inside.

watercolor, botanical watercolor, floral watercolor, watercolor flowers, watercolor pansy, pansies, pansy painting, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

And I plan for time spent watering or weeding or doing other sorts of puttering in the mornings before heading up to my studio.

Sometimes, though, instead of digging in the dirt for an hour (or maybe two) and then coming inside to paint, I tell myself just a little longer (and just a little longer after that) and suddenly my painting time has disappeared.

watercolor, botanical watercolor, floral watercolor, watercolor flowers, watercolor viola, violas, viola painting, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

At first I felt bad about that. About wasting all this inspiration and all these flowers. About limiting myself to small, quickly finished paintings.

About the cut tulips in my studio whose petals shriveled and curled while I was out in the garden. I had wanted to paint three of them, but the flowers didn't last. I ended up painting the spent flower instead.

watercolor, botanical watercolor, floral watercolor, watercolor flowers, watercolor tulips, tulips, tulip painting, triptych, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

And you know what? I like my painting of the spent tulip perhaps more than the others.

I've often talked about striving for balance, something I don't know if is really possible. Last summer I wrote about letting go of that striving, but I think the idea is always there, the unattainable ideal. So here I am, again, letting go.

Let's not try to strictly enforce an artificial balance. Instead of striving for BALANCE let's follow the FLOW. The flow of inspiration. The flow of energy. Of curiosity and beauty and JOY.

Are you with me?


  1. Go with the flow! I don't know that I am flowing at the moment- more like bobbing about on the ocean of life! I am trying to loosen up on my self imposed restrictions though. If it is sunny I try to be in the garden - cloudy - catch up on things in the house. It is so difficult to know how much time to spend on each thing, need, want. The spent tulip is my favourite painting too out of the three. You have faithfully captured a moment in time - a pause. Have a lovely weekend Anne. :)

    1. I guess both ways are difficult, trying to find balance or following flow. There will always be things you NEED to do and then all the other things you want to do, too. Hard to fit them all in and not feel as if something is being neglected or left out. The best we can do is try, to be flexible and go easy on ourselves when things don't go as we'd like.

      I hope you're finding joy in the flow, Simone!

  2. I am going with the flow. Sam's graduation party, the first farmer market of the season and opening my new Farm Market Stand all in the same weekend. ;-) Farm Market is Friday. The party is Sunday. It all will flow and spending time with my family and my flowers will make me smile.
    Love, Carla

    1. Finding joy in the busy times (and trying to slow down in those moments) is so important. Sounds like you've got it covered, though. It does seem like everything tends to happen all at once, doesn't it?

      Happy graduation to Sam and I hope that the first farmer's market of the year was a great success! Here's to a wonderful love and flower-filled season!


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