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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

O'Keeffiana Rocks and Hope Rocks

Superman and I were fortunate to be in Santa Fe during our honeymoon shortly after they opened the "O'Keeffiana Art & Materials Exhibit September 24, 2010 at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. I can really find no words to fully express the awe and amazement I felt to be there, in the flesh, looking at her work. In this exhibit we got to see her well loved, and well used, paint brushes, as well as, paint tubes of her favorite colors crinkled, and squeezed passionately by her own hands. Georgia hand trimmed each one of her brushes. She had a method of clipping individual hairs on her brushes that was unique to her personal tastes and style of painting. Plus, on display are the skulls, bones of animals and a variety of rocks that later became her subjects in her most famous paintings she found on her walks around her desert homes in Abiquiu, NM and the infamous Ghost Ranch. When you stand eye to eye looking at black and white photographs of her or watch the two short films depicting her painting, hiking, and selecting specific locations to paint, you get a sense of the magnitude of her greatness. The pencil sketches of her infamous landscapes before they became actual paintings complete the exhibit.

On the walk back to our hotel in historical downtown Santa Fe, I found a rock with the word HOPE painted on it. I carried it for awhile wondering who had painted it. Had someone been waiting for a bus, and accidentally dropped this simple painted rock on the ground? Maybe one of their kids made it for them. My mind raced on. Or did they place it specifically there in a bed of rocks upright for someone to find? What was their intent? Maybe they made dozens of hope rocks with the sole purpose of helping someone like myself feel hopeful. Because, indeed, it had. The tiny stone opened an inner dialog with myself I hadn't expected but dearly needed as I pondered the rock, the message and the weeks leading up to our encounter.

I spent the rest of the walk recalling all the times in the last 2 years I wondered if I'd ever drive on an open highway again without experiencing extreme fear. I thought back to the day we headed to Sedona less than 2 weeks before I found the hope rock. I'd gotten so overwhelmed leaving Phoenix during heavy traffic I started hyperventilating. Before I knew it, I was in a full on, warp speed panic attack. My mind raced with negative thoughts so intense I wanted to pull over and literally spew the fear out like vomit.

"Why now on my trip to marry my beloved Superman!?! I'm going to be a wreck before we even get married! I'll ruin everything feeling, and behaving, this way!" I put my head down on the console dividing the front seats, and cried softly, hoping to be heard. "Please, I just want to be me again... Please." My head spun with the all the times in the past I'd been completely shut down due to being in a car driving anywhere. My dream trip, with my dream man, and I was about to make it less than memorable by being consumed with fear from the PTSD I'd developed after the accident.

It was then I remembered who I was before the auto accident. I was the girl-woman who drove across the United States all be herself several times. Fear had never stopped 'her'! She had traveled and driven all over the United States by herself. She loved to drive. She was the girl who stood up to rejection after rejection before getting her first band together or recording her first albums. Her dreams of singing were bigger than the no's she heard many times before achieving her goals of being a singer. She was so brave, so strong. She had always fought back when life tried to keep her down. She was fearless. She had an endless supply of hope.

I wanted so much to 'be' her again. But where was she? Where was the girl who knew no fear? I needed her more than anything in that moment. I looked out the car window observing the splendid cactus and quietly recalled all the various trips she had made on the very same highway. Thinking about her began to soothe my nerves. I could sense her nearby as if in a long ago dream. Her care free laughter played in my head like a radio.

By the time we got out of the city limits above Phoenix on HWY 17N to Flagstaff, I'd finally calmed down. It was then a thought came to me. "What if I drove the car rather than be a passenger like I'd been the day of the accident? I never liked being a passenger in life before the accident so why had I now permanently designated myself to ride in the passenger seat... for the rest of my life? What if I took a chance and drove the car myself? That girl I longed to be again would have driven in this situation rather than remain a passive passenger.

Then I thought how it would give me so much pleasure having Superman sit in the passenger seat so he could see the beauty of the countryside for the very first time. I'd already seen these wondrous sights before and he never had. He was the one who should be looking out the window instead of me. It was MY turn to take the wheel as the tour guide instead of remaining the 'guided' one. Before I chickened out I found myself asking Superman if I could drive. And drive I did. Perhaps I was more of a hazard driving than I was being a gasping, crying, cowering passenger but I did it. I did it!

NOTE: For some strange reason, I have dealt with more rounds of anxiety since we got back about being in a car and I will dive into that with Dr. Ed after New Year's. But I have at least made a giant step forward. Gigantic!

Now there I was in Santa Fe, some 14 days after we left Phoenix, holding a rock with the word hope written on it. I realized I had just driven us every mile on our trip except the last 40 into Santa Fe when we hit heavy traffic during rush hour. Prior to this trip, I'd hoped one day I would find that girl again, and I did one scary afternoon, when I allowed hope to drive me one mile, then two miles, and so on, and so on...

I got a message about hope loud and clear that afternoon in Santa Fe. Hope is always waiting around the next corner for us to find it when we least expect it. It's there, waiting patiently for you to discover its virtues. It's the ribbon on the gift of a lifelong dream finally coming true right before your eyes... Hope is the job offer being better than you ever imagined landing in your lap right before the emergency funds have run out... Hope is the angel that found George Bailey standing on a bridge about to end his life in the movie classic, "It's A Wonderful Life"... Hope is the voice on the other end of the phone telling you they found your wallet and everything is still in it... It's hope that every person has had of being able to do something as magnificent as Georgia O'Keeffe did with her life...

I wonder who found the hope rock next. I left that rock on the bus bench hoping someone like me who needed a message of restored hope would find it. I visualized another deserving person rounding the corner, sitting on that bench and experiencing the gift of hope written on a rock just like it had mine. Did you notice I wrote 'another deserving person'? Sometimes I think we miss finding hope because we don't think we deserve it. But we all deserve second, third and multiple chances to find hope, don't you agree? Think about a time in your life when hope found you when you least expected it. Hold onto that thought for a moment. Feel the smile beginning to grow in your heart? Hope just rocked out in your heart. You can give that feeling of hope to another person, too.

If you feel so inclined, grab some rocks in the next few days and paint, or write, the word hope on them. Make it simple or make it totally a piece of art. There are many people who could use hope especially this time of year. Then distribute them in random places during the holiday season. You could be the one who changes a life by leaving a rock with H O P E written on it for someone to find. This could truly become the most meaningful gift you could give someone including your family. Or yourself. Why not make one for yourself? I'm making one for myself. I'm facing surgery on December 29. I need a reminder that I will be OK. I'm going to ask Superman to hide my hope rock so I can find it over and over again.

Then, on Thursday January 6, 2010, I will be starting an official Hope Rocks weekly play along that you may link back to me here with pictures, videos or articles you write about your own Hope Rocks experiences. Take pictures of the Hope Rocks you paint or decorate, and pics where you leave them. Make a few rocks each week if you join that week's play along and have fun putting them out there for others to find. I'll be posting a Hope Rocks button you can put on your blogs to encourage others to join in spreading hope to the world. I'll post details and examples as we approach the kick off date.

I truly believe we can spread a little or a lot of hope to the world in this very simple way. If you have run out of hope, perhaps giving hope to others may very well lead you to find hope restored in your own life again. Don't you just love the word, Hope?

~Hopy Holidays, everyone~
Yes, I actually wrote 'hopy'...don't you just love it???


  1. You know that my middle name is Hope? Really.
    Love, Dylan.

  2. Awesome post! God works in amazing ways. I am so thankful for the person that left the rock for you to find. When we have no hope, we have nothing to live for.

    The last rock I painted said, "Willie Boy". When he passed away, we dug up a heart-shaped rock while digging his grave. To me, it meant something. Even though his little life was cut short, he did know love.

  3. I think I'll find some rocks and paint Hope on them and leave them where they'll be found - HOPEfully by someone who badly needs one!!

  4. Lily, what an incredible story! I came over here from Creative Every Day. I had no idea I would find such an amazing blog. How brave you are to soldier through with art. How insightful you are to take the rock and create such an interesting and inspiring project. I love your words about hope. I want to participate in the HOPE PROJECT. Please remind me when it is time to start.

  5. Lily,
    I'm in!
    What an awesome idea to spread some hope.
    We all could use it, and I'm a apt beleiver in what I put out in the universe is sent back to me.

  6. Wow! Trust you to come up with such an awesome idea and moreover want to give out some of the magic that you yourself have received. You are a beautiful human being in every respect Lille, love you so much xxx

    I love this story, I love the happistance that occured because of it, I love that you drove again (yay!!!!), I love that you have renewed HOPE ... anad to think this was all sparked by a little rock with the word HOPE written on it. How magnificent. I want to spread your word of HOPE here in the UK. Please please count me IN. As soon as the snow melts here I'll be going to find some approprite rocks and dispersing hope around Devon and no better time for this than Christmas.

    Good luck on the 29th Lille, I'll be thinking of you xxx

  7. In my life there have been times when I have leaped that grand canyon form hopeless to hopeful. Thanks for sharing your journey. I'm in. Terah

  8. Howdy
    Thank you for sharing the gift of hope for it is truly and amazing thing that blindsides us at the perfect moment right before hope is gone forever there it is being rekindled in our souls to carry us forward while others somehow are washed up on the shore of life with us to celebrate another day .
    BLessings to you as you spread the word of hope .
    Remember Hope Floats !
    Until Next time
    Happy Trails

  9. What a wonderful idea!
    Count me in! I love the idea of leaving little bits of hope around town. :)

  10. I have just popped over from Cowgirl Red, what a wonderful idea... yes we all need hope. I'll start making hope rocks...only mine will be a mix of "hope" and "courage" the translation in French as I live in France....I was really sorry about your dog..and I hope you are feeling better after your surgery.....

  11. Here's a lady who writes all sorts of messages on rocks and then leaves them around for people to find. Maybe you know each other!

  12. I just finished my first Hope rock and it was so exhilarating! I wonder what the person who finds it will feel... will it make him/her smile?


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