My Life With Gracie…Life Questions

Life Questions

I have heard people say, “I hate my life.” Perhaps many of us have felt this way at some time. But what does this mean?

In the evening when I secure my chickens in their coop for the night to keep them safe from predators, we say our evening prayers. We pray to sleep well and warm, to be healthy and whole, and to be free from harm.

On some tough days, I may add, “Help us to love the life we have been given.”

This time last year, I had taken in Emily and Amelia, two refugee chickens. Every day they were accustomed to having time to run and fly free out in the country with a large double lot backyard.

I wondered if they were thinking “My life is miserable now.”

At first, I built a small temporary coop and run for just Emily and Amelia, then I worked on a large one to hold all six chickens. It was rather confining for the two of them, and not large enough for me to get inside and become better acquainted with them.

They were just a few feet away from the coop and run for Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, and Pearl. So they did have a chance to get used to seeing each other and talking with each other. They all began to sound more alike as “country chicken” and “city chicken” dialects blended.

When the large new coop and run were completed, it was finally time to join everyone together into one flock in their new home.

Emily moved in first. She seemed to panic a bit because she was separated from Amelia for the first time ever, but that was only for a few minutes. Her curiosity took over and she began exploring.

Amelia moved in next. When I picked her up she felt much lighter than I had expected. Later I realized she likes to fluff out her feathers for extra warmth and also to look bigger and braver than she really might be.

When I placed her down inside her new home, she didn’t run off to see what Emily was doing. Instead, she looked up at me and hopped straight up into the air. She hopped no more than six inches off of the ground which was all her plump little body would allow without any extra wing-flapping.

This was her way of saying, “Please pick me up and hold me.” In a single moment, she had captured my heart forever.

Having Emily and Amelia join our backyard flock helped me see how “my life” means several different things.

There is “my life which others have made for me.” This is based on the choices others have made. Some have had our best interests at heart, but others have not. This was Emily and Amelia moving from the country to the city.

There is “my life which I have made.” This is based on the choices we have made, the things we have done and left undone. This was Emily and Amelia being friends for each other and eventually Gracie and the others.

Finally there is “my life which I have been given.” This is based on who we are deep inside. It is made of those things which will always be there regardless of the choices others make for us or we make for ourselves. This was Emily and Amelia before they even hatched.

“My life which I have been given” is a wellspring of hope when we tap into it. This is who we are at our core whether we are free or confined, rich or poor, sick or healthy. It is who we are before people and circumstances begin to shape us or before we even begin to shape ourselves. This was what made Amelia need to be picked up and held. This was what made me need to pick her up and hold her too.

Perhaps we are most content when “the life others have made for us” and “the life we have made for ourselves” work in harmony with “the life we have been given.” But that isn’t always possible. Nevertheless, we can help and encourage each other along the way.

My Life With Gracie (and Emily and Amelia) helped me to think more deeply about the life I have been given.

While I am still doing my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, making new illustrations which will work better in print is taking some time! Hopefully you can see a difference in this Illustration and the one from last Saturday. Meanwhile, every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

My Life With Gracie…How To Draw Friendship

How To Draw Friendship

“What are you doing?” asked Gracie.

It was an unexpectedly warm spring evening, and I was enjoying being outside with my chickens.

“I’m reworking some of the drawings I made of you.”

“That’s odd. Why would you do that? Why not just work on something new?”

“I need to redraw them so they can print better. The ones I’ve been making will print too fuzzy, and you aren’t a fuzzy chicken.”

Gracie tilted her head, trying to figure out what a fuzzy chicken might look like. She didn’t understand digital graphics and the printing process, and I don’t understand it all either.

“Can I see?” she asked.

“Sure. What do you think?” I held up my iPad and she studied my drawings carefully.

“Is that supposed to be me?” she asked. “And is that supposed to be Bessie?”

“Yes. Don’t you like the drawings?”

“Well, I guess they are okay. If that’s what you’re going for. I like it better when you draw on paper with a pencil.”

“What’s the difference?”

“You’ve got everything in there and it doesn’t fit together. Too many big colors. Too many little shapes. Too many of everything! People aren’t going to be able to find us.”

“You’re sure? I took art classes, a lot of art classes.”

Gracie shook her head sadly. My drawings just weren’t going to receive her approval. But I did trust what she had to say. I wanted her to be pleased with my drawings, even if no one else was. These were drawings of her and for her.

“So what do you suggest?” I asked.

“Well, the colors are the main thing. You’re picking colors you like, not colors we like.”

“I see. So what colors do you like?”

“Colors that go with our feathers. Colors that go with our eggs. Soft colors. Hen colors, not rooster colors.”

“I think I see what you mean.”

“So why is it important that they print better?”

I was hoping she would have forgotten that part, but she is a very curious chicken.

“It’s a surprise, Gracie.”

“For me?”

“Yes, it’s a surprise for everyone who knows us really, but it is especially a surprise for you and Bessie. Your Hatchday, the day you and Bessie hatched out of your eggs, is next month.”

“Well, I don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything, but these drawings need to be good, and not just good for printing.”

“What makes a good drawing?”

“A good drawing makes people feel something when they look at it. A good drawing of chickens has to make people feel something good when they look at it.”

“What makes you feel good, Gracie?”

“Friendship.”

“Like with you and Bessie?”

“Yes, exactly. Draw Bessie and me and our friendship. Use colors that go with our feathers and go with our eggs. People will like those drawings.”

“Anything else?”

“It would be nice if there were little flowers sometimes. We are girls, and girls like flowers. Girls especially like flowers we can eat.”

“I understand.”

“That’s all. Just draw friendship. Chickens know a lot about friendship…and nice colors.”

Gracie had said all she wanted to say and went off nonchalantly to find something to eat before going up for the night.

I knew she was eager to see the new drawings I would make following her advice. She just wouldn’t let on about how eager she really was.

As I was securing the coop for the night, I asked, “Are you sure you didn’t take art classes, Gracie?”

She chuckled. “You’re being silly again!”

“You’re right. I just got carried away with adding more and more because…well, because so many good things come into my heart when I am drawing you. I didn’t realize all I needed to do was simply to draw friendship.”

“And…?”

“And I’m not going to tell you what your Hatchday surprise is!”

Then it was my turn to walk away nonchalantly.

My life with Gracie taught me girls like flowers and especially little flowers they can eat.

(I just would NOT recommend following this advice when choosing a gift unless it’s a gift for a chicken.)

You will notice a few subtle differences in today’s illustration. Perhaps the greatest is the use of highlights in their eyes which give the drawing an extra bit of “life” not possible with the crayon tool I was using before. Gracie has seen and approved today’s drawing. (Deep sigh of relief!)

How To Draw Friendship

My Life With Gracie…The Trouble With Words

The Trouble With Words

Gracie was quite emphatic that we had to do something immediately. We had to help The Big Boy at the end of the street because he needed eyeglasses much more than the new bicycle he had gotten for Christmas.

As with most concerns which my chickens have kept to themselves, it often takes a good deal of questioning to get to the bottom of the real story.

She insisted we had to take up a collection or have a yard sale or a bake sale or something to raise money for The Big Boy’s eyeglasses. It was causing The Little Boy at the end of the street a great deal of stress and tears.

Chickens may not totally understand and they may often misinterpret, but you do have to appreciate their caring hearts.

“Gracie, tell me why you think The Big Boy at the end of the street needs glasses.”

“He keeps telling The Little Boy ‘You’re a chicken,’ when he is clearly not a chicken. He is a boy.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, The Big Boy will ride his new Christmas bicycle back and forth in the street and in circles around The Little Boy and say ‘Chicken! Chicken! Chicken!’”

“I see. Does The Little Boy ever ride his own new Christmas bicycle back and forth in the street.”

“No.”

“Not even a little?”

“No. We’ve seen him rolling it when The Big Boy is not around.”

“I see.”

This was not going to be an easy explanation.

“Gracie, it’s like this. He was calling his little brother ‘Chicken!’ because he was afraid to ride the new bike he got for Christmas.”

Gracie looked very puzzled.

“Gracie, when people say ‘You’re a chicken,’ it is like saying, ‘You’re afraid.’”

“People think that about chickens? That we are afraid?”

“Well, not all people, but some people.”

Gracie sat down in a huff. “That is very insulting to chickens!”

“I know.”

“And they need to stop doing that!”

“I know, Sweetie.”

“Why do they do that?”

“Well, I think The Big Boy wanted The Little Boy to get up the courage to ride his new bicycle and not worry about falling off or crashing.”

“So he was trying to help him?” she said, still perplexed.

“Yes, I guess you could say it that way.”

“And he was helping him by pretending he couldn’t see well enough to tell he was a little boy and not a chicken,” she said, still doubting this whole confusing situation.

“Yes. Sort of like that.”

“I will never understand people.”

“I agree with you. Neither will I.”

We both chuckled and shook our heads.

“Gracie, I love you.”

“What’s not to love? I’m a chicken!”

“Yes, that’s it, Gracie! He was calling his little brother a chicken because he loved him. He didn’t want the even bigger boys to pick on him even more.”

“So it was a good thing?”

“Well, is being a chicken a good thing?”

“Absolutely!”

“You are so right, Gracie. And I would never call you a scaredy cat.”

The same puzzled look came over her face again, but she quickly decided to leave her “scaredy cat” questions for another day.

My Life With Gracie taught me the importance of saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

I will do my best to post several times each week. Thanks for reading! Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

The Trouble With Words