The tag line I’ve given my business is ‘inspiring hope’ Hope is such an important thing to me. I realised this at the beginning of my journey with my Rafiki art illustrations.

It was Janurary 2021. I was feeling awful. My son Isaac was struggling with his mental health and so was I. I actually felt pretty hopeless. One morning I was out for a walk with Rafi. It was cold, damp and dreary. It felt bleak, much like my life at that time. The week before my therapist had asked me to imagine a compasssionate friend and what they would say. I had begun to imagine what Rafi would say to me. It was then in my ‘minds ear’ I heard Rafi say “But the winter will be over soon and the spring will come” I looked at him wagging his tail, running up and down the path and greeting other dogs. I smiled, I knew he was right. The trees would blossom and bear fruit and the flowers would soon spring up.I got home and illustrated Rafi’s wise words. At this point I had not christened him ‘my wise little dog’ That sketching session really lifted my spirits. For the first time in a long time I had hope for better days.

I have continued to think about, read about and learn about hope. As many of you reading this will know I love a rainbow and have a little dog rainbow print in my collection (available here) It is amazing how the rainbow shines most brightly in dark skies. Like it hope is beautiful in difficult times. Without the rain there would be no rainbow, Without difficulty little need for hope.

I’ve done a little illustration today of a meme I’ve seen about hope ‘Hold On Pain Ends’

As I was painting it I was thinking how like many memes it’s helpful and true but untrue at the same time. This phrase is pretty passive. It implies a mere waiting for things to change. I guess that would be a bit like a gardener who sat about doing nothing in winter. Even with the knowledge that Spring is coming there are preparations to be made.

I love a quote from David Orr  an environmental studies and politics professor “Hope is a verb with it’s shirt sleeves rolled up”

Recently I was reading Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown (it’s fabulous!) I was really struck by what she had to say about hope.

“hope is not an emotion; it’s a way of thinking or a cognitive process. Emotions play a supporting role, but hope is really a thought process made up of what Snyder calls a trilogy of goals, pathways, and agency. In very simple terms, hope happens when We have the ability to set realistic goals (I know where I want to go). We are able to figure out how to achieve those goals, including the ability to stay flexible and develop alternative routes (I know how to get there, I’m persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again). We believe in ourselves (I can do this!).”

I like this. For me it means if I am overwhelmed with a feeling of hopelessness I don’t just have to sit and wait for feelings of possibility and optimism to turn up, I can work (use my brain) to create hope in my thinking. I can imagine what I want my change to be, I can make a plan for instigating that change. I can count on me to do it (even if not easily or quickly).

Is anyone with me in cultivating hope with a dash of perseverance and patience on the side?

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