Day 16. Stop and Smell the Flowers on the Steps Just Outside Your Door.



“Smelling Flowers” 6×6, oil on gessoboard $75 [button link=”″ type=”big”] Buy Now[/button]

On Day 12, I wrote about my friend Sidney and her thirty day bikram yoga challenge. Someone read it and decided they too had a story to tell about Sidney. It’s short and sweet but a really good day 16 reminder. Erica, who’s doing a thirty day poetry challenge, wrote a  poem on day fifteen called “Still Climbing”. Here’s a few lines:

I’m halfway there,

and I should be gazing down

on the valleys, on the plains,

but all I see is the other upwards half

of the mountain,

steep and unforgiving…

It’s hard to think about anything but getting these paintings done, and when people texted me congratulatory “half-way!” texts yesterday, all I could see was the “other upwards half.” So when I got this text of this story, I remembered this: it’s not just the work, it’s the love of making the work, of listening to others’ stories, of noticing things I didn’t notice before. It’s about being as much as doing…namaste and all of that.

Obviously, being, noticing, is what children do. We all smell flowers– usually the beautifully packaged ones we receive by mail or are given to mark an occasion. The flowers I don’t ever smell are the ones that sit right outside my door– the tiny ones in pots or cracks.

Here’s the story about Sidney texted to me last Friday but, oddly (appropriately) I didn’t notice, didn’t read until last night. Sidney and I met at Mount Carmel and this story comes from one of our co-workers.


One day at the beginning of the school year, I saw Sidney in the workroom and said, “Hey, how are you?” She was busy with something, and I was too, so I didn’t think much of it when she didn’t answer.

About ten minutes later, she came up to me and said, “I’m sorry, you just asked how I was and I didn’t even hear you. My goal this year is to be more present with people. So how are you?” She said it in that Sidney way of hers, where when you talk to her she listens like you’re the most fascinating person on earth.

We went from the chaos of a typical school morning to complete stillness, just connecting with each other. I never would have thought twice about that interaction. How many times a day does that happen? But that’s what’s so gorgeous about Sidney: she is willing to stop and be present with people. She made me a little bit of a better person that day.


This painting, of course, is of Ezra, my little bird who reminds me not to always reap and sow, to be present, to notice and delight.

Do you see why I chose Sidney to be my son’s godmother?  And, speaking of godmothers, there are nine of them I’d like to tell you about tomorrow. It’s gonna be a good one.


If you’re interested in a painting like this of your little one doing something awesome or just looking adorable, I’ll be taking on a few commissions in October.  One this size is $100. I also have some affordable framing options.  E-mail me ([email protected]) and we can go over the details. I’m only going to do a few (saving plenty of time to smell flowers and whatnot), so contact me soon to make sure you get your order in.

Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

September 16, 2014

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