Elizabeth Busey–Advice for Finding Beauty In Your Backyard

I’d like to welcome Elizabeth Busey to the blog. Thanks for being with us. Can you tell us what you do with your time?
I am an artist, specifically a printmaker. I studied government in college and got a master’s degree in public administration, but when I was caring for my two children at home, I discovered art. After my younger child was in first grade, I began taking classes at Indiana University, and now have a printing press in my basement. I have been making prints now for about ten years, and of course trying to find homes for some of them.

How old are you, and where do you live?
I JUST turned fifty, and I live in Bloomington, Indiana.

Where can we find you on the internet?
You can see my artwork and read my blog at elizabethbusey.com

I love your blog, and spent way too much time playing around it. What would your favorite meal be?
Pacific Coast salmon, freshly caught and smoked over an alder wood fire.
(We try to create this in the Midwest with flash frozen salmon from the Farmer’s Market, but it really tastes best when prepared in the Pacific Northwest.) Complete with cranberry relish and some sort of fancy green salad.

Thanks, and sounds great. Pet peeve?
When businesses, especially airlines or utility companies, say things like “We apologize for any inconvenience.” I’m pretty sure if they need to use the word apologize, people are already being inconvenienced. The use of “any inconvenience” implies that if I was just a little less sensitive or a little more flexible, then everything would be grand.

Favorite move?
“Four Weddings and a Funeral.” I actually purchased it on my Amazon account, so I can watch it anytime I am having a rough day. The first part always makes me laugh until I am crying, and then the funeral scene makes me cry all over again.

Tell us about your family? Any pets?
I have been married to my husband Tom for twenty-eight years. He was a fix-up date to my first sorority formal when I was a freshman. (Yes, I had to ask him…) We have two children, Hannah, 22 and Owen, 20. They are both college students at Indiana University, but for the sake of their development and our sanity, have apartments close to campus. We do see them from time to time when they raid the fridge for leftovers. We have two grey and white female cats from the animal shelter. They are great companions for me when I work at home in my studio and have learned not to jump up on the table with the ink (for the most part.)

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
I can create ventriloquist style bird calls. This was a very useful talent in elementary school, when I could torture substitute teachers. No one in my classes ever gave me away.

That’s funny. Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered?
My first job – the summer after I graduated from high school – was to work for the United States Park Service in their Youth Conservation Corps. We were responsible for the park land on the Virginia side of the C&O Canal. I had to arrive at work at 7:30 every morning in jeans, a polyester shirt, hiking boots and a hard hat – which made for very hot working conditions. I learned how to clear & build trails, pick up trash, and work with young people with varying emotional and intellectual abilities. It taught me persistence and patience, and gave me an appreciation for people who work outside doing manual labor.

Thank you much. In the “Advice for Everyone” section of the blog interview, I was inspired by some of the material on your own blog. Can you share with my readers how to find beauty in your own backyard?

If you were to ask people to give you an example of something beautiful, you might get some common answers. Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park might be mentioned, or perhaps Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Mona Lisa. Facebook and Instagram feeds are filled with famous or exotic examples of beauty, but actually beauty is something that anyone can experience anywhere.

Finding beauty is a spiritual or intentional practice. What makes experiencing beauty difficult in the everyday is the speed at which we lead our lives. Our need to multi-task and our fascination with all things media-related keep our brains from slowing down and becoming aware of what is truly all around us.

Humans are inherently visual creatures, so much of what we think of as beautiful comes from what we see. Practice looking with new eyes at your surroundings. Observe the patterning of bare branches against a moody sky. Or the patina of cracking paint on an old barn. Or maybe the soft, leathery folds of skin around an older person’s eyes.

In our visual search for beauty, technology can sometimes be an aid. Cameras on smartphones allow us to frame something so we can concentrate on it. Suddenly vegetables at the supermarket become a study about color, texture and abundance. Oil on wet pavement becomes a riotous colorful composition.  

You don’t have to focus on your visual system to seek beauty. When I want to listen to music or outdoor sounds, I will often close my eyes to concentrate on experiencing the beauty in sound. Whether it is a bird song, the rhythm of the local train or near silence punctuated by awakening insects, pausing to listen may reward you with a beautiful sound.

Don’t neglect your sense of touch, taste and smell either. Breakfast may afford you with many opportunities to find beauty. The aroma of the oils from your coffee heightens your awareness with rich, complicated notes. The bursting, tangy sweetness from the berries on your cereal or the pungent zing of cinnamon on your oatmeal are transcendent experiences worth celebrating, even if they are part of your daily routine. The silky smoothness of your shy cat’s fur is a reward for your hands. How often do you get to touch something beautiful?

Beauty can be created by artists, but anyone can find beauty at any time. The trick is to slow down, heighten your senses and notice things. Rainy winter days can be bleak and gloomy, but there are still raindrops clinging to dark branches that reflect the light. Beauty is yours, even in your own backyard.

Elizabeth, thank you very much, and thanks for being with us today. Take care and God bless.

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