Following Your Passion! (What Does that Mean?)

I recently saw the movie, Maudie. It is about a disabled woman in Nova Scotia. Her name is Maud Dowley Lewis and she is bent and crippled from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. After the death of her parents when she was in her early thirties, she is mistreated by a brother and aunt and ultimately strikes out on her own, literally limping away from the family home. She finds a job as a housekeeper for a bitter curmudgeon, Everett Lewis. His past story as an orphan and then a war veteran completely explain his gruff demeanor. Since she has no place to live – and would find it impossible to hobble back and forth between work and home if she had one – she negotiates not only the job, but room and board in his tiny one-bedroom home. You guessed it, marriage follows but not in any romantic love story way. Instead, this relationship involved abuse, that is, before it found its own unique path.

For true movie buffs, here’s the scoop:

  • This movie was released in August of 2017.
  • It was directed by Aisling Walsh.
  • It features Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke.
  • It’s Tomatometer rating was 89% and audiences gave it the same score.
  • I give it 5 out of 5 stars for a compelling story, for great life lessons, and for an interesting plot twist of sorts at the very end.

The story took place in the late 1930s and Everett barely eked out a living by selling fish door to door. Meanwhile, Maud tended to the home and indulged her passion, painting, though there were two huge obstacles to her artistic expression. First and foremost was her physical disability. She gripped a paint brush in one hand but did not have the mobility to move that hand and arm on its own. She had to use the other hand to lift the immobile hand and arm, and in this manner, she moved the paintbrush around on the canvas. Speaking of canvases, though, that was the other major obstacle. Poverty ensured there were few art supplies available to her.

Still, she painted everything in sight. She painted the tea pot and the bread box and the stove. She painted the risers of all the steps leading up to the sleeping loft. She added flowers, stems, and leaves to the house’s commercial wallpaper, and covered all the doors with her designs. Whatever plain surface she found, she decorated.

Eventually she began to paint Christmas cards. When she accompanied her husband on his daily fish-peddling rounds, she sold them to his customers. The twenty-five cents she got for each card supplemented their income and bought her more supplies. Oh, happy day! This allowed her to paint more!

From here, one thing led to another:

  • She put her work on display outside her home, which happened to be on a main thoroughfare.
  • Her artwork was discovered by many people.
  • She was featured in a newspaper article and in a TV documentary.
  • This led to national recognition.
  • She continued to live – and to paint – in her tiny home until her death.

Why did I LOVE this movie? Because of its great life lesson. Lots of people who do motivational work teach this recipe for happiness: FOLLOW YOUR PASSION! But what the heck does that mean? This movie explains the concept vividly – find what you love to do and then do it, no matter what obstacles stand in your way.

Here is the twist to the story that makes it even sweeter. Perhaps you knew – I didn’t – but in a note on the screen at the end of the movie, I learned that Maud Lewis is NOT a fictional character. She lived from 1903-1970. Better still, when both she and Everett died, their entire home was moved to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax where it is a part of the permanent Maud Lewis exhibit.

Now that my friends, is what “following your passion” looks like and where it can lead!

 

If you want to know more about the artist, here is a book to read. It’s available on Amazon.

 

6 Comments

  1. Rose says:

    Great reminder, Lori!

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Thanks, Rose. I am enjoying the blog. It’s good to be writing again. Perhaps we could write together long distance somehow, reenacting the old days of writing sprints at Barnes and Noble!

  2. Pops McG says:

    Good message. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Thanks for reading and responding! I think you are a person who readily understands this concept! The movie did a GREAT job of depicting it.

  3. Lisa says:

    I want to go see her painting-covered house!! Thanks for the nice life lesson here.

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      I agree. That they moved her entire home – tiny though it was – to the museum is quite mind boggling!!

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