Don’t Hang Up!…This is the Fire Department!

Fire and IKIGAI

Yup. I invited my friends for chili and a fire-pit last Friday night. Hint: A great way to clean your house is to invite friends for dinner. My brilliant idea of starting the chili in the cast iron pot…then going to get my hair cut…failed.
A great hair cut always comes with good conversation. We were wrapping up my most recent coif when my phone rang. ADT LLC. Yeah…right! I picked it up…no sound. Then another call from a “954” number. Picked it up…no sound again.
It dawned on me that I had switched blue tooth hearing devices on my phone. No wonder that the Coral Springs Fire Department couldn’t talk to me!
Her response – “Mrs. Reed! Don’t hang up! This is the Fire Department!” OMG! I told her how to get into the house without knocking the doors down.
The ADT smoke alarm had gone off.
Needless to say, I drove as fast as I could to get back to my house. It is amazing how traffic gets in the way when you in a frantic hurry. I was in total denial about my house, all my artwork, my family heirlooms and photos going up in flames.
It turns out that I turned the stove-top to high – instead of off. The chili was boiling over. The house was full of smoke. The fireman said the kitchen would have gone up in flames without the smoke detector. “I guess you are ordering out tonight” was his parting comment. Oh, yeah, and “Your artwork is awesome!”
How do your belongings connect to your life? What “things” are unnecessary? What if your home went up in flames? What would you miss?
I would miss my artwork – my paintings and drawings.
Family heirlooms have special meaning to me and my siblings but they can go. Furniture is replaceable. Well, except the bed carved in Bali….that would mean another trip! (Yippee!) My clothes are a collection of my travels – but they wear out.
But painting a portrait takes time. Time to get to know that person. Time to perfect painting and drawing skills. Time to exhibit. A portrait is a mark on the timeline of life. The physical paintings mean more than the object on the wall – they are a mark in time.
Most of my photographs are digital now so they can be re-printed. A photo represents a split second of life. Paintings and drawings are a conversation. When I work from photos, I draw on my life drawing skills – weaving images and textures to tell a story. The drawings made from photographs also mean more than the object on the wall.
My kids would tell me that these are “First world problems.” Some people are homeless this holiday season because of situations worse than a fire. Losing your job, losing your food, and losing your home because of the global pandemic is the worst fire of all.



I found the Japanese philosophy of IKIGAI while researching my FAÇeADE Project. IKIGAI comes from two Japanese words: IKI means “life” and KAI means “an effect or result.” What is the relationship between fire and IKIGAI?

IKIGAI is a reason for being alive or living the life that’s worth living. IKIGAI is a lifestyle choice. It is the intersection of your talents and passions with what the world needs and what you get paid for. Attaining IKIGAI brings balance and happiness to your life. This is what can’t be taken away, burned in a fire or lost due to pandemic.
I compiled a list of suggested questions for my FAÇeADE Project. They address the intersections of IKIGAI. I was curious about what different people might have in common. Do we have the same passions and struggles? Could this person who seems so different from me – not be so different?
The mission of FAÇeADE Project is to share the human experience through fine art portraiture. Each person who posed for a painting answered questions inspired by IKIGAI. They illustrate the full spectrum of South Florida’s skin tones, culture and language.
IKIGAI balances the things that are important in your life with your life’s work. The difference between that STUFF and the reason you get out of bed in the morning. Living a life true to your passions while making a difference in the world is intangible. Making a living from it makes it complete. No one can take this away from you.
Practicing IKIGAI can put out any fire…and…it makes life complete.
Peace on Earth Oil Painting by artist Elizabeth Reed
Here’s to having a peaceful end to this challenging year. I will be happy to kiss 2020 goodbye – one of the worst in my life. The 2020 challenge reminded me what is important in life. Not anything I can touch – All that can go up in flames.
I am forever grateful for my siblings, my children, and my incredible friends for their loving support. I honor the memory of John, my brother who died in June. I am blessed with the invincible spirit of my creative soul. And my insatiable desire to connect people through my artwork.
No one can take this away from me.
 Not even a fire.



Practicing for Nyeopi in Bali

"Art hurts,

art urges voyages,

and it is easier to stay home."

Gwendolyn Brooks



Join me while I fly on the trapeze of life!

The greatest tricks are performed mid-air.

Follow my artist's journey

as I capture the spirit of people and places.

Alright! Let's Go! Andiamo!