Today I got to do something that I love to do.
I love to sit and paint. Under the direction of a teacher or on my own–both are fun. Both fill my soul.
Only I rarely make time to do it. Today that changed.
I guess it’s because I fell in love with this painting. The red barn. Or maybe it’s because it’s January and it’s always been a hard month for me, for whatever various and sundry reasons. Or maybe it’s because I’m tired and I really just needed to get out of my head and create.
Whatever the reason, I made time for it, and all of the people I love and live with did what needed to be done for me to go.
When I sat down in the group of maybe fifteen people, our teacher, the fabulous Miss J, announced that none of our paintings would look alike in the end. She told us that we would put our own spin on her original, and that was okay. It was more than okay–it was desired. Different was great.
As we painted the sky and then the snow, the trees in the front and then the evergreens in the back, Miss J never sat down. She walked around the tables, helping and offering suggestions but mostly praising. Always praising. When doubts crept into our voices, our questions, she encouraged. “You can’t mess this up,” she said more than a few times. She also kept noticing the differences in our works. “Every one of your paintings are different. I love it! You are all doing so well.”
Her kind words were empowering. Maybe, just maybe she was right. Maybe we couldn’t mess it up. Maybe we could make something beautiful. Maybe my wonky tree line isn’t so bad, even though it looks nothing like anyone else’s. Maybe, just maybe, I can create something worthy of praise. Maybe–could it be?–I’m worthy of praise?
As I left the class with my painting (which is still a work in progress, I’m not quite sure yet what, but it needs a final touch), I felt a lift in my spirits. Miss J is like that–her buoyant, beautiful way of living just overflows and touches all around her. Her positivity is a gift, her encouragement a treasure far richer than gold. She created a lot more than one painting that we all copied today. She created the heart of an artist in each and everyone of us.
Each heart looks different, but that’s okay. That’s perfect, in fact.
Tonight I’m thankful for those who remind us different is okay–that we can be ourselves and stay true to that, and that we are worthy of praise. Worthy of being loved and cared for. Worthy of making time for.
Miss J is right: different IS good.
May we all have a day of seeing the different in others as something to encourage and celebrate.
Love to all.