The Beauty in the Different

Today I got to do something that I love to do.

Paint.

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.

img_1249

My version of Miss J’s Red Barn in Winter painting 

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.

Thankful.

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.

 

 

The Cacophony of the Week–Playing Catchup

Tonight’s catchup post is brought to you by a stomach bug/fever suffering young’un and a tired Mama.

First of all, this happened this week.

The green in our foyer.  I love this color.

The green in our foyer. I love this color.

This color, out of all of them, was the most stubborn.  It took three or four coats.  The first one looked like my littles had painted the wall.  It was such a thin paint.  I’m learning all about bases and the like.  Base C, and a color with as much yellow in it as this one–those take way more than just two coats.  But I LOVE it.  It just suits.  Us. The room.  This house.  It does.  And there’s a lesson in this.  The two colors I love the most, this green and the gold in the kitchen/living room–I had no samples for.  Not that I will give up trying samples out.  I like the ones I chose after trying way too many colors out, but these two I ran out of time and had to get the gallons needed THEN.  I took a huge leap of something and made the choice.  The gold without backup and the green with my Fella and Aub sharing their thoughts.

From the green of the foyer to the pink of the soon to be library.  Yeah, we go from Kermit to Miss Piggy.  That makes me smile.

From the green of the foyer to the pink of the soon to be library. Yeah, we go from Kermit to Miss Piggy. That makes me smile. (and it looks better than this picture shows)

And turns out I love what happens when I make a choice without obsessing over it.  Is there a lesson in this?  Perhaps.  But I’m a really slow learner.

 

Cooter took this picture of his empty cake saucer.  He loved his chocolate cake.  There wasn't a chance to take a picture of it before it was eaten.  He's just that fast.

Cooter took this picture of his empty cake saucer. He loved his chocolate cake. There wasn’t a chance to take a picture of it before it was eaten. He’s just that fast.

And this happened.  With a child with severe food allergies, we don’t go to a lot of restaurants.  And we especially do not do buffets.  The risk for cross-contamination is just too great.  The last buffet I remember us going to, looking back, I realize she had a mild reaction.  That was before the bad one that made me wake up and start carrying an epi-pen everywhere.

Wednesday was the day I met Mr. A. A. Law in person and finished handling some business for my Great Aunt and Mama.  For those who might be wondering, I behaved myself.  I apologized to the women whom I inadvertently took my frustrations out on via a bad attitude when I spoke on the phone with them last week.  I was prepared to have a conversation with Mr. Law if the opportunity presented itself.  It did not.  And I’m okay with that.  But I acted like I was raised to behave, and that’s all that concerns me.

His office was right across the street from Side Tracks, the buffet restaurant that my Great Aunt used to take us to.  Cooter, who made the trip with me–exactly because he figured we’d have to eat out and he really wanted to,  joined me there for a trip down memory lane.  He’s been there before, back when he ate baby food sitting in his car seat/carrier.  He doesn’t remember going at all.  When his little eyes got over the disappointment over so many vegetables (he’s a self-proclaimed fruitatarian, y’all) and he chose some rice, catfish, and a biscuit, he saw the desserts.  Cake and pie slices wrapped securely under plastic wrap.   He looked, with his eyes popping, “Whaaat is thaaaat?”  “Dessert, buddy.”  “Can I have some?”  Sure, I said.  And he was off.  He carefully perused and chose a slice of chocolate cake.  Bless him.  The joy in that little guy that day is a memory I hope to treasure for a long time.  He took pictures of the plates on the table and he was fascinated with my catfish bones.  If I may for just a minute indulge in a bit of pity pot sitting, food allergies stink.  I wish I could take our Princess too.  I wish we could go in a restaurant without mapping out a game plan first.  I wish I didn’t have to quiet my anxieties every time we have a meal prepared by someone else.  But we do.  And I will do it over and over to keep her safe.  And maybe my meal with my little guy was all the more special because we can’t do it all the time.

And then there’s this.

"Sophie!"

“Sophie!”

"What?"  :)

“What?” 🙂

Miss Sophie sure worried us all after her fairly routine surgery.  She wouldn’t get up and walk around.  I called the vet.  Twice.  One time at 11:30 at night.  He is a kind, understanding person, and I’m thankful for that.  He knows I’m overprotective and a worrier, but when Miss Sophie wasn’t up and walking around three days after surgery, I knew something was wrong.  Turns out maybe she doesn’t like accessorizing.  When I took her cone off, she got up and started moving.  Slowly at first, but then she was back to her old self.  And that little face and wagging tail on the one who barks and pouts when I leave the room–I am thankful for her.

 

Lastly, I was reminded today of what little good it does for me to worry over things.  Things in the future.  Now, don’t think I’m going to stop.  I’m a work in progress and change for me will take as long as the rerouting of Highway 96 out my way will take.  LONG time.  Still.  Lesson learned.  Again.  I’ve been worrying for a week over how to fit things in and do what we were supposed to do today and tomorrow.  I just about had it all figured out, after much worry and figuring and planning, and then this morning at 4 a.m. I heard a little voice next to my bed.  “Mama, I feel like I have to throw up.”  Followed by proof.

And just like that.  Plans for today and tomorrow cancelled.  (Tomorrow’s cancellation was validated by a fever this evening.  Yeah, we’re staying put for a while.)

All that worry for naught.  I do that a lot.  Burn a lot of energy and wear myself out doing just that.  Worrying.

But with Anxiety Girl as my BFF, how could it be otherwise?

Wishing you all a day filled with surprises and good things as full as the dessert bar at Side Tracks.

Love to all.

 

ISO: Patience and Discipline

I believe I might have mentioned that we are in the middle of this painting project?

First of all, the Autumn Moon color, as it turns out, is the perfect color.  PERFECT.  Despite my Fella’s initial reaction of “It’s just like the orange,” and our Princess insisting it looks like macaroni and cheese.  It isn’t and it doesn’t.  Not at all.  (They both have since embraced the warmth of the color, and we are all loving it.)  I’ve been told this new color makes the house look like an old country house, and that it looks like one of those old antebellum homes with the colorful walls and high ceilings.

Seriously?  You had me at “old.”

My dream house is an old farmhouse with screen doors you are constantly reminding folks not to slam.  Yeah.  The memories.  Good times.

But I digress.  I’ve been watching the progress.  I’m not doing the painting myself for a number of reasons, the top one being that a twenty-foot ladder is needed to get all of the walls done in one room.  I’m good.  I don’t keep my balance well enough on the ground, let alone up in the air like that.  My Mama’s sweet neighbor who looked after her and helped Daddy when needed for all those years has a gift. He paints.

This is a gift I am growing to respect more and more.

His knowledge about paint and painting is amazing.  What kind of paint to use, how best to clean a painted wall, which direction to paint, what tool to use when applying said paint, and how to prepare the area for painting.

That last bit?

That one’s a doozie.

I’m not kidding.  With each area he has painted, the prep work takes through to lunchtime.  The painting happens after lunch.  He washes the walls and baseboards, tapes off certain areas, removes switchplates and outlet covers (and keeps up with where he puts them…..how does that even happen?), and primes where needed.  He pulls out nails and picture hangers and covers up the holes.

He has patience y’all.  In surplus.

It is then, and only then, that he steps back, takes a moment to think through all of the steps again, and then he commences to painting.

The one time I remember painting a room in a house, it was a tiny, tiny bathroom.  It was tiled up to the sink level, so that made it easy.  Instead of doing all the steps above, including checking on what kind of paint to get, I bought me a quart of the brightest teal green, very possibly high gloss (I don’t know, it was shiny though) and commenced to painting.  There was no washing or taping off or anything like that.  It was me and Mess Cat getting it done.  And I didn’t worry about painting too close to the tile or ceiling because I had a P-L-A-N.  I had bought some of that contact paper type border.  I was going to cover up my edges with that.  And it would look like I’d painted it just like I should have.

Sigh.

Good-ness that was one bright room.  When the light hit that shiny paint it was almost blinding, from the reflection and from that green sending all kinds of brain circuits to spinning.  Needless to say, I had not researched that color as much as I did to finally choose Autumn Moon.

But I loved it anyway.  Most of the time.

In watching this skilled artisan with the sponge rollers and tiny brushes and blue painter’s tape, I am being reminded of the beauty of knowing how to do something properly.  How to make a plan and follow it.  How much of a difference preparing can make in an outcome.  That is huge.

Too often I think of a project, an idea, a plan, and I want to dive in and Make. It. Happen.

Sometimes that’s okay, but more times than not, it could go so much better if I had the patience and the discipline to take a few minutes and wash some walls and tape around the edges.  First.

When I was growing up I used to watch M*A*S*H with Mama and Daddy.  I can still remember crying watching the last episode ever–the very first time it aired.  Mama liked to quote Charles Emerson Winchester The Third many, many times over the years.

“I do one thing at a time, I do it very well, and then move on.”

As I watch our talented neighbor friend take it step by step, and then “step back” and make sure he’s done it correctly before moving to the next step, I think of Mama.  I know why she appreciated all the help he was to her.  She could appreciate someone who was a good soul and did a job well.

And if patience and discipline don’t get a job done well, I don’t know what will.

I think I might buy myself a roll of that blue painter’s tape and hang it where I can see it just to remind me.  Plan. Prepare.  And if that doesn’t work, I can always use it to hang this sign up:

20140416-223949.jpg

Love to all, with a healthy dose of patience and disclipine along for the ride…..