This post is very different from my normal style...It had to be.
It is about a very different painting.
I am almost always surprised when I work on a painting. It never takes a straight path from beginning to finished product and, most of the twists and turns are unexpected. I frequently find the mood I am expressing at the end is not at all where I thought the piece was going and, usually, I am pleased. Every painting is an emotional journey for me and every time I sign my name in the lower right corner, I realize I have learned more about myself.
This piece, Limitless, actually did not follow this pattern. I created it as a thank you gift for someone who was in my life only a few short weeks. This person was the compassionate catalyst for a tremendous amount of emotional discovery and personal growth for me.
I met her when I began a training course for something I wanted to do very much. It was something I thought I was already good at and, in the beginning, it seemed I was. I found out however, the very opposite was true. I was stunned but not upset. I just worked harder. I had never failed at anything in my life and it never occurred to me this would be the first time.
I used my usual tactics. I berated myself for not being smart enough to catch on quickly, for not even realizing I was having difficulty. I called myself stupid and ridiculous for believing I was talented when, actually, I was unspeakably bad. And I continued. I believed, I knew, I would “get it”, finally, and I never thought to wonder if the end was worth all the effort it would require. I certainly never thought to ask why it was so important to me in the first place.
Ali asked these questions, and more. Why was I being so hard on myself and demanding something of myself that wasn’t necessary? She worked hard to help me understand this was not a personal failure but simply not a good fit for me. It was not an area of strength. Why not put my time and effort into something I was well-suited for and actually enjoyed doing? She used the term square peg in a round hole.
I was enraged. Who did she think she was? She obviously did not know me. I would show her how wrong she was. But then it hit me; she was kindly telling me not to come back. I was shocked. I was nauseated and light-headed. I had been judged inadequate, simply not good enough to even warrant extra help to see if I could improve. I was in such a mess I wasn’t sure how I was going to make the drive home.
I made it home just fine, but I spent the rest of the night fuming. The next morning, I felt bruised and battered, but not quite so raw. I made myself think about everything she had said. Honestly, I had suspected everything she mentioned. The shock had come when I realized I would not be given time to improve.
I began working on a painting while I was sorting through all of this. The piece felt angry and defensive…self-protective (Screaming Crow). As I painted, I considered two very important pieces of information from our conversation. First, she was right. About all of it. Second, I did not have to do this; I could choose to spend my time doing something I loved. I could just choose. All of the pressure I felt was based on self-inflicted “shoulds” and, frankly, made no sense at all. What if I gave myself permission to simply make another choice? As I considered this, peace coursed through me.
Within this new-found calm, I stopped working on the crow, and began asking myself a lot of questions. I had a husband and two small children who came first, always. I would have it no other way. So, in the precious time I did have to myself, what did I want to be doing? When things were flowing for me…how was I spending my time? The answer was easy. Art. When I was painting, my life just worked better. Perhaps this was obvious but, once I faced it consciously, I relaxed a bit more.
I asked other questions, hard questions about my strengths and my basic beliefs about myself. The discoveries I made were, quite literally, life-changing. That post will show up as soon as the Screaming Crow has said all he needs to.
For now, I am thankful; Eternally, immensely, thankful. This gratitude and new-found self-awareness is what moved me to start this new painting. From our brief acquaintance, I came away a different person. Limitless, reflects the freedom and the joy I felt when I gave myself permission to simply be who I was truly intended to be.
When we are capable of giving ourselves this gift, the potential is absolutely Limitless.
|Limitless 8x8 Cradled Birch Panel|
Thank you for listening.