Posted in Life As I Know It

Blank Canvases

I must admit that, though my mom died well over a year ago, I haven’t fully dealt with all of her belongings yet. I mean…my sister and I have gone through all that we are aware of, but there were times where certain things got the “to be dealt with more fully later” stamp. One group that got that stamp was all of her art supplies.

Many years ago, my mom shared how she wanted to paint…she felt that she might be decent at it. Given that one of my roles with her was lifelong cheerleader, I took that confession as an opportunity to facilitate that desire. Paints…brushes…an apropos French easel…she had her own personal kickstarter campaign.

Relatively early on in the whole process, she painted a lovely winter scene…and got a lot of positive reinforcement for her work. Everyone who saw it was impressed and complimented her. It should have been a great catalyst to continue exploring her creativity.

But while she did paint some…it was more accurate to describe her as someone who wanted to paint rather than a painter. “Are oils too much work? How about acrylics? Watercolor? Maybe pastels or charcoal?” I would bring home all different mediums for her to try, but many remained untouched. I tried hard to understand what was standing in her way.

She was.

Excuse after excuse would always pop up. “If I had that wall shelf installed, then I would be able to set things up like I want…” Shelf installed…no painting. “I just need better lighting…” Special easel light bought…no painting. Even an art class didn’t do more than help her complete the class project. No matter what obstacle was overcome, for the most part, the canvases remained blank.

“Mom…why aren’t you painting?” She never really answered the question. One day I asked her if the blank canvas made it too hard for her to begin? Was it too intimidating and asking for more than she thought she could do? Did she feel like each attempt had to be something “good”? Yes, she admitted. She was putting pressure on herself to do something good…and that pressure was resulting in doing nothing rather than just doing something.

I encouraged her to just…paint. Just put something on the canvas as practice with no pressure to have the outcome be anything at all. Just…paint.

I could empathize with her because I know the blank page of a writer can feel just as daunting. Just…write.

Ultimately and sadly, she let the blank canvases win. There was no amount of cheerleading or facilitating that could make her face whatever it was that kept her from moving from wanting to doing.

Later in her life I brought her coloring books so that she wouldn’t even have to think of the blank page and only choose the colors, but by that time she could no longer concentrate or keep her hand steady enough to stick with it for more than a few minutes. Her window of creativity was closed.

My mom’s choices in her efforts at painting are a metaphor for too many of her life choices, as well. She often chose the road of inertia rather than risk…and that meant she left a whole lot of life unlived that could have been so much more. Empty, missed opportunities instead of beautiful experiences of color and texture and joy. You may think I’m being hard in my assessment here, but trust me…I knew the woman. The metaphor fits.

This past weekend, I went through her art stuff. There were a small number of pieces that she had worked on over the years, but they were far outnumbered by blank canvases.

Stories that were never told.

And so I decided I’m not going to leave them blank.

Though writing is where I feel most at home, I am going to fill those damn canvases.

I don’t know with what or how, and I guarantee the results won’t be pretty…but at least they will indeed be.

The above photo includes all of my mom’s paintings—except for the winter scene that I mention as her initial try.

Posted in Life As I Know It, Soapbox

So…This Is Really Happening?

This is the last post I am writing before the new “era” begins. The last time President Obama will be at the helm of the United States when I hit “publish.”

It still seems so surreal. I feel like I’m bracing myself for a really scary roller coaster ride that I never wanted to be on. Continue reading “So…This Is Really Happening?”

Posted in Life As I Know It, Soapbox

One Small but Powerful Step in the Right Direction

Some say we are hitting an exhaustion factor when it comes to thinking about America’s “new reality.” OMG…if I have to read or hear ONE MORE THING about the presidential election, I’m going to lose it! Enough already! 

But if this whole experience has taught us anything, it’s that any time you throw your hands up and say, “I’m out,” you lose whatever chance you had to make a difference. Continue reading “One Small but Powerful Step in the Right Direction”

Posted in Life As I Know It

When in Doubt, Just Trust Your Hand

Sometimes the littlest offhand comment can leave quite the impact. More than hit the mark for which it was aimed, it can also serve to have meaning far beyond what it was intended…if you let it. Continue reading “When in Doubt, Just Trust Your Hand”

Posted in Soapbox

It’s Very Difficult to Say Looking in Your Eyes

There is an unfortunate growth of mob mentality happening in the U.S. these days. It’s heartbreaking to me because it is rooted in negativity, hatred, and fear…and that never goes anywhere good. Continue reading “It’s Very Difficult to Say Looking in Your Eyes”

Posted in Life As I Know It, Soapbox

Don’t Look Down

As I sit with my keyboard in front of me, I recall a story my dad told me long ago about how he learned to type—way back in the days of Remingtons and Coronas. For me, it’s one of those stories that goes well beyond the whats and whys and is nestled in a little corner of my heart. Continue reading “Don’t Look Down”