I got sunshine.

Starting a new painting. I’ve never painted with acrylics before. Well–I’ve never painted well with acrylics before. Started with clouds. What do u think? I’m diggin’ it.

“I wandered lonely as a cloud…”–William Wordsworth

Come ride my cloud with me. This is a lonely cloud.

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Prayer-Practice-Patience-Painting-PTL!

I went with my friend and our two daughters to a suburban wine-and-paint night at Pinot’s Palette. I was a nervous wreck. Why? Because I skipped the wine part! That’s why. Bad idea. LOL

I am a former art student who failed at getting her graphic design degree from a two-year college. I am one credit away from completing my degree and I could never find a job in my field. I didn’t have time to go to a four-year university and continue my back-to-school-in-my-thirties-midlife-crisis. So, as with many other things, I gave up.

Health issues became a concern four years ago and pursuing very challenging coursework with no actual high-paying job at the end seemed less important than just getting healthy. I tried to find work on my own for freelance, but that was super difficult and competitive. I did a few things for friends, but the work dried up quickly. You have to do a lot of free stuff to get jobs. I volunteered for one year at a local magazine to try and gain experience. I got a few perks with my gig, but ultimately, it didn’t help land anything real.

Thank God for my husband. He’s supported me through this whole mess. Failed schooling, no job, no insurance, bankruptcy from medical and credit card debt, health trouble. He’s my hero. (BTW, we are working on our marriage and have made significant progress. Woot! Thanks for prayers and support.)

To my credit, I’ve had odd jobs here and there. I was even an acting coach at one point. A job that I absolutely loved. But I was not asked back in the fall. Too many teachers: not enough students, most likely. But who knows? Maybe I was a radical failure and they were too shy to tell me? Maybe parents complained. I have no idea. I just know, I wasn’t on the schedule last fall. Wish I would have known that before I made class plans. Thank you, Administration!

Anyway. My whole point is this. I love art. I have been involved in some art form from a very young age. Illustration was my first love. How did I learn? From tracing my brother’s sketches that he doodled and discarded. You can call it cheating. I call it, learning. What better way to promote muscle memory than to trace a drawing over and over and over until you learn the way the lines should go? I don’t call it cheating. Drawing’s hard!

Also, I started acting when I was 17. LOVED IT! Still doing it when I can. And you know what, I’m pretty darn good at it. Just ask me. But because I was overweight, I started writing for myself. No parts for fat ladies. Well, not enough parts to go around.

Through acting, I started writing. And through writing, I started blogging. Cool. I’m very artistic, crafty, love to create. So when I’m challenged with a painting class in Suburbia I freak out. Naturally.

No, not naturally. Because, I have never taken a painting class other than the class I took to learn color theory. My professor required acrylics and painting on some projects and I sucked at it. Like hard-core sucked wind on painting. But to be fair, painting with acrylics is like trying to forge a Picasso with crayons. To me, anyway. So, why would painting come naturally to me and why would I freak out over it?

I guess with nearly an art degree and stamping my foot about being an artist, I kinda think…that other people think–I should be automatically good at any art project. But I’m not. So, hence the freaking.

My daughter is the same way. She has a genius IQ and everything comes naturally to her. Most things. And when they don’t? She freaks out. Totally normal for a genius, BTW. Even if she’s never done it before, learned it before or even seen it before, she has anxiety about failing. Something I unintentionally birthed to her. BTW, I’m NOT a genius. 😉 Anxiety is the one thing I regret having given her. I did it subconsciously, over years. And I hate myself some days for having willed her my neurosis. Monkey see, monkey do.

But. We’re here. The best I can do is help her, and myself, through this hairy forest of feels. Here’s a great online resource we found to help us. PTSD and anxiety tools! Try it!!!  Better than anything I’ve ever heard about, read about or paid $70 an hour for a therapist to recommend. (We’ve both been to a therapist and they verified that I have PTSD and she has anxiety. Duh.)

But last night, we were both feeling anxious. We wanted so much to go, enjoy, relax, have fun, create and totally CRUSH our paintings. We’re super competitive. Not with each other, but with other people. We want to be the best at what we think we’re the best at. And things started out rough.

Lilli is only 13 and is still developing skills in everything. Hand-eye coordination. Thinking. Feeling. Talking. LOL Her frontal lobe is not done growing and neither is her body. She’s advanced, but not done. Obvs! So when her body or hand can’t catch up to her imagination, she gets frustrated. Although, she’s never lived inside a box. She’s always made her own way and blazed trails. That’s her genius showing. So, last night, she felt hemmed in by trying to imitate another’s painting. It wasn’t going like she wanted it to.

Thank God, it was break time. We all had to let our backgrounds dry. She was upset with her moon and how it turned out. Remember, trying to blend acrylics is HARD! This is not oil or watercolor. Dries super fast. She kept wanting to mess with it and I recommended letting it dry, so she could fix it. She got frustrated. Mucho. She was quiet for a moment and then I noticed.

She was slumped. Tired and defeated. On the verge of tears. The opposite of the intention for our gals night. I asked, “Is there anything I can do?”

Through soft, pale lips and big, watery eyes. “No. I’m praying. For patience.”

Oh! My heart jumped! My oh-so nervous heart jumped in a swell of pride and thankfulness. A heart-shaped fist pump of delight it was!

She’s praying! Thank God!

We’ve been trying to practice anxiety-reduction techniques and this was the most awesomest thing she could have done! And I should have been reminding her, but she remembered on her own! I forgot and she remembered! YAY, friggin’ YAY! I failed, but she figured it out!

And just minutes after our break, Lilli started dancing in her seat to the overhead music. Swiping heavy paint across the canvas and painting to the beat of her own drum. She didn’t follow the directions and she enjoyed every minute. (They said at the beginning, “Don’t have to follow. Do whatever you want! Make whatever you like.” And she did!)

Way to go, Lil! What an awesome demonstration of God’s power and glory. Answered prayer and rejoicing! Recovery and relaxation. Thank you, God! For my amazing child, all the things she teaches me and the bountiful gifts of your Holy Spirit! Thank you for moving last night in our tense, tiny tangle.

The picture looks like a stormy sea of feelings and expression, but God was on top of those waves and in our boat!