Haven't been writing this week; I've been painting my fence, just to let my inner child play.
This all started because of a conversation between my youngest child, who's an expert at inner-child awareness and play, and myself, whose inner child still wants to make sure everything is perfect before any play is allowed. (Which means, play would happen never, because perfection cannot be achieved.)
Then my spiritual director told me (again) that I would probably really appreciate this book she's recommended at least once or twice before, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.
One of the exercises in The Artist's Way was to make a list of 20 things I like to do, and then perhaps do one. One of the things on my list was "I like to paint," immediately followed by, "I can't paint."
I realized that I have all these rules in my head about what's okay and not okay to do:
- It needs to be useful.
- It needs to be "holy."
- Other people need to think it's good.
- Blah blah blah blah blah--you know how the inner critics talk.
Which meant it was time to ignore all the rules, and paint.
When I started thinking about what to paint, my backyard fence came to mind. The fence is about 10 years old, and it's on its last legs.
Here's what the means, practically speaking.
One morning a couple of months back, I was doing my morning treadmill routine in my bedroom when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. I glanced over, and a big black dog was sitting in my bedroom, staring at me.
Background info: my dogs are little fluffy white poodly mixes.
After my initial yelp, I hopped off the treadmill and shooed the (fortunately friendly) big black dog out into the back yard, where it became apparent that he had simply shoved aside part of the fence, and then availed himself of the dog door in the garage for his visit to my home and eventually my bedroom.
So. Clearly, this fence is only marginally doing what it was made to do; its end is nigh; therefore, if I paint it, and it's bad, it won't matter.
When Andy was in college, he was captain of the cross country team. Our college was small, our cross country team was small, and at one meet he said to the team, "Guys, we're gonna get smoked." After that, they called him Captain O, for Captain Optimistic.
This is pretty much how I felt about my painterly endeavors: it's not going to be awesome, but hey. I'm going to show up and do what I want to do anyway.
So I began with a rainbow mandala that turned into a flower.
Painting this rainbow mandala sunflower made me so happy that I didn't want to stop. So then I created a Starry Night homage with a swirly mandala moon, because Starry Night, y'all.
And also because of my favorite part of Dr. Who: "He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty." #lifegoals
Then, over in the corner, a Love-vine and its branches wanted to grow out of the house.
And then there needed to be a heart-winged, rainbow-haloed angel sort of creature, rising from the waves.
I don't know what's coming next.
There's no plan here; it's just me and some paint and some round sponge brushes, dotting out whatever comes to mind.
I'm amazed at how happy this makes me feel, and how much inner space dotting paint on a fence seems to create in my soul.
A little bit of paint, a whole lot of happy.
The soul knows what it needs. I just have to listen.