Little Bits in October - Part 1

Now that 31 More Things is over, I wasn’t sure what I wanted for October. I’ve been craving doing more art but I have way too much on my plate at the moment. I find myself overwhelmed a lot more than usual and I don’t feel like I can commit to anything regular.

So I decided to try something out. My goal is to try to do a small piece of art as many days in October as I can. I have a lot of scheduled meetings, driving David to different schools, and a trip to Zurich in October, so we’ll see if this works at all. But I figured even 4-5 pieces is better than the zero I’ll end up with if I don’t even try.

Here are a few I’ve done till now:

(my version of this amazing art!!)

everything is different

still having fun with the fashion-y girls but I am feeling unmotivated in general. not sure if it means anything or that i should just give myself permission to rest more.

here are all the shiny bits.

the quote says:

isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different. -c.s. lewis

There’s nothing that makes this quite as acutely clear as being a mom. I look at the photos of my children and ponder how they got so big so quickly. Just yesterday they were tiny. Day by day, it feels like the change is so small, so incremental, and yet there are these moments where I look at them and they take my breath away. Especially David, sometimes he already looks like the teenager he will soon be. How is it possible that so much has changed without my realizing? How is it that time has passed so quickly?

I also feel like this is such a good reminder for getting up and doing the work daily. Exercising, doing art, eating well, learning a new language, whatever your thing is, doing a little every day amounts to so much. Days pass and you feel like what you do makes such a small difference and like you’re not progressing at all but then, one day, you realize that you can run without feeling out of breath. You’re craving the healthy food and not the chocolate. Ok, maybe that one will never happen, but the point is still valid. Little changes add up. Life changes even while you’re not paying attention and the important thing to realize is that if you’re intentional about the things you do, the choices you make, you will wake up one morning and your life will be exactly what you’ve intended all along.

I don’t know what our lives will be like 10 years from now. David will hopefully be in college and Nathaniel will be almost done with highschool. So many things will happen in the meantime. I have no idea how things will turn out. But I do know that everything will be different. And I know that the change will happen one day at a time. It will seem like nothing at the time.

And I know that all the little, tiny choices I make every moment will end up having a huge impact on what that change looks like. The tiny choices will accumulate.

So here’s to hoping I choose wisely.

Infusing Life with Energy

still having fun with the fashion-y girls. this one is so-so but I still like her more than I liked doing the portraits.

here are all the shiny bits.

the quote says:

everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it. if we are frantic, life will be frantic. if we are peaceful, it will be peaceful.

I’d like to believe this is not true because I am one of those “frantic” people. Or maybe it’s not that I am frantic as much as that I am anxious or worried a lot. I don’t want the energy of the things I do to be filled with worry or rushing or stress. I want life to be peaceful. I want to go through the motions of life in a pace and energy that fills me up instead of depleting me and those around me.

The thing with this particular quote is that, deep in my heart, I believe it to be true. But I have no idea how to actually do it. Becoming peaceful instead of frantic isn’t just a switch. Some days, I can go from here to there, but not as often as I would like. I am also learning that I often feel tender now when I realize how worried I am about things and then it feels sad and not peaceful. So the way, for me, is still a little farther than I’d like but I am walking towards it and taking one step at a time.

At least I know where I’d like to end up.

Must Take the Stairs

After I did the four faces and found myself uninspired, I decided to try something slightly different. So I went back to being inspired by paperfashion. Since this is about getting back into doing something, anything, I figure whatever gets me there is what I should be doing. This makes me happier for now. Her work is always so awe inspiring to me.

and it’s super shiny too

The quote says:

There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.

This is something I seem to have figured out early in my life and I feel that, for the most part, I am very good at taking the stairs. I work hard and hard and hard. When i want something, I never assume it will be easy. Most things aren’t for me. Most things require showing up, doing the work, being tired, resting, showing up, doing the work, feeling like you’ve made no progress but knowing it takes a lot longer, being tired all over again, and resting only to repeat it all over the next day.

Getting thing done is hard. Getting things done well is even harder. And all of the steps in between here and there (where there is somewhere you want to end up, some definition of success for you) are all hard. They are showing up and hating what you’ve done (like i have for this project till today), they are adjusting things, making it different, working at it, getting frustrated, feeling lost, trying more, feeling lost, trying more, coming back, trying even more. It’s about showing up every single day and taking that next step. Having faith that it will eventually get you to the top. And trying to enjoy (or at least appreciate) the process in the meantime.

I feel that most of us are not taught this early on enough. Most of us don’t realize that people work extremely hard to be where they are. Even for those cases where it looks easy, there’s often much more under the surface that you don’t know about. Sometimes the work is physical, sometimes it’s emotional, and sometimes it’s mental. But it’s always there.

So, every time I feel like giving up or complain about why it has to be so hard, I will remember this quote and remind myself that the stairs take time to climb but I will reach the top eventually.

Becoming Wise

I like this girl more than the others. But I still realized that I am just not enjoying drawing these girls. Maybe it’s because I feel I am not good at it. Maybe it just feels bland. I am not sure but either way, I’ve decided to change course a bit so that the project makes me happier. We’ll see if it works.

The quote here says:

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

When I saw this quote, I smiled. Isn’t that the truth?

About ten years ago, I took this class and one of the most profound experiences from the class was the deep realization that I have no ability to change others so if I want my relationship with someone to change, I have to either change myself or I have to walk away from the relationship. This is not to say that the other person will never change. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t. But I am not the one who gets to control this.

All I get to do is change myself. And that’s hard enough as is. Actually, this is exactly why I used to find myself wishing for the other person to change. Because it’s so hard to change myself. Because it’s uncomfortable. Because it feels wrong. It’s easy to think that there’s nothing wrong with me and that the fault lies with the other person. Why should I have to change?

But here’s what I learned: if I want to be in a friendship with that person, then it’s on me to make the effort to create the kind of relationship I want. I don’t get to choose to be friends with her and then also want her to completely change who she is to fit my needs. The part where I have choice is whether I want her in my life. And I get to have choice around how I behave, how I feel, what I do.

And that’s about it.

These rules apply to husbands, children, parents, siblings, too. All I get to change is me.

And that’s plenty of work right there.

Not Thunder

Today’s girl was still a challenge to make. A bit better but really very, very far from where I wish I were. Alas we keep going.

As for today’s quote, it says:

Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder. -rumi

Oh man.

This is something I really struggle with. And something I desperately want to be better at. I come from a family of screamers. Even though I make a resolution to not scream multiple times a day, I break it almost as often. I just can’t seem to control myself when the moment comes. Especially when David knows exactly what to say to step on every single one of my triggers. Especially when his words sting and bring me back to my childhood years.

Especially when I am back to being the vulnerable, lonely, hurt person who lives inside me.

I noticed that most of the time when I am yelling, it’s about me. It’s about how I feel. Not about the other person in any way. I feel disrespected, entitled, sad, and hurt in that order. And those feelings are uncomfortable so instead of sitting with them or swallowing them, I just scream. It allows me to discharge the discomfort.

And even though I intellectually know all this, it doesn’t bring me any closer to emotionally being able to control myself in the moment it’s happening. In that moment, I am back to my ten year old self and I just want to have a tantrum.

After it’s over, my 41-year-old self wallows in the shame of it all and apologizes and swears not to do it again.

Until the next time.

I just hope that each of these times is a practice for me to get a tiny bit better. So that eventually there will be this one magical day where I sit with the discomfort and let is wash over me instead of taking it out on those I love.

I will keep trying and wishing and hoping and trying until that moment comes.

Holding on and Letting Go

Full disclosure: not only am i not crazy about today’s girl, I actually had to correct her right eye because it was way too high and just crooked. It bothered me so much, I couldn’t help it. Even with that, I am not crazy about her. But I am keeping it. As I mentioned yesterday, it all counts. Little by little, I’ll get there. Wherever “there” is.

As for today’s quote, it says:

Life is a balance of holding on and letting go. -rumi

Nothing teaches me the truth of this better than having kids. Especially as they get older. My son has some big milestones coming up and I am constantly battling between how much I hold on and how much I let go. And I can never seem to decide what the perfect balance is. I am constantly second guessing myself. Constantly putting pressure on myself to get it “right.”

And, of course, I have no idea what “right” looks like.

I just often feel that I’ll know it when I see it. Or when I feel it. But I never feel it. I always feel like I am tipped over to one side or another. Often times, I’m holding on too tight, trying to control the situation. I was like this for myself, in my own life, too. But it’s so much harder for my kids. I want to be able to control the outcome so much more for them because I feel such a strong desire to protect them from grief and hardship. Even as I know that those are the experiences that make us grow. They are the roads we must walk on to get to appreciate our journeys. They help us become who we are. I know these tougher moments are a necessary part of life.

But it’s still hard.

I spent much of this morning trying to navigate this dichotomy. And I have no idea how to do it. Most days, I just end up being exhausted and hope that I do better the next day.

A Second Chance

In May of 2014, I did a project where I painted faces each day and then coupled those paintings with some quotes I liked. I then took the opportunity to write about the quote. This gave me an excuse to do art every day and to write here everyday; i miss both of these things dearly.

So I’ve decided that for the month of September, I will try to draw a quick girl and watercolor her everyday and couple her with quotes again. The drawings will be quick and imperfect and likely I will not like many of them. But the goal is to start flexing my drawing muscles again. I miss drawing. I miss watercolors. I miss doing creative things. September promises to be stressful so I am not sure if it will work out. But I will try.

We have to start somewhere, right?

So, for today, I drew this girl. I drew her in about 10 minutes and then spent the next 15 tinkering with her because I didn’t like her. I considered ripping the page about 11 times but wouldn’t let myself do it. The fact is, I make more bad art than I make good ones. I never really studied art. I forget how to do it right. I don’t have the instincts. I don’t like most of what I make. But I still keep trying. I like doing it. I like trying. And when, in one in a million chance, it looks like what I intended, it feels like my birthday and Christmas rolled into one. So I keep trying and I will keep trying. Nothing is wasted.

Today’s quote says:

You decide every moment of every day, who you are and what you believe in. You get a second chance, every second.

I believe this with my whole heart. It is never too late to be who you want to be. I believe all humans mess up. None of us are perfect. But I also believe that every moment is a new opportunity to do better. When I yell, I apologize and start over. When I make unhealthy choices, I try again for the next meal. I think there’s so much grace in giving yourself a second chance. So much kindness in allowing yourself to start over.

But it’s more than that. If I don’t believe that I get a second chance every second, then I give up. Which then gives me an excuse to continue the behavior that’s out of alignment with my values. I am constantly going against them and there’s nothing quite as draining as stepping on one’s values. Then I feel bad, then I do more of it, then I feel really bad, I feel ashamed, and that causes me to behave even more badly, and this story never ends well. Yet, if I believe in second chances, every second, any moment is an opportunity for me to course correct. Any moment is an opportunity to step into who I am. I don’t have to wait till tomorrow or monday or the beginning of the month. I can do it right now. I can be who I want to be. That’s so liberating. So empowering.

And as I grow older, I realize that I am allowed to change my mind, too. I am allowed to change my mind about what matters. About who I wish to be. Life is short, and I am only bound by the rules I create for myself. I get to choose what matters most to me and then I get to choose to be that person. When I mess up (which I always do), I get to get up, dust myself off, apologize, give myself grace, and then try all over again.

And, if I am lucky, most days, I do more good than bad. But, either way, I get a second chance, every second.

And thank goodness for that.

Everyday Brave – Week 25

Here’s this week’s layout:

The left side here is a door. It’s a bit crooked:

And the right side is a pair of sandals.

And there we are. Here’s another week of practicing courage.

Fifty-two stamps is a project for 2015. You can read more about it here.

You Choose - Week 26

It is not what you look at, it is what you see. This one is about being alive. Having fun. Seeing what’s possible.

shiny bits:

You Choose is a project for 2015. You can read more about it here.

Note to Self – Week 28

This week’s page was for One Little Word. The prompt was about music but I decided to do mottos for myself instead. These are all notes to self. They are things I want to remember and use as mantras for myself.

Note to Self is a project for 2015. You can read more about it here.

Everyday Brave - Week 24

Here’s this week’s layout:

The left side here is a teapot, I don’t like how it turned out but here we are:

And the right side a crooked teacup so here we are:

And there we are. Here’s another week of practicing courage.

Fifty-two stamps is a project for 2015. You can read more about it here.