Physical Struggles are not all Bad

Standard
"Broken" 11x14 mixed media (SOLD); prints available.

“Broken” 11×14 mixed media (SOLD); prints available.

Yeah, I’m slowly getting better after having surgery, but I’ve gotten way behind on my blogs and my artwork. My house is in a sad state of affairs because I can’t lift, bend, or even bathe yet. Had the staples taken out yesterday, and now another five days of showers only.

But what’s the alternative? Have surgery or continue feeling crappy because I was too busy to have my stone-filled diseased gall bladder removed? I do know that in a few short weeks, I’ll start reaping the benefits of the surgery and catch up with my other responsibilities. There’s one thing about work. It usually waits for you.

I’ll take a physical struggle any day over one that you can’t see. I learned this from experience. During a difficult marriage I felt like Don Quixote fighting windmills and imaginary demons. One day when we had a deluge of water from a downpour, our basement windows filled with water. The whole family was outside with buckets scooping water out and away from the house.

"Tickles from God" acrylic on canvas

“Tickles from God” acrylic on canvas

While bailing, I felt exhilarated. Here was an enemy I could actually see and I was doing everything in my power to defeat it. Every muscle in my body was engaged. Our family was working as a team. My husband and I were finally on the same side, fighting an enemy that was real. We were drenched when it was over, and we hadn’t succeeded in saving our basement carpet, but we were united around a common purpose.

The struggle invigorated me because:

  1. I had the tools,
  2. I knew what I was up against, and
  3. The outcome didn’t really matter because we all did the best that we could and we did it together.

I’ve had many challenges in my life, but most of them I worked on alone, and I was the benefactor of my efforts. The kitchen floor of our first tiny home was covered with black tiles that were so thickly coated with wax that every scratch and scuff showed. I made it a goal to restore its former beauty.

Each day I’d razor blade one or two tiles, three if my two babies were good. I kept at it doggedly. I made a decision that I didn’t care how long it took. I was more concerned about sticking to my goal and completing the task I had committed to.

"Looking Outward" (old window frame); acrylic on glass/canvas

“Looking Outward” (old window frame); acrylic on glass/canvas

Six months later the floor was done! I cleaned it and gave it a slight sheen. They looked like brand new tiles. This struggle not only gave me a better looking floor, but a sense of accomplishment. I had completed what I set out to do. I was determined. I knew that if I could do this floor, I could do anything I set my mind to.

In this way, I taught myself how to sew clothes for me and my children, make quilts, sew wall art, crochet, knit, cook, make bread and doughnuts, learn how to can fruits and vegetables, etc.

Over the years I followed this same “modus operandi.” I became tenacious to a fault. Sometimes I’d forge ahead even though it became obvious my efforts weren’t reaping what I’d hoped. Learning how to stop something that isn’t working is just as important as sticking to a goal and seeing it through. Once you determine when a project or a goal must be revisited, analyzed or changed you save valuable time and energy.

Your efforts must be guided and focused. What you learn from your failures and mistakes is just as important as what you glean from your successes. You have to figure out what struggles are worth it and which ones are not.

Less is Sometimes More, and More is sometimes Letting Go

Standard
blending-in-carol-allen-anfinsen

“Blending In” 11 x 14 acrylic in barn wood frame (see how the feathers replicate the petals?)

I’ve always been a recluse. Even when forced into the outside world by opportunity and obligation, I always returned quickly to the comforts and safety of home.

Of course, in order to write and paint adequate space and uninterrupted quiet are required, and that’s not always easy to find.  Most of us deal with what we have, whether it’s a house full of kids, a noisy or talkative husband, or the constant ringing of the telephone. Today, robocalls burst our imaginative bubbles with irritating pauses, eager politicians, scammers or thick-headed salesmen.

First Daffodil

“First Daffodil” acrylic on canvas

There’s never going to be a perfect time or place. Deal with it! You either ignore the phone, unplug it, insist on solitude, at least some of the time, and get off your rear end and create that novel or masterpiece.

I’ve spent my whole life catering to other people’s needs; and yet I still feel selfish, even now, when I do the things I love or want to do. I shame myself into believing:

  • I’m too old
  • It’s a waste of time
  • I’m not Van Gogh or Renoir
  • I should be cleaning my house
  • I should cook more often
  • Why can’t I be like “other women?”
  • Why do I always have to create something?
  • I’m getting a hump from sitting at my computer
  • My fingers are starting to cramp
  • I can barely hold a paint brush
  • By the time I finish my chores, I’m too tired to create

And on and on we go, making excuses, putting ourselves down, and blaming others for not being able to fulfill our own needs. Whine, whine, and whine! We all do it. Every day!

"With These Hands -- Wonder" oil on canvas

“With These Hands — Wonder” oil on canvas

Recently I heard a T.V. commentator repeat what Dr. Phil had once said: “Why do you always settle for less?”

Indeed! Why do you think you’re not worth success? Why do you either marry or choose friends who are ill suited for you and who don’t live up to your expectations? Some may even go so far as to say: “friends who are beneath you, at least in compatibility.”

Don’t get me wrong, all people are of value, at least in God’s eyes. But that doesn’t mean you have to date them or marry them. How many times in the past have you “settled for less” when you could have had more?

Prisons and mental institutions are filled with people who have low self-esteems. Sad people who believe that this is all they deserve. And, of course, that’s all that they get.

beach-buddies-ii-carol-allen-anfinsen2

“Beach Buddies” acrylic on canvas

Perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board. The adage: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question that can be asked over and over again. As long as we have breath to ask the question, we should keep adjusting our goals and our dreams for as long as we live.

Too often we end up focusing on the end of our life and see time running out. Wake up, my friend! “Life is eternal.” You do not close your eyes in death and “go out” like a burnt out flame. You do not cease to exist. Once you realize this, the possibilities are endless.

The essence of what you are is inside of you. Everything you need to live fully and richly resides within your mind and heart. Your job is to find it and hold onto it with every fiber of your being. You are magnificent. Once you discover your divine potential nothing can stop you!