Posted in Art

Oh My Deer

I’ve taken up painting this week. I’ve never been very good at it, but I decided it would be a fun habit to take up. Having had very limited success with my last free-painting effort, so  I wanted to take a more structured approach. I decided I would start with a paint by number. It would learn some rudimentary techniques, and have all the supplies I needed for the project come in an inexpensive little kit. After all, outfitting a beginner’s art studio is quite an investment. And there are fewer things more disappointing than trying to make yourself enjoy a hobby just because you spent a lot of money on it. (Looking at you—my one week of guitar lessons back in 2002).

So, all the wiser, I started small this time. I thought about Van Gogh’s Starry Night, but then felt quite presumptuous to take on Van Gogh on the first try. So, I thought I’d do something wintry and Christmas themed. I finally settled on a deer in the snow scene that I hated from the beginning. It was either that, or a Thomas Kinkade knockoff that I knew I’d never finish.

I bought a little easel to go with it, and took it home. I set up my easel on my desk, and gasp moved my laptop out of the way. It reminded me of that scene in Toy Story, when Andy threw Woody off the bed, and firmly planted Buzz in his spot. “This is where the spaceship goes,” he said. And from the distance I heard my laptop singing You’ve Got a Friend in Me.

Then I opened the package, and slowly, tentatively started painting. It took two days, and I had a lot of fun. It was definitely tedious at some points, and I had to remind myself that you can’t rush art. The painting never looked like the box, and was definitely a “beginner’s” effort, as you can see for yourself above.  But I had to put all of that aside.

`The whole thing was about being calm, relaxed, and taking your time. These were things I wasn’t entirely used to as a writer. Writing comes quick and easy, and many times I hear the sentences or words in my head before I type them. But, this was all about patience and detail. And stepping back. Painting is unique in that you can’t always tell what you are doing close up, it’s only when you step back you can see what you are doing.

At one point, my deer was in tact, but the snow scene wasn’t working the way it should. So, I just figured I’d forget the numbers and do what I wanted. And it was a lot of fun. I started to blend this color and that, and do this tree this way, and change the color here….And once I did that, I started to understand what the numbers were trying to do in the first place.

I’m sure there are so many spiritual lessons there…trusting God’s plan. Keep doing what is in your hands to do….Patience and diligence will create beauty….But I just don’t feel like analyzing it. Sometimes, a painting is just a painting. Sometimes things are just fun and enjoyable. Some things God gives to us because he loves to bring us joy. And for $7 at Hobby Lobby, it’s not a bad deal.

Posted in Life

Random Thoughts on Being Over 30

Today, I have been thinking about being over thirty. Because, you see, I am. How far over 30, I will leave to your imagination. But, lately I have been really feeling it. Granted, I don’t have children, a marriage, or even my own home. But, I have made certain lifestyle decisions in which these things were the trade-off. I am proud of those decisions and I stand by them.

I’ll admit, sometimes I do look around at my peers and mourn that I don’t a mortgage, an SUV and a house full of preteens. Then I remember I’ve been a professional writer for about ten years, and spent years traveling the country in van full of artists, musicians and dancers, and then I get happy again. Life is full of choices.

My grandma told me that one time. A modest widow who likewise spends her seventies traveling the world with the same artists, musicians and dancers, she once told me, “I could have been a millionaire if I wanted. But, I made choices. I chose my husband, my children, my church, going out to eat, going out for a good time…I chose different things than they did, and I don’t have the things they have. And many of them don’t have the things that I have.” Life is a trade-off. That conversation changed my life. We are all the same under the sun. We all give and take, labor and toil, and in the end, it is only God who settles the final score.

But the measure of success notwithstanding, I have been thinking about what it means to be over thirty. It’s hard to understand if you’re not there. When I was about 20, I had a college roommate that was 27. The school had assigned us to each other in a dorm room, and we hated each other. We kept it civil under steamy silences and avoidance (and the occasional muffled tears in the dark) but I never understood her. She would keep saying things like, “I’m just older,” or “I’m stuck in my ways,” or the difference in age between us, or with the other girls in the dorm. I thought she was full of crap and was just making up excuses to be a bitch.

Then, one day, without warning and provocation, I became 27. And I understood her. I started using those same phrases. There is something that happens to you at the end of your twenties, and especially into your thirties. The way you respond to life changes.

It’s difficult to describe other than to say you are more settled. What you want changes. In your twenties, you want adventure and romance. In your thirties, you want roots and stability. Carrie Bradshaw said, “Your thirties are to learn the hard lessons you didn’t learn in your twenties. And your forties…are to buy the drinks.”

I guess things I didn’t learn in my twenties that I’m learning now…

-God isn’t magic. He doesn’t just say ‘abracadabra,’ and grant your prayers or even things he has promised you. Our ‘destiny,’ can wait as long as it takes for us to grow into our callings. Our destiny is a journey. If you want to be great, you have to put the work into it just like everyone else. God isn’t going to wave a magic wand and make it happen just because you’re you.

-Other people’s lives are just that. Other people’s lives. As much as you may want to help, you can’t fix people, because you’re not them. You don’t think like them, and wouldn’t have made the same decisions that put them there in the first place. And they wouldn’t have made the same choices that put me where I am. In fact, if someone were to try to save me from myself, I would be utterly offended. Life is much simpler when you can let other people manage their own lives.

-Invest in your life. I’m not necessarily talking about money. I’m talking about more like building things for your life. Five years WILL come, regardless of how long that sounds to you right now. Where do you really want to be and how will you get there?

I guess this post doesn’t have much of a point, other than to say these are just the things I have been thinking about today.