About a month ago, I attached an end date to what was otherwise a very loose plan. I created a fabulous planner that contained every action that needed to be taken, every call that needed to be made, every item that needed to be purchased and every backup plan that may need to be called upon along the road to this launch day.
At this point I’d like to point out that this particular end date has not yet arrived, and also that this little piece of writing is not part of that well made plan.
My meticulous plan consisted of many sub-deadlines on the way to the big day. A series of little targets, which would ensure my arrow was properly aligned all the way to the big bullseye. A few of these I hit smack in the centre. What a winner, what a professional, what an effective human being. Obviously, some of these targets I missed by a gaping margin…actually yesterday.
At the end of what I’d imagined should have been an ecstatic week of flowing creativity, I found myself a fair way short of where I’d wanted to be, and feeling like a big old dud. This deadline was measured by paintings completed, so for an artist, just I little bit important. To be honest I’d been feeling pretty dud-like all week. Tired, heavy, encumbered, not sick but bleh (pronounced with a scowl and the tongue hanging out). I’d been painting like a bat out of hell and that part was going beautifully. I was productive and flowing while I had a brush in my hand but most other minutes of the day were flat and caveworthy (another story for another day).
And yet here I am, Monday morning. I’m not stressed, and what’s new and unusual is that I’m not beating myself over the head with my unfinished canvases or stabbing myself in the ear with the pointy end of the paint brush. I’m not feeling hopeless, or useless, or stupid. I don’t feel like a cheeseburger, or watching daytime tv. I don’t feel at all like quitting, despite the steep road in front of me. All this feels very unusual, and very powerful too. I feel like getting on with it. I feel like putting my head down and keeping on keeping on. I feel like looking at the calendar and deciding on a realistic timeframe in which to do what needs to be done.
So I didn’t get the work done this week, but it may not have been my lack of productivity, lack of commitment, tendency for distraction, inability to say no to other things, my family that insists on eating dinner every single damned night, or suppliers that deliver things a long time after they’re promised. Maybe the cause was that the deadline was defective right from the outset. Maybe meeting my expectations would have required a lesser quality of work. Worth it for a tick on my planner? No way. Fulfilling and rewarding? Nup. Maybe I just didn’t allow enough time in my perfect plan. Of the many ways there are of looking at it, this is the perspective I’m choosing. It’s kinder, and it lets my mindset remain productive, not destructive. There is no one true perspective. Any perspective becomes your truth if you believe it, buy in. So I’m choosing the self-lovin’ one. Why wouldn’t I? (except I usually don’t)
So today, without judgement, I work. I mother. I wife. I may even friend. I paint, and exercise, and meditate, and eat, and do the school run, and play with the dog, and endure the swimming lessons, and make dinner. Not in that order. I get on with doing all that I need to do. And today I do it with my inner heroine in charge. Onwards and upwards me…and sidewards, and upside downwards. Perspective
ps. Watch this space when I am actually finished. It’s going to be gorgeous.
Long long ago, my mum wandered into the studio and saw something she liked. That wouldn't seem so unusual, she is my mum after all. One may assume that being her daughter, she loves everything I do, but she doesn't.
Nor would anyone, surely.
But on this particular day long ago, she did. The two paintings she liked, and wanted, were just little experiments that had gone awry (as experiments happily can). They were paintings of the type that lean, face to the wall, in hiding, waiting to be painted over some day with the next experimental whim. Nothing that I even intended finishing, let alone allowing them onto someone else'e wall with my name squiggled into the corner. But Mum wanted them, and I said "Mmm maybe, ok, they're not finished, I need to just... when they' re done, I don't know, maybe next year?"
I meant No way. Never. How embarrassment.
A couple of house moves ago they were packed into boxes and somehow ended up in my parent's garage. Mum, being mum, unpacks boxes and found them, and reminded me of my half-semi-sort of promise to finish them for her. I entered her garage the next time I visited, with dread. I thought I was rid of those things. I had the same level of enthusiasm as you might have re-heating last Wednesday's dinner, knowing it wasn't even that good when it was fresh.
But fresh eyes are beautiful things. I'd forgotten what the failed experiment was meant to be and now I could see the colours and the shapes. I could see movement, and delicate plays between the spaces. I couldn't see any of this before of course, because I was busy searching for my amazing, miraculous experiment outcome, which wasn't there.
So the happy ending to this story is that I joyfully finished the paintings and they became something new. They are on Mum's wall now, and she loves them - she always did. She didn't know or care what I was trying to achieve with them in the first instance. She saw at the beginning what I couldn't. These once rejected beauties have now inspired a new little series that I'm working on right now. And I'm in artistic bliss. The other part to this happy ending is that I've changed my attitude to all of those old or unfinished paintings that lean, face to the wall, in my studio. Once libraries of embarrassment, shame, and self-torment, they are now paintings-in-waiting. Maybe started too soon, or ended prematurely, they now wait for my fresh eyes to catch up and see them again, minus their unmet expectations.
They're waiting for my mum. Still my best customer.