Friday, June 01, 2012

When the right person says the right thing

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My first painting, "Fertile Flowers" inspired by my strong friend, Kirsten

I have been fortunate in many ways, and less fortunate in some others, but to be less general and get to the point before the story gets long, because when I talk, the story gets long, I turn 40 this year and I have finally figured something out that I think is a revelation for me and where I need to go, and I hope you can learn from it too:

Get over it.

Yes, you. Me, everyone, we all hold on to memories and stories about ourselves that we are convinced are true and that we think define us and blah blah blah. There is a time to move on and get a new story. Please allow me to clarify:

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"Marching Soldiers" inspired by my hilarious friend, Gayle who observed the clouds coming to Spokane as soldiers marching in.

One of the ways I have been fortunate, is to allow people in my life to have an effect on me. Twelve years ago, a much respected co-worker told me I was too much. I had been getting attention at work for successfully implementing a project in a short time frame. I was taking vocal lessons with the intention of performing with a band, and I had just started competing in triathlons. The respected co-worker, truly a beacon of light who everyone respected, stopped at my desk one day at lunch and found me fiddling with a 35 mm camera, I was intending to go take photos of nearby trees that caught my eye. She had no malice in her voice, I think just she blurted out exactly what she was thinking, "You are TOO much!"

Those words hit me like a punch from Mike Tyson. And I still hear those words today, but from different voices, and in the look in people's eyes when I reveal some new hobby I am exploring. This hurt me so much that I have minimized my passion, lied to myself, held myself back, and started and stopped so many things that my life has been a meandering journey ever since the day she said that.

Ten years later, I found myself in a haze of postpartum depression, staring at a community college adult learning schedule looking for painting classes.  I needed something, something important to shake up my malaise, to challenge myself, to stop hiding from the fact that I AM A CREATIVE PERSON. I am shouting because the bullshit story I had been telling myself was that I can't draw, I'm not artistic, and that the universe was telling me to stay away from who I really am. Hide yourself, you hideous beast.

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"Autumn Welcome" inspired by Manito Park and my husband who moved to Spokane for me and went to the trouble of loving it here like I do.

And then I met Kathleen Cavendar. In a down economy, one of the top artists in our region was offering painting classes to help pay her expenses. In a few painting lessons Kathleen helped me see that I needed to stop abusing myself with these BS stories I was telling myself. Here is what she said:

"Everything you do, from singing, to writing, to painting, to screen printing, to running, they all inform each other. Writing improves painting, running improves writing, they all come together to inform your creativity."

With those words, I finally became whole. The phrase jack of all trades, master of none, is used to abuse people like me, people who are driven to explore. I appreciate those on the journey to mastery, it is something to marvel at, but I am not one of those. I like to read two books at a time, train in 3 sports, eat different foods, challenge myself in different artistic mediums, drink beer and wine and... I have a love of life!

But all the things I do, they are taking me somewhere.

And it is with love and appreciation for all the wonderful people in my life that I say this:

When someone says something to you that hurts, when the universe tries to knock you down, take the lesson, and then get over it. There are things I cannot tell you, things that hurt me deeply that I won't write down for perpetuity out of respect for the people involved, but trust me when I say: everyone has been knocked down at a critical point in their life. It's time to move on. Let your friends love you, and let those who care a little less for you move on. 

Thank you Kathleen Cavendar, for being amazing. Your heart and creativity are a gift to everyone who meets you. You say that when you tell people you are a musician and a painter, that people only ask about the music. I will always ask about you as a friend.