I used to have a necklace that said LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH and wore it all through college and art school. Those were the principles I lived my life by. When I had kids I decided I needed a new set of rules. Work hard. Very hard. Do what you have to whether you like it or not. And I did. For many years. Not so much living, loving and laughing. Things got really bad.
This week I am painting 4 paintings that will pay my gas bill and car payment. Now that’s living, loving and laughing! It seems when I listen to God and he tells me to trust, have patience, and be at peace, things fall into place. Trust and patience don’t come so easily to me – and peace??? Forget it! But lately, it really does work. Trust, patience and peace seem to be the new theme in my life. And I like how it feels.
Live, love, laugh…where is that neckalce, it is high time I brought it out again! It goes well with my 3 new principles, don’t you think?
I haven’t saved every meaningful scrap of paper from my childhood, I don’t have a scrapbook, and I was been pretty much a slacker in the baby book department. Sentamentality is just not a gift I have. I try to live in the moment and really “be” as much as possible. I carry around a sketchpad with me 24-7 and sketch it or write it down when I can. But enter Norton. He was the stuffed animal I got for Christmas when I was in second grade. I am not sure if he is a bear or just some strange made-up creature. He never quite made sense or fit in with the other animals and maybe I related to him or maybe I just decided to make him “the one” The only stuffed animal that made it with me to college and to marriage. I kept him because this bear/creature has my tear stains on it. He has been told every sad sorrowful story a poor chubby little girl can have. He was there for me for everything. So when my son claimed him as his, renamed him “Normie” because Norton was too formal, I was ok with it. Mostly because I figured withing a week or so Noah would be over him like so many other forgotten toys. That was two years ago. The other day I found Noah telling Normie his woeful story as to why he was in time out, sniffling the whole story. It just about burst my heart. But tonite….tonite I went to check on my babies and I saw this. And I thanked God for letting me have this moment. I sat and watched my son and just felt the love. Noah and Normie, a whole new love.
I can’t believe it has been 7 years since I had my son. I was 23 and knew NOTHING! I had never even changed a diaper. I remember, being absolutely terrified and absolutely in love at the same time. I stayed awake all night just holding him, watching him sleep realizing this was our last night alone, just the two of us. For 9 months I got to have him all to myself feeling every movement he made. I loved it best when he got the hiccups! That last night alone I promised him I would be the best mother I could and show him that even when life sends you in directions you never expected to go in a million years, that you could still be anything and do anything you wanted. Becoming a mom made me the person I am today. I see with eyes I would never have seen with before. My children give me a courage to do the the things I am most scared of. The first gallery I ever walked into to try to put work in, I had artwork on one hip and my 10 month old on the other hip. The owner accepted all 9 of my pieces. I was sure she was just being nice to a young mother, but when I got home (still shaking from “putting myself out there”) she called to say she had already sold a piece. I ended up selling all 9 in the next few months. I know I would have never been able to walk in that gallery back then if I wasn’t clinging for dear life to my baby. I remembered my promise to him and did what I said I would do despite the paralyzing fear of rejection. Happy birthday Noah, and thank you for all that you have given me. I love you.
Today is the last day I will be home and working with my kids. Tomorrow is my husband’s day off and Monday school begins. Yesterday they drove all over Atlanta with me dropping off paintings and picking up graphic design jobs. I think they are very excited to get away from Mommy and her work. That was confirmed when I registered them yesterday for kindergarten and second grade and I swear those kids positively skipped on air down the school halls.
I love my kid’s school. It is the kind of school I went to. So home-y and comforting. Everything so miniature, built for their needs. I feel safe when I walk in those halls. It reminds me of how safe I felt at that age. Knowing mom and dad took care of me. I hope my kids feel that safe. I hope they have no idea how insecure I can feel at times. This past year was the first year I ever actually called myself an artist. I could always hide behind “Graphic Designer” but “Artist” seemed so naked somehow.
I first realized my love for drawing at 4. I painted my first oil painting at 15 and was so in love with the feel of paint on canvas it was intoxicating. I would paint late into the night until my hands cramped and I got dizzy fromthe fumes. But call myself an artist??? I still sign my canvases on the back. Yesterday the woman I did two paintings for MADE me sign it on the front. It was uncomfortable signing my name. I think it is something about us artists. We have this overwhelming desire to show the world the beauty we know we can create, but then get frightened when someone comes to look.
Last April I volunteered for career day. It has been the highlight of my artistic career so far. I wore my paint stained overalls, carried around my easel that I was given for my 16th birthday (and still use everyday) and told every single one of those kids in 7 different classes that they were an artist if they just thought they were. After I spoke for about 20 minutes and drew for them, I asked who in the class was an artist. Every single kid raised their hand. I hope they remember that forever. It took me 26 years to get it.
So here I sit, up since 5am. I am supposed to be painting, but for some reason I have a need to make this blog. Why? I am not sure. Why not? I suppose because I have been doing this painting thing for a year now and it has been such an amazing ride. I want to share. I think this fall is going to be really amazing. Maybe not. Who knows, but a girl can hope and dream, right?
It is now 7:45 am and I really need to get and paint. My kids just woke up, my husband is already at work. I just gave Cap’n Crunch (it does not taste as good as you remember) to my son and sliced up strawberries to my daughter. They are as different as night and day. They are amazing-I know, I am their mom, but really, they rock when they are not making me crazy mom. This past year I have shown them that with lots of hard work and not alot of sleep you can live your dreams. That is why I do all this. To show my kids you can do anything in the world you want to do. Even if you want to be the crazy lady that paints dogs all day long. And maybe that is what I want to share with you.