So my latest artistic endeavor gave me a little bit of a lesson in patience and remembering it is the process of creating that brings us joy. I am a great example of how teachers can be the most difficult students.
My friends Sue and Dale have a very wonderful tradition of doing crafts after Thanksgiving dinner. Gingerbread houses have become popular over the years as have painting Christmas ornaments. I usually struggle with both projects but have immense amount of fun during the process. This year a very popular new craft was introduced; painting coffee mugs or shot glasses. I opted for the coffee mug knowing that it would get plenty of use.
Things started out well enough. I discovered that I loved a bluish/purple mix of color. Swirly designs were working well for me. I was feeling confident with this paint the mug thing. Then, I tried to add stars by scraping off some paint. It was a total disaster. I reapplied my blue/purple mix and tried again. The result was even worse than the first time. Sigh. The third time I tried adding dots to look like snowflakes. My mug looked like it had the measles. In a total fit of frustration I scrapped off all my paint just as my family announced they were ready to leave for the evening. It would appear that I would leave the party empty handed and defeated by a coffee mug. I was trying my best not to show signs of sulking.
Then, an angel of mercy, in the form of my art teacher niece, Andrea, calmly encouraged me to start again with the blues and purples I had chosen in the beginning. She helped mix some lavender to give the colors I had chosen more dimension. She helped me brush on the color quickly so that I could finish before everyone left. She was not going to let me give up. Andrea knew I wanted a coffee mug and she knew I had it in me to put some paint on the thing. I was very humbled to realize that the very things I try to install in my students everyday as they struggle to learn and master new things, I was struggling with myself. I needed to let go of the perfectionism and enjoy the moment and process of creating. Andrea helped me to relax and enjoy swirling blue and purple paint together. That was the original intent I had lost when I started wanting my mug to look too perfect.
I love my mug. It is a memento of Thanksgiving 2013; a reminder of the joy of mixing blue and purple paint; and the wonder of how at any moment those around us can bring to remembrance what is truly important if we are open to their influence. I encourage you to try creating something outside of your comfort zone this holiday season; cards, wreaths, or even a new recipe. Whatever you decide to try, enjoy the process and celebrate your finished product.