Sitting at a coffee shop, my legs dangle off a stool as I watch the downtown Cincinnati lunch crowd pass by. It has been awhile since I've sat down to write — I held off on a blog post the last few weeks because I was feeling overwhelmed with life. Normally, skipping out on self-created assignments would have turned me into an anxious maniac, but I let it be okay this time. I'm learning to be gentle on myself.
A lot has changed in the matter of only weeks. For one, I've entered a new decade of being Becky the human. I am now thirty years old! Unexpectedly, I didn't freak out about this age change. I'm actually quite excited — I feel more sure of myself, ready to let go of an old season and bid farewell to my twenties. Secondly, I turned into a crazy, painting, zombie-eyed machine. I participated in an art sale this past weekend and had been madly creating inventory: building frames, putting the finishing touches on old pieces, forgetting to shower, and YET I kept creating more work for myself by starting new pieces. I couldn't help it — I blame my hands, they do what they want.
All of this recent devoted attention to painting brought about a lot of self-reflection. I haven't had as much time to surf Pinterest, my favorite blogs, Instagram, Facebook, or even use the computer much in general. In order to paint I had to let my thoughts go. I had to tune into the place that let's me see things differently — where a tree is not a tree, but rather only shapes, lines, angles, points where two lines meet. I see what is, not what I think is. This also allows me to let go of what I think I am and find out what I really enjoy, the things that make me joyful, who I am — not who I think I am or what I romanticize about being.
I often look to others for inspiration, but I have to be careful about not letting inspiration become idolization. I will see a female on Instagram who seems to have it all put together, and by that I mean succeeding at what they do best. That idea is inspiring, but I often get lost at letting that idea be the inspiration and find myself trying to "copy" what they are. If she is doing it well and she dresses like this, then I will dress like that too. If she only wears whites and creams, then I will discard all of my colored clothing. If she eats this type of food, well then I better eat like that too. It's really quite ridiculous when I look at it from an outsider's viewpoint, but in the moment, it is really easy to get caught up in. I forget that what I am inspired by is that they are being the best versions of themselves, and slowly try to create the exact life they have. But the truth is, I will never be as good as them at being them, because I'm not them! But what if (now here's a wild idea), I just tried to be the best version of myself! Wow, what a realization, I know. It must be my thirty year old wisdom. While I still do enjoy looking and reading about other people's lives, creativity, and thoughts, I'm reminding myself that all I can do is be myself. Appreciation can stand on it's own.
So as I'm held captive by a painting, I see things that I was blind to before — the simplicity in the white snow brush strokes, subtle blues that bring about faded mountain tops, reflections that move as if fingers ran through an image - and slowly the facades start to fall away. I'm left with only myself.