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Rising Anew

May 23, 2007

This is a drawing I did for Terri as a gift for completing her Ph.D — a phoenix, rising from the flames. I’m always really shy about sharing my larger-scale drawings; I’m more comfortable with small-scale. But, here it is.

Shea and I were talking today about instead of striving for perfection, maybe good enough is good enough. We’re both trying to eat mostly unprocessed food, no wheat, limited dairy, no caffeine, etc., for the next week and a half. It really hasn’t been too bad at all – in fact, I feel much better (if a little tired). But anytime you set up some kind of diet or expectation around food (or anything else), it immediately becomes difficult to maintain the perfection. Oops, I had a cracker… did I fail? I had a sip of Terri’s coffee… does that count?

This year is turning out to be the Be Nice To Myself Year. Continuing that theme, I keep reminding myself that the aim of this 2-week food experiment is not perfection; it’s eating healthier to give my body a break. Establish some new habits. It’s been really exciting to note that I’m eating more than my daily allowance for fruits and vegetables. I’d like to keep that up. If I have a sip of coffee, so what? There isn’t any ‘failure’. Just a trend (with a 2-week kickstart).

So then I think, what about everywhere else in my life? Where else can I work on eliminating ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ and pressuring myself to be/think/act a certain way? I read Jennifer Louden’s blog, and she had a really good entry this week. What if, instead of self-improvement, I just worked on self-acceptance, and, as she puts it, self-development. Of course there are things that I’d like to work on, that I am working on. But instead of thinking that there is something wrong with me that I have to fix, what if it was just making an already great person (me), great in a new way? Enhancing certain areas that I’d like to see sparkle, rather just simply glimmering. What if I came from a place of knowing that I’m perfectly fine just as I am, but if I want to work on some things, that’s fine too?

Which brings me back to this drawing. I look at it, and I can see all kinds of imperfections; things that I wish I’d done better, or had figured out a way to make better somehow. I wish I’d figured out a way to make the fire more fiery, I wish I had done a better job with the wings. But instead, let’s look at what I do like. I love the eye, and the head feathers, and the area before the beak. I love the spiky little feathers on his neck. I love his expression – sort of sad, yet expectant.

I’d like to do another, and another, and another — a whole series of firebirds, each an improvement upon the last, but each beautiful and unique in their own right.

It’s like my search for the perfect career for me. I finally had the wisdom to realize that I just want many careers. I love my current job situation. I’d like to continue working on the art part (both at my job and in my regular life, and possibly as art-for-sale). I’d like to cook. I’d like to continue to look at being an art therapist. I love being a pet-sitter. I’d like to have a little online craft business. I’d like all of it, please.

Related/unrelated, Terri said something the other night that really resonated with me. Libby came to visit over the weekend and mentioned how much she thought art therapy would be a great career for me. I really agree; I think I’d love it. I was wondering why I’d sort of dropped the ball on going back to school for it, even though I love the school I’d picked out, I have almost all the prerequisites, etc. Terri said, “I’d like for you to be able to go and really enjoy being in school, enjoy the process, rather than having to be stressed about it.” I realized she was right. I’m just not really into being stressed right now. I’ve had enough of it. I don’t want to work full-time and go to school part time and never be home. I’d rather the opposite: school full-time, and work (very) part-time. So, rather than feeling hopeless about “when can that impossible dream happen?”, it actually made me feel happy. I’m choosing to not stress myself out. When the time comes that I can go back to school and not feel stressed about everything, I can do that. In the meantime, I’m happy about my choice. I’m not giving up on something, I’m choosing health and well-being.

I’m really noticing that the more I care for myself, the better I feel, the healthier I am, and the more my goals are actually getting met. I have a little wish-list on my desk of material and immaterial things that I’d like. Incredibly, they are getting checked-off, one by one, without my really thinking about it. I was feeling a little out of shape, so I chose the world’s easiest arm workout that I can do in 15 minutes at home, and I just decided to do it every night (unless I forget, which automatically becomes my ‘off’ day). And, I’ve done it! I feel much better about my arms, thank you very much. It’s actually fun to see the progression of how many pushups I can do. I’d like to get a pull-up bar, now. I got my nice digital camera. There were a few other things that I can’t remember right now, that I just noticed I could check off. And the only change I’ve really made is just choosing what feels like self-care.

Right now my current obsession is collecting magazines to make some collages. More on this to come. But again, rather than saying, “I should be drawing, I should paint those canvasses, I should make new jewelry…” I’m saying, “I’d really like to work on these collages right now.” I’ll still get to the other stuff, but the collages are calling to me, so that’s where I’m headed.

Side note to end: be careful what you ask for. I posted on Freecycle that I’d like old magazines, mostly National Geographics, for a collage project. I literally got boxes and boxes and bags… more than I could possibly use. When people hold onto National Geographics, they hold onto them (and then dump them in mass quantities!). I’ve got some from as far back as 1947. They are so interesting!! I’m not sure how much collaging will get done, I might just have to read them instead!

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