Recently, I went to my lovely cousin’s bachelorette party. The plan was twofold and equally lovely: eat and paint. Two things I enjoy. Better yet, it fit into my up-at-6AM-with-my-oatmeal-loving-kids-and-then-to-T-ball-and-softball-and-find-time-to-launder-everybody’s undies schedule. A nice night out, with adults, to celebrate somebody I love very much.
It started at the paint studio, where our teacher (guide, if you will) would show us how to recreate the glistening work of art on the easel beside her–something she’d whipped up earlier that day. Something that probably took her the same amount of effort that it takes for me to make macaroni and cheese.
Our first directive: cover the canvas in Blue. It was instant euphoria, gliding blue paint over a stark white canvas as my sister and I chatted and giggled, singing along to the fun, hip background music. In no time, my canvas was the color of a Grecian rooftop. And all was right in the world.
Next up: clouds. I obliged happily, adding white kisses to my ocean to create an exquisite slate, prepped and ready to greet the dancing flowers that were to join upon the third directive. I was PROUD.
And now! Flowers. Flowers with DIMENSION. Some big, some small. Some outlined, some gathered in clusters. Some, even, to stand alone. Yes! Okay! Here we go.
I dip my brush in white and begin to paint what is in my head–precisely what the inspiring instructor has explained. Except…wait a minute. What is this? What is THIS? This is not the blossoming perfection for which I’ve prepared so expertly a manifestation of Grecian serenity. This, dear reader, is a giant, white, blob.
But WHY? Why was this happening? I assure you, I can draw an elementary flower. I mean, it’s not like sketching the Coliseum, for God’s sake. I draw them for my daughter all the time and she seems to like them. But oh, Lord, these were not flowers. These were cotton-ball shaped hamburger buns of poop. Smooshy creampoops that were completely uninvited by me, and completely covering my masterpiece.
And so I felt the tingle. The tingle that I get when I get nervous or anxious. It starts in my stomach and is complimented by a little hot flash.
But this was a night away from the kids and so I refused to give up, oh no. I sat up straighter and I tried again. Perhaps it’s the brush, I thought, and so I switched it up…Nope, still more poop sandwiches.
So there I was, on the precipice of an all-out panic attack, while the rest of our party was well into painting branches, an entirely NEW directive.
Now, not only was I behind and frustrated, but I’d officially stopped exhaling the paint toxins. I was holding my breath, probably because I did not want to smell the poopburgers that were reproducing like wildfire before my very eyes.
I sent out an S.O.S. wave to the cute little instructor, who came over, took one look at the travesty that was supposed to be my Starry Night, and said bravely, “We got this.”
I handed her my brush and watched–wide-eyed and delirious from toxin poisoning–as she applied her sorcery to a giant blob, transforming it into a darling cluster of little flowers. I stared in disbelief, desperate to learn. And so she kindly took me back, explained that I should be generous with my paint. You know, really glob it on there. She did say, at least, that she liked the placement of my flowers (wasn’t she being kind). And then she ordered me to keep going. So, I did.
And here’s what I learned: I learned that I need a center when I paint. Once I realized that I could paint the flowers like I draw them, I was good. And just like in my writing, I began painting in a way that was comfortable. And so, panic attack avoided, I added my branches and, daringly, a few more flowers. And do you know what happened? When my new best friend, the instructor, came to take a gander at my work…she smiled. She said that she LOVED my painting and that I did a great job of making it MY OWN.
I thanked her and told her that she was a perfect fit for this job, which pleased her. And since we had become very close friends in just sixty minutes, she felt comfortable enough to tell me that she was ten weeks pregnant with her first baby! And then it happened: the painting expert began asking me New Mom questions. Student becomes teacher. A full circle.
The next morning, my little girl comes bouncing upstairs.
“Mommy, did you paint that picture on the counter at your painting class?”
“Yes I did, honey.”
Wide-mouthed, she says, “Mom, it is so beautiful. I just can’t stop staring at it. I can’t believe it!”
Smiling, I soak in the sight of the two curls bouncing across her forehead and tell her that the painting is hers to keep. She is elated.
And I can’t help but think of my sweet instructor girl. Here’s what I wanted to say to her:
“Sweet instructor girl, be excited. This is the type of fulfillment that’s on its way to you right now. Enjoy every moment. And always remember: When life gives you poop, make flowers.”