I Believe In Me

Before clicking on the link below I do feel I need to warn you that it is a little “risque”.

One day last week I stumbled upon the “Pretty Woman” movie on TV.  It had been a long time since I had last seen it so I watched while doing a few things around the house.  When the scene above came on it really grabbed my attention.  At first it was the fact they were in bed and it just caught me off guard but it was the dialogue that made me continue to watch.  Two lines stood out in particular.  “People put you down enough you start to believe it” and the line “The bad stuff is easier to believe”.  It stung me.  I literally said out loud, “oh, wow”.

Reflecting back to my childhood I struggle to remember the compliments.  They were there but I really have to think hard to pull them out of my mind.  The negatives, however, stand out clearly.  I was encouraged to go to college but I sometimes got the feeling that it was for bragging rights to friends not because of my merits.  My art work gained me an occasional “that’s nice” but nothing more.  One time I mentioned entering the school’s beauty pageant (I know you just giggled) but my mom told me I didn’t have a chance with “the way I walked”.  I do want to preface this with the fact that my parents were much older when they had me and had already raised two children before I was a teen.  Their life was much harder.  Discipline meant love and bragging only made a child spoiled and soft.    They never stood in the way of my dreams and when I asked if I could spend a month in London during my Freshman year, after a lot of discussion, they borrowed the money and sent me over the ocean.  I understand were they were coming from now but as a teenage girl it was hard to grasp.  Self-motivation was, however, hard to hold on to so I grabbed the one trait I had I knew I could count on then: stubbornness.

I remember a certain elementary teacher telling me I would never amount to anything; in front of the whole class.  She continued to say how I needed to grow up and some day act like a girl.  I was so embarrassed.  I refused to do math homework from then on even though she would pull me in front of the class and paddle me for not having it (I am so old we still did that).  I was laughed at by another school official when I told him of my plans to attend college after high school.  Sure, I didn’t always apply myself but I always believed I could.

The day came when I graduated high school with a wonderful class rank of 29 out of 99 and my SAT scores were barely average.  No scholarship offers there but I was accepted and attended college anyway.  Time to move away from home.  The year was harsh.  The professors heard my mountain accent and saw my horrible writing and I was again labeled. I can recall my art critiques and the papers I wrote.  I was so far behind on the very first day.   I didn’t know what the others in my class already knew.  The professors would openly call my artwork “crap” and my English professor said he could tell where I was from by my poor writing.  I would get people to proof read for me and sometimes they would just tell me “it might be easier to start over”.  Every now and then I would believe them.  When I got tired of feeling so dumb I would stubborn up and dig in again.  It was a cycle.  One that followed me into my career later as a teacher.

It was much later in life that I finally broke the cycle of stupid.  The first thing was I fell in love and married a man that has never put me down or made me feel less than an intelligent and completely capable woman.  The second thing was when I really and completely got what Christ says about me.  It ended those cycles.  “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”- Psalm 139:14  I don’t think we think about ourselves as part of His works.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”- Ephesians 1:7,8 Lavish means to bestow in generous and extravagant quantities.

So I say stubborn up and believe in you.  Christ does.  He died on a cross believing in you.

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Well, Now That’s A Deep Subject

I have recently returned to some of my routines, one of those being playing in my church’s praise team.  This past service we did a song titled “It Is Well”.  This version is a mix of modern praise and an old hymn.  The course states “through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You.  Through it all, through it all it is well” and  later morphs into the hymn “It is well, with my soul.”  The history of the hymn adds so much to understanding of the newer praise lyrics.  So here is a brief historic reference.

Writer Horatio Stafford suffered through some very difficult circumstances.  He was, at first, a prominent lawyer in the 1860’s.  During that time he invested heavily in real estate in Chicago.  Guess what happened in 1871.  Yep, the Great Fire.  Sending him into financial ruin.  A couple years later after overcoming his capital losses, Stafford decided to take his family over the Atlantic.  A last minute change of plans put him leaving later on a different ship.  The boat his family was on sank killing his four daughters.  His wife alone survived.  It was on his way, as he past where his daughters drowned that he wrote “Ville Du Havre” titled after the boat that sank.  Which would later be known as the hymn “It Is Well”.  I had heard this story many times.  For your infoemation this information is paraphrased from Wikipedia.

I did learn some new information while researching.  He later lost a son to scarlet fever.  After that the church labeled all of these events in his life as “Devine Punishment”.  This spurred him to form a new messianic sect known as “the overcomers”.  They lived in Jerusalem where the group grew to become a major humanitarian organization helping communities recover after World War I.

All of this has sparked me to consider the word “well”.  The noun well is a described as an issue of water from the earth, a pit or sink hole, or an enclosure in a ships hold.  The verb means to rise to the surface and usually flow forth.  The adverb is when someone does something in a successful way, good and proper.  And then there is the adjective that means prosperous, of satisfactory condition.

When Horatio Stafford themed his song with the term “well”.  I am sure he didn’t mean the noun, well.  Although it is fun to insert sink hole instead of well into conversations.  I am pretty sure he was referring to the adjective form.  Oh, he could’ve described his situation as being in a pit or a sink hole but instead he chose to look at it contrary to the norm.  The lyrics don’t say everything will be ok but that it is well with my soul now.  Also, if he would have believed the “churches” Devine Punishment theory I don’t think his soul would have felt so well.

Normal Is As Normal Does

A friend of mine the other day, when expressing his condolences, ask me if everything was back to normal.  I believe he was referring to my schedule, that had been difficult during my Dads illness, but I took it to mean my life in general.  I replied, “no, what is normal?  I have to make a new normal.” There are always changes when loosing someone close to you. Changes that are not a part of normal life for the individual, aka…me.

The day before my coworkers and I had a workshop on trauma and grief. The expert spoke about how grief is always with you and that you never heal.  Correct or not I can’t view my loss that way.  I believe it is a wound.  Some wounds are worse than others and take varying amounts of time to heal.  These particular wounds nearly always leave scars.  Some are visible constantly some are not.  Some wounds cause us to make large life changes and adaptations because of the injury that caused them.  These scars also make us even more unique.  They are signs of our life battles, our experiences, our journey down a difficult path.  They give us empathy, compassion, and they connect us.

It reminds me of an art piece I started about 6 weeks ago. It is a colored pencil drawing on  black illustration board.  The subject is just a bunch of green pipes.  I just keep adding pipes and adding pipes.  It kind of remind of the Microsoft Windows Screensaver.  When finished the board will be full of them connecting and changing directions constantly over the entire surface.  Reminds me of our day to day lives. How people are constantly added and are daily interacting. Some connect while others just pass through.

Take a good look at others. Look at their scars. They are not flaws or defects in beauty but evidence of a life lived.

No Rest For The Weary

Time to get back at it.  No rest for the weary they say.  Who every that is I would like to slap them.  Why can’t the weary rest?  Is it because weary people just don’t rest, hence why they are weary?  Just a random thought.  It seems I am always tired but I am one of those that chooses not to rest.  There is always so much to accomplish.  Life is too short to do nothing.

So, with that, I started back on the second guitar in the “Courageous Freedom” series.  I sanded down the body a few weeks ago and this week started working on putting different inlays in the neck.  I debated on not changing them but once I got it in my head that I wanted stars instead of the usual dots I just couldn’t let it go.  I would have loved to have left it alone and spared myself about 5 hours of work but that would not have satisfied me.  It would have glared at me each time I saw it wondering “what if”.  I am withholding what the final result is going to look like just to tease you guys.  I will tell you that it is a bass guitar.  My love.

I have not worked on the pipes abstract I started a month ago but it is still on my mind.  I carried it with me for weeks while caring for my Dad but just could not seem to pull it out and work on it.  I could not get my mood right to do the work.  I know art can be a wonderful outlet in times of stress but I couldn’t get to that point.  Now that my life is opening up I want to get back on it.  The struggle is to get caught up on the things that went neglected during my busy season.

Why do I make choices that keep me so overloaded?  Could it be that I want to do more than everyone around me.  No, that’s not it.  I try not to make mental notes about what others are doing.  Could it be that I am afraid to do nothing one day that it will be a habit and I will never achieve anything again?  No, not that either.  How about the need for attention?  Maybe, a little.  I am, after all the third of four siblings and was born to older parents.  Is it where I find my worth?  Man, I hope not!

I can’t completely answer for certain.  I just know that ideas pop into my head all the time and if I don’t get them out it gets crowded.  My husband has, in the past, said he imagined inside my head was like the lottery machine they use on TV to make the number selections.  Ideas bounce around and I randomly select one to do.  It can be exhausting but it is me and I accept that because I am accepted. After all I am beautifully and wonderfully made by my creator.

Legacy

All though my original purpose of blogging was to stay focused on my goals I have drifted all over the place.  Just kind of speaking to where I am in this thing called life.  It is very tricky being transparent but not too personal.  My families privacy is theirs not mine to tell.  However, I would like to tell you about a man that I could never know enough about.

This man I grew up with my whole life but could never deeply understand.  He was a man who loved deeply but didn’t know how to show it.  You see this man knew little of love growing up, or at least little of the nurturing kind.  The family struggled greatly for food and clothing.  The children were on their own young and found their way somehow.  He was caloused and hardened laboring as a young teen.

One day he met a young woman who had the opposite rearing.  Not wealthy but doing ok.  He admired her enough to go to a tent revival just to see her.  She later led him to love and eventually he found love personified in a life with Christ as well.  Together there was a balance, a completeness.  They had a family and weathered the ups and downs together.  They were a unit, whole.

Until one day the man lost his soulmate. He was never complete again.  He did continue as was possible because he was strong and even a bit, a lot, stubborn.  Time passed and he pushed through his lopsided life until it came his time to transition.  The days were numbered and all he wanted was to see his bride and his Lord.  On his last day he spoke to her.  He could be heard introducing her to people and calling her name.  The reunion must have wonderful.

The man left such an impression on everyone that his funeral, with a packed church, changed from a sad ending to a roast of sorts.  Random people stood and told humorous stories of his life.  He was still being the life of the party even in his death.  What a legacy and what an assurance!

I have never liked the whole Rest In Peace phrase so I will just end with; love and be loved on for Eternity, Dad.

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”

Shannon L. Alder

I Found A Masterpiece

As I move more toward a career in art I continue to struggle with the same problem over and over.  What to charge people for my work.  You never know if you should charge by the hour or the personal value or even how much you “need” the money.  I have read lots of articles on this subject but still question myself.  If I am too cheap people may not respect me, after all I am an educated professional.  If I am too expensive I may not make a sale not to mention I love to see people happy.  I am just not a good salesperson.

I also hate selling my originals.  Copies are not hard to part with but what is the true value of an original P H Younger art piece.  How can I part with something so important to me?  All the time, effort, thought and love that goes into each one.  I know every line, mark, and space that I slowly and methodically added.  Each one has its on importance, it’s own purpose.  Leaving out even the smallest spot would make the piece unfinished or incomplete.    The steps of creating them in my head long before they become a visually concrete piece of work can be exhilarating.

I have had some nice offers on the Thorned Guitar but I can’t place a value on it right now.  The joy and challenge of it I still feel so clearly.  It is a part of me.  As it’s creator, I am a part of it.  Like a finger print.

It is with these thoughts I see God as an artist.  The creativity that went into carving the World.  The intricacies and attention to detail amaze me.  I am not talking about the science of how things are put together, which is incredible as well, but the parts of Him that are all over me.  “He knows every hair on my head” because He placed them there.  Just as I  place every mark on my creations.  I am the masterpiece He can’t put a price on.  The artwork that is priceless.

Neigh Saying

It seemed like it took weeks to finally get to Saturday.  I was so excited to have a day at home. It was a lazy morning and I enjoyed every minute of it. However, there were things that had to be done, things that were neglected like my yucky house.  I spent the morning trying to knock out the things I hated doing the most first.  I had only scratched the surface with my new guitar project, figuratively and literally.  It sat in my studio all alone.  I even went to look at it once as a reminder that it was waiting for me to finish.  I quickened my pace, even more eager.  Then it happened.  I had to leave my home to take my son to an event.  Noooooo!  The distraction I was afraid of.  I knew once I went out in public my social skills would kick in and my Saturday would evaporate.

We went and yes, it was a wonderful social engagement.  I was surprised by my ability to stay on a good schedule and return home in a timely manner.  This was probably due to my son not being the social butterfly that I am.  I returned home with time still left in my day.  I was focused. I was ready.  It was time.

I set up the guitar and began to sand.  I was shocked at the layers of this particular one.  I had already used a blow torch to burn the clear coating and most of the paint off.  (Side note:  Sometimes adequate ventilation is still not enough, nausea is a good indicator that a mask should be used as well.)  It was after the paint was nearly sanded off that I realized it had a layer of what appeared to be Masonite.  I would not stop until I had bare wood.  No mater how long it took.  One hour later I was there.  Finally.  I took off my mask, and wiped my glasses to take a more careful look at it.  Awesome beginning.  Then I looked around my garage.  What a mess!  I had completely coated everything, including my dog, with dust.  It was so thick it changed the color of my sons bike and my husbands old car.  What had I done.  I had successfully created another Saturday cleaning project.

I was so focused, so narrowed in my purpose I didn’t see all that was going on around me. Once I got started it was like I had on blinders.  Just like the horses I used to watch on Little House On The Prairie.  I looked up why some horses wore blinders.  I never really gave it a lot of thought before but, evidently horses are considered animals of prey.  That is why their eyes are on the sides of their heads.  So they can see nearly all the way around their body.  Their only blinds spots are right in front of their nose and behind their tail.  Without blinders, young, shy horses can become frightened by the wagon they are pulling and they are used on race horses so that they only focus forward, the finish line.  However, a horse with blinders must be led.  It will not go or turn on its own where it cannot already see.  Some people feel that the use of blinders is cruel and inhumane.  I will not debate this since I lack any substantial knowledge on the subject.  In Russia, they do not use them at all.  Horses there learn not to be shy and become more focused over time.

Why did I just give you a short history lesson about horse blinders?  Well, since you asked.  I had my blinders on Saturday.  All day they kept me working toward my goal.  Not too bad a plan but when I got to that goal they limited me.  They caused me to create another task that will take away more of my precious time.

Do we become dependent on things such as blinders?  Maybe people or excuses?  Becoming shy and limited by a harness.  Sure, being focused during the day will help you get to your goal but be careful.  When you have blinders on, you will not go where you cannot see.  You will not see where you do not go.  And you will easily be led to places you shouldn’t be.

For Real

It is hard to believe I have been blogging since the first Wednesday in January making this my     blog; I had an extra one before the very first one.  The original purpose was just to keep me focused on my goals, an accountability method.   Since then it has become so much more than just that to me. 

I have learned first that I have some pretty amazing friends and family who have not only answered my call for accountability but have been a wealth of encouragement.  They have lifted me up and given me a since of accomplishment.  Some have boasted so that I fear my head will grow.  What a feeling to have people in your life like that.  Each week I can’t wait until Wednesday to post.  Yes, I hate to admit it but I love to be bragged on.  If we are all serious and transparent I would say we all do.  I used to fake modesty but I’m done with fake.

I have learned that I do have something to offer.  I have a lot of experience in my nearly 50 years and have truly lived.  I have experienced true fear in a war bunker, pride in my college graduation, love in my marriage, happiness in the birth of my children, sorrow in the death of parent, confusion in a battling church, loneliness in a bottle and joy in my Jesus.

I have also learned that I will keep learning.  This blog has had me question and explore why I think, feel and do.  A dissection of thoughts and terms and philosophy has me delving into life full on, bringing my art, beliefs and goals into the forefront  of who I am.

Lastly, I now know my challenges and victories are not just mine.  We all now share in them.  I am still challenged by my daunting life schedule that continues to digress as I help my family care for a dying family member.  That and my job is, at times, crowding me. Both leaving me with little time for anything else.  However, in victory I have found a loving and supportive network that amazes me.  That group of family and friends (those lines blurr) have given me the drive to learn how to swim and to finish a five year project in the midst of this.  So I won’t be running a triathlon this spring, it will wait.  After all I am only 49 and a half.  Thanks for reading, encouraging, loving and just being.  See you next week.

Serving some deserving

I know the title for this one is a little corny but it does make you go…humm.  I just got back from a retreat where I had an amazingly great time.  I have been working so hard on my art, my job (I have actually had a lot of snow days off) and my family that I deserved a little R&R.  For those of you not familiar with the term R&R.  It is a military term for rest and relaxation.  I did some therapy shopping and was amazed at all the places that gave me a veterans discount.  My friends kept telling me to take it because I deserved it for my service to our country.  It made me feel important and special.

But what does it really mean to deserve something.  That term has probably served me more negatives then positives in my life.  “Oh, I donate my time playing music at church I deserve this guitar”, “ching”.  (That is the sound of an old fashioned cash register).  “I didn’t get a gift after all I have done I deserve one so I will buy it myself”, ching.  “I ran today so I deserve this chocolate chip cookie” or even “I can have this donut because I am going to run later.”  I have even given myself both a cookie and a donut on the same day for just the one run.  I am thinking this thought processes is not healthy for my finances or my body.

On the flip side the deserving punishment judgement can be equally as dangerous.   A getting what you deserve mentality can be very frustrating.  If you look around too much at what people get compared to what they do you will find yourself confused.  Life doesn’t punish and reward fairly.  I have lever been comfortable when I hear phrases like “Christ died for me when I didn’t deserve it”.  What a guilt laden way to view the cross.  I hate owing anyone anything so I can’t approach my walk with Christ that way.

Don’t get me wrong.  Jesus certainly didn’t deserve to die.  He chose to.  We can’t love and live out of guilt so we need to be very careful how we use the term deserve, especially in our spiritual walk and our walk with others.  Instead of being undeserving maybe we could try to see Him as our martyr and we His soldiers because to Him we are important and special.

DISCLAIMER:  I will try not to consider what I deserve when I price my artwork. I will, however, try not to think too hard about the word when I price my artwork in the future.

Courageous Freedom

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As I journey through this year of self discovery as an artist one of the things I would like to do is to continue with my guitar re-creating.  It would make a great series of pieces. I have chosen the title Courageous Freedom for the series.  I will reveal to you the next guitar will be a bass guitar but the rest is a secret until it is finished.  Hopefully, it will not take the 5 years it took me to build the Thorny Guitar I revealed a couple of weeks ago.  I chose this series title because it is a combination of two of my favorite words.

I posses the greatest respect for those 2 words separately but when you put them together, volumes are written.  I have touched on bravery numerous times in my blogs but it is just that important to me.  Courage is required to take risk, to step out on the mission field, to march into a new career, to get rid of those comfort zones, to make decisions about things you have invested countless hours and money into, to marry, to start a family.  I think you get the picture.  Each day we make same courageous decisions.  Where there is risk there is the opportunity for courage.

It takes courage to create freedom.  Yes, freedom can be created.  I learned that from my time in the military.  We are not born courageous.  We learn it from acts of bravery, from managing fear and from Christ’s empowerment.  When my army reserve unit was activated and sent to Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm I learned really quickly what courage looked like.  I was surrounded by it everyday.  I was pretty scared at times but you move forward.  At night in my tent I would just say God protect me.  After rolling my socks over my boots to keep the scorpions and spiders out I would go to sleep.  I do not remember staying awake or worrying about anything.  I had been gifted with the courage of Christ.

It also takes courage to accept freedom.  Too many people are afraid to move into a life of freedom.  It is much safer and easier to stay in the same restrictive rituals that bind our faith.  I have broken down walls in my own life recently that I had built up for protection because I had been hurt many years ago.  I lacked the courage to allow myself to feel what was outside those stone walls.  They were cold and dark and left me incapable of truly feeling all that Christ had to offer.  Love was a very difficult concept when I was cowering behind that impenetrable barrier.  Those walls shackled me.  I felt little and lived a numbing life.  It took courage to break the walls down and step out into the light.  The love and emotions that hit me at first felt like stepping out into bright light from a dark cave.  I could only describe it as an emotional hangover the next day.  It took along time to manage all that and how to handle all this new freedom.  But I haven’t regretted a second of it.  The passion, love and courage I now have are wonderful friends.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” —Plato