Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Painter

I have become thoroughly convinced this week of a theory I’ve had stewing in my head for quite some time. The theory is this: Everyone is a painter. An artist of the human psyche. Let me explain….Everyone you come in contact with gets to know a little about you. You paint them a picture so to speak of what kind of person you are. There are endless ways to accomplish this but, mostly it’s through word and deed.

The question is, what kind of painter are you? Despite the various different types of actual artists, there exists only two kinds of psyche artists: the realist and the abstract.

Here’s the difference between the two. The realist paints things how they are, how things lay exactly. Nothing is distorted or misinterpreted. They therefore paint an honest, precise picture of themselves to others. The abstract on the other hand, is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The abstract painter, for one reason or another, paints things a little unclear. This is done in many ways. More often than not though it’s done by leaving things out. The infamous white lie.

Say for example you are on a diet and you have a diet coach. You tell your coach you are going to the store to buy food. However, you conveniently leave out the fact that you are going to the store to buy a candy bar. Even though the part about you going to the store to buy food is true, the fact that you left pertinent information out makes the entire picture you painted in your diet coach’s head abstract.

What I’m talking about is a little more deep than that of course. What I’m more referring to is when people pretend like things are okay when they truly are not. When we have problems in our lives, be them big or small, but we keep them hidden. I know you know what I’m talking about. For the most part, everyone I’ve met has been an abstract painter at least once in their lives. Not even the most perfect realist is real ALL the time. I don’t believe it possible. But why? Why do we do it? Is it cause we are ashamed? Is it because we know we need help with something but don’t know how to ask? Is it for the simple fact that we don’t like getting other people too involved in our lives? Is it cause we feel like maybe there IS no problem if we don't pay attention to it? I donno.

It’s easy for me to write about this because, unfortunately, I have been on both sides of this fence. All those reasons listed above, and more, are reasons why I’VE been an abstract painter in the past and why I still feel the tendancy to be an abstract painter in the present. I’ve boiled it down to the fact that it must be natural human tendency to not appear weak. What we don’t realize however is that the inability to ASK for help and share the burdens with family, friends, or even professionals... is a weakness in itself.

From my own personal experience I’ve learned that it’s best when I’m a realist. I feel better when I paint things clearly. It forces me to be honest with others, but probably more importantly, it forces me to be honest with myself.

My stepmom once told me that Satan is really good at making small problems grow bigger when they are kept inside our heads. The scriptures talk a lot about sin happening in dark or secret places. I’ve come to see that they aren’t just talking about your physical surroundings. We must recognize that our minds CAN BE those dark and secret places. It’s kinda scary for me to think about because I can’t escape my mind as easily as I can a room or a building. It’s much harder to change a train of thought than it is to find a bright green “EXIT” sign.

The reassurance that we have though is that when we open our minds to others, when we share things that are bothering us or tempting us, it’s like unlocking a door that floods the dark places of your head with light. Bright light! Does that mean that the problem immediately goes away? No. But it’s much easier to deal with when you can see it clear and plain in front of you instead of remaining ambiguous and intangibly lurking in the dark corners of your mind.

Two things I’ve learned and then I’ll end this post for today. One, I have found through personal experience that being an abstract painter is draining, physically and emotionally. It’s not worth the effort at all. And two, at some point and time, your abstract pictures WILL collide with reality because reality is the place we live (most of us anyway) and it’s inescapable. When that happens, how will you feel? How will your loved ones feel about your relationship with them when they see that there was a problem and you didn’t trust them to help?

Here's the challenge for today. If you have something you are struggling with and you know it’s a problem…share it. Find someone you trust. Even if it’s a professional you’ve never met before. Even if you just say it out loud to yourself in the mirror. After all, the very first step to fixing a problem is admitting that there IS one. If things aren’t okay, don’t pretend like they are. For the first time or maybe even the billionth time in your life, take the paintbrush you’ve been given... and paint someone a real picture.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Favortie Winter Memories

The cold wind that has swept through this city leaving a cold chill on the back of every one's neck has been a brutal reminder that winter is just around the corner. The summer days of playing in the hose and swimming pools are gone and I've been debating when would be the safest time to tuck away all my shorts and t-shirts and break out all my long sleeve shirts and jackets from storage. As I reached for a second blanket at 2 o'clock this morning I decided... today is the day.

I'm not sad to say goodbye to summer. Since I migrated from San Diego where the weather is a constant 65 degrees, I've come to love all the places that are home to the 4 seasons. Winter has become my favorite season. I love being out in it but I love even more the bitter cold days when you can crank up the heat inside and snuggle down with a pair of wool socks and a hot cup of cocoa to watch the snow fall.

Every time the weather starts to change like this the feel of the cold and the barren trees remind me of different memories. One of my favorites is waking up as a little girl on cold mornings such as these. I'd drag my sleepy blanket out of bed and slip on a pair of socks. We had hardwood floors in our house (as we always did being the daughter of a hardwood floor layer)and as tired as I was I'd always muster up the energy to get a running start from my bedroom carpet onto the hardwood hallway and sail right into the kitchen. There were three floor heaters in the kitchen and 3 bar stools, one for each of us as my 2 sisters were either already out there or right behind me. We'd place the bar stool over the floor heater, drape the blanket over the bar stool making sure that all edges touched the floor, and climb inside. The cocoon of warmth it created was enough to make me stay there, knees tucked into my chest, smiling until my mom lured me out with something hot for breakfast.

I love thinking about that memory and I'd like to know what some of your favorite winter memories are to get us all excited in anticipation for the first leaf to fall.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Away From My Desk

I'm on vacation visiting my sister and when I went in to pounce on her bed after her hubby got up (as is tradition in our family) she told me the cutest story I had ever heard. She said that one day her little 4 year old girl asked her "How do you make a baby?" and my sister said "Well....daddy helps me."

A few days later when they were ridding in the car she turned to her dad and asked "Daddy.....can you make a pony?"

This'll be my last post for a while. I won't be back at my desk for about 3 weeks.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Given Good

I just finished listening to a book on tape by S. Michael Wilcox called “Receiving Divine Help When Your Prayers Seem Unanswered.” It was given to me by a very dear friend and it touches on so many great topics. Most of it has to do with perspective on life and towards the end he quotes C.S. Lewis. You’ll have to forgive me cause I was too lazy to look up the exact quote on the internet and just typed it out as I heard it on the cd so some of the punctuation and wording might be incorrect. Anyway, C.S. Lewis says…

“You can not in your present state understand eternity. But you can get some likeness of it if you say that both good and evil when they are full-grown become retrospective. All this earthly past will have been heaven to those who are saved and all their life on earth too will then be seen by the damned to have been hell. That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering ‘no future bliss can make up for it.’ Not knowing that heaven once attained will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And they say of some sinful pleasure let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences, little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take in the quality of heaven and the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why at the end of all things when the sun rises here and twilight turns to blackness down there, the blessed will say we have never lived anywhere but in heaven. And the lost will say we were always in hell….and both will be right.”

He talks a lot also about the given good versus the expected good. Everything that comes from God is good. If we ask for bread, he will not give us a stone. Now it might not be the specific KIND of bread we asked for. We may have asked for white and he gave us wheat, but it is still bread and it is still good. Thus the wheat bread is the given good and the white bread is the expected good. I thought of how many times I have become bitter and ungrateful for the given good in my life because it wasn’t what I expected, exactly how I wanted it, or in the time frame I hoped to receive it. I fail to recognize that it is a blessing to have everything exactly the way it is (assuming that you are doing high-quality things with you life).

Some specific examples of common mind frames I could think of to help you with personal application might be men who pray to support their families and are blessed with a different kind of work than they had anticipated. Women who pray for jobs and are blessed with the occupation of motherhood. Young men who pray to serve a fruitful mission and come back having baptized not one, yet planted many unseen seeds. Parents who pray to have children of their own and receive them through adoption. Young children who pray for their parents to stay together yet don’t experience a whole home until they are fathers and mothers of their own families. All are given goods which we should be thankful for yet sometimes we sulk in sorrow because it’s not what we expected. It’s been an eye opening experience for me to try and forget the expected good and try harder to see the given good that God has blessed me with.

I give S. Michael Wilcox 4 stars in my book and would recommend his material to all.