Let me paint you a picture…

I have a small gallery of canvas paintings from various “Paint & Sip” nights growing on my dining room wall.  
You know what I’m talking about right?


You pick the painting online that you and 5 of your friends agree  would be a good one to attempt to copy.  You pick the date and gather at said place…anticipating FUN and a night out with your girlfriends!  Lets be real, this is a modern day quilting circle, but with alcohol, and we all LOVE IT.  And in theory, you order drinks and excitedly sit down for a few hours of some much deserved (and expensive!) creative fellowship.  If all goes well, you’ll have a beautiful, medium sized piece of original art on canvas to take home and wow your family with.

Right?

I proudly bring them home and hang them all in one place, because they don’t match and I obviously don’t take my decorating too seriously.  They look ridiculous, but I think its hilarious and “my gallery” ALWAYS starts conversations.  I have a blooming, swirly tree, a glorious ocean wave breaking at sunset, and my most recent addition: a majestic winter stag standing in falling snow amidst wintry trees.

My sister and I went with some friends last week to this holiday themed paint and sip night.   We settled in with our drinks and got ready to begin.  I looked around before we began, trying to make conversation and jokes with the women around me. ( I drive my sister nuts when we go out in public because I always like to talk to everyone!)

This particular painting venue I hadn’t been to before.  I noticed immediately it was in a nicer part of town, and since I had to go there directly from a full day at work at the gym, I felt a little “under dressed” amidst all the other women who seemed perfectly dressed and accessorized.  It didn’t matter, we were all wearing the same dang paint splattered aprons and managed to break the ice while waiting for the instruction to begin.  It’s not hard for a room full of women to start to talk to each other within minutes and settle into a comfortable vibe with each other.

Pretty soon, all of us ladies were offering up commentary on what was happening on all of our different canvases. By the sounds of things it was getting pretty rough in there. Slowly, I became very aware of all the little nasty, negative things that were being said.  And once it started, it seemed to catch on like a wild fire across the room.

“I can’t mix this color to look right. Yours looks so good, mine is so ugly! Looks like vomit.”

“These trees are terrible. I cant even draw a strait line! I knew I couldn’t do this. I cant even paint trees. If they were real trees we’d have to cut them down.”

“My deer is so fat! He looks so stupid. I just ruined mine!”

“My deer looks anorexic. It doesn’t even look like a deer!! I may as well paint black over this and start over.”

 

You get the idea.

 

The saddest part is, that everything being said was in a very “light hearted” way.

Joking. Not taking it too “seriously”.

And yet…I knew better.

“THIS IS WHAT WE DO TO OURSELVES.” I thought.

“We as women…this is what we do. We dress nice, we show up, we have the best intentions, and then we slowly rip ourselves to shreds with a smile on our face.”

Despite being beautiful, stylish and seemingly put together women…the urge to surrender to that deep self loathing that haunts most of us, showed up and robbed some of us of good memories and $45 dollars.  Some of us were absolutely miserable.  Didn’t seem to be enjoying  the experience at all.  I’m not really sure why this grabbed me so strongly  on this night, but it just seemed  so extreme and so alarming…It made me feel so sad.

It also made me feel grateful that  I no longer live imprisoned to doubt.  I may not yet be where I want to be, yet..but I KNOW that I am able.  Even if it takes me 5 years.  Even if I don’t lose lose one more pound.  I know that I am changed.  If I surrender to that loathing…I don’t stay there for long.

I CAN’T!

If there is one thing that I know FOR SURE about fitness…it’s that it shows you how CAPABLE you are.  Once you learn that you can push yourself beyond what you ever imagined…you feel UNSTOPPABLE.  Not just in the gym, but in LIFE.

The way you start to think about yourself and talk about yourself starts to change.  You start to appreciate yourself and your body.  You start to show kindness to yourself the way you do with your friends.

I had the strongest urge to stand on the table and yell, “COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE!”  Which is ironic because I was most likely still one of the biggest women in the room.  I know that most people would assume by looking at me, that I would be the woman with the least amount of confidence in that room.  Appearances are so deceiving. 

To people who don’t know me or where I’ve started from,  I’m just a funny and fat lady.   They don’t know what I can lift, or how long I can sprint, or how many burpees I can do, or how I feel when I’m able to run freely with my kids. They don’t know how hard I’ve fought for the confidence I’ve gained.  And they don’t realize that they can have it too.

I wish all women could tap into that source of strength that is buried deep down within all of our hearts and LIVE THERE.

That strength that we all have that keeps us going when we want to quit.

That will and faith to make things happen when all seems impossible.

That drive that pushes us MAKE IT HAPPEN when our loved ones need us to come through?

That strength, and fierce love that I know burns in the heart of every woman?

There’s enough of that in there for you to spend on yourself too!

In fact, its crucial that we do.

We can’t let the next generation of women who are watching us, see us and hear us do this to ourselves anymore.  We have to stop this cycle.  It’s the same thing that we’ve inherited from our mothers and grandmothers about having our picture taken.  Why do we all cringe and hate having our picture taken?  Like nobody knows what we look like?! We must be in the pictures!! We must DO the things without tearing ourselves down! Why is this so hard for us?! 

I didn’t know I had that love in there for ME until I met her in the gym and saw that she was worthy.  Sometimes I still forget, and I fall into that trap of doubting and loathing…but am so grateful for these kind of reminders in my life to show me how far I’ve come.

It’s just like these dang paintings we’re all paying to make.

You’re not going to get it exactly like someone else’s.  Yours will have its own flair.  Not every line is going to be strait, or every curve just right.   You’re going to mess up, and it might not look the way  you want it to…but it’s beautiful because its yours.

OWN IT GIRL.

(P.S. This must be shared: As in life…when in a room of 57 winter stags, my sister emerged as a brooding and beautiful storm on an ocean.  Her painting has also been pictured here, and proudly hangs in the bottom right of my gallery.) 

 

Artistry

So jealous of your art.

Your music.

Your fashion and style.

Artistry.

Creating.

Beautiful people are everywhere.

Very, everywhere.

I want to join you.

Strumming heartache.

Painting wanting.

Writing courage.

Dancing victory.

Singing regret.

Created for expression, but I’m only good at watching.

So, watch I will and learn how to report what I’ve seen.

What I’ve learned.

What I’ve lost.

What I’ve dreamed.

These are all offerings,

of moments that only exist in our hearts now.

They can never happen again.

There is only today.

So throw open the windows and draw in deep.

The day the Lord has made is yours and free for the taking.

Take it and run like hell.

Like hell is chasing you down and grabbing for your clothes.

Just behind you, with the proof of your failure in its clutches.

Talons of doubts swiping at your back.

Running still.

This will be the chapter of persistence.

And the art it will inspire will be worth the pain.

 

 

 

 

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The tale of the princess and her rocks

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I had an amazing weekend at our women’s retreat. I had meaningful and rich moments with some treasured women in my life. The theme was about being “royal princesses of the King” which at first I thought was cheesy but actually, ended up getting a lot out of it.

Of course, I come home and am finding myself this morning stressed to the max about finances, things that need to get done and the demanding needs of my family. It seems getting away from it all only helps until you have to jump right back in to what you were getting away from. Then the personal battle of choosing to not deal with my stress and anxiety the “same old way” starts all over again.

One of the major highlights of the weekend was in a workshop I was honored to lead with the ladies. I was overwhelmed and blessed by how women put a voice of courage and hope to their own stories with only some river rocks and sharpies. Amazing things can happen when you allow yourself some quiet and creative time. We were given the task to take three rocks and draw pictures or words to symbolize who we have been, who we are today, and who we hope to be.

I pictured mine above showing that I have been someone who felt out of place and like she never really “fit” in anywhere….hiding behind a wall of laughter for safety. Being “the funny” girl had always saved me. Laughing at myself always spared me from being attacked but also kept me from having to face the truth about myself. The next rock shows me today, trying to get a good stance on my fallen walls and rubble. Exposed but REAL. Trying to stand on the truth no matter how scary or ugly. My final rock showing the hope of freedom. I want to be woman who is not bound by the chains that hold me back from being who I’m meant to be. The TRUE me. Not the me I manufacture to fit in.

The “rocks” that were shared amongst the women were REAL and raw and honest. Beautiful. Worthless rocks from my driveway were transformed into invaluable jewels of truth in the hands of royal princesses of the King of Kings.

My prayer is that we would all put them somewhere where we could see them daily as a reminder of where we’ve been and where we are going. Sometimes it’s hard to stay the course but staying where we’ve been is not an option.

“What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the REAL you?”
– Luke 9:25 (MSG
)

Image

#mygirl was the official photographer for my club @anytimefitness_northreno free workout event today...she got some great action shots and video...but this sneaky selfie she took is my fave.  #mybaby #mydaughter❤️ #thosefreckles

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