Around 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve 2021, three sheets to the wind on top shelf champagne, I wrote a blog post setting the intention for 2022: the year of ‘less.’
I can’t say I defined ‘less’ well in the moment or if I knew as I made the proclamation what exactly I needed less of. Sure, I need to get rid of the items that crowd my basement, but that wasn’t it. I knew I was overwhelmed and exhausted and I had been overwhelmed and exhausted for as long as I can trace back. Whether or not I could put my finger on it, I knew there was “too much” and I was tired of the rat race, tired of the self-imposed struggle, tired of striving to be everything to everyone and be the best. It was time for less.
Around ten a.m. Monday morning near the self checkout at Home Depot, I was face to face, breaths intermingling, with an unprovoked woman no taller than four foot ten inches tall shouting that she was “going to beat [my] fucking ass if [she] see[s] me again,” as no less than thirty customers and employees looked on.
I unfollowed you on Instagram because we haven’t talked in years, are unlikely to talk again, and the pressure of remembering your spouse’s name and where you went on vacation last summer or what you had for dinner last Thursday is more than I can fold into the creases of my pink, pulpous mind.
I unfollowed you because we see each other all the time and I’d rather see the sparkle in your eyes and hear you hold back laughter as you mimic the expressions your daughter made as she tasted a lemon for the first time while I press the thin, plastic rim of a cup of house Pinot Grigio to my smirking bottom lip.
You see, I unfollowed you because I love the way you use your hand to cover your mouth when you laugh and the self-conscious way you run your fingers through your hair when you’re telling a story…but I don’t love the content you create for mass appeal enough to ingest it daily alongside my probiotic-rich, locally-sourced sauerkraut.
With paintbrush in hand and a close-enough colored daub of paint already resting on my palette, I made a few simple adjustments that completely changed how I felt about the painting.
I’ve heard the saying before, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci (though I’m doubtful he was the source) but this was the first time I’ve had the nerve to potentially “mess up” a “completed work.”
I didn’t mess it up, though. The issues I’d had with the work couldn’t be solved alla prima, so I declared the work “good enough,” called it done, let it dry, posted a photo and explanation of the work online, and even hung it on the wall of my studio. Signed, sealed, delivered.
Good enough is the grace I give myself in my paintings. In my weavings, in my DIY projects, halloween costumes, I let “better than before” be my guide. During my magical mornings, I do the same thing every day because I know that who I want to become will be built through the identity that these practices foster. I do yoga not just to flex the impressive hand-balancing pretzel poses I’ve trained my body to do, but also to relax into foundational poses in preparation for putting myself in positions I have not mastered. When I do HIIT training at my local gym, I push myself to lift heavy but I know that if I’m straining or my form is suffering, I will go down to a lighter weight.
Through therapy and self care, I’ve learned “good enough” is a gift of softness to myself. However, this softness, this grace does not extend to my writing.
My biggest aspiration for the longest time has been to be a published author. Yet, I don’t publish a thing–not even on this platform, where I have the freedom to share whatever and whenever I please.
Therein lies the problem.
too much creative freedom is stifling.
This may sound counterintuitive, but I firmly believe that creativity is best expressed within boundaries. I’ve got a great example for this: Robocop.
I’m excited to share with you my latest painting! Over the weekend, we had a quick sneak peek of spring: two sunny, 50°-60°F days! They were gorgeous and I tried to milk every minute outside I could, but I headed to the gym today with an outside temp of 17°F. So I’ll be painting winter scenes like this one for a while longer.
My latest painting is an impressionist landscape of a road nearby my home in Southport, Connecticut. I went looking for inspiration a few days after a snowstorm and saw these two women walking and chatting as they walked along the road next to the elementary school.
I was dismayed to learn of Bob Saget’s passing. I grew up fatherless and his role as Danny Tanner on Full House was important: it showed single parenthood as “normal” and nothing to be ashamed of. For thirty minute segments, he stepped in as a positive father figure where I had none. This feeling was so engrained in me that the first time my husband sat down with our oldest son when he was upset to have a heart-to-heart my first thought was, “Huh, like Danny Tanner,” and my second was, “Oh, like a dad.”
In November 2019, I was processing my childhood traumas and the complicated relationship I have with my parents when I wrote a poem that referenced this. I figured now is as good of a time as ever to share it with others.