Row Boat Man

In the Spring of 1976, I told my dad that I was thinking about quitting school. I was not asking permission. Back then, a 16 year old in Illinois could quit without parental consent, no signature required. My older sister quit every other day. Okay, just once a week, on average. She’d stomp into the school office on her way out the door, slam her books down on the counter and declare, “I quit!” And, on the very next day, mother would march her right back into the office to re-enroll.

Sis was emotional, so her quits were always in reaction to something, a tiff with a teacher or whatever. Mine was different. My quit would be an action, not a reaction. Much consideration needed to go into my decision, which is why I wanted to talk my dad. It never occurred to me that my parents may object. But, like I said, I wasn’t asking.

He did not tell me no. Dad never tried to control me, at least not in my teen years. I didn’t even have a curfew. I was expected to be courteous, to let my mother know if I would be home for supper, to call if I was going to be out late. At the most, he’d say, “think about what you’re doing.”

Oh, he did firmly ask me to stop trying to sign my sister up for the Army. That’s about as close as I can recall of him ever telling me no on anything, and that was just because they were getting tired of recruiters coming to the house. Yeah, every time my sister ticked me off, I’d fill out one of those military postcards in her name, get her a free pair of socks or whatever incentive was offered for requesting more information. Do they still do that? Maybe it was a 70’s thing. Those postcards were in about every scholastic magazine.

When I told dad that I was thinking of just not going back the next year, he knew it was my decision. I would be 16 in July. All he did was ask me why, and then he told me a story about a man in a rowboat.

Yeah, a man in a row boat. This poor sap set out to row his little boat all the way across the ocean. It was a long and perilous journey, months and months at sea. He was almost there, but he didn’t know it because he could not see the shore. Just another day or two, and he’d be there. But, he was tired, so he told himself that it’s too far away, he can’t make it, may as well give up. So, he turned his boat around and rowed all the way back.

It made a lot of sense. I already had 11 years of schooling, so what’s two more? Even if I did not graduate, I’d still have a 12th grade education.

Still, it was my decision. I opted to sign up for Graphic Arts at a vocational school for the next year to give myself a change of pace, with only a half day of High School classes. I was back in regular classes for 12th grade, as we moved to Ohio just before my senior year and Graphic Arts was not an option at the vocational school there. And yes, I graduated at age 17.

This is on my mind tonight… not exactly sure why. Maybe it explains why I don’t give up so easy, or why I hang in there far longer than I should at times. If it is a relationship, I don’t want to start over with someone new. If it’s a goal or a project, then it’s a “what if I’m almost there?” Maybe I’m just lazy. I don’t want to row my boat all the way back across an ocean.

Thanks for reading!

Maybe Tuesday

Okay, there is no maybe about it. Today is Wednesday, but 35 years ago, the 8th of May was on a Tuesday. My daughter was born at 6:05 pm.

My perspective remains shifted. I feel like I’m laying down the under-painting for this, which may very well be, the last phase of my life.

I don’t have time for self-doubt, marginalization, or tamping myself down to play second fiddle for anyone. I’m coming out. This is me… all of me, bold and beautiful, vibrant, sarcastic, intelligent, creative, and caring. Dimming my light will not make yours shine any brighter.

I am not perfect, that’s for damn sure. I will never look or be how or what you, or anyone else, thinks I should. I have physical limitations, live with disability, make minor mistakes, and royally screw up now and then. The thing is, I don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to be me or to do what I want to do. If I’m not “good enough” or come off as “too much” for you, oh well. The next person who tries to put me in a box of their own limited expectations can go bang their self sideways. I’ll be in a box soon enough. This is my life. I only got one shot at this… reincarnation buffs might argue about that, but who knows? Even if I was here before, this could be my last go. I need to go out with no regrets.

Waxing well means nothing without implementing necessary changes. How do I want to live the rest of my life? What do I want to do?

Make art. I’ve always wanted to live a peaceful, creative life.

For the most part, I have… nothing makes me happier, feel more content, centered, and grounded than making art. At the same time, nothing has made me feel more vulnerable, inadequate, and unsure of myself as showing my art. I’ve always been an artist with a little a, as compared to Artists with a big A… amateur verses professional, real verses fake, a hobbyist. I play with art supplies.

Excuse me, the little birdie in my brain whispers, First Place Mixed Media?

Yes, this leather and copper art bra, donated to be auctioned off for charity at a black tie event that I could not afford to attend, did win first place mixed media. I didn’t even get a ribbon. I was notified by email and, so I was told, there was a card next to it during the month long show.

My automatic response is argue back: one award does not make me an “Award Winning Artist” and don’t say duh… easy count four. Nothing prestigious. Really? Third place cook, too. True on that, used to enter a newspaper’s annual recipe contest years ago, always landed third place in one category or another. And what about… Okay, I get the point. Chapter 12, with a twist.

So, I’m laying my under-painting down. I could tell you what steps I have taken, but action speaks louder than words. When I finish prepping this canvas, I’ll show ya.

Thanks for reading!

May Reality

If you can gleam one thing from a “self-help” book that alters your perspective enough to render a change in how you interact with your own self, you’re doing good.

I’m reading “Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be” by Rachel Hollis. In Chapter 2, The Lie: I’ll Start Tomorrow, she talks about blowing off stuff, not following through with your plans with yourself, breaking promises made to yourself, and how we wouldn’t put up with crap from other people.

It’s true.

If I had a friend who always blew me off, didn’t show up, failed to follow through or rarely keep their word, I would consider them to be unreliable, untrustworthy, irresponsible, etc.

At best, I would let it slide… tell myself that they had good intentions or that’s how they are, people come as is, so if you know how they are, you just know better than to count on them for anything. Once in awhile, they might surprise you by actually doing what they said they’d do.

At worse? Worst case scenario, I’d get tired of it, lose all respect for that person, and have nothing more to do with them.

Here’s what gets me… and it’s a thing many women do. I value being trustworthy and dependable FOR OTHER PEOPLE, not my own self. How many times have I blown off doing what I want to do for me just to be available to do stuff for other people? Postpone my own goals, activities, purchases, wants and desires, whatever because someone else needs something fill-in-the-blank more than I do? We are conditioned, as women, to be caretakers of OTHERS, not our own selves.

Sure, we know that we have to take care of ourselves in order to be able to take care of others, but somehow that gets boiled down to the bare necessity, to get enough rest or whatever. Anything more could be perceived as a self indulgence, which tends to open the can of guilt worms. Who wants to fall into the realm of selfishness?

Perhaps that, in itself, is a lie we tell ourselves.

It’s a harsh reality to realize that if I stepped outside myself and evaluated my friendship with my own self, I might not have anything to do with me. That has to change. I have to start valuing my friendship with myself just as much as I value my friendships with other people. I need to extend the same courtesy to myself that I show to others, give myself the same level of respect and follow through on the intentions I have with and for my own self, be it something I intend to do or whatever.

That change starts now.

Actually, it’s been brewing awhile. On April 24th, I laid everything on the line… told that man exactly how I feel, what I want, and what I need. His response? “Don’t let that woman get to you.” Totally ignored what I want, and absolutely no follow through on what I need to see happen.

That’s okay. I’m woke now.

A shift in perspective alters priorities. Change comes slow, in little ways. It’s pulling yourself off the back burner and lighting a little fire to heat things up. It’s getting out of bed in the morning and heading to the studio with your first cup of coffee. It’s opening the windows of your soul to let a little fresh air rejuvenate your spirit. It’s remembering who you are.

Thanks for reading!