Like millions of mothers my mornings are spent waking up my children, getting them fed, dressed and ready for school. My teenage son does this on his own, but my daughter still needs a lot of help. She has very definite ideas of her world; what she wants, likes and dislikes. Add that to being in kindergarten where the reasoning skills are not yet fully developed and you’ll understand when I say I sometimes have challenging mornings. Lately she has been on this kick where she only wants to wear uniform skirts (no shorts, no pants) with pockets. The only problem with this is that she has one skirt with pockets and eight other typical pleated uniform skirts sans pockets. After about a week of her wanting to wear the same skirt every day, it finally occurred to me to ask her why she needed pockets.
She looked at me thoughtfully and answered a very well-reasoned response. “If Mrs. H. gives me something special during the day I want to have a place to hold my treasure.”
I looked at her just as sincerely and smiled. So many thoughts were running through my head from her sweet little answer.
- How much she adores and admires her teacher. That’s a good thing!
- How likely is it Mrs. H will be handing out special gifts to individual students when she’s doing her best each day to manage 24, five-year-olds?
- How innocent my daughter is to patiently hope and wait for special gifts.
- How the world would be a better place if all adults would hope for — and here’s the key — believe in and expect treasures at any given turn.
I don’t think it’s an accident that our children are innocent and open. I believe we all come into the world this way because the Universe truly is a magical place and we instinctively know it. Life is hard and bad things happen, which makes us more cynical as we age. We shutter our hearts, close off our vulnerability, stay on guard. The consequence is that we wrap ourselves in so much protection that we fail to see the little miracles that can happen at any given moment of any given day. We stop believing that a stranger – or worse, someone we love -will bestow upon us a special unexpected gift.
Having an open heart is something that’s been somewhat challenging for me as I continue to put myself and my work into the world. As an artist, showing your work is the same as showing your heart. Your work is the essence of your thoughts and emotions made manifest in a tangible way; be it a piece of jewelry, an art journal, a canvas, a quilt, an art doll, a handmade book, a scrapbook, etc. I’ve learned over the years that I like some pieces of my work much more than others. (Everyone feels this way!) When I first began my teaching career, I used to hide the pieces I didn’t like in a box, shut tightly and tucked away in a corner of my studio. Then one day as I was packing for an event and getting my jewelry together to sell at the Artist Fair night, I realized I didn’t have enough work to display. I didn’t have time to make anything new because I was down to the wire and the weeks prior had been particularly hectic with our company.
I looked over at the box in the corner and sighed. I hadn’t been in there in months and months. I sat on the floor and started pulling things out. To my surprise, it was like looking at brand new work. The wonky wrap on one necklace that I despised so much after I twisted it actually looked pretty cool. The odd color combination I experimented on one piece later became Pantone’s Color of the Year and was found in the fashion magazines. Other pieces had great components but I could see the design was slightly “off”. I knew it at the time but wasn’t in the head space to fix it. Time gave me what I needed to see with new eyes. I grabbed a handful of pieces, pulled them apart and spent an hour or so re-configuring them into something fresh.
Learning this lesson was an important part of my growth as an artist and educator. Knowing who I am is one thing. Believing in myself another. Truly understanding that my life and my work is fluid and ever evolving and that every piece is “good enough” — fabulous even — was life changing. Today, I try to wear my pocket in my heart. I do my best to keep it open so that when life presents me with treasure, I have a special place to tuck it.
Here’s wishing you an Artful week and a full pocket.