Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Goodbye to the Harlequin Table

I am sad today. I took a table that I painted a few years ago to the ReStore and donated it. This is a small thing, and something I do often, but today it made me cry. More than once.

I am surprised by the depth of this reaction. It's a side table I spent $9.99 on at a thrift store about 3 years ago. I did spend a ton of time working on it. I perfected a whole new technique involving layers of chalk paint glazes. And it is a vintage Henrendon (High end furniture) piece, most likely from the late 60's or early 70's. But that's not it. I have donated a ton of really high end stuff that didn't sell and things I have painted before with nary a second glance, let alone soul tears. 

And yet, this one stung, all the way to the core of me.

As I let my thoughts swirl, I heard things like: 

"But this one told me what it wanted to be." 

"I prayed about whether it was a good buy and felt strongly I should get it. 
So why didn't it sell? Why didn't it ever find a home?" 

"I am so tried of getting all excited about things that never pan out. 3 years, 4 shows 
and no one wanted it when I worked so hard and did such excellent work."

I walked over to the dishes and opened the dishwasher to make one last attempt before the weekend to finish washing what was on the counter (something I have been attempting since Wednesday). It was empty, except for the water bottles that my daughter despises filling and putting in the sink. I pulled one out, to see if they were clean or dirty and realized she had put away and entire dishwasher full of dirty dishes. I crumpled to the floor and started weeping, certain that this was so not about the dishes.

I prayed that I would be able to keep doing this mom thing, and that I would understand why God seemed to find my aspirations to succeed at something more meaningful to be unnecessary right now. I reminded Him how I had to quit running barn sales because I never made enough money to justify the enormous effort it took to conjure them into existence. I reminded Him that me doing barn sales and art was His idea, not mine. And I sat there, pleading for understanding and love.

Just then my dog, Harper, climbed up on me and feverishly started licking my tears off my cheeks.

If you have never experienced this before, it is very wet, kind of gross, insanely distracting, and incredibly funny. Needless to say, my pity party was disrupted. Now, don't think I wasn't still bawling, oh no. I was just bawling and praying and laughing and trying not to dump my dog off my lap and trying to decided if I loved or hated being licked. It was a slurpy, drippy tangle of emotions. 

Harper plopped right on my lap and kept trying to lick me while also turning around to find a comfortable place to sit or stand. And I felt this enormous wave of love from her. This sweet dog knew I was sad and was showering me with all the gifts she had to give. Her little licks, her attention, and her warm little body. So of course I started crying even harder as I saw her for the angel in my life that she is. Which made the dog lick more and me laugh more.

In the meantime, my taquitos were done. I put her on the floor and walked across the kitchen to take them out of the oven. Taquitos are a food of my soul. Straight dopamine there. I put them on top of the oven to cool and turned around to feel God say, "The barn sale was never about money for you. That was never the point. You have other things to do than paint furniture and that's what you'd still be doing if the money had followed." 

Of course.

And then my mind was filled with the image of a woman finding my table at the ReStore and it being just the shape or size or color or price she had been hoping for. I could feel her delight and relief at discovering "just the right thing." And I understood that it was about me developing my skills and then sharing my blessings with others. That my barn sale years had been about becoming more more, not making more. And even I can't deny that I succeeded there. I am so much more than I was.

I tell you this story for many reasons. 

First, it's what's happening today. 

Second, it will not be the last time God and I have this conversation. We have had it many times in the years since I quit doing shows and every time, I gain a little more faith in myself and a little more trust in where He may be taking my life. 

Third, never underestimate how much you are loved. God sent me this little dog two years ago and she has blessed me in ways I could never have imagined. Allow yourself to embrace these types of experiences for the gifts from the universe that they are. Feel the love they are bringing you. It is OK to feel loved. We are all worth all the love the Universe or God could every shower down upon us.

Fourth, it is OK to not get the answer you want. Today, God did not tell me that I will be a huge success in the blogging world. He did not tell me that my paintings and collages will sell as fast as I can make them, if and when I get to that part of my life. He simply had a little dog love on me and told me that my enormous efforts were not wasted. Then He showed me how I was doing good things for the world and my future. He gave me what I needed to get up and write today. It may not be enough tomorrow. But it is exactly right for today. 

Before you get upset that He didn't tell you what you wanted to hear, think only about what you need today. I bet He will give you what you needed to stand up again and keep walking, at least today. And if you need more tomorrow, He will give you what you need for that day. Accept that what you need is enough. That you are already enough to make up the difference and keep moving forward. And try to see the angels hiding in little dogs, or fist fulls of dandelions from small children, or a timely phone call. 

So today I will be a little sad. But that's OK, because tomorrow I will look at my emptier garage and see space to work on my barn doors. I will think about someone reading this post and it being just the right thing to keep them going through a tough spot. If that's you, know I send my love, my deepest sympathy and a full understanding of your frustration. 

That said, you'll have to find your own little doggie angel. Harper stays with me.

Talk to you soon,

CM Shaw

PS: Upon closer inspection, I realized that the dishes were clean after all and I was spared digging through all the drawers and cabinets to find the "dirty" ones to rewash them. Whew.

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