October 28, 2003

Take a Deep Breath and Refresh Through Art

Filed under: Art and About Me — admin @ 3:56 pm

I was having one of those days and it was only 10 a.m. I had gone to bed very late the night before. I awakened with a knot in my stomach due to several personal and global situations that were out of my control but I still felt the need to worry about them. Then I had to call three people and talk to them about three completely unrelated topics, however all were guilty of the same crime — tardiness in finishing something I had expected them to do by a certain date.

Since infants are stress sponges, my baby daughter was having trouble settling down for her nap. The constantly ringing phone didn’t help. And although the morning chores had to be delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, I still let it get to me.

Then my plan for the big morning project, washing the car, was thwarted. My toddler, Tyrian, had been eagerly anticipating soap suds and garden hose spray nozzles for two days and I was going to use car washing as a sneaky way to exhaust him before his nap. But Daddy needed the car for work. Goliath’s tummy couldn’t hold the supersized knot I now carried, and I felt a headache coming on. In theory, I would love to stop sweating the small stuff, but my adrenal glands are afraid they’d be out of work if I did.

I finally got the baby down and asked my son if he wanted to paint. He always wants to paint, so it was an easy sell. Usually when we do art projects, I have a hidden agenda. Tyrian has complete creative control, but in the back of my mind I know that Great-Grandma hasn’t gotten a care package from us in a while, or our walls need a colorful addition to the decorating. This time, I was just going to relax and watch him play and let the art dealer in me have a day off.

Then he came up with a great idea. He smeared finger paints on big pieces of paper, and then pressed pristine white smaller sheets on top. He had stumbled upon a primitive printing process. And it was beautiful! What great note cards this would make! Making note cards had been on my to-do list for several weeks. I rushed inside, grabbed some plain notepaper and starting folding it in half to fit our envelopes. So much for relaxing.

My brother recently brought to my attention the fact that I am a workaholic. He said that even thought I don’t get paid for all the projects and hobbies I take on, I set tight deadlines for myself, lose sleep and become preoccupied with a task until it is finished. He reminded me of a voluntary book report I wrote for no one other than myself on Walter Lord’s “A Night to Remember” when I was in fifth grade. Actually, it was the summer between fifth and sixth grade, and I did it while the family was vacationing in Hawaii. My brother was right, and like all true -aholics, I didn’t realize I had a problem.

I rejoined Tyrian and started pressing paper into his work. We were both delighted with the results. Tyrian had fun trying new color combinations, and I enjoyed putting the paper down at different angles. Then Tyrian decided he was done and wandered off to rinse himself with the hose. How could he leave? We had five note cards unfinished!

Then I realized something. For the past hour I had been stress-free. No knot, the threatening headache was gone, and I think I maybe smiled a few times. I had undergone art therapy. The morning zoomed by, I had a happy kid, and I was starting the afternoon with a fresh attitude.

Of course, I still had to finish those last five cards. To be successful in a workaholic recovery program, I have to want it first.