Brush strokes


by Jennifer Couffer

It’s 6 am, I can’t sleep. All I can think about is how much my life has changed in the last year. Can you really take almost everything that a person knows and loves away from them and they still be able to find a way to survive? Well my heart is still beating. I’m still breathing. Blood is flowing through my veins. I guess the answers yes.

Looking back I see that I almost had everything I ever wanted, within reason. I worked my ass off to get to that point. The finish line to smooth sailing was within eyesight. But did I enjoy what I had? Did I appreciate and treasure what all my good efforts and determination had lead me to? To be honest at the time I didn’t.

I was always; stressed, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed. I had pretty much the American dream; a loving husband, high paying job, and good health. I actually for once in my life had this thing called “discretionary income”…which felt more like a dream I would wake up from only to remember I forgot to pay one of my bills.  Why else would I have money left over…

 I just wish I had truly loved what I had. Because now that I don’t, I’m literally scratching my head as to why I let all the small things ruin the big things in life.

I go to bed alone now days.  I make all important decisions on my own about finances, health choices, pets, even what’s for dinner.  Physically I am probably half or less of the person I was due to my Multiple sclerosis.  I live on a very limited and fixed income. The love of my life is gone. Now I so yearn, so much, for all the things I had.

I could sit here and cry, get angry, feel sorry for myself, curse everything and everyone, punch someone in the face, throw myself just a great big pity party or I can try.  I can try as much as possible to overcome these huge roadblocks that have been thrown at me in this journey called life. I could try to think in a positive way and not allow this to ruin my whole day.  I could try to appreciate, love, and cherish all the things and people that I have in my life.

I try to paint often.  It helps me focus on the beauty I can create instead of letting negativity and sorrow bring me down. I start with a blank canvas and my imagination.  From there the possibilities are endless. A painting can be similar to life. When we are born we start out fresh with a blank canvas.  Our parents try to equip us with all of the right tools to paint a wonderful life.  It is up to us to create the master piece.

I used to get overly aggravated with art. Any small little mistake and the entire picture and all my hard work I had put forth was ruined. Eventually I just stopped getting out the art supplies. I was way too critical of myself. What was the point of starting something if I knew I was going to mess it up.

Now I get out my canvas and let go of all my troubles, sorrows, and pain; even if it’s just for the time being. I focus on what I can do well, not what i believe everyone else holds me up to. I let my strengths take charge but now I don’t let my weaknesses defeat me.

If I make a mistake, I have erasers. Or in the words of Bob Ross, “there are no mistakes, there’s just happy little accidents” and I can deal with a happy little accident. That’s why I think of all my art as abstract; if I accidentally make someone’s lips too fat, it’s abstract. Paint the sky green, it’s abstract. Fish out of water, it’s abstract.

Start a creative adventure. If you make a mistake fix it or just leave it.  Deal with it being there and call it abstract. Don’t let life make you feel like you HAVE to throw it away and start all over.  Don’t let it put you in the spot where you don’t even start a painting because of the fear of failure and wasted time.

Happy little accidents happen all the time. Fix it, deal with it or start over. But don’t just put the brush down and walk away. Remember in life there are decisions that you must make and then there are decisions that are made for you through life events. Sometimes starting over is your only option. 

If you live life more like painting: fix it, deal with it or start over. You will soon be filled with a house of beautiful paintings even if most of them are abstract. 

If things happen that are out of your control; You still have the canvas, an imagination and supplies to start over. 

Don’t ever let yourself just give up.  Just begin with a new brush stroke.

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