Sometimes happiness costs $9.99

So, I had this week off my financial job for spring break and my daughter and I flew to Los Angeles at the beginning of the week and had a wonderful time in the LA sun surrounded by beautiful beaches and beautiful people.  The best part of this time was that I got my daughter to myself and I am so appreciative that she still wants to spend part of her college spring break with her mom.  We came home mid week and by the end of the week I felt like a listless puddle.  I know I was relaxed, but I was also sad and directionless.  I tried to cheer myself up, but I know I am my own worst enemy as  I drive myself crazy with my curious mind that is always looking to analyze, attack or defend something.  But, then something amazing happened as I was getting out of my car in our garage.  I usually walk into our house so consumed in my own thoughts I don’t see anything.  But this time I did see something. I noticed my old acrylic paintings in our garage and stopped to look at them.  They are collecting dust and getting moldy from being exposed to the elements but they are colorful and playful. A  fleeting thought crossed my mind as I walked in the house; “if I had more time off work I would probably start painting again”.  It was Friday, I did have more time off.  But in my mind for some reason I needed more time.  Why? Just the way my mind works.  But,  for once, I disregarded that thought.  Saturday morning I got up, got a coffee and a huge maple danish (I craved sugar for this expedition) and I went to the art supply store.  I had to google map it because I hadn’t been there in so long I forgot where it was.  When I walked in I felt like an imposter.  I felt like I should pretend to get Easter decorations and then throw my paints and canvasses on the bottom of the cart.  I felt a need to hide my art purchases like I was doing something wrong, or having an affair.  I looked around the store at mostly moms with their elementary school age children buying art supplies.  I sized them up and made sure they weren’t watching me as I put tubes of acrylic paints in my cart.  I bought a variety of canvases to practice on, and a variety of paint brushes.  I can spend $150 on an adidas track suite, but only $7.99 on a tube of paint, anything more than that I feel is a waste of money, again another weird way my mind works.  I was making my way through the aisles and feeling emboldened, then I saw them hanging there in a simple plastic bag for $9.99.  Drawing pencils!  I felt like I saw a long lost love, tears came to my eyes.  My teenage years were spent with those pencils.  Drawing and drawing and drawing.  Memories of  an illustrated book that I wrote as an adolescent came back to me.  I wrote it in a college ruled composition notebook with greenish colored pages.  I did the drawings right over the lines on the paper, and wrote  little captions under the drawings to explain the story.   I remember carrying that book around the house  like a bible, and opening and adding to it was a labor of love for no one to see but me.   I was in love with drawing, and seeing those pencils was like seeing a kind long lost lover, who through no fault of their own, I abandoned.   I swear they seemed to glow in their simple plastic packaging, and I took a picture of them hanging there.  I bought them!  I felt elated, I was going to draw again.  My spirit lifted, and the listlessness I had been feeling since I came home seemed to melt away as I pushed my cart up to the register.  I felt empowered, I felt that sad little part of me start to feel happy.  Like a kid getting a new toy.  When I went off to college I gave up drawing, and I told myself that I  would start up again when I graduated and had my own apartment.  Well, after college, drawing was not on my mind except when I would have moments of sadness and reflection and I would buy a pencil and paper and quickly try and get some sort of drawing out.  This would last a day or so before the drawing pad would be disregarded under fashion magazines and financial journals, and the pencil lost somewhere.  Or I would judge my picture so harshly I would end up throwing everything away and going to the gym.   But I drew my first picture in 15 years yesterday and the sound of the pencil on the paper, and the smell of the led, and the picture that slowly went from my mind to the paper was truly a gift.  It made me smile, it made me happy.  It also made me sad that I had given this up for other things that I thought were “so important”.  What is more important than this, really?  I didn’t judge my picture, I just drew.  Why had I neglected this side of me for so long? Almost like I was waiting for the right time or someone’s permission to express this side of me.  And now I realize I was the only one holding myself back.  I had made a series of rules  for the little girl in me to follow  before she could sit down and draw and smile.  Every time she would try and come out, I would push her back down and say “not yet”, you need to jump through a few more hoops before you can draw, before you can have simple happiness. And if she did happen to get a drawing down on paper over the years, I would judge her so harshly, “That is terrible, throw it away”  And I would tell her to  put those pencils down, and stop wasting time.  I was so mean!  Why? I have no answer for that. But,  all I can do now is apologize to the little girl in me, and say to her, “It’s ok, you can have simple things make you happy and they don’t have to mean anything to anyone but you.  You can draw! And you can smile when you draw, and it doesn’t even have to be a good picture, I will still hang it on the fridge!”


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    1. Hi Kristi,
      Thanks! I have really been enjoying drawing again. Such a simple thing is bringing so much joy to my heart, and just an hour of drawing feels like it is replenishing me. I am realizing that this creative outlet is just as important as completing a task list as it fills me up, gives me ideas, and makes me want to be more giving in other areas of my life. Take care! Peta

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