Remember to Celebrate - AN ARTSY JOURNEY #17
Valentine’s day is grand when your life is rosy, but it’s not so peachy when you’re living alone. The holiday was magnifying my misery. I had moved to Bismarck more than a year ago in an all-hearts-and-flowers romance that would make St. Val blush … only to be abandoned and left alone.
At the time, I had just begun to dabble full time into the visual arts hoping to leave the world of nursing behind. I was a novice in this art world, and as it turned out, a novice in the world of romance, having fallen for the wrong guy, Robert. Now, I was in the midst of overcoming humiliation, one small step at a time.
Then this holiday crept up on me and slapped me in the face like the cold North Dakota winter. It wasn’t so much the lack of romance that was unsettling, it was loneliness. In daylight hours, I could get lost in daily challenges.
I had always been the type of person eager for “what’s next.” One idea would spur the next thought and I’d be off on another brainstorm. This was the reason I found art inspiring. The more knowledge I gained, the more my mind would race … acrylic paint was steadfast whereas watercolor paint mingled and moved … hmm … What would happen if I layered watercolor on top of a permanent acrylic?
Therefore, in the daytime, I found myself absorbed, but at night loneliness swirled around me like the snow outside the windows, chilling me to the bones. I’d been lonely in my first marriage, and let Robert’s charm lure me away, thinking he held all my answers. But now, I see it was my bad judgement that got me into this mess. And I was paying for that decision, especially at night, especially as St. Valentine bit into my wounded heart.
What weighted heaviest was seeing my sons once a month. Yes, each visit was a week long, but that wasn’t enough. I had to move closer. With tears swimming in my eyes, I pulled out a journal and wrote. It was more of a scribble as feelings of loneliness scratched the paper. I scrawled for an hour, rambling. Afterwards, whatever had been clenched up in my chest relaxed a bit.
I closed the journal and drummed my fingers on the cover. It was water-stained from other nights, like tonight, that I cried and wrote with a shaky hand. This journal was suggested from yet another barter – a psychologist who I sought help in sorting through my self-doubt.
In my heart, I knew my sons were safe with their dad. He offered stability and a consistent schedule. It was also a place filled with love and the boys were always number one. But that didn’t help my void. The counselor suggested, “Keep a journal.”
“Why?” I choked out the words, trying to focus through the overload of emotions I was letting out.
“It’s very difficult for someone to see improvement on a daily basis,” she offered. “But, later you’ll be able to look back and see growth. It’ll be reassuring.”
It had been months, almost a year, I had been scrawling words. But she was right. Now, as I erratically penned, mostly anger and doubt, I found I didn’t have to pick up the journal every night.
I was getting stronger.
Even to this day I find it takes writing down my goals to see success. Often among the day-to-day routine it is difficult to feel like I am making progress. But when I look at blocks of time I see achievement and it gives me reason to celebrate.
Yet still, I sometimes need reminders to take time to celebrate. My dear friend, Jennifer, twenty years later, just called from Bismarck after editing my third junior fiction book.
“You have great descriptive build-up of the paintball birthday party,” she said. “But at the end of the chapter the kids’ need to celebrate their victory. Don’t let the reader down. More importantly, don’t let yourself down.”
So I re-wrote, letting the boys whoop and holler and have a grand old time. Jennifer was right. It was fun to celebrate their victory, too!
So, now, when daily struggles mount, I stop and celebrate the small gifts: the warmth of the sun, the chance to learn something new, the moment to brighten someone else’s day, hugs and kisses. . . they are all blessings and reasons to celebrate this thing called LIFE!Have you taken time to celebrate today?