This thank you goes out to my mom and to my aunt and uncle (who has written a couple books, himself), who all purchased the “You Own An Original?! Package” for the book campaign. They did this knowing full well they could have all the free copies of the book they wanted, as well as a free painting. But they chose to support me both by raising the pre-orders count and by sponsoring the project with a large sum of money. The support I’ve gotten from friends and family floors me – especially knowing they don’t have to, they just want to. So THAAAAAAAAAAANK YOU to my mom, and to my aunt, Carole Page, and uncle, Chris Page. I love you all to pieces (don’t worry, I have the IKEA instructions for putting your pieces back together again)!
Time to thank another person for getting the “You Own An Original?! Package” on my book campaign. Kym Lord is a customer and friend from my sip and paint studio, Artistic Abandon. I haven’t seen her in quite some time, but she still rose to the occasion and got the biggest package in an effort to help me either get a publisher or be able to afford to self-publish. As part of the package, she’s also getting an original painting, which I’ll be sure to post when it’s finished. I was so surprised and, honestly, honored, that she believed enough in me and the project to support me this way. I love when life gives you happy surprises. So thank you thank you thank you, Kym!!
Bitchez be crackin’ me up. In the south, people say “bless her heart” instead of “she’s not that bright but she means well.”* Today in class, a woman said, “Aw, bless my heart.” Meanwhile, another woman was narrating each and every step to herself as she did it. I would say, “Take a little yellow and dab it here.” She would say, “Okay, I’m taking yellow and I’m dab dab dabbing it here, and a little over here. And then a little over here maybe. Oh, that was too much. I’ll try lightening it with a little white.” For each and every step, bless her heart.
And totally unrelated, this whole cupcake thing is an epidemic. A totally different woman had a bunch of leftover cupcakes and just threw them out instead of offering me one. WTF? Clearly she has no comprehension of just how much caffeine and sugar it takes to keep my energy level up through 4 classes starting at 9:30am until about 10pm. She’s lucky I didn’t fall asleep while teaching her group.
*My friend, Meghan says, “Aw, Eddie Vedder,” as in, “She doesn’t know Eddie Vedder.” Say it out loud. It sounds like “She doesn’t know any better.” This is but one reason for loving Meghan. Another reason is that I’m pretty sure she took the picture of me in the ridiculously large hat making this face:
I am too porous a person. I tend to take on the mood of the people around me, often to my detriment. But I was listening to Invisibilia (a new NPR podcast) recently and heard this episode and discovered that we all do this to a certain extent. We are hard wired to adapt to and adopt the behaviors and emotions of those around us.
I can see this every night as I conduct class. The mood of the entire class tends to follow that of the most vocal participant. So if someone at the beginning of class starts huffing and puffing and complaining that they suck or that they’re stressed or that they “thought this was supposed to be fun,” the entire class starts doing the same and by the end of the night, everyone is stressed out (including me). If someone begins class by saying that this is such an adventure or that it’s a great way to get out of the house or they’re having so much fun or they did a great job on that particular step of the painting, the entire class has a much more positive attitude through to the end. Often, people aren’t even cognizant that they’re setting the tone or that they’re complaining. I’ll be thoroughly convinced that someone hated the class based on the things they’ve been saying, but then, at the end of class, they’ll rebook for another. So clearly, they were enjoying themselves, but their way of communicating with the world tends toward complaint or self degradation.
In an effort to remind people that they shouldn’t take this too seriously, we have signs up in the studio saying that, “Wining is fine, but please don’t whine.” Occasionally things will get so bad that I have to set a rule during class that you cannot say anything negative about your own painting. You can say whatever you like about your neighbor’s painting, but they are allowed to beat you with a wet paintbrush.
Women in particular tend to put themselves down. Women are not generally taught to say positive things about themselves. When someone gives us a compliment, we dismiss it or say why the person giving the compliment is wrong. Partly, it’s false modesty, but I also think that we spend so much of our lives comparing ourselves to those around us that we honestly don’t think good things about ourselves. On a regular basis, I’ll hear a woman compliment her friend’s painting. But instead of saying, “Thank you,” the friend will say something like, “You’re crazy. You’ve had too much to drink.” If I give a compliment, the person will pretty much always say, “You’re paid to say that.” I also think we tend to complain about how we’re doing in hopes that someone will contradict the negative things we’re thinking about ourselves. Subconsciously, we’re hoping someone will tell us we’re special and talented and worthy of love. Interestingly, men in my classes rarely whine. They will sometimes laugh at their own work, but it tends to be much more lighthearted than the way women do it. They’re more than happy to put their friends’ talent down, though.
Anyway, I have come to realize that so much of my happiness with my job depends on the overall mood of my customers. When they’re crankypants, I’m crankypants. When they’re enthusiastic, I’m a rainbow ball of unicorn giggles. So I’m trying to learn from that and be a more positive person when interacting with others, from the teller at the bank to person waiting in line behind me at Starbucks, to my customers, and to my spouse. I need to set an example of kindness and generosity, even when I’m feeling anything but. This is not to say that I can’t have a bad day or vent or have a little pity party, but in general, I’m trying to be more aware of the way my mood influences the mood of those around me. Listen to the podcast and try to think about your role in the world, too, because I might be the next person you bump into, and wouldn’t you rather do something to make me laugh until I wet my pants than make me go home and cry into my poor kitties’ fur (because really, when I do that, I end up with cat fur stuck all over my face, and it invariably gets onto my contact lenses so I have to take them out, and then I get a headache from wearing my glasses, and you don’t want to be the cause of my headache, do you)? And if you can’t be nice, at least have the courtesy to pass me the bourbon.
Lady with all the extra cupcakes, you made me sad AGAIN. You had your other daughter’s party at the studio today, and, once again, begged every parent who came to pick up their kids to take several home with them. Not once did you offer one to me or my staff, and you threw the rest away right in front of us. What’s your deal, lady? You better watch your back, because I’m inclined to rat you out to Santa. I see coal in your future.
S and I don’t really do anything to acknowledge Valentine’s Day. We’re just not gushy like that. But we just grabbed a quick bite to eat at Moe’s before dashing off to the studio to teach tonight’s class. While we were there, a man entered who appeared to be homeless. I watched several other customers sort of sneer at him and others look right through him. So, before we left, I took out a post-it note and a pen from my purse, and wrote him a little Happy Valentine’s Day note. I handed it to him and smiled and said, “I hope you have a very happy Valentine’s Day, sir.” And he looked and me rather shocked, and then smiled and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much.” Didn’t get the hubs a card, but did manage to let a stranger know that he was seen today. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, dear internet. I see you, and I love you.
Dear lady with all the extra cupcakes,
You had tons of extra cupcakes at the end of your daughter’s party at my studio, and you kept begging parents to take some home with them, but never once thought to offer one to me or my staff. You make me sad.
The lady who taught your screaming children for an hour