I have a small gallery of canvas paintings from various “Paint & Sip” nights growing on my dining room wall.
You know what I’m talking about right?
You pick the painting online that you and 5 of your friends agree would be a good one to attempt to copy. You pick the date and gather at said place…anticipating FUN and a night out with your girlfriends! Lets be real, this is a modern day quilting circle, but with alcohol, and we all LOVE IT. And in theory, you order drinks and excitedly sit down for a few hours of some much deserved (and expensive!) creative fellowship. If all goes well, you’ll have a beautiful, medium sized piece of original art on canvas to take home and wow your family with.
I proudly bring them home and hang them all in one place, because they don’t match and I obviously don’t take my decorating too seriously. They look ridiculous, but I think its hilarious and “my gallery” ALWAYS starts conversations. I have a blooming, swirly tree, a glorious ocean wave breaking at sunset, and my most recent addition: a majestic winter stag standing in falling snow amidst wintry trees.
My sister and I went with some friends last week to this holiday themed paint and sip night. We settled in with our drinks and got ready to begin. I looked around before we began, trying to make conversation and jokes with the women around me. ( I drive my sister nuts when we go out in public because I always like to talk to everyone!)
This particular painting venue I hadn’t been to before. I noticed immediately it was in a nicer part of town, and since I had to go there directly from a full day at work at the gym, I felt a little “under dressed” amidst all the other women who seemed perfectly dressed and accessorized. It didn’t matter, we were all wearing the same dang paint splattered aprons and managed to break the ice while waiting for the instruction to begin. It’s not hard for a room full of women to start to talk to each other within minutes and settle into a comfortable vibe with each other.
Pretty soon, all of us ladies were offering up commentary on what was happening on all of our different canvases. By the sounds of things it was getting pretty rough in there. Slowly, I became very aware of all the little nasty, negative things that were being said. And once it started, it seemed to catch on like a wild fire across the room.
“I can’t mix this color to look right. Yours looks so good, mine is so ugly! Looks like vomit.”
“These trees are terrible. I cant even draw a strait line! I knew I couldn’t do this. I cant even paint trees. If they were real trees we’d have to cut them down.”
“My deer is so fat! He looks so stupid. I just ruined mine!”
“My deer looks anorexic. It doesn’t even look like a deer!! I may as well paint black over this and start over.”
You get the idea.
The saddest part is, that everything being said was in a very “light hearted” way.
Joking. Not taking it too “seriously”.
And yet…I knew better.
“THIS IS WHAT WE DO TO OURSELVES.” I thought.
“We as women…this is what we do. We dress nice, we show up, we have the best intentions, and then we slowly rip ourselves to shreds with a smile on our face.”
Despite being beautiful, stylish and seemingly put together women…the urge to surrender to that deep self loathing that haunts most of us, showed up and robbed some of us of good memories and $45 dollars. Some of us were absolutely miserable. Didn’t seem to be enjoying the experience at all. I’m not really sure why this grabbed me so strongly on this night, but it just seemed so extreme and so alarming…It made me feel so sad.
It also made me feel grateful that I no longer live imprisoned to doubt. I may not yet be where I want to be, yet..but I KNOW that I am able. Even if it takes me 5 years. Even if I don’t lose lose one more pound. I know that I am changed. If I surrender to that loathing…I don’t stay there for long.
If there is one thing that I know FOR SURE about fitness…it’s that it shows you how CAPABLE you are. Once you learn that you can push yourself beyond what you ever imagined…you feel UNSTOPPABLE. Not just in the gym, but in LIFE.
The way you start to think about yourself and talk about yourself starts to change. You start to appreciate yourself and your body. You start to show kindness to yourself the way you do with your friends.
I had the strongest urge to stand on the table and yell, “COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE!” Which is ironic because I was most likely still one of the biggest women in the room. I know that most people would assume by looking at me, that I would be the woman with the least amount of confidence in that room. Appearances are so deceiving.
To people who don’t know me or where I’ve started from, I’m just a funny and fat lady. They don’t know what I can lift, or how long I can sprint, or how many burpees I can do, or how I feel when I’m able to run freely with my kids. They don’t know how hard I’ve fought for the confidence I’ve gained. And they don’t realize that they can have it too.
I wish all women could tap into that source of strength that is buried deep down within all of our hearts and LIVE THERE.
That strength that we all have that keeps us going when we want to quit.
That will and faith to make things happen when all seems impossible.
That drive that pushes us MAKE IT HAPPEN when our loved ones need us to come through?
That strength, and fierce love that I know burns in the heart of every woman?
There’s enough of that in there for you to spend on yourself too!
In fact, its crucial that we do.
We can’t let the next generation of women who are watching us, see us and hear us do this to ourselves anymore. We have to stop this cycle. It’s the same thing that we’ve inherited from our mothers and grandmothers about having our picture taken. Why do we all cringe and hate having our picture taken? Like nobody knows what we look like?! We must be in the pictures!! We must DO the things without tearing ourselves down! Why is this so hard for us?!
I didn’t know I had that love in there for ME until I met her in the gym and saw that she was worthy. Sometimes I still forget, and I fall into that trap of doubting and loathing…but am so grateful for these kind of reminders in my life to show me how far I’ve come.
It’s just like these dang paintings we’re all paying to make.
You’re not going to get it exactly like someone else’s. Yours will have its own flair. Not every line is going to be strait, or every curve just right. You’re going to mess up, and it might not look the way you want it to…but it’s beautiful because its yours.
OWN IT GIRL.
(P.S. This must be shared: As in life…when in a room of 57 winter stags, my sister emerged as a brooding and beautiful storm on an ocean. Her painting has also been pictured here, and proudly hangs in the bottom right of my gallery.)