How To Paint Your World

When snow falls and your heart yearns for spring blossoms, paint your world in all the colours of the rainbow. 7 x 10″ mixed media on canvas paper

The critter and I have a deal. He gets to chatter. I get to decide to listen, or not.

Of course, what’s not part of our deal is how when I choose not to listen, he gets louder. And louder. And louder. As if, the act of yelling will make my ears listen better.

When I’m yelled at, it feels like bullets speeding towards me. There’s no way to dodge them. I just have to take them and in ‘taking them’ hope for the best because under fire, I believe I’m helpless.

Not a very healthy nor creative place to find myself alone.

I’m sure it’s a residual from my father’s tendency to yell. His yelling scared me. A lot. In its presence I learned not to yell back, that only made things worse. I also learned, to ‘go mute’. To freeze.

Fortunately, with time and practice, not to mention therapy, I have learned to stay centered in my ‘I’ so that no matter how fierce the winds are swirling around me, I do not get caught up in the winds and lose my balance and direction.

Yesterday, as I prepared to work on a background I’d painted the day before in my art journal, the critter got busy.

“You know you’ll only mess it up,” he hissed.

I took a breath and readied my work table.

“You know it’s too precious to change? Right? Look at it. It’s lovely.”

I kept getting ready. I filled my water jar. Placed it ‘just so’ on my work table. Lined up my brushes, ‘just right’ and took another breath.

“Don’t do it,” the critter hissed. And then his voice rose as he saw me reach for a tube of paint and squirt some on my palette. “NOOOOO! STOP!!!!!” he screamed.

Startled, I hesitated.

Was he right? Was the piece too precious to change?

“YES!!!!” he cried jubilantly, jumping up and down in delight at my hesitation. “You know I’m right. Just leave it alone.”

It was the ‘leave it alone’ that woke me out of my critter-induced stupor of falling victim to his yelling. I can’t hear my heart beat when he’s yelling. I can’t hear myself in the face of such vehement opposition to expressing my creative essence.

And at the crux of it all, is my habit of wanting to just ‘leave it alone’ and pretend everything’s okay.

Leaving it alone is what has caused so many troubles in my life. Accepting the unacceptable, trusting the untrustworthy, staying silent in the face of abuse, leaving unspeakable acts unspoken, turning my back on conflict – none of that has served me well.

I squeezed more paint onto the palette, picked up a brush and before starting to paint, turned inward to the critter and whispered lovingly. “Thank you for trying to keep me safe. Thank you for wanting to protect me. And thank you for yelling. You woke me up and reminded me how, when I’m not listening inward, I’m prone to falling into the chaos around me.”

The critter sighed and fell back to sleep and I began to paint.

48 thoughts on “How To Paint Your World

  1. I got married (2nd m) to a ‘normally’ very quiet person. But he can get so frustrated that he starts yelling at me – and normally – in my earlier life – I’d yell back or I’d yell anyway because coming from a large-ish family that’s what we did. And with 1st husband there was much yelling too ….. to no effect whatsoever. So really, not a good advice to give.
    Now with Hero Husband, the louder he gets, the quieter I become. And that’s REALLY dangerous. I say quietly: Don’t yell at me, I was just stating such-and-such! Which then makes him get louder again. Since my long-passed divorce I can’t stand yelling any longer – so it is and will always be a dance on a thin rope. But I feel so much more peaceful and serene since there is no more screaming and yelling – I can so see you getting creative – but unlike you I don’t want or need a ‘yelling critter’ – peace and quiet does it for me now.
    Like your 2nd ‘background’ painting – it could be a wallpaper or a writing card. Very soothing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kiki — your response is profound and insightful. I love this line – “a dance on a thin rope”
      I think the critter yells at me because he’s afraid I’ll put myself out there and get disappointed or hurt. And, as I want to live ‘out there’, he goes to great lengths to get my attention — until I lovingly face him and calm him with Love. Hugs my friend. I’m glad you find the 2nd painting soothing. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I just had to look up the different between yelling and shouting! Maybe THAT’s it; there was always a lot of shouting….. and HH doesn’t yell, I think he couldn’t even yell – but he can shout!
      Ouff, that’s settled then. Thank you to clarify that for me.

      Liked by 2 people

    • You always make me think of Orville, my canary from when I was a teenager. My mother’s Uncle Sydney had given me two canaries when we went to visit him in Cannes. I brought both home but only Orville survived. I loved that little bird. Loved his song and the beauty it shared. When my father yelled, Orville sang loud.
      Like you, I love birds. Their song helps soothe the ruffled edges of the world and their beauty helps paint over the scars. ❤
      Thank you Sharon ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • How wonderful that you had Orville to drown out the shouting. I think there would have been less shouting if we had a bird (or two or three …) growing up. My father, at nearly 90, has discovered the calming effect of birds late in life. Better late than never. As much as I would have loved to get him a canary, it wouldn’t have been practical, so we set him up instead with some backyard feeders and he delights in watching them (quietly) from his favourite spot near the patio doors. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • HOw lovely for your father that you have brought birds into his world to calm him. And how very caring of you. Love that you did this. ❤ I can picture him sitting there — it's a lovely thought.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Oooohhhhh! I so appreciate that you named your critter Leslie! That alone is a wonderful way to calm her! Thank you for inspiring me. ❤
      PS — sometimes I ask the critter what he's afraid of. I'm always surprised by the truth. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s funny, we were a loud house but not a yelling house. I just asked my sister recently if she remembered any yelling back in the day. Nope. Is it weird I was relieved to have remembered the same (there are so many things I don’t…)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dale, I have to say that your comment made me think…. it wasn’’t the yelling of plein anger or general bad temper with us. It was just that we all always had things to say, and were a very busy household and family, so everyone had to yell louder than the next – to be heard at least by the cats or hopefully the addressed party…. Maybe it’s more of very loud talking? 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • YOur household Kiki sounds like my beloved’s. With 13 children, there was a lot of shouting over one another.
        and yes, I think you’re right. Shoulting is very different than yelling.
        In our household, my father and brother held court and we girls held our peace. And then, there were my mother and father’s fights. They were loud and ugly. My middle sister and I would sometims hide in our bedroom closet to ride out the storm. I’d tell her stories or read to her by the light of a flashlight to drown out the noise. The gift is, those times nurtured my love of story-telling. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    • I think it is wonderful that you feel that relief Dale. I know when my sisters and I agree on the ‘hard’ parts of our childhood, I feel less alone, and less exposed. And yet, as you say, there are also so many spaces where my memory is different than theirs. I think it’s normal, btw. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really loved the first painting – it seemed complete to me. But then when your heart spoke and added flowers – it becomes something else.
    I have to laugh because when you talk about your “critter” I always see this teeny tiny spider sized “Little Critter” creature on your shoulder.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love how you shared your process and the Critters voice. What a powerful reflection. This part in particular I found to be inspiring.

    Leaving it alone is what has caused so many troubles in my life. Accepting the unacceptable, trusting the untrustworthy, staying silent in the face of abuse, leaving unspeakable acts unspoken, turning my back on conflict – none of that has served me well.


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