Last year, as part of my 2020 goodbye "fifties" farewell tour, a release from a five year non-compete in the paint business, and Saturn Returns exiting out of my life until 2049, I decided to give New Year's resolutions another chance.
I always forgot them as soon as I made them, so I stopped making them altogether.
Without knowing I would be quarantined and practicing social distancing with vast amounts of extra time on my hands, I went ahead and made three.
My third one ended up being a breakthrough and changed why I, from now on, would make resolutions and stick to them for the rest of my life.
The first two were typical.
One was based on practicing moderation and only lasted two and a half weeks. I joined millions of people who do "Dry January," the popular alcohol crash diet you do after you drink way too much during the holidays.
I came to the conclusion my moderate drinking patterns were reasonable and just as consistent during the Holidays as any other time of the year. I am glad I gave my liver a break but didn't need to be wasting my time abstaining from something I wasn't struggling with.
The other was based on practicing balance. I set out to write one blog a week and build up my writing skills. Having been habitually journal-ING for a long time made this resolution more of a time management issue.
Therefore, I resolved to dedicated more time to my writing.
My third resolution, however, was solely based on a fun and shallow social commitment. I made a resolution to get together with a friend to drink wine and do art every couple of months.
If I was going to start painting again, I would need a buddy-system.
Once upon a time, I had a deep, meaningful relationship with my art. Together we created optimistic, energetic, and colorful work.
Others felt our deep connection and fell in love. First at art shows around town, then in art galleries such as Gunnar Nordstrom Gallery in Seattle, Washington White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach, Oregon, and Clarksville Pottery in Austin, Texas. I even sold a curated piece by the Belleview Arts Museum.
After a couple of years, I hit a wall.
I lost my connection, and the flow stopped. My art and I were no longer one, and I struggled. I abandoned my art without ever really knowing what happened between us. Soon after, I went on to birth Devine Color.
Over the years, whenever I would pick up a brush and paint on canvas, I anticipated my struggle to resurface again, and sure enough, it was still there. Like an old argument, what started as a simple conversation kept going until it became a muddled mess. I didn't know when to stop until it was too late. I always walked away frustrated and never wanting to do it again.
When I shared my woes about painting struggles with my resolution buddy, she said, I didn't have to finish any of my canvases. She asked to think about painting as a work in process.
This relieved my reservations of spending hours and hours struggling, only to end up feeling defeated and miserable.
I found myself painting in isolation, musing over a massive canvas, and having to channel my inner-Jacob. I wrestled with my canvas for days until I walked away with a blessing and a resolution that became a breakthrough; hip pain included.
If there is one person in this world I would want to call right now to talk about this resolution at length, it would be Evelyn Georges, founder and former owner of the White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach.
I wish she were alive today.
In the words of her daughter, Andra Georges, "If she cared about you, she wanted to improve you. She was probably right, but we just didn't always want to hear it quite so bluntly."
When Evelyn saw my art turn in a meaningless decorative shadow of its former self, she told me I was confusing my need for self-expression with other people's need for decoration. When I gave up on my art and tried to sell my art books in a yard sale, she grabbed all the books and put them back inside my garage. She said I would want them again someday.
She was right. I just couldn't hear it.
Evelyn and I remained connected as friends for years, long after I abandoned my art, but only she remained in a loving relationship with the pure essence of my self-expression, which would be ever evolving if I was going to grow as a human being. This is what I couldn't understand at the time, so now I'm telling you:
My only job as a artist is to practice the art of unconditional love for my self-expression, on that canvas.
I didn't let my vulnerability become my teacher. I thought my art caused me to suffer a loss of self-confidence and joy. When in fact, it was the other way around. A loss of confidence and joy caused me to lose a loving relationship with my art.
Instead of using my vulnerability to create more art, I told myself my feelings were wrong, my paintings were terrible, and therefore something had to be wrong with me or it. Painting was a privilege I felt I no longer deserved.
I let myself be defeated by an ideal love and perfectionism that doesn't exist, and I should have struggled and fought for my right to party on that canvas. Had I practiced the art of unconditional love for myself, on that canvas, love would have become mightier than my insecurities and healed me like it did this time.
I walked away from my art because I didn't want to know what those feelings were all about, and I should have known better.
Ignorance has never been a state of bliss for me.
Clearly, by all social standards, resolutions are meant to be light and easy to attain. "I am going to quit being a raging alcoholic this year, because it causes me too much pain" said no one who was ever asked about their resolution goals at a party.
Maybe that‘s exactly what we should say.
Imagine talking to someone who suffers from addiction about how they plan to relieve their suffering through the practice of unconditional love in the coming year. Especially if everyone is working on this too?
Because, we are all works in process.
Timing is everything. I don't' regret not having my breakthrough sooner. This teaching has been magnified by a time of collective suffering in a world crying for resolution, love, protection, and support.
In Greek mythology, Zeus had nine daughters who became Muses, inspirational goddesses in charge of literature, science, and the arts. Melpomene is known as the Muse of Tragedy, inspiring plays with unhappy endings, often concerning the downfall of the main character.
I plan to make "suffering" the main character in all my resolutions from now on, and I hope you join me in my resolution!
May you be well, safe, at peace, and at ease during this time.
Love , g
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Gretchen Schauffler’s entrepreneurial journey started when she created, developed and marketed her first brand, Devine Color, from idea to cult status. Her new brand Design Is Personal Online DIY Style And Easy Products are available at Wayfair, Homedepot, Walmart, and Target.