This weekend, I was reminded that the process of creating lovely things is sometimes far from lovely. As I kept tugging on my ponytails, pressing the palm of my hand into my forehead, and sighing, the irony wasn't lost on me that I was trying to create attractive-looking images with inspiring quotes. As I was typing phrases like "Life is beautiful," I had to refrain from adding "except when working on a computer!"
I realize I'm being a bit dramatic and that "torture" is too strong a word to use, but I'm trying to make up for the many years I believed that if something were "meant to be" and held goodness and rightness, then the process of creating it would be graced with ease.
I know better now.
This reality first dawned on me after crossing the threshold into motherhood and reflecting on my birth experience. "Wow," I thought, "for something that's such a natural and organic process, that sure was something."
Fast-forward to the center where I now work and the many compliments I hear monthly about our peaceful and relaxing waiting area, and our serene group room. I can't help but laugh when I think about the day my colleague and I were setting up the waiting area. None of the furniture seemed to fit right and the room wasn't coming together in the way we had imagined, even after visiting countless stores in our attempt to find just the right items. At one point, I welled up in tears, lamenting, "Where's the grace? This isn't fun at all!"
Of course, by the end of the day, the room looked wonderful -- it had all come together to create a better effect than we had anticipated.
The next day, I got up on a ladder and spent hours covering every square inch of our group room ceiling in narrow sheets of fabric that hung from wooden dowels. When I realized it wasn't hanging right, I went back to the store and purchased small safety pins to secure the strips of fabric together. Unfortunately, the result was suffocating, and the clear remedy was to undo most of the day's labor to create a more subtle and simple effect. I always smile when I hear people comment, "How smart that you guys knew just to hang those three strips of fabric!"
I've come to think that there's some "trickster" energy in these moments. Maybe this is the way that life tests us or simply keeps us on our toes in wondering if we'll make it through these small, dark forests. I find myself wanting to share this insight with my children -- to let them know that sometimes the process of creating lovely things is lovely, and sometimes it is annoying. When it's the latter, I find that humor helps. Self-compassion helps. Moaning and exaggeration can help, too!
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