Once upon a time, I made things. I got my fingers inky and painty, I swirled colors onto pages and canvas and cardboard and I stamped, glued, sanded and tore papers until they felt like home. I stuffed the results in binders and drawers, some with pictures and some without.

Then I stopped. My energy went to other projects, and I invested in other people. Those people, those projects, they were all good and worthy of inkless fingers and paintless days. I was happy when I swapped words for colors, and I welcomed the change into my world by shoving my art supplies in my closet and pretending not to notice when they toppled off the shelves, jumping right in front of me when I tried to reach a pen or a sweater or a suitcase. I left those supplies there, sometimes on the floor or kicked to the side, pretending that they didn’t even warrant a space on a shelf, hidden in a closet, with clothes that no longer fit and memories that feel better in cardboard boxes than they do in my thoughts or my everyday reality.

Lately, though, I’ve had the itch to ink my fingers again. I’ve found myself daydreaming about watercolor strokes and thick acrylic goop caked under my uneven fingernails. I’ve perused Pinterest, looking for projects that might lure me back into the closet to dust off the brushes and the papers and the inkpads.

Today I thought about the years I did the One Little Word project. Technically, 2014 was one of those years. I let the word go early, though. I don’t think it ever really fit me, if I’m being completely honest. Now when I look back at when I picked that word, it’s almost like I was a little girl again, trying on my mom’s high heels and pretty dress, pretending it all fits but tripping as soon as I take a step. I wanted it to fit, but wanting something doesn’t always make it so.

October 2011 One Little Word project.

October 2011 One Little Word project.

In years past, I would have tried to cram a full year of work into a month, just so I could say I finished the project. I’d try to make the word still fit, somehow, through some justification or life lesson or other feigned realization bullshit so that I could pretend that it wasn’t a mistake. Because to admit the mistake is to admit that I’m a failure, and we can’t have that, now can we?

I’m not going to do that this year. Instead, I think I’ll pull out my paints and papers and see if getting lost in the mess still feels good. I’ll find the time to dive into words and maybe I’ll find one that fits for 2015. Doing that successfully will mean admitting that—regardless of the reason–so many things that once fit no longer do.  Maybe I’ll learn how to find peace through grace, instead of falling back into that old and oh-so-comfortable habit of beating myself up for “failing.”

 

Or maybe I’ll just forget all those words for a while, and swirl my soul on a canvas.

I’m participating in NaBloPoMo, and posting everyday in November.

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