Back in the day, as the old timers say, there was a song called “Home on the Range.” I liked the verse that went: Where never is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.”

I don’t mind cloudy skies. In fact in the dry Texas Hill Country, we look forward to those cloudy days and hope they hold some moisture for our thirsty land. For my writers and artist friends, however, I very much cling to “never a discouraging word.” Somewhere, deep in the abyss that is called the Valley of Darkness, a monster was born. His initials were “N. G. E.” – NOT GOOD ENOUGH. We’ve all heard from that monster, and some of us actually buy into his gospel of bad news. As an artist of some years, I’ve entertained this creature many, many times, and it was never to my betterment. I’ve learned through these experiences, that there really is no room for me to be creative if I listen to these thoughts of discouragement.

So, for anyone who is interested, and hopefully some of my students will be, I’d like to pass on some tips I’ve picked up to bury this NGE guy once and for all.

  • When creating, whether it be writing, painting, planting a garden or baking a cake, realize that nothing HAS to be perfect! It’s o.k. to be just o.k. sometimes! Of course we all want to do our best, but we need to realize that the journey is really what it’s all about. Relax and enjoy the process! Life’s too short to beat up on yourself!
  • Recognize and congratulate yourself for making the effort. The only ones who truly fail are those who refuse to try something new and different.
  • If you see this monster trying to spoil your fun, make an effigy. With clay, paper macheʹ, old nylons or paper towels, build you the ugliest creature you can dream up – Put a face on him or her – make him as large as you like. Then totally destroy him – hack at him with your hobby knife, burn him with your inspiration candle, stick pins in him and utterly obliterate him. This healing process will by its very silliness make you realize you’re giving space to something that doesn’t belong in your life.
  • Do NOT compare yourself to others. God didn’t make any two creatures alike – why should you expect to be just like your neighbor? Be yourself – give of your very best efforts, then pat yourself on the back for showing up. Some people won’t!
  • And about showing up – that is the one thing that is required of each of us. We can dream, we can hope, we can wish for more talent, more time, more abilities, but the true proof of the pudding is that we show up. We invest our time, we give of our efforts, we fight the temptation to compare, and we learn that every little thing we do has value. Sometimes our work turns out to be better than we dream. We CAN surprise ourselves occasionally!
  • Plan to succeed – when you are painting or writing, assume it will be a good work – Learn to look at your work and say: “What do I like about this?”

If you first find something positive about your work, it will be easier then to go on and improve what needs to be worked on – always give yourself credit for time spent. Even Michelangelo wasn’t born sculpting – it took time, and study, and dedication. We CAN and WILL be Good Enough. So nyah, nyah, nyah!! See you in our Dance with the Art party on Friday! Bring some CD’s!

One thought on “HOME ON THE RANGE

  1. Love this advice. I think all of life’s learning is about the process. Savoring the moments of overcoming the challenges, reflecting on what I learned from the experience & remembering to lighten up my attitude about what I’m doing – laugh, be thankful, let go of the time & spread cheer as you go:) Looking forward to spreading some paint w/ joy on Friday & dancing w/ friends


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