Intimidation waits for us just at the edge of our comfort zone. I was reminded how true that is when I stepped into the room filled with blank canvases. Each rested against an easel and was accompanied by a small tin can filled with paint brushes along with a paper plate dotted with puddles of paint. The night’s project was prominently displayed at the front of the room – a finished painting of a beautiful beach scene.

It was a much appreciated mother-daughter evening that delivered more than just a great memory and a painting to take home. Through our efforts, the fun and even a little bit of stress, I was struck by several unexpected life tips tucked amidst the bright colors and brush strokes.

5 Life Tips I found in my Painting Class:

1. Simple beginnings can be the start of something special.

I was skeptical with the first instruction – paint the top 1/3 of the canvas blue. I’m no artist but I knew even I could handle that. Still I remained hesitant because that first step seemed far too simple to create something I knew would become much more complex. It’s no different in life. When a blank page or a new chapter stares us in the face, we hesitate. Our desired result may feel lofty or impossible. We doubt what is do-able because we look at the situation based on our limits of our resources and experiences. But, when we lean on our faith, our human limitations are removed. We simply need to be faithful to take one simple next step after another by God’s nudging. Then, only then can the brush strokes of our lives create something beautiful. Take a chance! Take that next step.

2. If you don’t like your clouds, paint over them.

A short while later we were guided through the process of making clouds with white paint and a crumpled paper towel. The moment I dabbed the white paint on my beautiful blue sky, I cringed. I didn’t like how it looked and to be honest felt like my new clouds ruined my painting. The instructor saw my distraught expression. Without missing a beat, she said in her chipper voice said “if you don’t like them, paint over them. They’re your clouds.” In life, if we don’t like the outcome of one of our actions, paint another brush stroke. Life is made up of the steps and actions you take. Keep “painting” especially when you don’t like what you did last.  When you don’t like where you are is the best time to keep going!

3. Sometimes you feel like you’ve missed some instructions.

As our painting session progressed, our instructor often demonstrated the next few steps as we intently watched. Despite listening and watching her strokes, a few times when I attempted to replicate her steps, I felt like I was missing something.  In life, we can feel the same way. If we want to continue to make progress, we often need to choose to continue without having all of the answers before taking the next step. In those times, take a step back if necessary but don’t stop all together. Seek clarification and press on. Often we have the pieces we need already. The other pieces aren’t necessary or will become known in time.

4. Comparison takes from you but doesn’t give back.

A few people sharing the studio with us that day had painted before. Their images came to life quicker than for the rest of us. One woman painted a completely different image than the one the group was working on. But, stopping to see others’ work didn’t advance my painting one bit. Admiring their brush strokes wouldn’t finish my picture either. We’ve heard it before but it needs to be said again. Don’t compare. It doesn’t add an ounce of value to creating your own life’s masterpiece and only clouds your vision so that you don’t appreciate what you do have.

5. Leave your mark.

My mom always said an artist always signs their painting. When we finished our fun beach scenes, both my daughter and I signed the corner of the canvas. In life, give it your all. Put your stamp on it. And while you can’t literally sign your name on the world around you, leave your mark by leaving it a better place where ever you go. Choose to be the good today and every day.

It’s your turn.

Has starting a new chapter felt intimidating? Or, do you find yourself trying to make progress while feeling like you’re missing a few of the instructions. Stuck not liking the clouds that are hanging over your sky at the moment? Press on, paint on, and leave your mark. I’d love to hear from you and hear which part resonated most with you. Click to join the conversation!

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