Look for the Beautiful

This morning I decided to paint. That may not seem unusual to you or maybe it does, I don’t know. But it matters. It matters because right now, I’m struggling. It matters because right now, you are struggling.

We struggle because the world is filled with so much terrible things. It seems to overwhelm and fill up the spaces in our hearts. I sank into a depression at the middle of last year and it took quite a bit to pull me out of it. I burned out and I crashed. Then I had to start over.

I focused last year on all the negative things that were surrounding me. I worked as a lawyer to help people who were involved with child protective services. I worked at a guardian ad litem for children who had emotional problems. My prayers were filled with pleas to God for those who were caught in the heroin epidemic. I found out I live near the cross roads of sex trafficking in the United States. My heart broke for all those people.

My heart was broken. I cried out to God and I didn’t think he heard me. So, I crashed and burned.

For the last five months, I have been quarantined with my new family. I got married in February and two weeks after we returned from our honeymoon, we were quarantined together. That has been a challenge. Step parenting is new to me. Having a partner is new to both my husband and I. Oh, and I’m underemployed because we didn’t plan for a pandemic when I left my job to recover my mental health.

So, I began to spiral down again. Maybe you have too.

Until I saw the beauty in all this negativity. Things are still hard. But, I looked around and I saw beautiful things. I began to work on various craft projects. I wrote my book and started this blog. My new family gets to spend a lot of time together. Everyone has more time on their hands to do things they love.

You see, I love art. I love music. I love theater. I love food. It is my goal to live a good life where I can experience these things so much. To be quarantined and locked down stifled the part of my heart that loves to experience these things.

A perspective change makes all the difference. I stopped focusing on what I could not do and I began to focus on what I can do. I can pray for all the people who are suffering through this difficult time. I can pray for this new family. I can take care of my mental health by doing the things that I love. When things were ‘normal’, I didn’t take the time to do these things.

Now, I have looked around and found the beautiful in the ordinary life that surrounds me. I was so busy before that I was unable to craft or write or paint. I also didn’t know what to do with all the art that I was making so I stopped doing that. I didn’t have time to scrapbook so I stopped. I didn’t really take the time to read. I didn’t look up at the night sky. I didn’t take the time to do the things I love.

We’re connecting with each other in new ways. Museums have made their collections available on the internet for virtual tours. So we can see things that otherwise we may never have been able to see. Families are spending more time being together rather than doing together.

At the beginning of this week I stumbled across something called an art journal. I knew about junk journals, sketch books, writing journals, scrapbooks (which are essentially picture journals), etc. But never an art journal. I typed it in a search on Pinterest. I scrolled through. I saw all the beautiful art there and my heart lifted.

The art journal makes it possible for me to paint again. I have time to practice my skill without taking up a bunch of space in my home and spending a lot of money on more things. I have tutorials that I never did because I didn’t have time in my life or space in my home for the canvases.

When we leave a domestic violence relationship things are difficult. I can’t remember being able to see the beautiful in anything during that time. I was so focused on trying to get a job, going to school, and putting up the walls that I didn’t notice even the little things. But now, I know that God leaves the little things laying around for us to catch and see everyday. A beautiful sunrise, a butterfly floating past on a breeze, a set of twinkling stars in the night sky, the peace of a baby sleeping, or the contagious belly laugh of a toddler. These little bits of beautiful are just waiting for us in the every day ordinary life that we have. We can see them if we just change our focus a bit.

My new perspective means that I can do the things I love in different ways. I can stop thinking about my inability to go to a museum in person and do a virtual tour in my living room. I can go fly a kite with my family instead of flying off to somewhere. I can video chat with my friends instead of being in the same room.

We hear a lot ‘this is the new normal’. I began to resent that I had to have a new normal. But, when we look around, it’s not really all that bad. My new normal means that I work from home part time. My new normal means that I paint in a journal instead of on canvases. My new normal includes a lot of prayer for people that I don’t even know all around the world. My new normal is a slower and easier pace of life.

This morning, I painted in a whole new way. I watched a tutorial on how to paint a galaxy in an art journal. I painted the tutorial.

What does your new normal look like? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear about your new perspective. Look around and see if you can find something beautiful in the ordinary.

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