A Lesson on Perspective

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Pinot Group

In February, Pinot’s Palette opened in the Roosevelt neighborhood and to get the word out, they invited the writers from Des Moines Moms Blog to come and try out their new business. I had done a painting girls’ night out at a similar place when I lived down in Texas, and I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to do it again. This time I got to go with some of the wonderful ladies from DMMB and my best friend since first grade, Heather.

Little did I know that I would pick up some inspiring insights on life during the evening.

While we were receiving instruction on how to paint, I was quickly falling behind everyone else. The instructor (who was great, by the way) was moving along to the next step while I was trying to get mine to look “just right.” I may not have been the only one lagging behind, but I certainly was the only one I could see around me who wasn’t keeping up.

Finally, we got to a point where everyone was to take a break, have some wine, chat with friends while we let our paintings dry a bit before the next step. Oh, good, I thought. Now I’ll be able to catch up! I proceeded to work on my masterpiece but quickly realized I had better hurry if I wanted any time to be social and let my painting dry! Just one more thing…. Okay… almost… done. For now.

When break time was over, I got the feeling the instructor spoke directly to me. What he said resonated with me not only about my painting abilities that night, but with my life in general. He told us to look across the room and notice how nice everyone’s paintings looked. He wondered if we wished ours looked that nice. He said, the reality is, they do look that nice… you just have to take step back and look at yours from that same distance.

Whoa.

He was right. I was comparing my painting to others that were quite some distance away, and they looked great! I wished mine looked that amazing, as well. I had been focusing on the little details in my painting that I was viewing up close and how I didn’t like this line or that brushstroke. I wasn’t paying that much attention to the whole picture. And I certainly wasn’t stepping back from the details to see what I had actually accomplished.

Then I got to thinking. This is so true with the rest of my life, as well! Here’s where I get metaphorical:

Often, I find myself looking at other people’s lives (particularly other moms, especially as a single mom) and thinking, Wow, her life is amazing. I wish mine looked more like hers. I end up viewing these women’s lives from a distance where they seem to have it all together. All the while, I am staring at my life up close: messy, uneven, not going the way I’d like it to. Do you do the same?

The crazy thing is, once I stepped away from my painting, I saw that it actually was quite good. Reversely, once I approached the paintings that were across the room, I saw that they had some of the same flaws I had in my work of art. Their brushstrokes were not straight, they had smudges here and there, and some of their colors had mixed to a less-than-desirable shade. In one woman’s painting, I saw she had been obsessing over things so much she created quite a mess even from a distance. Sadly, I found myself comparing mine to hers and was glad mine wasn’t that bad. Ugh. Stop with the comparing, Jennifer! What does it matter if hers is worse than yours? It doesn’t. End of story.

I could rewrite the previous paragraph and insert the word “life” for the word “painting” and instead of the word “brushstrokes” use “kids, marriage, job, clothes, cooking, hair, house, car…” really, any number of things we as women find ourselves feeling self-conscious about.

This is not a new lesson for me. I have learned this time and time before, and yet, it is something I need to hear again and again: we all do our best. We, as mothers – as humans – are not anywhere near perfect, and anyone who knows us intimately can tell us that.

Will you join with me in stepping back, looking at the whole picture of our lives? Let’s gain a little perspective (again, for the millionth time) by not looking so closely at the things that bother us or that we just can’t fix. Chances are, those “mistakes” are really quite nice, or at least make us fabulously unique. Let’s focus once again on everything we have accomplished.

Our lives look pretty darn good… from a distance!

Pinot Pair

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Jennifer is a single mom of two boys. She does her best to get to places on time, despite being a chronically late person and the fact that neither she or her boys are morning people. She recently went back into the classroom after staying home for nine years to raise her kids, and she credits her sanity and success at this endeavor to the fact that she has incredibly supportive parents, family, and friends. She also has a network of single moms that truly “get it” and who encourage her on a daily basis. When she’s not hanging out with her kiddos, Jennifer enjoys writing at a coffee shop, trying new restaurants, or catching up with friends.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Now I am singing Bette Middler’s “From a Distance.” Ha! Seriously, such a great post! Thank you for your wisdom.

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