I attended a Paint Party on Saturday with my neighbor Fran. A popular way to raise money for an organization, Paint Parties are big in Central Pennsylvania right now. Fran went to a Paint Party at the library a few months ago where they served wine and cheese.🍷
The party we went to was held at the church. No wine, but we did have chocolate-covered pretzels, brownies, cookies, carrots, grapes...🍇
Works for me. 😏
At these parties the instructor holds up an already completed painting. In this case, our assignment was to paint a snowman putting an ornament on a tree. She led us through each step. Cover the canvas with vanilla. Use the taupe for shading. Yellow provides a pale sun. Then white circles for the snowman. A brown strip for the tree. Easy peasy.
The room is relatively quiet, everyone focused on her project. I commented to Fran how relaxing it felt to sit there and just think about the painting. How wide to make the tree? How much green for the pine needles? I wasn't thinking about politics, or the diet I want to try the week before Thanksgiving, or the deadline for my third Harlequin Heartwarming book. I was just pondering about what to put in the empty space beneath the snowman.
Later that evening, I tell my daughter about my day. She, in turn, tells me about visiting a friend from her time in the Air Force. It was, after all, the day after Veteran's Day. Her friend wonders whether she made the right decision to remain in the military. During her four-hour drive, my daughter wonders if she made the right decision to leave the military. We are always thinking, pondering past decisions.
Thoughts can take on a life of their own. One of the benefits of my new writing career is the inability to write and think about things that bother me at the same time. When my twins first left home, I worried a lot. One evening, talking with the daughter attending Penn State, her phone went dead. She was walking home after work, along a street I knew to have dark areas. I panicked and called campus police. They found her safe in her dorm room. So yes, thoughts can run rampant if we allow. Thinking about my characters, how to get them from Point A to Point B, how to make them more interesting to the reader, helps me control runaway thoughts.
Later it hits me. Writing is therapy. So is painting. The act of creating takes you out of your head and in so doing, provides a wonderful sense of peace.
I think that explains the popularity of coloring books for adults. They're everywhere! So try one. Give yourself a little gift of time to focus and relax. Or begin a creative project to get through the holidays. Paint a picture. Knit a scarf. Build a bookcase. Try a new recipe. Whatever you choose, be in the moment. Focus.
By the way, I put a bunny rabbit in the empty space.
P.S. An Allegheny Homecoming, the second book in the Home to Bear Meadows series, is due out April, 2017. The first, of course, is Wanted: The Perfect Mom.