The Blog

The Art of Holding Back

 


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Up early this morning and trying hard NOT to just jump on my phone and get caught scrolling and lose hours. The line between business and life gets blurry! Anybody with me? Scrolling aimlessly just to quiet my head and get lost in someone else’s story, or drilling down into someone’s IG feed to research a future event I’ll be painting. It’s a fine line.

So sitting outside before daylight and TRYING to just be.

Why is that so hard?

A few clouds in the sky starting to glow from the sun coming up. And I watch them morph and move slowly. They’re fine with just hanging out. I try to just rest in that.

Creative, do you ever do this?

Play with what your palette would be if you were to paint the scene in front of you? White clouds, blue sky right? Nope. Not at all. Not this morning – I see no blue. And the white is that infinite sunny almost metallic-feeling pearly glow that’s just highlighting some outlines of the clouds. My palette would be a soft grayish/taupe/orchid, and a barely there coral, and just a hint of a blue gray to best capture what I was was seeing and studying in those clouds.

And I’d probably paint in watercolor. And I’d have to HOLD BACK lots. To best portray the perfection in this morning’s scene I’d have to just allow a bit of color, pigment, some very controlled technique.

I remember realizing the art of holding back when my stepbabies were in the beginning of their teenage years. It seemed like all the way up to 12 years and 364 days old they were still little kids, enough to where we had real exchanges, real conversation, and I was able to talk some life experience into them and they seemed interested and had questions. You know. A relationship. Before everyone’s phones took over. And attitudes started to flair. And hormones landed us all in our separate corners of the house withdrawn and recovering from what started out as parenting but blew up into “you can’t do that!” and “no one else’s parents do this”.

I began to see the need to listen more than make everything a lesson.

Oh but if THEY would just listen to me I could save them some heartache! They’d do better in school! They’d be happier! Our home would be happier! They’d have a more solid group of friends because I lived through the teenage years, no not at all the same as kids these days but I could relate and had things to share…. but my “sharing” came off preachy. And they’d shut down.

I saw that when I held back and listened, they’d come to me. Sometimes just to unload some drama. Sometimes to think through dealing with a bad grade. Sometimes just to tell us a silly thing a buddy did. (And I fastforwarded a couple years and saw the potential for that buddy to become a troublemaker in the near future but I didn’t go there! HOLD BACK, Cindy. Listen.).

Step parenting is a very delicate dance. Not exactly one I ever thought would be in my future. I had plans from the age of 4 or 5 to start my own biological family of 4 kids, be a stay at home rockstar mom-master of the picturesque home and partner to my happy hubby all around 26 years old. Here nearly 20 years later, I see that I’ve always dreamt huge, no holding back in my ideal images of what could be.

Sometimes holding back allows for unexpected blessings. A more solid foundation (though often painful to start down that path). Growth. A bit less stress if you can just rest in the fact knowing that you’re doing your job the best you can, and supporting and available for your loved ones without smothering and preaching and correcting constantly.

Quite a bit to unpack here.

You’re always welcome to land in our safe place by a comment here, a private message to me on facebook. Other step parents, boss babes, sweet souls who’ve survived fertility treatments hoping to build their family need a safe place to gather, and I haven’t quite structured what that might look like. But I can see a group of supporters, listeners, others gathering just to share, be, celebrate the wins of all sizes and provide some hand-holding or a shoulder as other walk through their choices. Not ever to bash and stay in the sorrow, but to support and find a lighter way to deal with their daily, wherever they are on the path.

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