Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Learning notes: First drafts are always ugly

Things we did

Two months ago, I found a frame at the seminary's thrift "store" (where everything was free). It held all kinds of re-purposing possibilities. The shape of the frame reminded me of Chinese calligraphy, long and narrow. But my Chinese handwriting was—outside the realm of possibility. Definitely, No.

So, I thought I could write something in English, with black paint to imitate the ink in Chinese calligraphy. It seemed like a good idea, simple enough at the time. But it turned out that my brushstrokes in English were also a definite No.

Full of possibilities.

A definite no.

Things we cherished

I often tell the boys to "practice, practice, practice," and "first drafts are always ugly." In my case, however, my first dozens of drafts were ugly. So, I practiced, and practiced some more, and then some more. Last week, I finally got tired of having papers and brushes and that big frame taking up my floor. And because some friends were flying in for a visit, it was time to frame—something.




Things we pondered

Learning takes time. This exercise helped me to be (a tiny bit) more patient with the boys.

I found that learning one skill often requires the practice of a dozen other smaller skills. While writing with a brush, I needed to control the hair on the brush, the amount of water I use, and the color of the paint. In order to distinguish my thinner lines from my bolder lines, my hand needed to incline the brush at certain angles and assert varying degrees of pressure.

Whether my children are learning to multiply or to love vegetables or to sit still, I have to remember that they are fine-tuning more than just that one skill. As their mother, I am learning to isolate their specific struggle, and help them by breaking the challenge into smaller, bite-size pieces.

Learning to write with a brush also taught me to pay attention and appreciate the details, especially in other people's art. What may seem like nothing in our eyes may have taken the artist hours, perhaps days or weeks or months to capture.

I was catching up with my friend Tina after the service on Sunday, and she shared a few yummy morsels of powbab with our family. These superfruit-chews were amazing, and I could not believe that she created the recipe and is now selling these across the country.

Do you see that butterfly logo on the corner of the packaging? She spent an entire year earning that detail. One year. Non-Genetically Modified Organisms. I am taking a moment to appreciate the butterfly.

The story behind powbab was even more shocking. Back in 2009, Tina fell and hurt her knees. The medication severely affected her entire body, and her mind. For a year and a half, she could not stand or walk and was bound to a wheelchair. Her parents brought her home and nursed her back to health. During that time, she learned about the baobab tree.

"Look! I am wearing heels today!" She showed me her tan pointy heels. I like her taste, in shoes and vitamins. I am all the more grateful to be worshiping the Lord with her, standing.

Learning and detailing takes time. A lot of time.

p/s I'll be going to the Gospel Coalition Women's Conference 2016! I've been watching (and nursing) from home during the last two conferences. Extra early (and least expensive) registration ends on October 31.