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Painting My Way Through the Carpool Lines of Life

by Susan Righter in My Artistic Journey


Miriam Schapiro, Explode, 1972 
Painting My Way Through the Carpool Lines of Life!

I am determined to paint my way through the carpool lines of life.  Yes, you read that right.  OK, not literally, but in a sense I am doing just that.  I am striving to keep the artistic and expressionistic drive (no pun intended) within me alive.  I must create, and as I sit in the various parking lots, drive the various carpools to kids’ activities and sports, my mind keeps on rolling with ideas of art pieces, dance pieces, poems, photo shoots—the natural byproducts of an artistic mind. 

You see, I am first and foremost a woman of faith, followed closely by wife, Mom, daughter, sister, etc.  After that, the list is somewhat changeable, but over the last five years, “artist” would then take the next spot, perhaps followed by “dancer.”  I fear the last description becomes less and less tangible as I age, but once a dancer, always a dancer, I guess.

Without a structure, I may spiral uncontrollably and never be able to focus on anything.  Priorities and order are very important for me.  With clear priorities and order, I can then compartmentalize everything. Once this compartmentalization happens, that’s when the juggling act begins.  Always a woman of faith, wife, Mom, sister and daughter, but a given day could find me wearing the hat of artist, photographer, interior designer, dancer, friend, mentor, and so on.  

What I’ve found is that through prayer and meditation is that my most important task in any of these roles is to be present and open to the possibilities of even the most mundane of tasks.  God allows for inspiration to strike anytime, and it often happens to me while sitting in the car driving carpool or on the sidelines of a youth baseball game or soccer game.  If I’m in tune with that, my unique mosaic begins to take shape.  It’s different from anyone else’s, and the key thing is that I know that and appreciate that.  

I refuse to allow my amazing and important responsibilities as a wife and mother to become drudgery to the point of losing my spark and putting my artistic dreams to rest.  I’m convinced God allows us to be creative in the context of our own lives.  So here’s what that looks like for me:  Wake up, get kids off to school, quiet/journal time, straighten up house, computer time/e-mails/business/personal business, 2-3 hours studio time, errands, home for more kid duty/straightening up, run carpools, home, make dinner/clean up, laundry—whenever possible—it’s never done, read/watch TV, turn in for the night.  Within this framework, there is tremendous opportunity for inspiration and expression!  But I have to continue to make a choice to look at it that way every day!  For you, my reader, it may look entirely different, but you have the choice to look at your framework the same way I do mine.

A couple of days ago, I stumbled by accident on an artist named Miriam Schapiro.  Her work resonates with me, and I feel a kindredness with her in terms of her philosophy about women and her artistic aesthetic.  Here’s an excerpt from an article I read that I loved:  

Schapiro comments, “I felt that by making a large canvas magnificent in color, design, and proportion, filling it with fabrics and quilt blocks, I could raise a housewife’s lowered consciousness.” Her involvement with consciousness-raising efforts, for which she traveled nationwide encouraging women to form support groups and emerge from isolation, earned her the nickname Mimi Appleseed.

If I’m being honest, being a housewife (common term for wife and mother types), can be very isolating!  At first it may seem insulting to first, call us housewives (this WAS the 1970s, I think), and second, that she says we have lowered consciousness.  Hmmm…say what?!  However, once I get past the context of the statement, I get it.  She’s right.  Being a “housewife” is hard work in its own right, and there’s no performance review process, other than human beings you created walking around in the world, speaking and interacting with the world in their own ways.  It’s more than a bit daunting, which makes it even MORE important that we keep those parts of ourselves (those deep, spirit-filled places) alive with possibility, not weighed down by responsibility. 

Love, marriage and family are beautiful gifts, as are dreams for creative fulfillment and there is a place for them to meld perfectly together in a unique pattern that will fit only our lives.  I’ll continue to work on my unique pattern as I paint my way through the carpool lines of life!