“Adventurer” 9×12, oil on paper

I opened my running app just to see if there were any new ones in the mix that I hadn’t done yet. Guess what popped up? The Worst Advice ever run, a lovely companion to the Best Advice Ever run that I’ve been applying to my 31 in 31. 

Ya’ll know I swapped my normal running pants for the ones with pockets so I could keep my phone at the ready to take notes. What can I say? That’s who I am. 

I’m going to share with ya’ll some of the worst advice ever from the guided run and translate it to art (of course I am!) but for now I’m still working through the good advice. In particular– be your own best coach/art teacher. I can’t imagine a good teacher ever telling me, “what’s the use, you’ll never (fill-in-the-blank)” or “I really want you to focus on so-and-so’s work and write a compare/contrast essay for me on how you just don’t measure up.” I’ve got an inner critic. I think we all do. She’s loud and not particularly interesting. But I’m trying this month to be my best coach. The one who really believes in her pupil even in the setbacks. Especially in the setbacks. The one who gets over-the-top excited about a win but who also constantly finds new ways to measure and celebrate success, new ways to comfort and support.  

Today’s painting is another on paper. I used for a reference a photograph I’d taken last year of my youngest son in a canoe– captaining his own ship, being his own best coach. What you can’t see in the painting but can in the reference photo is our front porch steps. We’d had a particularly hard rain and our yard had completely flooded. Ezra got out the canoe and paddled our driveway and dead-end street in sheer delight. He even eventually gave me a ride. 

One of the reasons I need to clear my head most often is because of the kids. I can’t control what happens to them at school, who is nice to them or who is not, who they are nice to or not, if they throw their broccoli right from tray to trash at lunch, or what an active shooter drill does to their psyche. I’m trying, really trying, to let them be their own best coach. Steer their own vessels. Even if it’s just from the safety of our yard. Even if they aren’t going where I would have them go. With them, I want to be more fan, less coach (agonizingly hard!). But thankfully my own inner coach is telling me that I can do it. That I am doing it. That I’ll keep getting better. That’s since there’s no perfect, there’s always more to learn. She’s celebrating little wins and helping me get through the mess-ups. This is about art. This is also not about art.

Be your own best coach. No one else knows their student better. No one else knows just what to say.