“It’s Okay, Dear One, to be Proud of Yourself” 6×6, oil on canvas

I came across a photo of a little Prothonotary Warbler with its chest pushed out, and I knew that kind of confidence would have to make it into a painting. 

I learned this years back about parenting: It is more important to encourage kids to be proud of themselves than to shower them with our own pride in them. I learned from one expert or another that instead of always saying, “I’m so proud of you” to the high grade, the goal scored, the helping hand to someone in need, I can sometimes try “Wow, you must be so proud of yourself.” And now that I’ve tried it a dozen times or so, I can really see the difference. I don’t want my kids’ confidence to hang in the balance of my approval. I want them to have a deep and abiding sense of their worth. To be in this world firmly instead of being pulled towards the first signs of validation wherever they might find it. 

And perhaps, in this strange world of being an artist in 2024, with its every-changing algorithms and videos and little clickable hearts, I need to cultivate that in myself too. On day 7 I mentioned this two way prayer I learned from Liz Gilbert where she writes a letter to herself from Love each day, a practice I’ve been doing, though not quite daily. Recently in one of my letters, Love wrote this simple and unexpected phrase: It’s okay to be proud of yourself

Below is a little excerpt from the letter, one I’m a little hesitant to share, but one I feel Love would want me to. 

On your run yesterday you felt so good. You got the smallest taste of self-compassion. And you ran without worry of the time or your legs or your heart or your breath. And you wondered if it was me that whispered to you, “your vulnerability is your strength” or if it was just your programming after having consumed too many woo woo podcasts and Brene Brown books. But it was me, and the way to know is because of how it felt. Like an exhale. And I felt that little bit of holy pride welling up inside you. That was me. That was you. And it’s okay, my dear one, to be proud of yourself.


I wonder, dear ones, if there is anything of which you are particularly proud this day? Rooting for you, always. 

Please note: All 31 paintings will be on display at our gallery celebration February 24th from 5-8pm. The show will also feature other artists who have been part of a 31 in 31 community.



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Written by Denise Hopkins

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