A Lesson from the Hummingbird: Open Doors and Closed Minds

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One summer I was visiting my parents and as I walked through their garage to get to the side door, I heard a little bumping sound. Even though both garage doors were fully open, a hummingbird had gotten trapped and was banging its head against the ceiling believing the only way out was up.

After a few minutes of googling, I learned that hummingbirds often get trapped in garages. They are stubborn little things and will buzz around the ceiling of the garage searching for an opening “up” until they become so exhausted and anxiety ridden that they keel over dead. Sunshine, blue skies through the open door be damned. They just won’t go down to go up.

Two weeks ago in my post I felt very much like that stubborn hummingbird I’d seen years ago (don’t worry my dad was able to get her out gently using a garden rake). And, as fate, would have it, I was working on a hummingbird painting that just wasn’t working when I was at the height of my frustration. After an hour or so of doing the same thing over and over again with my knives (up, must go up!) I abandoned the painting all together. Took a break.

I went back to it with fresh eyes yesterday. Magic.  Distance often creates perspective. When I stop banging my head, sometimes, I can see the opening, the escape, the fresh air that was there all along.

I’m proud of this painting partly because it was born of struggle. When I get sad or upset, sometimes my almost-five-year-old will look me in the eyes and say “Don’t give up, Mommy,” a phrase I now repeat back to him when he’s struggling. By temporarily throwing in the towel on this one, I gained the perspective I needed to not give up on it in the end. Worth it.

It’s hard to know when you’re finding solutions or just banging your head. But I think taking a break is always a good idea.


Care to take a break from your undoubtedly busy life? This painting, and many, many like it will be on display and available at my upcoming show. Details below:

Open and Free to the public

Featuring: Classical Guitarists Kelly Roth & Dr. Kerry Alt,

and the artwork of Denise Hopkins

When: 4:00pm: Music – 5:00pm: Art and Reception

Where: Christ Episcopal Church, 912 South Beach Blvd, Bay St. Louis, MS 39520

Click here for more info.


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Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

July 10, 2017

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