Monday, September 17, 2012

The "not your best" Box

Ouch! It STILL hurts but I'm going to share this story to put it out there, to release it. To let it go. I'm crafty. I'm an artist. (There I said it!) Many moons ago, before our "Oooops Baby" I started selling my art pieces (OMG Art pieces??? Who do I think I am using words like ART PIECES?!?!) at local stores and craft shows.

Personal plug here... I AM AN ARTIST because all of my pieces are "one of a kind". I never make items after items in an assembly line style. Each piece that I create has different feelings put into them. Different moods, dreams and beliefs set each piece apart from the other.

Anyway, I was elated and up in the clouds when I started to sell items here and there. I was tickled that people wanted my things! At that time, I was on a kick of repurposing old cigar boxes into special boxes for people to store "secret" or favorite things. One lady shared with me how she used her box for storing her jewelry and eyeglasses beside her bed. It made me giggle to think that she touched something that I created every night before sleeping and first thing each morning. Wow!

This is my table display from a very early show. Oh how I've evolved... a little! LOL

Well, my family and I were visiting my parents in Florida. I decided to give my mom one of my cigar boxes. I chose a pretty pastel one with roses that I thought would really go with the feel of her bedroom.

This is the box I chose to give to her. I loved the chip at the top of the box. It meant history to me, that this box was USED. I am attracted to items that show wear and tear and usage. Perfect pieces say "boring" to me. Anyway, I really liked it. I put the "T" in THINGS slightly askew to silently illustrate that things should never be perfect. The crystal knob that you see to the left is similar to the one that used to sit on top of it. I know that this box isn't phenomenal and it's really quite elementary, but at the time, I thought it was special.

So I presented her with the box and could tell right away that she didn't think much of it. If she did, she would've spent hours finding the right spot to proudly display it. I let it roll off of my shoulders. My mother's VERY particular and she is even more particular when it comes to her home and what she displays in it. I decided that I wasn't going to take this personally and left it alone.

A year or two later, while visiting my parents again, my mom and I were in her closet looking over her quilt collection. My mom has as many quilts as most people have underwear and each and every one of them is GORGEOUS. Soft and cozy, all luscious prints with peachy roses and sage ivy or tiny blue flowers. I am talking heavenly! With matching sheet sets for each quilt to boot! I spied, hidden under a quilt on the very top shelf my box. The box that I had given to her!!! So I took it down and jokingly said to her "Wow Mom! I feel like a kid again, brokenhearted that you wouldn't hang my artwork on the fridge because it didn't match the wallpaper." I was blown away when my mother said "I am not going to use this just because YOU MADE IT! It is NOT your best work and I am just telling you this because it's NOT and I know that you could do better." with which I rebutted that "Perfect strangers PAY ME for these boxes." My mom then went on a tirade about the small town that I live in and how none of the people that live there have any sense of taste or class and why would I WANT to live there... So, I shut down my normal way, the way I do when I know that I can not please her and then in my head I'm ushered back into my pre-teen years when I'm being told how much prettier I'd be if I only lost 10lbs. UGH! Let it go.............

The back of the box after I attempted to tear off all my work and start again...
 FYI... I'm eating my prunes again while blogging this. It seems to be an effective way to chew, chew, chew, swallow, swallow, swallow to get them down! I seem to overlook the revolting texture and consistency in my mouth when I am focusing on something deep!

The box flies back home with me to my tiny little podunk town that I lovingly refer to as "my home town". I tried to tear off all of the pretty little images that I carefully chose to decoupage onto the box. To my surprise, my decoupaging skills were quite good and I couldn't remove the images without just sanding the shit out of the whole damn box. The box ends up in a Rubbermaid tote labeled "Cigar Boxes".

Years later and just last week, I unearthed that box while organizing my new "temporary studio" in our new home. (My "real studio" will involve some demolishon work by My Big Guy and his right side man, my Bro in Law. It will be a timely and costly project so my hubs, the love of my life and the wind beneath my wings, INSISTED that I set up a temporary space so that I can get back to my art and sanity. God I love him. He knows what's good for me before I can even identify it and put it into words. How lucky am I? "Thank you Baby Jesus!" (quote from Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights... I am perversely attracted to Will Ferrell BTW.)

Look how I lovingly trimmed that rose to be decoupaged around the original label on the box! LOL And THIS was NOT my BEST WORK?!?!?!?!? WTF
Well, I pulled the box out of the Rubbermaid tote and it made it's way into my studio. I use it to hold all the crap that I come across that I can't seem to find a good place for. The box is labeled "Things" and that's exactly what goes in it now... Things that don't have a place! What's really cool is I now have the guts and balls to look at it and be reminded that it "wasn't my best work". But see, there's real beauty in this. I know the box is probably not my best, but it's still pretty. It still has value. It's still useful. Guess what else I put in that box? Mom's words. I don't know what to do with them just yet... or ever. They have no place in my life or heart or head so they can just sit there with the other junque. until I know where to put them. And the funny thing is... as I type this... I'm realizing that those words and that box are EXACTLY where they need to be... being put to use in a quiet way, visible, but tucked away, as a gentle reminder that things won't always be perfect and perfect isn't always what I'm after.


  1. Michell's.....your blog is awesome!!! I love that you are using this blog to grow and heal and live!!!!! Something to think about.....each and every thing you create is your best least at that precise moment you created it comes from your heart.your imagination and your many hours of labor - that makes it the best!

  2. Michelle, I am sorry that you had to experience this with your mom. I'm very glad you shared about it in your blog. That was a good, good first step towards healing. I know as I look back on my relationship with my own daughters that there must have been times when my perfectionism wounded their hearts. I have let go of much of that which used to drive me...with God's help.
    I don't know your faith background so, I'm stepping out here...
    One thing that has helped me when I experience events that are wounding and stick with me - is to get alone and ask Jesus to gently show me, separate from the feelings of harm, where he was during that event. So - "Jesus, where were you when...?" and then, "Jesus, what do you think about me?" Seeing/sensing his presence in that event is profoundly healing. Plus, he always has good and loving things to say!
    God gave us an imagination and he loves to use it, not only to empower us to create as artists yet, also to bring restoration and peace to our souls. Thanks, once again, for your vulnerability. I know many reading this post will be able to relate to the experience you've been through.

  3. Hello Michelle, thank you for your lovely words on my blog today. I came over to explore your blog and found this post and my heart feels heavy and sad for you. I don't want to judge your mom or say anything out of place, but I do want to say that when you create anything, I believe it comes from the heart and a piece of love is placed in it. Some people just don't seem to relate to that concept. Judgement... Uggggh. I have had experiences very similar to yours, and I can remember them clearly to this day. Those memories have been the main block to me believing that I could ever create anything beautiful that poeple would want to buy or own. I was a teacher for many years and the parents of some of the children I taught would look at their child's art work and laugh, or tell the child what they should have/could have done differently. Parents seem to turn into art critics when presented with a piece of their child's work as if it somehow reflects on them if their child isn't knocking out miniature Sistine Chapel ceilings at age 4, or 44. My friend has three children who are forever making her things. Beside her bed she has a shoe box jewellery box made by her son which has paper clip hooks in the lid to hang her jewellery on. It has no decoration on it other than the name of the shoe brand and his carefully placed paper clips. It's full to the brim with all her jewellery, gold, silver, plastic beads, the whole lot. I saw it the last time I went to stay with her and it told me all I needed to know about how she related to her children. The box you made for your mum is beautiful in every way. Em ♥

  4. P.S. I love a good f-bomb. Really rolls of the tongue when life feels frustrating! Em ♥

  5. Hi Michelle, your words really touched my heart deeply. I felt a little like I had wrote some of your story. Brought me to tears. Please keep sharing your insights on this blog because you are amazing. xx Jo

  6. MIchelle,
    I stumbled upon your blog through our Flying Lessons class and face book. I think back to all my earlier art some 30 years ago and recall the critics in my life and wonder how the heck I can even begin to think I can continue to create. I'm not sure why some souls feel the need to critique and perhaps they have no idea that they are even doing it. Many think they are helping by giving us advice. For us tender spirits, a slight veil of judging is enough to shut us down for a life time.

    I love junk. I am such a sentimental being. I have my grandmother's old glasses, my prom dresses shoved in my old trunk and even old bowls, cups and saucers and toys. I am so emotionally attached to the energy that comes from the history of these items. It's so hard to discard them.

    Your blog will resinate with many people. And the idea of making new from old is even better.

    Maybe we should have been born in the depression era. My grandma used to save butter wrappers, for Pete's Sake.