Hello friends,

This morning marks more changes in my home – our latest artist in residence, a printmaker from England, returned home yesterday. Her presence was very welcome during the two weeks she was with us, and her lilting accent was charming and entertaining.

I find having creatives in our home is really quite pleasant, refreshing and inspiring. Both my daughter and I enjoy hosting so if you, or anyone you know is interested in staying with us on Vancouver Island for a little while, don’t hesitate to apply!

Yesterday was spent exploring an Iphoneography course I got for my daughter for her birthday, and it was a full afternoon of creative fun! It’s been really nice to have a couple restful days, as things have been so busy lately, and next weekend will be another full one.

Here is my first Iphoneography attempt: I don’t know what it’s about, but I love how it unfolded in the playtime (tell me what it evokes for you!)

digital art by janelle hardy

So, my daughter said something to me the other day. And, although she’s not a cruel person, teenagers do have a way of seeing to the core of their parents, and pointing things out in ways that are often humbling.

She had asked me a question, and I thought I knew the answer but I was fumbling around in my head, darting from theory to theory, trying to sort out what might be closest to the information she was looking for, before sharing it with her.

Some of this thinking was done out loud. She laughed and said ‘oh Mom, you’re so funny when you’re trying to appear smart!’

I bristled for a moment. ‘Trying!?!?!’ I AM smart!’

Well, I like to think of myself that way, at any rate. In this case, I didn’t have the answer, and was intent on providing one for my daughter. I realized I rely a great deal on my assumptions, conclusions, theories and an ability to reason more than I actually know things. Sometimes specific details and nouns elude me, and then my brain feels foggy and sluggish (which is when I start trying to be smart.)

What’s the option to the trying? What if I were to just not know?

In my current dayjob, I’m getting the answers to those questions on a daily basis. I simply don’t know everything because the carpentry work I’m doing literally takes years of practical experience to acquire. It doesn’t matter how brainy you are, the smarts required in these circumstances take time to attain and absolutely require hands-on experience.

And so I am, daily, learning and being reminded of what it feels like to be a beginner. Because everyday I am making mistakes, and everyday when I’m tempted to appear smart, I don’t. I don’t explain myself, I don’t make excuses, I don’t try to figure it out too much on my own, because that wastes too much time.

So, I submit. I submit to my current state of not knowing. I submit to the two men I’m working for, and their knowledge, and their willingness to teach me, and even if it’s been explained before, I just submit to learning it again (because it really doesn’t hurt to heart something more than once, particularly if it didn’t sink in the first time).

Appearing smart. Being humbled. Accepting where I’m at. Submitting to instruction, guidance and learning.

Ack! Sometimes it’s painful, but most of the time, especially now that I’m getting used to the routines and personalities I’m working with, it’s a relief. Someone has the answers. I don’t actually have to strive to figure everything out all by myself.

The deep irony is this – I’m learning so much from two very skilled, funny and kind men, yet, for ages, forever really, I’ve longed for a female mentor in the fields I’ve been deeply immersed in – the fields of the fine arts, of culture, of self-employment and of healing bodywork. Since I was a teenager I’ve been starving to have someone take me under their wings and guide me. I’ve seen it happen to other friends, and I’ve seen how they shine and thrive. I’ve felt envy and grief that I never had a mentor. It never happened, no matter how much I sought it out and longed for it.

Now, I find myself, in a different field, doing work that’s hard, physically and mentally demanding, as a beginner, working to pay my basic bills while I also do the work of creating and teaching and connecting in these other ways (speaking of which, one of my favourite in-person courses to teach is coming up: Connecting Through Touch), and I’m being mentored by two men, working alongside a third, in a field that is traditionally quite unfriendly to women, and feeling the most supported and nurtured I’ve ever felt.

Life’s a funny beast isn’t it!

So it’s ok, I don’t need to try to figure it all out and be ‘smart’ all the time. What I’m learning is that, more important than the effort of being smart, is striving to be present, to be kind, to listen, and to know that mistakes will be made.

Mistakes will always be made, no matter how hard I try. That’s just how it goes, but it’s always possible to get back up, approach the issue from a different angle, persevere and move on.

As usual, I’m always so curious.

Have you had experiences of being mentored? Of mentoring? What was that like?

What about trying to be ‘smart’, have all the answers, hold everything together on your own? Have you been busted in your sneaky coping strategies, like I was by my daughter? How humbling/humorous was that for you?

And how about getting back up, being resilient, persevering? I’d love to know – just hit reply and tell me!

Janelle

Paying it forward: giving back in small and creative ways

Fun ways to make a difference, even with just a $5 dollar donation.

Habitat for Humanity is an exceptional organization that has truly amazing community and governmental support all over the world. As housing costs become more and more expensive, and get out of reach for even more hard-working people, the work that Habitat for Humanity does is even more relevant and needed..

A film and cause worth supporting: after a chance meeting, Elisa Paloschi picked up her camera and sought to shine a light on Selvi’s incredible journey from child bride to South India’s first female taxi driver.

After having spent over 20 years dealing with false accusations of rape and prison sentences, four lesbian American women have been traveling with their film to tell their story and raise awareness about the injustices in our current system. I can only imagine the toll this has taken on their lives.