Use Your Confident Brush
I am a self-proclaimed crafting addict. I love to sew and create Halloween costumes and theater costumes and more. Anything with fabric and scissors I love to tackle. But I also love to draw and color with my kids. And paint and glue. And collage and decoupage. And come up with simple crafting things for around the house, everything from potholders to duvet covers. I just love to use my hands. It should come as no surprise that my friends in California were also craft-addicted moms. We often found ourselves planning or creating something for the next school PTA-inspired event.
One year, we were tasked with decorating the school for the annual book fair. To say we were tasked with it implies that we were forced to do it but let’s be honest - this was our favorite time of year and the task was of our own making. One of my closest friends and fellow PTA moms, Patti, came up with a brilliant idea: let’s decorate each classroom door (of which there were over a dozen) like the cover of that teacher’s favorite children’s book. It will be beautiful and bold and festive and so different from anything we have ever done. Great idea, right?
Except who is going to paint all of those doors? In 15 days? Oh - us. Yeah.
That is a ton of work.
I don’t think I can do that!
That takes real artistic talent.
I don’t know how to draw people!
I don’t know how to draw anything! I can’t paint anything that size!
This is too hard!
(This was all of us talking at once when Patti announced the plan. Except for Makiko, who is legitimately a brilliant artist in her own right. Makiko was ready to go. While we complained, she started drawing.)
Of my friends, Patti is particularly skilled with crafts. She doesn’t just follow the directions to get something done. If anything, Patti is more likely doing her best to not follow the directions so that she can get it done her own way. She isn’t afraid to just dive in. She is already at peace with how it turns out before she has started because she has decided to do it her way and her way is inherently just fine, because she says so. And whatever she does actually turns out brilliantly. She steps forward into projects with a level of boldness and certainty that we all deeply admire.
I simply can’t roll like that. I need a plan. I need detailed instructions. I need all of the correct supplies and preferably, a video of exactly how to get it done. While I can often see the finished product, I am usually too fearful to just start working on it until I am absolutely sure I can get it done perfectly. Fundamentally, I am just too afraid.
Patti knows me well. She watched me getting started on one of my assigned doors, slowly and painfully measuring and marking little dots, only to quickly erase them to start again.
“Lory, we don’t have time for that,” declared Patti. These doors needed to be done yesterday. “Get your paint. Just use your confident brush.”
Confident brush? What’s that? I don’t think I have one of those. I should buy me one of those! What does it look like?
Patti explained. Have you ever watched professional painters? When they get to the corner and they need to paint the walls but not the ceiling they pull out this sharp brush and just paint a perfectly straight line. No blue tape. No hesitation. And it’s amazing. They use their confident brush. They have a proper tool, yes. But more importantly, they have a proper attitude.
Using my confident brush became a bit of a joke amongst all of us, long after the doors were decorated beautifully and other projects came our way. When sewing together, my hesitation cutting into the fabric led to the declaration - use your confident scissors. Cut with confidence and believe in your ability to do it well. Believe in the skills you already have at your disposal. When we were prepping for a party at the house and I needed to finish cooking something I was to use my confident spoon while wearing my confident apron. Driving to a new part of town and parking in the city required the all-powerful confident glasses to see the good parking spots. And dealing with our middle schooler’s crazy behavior required - you guessed it - my confident mommy voice.
Using your confident brush proves to be quite exhausting. Once you know of its presence, it becomes nearly impossible to stop working for what you want. There are no excuses for stopping or passing on the task. After all, anything is possible when you have the right tool to just get it done. That confident brush is there to remind you that success lies not in the tool that you are using but in the spirit of the person holding that tool. The confident brush is your confidence, ready to work when you are. We all have a confident brush. We just need to stop being afraid to use it.
I have been thinking a whole lot about that confident brush that Patti taught us about. As I embark on a new adventure in Atlanta, I think I’m going to need to pull it out of storage and employ it time and time again. It will take large doses of confidence to meet new neighbors and smile. It will take confidence to bravely walk my kids into news schools in the coming weeks, hopefully showing them by example that everything is going to be just fine. It will take endless supplies of confidence to set up my new household and continue to take care of myself along the way. Confidence will be required to weather the emotional roller coasters that my entire family will be riding as we find ourselves far away from our dearest friends and far away from the place we called home for the past seven years.
Crafting with Patti, and all of my friends back in California, was delightful. And it represents the best times I can remember while living there. I can’t thank them enough for being such an important part of my story, which I will cherish always. And special thanks to dear Patti. It is because of her that I can paint a beautifully decorated door - and move across the country with the confidence I know I have inside of me to be just fine. Look Patti! I didn’t forget to pack my confident brush! When you come to Atlanta I’ll show you.