Why I Keep Painting Supplies in My Emotional 'Toolbox'


On days like these I don’t know what to do. Noise is too much. I mean the lowest setting on the ceiling fan in the next room is too much. The light is too much. I mean the alarm clock in the farthest corner of the room is too much. I am so cold. But my head. My mind is burning up. I put my cold hands to my forehead over and over for relief. But none comes. I close all the shades. Put on noise-canceling headphones. Sit. Breathe in and out. But I can’t sit. I can’t breathe.

So I pace. But I’m so tired. Yet, so agitated and restless. I send a desperate text as the tears begin to fall. I don’t know what to do. Terrible discomfort. I want to fall into bed. Escape with sleep. Rest. But I cannot. Neither my body nor my mind can fend off this intense desire to jump out of my skin.

I bounce around the room from couch, to kitchen stool, to the floor and back round again. Massaged my neck. Put on loose clothing. Wrapped myself in a blanket. Took notice of my senses. Drank hot tea. I am out of ideas.

I rush around my small house. Thoughts crash into me. Some big. Some small. Some disturbing. Some just silly. I pass by my “art box” in a frenzy. Back and forth until I think to pick up my paint brush. I pour some paint onto an already used canvas. Swoosh the color around. Aggressive at first. Then rhythmic. My body begins to sway as I see my brush dance. My breathing begins to soften as the paint collides into beautiful choreography. My story in the moment.

I never used to believe in “that rhetoric:” Feelings pass. Tomorrow is another day. Ride the wave. Blah blah blah. But as I give myself a chance more and more, I see the possibility in this language. The possibility in me.

I may not always have a canvas available. Or paint at my disposal. But luckily today my toolbox afforded me this option. Each toolbox is different. At home or on the go. The value of even the smallest hint of a toolbox is evident. It, like me, can always be a work in progress.

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