What you really should be doing

4:30 am. I should be sleeping.

Yeah, I should be, but I guess the barista didn’t catch the DECAF part of my order yesterday afternoon, so I’ve been UP. ALL. NIGHT. But I’m not complaining, because around 2:30 I decided to take advantage of my wakefulness and the quiet to pursue the thing that’s been giving me life the past month or two…




Rather than toss and turn, I came downstairs and painted this:



Here’s the thing, though… I’m not a painter, I’m a writer. I could have been writing. Maybe, should have been writing? Writing is what I do.


I write. I’m a writer. I’m wriiiiting! (Bill Murray, What About Bob?)


I should be working on my book. Blogging more regularly. Writing retreat messages, and yet, I have this crazy desire to paint and I’m not sure why.

Why is it so much fun to dabble in a medium that is so bullheaded and contrary? Watercolor is not a good fit for someone with control issues.

Think about it… water has a mind of its own, goes where it wants, drips, dribbles and drops everywhere but where you want it to go. It won’t stay put; not for me anyway. Ornery paint! No wonder “loose” watercolor is so popular with beginners.


I should be doing something productive rather than playing with watercolors

I should be doing something more producive that playing with watercolors


Painting “loose” is harder than it looks. My pics above, while ambitious, are not the best representations of loose watercolors, and when I read this definition I understood why I find it so difficult:

To paint loosely, you need to first change your mindset. Loose painting is about capturing an impression or essence of a scene, rather than painting a photographic representation. Once you get hold of this idea, you can let go of your expectations of perfection and focus on the feelings, mood and colors that you feel and see in front of you. To get the fluid look, you have to use more fluid.


It’s about letting go of control.


Go with the flow.

See where it leads.

Guess where it’s leading me?


I’m like a joyful little child with their first set of finger paints. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing and don’t care; I just enjoy it.



The only place in our house where I have room to paint is the kitchen island and I’ve taken to just leaving all my stuff out, right there in the middle of the room. Me, the neat freak, always on my husband about leaving things lay around, am now perfectly happy with paints, brushes, cups, paper and assorted paraphernalia spread out all over the place, like I’m Cezanne or something.


Art is messy

(The hair dryer is for drying the wet paint; I don’t blow dry my hair while I’m painting–not that good at multi-tasking, lol.)


Every time I walk into the room, it’s all right there, calling out, “Come and play!” And I do, experimenting with landscapes which are way beyond my ability at this point, funny birds, goofy cats, dainty flowers, whimsical flowers and combining watercolor with Zentangle.



I’m starting to think I should pick up a bunch of Dollar Store picture frames for the keepers and a bigger wastebasket for all the ones that look like a monkey painted them.

Also, I now dream in watercolor. Seriously. Technicolor explosions of brilliant hues flow into each other, patterns and shapes skim across my brain like surfers riding the perfect wave. In short, friends… I’m having fun.


I feel better


More creative





It feels good

Good to learn something new at my age. Good to forget about everything and just be present. Good to do something without any pressure to perform. Plus it’s satisfying to surprise my friends with my little works of “art.”

I’ve prayed for years to become more creative and God answered my prayers in a way that is amazing.

Me? Paint? Seriously?



Of course, I will continue to write and hope and pray that this newfound interest and burst of creativity will transfer to the words I write. The reason why I keep posting pictures of watercolors isn’t because I think I’m some great artist; it’s to encourage YOU to try something new, too. Something you have in your heart but haven’t had the courage to experiment with.


Following your heart is not always an easy thing to do, as I’m sure you’ve discovered.


In fact, the more I pursue the urge to play with my paints, the more opposition I experience. Listen, friends, I get it. I understand why you haven’t picked up your fancy camera, unpacked the Instantpot you got for Christmas, practiced your dusty flute (ahem) or taken that dance class you’ve been dreaming about.


You have (and I have) a classic case of the “shoulds.”


The Shoulds


I should write my book proposal. (And I should.)

I should clean out the hall closet.

I should stick to what I know.

I should do something productive.

I should do a reality check.

I should grow up.


As they say in my Hope*Writers group, “I’ve been ‘shoulding’ all over myself.”


Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m putting my foot down. No more “shoulding.”

This new hobby or passion or whatever you want to call it, is a GIFT and I’m going to savor it; go with the flow of that paint that has a mind of it’s own and see where it takes me.

Maybe I’ll illustrate a book of my poems. (Oh, forgot to mention that I’ve been writing a lot of Really. Bad. Poems. So much fun!) Maybe I”ll make greeting cards. Take lessons. Or maybe I’ll just piddle around and do it for fun.

Yep, that’s what I’ll do. Have a little fun. Why is that such a hard concept?


Here’s the final and perhaps most revealing thing about all this:


I bought that fancy set of watercolors in December 2016 as a birthday present to myself and never even lifted the lid until a couple months ago.


  • Too intimidating.
  • Too silly.
  • I’m not a painter.
  • I don’t know how.


I allowed those lies to block, squelch and stifle my joy for three years.

I “should’ve” known better and I say that because ten years ago the Lord gave me a word that basically said:


Mine me, mine yourself; everything you need you already have. You see a waste place, a barren field of weeds, but I see the buried treasures waiting to be unearthed. There are diamonds, rubies. Dig deep. Click To Tweet


I “should’ve” listened. Well, I’m listening now. I’m digging deep.


You really should follow your heart


I’m following my heart. Pursuing this creative gift that’s bringing life and that life is Him. I’m paying attention to all the things He says I should be doing and I pray you will as well.


“… I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver





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8 thoughts on “What you really should be doing

  • February 6, 2020 at 1:22 pm

    How beautiful your watercolors are! I’ve always like watercolors which is funny because I’ve always struggled with anxiety and control! I loved that the paint and the paper had a say in what eventually was expressed on the paper. As your brush hovers over the blank watercolor paper, it reminds me of Genesis 1 as God‘s Spirit broods over the void. “Let there be …”
    Kids don’t seem to mind making a big mess when they create. I need to get back to B enjoying the process and experience exuberant joy in creating like Daddy! Thanks for the reminder. (-;

    • February 7, 2020 at 3:13 am

      Thank you, Sandy… that means a lot coming from you!

  • February 6, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    What are you kidding me? YOU are an artist as well as a writer. Your talented and it inspires me to get back into making some art. I am glad your having fun 🙂

  • February 7, 2020 at 11:28 am

    Susan, this truly is a heart to heart Word. Asking could I borrow your “word” to share in my SS lesson. You share your thoughts so beautifully. 💕

    • February 7, 2020 at 1:40 pm

      Of course! I would consider it an honor for you to share my thoughts. Please let me know how it goes! Love you, lady!

  • February 8, 2020 at 7:27 am

    Your watercolour works are beautiful! I have wanted to start watercolouring too but the paints just don’t seem to want to co-operate with me 😁. This message was on point for me, it’s time for the heart to be nourished. thanks for sharing!

    • February 8, 2020 at 4:37 pm

      I totally get that! My artist friend says that when it comes to watercolor, the paint and the paper have a say on what will eventually be expressed on the paper. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


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