mastery & all things worthwhile

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Artistic Endeavors, Balance, Popular95 Comments


I’ve been thinking about that word a lot lately and have been challenged by it as I’ve been reading books like Essentialism and The Creative Habit. If I had to draw a diagram of my creative journey, it would probably look more like a spiderweb than a straight or even meandering path that heads in one direction.  And, I have to be honest, these books have made me feel like that’s wrong.

I once was on a straight path that led to Broadway. The markers on that path were plays, voice lessons, dance classes, monologues, auditions, stagecraft, improvisation, and hours of rehearsals. It was practicing a routine until I could do it without thinking and rehearsing a script until I could mutter it in my sleep. It was singing scales to improve my range and learning how to stand in the hotspot of a light without looking at it.  It was wearing crazy costumes, dying my hair, and putting on a new character every few weeks or months, depending on how long a show would run. I was focused and determined from the time I listened to Andrea McArdle belt out Tomorrow on my tape player to when it came time to chose which college I would attend and what I would study.  Of course, I went to a fine arts college and earned a degree in musical theatre, so I could continue on the path that started when I sang Together at Last with my dad when I was four.

When I decided to marry someone on the path to being a pastor, musical theatre was something I agreed to give up.  It wasn’t that I could never act, sing, or dance again, but it just wasn’t going to work as a profession.  Over the years, I’ve been involved with church plays and drama camps, but I became a creative without a one thing to pursue.

I need to insert here that I don’t regret that decision.  There are times when I wonder what it would be like to be on stage again and how far I could’ve gone with it, but in my heart I know I was good…but not that good.  I often got roles because I was spunky, eager, reliable, and determined, not because I was the best.

Anyway, with professional theatre in my rearview mirror, I knew I needed a place for that creative energy and all of that determination to land and it landed on my home.  Like a virus needing a host, my creativity needed a new place to dwell in order to survive.  It dwelled in sewing curtains, painting furniture, rearranging rooms, and making do with thrift store finds and hand-me-downs.  It lived happily there for many years but evolved, spiderwebbed, and inhabited other creative pursuits over the years – writing, photography, styling, designing, drawing, painting.

And all of this is now trying to coexist inside my very finite 41-year-old self.

I teeter between the thrill of reinvention coupled with the glorious variety of choosing what I’m most in the mood to do each day and the stomach-knotting fear that I will forever be a Jill-of-all-trades and a master of none.  I will be spread and pulled instead of intentional and focused.  I will one day disappear into obscurity as someone who could never quite make up her mind.  The furniture I’ve painted and upholstered, the home products I’ve designed, and my oil paintings will be scattered across second-hand stores in the US and will never be of note.  They will be pretty things, but not great things.  And I will be a could’ve been.

I sat down to write a short Instagram caption about mastery and it turned into this blog post.  Mid-caption, I had a creative crisis.  My throat grew tight, which happens when I feel stressed.   I realized that in trying to type out a simple caption, I’ve unearthed something bigger.  What I had to say wouldn’t be contained in the 2,000 character limit Instagram imposes.  What I had to say might be more appropriate for a private journal than public consumption, but almost out of habit, I clicked over to my blog dashboard and started writing in the blank box of a WordPress post draft.  It is something I’ve done over 3,000 times before and it felt like the place to work this out.

I recognize the humor in the fact that I’m writing while wearing my paint-smeared artist’s apron.  I was going to paint, but my creativity pulled me in a different direction.  It needed words more than colors today.  Fitting, though, that I was following a creative rabbit trail while struggling with my tendency to follow creative rabbit trails.  It speaks to the days when I would work on my house while wearing dance shoes, not out of whimsy, but out of distraction.  I put on shoes to do one thing and ended up doing another.

Now that I’m sitting, poised to write, I realize that my creativity led me here without providing a clear plot much less a tidy ending.

My brain tried to carry on a rational conversation with my creative soul.  So, where are you going with this?  Why are you bringing this up now?   What is your point? 

I sit for a minute, hands on my lap and away from the keys.

My rational brain argues that even Twyla Tharp, one of the instigators of this blog post, was a choreographer who also wrote a book.  A beautifully written book, mind you, that displays her love of words and her skill at using them with care and precision.  As I ponder that thought, a flood of people accompany her.  People who were skilled at many things and brought a variety of creative offerings to the world.  As the examples rush in and out of my rational brain, I feel my throat relax, and my creativity, which was so vocal and demanding just a few minutes earlier, takes a step back and waits patiently for my response.

I sit for several more minutes, this time with my fingers hovering over the keys.

What do I want to say?  Where do I really want to go big?  If I could focus on just one thing, what would it be?  Do I even want to focus on just one thing?  

I had to walk away.  The answers weren’t going to appear across the blank screen no matter how much I willed them to.  This question needed space and time.

The answer showed up hours later when I was sitting on the benches at the climbing gym, leather journal opened in my lap to write between watching the boys scurry up a wall.  To allow the questions to hang a while longer, I did a few creative writing exercises…jotting down short observations, stories, and descriptions about the people around me.  I flipped over to my unlined insert and sketched a few scrolling motifs with birds and flowers.  I wrote out a few crazy business ideas.  I then turned to my lined insert where journaling and freewriting lives.  I toyed with those questions again and the answer appeared.  Sometimes, for me, journaling is like magic.  It conjures up something that was there, but I couldn’t find it.  It can only appear when graphite makes contact with paper at just the right moment.

I wrote, Maybe I want to be fulfilled more than famous.  

I marinated in those words and they soothed the agitation I felt.  They combatted my rising panic stoked by the idea that there was a sudden great need for me to pick a lane and stay in it.  Maybe one day I will focus on just one thing.  Until then, I might just make some pretty things and write some encouraging words.  I am resigned to the fact that it will continue to be an exercise in futility to succinctly tell people what I do all day and how I make money doing it without sounding like a bit of a nut.

But my focus will be on creative fulfillment and celebrating the diversity of each day.  I will take slow and prudent steps along the strands of web I wove together over the years and ignore advice that oversimplifies the unique nature of one’s creative journey.

I will live in the pursuit of progress over perfection…not just in one discipline, but in my whole self and all things worthwhile.


mastery & all things worthwhile

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95 Comments on “mastery & all things worthwhile”

  1. Your journey is orchestrated by the One who created you. Instead of considering yourself a Jill of all trades, perhaps you should consider yourself a renaissance woman. You’re very knowledgeable about many things and are willing and eager to learn new things to help your journey. Many of our founding fathers were like this. Remember every journey is different. So yours is a spider web, who says it has to be something different? You’re not everybody else! 😉

      1. Thank you for this post. I relate to your journey in so many ways. I’m a creative married to a pastor. It is so encouraging to hear your process. I am so glad you didn’t leave this post to your journal. I have a feeling there are a lot of us that needed to read it.

    1. Exactly! I’ve told my daughter this a lot recently, trust your journey, he has led you on this journey, and you have succeeded along the way, what’s around the corner, who knows, it can be daunting not to know, but trust the journey!!!

    2. While I love the connection to the intricacy of the spider web, I also argee that God is doing the orchestrating, and leading your life, and creative direction. While performing arts are also a gift, I look at all the gifts that you have given us, and how many homes you have touched with your inspiration. Your work is a tapestry, that you see from the backside, with all the threads, that look jumbled, and tied in knots at times. But we see, and God sees the front of that tapestry, in full color, with any amazing array of color, design, creativity, and leading so many people to care for their own homes and families.

      You don’t need to have a one word career title. You are living out the Proverbs 31 woman, before our eyes. You take care of your family first. You create products with your hands, and sell them in the marketplace, you lead by example, in person, and in your writing. You are never idle, your lamp doesn’t go out at night, because you are working hard. Your husband is known in the community, and is proud of your work. Your children will rise up and call you blessed.

      When you leave this earth, you will not be forgotten in a thrift shop. You are leaving a legacy. Your words really hit home today, as I have come to this same place, at age 61, wondering if my work has mattered, or will be forgotten. After a long break from being chronically ill, and my husband fighting cancer, and a major move, I am finally writing and sewing again, and all of these questions have risen up, just like for you. I have to trust that God will answer soon for each of us. until then, Do the next thing. (Elisabeth Elliot)

  2. Maybe all the crap of our lives is to help us be creative while we are doing the one thing that will stand for us in all time: The children we raised and the family that endures through the generations.

    1. Yes, I often think about the things that are eternal as well as what I’m building into my kids. I do want to model good things for them and I think self-discovery, wrestling with challenging ideas, and being open to learn and change is all a part of that.

  3. So timely this post. I am on a similar journey -passionate music major turned passionate decorator, etc . I’ve been listening to podcasts that speak to my creative path.. I think it was one of Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcasts recently where she talked about the creative “journey” and by labeling it with that it implies that there is a destination and a clear path with a singular passion to reach that end. Some have that and she calls them jackhammers I believe – they know what they want and go after it with everything they have. Others have a lot of different interests and talents and she calls them hummingbirds, who move around to different pursuits, cross- pollinating the creative world. And that it’s ok if you are the hummingbird – you don’t have to have the one clear path. It was affirming to my “hummingbird-like” self.

  4. Why are we, as individuals afraid to be ourselves? Because we’re worried of what someone might think of us, I think not. Lean on that strong faith you have. Remember we are all different as night is from day for a reason. I follow your blog because you are beautifully made in the eyes God.

  5. You know what this sounds like to me … A Proverbs 31 woman!


    The Wife of Noble Character
    10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
    11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
    12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
    13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
    14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
    15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
    16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
    17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
    18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
    19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
    20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
    21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
    22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
    23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
    24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
    25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
    26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
    27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
    28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
    29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
    30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
    31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

    1. I have, of course, always loved that passage! Thanks for sharing for those who aren’t familiar with it and the reminder for those who are.

  6. The perfect thoughts and post for me today! I was overwhelmed and thinking why am I pursuing a new venture when I know I was good at teaching, because of my dedication and effort. I panicked when I looked at the speakers list at Haven and all the women were young and beautiful and I am old, wrinkled and plain. Why am I wanting something more? The answer is my quest for creativity, to make public what has been locked up for years. Strangely I have always encouraged my students to leave doors open and take less than straight paths toward goals but I was thinking I should choose the safer straight path.

    1. Thank you for sharing your heart. It touches so many of us in so many ways . Be a spider and spin that beautiful web or be a hummingbird and flutter around sharing yourself with the world. Your creative heart knows where it is being led and Who is doing the leading.

  7. I don’t understand why you ‘let’ these self help books make you feel bad about your spider-web path? I thought most of them were there to tell you to listen to your heart and how to follow the thread already in you instead of their way is the only way? That’s not a self help book, that’s a manifesto. If spider web is your path, your process then that’s it. You already have it, now shuss it out, add another line in the web. Maybe the spider web should be a side logo and be proud of it. What is it about creative people who can be made to feel so guilty at the drop of a hat intead of pride in what you have accomplished and what you want to do? Just askin’.

    1. Well, I like to be challenged and these books have challenged me, but also taught me a lot. There were so many valuable things I gleaned from the books that were very valuable. But there was this recurring theme of mastery that gnawed away at me a bit. At the end of the post, I came to the same conclusion you did, but I felt it might be helpful to share that struggle with others who might be experiencing the same thing.

      1. I understand! Thanks for the clarification. Think of Rembrandt, known for his portraits. At the end of his life he could say I painted portraits, married twice, outlived my family, died poor. YOU can say I refinish furniture, I design beautiful living spaces, I have used modern technology to inspire thousands, I am adept at learning new things-upholstery, technology, cooking, milk paint, painting landscapes and scenery. etc. I have a family and an extended family that I love. I have a curious mind. I don’t mind asking for help/criticism from my teachers. I mean COME ON! If I knew you better, that would only be a partial list. Just sayin’

  8. I so get this! I’m not a “successful” person but I am a creative. My choice is to get up everyday and ask the Lord to lead, to orchestrate and to direct my steps. I hope in my heart that He will allow me to use creativity to His Glory but that is up to him and I choose to trust Him.
    And He is using you in my life!! Thank you for being obedient!!

  9. This is a great post. We are always on the eternal search for self. We are always changing and growing so that leads us to always think about where we are going to land. You more than most fulfill your dreams and that is why we love your blog so much and enjoy reading about your strength and courage in doing so.

  10. There you go!!!! Yes, fulfilled. 🙂 Beautiful!

    I wander in my creativity. Here, there….I follow one thing, then another. Mine is more because I desire to learn something new. And I thoroughly enjoy the learning.

    Before kids….I was involved in ministry. Heavily involved in women’s Bible studies. I counseled women, facilitated Bible studies, led, spoke, prayed, learned, grew. It was so wonderful to be on the front lines of something God was doing. We moved….I started into another season of ministry….took a step….and God closed the door firmly. I felt so lost. Then I entered motherhood….and felt lost again, as I became a new person. The firm no continued. For 14 yrs. I sat and watched other women my age standing and speaking at conferences…knowing THAT was the path I had been on. How come they get to speak….and not me? How come they get to do those things? How come they didn’t get told no? So much pondering about it. Idk the answers, but God spoke to me to trust Him. That wasn’t for me for now.

    It’s kinda funny, but the last yr and a half, He has started to say yes to me about things. He spoke a yes about my telling my story (of some things we dealt with over the past several yrs). It was a vivid yes. Hm. And last summer we timidly started attending a new church….and His yes came quick and fierce….yes, yes, yes…to the point where I am often overwhelmed by all the yeses, lol, and wonder about saying no, no, no…. (And I do when He tells me to.) But it’s been a busy year of stepping into ministry again. Similar, but different. I know boundaries better. I know myself better. I know when I am overwhelmed and need to breathe….and I know to schedule time to breathe so I won’t be overwhelmed!! My kids are older….and a part of our serving, too. Which is amazing. For so many yrs we said no to things because of bedtimes and naptimes and eating times….because they needed those things. And now….they are old enough to handle most of the crazy times and schedules, lol.

    My one friend reminds me often….there are seasons in our lives. And a yes in one season can be a no in another season. And we are to be content within the season we are journeying through. And I think our creative pleasures also play into these seasons. Yeses here, no’s there….time or no time. And places enter into this, too….as you realized when you moved.

    1. Lolly! Your words, your concept of life’s seasons and the message – thank you! Hard to explain the gift you have given me today. I am so grateful.

  11. I needed to hear this so much. Not everyone’s journey is the same. The part about wearing dance shoes while working on the house is me too. It’s good to know others are out there like me. I wnjoy your blig. Thanks

  12. Is there something odd about me? I don’t seem to have time to think of all these things between working, housework, taking care of my husband who has a serious illness and just trying to find some moments to relax in all of this business that is my life. My creative journey consists of trying to have the kitchen cleaned up and getting into a made bed at the end of the day, making sure there is food in the house (grocery shopping is very time consuming to me), figuring out meals and getting to work on time. I don’t have time to search for my self. I am not feeling sorry for myself, just wondering when and if I’ll have have time for such deep thoughts.

    1. There is nothing “odd” about you. Life decides FOR US sometimes. I have wondered this myself. My sister-in-law has lived a life of trying to find her place, her purpose, her passion and at times I have been jealous of the time she has put into herself. She is beautiful and at peace and wants to help others find that “peace” too. I on the other hand work long hours every day, help care for my Dad and sister, host all family gatherings and parties, work on restoring my old house bit by bit, and never really THINK about my purpose, path or passion. Doing “what needs to be done” takes my time, but life is wonderful and fulfilling. It takes all sorts of people to make an interesting world. I don’t begrudge anyone the time or will to look deeper, it’s just not me. ♥

      1. Thank you Donna Burke. I appreciate your kind words more than you think. I commented as anonymous as some of my friends read this blog and I did want to remain ‘anonymous’.

    2. Anonymous, maybe this is your path, your spiderweb. It sounds like you are a caretaker, home maker, cook. It sounds like you are good at it too! I don’t search for myself either, I just am. I dabble. Different crafts, projects. Right now my hands are filthy from gardening. And I have no idea what I will make for supper in a short time. I have time for deep thoughts but my brain doesn’t really go there anyway. Or maybe this is just where you are today with the life you chose and an illness you didn’t chose and the future will bring different things. Life is much more than pretty pictures and blog posts, as inspirational as they are. You are enough, as you are!

      1. Denette, Your words mean so much to me. Yes, we didn’t choose this illness (cancer) but we are getting through it, putting one foot in front of the other. At the end of the day there is just no energy to think deep thoughts. Thank you so much.

    3. It sounds as if this season of your life is very busy. You are pouring yourself into being a caretaker, homemaker, and working. It’s hard to catch your breath with a schedule like that. I found for myself that journaling at the end of the day, for just a few minutes really helped me through those years.

      Right now, with back to school sales starting, there are lots of pretty notebooks on sale. buy a few, so get you through the year, and give yourself the gift of 10 minutes a day to write your thoughts down. Doesn’t have to be deep, or long, but just let the words come.You are worth it!

      1. Kathy, your comment for me is very appreciated. I have tears in my eyes thinking that there are people who ‘get it’ out there. I am used to being the strong one and with everything else I can’t often find time for me. I will take your suggestion of journaling. Thank you so very much.

      2. I agree with Kathy and I love that so many readers here wanted to leave you encouragement. There are seasons of life when you can’t catch your breath…when a good night sleep is the best gift and even a few moments of calm are savored. While my circumstances were different, I have been in those seasons before.

        Right now, I’m in a season where my kids are more independent and Jeff is done with school, so I have more time for creative pursuits, walks, reading, journaling. Also, reading about creativity and studying it is a part of my work! I have to fill myself creatively in order to write, paint, mentor other creative business owners, etc. But, this won’t last forever. There will come a season when other things will need my time and some of those things will have to go on the back burner.

        I hope the best for you in this season when you’re a caretaker. It shows a lot of love and selflessness to do that and do it well.

  13. I love that you share your creativity, your skills and your words with us. When I read your words “Maybe I want to be fulfilled more than famous. ” I thought of the song by Fransesca Battistelli. “I’m famous in my Father’s eyes”. May you find fulfillment in the continued journey. Thank you for blessing us with your gifts.

  14. You certainly have a talent for putting down thoughts that other people are thinking. I felt as if I was on a journey with you as you pondered and wrote. One thing for certain, you ARE an excellent writer.

  15. One of my favorite posts of yours. This is why we love you and all your many threads that you share. We so appreciate your honesty and your vulnerability. You let us know we our not alone in spinning our webs and neither are you.

    P.S. A short movie I think you will love; “Many Beautiful Things” . It is about the life of Lilias Trotter and is available on Amazon.

  16. Hi Marian,

    I’m curious about what Enneagram number you are? Hopefully, you have heard of Enneagram otherwise this is a dumb question – ha!

  17. What a thought provoking post Marian. I consider myself a creative. I write a little, paint a little, lots of little bits of creativity and I think it’s all great. It makes me whole. I’m concerned about Anonymous above. Obviously she is under tremendous pressure with her family commitments. I felt that way once too and it’s a scary place to be in. Tears were my only outlet. I would encourage her to find just a corner of time, 15 minutes to be alone or with a friend or whatever just do what makes YOU happy. The rest can wait for a few minutes. You will find comfort in that and thus be able to handle the rest so much better I promise. I still find it hard to leave my commitments aside for a few but have learned that doing something just for me made me better for all. I encourage you to try. Don’t lose you. Your important!

  18. You know as I think about this beautifully written post, I think of our Creator. HE is a writer, an artist, a designer an engineer. HE makes very complex systems work in perfect order and harmony. HE tells the sun when to rise, when to set, the trees when to burst forth in spring or drop their leaves in autumn. HE is involved in so many things, HE created humans, HE cares about sparrows…and we are created in HIS image. It must be okay for us to bounce all over the place with many varied interests. We are like our Father.

  19. Thank you for sharing your thoughts today. As I read, I began thinking about my path in life, what I have attempted, what I have accomplished, and what I hope to do tomorrow.-This blog could evolve into a book.

  20. You have more talent in your little finger than most of us have in our whole bodies and brains. Enjoy the rabbit hole. You are so versatile in all your skills, why not keep trying new things?!? And you are a very talented writer as well.

  21. You are what God made you and at times we don’t see or make sense of our lives but, he does, and knows all. Just be who you are and enjoy your creativity and all that you do, your family seems perfectly content so you are doing perfectly well. I enjoy your blog, your a wonderfully warm giving person.

  22. Years ago someone from my school wrote a book titled something like ‘everyone can be a champion’. I thought it hogwash then and think it hogwash now. Not only can everyone not excel at even one thing, but the expectation that every person must be a champion at something would leave me and many others feeling a failure. I dabble. My crafts and hobbies and activities and volunteering goes hear and there, changing over time. I would say that success at that one thing is fleeting. There will always be someone coming along, some time, to be better at that one thing. Far better to be well rounded as a person, and have lots of things to be good at and find meaning in, than that one fleeting thing. And I would say you have far greater impact as you are, with your paintings and furniture and writing and photos all over the realm, impacting so many people.

  23. Your eloquent words today certainly resonated with many of us. I, too, have done many different things over the years, and I think people who are true creatives find that this gift translates into many different avenues over the course of a lifetime. A spider web is a very good analogy. I used to beat myself up for not being more focused, but I stopped. Now I just roll with it, and I am much more content and free to try something new when the mood strikes.

  24. I am so relieved! So I can continue to sew, and cook, and garden, and paint watercolor, and read, and knit, and exercise, and refinish/paint antiques, and take care of my family and home (including decorating ), and just plain love this beautiful life😊 Great post Marian!!!

  25. You are SO good at so many things Marian. Please don’t doubt yourself – you have a gift along with a beautiful work ethic that makes you strive for ALL the things. If you look down through the centuries and at today’s famous people, most of them were and are multi-talented. They aren’t just good at one thing – if they are a dancer, they can usually sing too. If they are a singer, they also play guitar. I think if you choose fame, it is going to come to you . But as you said, maybe fame is not really what you are searching for. And not to go on and on, but what is fame anyway? Is it money? Is it accolades? Is it your name on a plaque? You already ARE famous to all of us and I’m sure you are famous to your family. Hopefully you will see as you continue your journey that being the very best wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend is all the fame you will need. In the end, it’s all that really matters.
    We love you Mariane. You are a constant source of inspiration. Thank you for always being so open and sharing your talents with all of us who SO appreciate it.

    1. This “Hopefully you will see as you continue your journey that being the very best wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend is all the fame you will need. In the end, it’s all that really matters.” So very beautifully said, Judi! Thank you! I needed that, as I’m sure many others do as well!

  26. Well, your journey continues on swells high and low, and how poignantly written……I feel fortunate that you have shared this journey (some not all of it) with us. I commend you for your fortitude, Marian, and shall always wish you life’s very best… family, song, in the writing, in painting, in creating, in exploring, in designing, and most of all, in loving praise for Our Creator.

  27. Pursuing just one avenue for me leads to stagnation, but travelling down many different roads helps me grow.

    Like you I meander down many a road to see what is there, some are dead ends, others lead to places unimaginable.

    Maybe the whole point is the journey, the adventure in trying on many different hats throughout life?

  28. I came to the same conclusion in my life. I used to think I wanted to be known for something (“famous”), but in the end I realized I just want to make beautiful things that make people happy. There’s so much beauty in such heartfelt giving.

    You’ve blessed so many lives with your many talents and words and encouragement, and we are all so lucky to have the opportunity to have access to that. Beyond thankful for this..

  29. I think re-evaluating can be good so long as you find the answer within yourself & you’re striving to do that. You are a CREATIVE Marian, that is your mastery. You don’t have to pigeon hole yourself into one small area of mastery. I’m sure that that some of those “masters” may not have the diversity of skills to be a “Jill of all trades”? They may well envy your adeptness, your skills and many passions? I’m wondering if Leonardo Di Vinci had channeled his mastery into just one discipline, if he would have been more successful or would he have been neglecting some of his God given talents? I’m wondering if you’re really questioning what success means to you? And if you’ll be able to leave a valuable mark on the world if you have more that one focus? I believe that your multi talents touch different people in different ways and that to me is successful. A painting might remind someone to take time to appreciate God’s gifts or your words might sooth and encourage, your designs might make someone feel they’ve succeeded in creating a warm home for their family. Your gifts that are tools that touch people in different ways. So if in years to come a painting of yours is languishing in someone’s attic, apparently unloved (unlikely) it doesn’t mean that it didn’t do it job of touching someone at some time. I think success is measured in our hearts and there’re times when we are lucky enough to feel someone appreciate it but don’t let their measures be your guide – good or bad. The only truth is in your heart and in your conversations with God. Keep striving with all your God given gifts and pray that they might be tools to heal someone in someway maybe unknown to you. I for one, have been healed in many ways through your words and your talents. You probably can’t ever know ALL the ways you’ve healed, I think just accept your role is in the striving. You’re leaving a mark Marian – feel at peace.

  30. It is so appropriate that you have mentioned spider. Spider totem means “Weaving”, she is the female energy of the creative force that weaves the beautiful designs of life. She is the symbol for the infinite possibilities of creation.

  31. You are an amazing and eloquent writer/ speaker. Me thinks you may be a preacher without knowing it 😉
    Love all you do

    1. Thank you! You’re the second person who has said that to me today (in two different contexts)! 🙂

      1. I agree with Megan. For a long time I i have felt that your blog is a kind of ministry. Your words provide comfort, encouragement, and inspiration along with beauty and lots of great how to’s. Thank you!

  32. I have to say, it is not fair that you can paint AND sing AND write! You are blessed beyond measure! But I know that the gift is only perfected if it is put into practice and you are a great example to me in the way that you practice your gift of painting on a regular basis. It is like with a sport – you may have the underlying gift, but practice “perfects” (for lack of a better word) the gift. I am using the word “perfect” but I don’t mean you have to be perfect in all that you do. I just mean you are using your gifts and not squandering them because you actually try to improve them and use them. We all appreciate your example of how important “doing the work” is. Also – It is okay to go in lots of directions – after all, that’s pretty much what it means to be a mom!

    1. I totally get what you’re saying and I agree. Well have gifts and leanings, but using them is where they grow.

  33. We went to a museum in Denver recently to see a exhibit on the art and inventions of Leonardo a Vinci . You know what struck me? He was never satisfied, never really built the inventions he drew, and the seeking of perfection seemed to sap the joy from his life . Is he famous? No artist is more so, though not in his lifetime . I wouldn’t wish all that frustration and emptiness on you Marian . You’re life is so much bigger and more meaningful then da Vinci’s ever was .

    1. On the contrary, I believe Leonardo da Vinci is a great example of a hummingbird. He was interested in many, many things and pursued them for the joy of learning. He had innate gifts but excelled at many different things because he worked at improving. He had a fascinating life!

  34. MissMarianHummingbird, I have read all the comments and if you put them all together, you will have my response also. Here is a big virtual “sister” hug 🙂

  35. I think you mastered the “child actor” gig. Too bad you had to grow up! Love the “Annie and Sandy” pic. Fond, fond memories!!!!

  36. Hi Marian,
    Please watch or re-watch the film, BABETTE’S FEAST. It dives deep into some of the tough questions you’re struggling with now about being an artist and what it means to be successful.

    You are perfect just as you are. So you’re a serial creative. What’s wrong with that? You’re good at it. Focusing on focus is useful only if it helps you be your creative best. Right now, it’s important to manifest your many creative talents.

    That in itself is a gift in the way it helps inspire others who fear they shouldn’t try to excel at too many things. You excel at so many pursuits, you put the lie to that.

  37. I appreciate this thoughtful post and your sharing the struggle and thought process as you were sorting through what you have been reading. So good. I agree with the others that you are a very good writer and your sincerity comes through clearly. God gives us different gifts and different seasons too. I appreciate how you are using your gifts diligently and blessing many. Thank you!

  38. Thank you Marian for sharing your heart and soul and wisdom so articulately. I absolutely know the magic that happens when you know something because you try to communicate it. For me, it has happened sometimes when writing and sometimes talking freely with one of my closest friends from whom I do not hold anything back. I too struggle with being a creative spirit in a cookie-cutter world. At 50, I am trying to actually loosen up (not my strong suit) my categories and live a life of the Spirit and not worry so much about doing the “right thing”. Because there are many. great things to do. As a Christian, there are many activities that are “God-honoring”. I tried and failed to explain that phrase to my 12 year-old who replied that I cannot “dishonor God” because He is unchangeable. But, hopefully you know what I mean. I have adopted your mantra “progress over perfection” in my life because it brings FREEDOM, which is what in my fifties I am striving for. The life of the Spirit is one of freedom in many ways… so if the Spirit is leading…. its all good. I also like verbs, so I enjoy serving, giving, reading, writing, teaching, counseling, recycling & organizing. I spend most of my creative energy and time on my family (unpaid of course) while my husband spends most of his creative time and energy outside the home (paid, thank goodness). But we jointly create our family, which is our most important joint venture. Thanks again for your thoughtful blog. And, I have been inspired to start a refinishing project with your paint with one of my children. This checks a lot of passion boxes for me. Supports a business that I believe in (yours), provides a creative project that re-uses a piece of furniture, and gives me time with one of my children. Hopefully also kind of fun. If not, at least it will be a good story to tell.

  39. Goodness! I can’t believe you have any angst in this area! You have already made it. If you haven’t made it or are living a scattered and meaningless life of non mastery I don’t know where I am. You’ve written a book! You’ve been published in numerous magazines! You have created a line of paints! If you stop right here, or never ficus on anything, or many things, ever again, I think most people would agree that you are hugely successful. Why even try to limit your creativity, it’s all intertwined. It’s creating beauty and inspiring people.You are a master at that.

  40. What a beautiful thinking through! We all have a critical part saying we should do more and better. You were able to give yourself compassion and accept that we don’t need to be special and outstanding to be fulfilled. Happiness is in the little stuff of everyday life, and accepting that everything passes. Monique

  41. You’ve also inspired me and so many others by example and sharing your amazing talents. So your creativity is a spark for your readers. It doesn’t end at your home. And that may continue to inspire others through what we share with our friends and family. You are a trail blazer 🙂

  42. I loved this post . It sounds the most like me, I have read in a long time. So often when I do something, people around me expect me to do it everyday. I don’t want to be put in a box. I want to learn and try new things. I need to do something different everyday, or I get bored. It is refreshing to know that it is not just me. I think that is why I enjoy reading your blog. It always has something different.

  43. You are a wordsmith! What an encouraging and insightful piece. I personally changed my life completely and began following all sorts of new paths in my early 50’s. I’m now pondering and preparing for new endeavors as I turn 60. I hate to think of all I would have missed out on had I kept kept my nose to a single grindstone. Fame is carrot out of the reach of most but fulfillment is there for the taking, if we just listen to that voice. Your piece is a valuable reminder to listen .

  44. M- I don’t know how you can even think that you are not or will not be “memorable”. You have accomplished much more in life than many can even dream of. You will be remembered for your inspiration to others to follow their dreams. You have success and will be remembered in your painting, your paint line , your blog, your design instincts, your personal path, your books, your new endeavor to help others create their own place in the business world, etc, etc… Your legacy will live on in all of those you inspired. You shouldn’t measure your success or memorability in how long after your gone that people will utter your name. Be proud of the person you are now and how you are affecting others lives in a positive manner. You will be remembered, fondly, with appreciation for your many talents and your desire to share them with all of those out there who wish to follow even one of your many and varied successful paths.

  45. Oh, please don’t ever feel like you need to be focused on one thing, or accomplished, or famous. You have inspired me in so many areas over the years, for which I am so very grateful. You are the only blog that I still continue to read every day after 10 years of blogging. You have accomplished so many things, and inspired so many women, written books, created my favorite paint line, and so much more than I can list here. I often marvel at how God has blessed you and led you, always evolving, always creating.
    What I enjoy the most about your blog, is that you started all this on a meager pastor’s salary. So many women bloggers are wealthy beyond my imagination, and although it is nice to look at their lovely homes in blogs, I can’t relate because of their wealth. Your lack of a large income and your creativity, forced you to make a home from practically nothing, and maybe that is the greatest gift you have given us who live on a small income. I adore you and have so enjoyed watching God bless you. Don’t ever think you haven’t made a difference in thousands of lives. You have impacted my life more than you can ever know, and it makes me sad that you don’t feel accomplished in one thing. God gave you more gifts than can be contained in one thing, and famous is not the goal, even though the world would have us think that. You are a gift to many women who are trying to make a beautiful home on a budget!

  46. I recently read a quote by Jeremy Hunter who is a “mindfulness” teacher (Ph.D.) and he said, “Attention needs somewhere good to go”. For some reason that really struck me. I too seem to scurry from project to project, but that seems to be what I need to do. Creative people need to be creative…it is just how it works. Don’t beat yourself up about it…just enjoy the process. I know I have really enjoyed seeing the beautiful progress in your painting journey. You capture something in your paintings that we all wish we could. We are here for you no matter what direction you take and thank you for allowing us to join you.

  47. Marion! This blog post actually made me tear up. I have many times felt this way. As I sit scrolling pinterest making plans for my next big project when I should be concentrating on reconciling a pile of credit card statements (my real desk job). I enjoyed the book HOW TO BE EVERYTHING on audible. You might find it refreshing.

  48. As soon as I started reading, I could completely relate to what you said about the spiderweb. I have always had many creative interests, and could never pick just one to fully dedicate my time to. Then I discovered cardmaking and scrapbooking, and started a blog, and it was all consuming. I was somewhat well-known within the community, though not in any great way, and was finding success in doing design work and having projects published. Then we moved into a fixer upper, had a third baby, and the blog was on hold. As life settled down I felt pulled to blog again, but more in a lifestyle genre rather than just crafting. Anyway… I’m rambling. What I’m trying to say is that I also felt pulled to put energy in this one spot (blog) because I know I could be good at it, and if I worked hard, I believe I could find success and possibly income. But finally I realized that right now my heart isnt in blogging, injustice want to do all the creative things on my list, in my own time, and not put a label on myself. I think you’ve found the same… you have so many interests and talents and they all feed your soul. Pursue them all so you can be happy and fulfilled… who cares about being a master? None of the masters did… and most of them became masters after they were long gone, so they never knew anyway.

    You are so gifted in so many areas. Enjoy all of them!

  49. I tell people I wear many hats. Like you I have struggled with the same thoughts. Part of my issue is I get bored with life very easily and I’m sure there are many other phsycological reasons for being this way. However I must tell you that you have inspired me beyond my imagination. I believe this is the real purpose of your journey. You have touched more people’s lives thru your work then you even know. Someday I would love to inspire and touch others lives like you. You are blessed. Thank you.

  50. You are doing great. You are one of two blogs I follow. Most women with husbands and children go through the same thing you are. Keep doing what you are doing now. Blessings to you.

  51. I knew this post would engender a lot of responses; and I want to read them all! Having lived three decades longer than you, and yet currently struggling with many of the same things, I have one overarching thought of encouragement. What if you look at the One Thing as Homemaker? Or as Two Things: wife and mother? I know that you know these relationships are your God-given first priority. All the rest, as they say, is gravy. And so many of us are blessed by that!

    Though my boys are long grown with families of their own, I can’t help but think that in God’s eyes my husband, children, and grandchildren are still my first priority—my legacy. I struggle with accepting this at times; I want to be known for my creative endeavors, just as you do, Marian. That is one reason I enjoy living vicariously through your life and joys and struggles.

  52. What a great thought provoking post and I feel all your loving followers have summed it up perfectly, you are special and unique, enjoy and relax in that and all of your God-given talents. You are blessed and a blessing to so many. Also, loved the comment by Jeanette from Kansas City, what a compliment! So fly, little Hummingbird, fly! 😊

  53. You are a total inspiration in everything you do. I read all the replies to your blog. I too, go from one thing to another (as many others expressed). But years ago, I read in a book co-authored with Joni Eareckson Tada (I cannot even remember the title) but I remember one phrase…”Man can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed.” You have no idea how many lives you have touched through the years by your willingness to share and to be vulnerable with the things you have shared from your heart and mind in your blogs/seeds. I know your blog/paints/brands, etc. are known as Miss Mustard Seed. And the Mustard Seed expresses from the Biblical story that of faith. And those many steps of faith that you have taken throughout your life have touched many lives. Thank you for sharing and “blooming where you are planted”. Hope this makes sense… one thing I am not is a writer.

  54. Fulfilled more than famous…I think that sums it up pretty succinctly. And of course you explained it perfectly poetically. But honestly, I think you are famous…without ever having pursued it. Just following the path God led you on one step after another. Little steps of following His will and priorities and enjoying and developing the talents and skills He’s given you. All the childhood lessons and practice has definitely helped you develop your public self, communicating in many more ways than just on the stage. And I’m sure it helps you be a better pastor’s wife and even a mom. God will provide the perfect opportunities at the correct time for your family. I’m sure you’ve got another book or two in you with your gift of words! Your creativity spans to so many mediums, which I can relate to also. It’s a gift to be able to dabble in so many of them!

  55. Aren’t spiderwebs one of nature’s strongest structures for their mass?

    Loved this post and every single comment above! What a great group of women we have here!
    How blessed I feel to have access to this kind of discussion.

  56. The complete saying was originally,
    “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”
    Formerly intended as a compliment, the phrase means that a person is a generalist rather than a specialist, versatile and adept at many things.
    A significant influencer in my life once told me that I was a jack of all trades and I felt that negative sting until I learned that the whole saying was meant as a positive compliment. So I choose to see myself as a versatile Creative, adept at many things. I call myself a ‘beauty enthusiast’, one who adds beauty to the world in many forms. I hope to inspire you to think of yourself in this light.
    Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
    As Makers we can do even more than think on the “whatsoever things”, we can bring them to life and share them with others. Our impact on the world is one of improvement, added value and loveliness! Regardless of how “successful” we are in the world’s eyes, and where or how long the material object we created remains, while we are here on this earth, we are making positive changes that bring joy to others. And when we glorify God in the process of using our gifts, we are making an eternal impact that will never be forgotten.
    Be blessed by your blessings. You certainly are doing that for us!

  57. Your honesty! Your courage! I truly admire you for it; and it touches my heart and impacts my life. Thank you……you are an amazing human being. Keep following the path you are on. Most of us would grow weary of the level, straight, predictable path. Stay on that path that curves, dips and gives you lots of choices.

    I never expected a blog to be so meaningful in my life. Thank you for sharing your gifts!

  58. Well Marian, I am pretty far down this list of wonderful responses to your amazing post so I doubt anyone, must less you, will actually read it. So I write it as my own musing. One time in a zone of despair while mourning the sense of failure of my life I said to my grown daughter “I want to be Important!” and she said, rather meekly and very kindly “You’re important to me.” So whenever I feel like I have squandered my talents or somehow could have explored “x” passion (and I have had manymany) I think of her words and her love and feel renewed. So I have done my 10,000 hours plus working as a professional writer in the corporate world, something I am very good at and nicely pays the bills. But I still have dreams of being and doing more. And my thought is that each thing I undertake, mundane or not–from remodeling my home to healing my desperately ill brother to moderating an HOA argument to cooking dinner again–must be done well, kindly and with love, because it is important to me. And the rest falls in place.

  59. What a wonderful post! Putting your heart and thoughts to paper as the words come to you…beautifully written!

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