Sunday, February 03, 2008


In painting, one of the most difficult skills is keeping objects in perspective. Bodies have relatively common proportions--something like a total of 8 heads for the proportions of an ideal human body (7 for the average, 8 1/2 for the heroic). Lines moving closer to each other show a road going distantly into the page or conversely moving toward the viewer, and if the size of the objects along that road do not get correspondingly smaller or larger, the view becomes unreasonably skewed and illogical.

Living shares this challenge.

The objects that compose my life have changed since two years ago. Some of the changes are drastic, some of the changes are subtle. But the problem of keeping things in perspective remains.

The objects of my present include: hostessing v. serving (also missing church because of work), art modeling, photography, painting, marketing my artistic business, maintaining historic friendships, building new friendships, supporting my husband in his fourth year of medical school and through his residency application process, keeping house, being a daughter and a sister, having an active political voice, being a healthy human being.

I need to keep these objects in perspective.

Given my deeply ingrained drive to achieve perfection, my job with a regular paycheck and regular bosses so easily slips into position as the most significant object in my life. When I let that happen (which is almost always--especially since the forces of work want my all and require my time) more than necessary, I start to die from it.

Hostessing is not my all. The restaurant business is not my life's dream. The bosses are not the people in my life who are going to love, cherish and respect me forever. In fact, they are not the people who love, cherish and respect me now.

I have to put my health before all else. Without a healthy body, I have nothing.

With a healthy body I have a life with Justin. None of the other objects of my life should interfere with my relationship with Justin--it is the most important relationship, the one that is built on mutual trust, love, respect, admiration and the eternal promise of love in God's good grace.

Given Justin's faithful presence in my life, it is right for me to do with the remaining objects whatever serves our relationship most happily.

Therefore, I have to prioritize the things that make me most happy and keep them in a healthy perspective.

Personally: Healthy relationships with family and friends.

Professionally: photography, painting, writing.

Financially: modeling and jobs that feed our pocketbook primarily and my soul secondarily.

Clearly I have allowed my life to fall out of perspective.

Fortunately, I have noticed the problem and figured out a way to fix it: Live in the moment.

It sounds trite, and I hate to use a stale cliche; however, I know focusing on the moment is the only way I will thrive in the present and survive into the future. Obviously, the jobs that I do primarily because I need to make money to pay for rent, food and other necessities must be done well. While I am doing them I should focus on that work and let my energy flow into it--I should be my best at it. But there's not a reason to allow jobs to infect my personal and professional lives. I have simple jobs because I do not want to take my work home with me. Now I do not have homework, but I am allowing my emotional obsessiveness to infect my real life with my job. My emotions are becoming involved because I like to see forward progress and when I do not see it or feel vulnerable because of other people's behavior I tend to latch onto the problem and relentlessly search for a solution.

I need to accept that there are situations in which I am not in control and in which there is no so-called solution.

Particularly, in this job situation, my future relies on the position and choices of other people. The job I have is a job I choose because I wanted to work where people have fun and where I could have fun while earning some money.

So fun it will be. I have the power over that--as long as I act with strength and focus.

Focus on what I do have power for.

Restaurant work and modeling are not places where I should feel at all concerned with advancing. If I am promoted, I can feel pleasantly surprised. If I am not promoted, I still earn my basic living. Meanwhile, I might as well do my job well and enjoy it.

Ridiculously, restaurant work has become the object that occupies my thoughts most heavily. Who likes me? Who does not? Why? How will I get promoted? When? Why am I doing this? For how long? What happened to the implication that I would be moving up quickly? Why? Where did these other people come from? Why?

How on Earth has the thing that I have concluded logically is the least emotionally important aspect of my life become the most emotionally consuming aspect of my life?

Emotional health.

I still allow my self-worth to depend on the responses of other people to me.

Self-worth by its very definition is not supposed to rely on people outside myself.

It seems to me that it is again time to redefine myself.

In fact, maybe just remind myself of the definition of my Self.

I am Olaina. I am healthy. I am physically, emotionally and mentally steady and strong. I am creative. I am an artist: photographer, painter, writer, designer. I am in love. I am a wife: caregiver, housekeeper, listener, companion, friend, partner. I am a friend.

I need to return to the joy of just being alive--the joy I knew after I got out of the hospital. It's the joy of sunrises and puppy dogs (still joyful) and laughing when I realize that a healthy perspective is not a universal gift, that in fact it is a perspective that requires awareness of self and others-- of reality.

Reality never makes insignificant items nearly as important as I make them when I allow my mind to become obsessed with perfection and promotion.

Perspective? Life is about glory and thanks to God, which is love--and love is appropriately placed in every relationship at different levels. I just have to remember which relationships are most significant.

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