Shifting priorities

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

~ John Lennon

I’m a bit of a procrastinator. I also underestimate the time it will take to complete just about any project I take on. Oh, and I’m also a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to anything that involves a creative project. All these things combined with my raging ADD make for some self-made moments of stress.

Of course, when I volunteer to paint a plate for my daughter’s fifth grade class (as I’ve done for the past several years), none of the aforementioned character flaws occur to me. I immediately agree to take on the project as if I were a normal person who would give myself plenty of time to complete it.

I started the project almost 2 full weeks after I picked up the plate. Thankfully, the kids in my daughter’s class finished their portion of the project (decorating their superhero rhinos) in just 2 days.

And since I really needed to get started on the planning stages of gutting and remodeling the master bathroom (another project I’ve been procrastinating), I decided the plate could wait another day while I went window shopping for a bathtub, bathroom cabinets, and tile.

Funny. I have over 1500 pictures stored on my iPhone. The vast majority of them I could delete and never think twice about it. If you follow me on twitter, you know I take pictures of some pretty dumb things.

But that picture?

That picture gets to me.

Not because of what’s pictured, but because right after I snapped it at the home store, my phone rang.

That phone call completely changed the course of my day, my week and the foreseeable future.

You see, that call was from my sister, Becky. She was calling me from her doctor’s office. It seems that the lump she discovered wasn’t nothing. It was breast cancer, and from what her doctor could see from the biopsy results, it was the fast growing, aggressive type. She was calm, which was a good thing because I could hear my mom in the background, who wasn’t so calm–not hysterical, mind you. None of us are the hysterical type–but I could hear the worry in her voice. Becky told me what she knew: She was on her way to meet with a surgeon followed by a meeting with an oncologist. She would call me back after those appointments.

Suddenly measuring bathtubs and vanities seemed like the most shallow and self-indulgent thing in the world. After sitting in my car for a few minutes staring into space I drove home, not exactly sure what I was supposed to do with myself while I waited for a phone call.

I started the plate.

Because when I’m faced with something I can’t control I find comfort in things I can, like transferring a bunch of rhinos onto a plate for a PTA fundraiser. Creating art–even recreating art–also clears my busy mind long enough to allow for prayers that resound in my heart and mind rather than the ones that seem to hit the ceiling and bounce back down.

By the time my phone rang again, I was calm. I felt like whatever update I was about hear would be good news. God didn’t tell me that, but I do believe he gave me His peace about it.

And it was good news. This time from my other sister, who relayed what the surgeon and the oncologist had told Becky. Surgery was required to remove a lump followed by chemo as a preventative measure. But the cancer was between Stage 1 and Stage 2. Survivable. Curable. Thank you, God.

Since I’d be spending Friday (the day the plate project was due) at the hospital with my mom and sisters, I pressed on with the project:

Even though I must admit it was beginning to get extremely tedious.

Did you know that when you paint a piece of pottery, they recommend THREE COATS of paint on everything? I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but those are some pretty tiny rhinos, and despite my SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS to the kids NOT to make their rhinos too detailed because I would have to shrink the size of their original artwork considerably, a few of them ignored my instructions. One boy in particular took them as a personal challenge and went so far as to tell my daughter that the superhero rhinos I had provided as examples were–get this–BORING!

And while I’m always up for a challenge, I’m also not inclined to be bested by a 5th grader, unless it’s in a game of Words with Friends.

So some rhinos won’t look exactly like the original representation:

Guess people will just have to guess what SCR stands for, huh?

In conclusion, I finished the plate. Past the deadline, of course. Which means I’ll have to take it to the pottery place myself instead of dropping it off with the PTA volunteer. But that’s hardly a first. Hopefully this will be a masterpiece once it’s fired in the kiln, but who knows?

back of plate

Front of plate

Sometimes you just have to call it done and get on to the things in life that really matter. Which, incidentally, are rarely ever things at all…

My sister right after surgery, who would kill me if she knew I was posting this picture on the Interwebs. Good thing my family doesn't know I have a blog. Snort!

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