My One Word: Perspective

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So many of my blogger buddies have participated in  One Word 365 in the past. I’ve always thought it was a great idea–to forget about a long list of New Year’s resolutions and simply commit to focus on one word. “One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long.”

I love the simplicity of the concept, even if simple rarely equates with easy. I’ve not participated in the past because I’ve never felt strongly that any one word could be a point of focus for me. But over the past several months, one word did seem to come to mind over and over again in so many areas of my life.


It began with a mural project. After completing an undersea mural for a children’s room at a chiropractic office, I was asked to paint a beach mural for the waiting room. My original plans were to paint a beach scene covering three large walls, but with two kids both involved in extracurricular activities, I soon realized that I simply didn’t have enough hours in the day to complete it in a time frame acceptable to my client. She suggested that rather than doing a full-scale mural, I could do something like this:

Seemed easy enough. And since I knew she liked that particular scene, I figured I’d just replicate that very mural. I made a copy of the above picture onto an overhead transparency sheet. Now, at this point I could tell you I did this to save time. By projecting the image on the wall and penciling it in, the job would go much faster. True enough. What I might not mention if you were a prospective client is that I use an overhead projector on most of my mural projects not only to save time, but also because I absolutely suck at perspective drawing. The only thing I can draw freehand with any remote resemblance to a three-dimensional rendering are those boxes people tend to doodle during long meetings, and I’m not even good at those.

If you were to look at an updated portfolio of my past work (which would require that I actually had one of those, which I don’t), you might say, “Your paintings are not flat or one dimensional. How can you say you suck at perspective? That can’t be!” And I would respond in the memorable words of Elaine on Seinfeld and simply say, “Oh, it be.”

I was met with challenges from the get-go. When I projected the image onto the wall, I realized that the bottom ledges of the windows did not line up with the chair rail on the wall unless I turned the transparency at an angle.

From the above picture, it looks fairly straight to me, just as it did looking at in the dark room, pencil in hand. I was a little uneasy about getting started, because I’d never painted a window scene before. I didn’t know if it was supposed to line up straight at the bottom. But since I’m a measure once cut two or three times kind of gal, I figured I just go with it, even though once I taped off around the windows it was clear to me that the windows were only straight vertical on one side.

Once I pulled the blue tape, it was abundantly clear I had made a mistake. I relied on the perspective of the original picture being correct.

What I didn’t consider was that it was a photograph of a mural on a wall. It was most likely taken at an angle in order to get the entire mural into the shot. I should have known that. I take those kinds of shots all the time. I should have considered the perspective of the photo, not just the picture. But it was too late for that. Fortunately, the great thing about painting is that it’s just paint. My immediate concern was how I was going to fix my mistake.

It was far from a one step process, but through a little bit of trial and a whole lot of error, I finally got it right.

Or, at least mostly right. I’m never completely satisfied with anything I create, whether it be painting, writing or life in general. But in the future, I will use this experience, this knowledge and perspective so as not to make the same mistake again.

Remember earlier in this post when I mentioned having two kids involved in extracurricular activities? One of the activities was freshman football. In Texas, where football is king, many boys (and some girls) are in helmets and pads before they’ve ever attended their first day of kindergarten. My son was a late starter to playing football. He started in 8th grade quite by accident. We showed up for 8th grade orientation, received his class schedule and noticed that where it should have said Physical Education it said Athletics. “I guess you’re playing football”, I told him.

He took to football well. Thanks mostly to genetics, he’s a big, strong kid. His freshman team had a great season. With three games left on the schedule, their record was 7-0, including a win against a team they had no business beating–bigger, stronger, faster and much better athletes. The next game on the schedule was against one of the three teams which remained undefeated. His team lost. Not badly, but they were outplayed. When I picked him up after the game, the first thing he said to me was,

“Mom. I’ll never get over this. Not as long as I live.”

I give myself huge mom props for not laughing at that statement. I think I almost bit a hole in my lip in an attempt not to crack a smile. His team would suffer one more loss the following week against the eventual district champs, and by the time his team rallied back to win the last game of the season, he had (mostly) gotten over the loss he swore he’d never recover from. After reflecting on the totality of the season (inasmuch as a 15 year old can do this, I suppose), he had gained some perspective about that first loss.

Our perspectives can shape how we look at just about anything. They can elevate or destroy.

So, my one word for 2013 is Perspective, and I will commit to be cognizant of how true reflection may shift both my own and the perspectives of others; choosing to expand my focus rather than narrow it.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Philippians 4: 5-8

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