You know how some people catch your attention and every time you see them it lifts you up? Maybe you don’t know them very well at all, but all your brief interactions have left you feeling like you do? That they are someone you can trust or count on and while it may be very true, you don’t actually have enough of a relationship to really base that on?
This is April.
I first met April at the NEW Leadership Development Institute which is designed to gather and help train women of all ages and all walks of life to be better leaders and provide them with a network of people to reach out to. One of the days is devoted entirely to running for office. In the afternoon there was a panel of women who had successfully won their campaigns to share a bit about the process from their point of view. After a long morning of instruction in the myriad of things large and small that one should do if one is running for office, my head was spinning. It’s an overwhelming list, really, if one wants to do it well. One that seems impossible on the lack of sleep these kinds of things lend themselves to. Through the blur was April who calmly announced that she didn’t do any of that.
She had run for her city council, but as a single mom with multiple children didn’t have time or resources to do everything “one should do”. She put up a large sign on the corner, handed out literature when she took her kids trick-or-treating, and that was it. She wanted to make a difference, a positive change, and since she couldn’t do everything (or even most) of what was recommended, she didn’t. She just did what she could. And amazingly, she won and has been serving on the city council ever since.
Talk about life lessons.
I have only interacted with her a handful of times since, and each time I am left with a feeling of “just do what you can, it will be okay.” She always seems calm and accepting—and apparently her image works that way for me, as well. One day she posted a selfie on Facebook and I just fell in love with it. It was exactly how I always think of her in my head. A vision of sunrises, and poetry, and light across the water. A painting immediately materialized in my head, which they mostly never do. Most of my work really starts with “lets hope for the best” and is usually followed by “Oh, dear. That was unexpected.” This one was crystal clear, and the drawing went together immediately. And then sat there. For a long time. Completely untouched.
The past two months have been an exhausting mix of frantic functionality and random crying jags prompted by absolutely nothing. The world conspired to rob me of what little sleep I was getting, and after the previous nine months of sleep deprivation I completely fell apart. I have been chasing after my deadlines like a mad woman without getting much of anywhere. Normally having a painting set up and not being able to work on it drives me insane. This time there was plenty of insanity, but it didn’t connect to the painting at all. Set up and ready to go, the drawing kept looking at me like my own personal Madonna saying “do what you can, it will be okay, I’m not going anywhere”. Every time I looked over it was like taking a deep breath.
Then two weeks ago it became TIME TO PAINT. As we all know, I still don’t have a good place to paint so I took over the kitchen, growled at my family when they entered it, and left everyone to fend for themselves. I have no idea what any of us ate, but we clearly didn’t starve to death, so it was fine. Despite everything else that still needs to be done (deadlines wait for no one), once I started the painting it took over all my remaining brain cells and I couldn’t think past it until I finally completed it.
Oddly enough, it actually came out darn close to what I had in my head. It’s a freaking miracle, one that I have no expectation will ever be repeated in my lifetime.
So here is April, an amazing inspiration, who is actually campaigning for office right now—for Mayor of Brooklyn Center, MN. You should totally check her out, because anyone who can bring a painting miracle to my house is beyond awesome.
Also, I actually took some in process photos this time. It’s kinda fun to see the progression.
I am not actually sure the painting is 100% finished. It needs to hang out in my house a bit before I decide for sute.