Jennifer Funk Fine Art

A New Yes

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage
—pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically,
 to say “no” to other things.
And the way you do that is by
 having a bigger “yes” burning inside.
Stephen R. Covey
About 4 years ago I went to a Time Out for women. I remember listening to a speaker and he was talking about dreams and goals. He asked us to make a list of things we wanted to accomplish in the next  five or ten years. So I started writing. He then said to look at our list and take off the items that are about our husband and our children. He explained that this list was supposed to be just goals for us.  I sat there and stared at my notebook and started to sob. I remember being mortified about it and trying to find a way to sneak out.
Brad had been killed less than a year earlier. I was still in survival mode. Not thinking much more than a few days ahead. That was all I could deal with. So being asked to think 5 or 10 years down the road was not just overwhelming, but heartbreaking for me.  My whole life was different than what I ever had planned or imagined.
I kept trying to think of something to write. I could think of things that I wanted to learn, places to visit or fun things to go do… but they all seemed very superficial to me. Not worthy of a long term goal.
Brad not being physically here changed everything. See, we were supposed to have 4 or 5 kids, explore the world together and raise our little family. Teach and laugh and learn together. And someday when our kids were grown we were supposed to retire together and sit on our porch holding hands.
Every dream, every hope I had for my life could not exist without him.
That feeling I had that day has been a hard one for me to process. I’ve been working on it for years. Coming to terms with having to change all your hopes and dreams is hard.  And trying to find new ones….
 well, for me, that was even harder.
Obviously, my girls are my greatest joy. I feel so privileged to be their mother. They are my first and most important priority. And they always will be.  But I could see the value in having goals and dreams of my own. Because one day I would be on my own. And I needed to be able to be happy with that.  I needed to find something that I loved to do. Something that I was passionate about….
I kind of always knew what it was. It’s kind of always been there. This little dream. Just waiting patiently to be let out.  It was something that was never practical so I just ignored it. But when I asked myself, What would I do if I could do anything in the world?
 That little dream jumped up and yelled.
So I knew what it was long before I dared to do anything about it. It makes me sound really wimpy, but I THOUGHT about starting on that little dream for years… but I didn’t even dare say it aloud. (because it sounds kind of goofy) and i didn’t ever dare actually START it, because, well, I hand no idea HOW to do it….
So fast forward a few years and I’m sitting at a retreat for military widows in Seattle. We are all talking and Taryn, (founder of American Widow Project) asks me what I’m passionate about. What I want to DO with my life. And I start talking about my beautiful girls…. and she says, ok, but what about YOU? What do you want to do? And you know, that little dream just spilled out. Maybe it was because I was with a bunch of people I just met, and may not see again so i wasn’t afraid of what they thought?  Maybe it was because I felt like they “got it” {other widows are really good at “getting it”}
I told them, “Someday I’m going to be an artist.”
And you know what? they didn’t laugh –  They didn’t say well, that’s a nerdy dream.  They didn’t ask why or what is so special about that?
But they did say one important thing,
{and they didn’t buy my big plan about not being able to do it till Addie was in school all day or figuring out how to fit college into my life}
I came home inspired and signed up for my first art class in my life.
{did I add that I had zero skills to go along with this little dream?}
That was last summer. Over this past year I’ve been having fun playing with paint. And I’ve figured a few things out. The most important thing being that I LOVE doing this. I can not believe how happy it makes me. I really am feeling so grateful that I’ve found something that I love to do so much. And it has come at the perfect time in my life. I was dreading my baby starting school and I was REALLY dreading my sweet Tyler moving away to college.  It sounds dorky, but being able to go down in my little art cave has really helped me deal with all those changes.
I used to be nervous to show my work to anyone. I thought I would be hurt if people didn’t love it. But, I’ve found that I’m not concerned about that anymore. I don’t really care if anyone else likes it, or if I ever sell a painting.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVE every second spent creating these little works of art. and that, I’ve decided is what matters.
So if you can’t find me I’m probably in my basement jamming to Spotify, covered in paint. And maybe a few happy tears might be sneaking out,  because I found a new Yes.
p.s. I’m saying no to cupcakes.
p.p.s. If you need Brad that’s where he’ll be as well.