Small Steps Sparky

Don’t worry even if things end up a bit too heavy
We’ll all float on alright
Float On, Modest Mouse

This post is off schedule due to Art (the creative act, not some guy). I do believe I will let myself off the hook with this excuse (I could blame it on my sister, but it’s right after Christmas, and I want to be nice…or it could be I just don’t want to take responsibility for my actions…I’ll go with blaming Art).

When we arrived at my younger sister Tina’s house in Virginia for Christmas, there was a very large work of art in progress on the floor of the garage. It was meant to be a family project, so I got a chance to “add a little something.” That was Saturday morning. Two full days of painting, [joy], listening to music, [joy], making a mess, [more joy], gluing (Liquid Nails Heavy Duty Extra Strong), and a really sore and achy body later, we finished.

Well, mostly. My brother Scot added a couple of coats of clear varnish this morning and we are waiting for it to dry. Then we will see how good that Liquid Nails stuff really is, when we attempt to get it off the garage floor, in one piece, and turn it over for some additional screws into the back to bind everything together.

Focus on Your Shoes

“Small steps Sparky.” Mike and I have been saying this to each other for years, and now my recently widowed sister says it too. It’s written on the family whiteboard. The line is from the movie Contact, although I’m not sure we’re quoting it correctly. The dad in the movie says it to Jodie Foster’s character when she’s just a kid (see, I can’t even remember the characters’ names, and I’m too lazy to look them up). The accuracy of the quote doesn’t matter though, it’s the phrase that helps keep the forward momentum when the task at hand seems daunting. Even the tiniest of steps are moving you forward.

I like to say this phrase of encouragement out loud to myself, especially since I began this whole Scary Business of putting myself out there (here).

Incremental change over time is a concept I have run into more than once through various online coaches and self-help books. You don’t have to do a lot each day, or each week, in order to get to your goals. And sometimes, you can’t look at the Big Scary Goal way out in front of you. Sometimes, you have to just look down and focus on your shoes. Taking those smallest of steps will still get you where you want to go (of course, looking up occasionally is necessary to prevent you from running into things).

[ Photo credit: Scot Renfro ]

When I started this blog at the end of September, I set myself the goal of one post a week for the rest of the year. An arbitrary timeline (heck, the start date was random), but it seemed natural, and three months of writing, only once a week, seemed doable. I had no real agenda or plan, just wanted to write thoughts and stories that were floating around in my head, hopefully some posts about actual art I made. Maybe some folks would find the posts interesting and/or useful in some way. Maybe they wouldn’t.

Without a real plan (other than, that’s What You Do when you Blog), I signed up for several of the Social Medias to support my endeavor (still on the fence about certain ones, and not posting very consistently, but dare I say it…SMALL STEPS SPARKY)

I started out writing on Sundays, then switched to Saturdays so my blog emails would go out on Sunday morning rather than Monday. No real supporting evidence for a reason to make this switch, it just felt better, and I found writing on Saturdays felt less urgent, like I somehow had more time.

This whole meandering “winging it” framework, bound by a once a week commitment, hasn’t been a total disaster (even if it wasn’t very comfy at times). I don’t have many followers yet, but this is only (only?!) my fourteenth post (that is awesome!), the last of 2015. I have to say, I’m pretty darn proud of myself for making it to my goal post (heh, didn’t get the pun when I wrote it, but cool).

The really, really hard part…really…was just starting.

Wintery December Sky in Virginia

[ Taking a break from the Big Art Project. Beautiful winter sky, Virginia ]

The Magic is in the Mess

Brené Brown shared “the magic is in the mess” a couple of days ago on Facebook, and what she wrote really resonated. As she says, “the gremlins don’t go on vacation.” Doesn’t matter that it’s Christmas. Life is messy 365 days a year.

The Big Art Project here in Virginia was just what I needed to get me out of my year-end-holiday funk. I cannot come close to comparing any of my current life “struggles” with the unfair s**t storm that a good chunk of this year became for my sister and her family. Or my brother, who is dealing with his own, but different, unfair Storm O’ S**t. But we all got to work on this big, beautiful piece together, and that made the storms (temporarily) a little less crappy.

Big Art Finished

[ Liquid Nails worked. There were a few crackles and creaks turning it over, but the pieces held. Lots of screws added to the back. The piece weighs 85-90 lbs (we know this because of a neighbor’s borrowed scale). Thanks to the patience of brother Scot with the level, measuring tape, stud finder, hardware for hanging, and power drill, we have a final piece on the no-longer-big-empty wall. Just needs some direct lighting to bring out the color 😉 ]

Goodbye 2015

There are a couple days left to get my thoughts together for what I want out of 2016. I would like to have more focus, have some bigger goals, with more purpose, not be meandering so much. I would like to make lots and lots of art and continue this blog. I’m not sure what the whole picture for next year looks like, what I want it to be, and you know, I might not figure that out before January 1st. And that’s OK.

Thank you, my dear lovely reader peeps, for joining me on this adventure. I so appreciate your feedback and encouragement. Looking forward to more adventures.



This entry was posted in Art Stories, Creative Life, Creative Spirit, Inspiration.


  1. Took Gallagher December 29, 2015 at 12:13 AM #

    I really loved this blog post…everything about it. The writing, the messages, the artwork…ALL of it. The collaborative piece of art is simply wondrous. Congrats on the blogging — keep plugging away! Happy New Year and I look forward to more of your posts!

  2. Barb December 30, 2015 at 8:22 AM #

    Thank you Julie….I’ve enjoyed your writing and as always you have inspired me.

  3. Julie December 30, 2015 at 9:51 PM #

    Thank you so much, Took! I so appreciate your comments (and support). Happy New Year!

  4. Julie December 30, 2015 at 9:53 PM #

    Thank YOU Barb! Your love and support mean so much to me.

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