not my strong suit

5 years ago

A couple of years ago, Duff and I were out in Charleston, SC with some friends the night before the Cooper River Bridge Run. Our friend, from Chapel Hill, NC, laughed loudly, and a girl from a nearby table sat up straight and said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, that's my spin instructor!" The girl's face showed one part respect and two parts fear, and I knew that our friend must be a really, really good instructor.


I asked her how she got into teaching. She said that she'd always loved aerobics, and one day she decided to try spinning. She went to a few classes, one day the instructor pulled her aside and asked her if she'd ever considered being certified to instruct.


You guys. This is my dream; to walk into something totally new, and discover some raw, untapped, hidden talent. There is a part of me that honestly expects this to happen when I try something new, whether it be musical, athletic, or artistic.  Or something else.


And that makes absolutely no sense, because while I do have a musical background, I'm no better than average, and my performance is decidedly sub-par when it comes to pretty much all things athletic and artistic. And really, I'm okay with that. I'm loved, and mediocrity is the norm. Not everyone can be above average, I have my own gifts and try to use them well, etc.


But this ridiculous optimism forges on, despite everything I know about myself. And so, as I walked into a painting class at a local studio called Wine & Design a few months ago, I found myself entertaining the idea that it might actually go well. Like, maybe even really well. The fact that I'd never painted, only encouraged the dream. Any talent I discovered would be truly raw and untapped. I knew it was unlikely. But it wasn't impossible.


The studio was one of those places where you drink a glass of wine while attempting to recreate the pre-selected example painting completed by someone who actually knows what they're doing. Each stroke of the brush is first demonstrated by the artist, and then mimicked by the rest of the group.


wine & design Asheville, wine & canvas, painting and wine

Liv called this a "hee-haw."  A donkey.  It's supposed to be a cow.



The result was the painting seen above, which shows absolutely no promise of any talent. But it wasn't abysmal, and that was a victory in itself. Despite my mediocrity, I was excited to attend round two:  a new painting on a new night with an old friend (Val). We decided to go on a night where the painting was a simple tree with paisley-shaped leaves. I told her I knew the drill - we were to show up about 15 minutes early, pick our spot, tie an apron on and grab a glass of wine.


It all went downhill from there.


Whereas the first time I attended was actually a fundraiser, and the wine and snacks were provided, this time we were to bring our own. We didn't realize that until we'd been standing around, waiting for our co-adventurers to share. I finally figured out that they weren't sharing because they weren't supposed to, and left to grab a bottle of wine from the shop a block down the street. So much for being early. This delayed the start for the whole group, which was almost as awkward as hovering around someone else's drink. As we got started, it became clear that the simplicity of the painting was deceptive; yes, it was easy to paint but it required more finesse to be attractive. Not my strong suit (although Val's was quite nice).



We had a great time, despite the rocky start. My favorite part was at the beginning, when the same instructor I'd had a few weeks before gave a little intro to the night. She said we were there to have fun, to leave with something we created, and that the only rule was "Don't dip your paintbrush in your wine."


Fifteen minutes later, I did exactly that. I put my paintbrush in my little cup of wine. This served as confirmation for what we all saw coming:  painting is not my strong suit. Picasso, I am not.




And really, that's fine.  Because, like I said, I've got my own gifts,

and these kinds of abilities don't define me.


But, let's be honest, there's always fencing,

 spelunking, or underwater basket-weaving.

Or curling!  I can't be the only one who's dying to try curling.


The possibilities are endless.


Cross-posted at


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