I Did It…I’m Doing It…

Some years ago our youngest grandson at the time was mastering the toddler task of feeding himself. The restaurant where we were enjoying a three-generation family gathering wisely served apple sauce to younger children for the salad course. Peter was intent on savoring his as he laboriously guided his heaping spoonful between bowl and mouth. Parents and grandparents all held our breath with high hopes. The last few inches were a study in slow motion. And then the spoon of apple sauce was in his mouth, no mess, no mayhem. Peter threw up his arms in victory, spoon waving in the air, and announced to the whole restaurant,”I did it!” That’s become a catchphrase in our family whenever one of us accomplishes something that took some concentrated effort.

I Did It is the title of Jessica’s art piece this week as the women painted, drew, and collaged images of who they have come since entering The Lighthouse substance abuse recovery program. All the women have work assignments around the residential facility – gardening, cleaning, laundry, meal preparation, etc. Jessica’s passion is cooking, and she has dreamed of becoming a chef one day. Therefore she was happy as a pet clam when she was assigned to the kitchen. And there were a lot of seriously relieved women who were never going to be assigned to the cooking detail again. Recently, a chef from the Oxnard Rescue Mission has come to The Lighthouse to evaluate and upgrade the meal preparation process. Jessica is getting hands on experience from a professional in becoming her heart’s desire. It’s great watching her button up her chef’s jacket as she transitions from the art workshop to the kitchen. She did it…she’s doing it! Life is sweet.

Some of the women had not been in the year-long program very long when we began a four-part therapeutic art project in January on inner and outer selves. Samantha had been at The Lighthouse less than a week when her  first art workshop assignment was to identify the negative self-talk inside her head. She began uncertainly, and with apprehension. When I gathered all the folders at the end of the workshop, Samantha had entirely blackened out everything she’d written, possibly because it was just too painful to look at it painted on a page.

 The following week we began to look at the grain of truth in our negative self-talk and to rewrite our internal conversations to be more supportive. Samantha was struggling with putting anything down and blurted out that she didn’t trust anyone. And that she wanted to trust God, but she kept taking it back. That began a quiet, sweet conversation with her about how we all offer ourselves as a sacrifice and say we trust God, but  we all keep crawling off the altar. I moved on and left her to go back to what she was working on. When it was time to clean up, Samantha was in the zone, she was busy painting that moment’s heart’s desire. Rather than interrupt her to gather the art supplies, I simply arranged for one of the other women to put them away for safekeeping until the next week. Samantha painted on undisturbed. The image at right is her response.

 Samantha’s final picture which portrayed how she sees herself as difference than when she first entered the program was simple but powerful. The wide diagonal from top left to lower right is the road she’s always walked on doing whatever she wanted. Now there’s a small side road that leads to the Cross. She cut out pairs of tiny feet that travel down her wide road and then turn onto the side street. She said she’s learning to take baby steps in trusting God. He did it…she’s doing it. Doesn’t get much better than that.

What were the desires of your heart that you can now say, “I did it” ? As you reflect back over your life, can you identify how you are different now than you were at an earlier time? Who or what made a difference that helped shape that change? Are there areas of your life that still require baby steps?

Looking forward to what you have to share.



6 comments to I Did It…I’m Doing It…

  • achieving my one woman hat exhibition at a top flight gallery in south africa
    it was a special growing point in my life
    recognition and encouragement to believe in myself as an artist

  • The image with the bright colors and collaged face is full of joy and purpose. The all black one calls me, so deep, so reflective. After we examine the dark, there always seems to be some liberation. I love the work. Thank-you for courage to draw “real” life stories.

  • Deanna J Bowling

    I was a patient at Vista Del Mar in 1992, for about 4 weeks. A young couple who were going to medical school in I believe it was Boston, had brought Cognitive Therapy, founded by Dr. Aaron T. Beck., to the hospital. We patients came to call the couple Dr. Susan (she had her doctorate degree) and Dr. Mike (he was working toward his).

    One of the many instances wherein Dr. Mike had especially touched upon my personal issues, was when he first wore his hair in a pony tail to work one day. Dr. Mike used the pony tail as a lead in to discuss self-talk. He explained the connection by describing what self-talk was, and by sharing the fact that he had been doing a lot of self-talk on the way in to work because he was concerned about the reaction he was going to receive to his pony tail. It helped we patients to know that self-talk was a common response to nervous concerns on the part of all peoples, and that it was the type of negative self-talk that we as patients were doing that could be so damaging. He also during the group therapy sessions that day helped us to “un-load the very dangerous weapon” named negative self-talk.

  • Keeping my marriage — God did it, but yeah, so did I.
    Writing my first book — I did it, but yeah, so did God.
    Making my first par on a golf course — Definitely God.

    I’m definitely different now when it comes to my marriage. I see my wife and family in a whole new light. Actually, I just see them now, when I was in the throws of workaholism, they were simply a distraction.

    Writing, editing, promoting books has moved from a place of not seeing my ego-driven motives to laughing at my ego and seeing the futility and giftedness to write and be published.

    Golf – well, I really don’t play much anymore…I guess this goes back to valuing my family and realized that 4 hours on a golf course can be spent much better with two hours in the ocean, an hour at Starbucks and an hour mowing the lawn.

  • cynthia thomas

    two “i did it!” situations come to mind immediately. first, i recovered from a debilitating stroke, even though the neurosurgeon said i would not recover. it’s changed me so that i have confidence in myself & i listen to that small voice inside more often. i k recently stoppednew i could recover and then there were the negative diagnoses from rehab professionals–i would never sew or drive again. again, i did those things. (i recently stopped driving due to visual problems.)

    more reently, i made the transition from living alone in a condo to living independently in a retirement community. i wasn’t sure at first if i could do this; it was hard giving up the space in my 3 bedroom condo & living with people who are 30+ years older than me. but i’m doing it. i’ve made friends w/some of the residents. & moving into a bigger apartment here is allows me to continue my creative pursuits. & infact, i’m giving a workshop here in april–we’re going to do some discharge dyeing of tee shirts. i’m doing it! cynthia

  • Aahmes Overton

    Thank you, Lynne. This post – and the previous one – about your work with the women at Lighthouse is a wonderful window into your heart – and into theirs as well. God is doing it
    through you, to them, then through them. – Aahmes Overton

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