One Drop of Paint
Back before the new year, I started a 12-week program called Integrity Choices. It began very simply by defining integrity, and what it means to be “in integrity”, in your space, in your relationships, and within yourself.
Their definition of integrity is very specific. It involves keeping nothing hidden, being truthful, transparent and vulnerably honest. To be in integrity in your work means doing complete work, working from an empowered or inspired context, and doing the work as it was meant to be done or better, within the expected time frame. If you are unable to remain in integrity, you can honour your word by acknowledging what you will not be doing as soon as you realize you won’t be completing a task on time or at all.
Sounds complicated, right? Basically, you do what you say you are going to do, and you are truthful and honest in all aspects of life. You work inspired, not just because you have to. You value and appreciate your relationships, and respect people by honouring their time. And you do all of this with joy, from a place of love and appreciation. That is the hard part.
Integrity is like a muscle, we need to exercise it, and practice using it to make it stronger. It can be easy to form poor integrity habits… for example, completing tasks that we said we would do because we committed to them, but resenting the work we are doing or the people we are doing it for. This is actually less honest than backing out and telling the person that you cannot complete the task, or you need more time to do so. Interesting, right?
So my first piece of homework was to start learning to use my integrity muscle by promising to complete a simple, achievable task from a place of joy every day for a week. My task? A single drop of paint. Every day, I intended to paint a 6×6 painting. I had a goal of increasing that every month until I was doing multiple paintings a day. On my own, I was never able to stick to it. Heck, I am currently a part of #the100dayproject, and I have missed more days than I have completed. However, this task was simple and achievable. One drop of paint, every day, when I am feeling inspired, or within a high vibration if you will.
So for a week, I put one drop of paint on a paper, canvas or wood panel every day. If I was inspired to do more (or had time, which I almost always found I did in the end) I would paint for longer. Some days, I literally put a drop of paint on my finger and rub it on the panel. I learned that even just 10 minutes of painting at a time could add up and become productive. I didn’t need an hour or two to make painting worth my while! By starting with simple tasks that needed to be done, like putting gesso on the cradle board or painting the edges in my signature Payne’s grey, it would make me happy to be getting paint on my hands, and inspire me to work on the details of another painting I was possibly avoiding out of fear of messing it up. I still almost always paint at least one drop of paint every day, with joy. That is the key ingredient: to do it not because it’s on my “to-do list” (which it was), but to do it because it made me happy and brought me joy.
This practice taught me that what I want to do for myself mattered. If I wasn’t true to my word to myself, how could I possibly follow through for anyone else? It was a light bulb moment of realization. I am not in integrity with myself. This practice of one drop of paint a day helped me to act in a way that fed my soul and moved me in the direction of success and happiness. It showed me that I matter to myself. That has been a huge epiphany.
I also realized in these 12 weeks that I would say “yes” too often, to please people, and then resent the time I spent doing the task in the end. That is not being true to my word either. Most friends and family don’t want you to do things for them because you feel you owe them or are obligated. They want you to help because you genuinely want to. They want to you enjoy the time, or at the very least not be miserable, because they love you and wish you well. So to honour them, you must be acting out of a place of love. This, too, taught me that I matter. And it shows other people that they matter to me. This realization gave me the confidence to choose what I agree to. Since I matter, my time matters, so I have to decide what I can accomplish with joy and what does not inspire me, but rather takes away from what I would rather be doing.
Living with more integrity has caused a huge shift in my life. It’s a very interesting balance, and I am not perfect. I still slip up and I still say yes too much. I have not brought all of my relationships into integrity as of yet. But the fact that I realize where I am out of integrity and acknowledging such is the first step in addressing the issue. Working and living from an inspired place in my heart and soul has really transformed my outlook on life. I appreciate so much more than I used to. Especially when it comes to myself because I know that I have honour and truth in my word.