Extreme Makeover: Bird House Edition

After spending the week in Wisconsin for work, i came home to beautiful weather here in Chattanooga. Yesterday was so perfect, in fact, that i went and picked up some wooden birdhouses and painted them for the springtime nests. This is something i’ve done before, and it always catches me off guard when people find it such an amazing feat.

I always get a lot of, “I’d never think of that”s. Especially from people my own age. I don’t understand it. I mean, we all did things like this in art class, or scouts, or Sunday School, or 4-H. It was a common craft for the Garanimals set back in the day. Maybe too many of us associate it with kid stuff? (And further, think of kid stuff as things we aren’t allowed to do as adults.)  Or maybe our heads are so full of the extremes – Hard work and sleep – that we forget there are things in between. Maybe we forget that creating, on any level, is good for both our brains and our souls. Maybe we forget that it is important to show the younger generations that we can have fun without electricity or screens. Maybe we forget how fun it is.

The other remark i get a lot is “I can’t paint.” Ummm – There are pigs and elephants selling paintings for hundreds of dollars, and they don’t even have opposable thumbs. I’m pretty sure you can paint a bird house for your own yard. Just sayin’.

And this is where i get on Momma Hol’s Soap Box #3.

Nowhere, in anyone’s religious text (Or motivational text, if you are not religious) does it say you must be “good” at something to try it. God/Goddess/Universe only asks that you make a joyful noise… It never said you had to be Streisand or Sinatra. Creativity is one of the few areas of life where you score points for effort. And i am thankful, as my efforts often come out looking like a Pinterest fail. But sometimes not. Sometimes i really nail it.

And before you shake your head and say, “Well, mine would turn out ugly,” i remind you that the birds don’t care. They don’t read Martha Stewart, and i’m pretty sure they don’t judge each other on the paint job of the shelter. They just want a protected place to lay and set their eggs. And they will be grateful you did it, even if all you did was paint it all one color. They aren’t living in some decorating reality show. They are living in your yard. Just your average bird looking for a safe family haven. It will still be their home.  Besides,  i’ll bet you do a better job than you think you do…

At least when you aren’t criticizing yourself and worrying about it.

I have a bestie who teaches art. She tells her students, “The difference between (her and them), other than schooling and practice,  is that at some point, most people start believing the kid or person next to them. They stop believing they are an artist and give it up.” They get negative feedback from others, or start comparing themselves to others, and they devalue their own work as a result. Granted, Rembrandt is Rembrandt, and we are not. but we all have our moments. That one picture that came out just right. The meal that was perfect. That one well-turned phrase where you feel, “Ya, those were perfect words.” But that doesn’t mean that our other efforts don’t have value. Even if that value is just an enjoyable afternoon with some cheap paints and a bird house.

And if you feel silly doing it all by your lonesome, invite some kids over. Or do it as part of a wine and cheese thingy. Or don’t tell anyone. But i really hope you take a bash at some of these simple arts again. Get in touch with your inner artist. Your inner child. Build yourself a bird house. Or do like i did and buy one to paint at the craft store. Whether you make it look like a flower covered cottage or keep it simple, it’s still a place for the birds to place their eggs. And i like to believe that the love you put into making it will be felt when they move into it.

Or maybe that’s the artist in me talking.


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