Blue Heron Writes

Sharing to Inspire through Words and Pictures

Cultivating Patience

Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.  – 
Saint Francis de Sales
(Patron Saint of Writers and Journalists) 

Such wise words, aren’t they? But are you like me – able to have abundant patience with others yet when it comes to you, it’s a different story?

Two days ago, I finished two watercolour paintings. Each piece offered a unique learning experience. Sometimes the paint went where I wanted; at other times my hand seemed guided by an unseen force.  That force was usually impatience. I could see the finished images in my mind and expected them to magically appear on the paper in a few short strokes.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. As a piece progresses, there are periods when I must step away and view the painting from a distance in order to ‘see’ what‘s working and what isn’t. Do I need more intense colour? Is the perspective correct? Is my eye attracted to the place I want the viewer to focus? Often several layers of transparent paint must be applied to achieve the desired result. No magic – just more time and patience. And then there are the paintings which can`t be changed, fixed or saved; their final destination – the recycle bin, the artist`s classroom. Even seasoned professional artists throw away unsatisfactory creations. We`re all learning, with every stroke of the brush and every step of our lives.

Each week, when our art class meets with teacher, mentor and professional artist, Pat Fairhead (, she ensures we settle our bodies and emotions before we pick up a pencil or brush. It’s one of the steps I’ve included in my creative ritual (see my blog about Finding Euphoria; that is when I remember to include it. Yes, even though I know what to do, my impatience can still derail me as I plunge blindly into another painting without a plan. At those times, I get nothing more than paint on paper, not a painting worth keeping.

Impatience seems to be a symptom of our desire for instant gratification, a desire to grab at the future. So much of what we need and want comes at the touch of a button or the click of a mouse. How can we possibly take the time to slow down, pay attention and breathe – just breathe?

Try that now. Take 10 minutes, or 5, if that’s all you can spare; simply attend to your breathing. Breathe slow . . . deep . . . breaths, . . . in . . . and . . . out . . . in . . . and . . . out.

How do you feel? The result should be a sense of clarity and calmness. Those few minutes are like stepping away from my painting to gain a clearer perspective.

Every goal requires such moments of reflection, time to stop all activity, quietly assess progress and readjust the plan. Rushing forward too quickly, we can trip and fall and perhaps fail to recognize opportunities that could further our dream fulfilment.

A young friend of mine ( recently posted her frustrations about graduating from university and not being where she expected to be.  In my comment back to her I talked about how so many of us reach ‘adulthood’ where we live in a state of constant confusion.

Unexpected Encounter, copyright W.Donabie 2010

At 61 I still experience periods when I wonder where I’m going and what’s next. Even though I have goals, they are challenged, almost daily, by time, circumstances and my own foibles. Often I become impatient with myself over these unmet expectations, only to discover later the delay added something new, unexpected and worthwhile to my journey.

No matter what your goals and how committed you are to your current path, remain open to other possibilities, live in the moment and above all, `be patient with yourself`.  Simple advice; not so easy to follow.  It requires practice. I’m still learning.

A wise man once told me, “Impatience is the God-force misdirected. You are a Child of God; you have the capacity to use the God-force effectively in your life. Be patient; don`t allow regrets from the past and dreams of the future to consume you. The magic words of living are here and now.” Your dreams and associated goals represent your potential future; your past holds your storehouse of learning; the present is where you must live.

Children of God, as you cultivate patience with yourself, you`ll reap many benefits. The world will appear brighter, people seem friendlier, time will pass less frenetically, fewer frustrations will plague you. You`ll discover patience to be a worthy companion on your journey to dream fulfillment.

© Wendie Donabie 2012


1 Comment

  1. Betty Pinkston

    This is a wonderful article. You have expressed so many of my own thoughts about painting. I am currently teaching two art classes and one private student. Would you mind if I share your thoughts with them? I am always trying to relate more than just painting techniques since I feel art is an emotional and spiritual endeavor of one’s inner being and you just put that into words!

    Thanks for sharing,

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