Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A Big Step For Nettie

Having not painted now for almost three weeks I am finding it very hard to get myself back into my workspace and start being creative. Maybe spending so much time looking at the wonderful work of those of you who follow this blog and give me the privilege of seeing your work has made me question my own “talent.” I had promised a friend I would start back today.

This reminded me of the story of Nettie. Let me share a bit of it with you today.

It was a freezing cold day and there we were Nettie and I sitting halfway up the pathway leading to her front door. We would be about 20 yards from the door. We had two chairs out and she was wearing her mother’s old fur coat and I was well wrapped up in a big jersey and jacket. We were both wearing gloves and grasping a cup of warm coffee. Anybody seeing us must have wondered what we were doing. I admit we must have looked really silly. I was trying to make the cup of coffee last, drinking it slowly, Nettie was gulping hers down as fast as possible. I wanted to linger a bit longer, Nettie wanted to get it finished and get back into her house. Now what was all this about?

This was the first time since the birth of her daughter that Nettie had ever been past her front door. Her daughter was now sixteen almost seventeen. In all that time Nettie had never been outdoors. She was not even able to go out to her back garden to hang out her washing; her husband did that and everything else that involved going out. It was he who had asked me to visit her and meet her.

I had been visiting her for some time before the day I speak of. We had built up to this moment slowly and surely. Nettie had laid down lots of little “rules” about how it would happen and I had talked her out of some and agreed to others.

We had agreed to the chairs, first only one, being the agreed distance. The cup of coffee was mine. Small concessions had been made here and there. It had taken five days for Nettie to reach the chair this was day six when we had agreed to take a coffee and sit on the chairs and drink them before returning.

Here we were we had made it to the chairs. On our return to the inside there was a real sense of achievement. There were hugs and tears and much laughter. Nettie had made a great big step forward. I remember to this day her saying to me when we began to calm down, “What must I have looked like in my mothers old fur coat?” I replied, “You looked just marvellous to me.”

Every great journey starts with the first step.

The artwork used on this blog is discussed on my other blog:-Poppies (A Symbol of Hope)


  1. Great story Ralph -nice to have your support on my artistic journey ....

  2. Ah okay! So you've changed tack on us here....from philosopher to suspense writer! What happened to Nettie....did she go out again? What initiated her fear in the first place? How long before her second step?
    So now I have two good books I can't put down....a Brookmyre that keeps me reading half the night....and your blog!

  3. Oh dear. I cannot even imagine the thoughts of an agoraphobic. And her husband must love her so very much indeed. Yep, you left us in suspense, Ralph!

  4. I know the feeling of reading everyone else's blog and questioning your own worth. I used to write a lot of stories about my experiences and then I found your blog... It seems to me my stories fade in comparison.

    Nonetheless, we can both swallow hard and realize we have gifts to share. Its ok that they are unique. Its very good actually! So lets celebrate our differences and not be afraid to put forward our best efforts, even when it challenges us!

    Start with some paint, and have fun smearing it around. I bet it will lead you somewhere...

    I think your paintings are lovely. They are a reflection of your wonderful spirit; bright, carefree, endearing and provoking wonderment. Pick up your brush my dear friend. (I'd start with purple...)

  5. Hi Ralph,
    Si tu partageais un moment avec Susan et moi-même tu verrais à nouveau la vie en rose! ou en bleu ou en .... comme tu veux!
    On aurait suffisamment d'énergie à revendre pour te redonner le goût de repeindre.
    Je comprends aisément ce que tu ressens en ce moment. Une remise en doute de soi!
    Il est normal pour un artiste d'avoir ce doute. Tu donnes parfois tant de toi-même dans tes oeuvres que tu deviens comme une éponge. L'éponge est pressée plus rien ne vient... Mais bientôt la renaissance va s'amorcer.
    Il faut absolument que tu restes toi-même, identique. On pense souvent que ce que peignent les autres est meilleur... C'est bon ok, mais ce n'est pas ton écriture. Pourquoi vouloir changer son écriture. Je t'assure que ton écriture est belle et remplie d'émotion. Ne la change pas, peaufine-la seulement et tu auras gagné!
    Je suis certaine que tu es une personne pleine de qualité, tu as apporté à ton amie plein de réconfort.
    Aujourd'hui je vais te booster et j'aimerais rapidement que tu puisses me dire : c'est génial, ma toile est en route... Allez je veux voir une toile sur ton chevalet!!!
    Reçois toutes mes amitiés.
    Merci aussi pour ton passage sur mon blog.

  6. Hi Ralph,
    Yes another interesting story. I think that it's best to read your postings in the evening, instead of watching tv. As for your painting, please, just paint. You are gifted through your pen and brush.

    Happy Painting

  7. will you continue this story? I can't wait to see what you will paint next. I know what you mean about not necessarily seeing the point of painting--but consider this..when you paint things you are fully present. Forget about anyone else and just paint to be in the here and now. The results are of little consequence. It is like running, I run for other reasons aside from "accomplishment". Yes?

  8. p.s. forgot to mention---your writing is exceptional--I love to read your daily story.

  9. Hello Ralph, As a writer who is also a mother to a five year old, time is so precious for creative things. I do agree that all journeys begin with the first step but also to complete the journey you have to take that step by step! If I only have fifteen minutes spare to write - I take that fifteen minutes. And is it the Desiderata that says never compare yourself with another as there will always be greater and lesser? If we were all flowers we wouldn't be studying the next flower thinking how much better they are!
    You have been given a gift by God so use it!