Just Keep Swimming When Life Gets You Down

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Do you ever feel like a soggy sponge?

Like you just can not absorb any more and you’re about to have a torrential downpour?   This has been my week of turmoil.  I cried myself to sleep and awoke in tears.

Before the Storm by Wendy Brayton

I was experiencing a bleak moment where I was questioning my whole life’s choices and felt like I was sitting on the edge. It was one of those moments where you floodlight at all your past mistakes and get swept away.

Do I drown in self pity or just keep swimming towards my dream?

A few chocolates later, a call to a counselor,  a day in the art studio and I am still swimming.

I want to be a better person so if it means looking at past mistakes, acknowledging my responsibility in them and making amends.  I can do it.

This life is brief, intense and too beautiful to waste.

I only have a month left of my first semester of  grad school at the San Francisco Academy of Art.  This has been a humbling experience.  There are the most amazing talented artists attending there and I aspire to be among them.

This semester I took two online classes and one in the city.  It become obvious to me that the online classes were paling in comparison to what I get out of the studio class.

I do not want to waste this precious time of learning so next semester I am going to bite the bullet and attend more city classes.  To do this feat is going to take some family maneuvering.

Currently, I commute our son to school in another town which has not allowed me to attend more classes.

The solution is to move close to our son’s school so he can walk home and free up the two hours a day I spend commuting him there and back.  This is a scary but also exciting decision.  We have lived in our home for over twelve years.

We have set our sites on a small two bedroom home in a quiet neighborhood within walking distance of the high school.

Moving date is tentatively set for February since I have all of January off from school to pack.


Wendy’s dream is still to become a influential international artist, but she left 8 Women Dream in March of 2010 to complete grad school.  She is still a strong supporter of 8 Women Dream.

  • Wendy

    Thanks Lisa for your support. I am so glad you joined our group and am loving your posts. Great quote from Mary Oliver.

  • Wendy

    Yes Rachel, I think it is the right decision. My son is a little nervous since he has never moved but I know he will like the freedom and also the extra time in the morning. Not to mention that his friends also live there.

  • Wendy

    Thanks Kim for the complement on the painting. My cousin was married last month and I let her pick out a painting for a wedding gift. She chose this one. I can not wait to move. You are right about extra time. I was driving back from taking Coleman to school this morning and realized I would have a whole extra hour in the morning. Such bliss!

  • Wendy this painting is just stunning – YOU are such an incredible talent!

    Sooo proud of you for the changes you’re making to move one step closer to realizing your dreams. It is really wonderful that you have a family who are supportive of your dreams, too. I’m so sorry it was such a rough week tho’! Been there – know how it feels to question all my past choices and mistakes. Just TRUST that you are exactly where you are meant to be… And anyways, all we can ever do is make the best of where we are now, right? You’re doing it!

    I loved this quote from your post: “This life is brief, intense and too beautiful to waste.” Absolutely – so true! It reminds me of a favorite line from a Mary Oliver poem: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.”

    Can’t wait to see you live all your dreams Wendy… Happy that I’ll be here to witness and help!


  • Rachel

    “We have set our sites on a small two bedroom home in a quiet neighborhood within walking distance of the high school.”

    That sounds lovely. This will allow both of you so much more freedom. I loved it when we lived an easy walk from my daughters’ school. Moving is always hard, but it sounds like you’ve made a really good decision.

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  • Kim, the traveler

    I love this painting and how the light catches on the clouds. So pretty!
    My children wish they lived closer to their schools, although it only takes me 10 minutes to get there, we’re not in the “same” town and they can’t walk. I remember the wanting to be alone too and feeling grown up.
    Now you’ll have more time for yourself!

  • Wendy

    Thank you Catherine, Remy and Veronica. I really appreciate having you there and being part of this wonderful group. You all have kind words of wisdom. In reference to Catherine’s comment that teens need their independence within reason. I agree. Our middle son grew up getting himself to school and home and I really feel it benefited him to feeling independent and confident. Plus having a son who does not do sports a mile of walking every day would be good.

  • Veronica

    You commented on the fact that there are the most amazing talented artists attending the SF art institute and that you aspire to be among them. Sweety….you are among them.

    Think about this: “Talk to yourself exactly the same way you would talk to your best friend.” Be kind, gentle and loving to yourself.

    I so enjoyed being around you at the last meeting and I think your paintings are fabulous. When I get ahead financially I want to purchase one.

    Now I have good taste, fantastic taste actually. So do you think I would put my hard earned money into a painting that I didn’t just love? I think not.

    Blessings to you.

  • Remy G

    Wendy, you inspire me. Looking at all you had to juggle, if it were me, it would take me much longer to process and take steps. Fantastic about moving – and your painting is beautiful! It may be hard but please keep going! To piggy back on what Cath said, i will quote my grandfather, who I was named after – He would say to you in this situation, “You know what, everything can be hard. Some things are just harder than others, that’s all.” Have a fantastic week!

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    I think your art is amazing and I come from a life where my mother took me to every showing at the DeYoung, Legion of Honor, SFMOMA and more. Not to mention all the years of exposure through symphony events and the ballet. Your paintings reveal the soul of Sonoma County and life as I see it everyday when all I need to do is drive west or north, or remember how it used to look before so many people moved here.

    I can look at that painting and write a complete story on the type of day and how it would be spent here in Sonoma County.

    You are doing so much Wendy -so many changes. There’s all that you normally do plus training for a triathlon and going to graduate school.

    Your son might enjoy the freedom of life without mom around (not that they don’t love us), but I remember how much I loved going home to a home alone with I was in my teens. You know – all that teenage I WANT TO BE ALONE stuff. But I liked not having to tell anyone about my day, fix my own snack, watch what I want on TV, thumb through my homework and be independent.

    By the time my parents got home i was ready to be around them. Eventually my mom had me starting dinner, which taught me to be the cook I am today.

    So you never know how things will turn out.

    And remember, it isn’t what is happening to us that is hard – it’s what WE THINK ABOUT what is happening to us that makes it hard.

    A big hug,