i paint i write

Live boldly, laugh and make art

Stop hiding behind a long coat

The post office was going to close in thirty minutes, I had just enough time to make a birthday card and tape the package shut. I didn’t have enough time to change out of my painting clothes, and get to the post office before they closed. The birthday present would arrive late, but I did want the gift to be postmarked the actual day of my cousin’s birthday.

As I was running out the door with my keys, purse and package, I grabbed my long plaid coat.  If I put the coat on, you wouldn’t be able to see my painting pants.

Standing at the post office, the post master didn’t know what I was hiding.  He couldn’t see the paint stains or the patches on my jeans.

My coat became something I could hide behind. I could hide my true self.

My coat reminded me of how I hide behind a polite smile. I wear a mask on my face as easily as I wear a coat to cover my stained jeans and sweatshirt.

I live in a neighborhood where all of the houses are the same; four or five models to choose from, a choice of four colors for the siding. My whole life is hidden behind the front door. Trying to fit in, be respectable. Who am I really. The neat lady in a long polite coat, or the artist with paint on her jeans?

After the post office I went to the grocery store. The coat hid my painted jeans from the other shoppers. Am I concerned with what others think? Does it matter?

Why do I care?

Do I have to become my neighborhood?  Do artists only live and paint in abandoned warehouses? I do not want to be defined by my house. I do not want to be the artist hiding behind a long coat.  I do not want to become a variation of four different models, with a life that is a choice of several shades of brown.

I don’t have to be like everyone else.

Next time I run to the post office, I will not wear the long coat to hide my painting pants.

Are you hiding who you are? Are you afraid to take off your long coat?  Who are you, really?

About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • I had to hide behind a smile while overcoming grief (lost my 31 yo son to diabetes/kidney failure). It kind of helped. I was able to show the real me to a few friends and of course to our big family. But by hiding, I think I was protecting acquaintances. That much pain is hard to handle when you just don’t know how to help. Now, I’m just me again. (Broken, as Anne points out.) A bit clumsy when I speak, too loud at times, and somewhat opinionated. What you see (I hope) is what you get. And I’m openly grateful to God for getting me through that time 🙂

    • pamelahodges

      Debbie, I am so sorry about the loss of your son. I can not imagine the pain you felt behind your smile. I pray for you for comfort today. A big angel to hold you in his wings.

  • sheldon

    Pamela, I have been reading you blog for a bit now… I enjoy the “pamela-isms” that you bring out in your posts. It reminds me of the Pamela that I miss seeing on a regular basis. I am happy that you are embracing your creative side via writing and painting…the symbolism of the long coat is something I will remember. We all have our own long coat and your story prompted thoughts of the the one I wear more often than I want to admit. I miss your family. Tell the husband I say hello, and we would love for you to come back to California soon.

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Sheldon. It is so nice to hear from you. You probably don’t get to wear a long coat often as it is so warm in California. I hope you do take your coat off, it is hard to breathe under a mask. We would love to come back to California to visit. Your family is often in our thoughts and prayers. All the best, Pamela

  • Oh how I love this. And if you are in your painting pants then… You’d be considered dressed up at WalMart (sorry I couldn’t resist). I am always inspired by posts that ponder the realities of being the real you. Write on!

    • pamelahodges

      MelAnn how nice of you to stop by. I am glad my painting pants inspired you. I can’t talk very long, I have to run to WalMart, and pick up milk. I don’t even have to change!

  • Almost always, if someone asks me, “How are you?”, I reply, “I’m fine.” In reality, that isn’t always true. We often hide behind various facades. I’m learning…still learning…to be transparent. (Although there are times and places when it’s best to keep silent.)

    Thank you for this post.

    • pamelahodges

      Hi Joan, thank you for commenting. I often answer “I am fine”, when I am not fine. It depends on who is asking. I do want my face to be real. I hope we never stop learning. If we were too transparent, people would see our insides.

  • I stopped hiding–when I wrote–“let’s be honest–I’m fat.” I was liberated. I mean–I know I’m fat because I have mirrors in my house but I had never said it out loud for people to hear and read. Since writing that I have found that being transparent allows us to see our soul.

    Being open to honesty is a huge step that most folks do not take–or if they do, they run back to safety.

    When things are safe we will not grow.

    Be Blessed.

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Renee, Thank you for sharing your story about saying you were fat. A good reminder to me that being transparent is a good thing. I want to grow and not run back to safety.

  • Pamela,
    I love how you can take your everyday moments and pull powerful lessons out to challenge us all. I use to wear my coat all the time, because my “day job” as a CPA doesn’t easily lend itself to being a creative person. Creativity in accounting is usually discouraged. I’m learning through you and others that I must let the creative part of me out, even if that means wearing proverbial painters jeans in public. Thank’s for giving me an image to spur me on to courage!

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Chris, I am glad that my story spurred you on to create and have courage. In accounting, 2+2 is always 4. Can you be creative in how you write the numbers?

  • pamelahodges

    Thank you V for your comments and your encouragement. I like your name. Short and to the point. I still hide. I wore my coat over my painting pants again tonight when I picked my daughter up at work.

  • V-

    I like this Pamela – but those of us that do hide behind that coat/smile don’t like it when others might bring it to light. 🙂 I appreciate your transparency and your smiles. Keep writing, oh and painting!

  • Good points!
    How id the ping pong table doing?
    I agree a few minutes frequently can make a big difference lmc

    • pamelahodges

      Hello La, the ping pong table is still crying. But I did get a start on the basement. A few minutes can make a difference. Do you have a ping pong table crying in your basement?

  • I am of two minds on this. Yes, we are all a bit of a mess. And we hide that mess in various, sometimes unhealthy, ways. I just wonder if its always necessarily “unhealthy” to clean up a little, so to speak? I think of this when I ask my boys to change from jeans with a hole in the knee into jeans that are hole-free before we go to church. They like to argue that it doesn’t matter and that they don’t need to impress anyone, and I respond that if you have tidier clothes, then why not wear them? I say all this as I am hurriedly cleaning my house because I have company coming today and I want them to come to a clean and tidy house. 🙂 maybe it’s just social conditioning?

    • pamelahodges

      Janelle, I agree with you. There are two ways to look at this. I also tidy up and put away the jeans with the rips and tidy up when I go out. The coat over the painting pants at the post office, made we think of how we hide our true selves. Social conditioning? Not wanting to be different? I shall always clean the bathroom before company comes, but I want to stop comparing myself to soccer moms. We can live create lives without having to be like everyone else.

  • Pamela,

    I think I am like everyone else, a wounded person in need of grace. And yet, sometimes I too, have hidden behind a smile. Loved your post.

    • pamelahodges

      Thank you Anne. Yes, a wounded person in need of grace. Well said.