i paint i write

Live boldly, laugh and make art

There are no rules, so quit trying to make them

There are no rules so quit trying to make them

Yesterday morning I woke up at 5:00 and sat at my computer for several hours. I read updates on Facebook and I read the news. Then I searched on-line for quotes from famous artists about art.

I didn’t write.

I took all of my clothes out of my closet and dumped them on the floor in my bedroom. After I made a mess in my bedroom I went in the basement and started to sort through boxes. I took several boxes from the basement and put them in the garage.  Really, I should move everything from the basement to the garage again. I started to take apart the K-Nex roller coaster and I washed some of the dishes in the sink.

I didn’t write.

For breakfast I had two sardines and a cup full of peas. I didn’t have time to cook because I was taking apart the roller-coaster.

I drove my son and his bird to the Avian Veterinarian and then I drove my oldest daughter to school so she could use the computers to finish  her Typography homework. I forgot to shoulder check and I cut off a blue car.  When I  looked in my rearview mirror I saw a woman’s angry face and her middle finger. I waved to say I was sorry. Then I almost drove over two students who were crossing the street at the cross walk at the entrance to the parking lot at school.

I was going to write in the library while I waited for my daughter, but I sat in the car and cried. Then I drove for 15 minutes down highway 100 and  picked up my new business cards.

After I got my cards I drove back to school and  picked up my daughter, then I came home and read Facebook updates and read my e-mail.

I didn’t write.

Then I drove my oldest daughter to her job and came home and helped my youngest daughter get ready for her audition. She wants to be a fighting mouse in the Christmas play at DCP Theater in Telford, Pennsylvania. I put frozen fish sticks and Tater Tots in the oven and read my e-mail again.

Then I had to leave to drive to my typography class. I ate another two sardines and a hand full of sugar snap peas. The kitchen counters were still covered with dirty dishes, my clothes were still all over the floor in my bedroom, and the basement was still full of boxes.

The night class was over at 9:30 and it took me an hour to drive home. When I got home I didn’t’ write or wash the dishes or take apart the roller coaster. I read Facebook updates, my e-mail and the news. As I was reading the news I feel asleep. Then I shut my computer and went to bed.

Today I am writing.

There are no rules, so quit trying to make them

My life is full of rules. I told you the day before yesterday, “There are no rules in art.” And, yes, that’s true there are none.  I don’t see a list written anywhere that is telling me how I should draw, or what I should draw. But I keep trying to make  rules about my art. I keep trying to make rules about how I write or what I write about.

I told you, “It’s your art. Don’t worry about what people think.”  But I worry. I worry about what you think about my art. I worry about what you think about my writing this month.

The rule that tells me, “If you said you were going to have the theme, “Make Art” for the month of October at thenester.com in the Two Awesome to Categorize Category, then that is all you can talk about. You can only talk about how to draw. Don’t tell them about the time your camera broke  when you on assignment in New Orleans with a Japanese fashion client, and you didn’t have a back-up camera.”

The rule that says, “You can’t talk about art because you’re not famous. So just find famous quotes about art and repeat what they say.”

The rules that say, “To be accepted you must be like everyone else. Do 31 days of crafts.  Dye your hair, don’t show the gray, wear high heels, wear make-up, carry a purse, be quiet, don’t tell anyone what to do, don’t leave the house with a sink full of dirty dishes, women don’t mow the lawn, men do, cut your hair short, don’t pick your nose, only have one cat, copy my gray owl, don’t make your own owl.”

Maybe they are not official rules, maybe they are more expectations. Or maybe  I just worry too much about what you think.

Oh, they started to read me thinking they would get art lessons, and that is not what I am doing.”

So yesterday I didn’t write. My words were stuck in my head. I avoided writing because I was following the rules I made.

My clothes are still all over the floor in my bedroom, the basement is still a mess, and the kitchen counters are still full of dirty dishes. This morning I have to clean the seven litter boxes and drive my daughter to catch the bus to school.

I don’t need to make up rules. I don’t have to worry about what you expect from me. All I can be is me. And if I can’t be me, then why bother.

All can be is you. So be brave and be yourself.

All you can be is you. Have courage, be yourself. [Would you like to tweet that? tweet tweet]

Today I am me. Today my owl is orange.

(Excuse me while I  run over to another tab on my computer and look for a quote by someone else to encourage you to believe in yourself. )

There’s nothing more daring than showing up, putting ourselves out there and letting ourselves be seen.
― Brené Brown

I want to be seen. I just don’t want to be  seen picking my nose.

And, I do pick my nose. Just not in public.

Do you make up rules for yourself?

What color is your owl?

Please tell me in the comments. I want to know what you think.



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

  • Grace Preston

    I understand bad days. Today I was told by my pregnant daughter that I made her sick because I put passionfruit in the icing on top of the banana cake she asked me to make for her.
    Today my owl is splattered with passionfruit seeds! And he doesn’t mind a bit!!!

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  • kathunsworth

    After a bad day things can only get better Right? I love your orange owl he is beautiful. I have days when I try to write and only flowery muck comes out, so I give it a rest…go back and hopefully change it into something worth reading. We are not robots, life gets in our face and we just need to accept the days that go pear shaped and maybe do some nice still life pear paintings lol.

  • Melissa Wheeler

    sorry you had a bad day yesterday. I have those every once in awhile I call them Murphie’s Law days. Where everything that goes up must come down. So everything for me on those days makes entire mess. Its one of those days where one thing gets fixed but then something else bigger breaks. I think to myself does everything have to be like this? I just wanted to let you know your not alone and that its okay if you don’t feel like writing or doing art some days. I like your owl that you made though. Here is mine. Kinda looks like a cross between a turkey and a cat? But hey its Mine! Maybe its a cross between Halloween and Thanks giving in my head. ha ha

    • Thank you Melissa.
      it was a good, bad day. Bad because I didn’t write, but good because I figured out why.
      Your owl is you. Colorful with a bit of attitude.You are brave to share. Thank you.

  • Janelle

    Pamela, just so you know, I usually skip over the famous quotes so I can get back to reading your words. I love your words. They encourage me just fine. When I was cleaning up a bedroom for my new foster son, and it looked so bare, I thought, “wouldn’t it be great to have a cool Pamela cat painting to hang in here.” I’m sorry you cried in the parking lot. But I’m glad you wrote about it.

    • Good Morning Janelle,
      Thank you for sharing your words with me this morning. I usually skip over quotes on other people’s blogs too.
      And I will see what I can do about a cat painting. I can’t see the Saskatchewan prairie but maybe one of my painting can. Your foster son needs something colorful on his walls.

  • That is a lot of sardines … what is up with that? Do you always eat so many? I know they are good for you, but not sure I could. Seven cat litter boxes, really? Wow! How many cats do you have? Enjoying reading your blogs; you sound like someone I would like to have for a friend. 🙂 My owl is purple today. And of course, I try to follow the ‘rules’, until I remind myself that they don’t matter, what is more important is to be myself. I don’t need to be everyone’s ‘cup of tea.’

    Would love some feedback on my blog – thanks!


    • Hello Karen,
      Yes, that is a lot of sardines. Sardines are a quick protein when I am in a hurry. Not all sardines taste good. I did an experiment with 5 different brands.
      We have four cats, and seven litter boxes. There is one in each bedroom in case a cat gets accidentally locked in, one in the basement, two on the main floor, and one in the upstairs hallway.

      What flavor of tea are you? Do purple owls drink tea?

  • I think my owl is pink. A pastel pink because that was my favorite color ever since kindergarten answer favorite colors can’t change. Even if other children changed their favorite color answer some had 2 or 3 favorite colors. I felt a favorite color couldn’t change. Even if a burgundy owl might be prettier burgundy won’t do because it’s not my favorite color. Hmm… Okay, maybe just today I’ll have a burgundy owl with a pink beak. There I still used pink. Thanks, Pamela for helping me clear that up. 🙂

    • Anastacia,
      You are a woman who knows her own mind. My favorite color has changed over the years. First is was dark green, then brown. It was red last year, and orange the year before.
      Now it is brown again.
      Will you draw your owl?

  • La McCoy

    All said

    • Thank you Laura.But, I want to know what color your owl is?

  • Just had to share this poem I had written a while back about rules.


    The rules I’ve made keep driving me,

    And though I’ve kept so few,

    These rules are not for me alone

    There’s also some for you.

    Thanks for the laugh today. Love your writing.

    • Good Morning Anne,

      Thank you for sharing your poem.
      Is there a rule for not smashing a smoke detector that won’t stop beeping even though you drove to the grocery store at 6:00 AM to buy anew battery and when you put the new battery in, it still beeps?

      • Pamela,
        It makes me wonder. Would those things beep if they were buried alive? Just curious.

        Oh, and it reminds me of the episode on Friends years ago when Phoebe had one that kept beeping. It was funny. Not that yours is.

    • La McCoy

      Beautiful Anne.

  • As you said, I think my rules are more like expectations. I don’t mind having them because I think without most of them, I wouldn’t try to achieve things. So I guess for me, the problem is not rules per se. It’s the challenge of coming up with good rules for myself that I don’t find oppressive- that I suspect will be a lifelong battle! In fact, my last two posts were about sorting through those types of pressures. I highly recommend writing an adult version of Goodnight Moon as a way to work though the pressures of life’s many responsibilities. Mine was called “Goodnight Stress” (http://janemartynauthor.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/goodnight-stress/). Maybe you should try “Goodnight Rules” 🙂

    • Hello Jane,
      Yes, a list of good rules to help build better habits. Rules to help us achieve our goals, but ones that are not oppressive.
      My first rule would be to go to bed early and not stay up late reading odd news stories. But I constantly break that one.
      What would be one of your rules Jane?

      I read your story, “Goodnight Stress.” Well done.
      I will think about a story. Maybe one called, “Good-bye Bad Habits, or Goodnight Rules, like you suggested.

  • Periwinkle blue, definitely.

    • Good to know. Would you eat mice?

      • If I got hungry enough, or possibly in the event of the zombie apocalypse.

  • Miriam Kaufman

    Wonderful post and much needed as I begin to put myself out there on the world wide web. Thank you.

    • Hello Miriam,
      I hope you have fun being you on the world wide web. Because you is good.
      And, you are welcome.

  • Stacey Shubitz

    Of course I make up rules for myself. I really shouldn’t.

    There aren’t any rules for writing. If they were it would be a lot easier whenever we got writer’s block.

    BTW: I am not sure if I’ve ever told you this, but I love your writing style. You are so matter-of-fact while being comforting. You’re like that wiser voice inside my head reminding me of how to be smarter as I walk through life. Thank you for sharing your voice, Pamela.

    • Good Morning Stacey,
      How are the little pumpkins doing?

      I think the only rule there could be for art and writing is, “It won’t get done unless you do it.” Or, “Nobody can read the book you are thinking unless you write it down.”

      Oh, Stacey, thank you for telling me your like my writing style. It is fun to just be me.

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  • Brianna Wasson

    If only I could remember this. There are no rules. Not for art. Not for how to become a big blogger. Not even for picking your nose. Thanks for reminding me, friend.

    • Good Morning Brianna,
      There are actually rules for picking your nose, not too deep and never with a sharp fingernail. But, maybe those are only suggestions.
      And becoming a big blogger would be nice, but that would only be the icing on the cake.
      Being yourself is the cake.
      Are you a white cake with vanilla? or a dark chocolate cake?

      • Brianna Wasson

        I’m actually a lemon cake. With yummy drizzle. 🙂

  • Christa Sterken

    Aqua. I like it, good post today Pamela. really good

    • Thank you Christa. Your owl looks like the ocean.

  • Teri XYZ

    My owl is molting right now. But I see feathers of purple, cobalt, teal, and gold coming in. I think his daddy was a peacock!

    • Hello Teri,
      At least your owl has beautiful colors!

  • OH, Pamela! Just talking about daily activities: good and bad, make for such an interesting read. It’s why “we” keep coming back for more. The orange owl says it all.

    • Shelley,
      Thank you for your encouragement. The orange owl says hello to you today.

  • I think my owl is a very drab color right now, when what I would like her to be is a mix of deep orange and red…autumn colors. Rules have ordered my life for so long and I try not to let them suffocate me, still. Then God gave me a son whose life is ordered by rules and, as much as I don’t like to admit it or think his rules aren’t my rules, for now they are. Somedays I surrender to the rules, most days I fight them to keep my true self above the water. You make me think every time I visit here. Thank you for your beautiful and open writing!

    • Jhona,
      I don’t know what your life is. But today, I pray your true self will be above the water, and while you love you son, you will still get to be you.
      Thank you for encouraging me.

  • Diane Andeson

    Too many rules to even begin listing… so I try to listen to the Voice of Truth and follow HIS rules, the only ones that count, the ones that lead to contentment instead of discontent…

    • Diane,
      Thank you for reminding me that the only voice I need to listen to is His voice. The voice that tells me I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

  • Thank you for showing me how beautiful an owl can be. You are in your life. And it helps me. I can see: Pamela is living her lufe and thinking about her art. She struggles but comes out with an idea of how to sort out her life. I will do that too, in my own way. Thank you for showing and sharing Pamela. My thoughts are with you in your life.

    • Good Morning Lotta,
      We all have our life to live. Sometimes we just forget that we get to pick our own colors.

  • What a great post. There are days where you just don’t feel like doing what you’re supposed to do … I’m right there with ya! Yesturday I was supposed to write two new scenes for my book, and email them to my cousin who’s helping me with some story development, and it didn’t get done :/. I messed around on Facebook, I scrolled through photos some friends had posted, I got lost on YouTube music playlists that were playing in the background, and like you, check email WAY too many times.

    But I think that sometimes, after a day of ‘not doing’ you wake up the next day back on track and ready to roll. At least I do. Sometimes you just a to press ‘reset’ and piddle around of several hours (or a day) before getting back on track.

    Great post Pamela!

    • Thank you Devani,
      The Dragon Resistance won yesterday, but today I hit him on the head and wrote.