Lessons from an ugly teapot

On a Saturday afternoon in March of 2002, we were celebrating my friend Melissa's upcoming wedding. As bridesmaids, we took her dancing on Friday, showered her with gifts on Saturday, and then someone decided that should we paint our own pottery.

For Jon and Melissa.

As a gift.

That they'd have forever. 

My artistic skills begin and end with watching Bob Ross. Watching. While I was fascinated that he could create a painting in under 30 minutes, my skills were limited to stick figures.
 
But, I suppose I was feeling ambitious that day. More accurately, I was so wanting to show my appreciation for Melissa’s friendship that I decided to make a grand gesture. Melissa and I often shared cups of tea while trying to sort out our purpose in life (or mostly she listened to me trying to sort out my purpose in life) so I decided to go all in and paint a teapot.  

16 years later, that gesture continues to be grand. 

Rather than take the simple approach and paint my teapot one color, as my fellow bridesmaids did, I decided I’d paint a nature scene on the teapot. 

 I was an adult when I painted this.

I was an adult when I painted this.

But after finishing a barren tree with no leaves, I decided I’d just paint the other side green. Then I painted the lid yellow and gold, because Jon was a Steelers’ fan.

Then I painted the spout brown because…well, it was already pretty ugly.

By the time I was finished, the thing was so ugly that I felt compelled to add a quote on the outside that read, illegibly, that “it’s not what’s on the outside that matters.” 

When I took the final product to the employee, I tried to bribe her to break it before it made the kiln.

"Oh no," she said. "We're very careful with our pottery."

"But if I gave you an extra 50 bucks..." I offered.

 Nothing says best wishes for your future like a barren, dead tree in winter. 

Nothing says best wishes for your future like a barren, dead tree in winter. 

 My reaction when the teapot reappeared in my life a decade later...

My reaction when the teapot reappeared in my life a decade later...

This teapot, needless to say, has been the butt of jokes since 2002. It has survived multiple moves and plenty of questions from Jon and Melissa's kids. The teapot made a surprise trip from Pennsylvania to Maine in 2013 when Melissa spoke at our wedding. 

Melissa reminded me recently of the teapot last week when she told me that it was currently on prime display on her counter top. 

Originally, I was going to use the teapot as a symbol of what happens when you constantly change your nutrition and fitness routines - jumping from the Whole 30 to the 21 day fix to weight watchers to nutrisystem. 

And I do think that’s true when it comes to health and fitness. Jumping around from program to program makes it very difficult to see progress. You have to commit to a process for at least 90 days if not longer to see results. 

 Um...can you guess which ones her kids painted? Her kids whom are all under 10? 

Um...can you guess which ones her kids painted? Her kids whom are all under 10? 

But as I started writing this post, I was reminded of several conversations I've had in recent weeks with friends and clients. These folks are taking big risks - leaving old jobs for new ones - leaving jobs without a new one - going back to school - starting their own businesses, and deciding that it’s time for a change in their lives.

Sometimes a blank slate, while appealing and beautiful and filled with possibilities is also terrifying. It can feel permanent and scary. 

This teapot, ugly as it is, is pretty symbolic of the way my past 16 years have gone. I’ve started and stopped multiple journeys - second guessed decisions, tried to please other people, and in the process, created something that was sometimes ugly, sometimes beautiful, but always, always, always authentically mine.

So I guess my message today is two-fold:

Choose a fitness and nutrition plan and give it time to work.

But follow your curiosity and your heart. This is your journey. This is your story. Write it for you. Take that leap of faith. 

Be kind to yourself, today and always.