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Suburban Island

Tropical Art Therapy
Monday, Mar. 29, 2004, 9:30 a.m.

QUESTION: What is art?

WHAT I LEARNED: No one likes a grouchy mother.

I wasn’t a delight to live with immediately after my computer crashed and I thought that all the contents of my hard drive might not have survived the catastrophe heralded by the blue screen of death and the simple white letters spelling out FATAL ERROR. I got depressed. And I got cranky. And I mopped around. And I was miserable. And I was pretty much making everyone else miserable too. I was no fun because I was indulging in my depressing thoughts of electronic lose and I was enjoying miring myself in this pit of personal misery. This however gets old fast. Especially to everyone not wallowing about in the pity pond.

Additionally, any little personal setback from my shoe coming untied to dishes in the sink sunk me deeper into my unhappy state. Finally, my son said to me as we were driving around doing weekend chores – Mom, if you keep on being depressed then you are going to ruin your weekend AND my weekend too.

Kids are so damn smart. What could I say? I agreed with his assessment. I didn’t want a spoiled day on my conscience and more than that, I didn’t want to model such poor coping skills to my kid. It was hard to perk up right away though. It can be tough to let go of a good bad mood.

It can be done, however. Sometimes without realizing you're doing it.

Near the end of the day - still musing about blue screens and lost data - we got a 9:00 idea - these are the ideas you get just before the stores close. The idea was this - we’d do a Trading Spaces type of challenge. We’d take down the framed White House Christmas cards festooning the walls of our family room, set them aside for placement in another part of the house, and find some tropical printers to put in their place so we could move towards the tropical-island-ization of our family room – a project that I’ve been working on for months. And we had to do it on a shoestring.

With the leanest of budgets, we drove off into the night, while my husband slept soundly in bed none the wiser about our plans. Walmart is a wonderful place for pictures of lush tropical places shrink-wrapped in plastic. We bought five 16 x 20 shrink-wrapped prints and the frames for about $35 total. Palm trees and tropical setting abounded. By 10:30 they were up on the walls and exuding a peaceful easy feeling.

Attitude adjustment complete – thanks to my son and some budget art.

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