Thorns and Roses

by - August 03, 2017


As a child, I was very active. VERY active. One night when I was five or six, my parents went out, leaving my sister and me with a baby sitter. When they got home, the baby sitter told them that I entertained myself by doing cartwheels around the kitchen table all night.

Searching for an outlet for all my crazy energy, my parents first put me in gymnastics. Since I was still dancing around the house all the time, it wasn't long before I switched from gymnastics to dance. Let's just say it was love at first plié.

My favorite part about dance? Performing in full length ballets. Not all small studios choose to take on such ambitious endeavors, and to this day I count myself fortunate to have had that opportunity.

Naturally, my first ballet was The Nutcracker. Then came The Sleeping Beauty. I have performed in The Sleeping Beauty three times in my life (not close to my 11 Nutcrackers, but enough to recognize the music at first note). Musical genius Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed both scores. The first time, my class members and I were the thorns that turned into roses. (This is not a part in the official ballet. This was put on by a small studio in my hometown.)

Our costumes had dark green capes over a pretty pink leotard and skirt combo. The cape had a ribbon that we were supposed to undo at a certain part in the dance to show the transformation from thorns to roses. Anxious to ensure that my cape did not come off too soon, I double knotted the ribbon. Instead of undoing my ribbon in time to chassé and toss away the cape, I ended up pulling it over my head. (Rather ungracefully as one would expect. Like a shirt that's too small, and you have no idea how you got it on or how you're going to get it off.) Alas, this was merely the first of many wardrobe malfunctions experienced on stage.

Despite my cape catastrophe, Tchaikovsky easily became one of my favorite composers over my dancing years: Nutcracker, a classic staple every Christmas season; Sleeping Beauty, the music for the final pas de deux nearly brings me to tears with its beauty; and of course Swan Lake, the most poignant and epic melodies that I have ever danced to. My interest in and admiration for Tchaikovsky grew as I researched and studied him, his life, and his works for a project in my ballet history class.

At the time, I was dealing with clinical depression and found myself clinging to anything that could help me find hope in the midst of my trials. Every once in a while I would pull up Google and look for stories and quotes that I put into a bookmark folder titled For When Life Get's Rough. One day I came upon this article on Tchaikovsky. In my own research, I had learned that he had dealt with depression, but, after experiencing it personally, this particular quote spoke to me:

"In a word, there are many thorns, but the roses are there too."

I was nearly drowning in an abyss of depression, anxiety, apathy, pain, exhaustion, and sorrow, but there were so many good things in my life. Yet, overcoming depression is not simply a matter of thinking happy thoughts. You're mind has taken a permanent stance to see everything through a negative lens. Some days it takes all of your energy and willpower to convince yourself that you can get out of bed or even survive the next five minutes. However, as Tchaikovsky said, the roses are there too. No matter how hard they are to see, they ARE there. Sometimes it takes everything you have to see the rose through the thorns, and they may seem to disappear for a while, but I promise you: they ARE there.

With such an inspirational quote, I decided to put it somewhere I could see it every day. Enter my crafty nature that had not been expressed in far too long.

I found the original idea here.

First, I printed out a simple design with a few roses. From there, I used it as a guide to sketch roses all over the canvas. Then I painted the outline of the flowers with acrylic paint.


Next, I added a little water to the paints and filled in the flowers.


I used 1" Helvetica permanent vinyl letters for the quote.


A coat of white paint over the top.


Lastly, I pealed off the letters. They said permanent, but they came off easily.


This was my first attempt at drawing and painting, so I figured it wouldn't matter if the painting looked bad because it was going to be covered in white paint. After it was finished, I almost wish that I had kept it because it turned out better than I expected! Usually I feel the opposite way after projects!

May you find the roses in your day today!

-Amy

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