We survived Halloween 2018! I didn’t take on quite as much work as I usually do this year, and it was lovely to be able to spend some of the evening with my family, so it was a successful one all round for me!
This week I want to talk about magic. Face painting has the potential to bring genuine magic to a child, and yesterday I experienced this in the most amazing way. I’ll be honest. I’ve been in a bit of a ‘funk’ recently… I’ve got a lot of stuff going on with my extended family, I have a 16 month old who seems to need around 5 hours of broken sleep per 24 hours, I’m in my annual ‘post-summer blues’ period, and I’ve been really busy with work. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been working away and painting my very best wherever I can, but on some level, I’ve been coasting. I had a super busy Sunday planned, including a venue dressing (we also provide balloon décor / event balloons) so I was up until the wee hours on Sunday morning preparing balloons, and then up at 6.30 am to do the rest, then spent a few hours dashing around delivering and setting up my venue. In-between times I was up several times with the baby, and was properly exhausted. I left the venue at 12.30pm and was to return at 3pm to provide face painting, with another job in-between. When I was on my way back to the 3pm job I honestly felt like crying in the car because all I wanted to do was get home, and unwind / sleep! When I arrived I was greeted with about 5 times more people than I expected, the room was packed and there was no room for me to set up, other than a small space by the doors, which wasn’t ideal. A queue formed while I was setting up, and I (and my set up) was constantly getting bumped into / jostled around with the crowd. Things weren’t looking great for an ‘easy’ job. But… the music was good, the vibe was great, and I got stuck in and was getting through the queue at a good rate, and was happy with my work. Around an hour into the job, a little boy sat in my chair. He was quiet, shy, and his mum was there to help him. She explained that Darragh, 7, (not his real name) was a huge fan of the movie ‘Mary Poppins’ and asked if I had any suitable designs for him. His request was leaning towards having a flower on his cheek, like the one on Mary’s hat. I could have painted a simple push petal flower on his cheek and sent him on his way, and to be fair, he would have most likely been happy with that. But I had a quick think, and offered to paint Mary’s actual hat, with the little flower and berries in the centre. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t amazing work. I didn’t even ask for a photo at the time because it was just ‘okay’ and because I didn’t know what was about to unfold- it was just another ad hoc, un- practiced, slightly dodgy painting. However, he was THRILLED. He immediately transformed into Mary herself, in every way possible. He had a helium balloon on a ribbon from one of the tables (which under normal circumstances gripes me a little as its ‘ruined’ one of the displays!) but for Darragh, this was not a balloon. This was Mary’s magical flying umbrella, and he was MARY! He floated around the room greeting people with ‘Good Day Madam / Sir’ and visited me several times, asking if I had any ‘unruly children’ who needed a good Nanny, and demonstrating how he could remove that giant invisible coat stand from his imaginary bag. The whole thing was magical. Mesmerising. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, and I honestly felt so privileged and blessed to have been able to bring that magic to his day.
You know how it goes. There are the children who look in the mirror when you have painted them, nod, and slide off the seat to go on about their business. There are the children who smile, thank you and say ‘I love it!’ before going on with their business. There are the children who hang around, interested, asking questions and in awe of what you do… appreciating the art, and really enjoying the experience... but sometimes, there is genuine magic. It’s that magic that turns a potentially stressful or difficult booking into the best job in the world. I left that booking like a different person. I was full of the warm and fuzzies, and feeling so incredibly lucky to be able to make a living from some paint, some experience and some ‘hocus – pocus’. Mostly though, I feel so blessed to have been able to create something that transformed a shy little boy, into his idol. He WAS Mary Poppins yesterday. He had the hat, the umbrella, all of the invisible accoutrements that make Mary Mary, and he was loving life. He won’t forget that feeling for a while, if ever, and neither will I. There has been some learning in this for me. I’ve never painted a Mary Poppins hat before. I knew before I started that given the queue, the jostling, the time pressures, my mood, this was not going to be anywhere near my best work. I could easily have said ‘I’m sorry, I don’t have a Mary design, how about a superhero / dino / dog?’ and none of the magic would have appeared. We all want to be at our best, demonstrating our skills on the little human advertisements wandering around the venue, sporting our best, well refined and executed designs, but sometimes, stepping out of our comfort zones in a pressurised situation, is the absolute best thing we can do for our own growth and development.
Today I feel like my funk cloud has cleared. I’m inspired, am aware of how lucky I am, and I want to do this again and again. And again. I have the best job in the world.
I guess the moral of this story is that we should embrace the hard jobs. Pretty much like life itself, that’s where the growth happens, and the inspiration and the strength comes from. It’s easy to walk into a dream booking, paint lots of happy children, feel good and move on, but there is the potential for this magic at every single job and we should be actively seeking it at all times, maybe even more so where we don’t feel particularly happy. It’s what makes the job properly worthwhile. It’s where the real job satisfaction lies, and it’s where the ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ happens!
I would love to hear some of your magical on the job experiences -so when this blog post is published I will open a thread on the group page so that we can share.