Jun 02, 2023, 05:55AM

One Dot at a Time

Finding mindfulness in painting rocks.

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At Easter, I painted a wooden egg with dots, using only the round and pointed ends of a skewer. I discovered that I enjoyed doing it, and wanted to do more, but Easter eggs aren’t very practical or marketable, so I decided to find a way to incorporate my new activity into my candlemaking business. I found some beach rock tea lights online, and bought a mandala painting kit.

Being the little queerio (happy Pride!), I did a rainbow rock first, and will keep that one to remember how much I enjoyed doing it. There’s something very peaceful about an activity that’s repetitious that helps clear a cluttered, disorganized, chaotic mind like mine.

I set up the paints on the porch of the waterfront house I rent where I do my candlemaking; it overlooks the sun setting into the Chesapeake. I love choosing from the metallics, neons, pastels or variety of rainbow colors, and then which style “base” rock I’ll use. I’ve painted a dozen or so and still haven’t introduced them on my candle website—I have an odd fear (even though of I’ll include free hand-poured tea lights with them) of my customers not embracing them; it’s a new zone and I have no idea how they’d sell.

Selling them isn’t really what’s important though. When I’m going through a difficult time in my life (the last week or two have been awful), painting mandala rocks helps me take my mind off everything else. It’s certainly better than sitting on my phone, bingeing Netflix, or feeling sorry for myself, crying and eating Godiva chocolates. I’m also doing all ofthose things, but at least some of the time I can manage to be creative and productive.

What I like about it most is that it’s a whole, broken down into so many parts. You choose your color scheme, pattern, tools, and you apply the paint one dot at a time. Over and over in a circle, the painted dots fill the space until the space is filled; for a moment you have control over only that thing—even when you may not have control over anything else in your life.

And your mind is clear. With the end of May we’ve reached the end of Mental Health Awareness Month. I’ve written about my diagnosis and treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s a constant struggle; I always feel like I’m either not enough or too much for people and I isolate myself most of the time for that reason; anyone who struggles with self-esteem or depression issues understands this. Sometimes people think I’m strong because of certain aspects of my personality but really much of the time I can be a mess, so the rocks have helped. When my strangling fear of abandonment becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and I’m facing crushing sadness and loneliness, painting dots one at a time on this little island while watching a beautiful sunset helps me get through another day.


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