Last week, just before bed, my son, Casey, asks, “How do you believe in yourself, Mom?”

Great question, and I love how in the midst of pre-pubescent hormone surges he is still “boy” enough to show his vulnerability.

The answer, of course, is neither straightforward nor prescribed. Time. Maturity. Having a passion. My inner compass. Perspective. Friendships. Success. Life experience. Love. These are all the things I might say, but that a ten-year-old cannot easily grasp. The truth is…the question of how you believe in yourself is intensely personal. What lights my fire might extinguish yours.

That said, I had a flash of inspiration the other day while touring Denver’s new Clyfford Still Museum (which I loved).  Still was a pioneering Abstract Expressionist, a contemporary of artists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Apart from bold colors and large-scale paintings, Still is recognized for using vertical forms that stretched upward, beyond the reaches of the canvass, if at all possible. Remember the era — post World War Two — a time when people needed to gaze higher, toward some semblance of hope and understanding.

“My paintings have the rising forms of the vertical necessity of life dominating the horizon. For in such a land a man must stand upright, if he would live.”        -Clyfford Still

So this is the message I’ll share with Casey and anyone else, young or old, who occasionally stumbles or falls like all of us mortals, or simply questions how to believe: Look high, stand tall and see beyond the frame’s edge.

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