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  • Felice Cohen

The Little Engine That Could. And Did.


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Mom’s Masterpiece


Remember the story by Watty Piper of the little engine that didn’t think he could make it up the hill? And he couldn’t. But after some coaching, a bit of confidence and a mantra “I-think-I-can. I-think-I-can,” he did it.

How many times has the thought “I think I can’t” kept you from trying something? Kept you from having fun? From living the life you want? A negative mantra ultimately keeps you from trying. Where’s the benefit in that? When you think: “I can’t keep myself organized.” “I can’t lose all that weight.” “I can’t paint.” Well, you’re right. If you think you can’t, you can’t.

But what if you just thought you could? What if you told yourself, “I can bike 60 miles.” “I can write a short story.” “I can get through occupational therapy school.” Then you’d also be right. If you think you can, you can. You may not be the next Picasso or Tour de France winner, but sometimes it’s not about doing the best, it’s just about doing.

For my birthday yesterday I wanted a painting party. My sisters and I were excited, but my mom was hesitant. “I can’t paint,” she said.

“Did you have years of art lessons?” I asked her.


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“Then how can you say you can’t paint? Just think you can and you’ll be great.”

Many of us are quick to judge ourselves. One reason yoga is so helpful is that it teaches us to leave our ego at the door. By cutting ourselves some slack, it allows us to fail, and in taking that chance, we just might discover hidden talents or, at the very least, enjoy life more.

My sisters, mom and I arrived at the Cape Cod Art Bar in Mashpee excited to begin “painting.” We tied aprons around our waists and followed Colleen, a talented artist who walked us through the process of painting…a tiger lily. Chatting away, some sipping wine, soft music in the background, we began our masterpieces. Outside the weather threatened rain, and we all got a lovely breeze on a relaxed summer evening.

Two hours later, my mother sat stunned, looking at what she had created. “I did it!” she said.

“Of course you did,” my sisters and I told her. She thought she could.

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