It's 2019 and I hope yours is a joyous journey!
For a while now, I've known people who choose a word for the year to guide them in their vision and purpose. I see this phenomenon as a meaningful practice. Choosing a word acknowledges our ability to create what we desire in life and we all need focus and guidance.
I've been choosing a word (or it me) for about 5 years. But, recently, I've fallen out of flow with it; a year just feels too long. I figured, since I'm already writing about how the seasons affect us creatively, why not write about how it affects this word choosing process since this process is the most creative act we can engage with at a foundational level.
Here is what I've heard from intentional, successful people about their word of the year (WOTY):
Like the people I spoke to, I've experienced this. I would often forget to use my word and even make myself wrong about not wanting to create from that space any longer. The juice and energy behind had waned. The truth is: I often feel complete with my word by Fall, when a new word whispers in my ear.
(If this doesn't happen for you, I'm not suggesting you take a different action, but if it does, be open).
By creating a WOTY from intention and flow (and I would say Divine flow), we are engaging with that part of us who knows we are powerful creators. Your process for choosing a word for the year is a wonderful tool for guidance and manifesting. The problem is, we place too many rules and rigidity onto that process, just like we do with other creative acts.
If, at any point, you feel strongly called to work with another word, and you ignore that in favor of sticking to your WOTY, you are ignoring your inner wisdom. This wisdom lives in the present only.
You might feel inspired to work with your word for an entire year, half the year, or even a season. If sticking to one word for the whole year feels rigid and lackluster, honor yourself by CHOOSING AGAIN from present moment awareness (like you did in January). Allow yourself to be complete when you are complete. There's no need to put yourself into a box. It won't serve you.
This is about trusting yourself and being in flow. We know that being in flow can help us create with more ease and joy. So why do we ignore that?
If you decide to use a guiding word or phase, do it YOUR WAY. That will have much more power behind it.
Do it late
Do it shorter
Do it longer (one word not enough? make a manifesto)
Change your word
Or, don't do it all!
For me, this is the first year that I am allowing myself to be done when I an done...with this word business and, well, most everything. I am creating a guiding statement for the Winter, which includes words I currently find irresistible: purpose, satisfaction and pleasure, belief and practice! In Spring, I will check-in again and see in which areas I wish to expand...and so on and so on. I invite you to join me in this seasonal word choosing process.
We are a part of nature, and we too move (and create) in cycles. So, let these words give you permission--not that you need it--to be part of this natural world so you can create flow and ease in your life.
A quick overview of how to be in flow, seasonally (if that is how you roll):
Somewhere along the way, we have superimposed the actions of Spring onto January! So, if you don't resonate will all this production-oriented language and goal-setting talk, you are not alone. It is, literally, not natural for many of us. Instead, prepare for what you are about to birth and take exquisite care of yourself and your community.
I will leave you with this perfect quote from Lao Tzu:
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
This post is written for those who have taken a mindfulness, or process-painting, workshop (with me or someone else) and you'd like some ideas about what to do next with your experience and your paintings.
your experience (post workshop)
After a workshop many people are in a different state. This new state might be temporary, or semi-permanent, and it can include a lot of thoughts and feelings about the experience that took place in the workshop and the creative process. It's important to remember that new thoughts and feelings after an experience like mindfulness painting is normal. However, if the experience stirred up anything that feels beyond your usual healthy coping abilities, I encourage you to seek out a health professional to meet your needs.
So, here's how to continue your process...
If you had the chance to finish your painting in the workshop (or later at home), here are a few ideas about what you can do with them. Keep in mind, these ideas are not about mindfulness necessarily. Instead, they are geared more towards reuse and creating a new thing (i.e. product) from your work. This is not ideal for everyone; some people like to keep their work as a visual journal of sorts so they can see, over time, what comes out of their mindfulness journey. But, if you are content with releasing your painting, read on for some creative ideas on how to reuse it!
I have used my process-paintings in all these ways below. Some I choose to keep in a large art folder because they help me recall a meaningful experience I had in a painting session. But sometimes, I cut them, tear them, or even...forget about them!
Make a new piece of art from the original painting
Let's be honest, it's normal to focus in on the part of your painting you like best. Maybe there is a little burst of pattern and color that delights you. Go ahead, cut it out and frame it (if you wish to display it). No matter how or where you display it, make sure to remember that this is for YOU and try not to get attached to whether someone else likes it or not.
Another way to reuse your work is to create a collage from the many parts. Play with it and create some layers; even give it a background if you wish. Scroll down for info on how to mount your work.
Here is an example of how tearing and collaging can look.
Make a book mark by cutting strips from your painting.
I do this a lot out of necessity. It also makes a nice gift, especially if you add some of your favorite quotes.
Use the large painting as gift wrap!
As you can imagine, it's special to receive a gift with custom gift wrap. Since the paper is a bit thick, you'll have to work with the folds and be patient. It will look awesome and the recipient will appreciate the extra thought and care it took to make hand-made gift wrap.
Cut out your favorite elements to add to an entire new project.
Just cut out what you like and glue it to another painting or work of art. Decoupage anyone...?
A (relatively) simple way to mount a paper painting
The above image is a painting cut out, arranged, and mounted on a background. What you can't see in this photos (and I apologize) is that it is mounted on a wood panel with a black border. This type of mounting is inexpensive and pretty easy to do.
1) Your painting
2) A (raw) wood panel (found at Michaels or another craft store). You can also use a canvas if you wish with this method.
3) Some adhesive. You can use glue, but I use a gel medium because it works like glue, dries clear, and it archival (in case you want that).
4) Plastic (non-stick) sheeting
5) Heavy board (or coffee table book) and a weight
You can find the whole tutorial (9 min.) on how to do this HERE.
Bob is amazing! I love watching him collage and paint!
I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions, or want to share what you made, please tag me on Facebook or Instagram, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have an artful day!
(Re-released from Feb. 5th, 2018...)
As I approach my WomanSpeak circle launch, some of the usual suspects show up, like resistance in the form of procrastination. However, I feel inspired and equipped to do what needs to be done, so I'm on track. Glorious!!
Don't things feel easier when you're inspired? What happens when inspiration runs dry and you still have something to accomplish? The lack of inspiration is a great teacher and catalyst to examine why we do what we do. It also can lead us into self-sabotage.
Self-sabotage is a wide set of behaviors that undermine our well-being and long term goals.
The awareness of self-sabotaging behaviors in not enough to stop someone from partaking, however.
Even when we're aware of our procrastination around certain tasks that doesn't necessarily lead to a step in the right direction.
There are some personalities and archetypes, that step forward out of their personal understanding.
"Just do it" attitudes don't work for everyone. I don't know why this is, but I see it in myself and others. We hear great advice from thought leaders and coaches, yet we can't seem to take the next step--let alone the big leap! There is a catch, a kink somewhere in the information-to-action line. Even the 5-second rule (ala Mel Robbins) can't un-kink the line in matters of deep-rooted resistance.
There also is the matter of identity. If we don't identify as someone who _______, then we probably will never accomplish the goal. This is why acting "as-if" and visualization can be powerful.
Why do we participate in self-sabotaging behaviors in the first place?
Why do we make room for our f*ck ups? Why not make room for something else, like freedom, abundance, and peace of mind?!
I hear a little word creep in that we all know: ego. It wants to keep us safe. Of course 'safe' means status quo and sameness in ego-lingo. The change we seek needs to be generated ongoingly and ego is not about this--it's about using our past as the driver for a false sense of security.
But the ego is not why we self-sabotage. It's the mechanism of sabotage and it's not going anywhere. Although, it can become the servant instead of the master.
What is driving self-sabotaging behavior? This question, for me, is a helpful inquiry.
I can tell you what has driven me (and still continues to). If you see yourself in this, maybe that is a place for you to look as well. If not, staying in inquiry might provide some answers. Choosing to be empowered from your insights is key. If you do nothing with your insights it's just more fuel for the ego-machine.
With a little coaching (okay a lot!), I had an epiphany around why I self-sabotage.This epiphany didn't strike like lightening. In fact, I resisted it. What we often need to hear shows up like bad news. This newfound awareness showed itself to me every day since that coaching session. It was the elusive obvious (a term I've grown to love). It became apparent that this thing was running parts of how I relate to my life and it was keeping me stuck in some areas.
Here is my elusive obvious: My flavor of self-sabotage is an attempt to avoid domination.
I had heard this before--that people either spend their energy avoiding domination or by asserting dominance--so it wasn't a new concept for me. But, there was something about SEEING IT for myself in my own life (it's always easier to see in others). For example, I mainly don't want my precious TIME dominated by things, so:
And the list goes on and on. This is self-sabotage and clearly it doesn't work. I say I want one thing (more ease with money and wellness) but I avoid necessary tasks so not to be dominated by it. It sounds pathological, and to some extent we all engage in this. And, we can't think always ourselves out of it!
Sometimes, I can explain away my avoidance as living intuitively, not having time, or some other excuse. But, the fact remains, I wanted to accomplish X and I didn't because of how I perceive something having dominance over me.
I'm sure all this comes from my past. "You can't tell me what to do." I may have been born this way. I may have been angry at even being born, who knows, it can happen. This is where my self-analysis stops, for now, because that too can be a rabbit hole of avoidance.
The payoff: what could I possibly be getting from avoidance and procrastination? Make no mistake, if you also do this, you are getting something out of it.
For me, this shows up as getting to be right. Right that the world (and people) are flawed, unfair, and pathetic--or something else that shifts the blame and responsibility elsewhere. It's hard to hear and harder to write. Do I really think that of the world?! Deep down, at times, yes. Not anyone specifically, but generally, I think the world needs to get its act together! We have lot of problems and a lot of suffering.
Whether my thoughts are TRUE about the state of the world doesn't matter. It doesn't provide me any sense of freedom, empowerment, or peace of mind if I approach life from this place of blame or avoidance of responsibility.
The cost? What does it cost me to live under the threat of perceived dominance? What does it cost be to self-sabotage? Ironically, it costs me the every thing that I want and cherish: my time and my energy. It takes a lot of energy to resist the things I said I wanted. It costs me vitality. I have often muttered, "I'm so tired of ______." (whatever happens to be stressing me out).
If you bring your body into your voiced complaints be very cautious.
Phrases like "it kills me", "pain in the ass", and "I'm tired of..." are costing you your vitality.
What can one do with the flavor of self-sabotage that comes from avoiding domination? In order to relate to the things in life differently, you can ask what is possible? This new mindset allows you to approach your tasks with curiosity instead of dread. You can set aside that you already know how a task is going to go and how you're going to feel. You can take small steps and make it as fun as you can. Any small step will leave you feeling better than you did before and create those new possibility pathways in your body.
When you act out of commitment, you don't have to check in with how you feel about something.
Your commitment will already be clear and commitments aren't concerned with what you feel like doing on a particular day. It is safe to yield to commitment because it knows the big picture and purpose; it has your back.
What I describe to you above is an ongoing practice. Hearing the words doesn't equal the work. The more you tend to overthink and attach to your ideas, the harder this work can be. I speak from personal experience.
In the end, willingness comes down to what you are committed to. Honestly, I think resistance has a beautiful purpose. It can show us what is worth committing to and what we can say no to. Boundaries may need to be re-drawn or maybe a commitment needs to be dissolved.
So, when you find yourself in a lot of procrastination, avoidance, or resistance, ask yourself:
Am I avoiding being dominated by something, or someone?
If so, what's it costing you? And how will you overcome this form of self-sabotage and re-connect to your purpose and possibility?
If you found any my story helpful, please share and/or drop me a line.
I woke up this morning as I often do on the weekends--mind awake, body tired. There were nudging thoughts in my head, so I gave up on trying to sleep (since I wasn't anyhow) and got out my notebook.
These are the writing of a mystical mama which have taken the tone of a manifesto, for you--and for me--as we move into the new year.
Here's the list in case you're short on time.
These statements have emerged from my creative work, conversions with my husband and friends, time spent in women's circles, nature, and ideas I've come across recently.
Manifesto for Conscious Living (2018 edition)
#1 Life is richer when you savor the pauses.
Right now, in Winter, a pause is necessary. This pause help you digest all that is going on, the sweet and the less-than-savory moments. When you digest these moments, what needs to move out of your body will move out and what nourishes will stay. You can ask your experiences to move through you--as needed--so they do not become stuck and cause dis-ease. Give yourself permission to dance, sing, cry, sigh deeply, or scream to process your emotions.
#2 Make wild offers
As a solopreneur, making offers is a great gauge for personal alignment. I'm not suggesting you make offers that you don't intend to fulfill on, rather try something on and see if refinement is necessary. My offers have led me back to my core because of the dissonance--or harmony--they created within me.
When you notice the misalignment it can help create true alignment. Clinging to sound-bites like, "alignment before action" are not always the answer (c'mon, when were sound-bites ever the answer?!) Sometimes, you need to take action (even misaligned action) and learn from the dissonance so that you can create harmony. There are no one-size-fits-all formulas. Stop looking.
So make wild offers...and they will turn into harmonic offers with the awareness and refinement you bring.
#3 Put yourself in an experiential field
This 'field' is a space between two or more people. It's a real space and often tangible. A third entity exists in the space between our communications and connections. This god-space is where we can be seen, felt, and heard on an authentic level. It cannot occur in online spaces or in reading a book (something profound can happen in those spaces, but that is not what I'm speaking about here).
If you are seeking transformation, it comes mainly through interaction with the other; it is not a solitary pursuit. Personal development is becoming collective development. This field between two persons contains words and our energy. It gives us the opportunity to experience our self through the generous listening and presence of others. We can experience our own nature in this space and we give others the chance to experience themselves from what we co-create between us. This is part of ontology--the science of being.
Be brave and put yourself in contexts where you can be seen, felt, and heard. Take your important issues offline and into real space. This is where you will see your greatest growth. This is where people will "get" you.
#4 Come out!
Out of the closet. Out of the woodwork. Out of hiding. Out of your house. Our from behind your screen.
I fully appreciate that there is a purpose to hiding and I know that things don't always feel safe. But, what is it costing you to relate to life like it isn't safe to be who and what you are? A belief that life and people are unsafe negatively affects health.
You can always go back into hiding, but come out and show us who you are from time to time. It actually empowers others to do so too.
#5 Learn to make distinctions
Be curious about things you don't understand. Using lazy words, like "woo-woo" help no one. All that means is that you don't grasp something edgy and aren't willing to look or consider its usefulness. The things most people call 'woo-woo' fall into many known categories, such as: quantum physics, philosophy, trans-personal psychology, biology, neuroscience, mysticism, ontology, and metaphysics.
If we don't agree with, or believe in, a seemingly edgy or radical viewpoint, that is fine. But if we're lazy about making distinctions, that is another thing. Curiosity and inquiry is the anecdote for over-generalization.
#6 Readiness is over-rated
There are times when we know in our gut that we are ready for an event--like being 42-weeks pregnant in August, you just know you're ready! However, in hindsight, most important life events didn't come with the thought, "Oh ya, I'm so ready!" For some of us, it's normal to feel hesitant at beginnings. If we wait for this feeling of readiness, we could find ourselves waiting for a very long time. If you feel unprepared, you can try trusting grace, intuition, and vision, or whatever else empowers you.
So, if you aren't ready for 2018, don't sweat it! You might never be, and it can be a great year regardless of your readiness.
Which brings me to my next statement...
#7 Great answers come from great questions
We need to ask ourselves and each other better questions because great questions spark something positive in us. How many years of human civilization and all we can think of to say to one another is, "are you ready for Christmas?" Answer is either yes, or no, and causes a bit of anxiousness.
What could we ask instead? How about, "what do you look forward to at the holidays?" That answer gives us a glimpse into WHO they are, what they value, and allows us to make a deeper connection if we wish to.
You can also ask yourself better questions. I like to ask things like, "what would make my life work in _____ area?" Sometimes, I think I already know, but I don't know how to get there, so I ask "how do I get there?" And...wait, without trying to come up with the answer in that moment (my friend Kim taught me this). Staying with the important questions can make life more fulfilling. Answers are everywhere. If you want answers that work for you becoming a great question-asker is key.
#8 Healing your life requires power
If you want to heal something in your life (your body, mindset, creativity, past, stories around--fill in the blank) you need to know where your power comes from. I learned this from Caroline Myss' work and now it seems so obvious to me. Your power can come from a variety of places: your body, mind, soul, Spirit, etc..
Your body is a great place to look! Where does power reside that is stuck, sleeping, cold, hot, or painful? How do you generate your own power (instead of unconsciously relying on the power of others)? Which activities are em-powering? Conversely, which activities drain your power (i.e. energy)?
You may want to work with power symbols to get acquainted with both your internal and external power sources. Since healing takes power/energy, stop giving it away.
#9 All worthy things originate from space
Women are space. We hold space. We have a womb. We are the container and the vessel. There's a lot of power in our creative abilities. But, our creations will not manifest in the outer world if we do not hold space for ourselves. Take time in stillness, which is the essence of space.
#10 Everything you need is within
If you've been on a personal growth journey, you've heard a lot of ideas about how to think, behave, and live a "successful" life. Some of these ideas resonate deeply and some are useless. When you stumble upon a message that resonates and sounds like something that would serve you--read that as works for you--it is important to not elevate the insight above your own inner-wisdom reservoir, rather see that wisdom as a bridge--connecting you to our own wisdom. If you elevate outside wisdom above your own it puts you on a track of seeking which cannot be satiated. Like a hamster on a wheel, you can't get off because you're chasing the next self-help solution or guru. It's exhausting and not at all empowering.
Any thought leader, teacher, coach, or expert who doesn't emphasize the importance of looking within is not worth your time.
This isn't to say that you don't need outside help or guidance. You need mentors, teachers, coaches, and cheerleaders who draw out the best in you. They can give you the mirror to see your greatness (and also your follies), and the tools to make your journey worthwhile.
Give space to your inner-wisdom and celebrate the gift that you are.
I will be re-reading my manifesto over the course of the year to see what needs refinement for 2019.
I hope you find a nugget here that connects you to, and strengthens, your own wisdom!
(re-released from July 13th, 2014...)
Lately, I have felt like The Hanged Man from the tarot deck. Suspension, yielding, sacrifice.
I have been in the process of moving…for a couple of months. Our family is half-packed but our next home is not quite ready for our arrival. We started by packing things that weren’t very necessary; things like extra linens, books, and art supplies (I know, crazy-thinking).
Here has been my dilemma: to go unpack the art supplies and start on my ideas, or put off the creative urge a wee bit longer…
I know you’ve experienced precarious times too, times when things seem to be in a constant state of flux, and the activities that normally feed you seem nowhere in sight. This state of creative suspension has been a precarious time for me and it started when my mother became ill with cancer a year ago. I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on art (or didn’t want to focus on it is more accurate), so I unquestionably set it aside for the time being.
I don’t know what you are going through, but I know it’s not easy. Transition requires courage, foresight, and often sacrifices to make it through to the other side. We know life is impermanent, but certain times have a heightened sense of impermanence and being present can be especially challenging, not to mention being creative. Making art feeds our spiritual life as well, which means that times of change and struggle can be soul-sucking and downright depressing.
*If you don’t identify as an artist keep reading, because as you might gather, this can be applicable for other areas of your life.
How does an artist survive in precarious times? Here’s my what-to-do list for the artist’s soul. Try at least one thing to keep the inner fires burning. There are many ways to be artful. I trust you will find a way that works for you.
1) Visit other people’s art.
Go to museums and galleries, classrooms, and visit public art. Take it in. Receive. Try to put yourself in the artist’s shoes. Think about how you might have done the piece differently. It’s highly likely that you’ll walk away with a new perspective on your own art. Thankfully, art is everywhere!
2) Think Small.
That’s right, ditch the BIG IDEAS. Create small, create quickly. Bite-sized projects are great because they are realized in a short amount of time. Postcards, Zentangle, a poem on the fly (write it down), or modeling clay. Small, easy creations might even take you into working with new materials and modalities that once seemed elementary. Hello, cut and paste! This is also great time to help younger artists explore.
3) Plan your next move.
Take small steps towards your next big idea. Collect items and supplies you will need (careful not to hoard. ;-)). Keep documentation of all the ideas you will act on as soon as it becomes feasible. Visit these ideas often! Make them visible. I tend to forget things that are not urgent. I have an inspiration board on my closet door so I can remember all the important, life-giving things I love to do. I’m not sure how one forgets this, but it happens.
4) Talk to other artists.
Initiate conversations; ask questions about their process and materials. What drives them? Hearing how passionate others are allows us to live vicariously through them, if only for a moment, and that is okay. Most artists are happy to share their experiences and it feels good to be heard by another person who understands the value of creativity. I can tell you, these encounters are sweetly memorable
5) Take good care.
This might sound impossible; after all, we’re talking precarious times, right? Making time for yourself can be short, sweet, and simple. Quality over quantity. Close your eyes and breathe, go barefoot and earth outside in the morning sun, enjoy a soak. Rest. Eat nourishing, yummy foods. Basically, do whatever it is that you already do for yourself that is nourishing because that will be the easiest thing for you to integrate right now.
Julia Cameron, author of the The Artist’s Way, recommends artist dates, which is essentially a date with yourself. If you can manage this, it will help you immensely with number 6.
6) Just make the damn art!
You probably thought there was an easier way around this--I did! But there isn’t. At some point in the waiting game, you got to decide that now is the right time and take action. No, it’s not ideal. There are distractions--often well-meaning-but-curious kids--and the lighting is shitty. Artists are resilient, if nothing else. You’ll find a way and you’ll be so proud of yourself for being unstoppable.
So go ahead, make a mess, enjoy yourself, and be forgiving of the circumstances. You may not be able to do this on a regular basis until there is more stability in your life, but at least you showed up.
Like life, art requires that you show up. It doesn’t require perfection, a business plan, or a studio. It does, however, require SPACE.
As creative human beings, we have the ability to GENERATE and carve out space for creative expression, for our self, in our precarious times.
Art finds a way.
Models, Formulas, Systems, Methodology, Practicality.
I've been thinking about how these work with intuition. I consider myself an intuitive person, or rather, someone who tunes in often because I value intuition. When I find a method of doing something that works for me, I am prone to cling to it, sometimes against my better knowing.
Do I do this because systems and structure have not been my strong suit? Perhaps. I tend to live by my present curiosity and sense of exploration. It usually serves me well...until it doesn't. Like when I wing a recipe and get salty scones. Then, I taste how the framework of a recipe might have been a nice idea.
Here comes my case for the B word--balance. Not the sort of balance that implies equal time management, but the sort which makes makes for better problem-solving and wholeness. Intuition AND systems. Intuition AND formulas. Intuition AND practicality.
I've come up against this whole intuition-versus-formulas notion as I learn how to use a specific method of coaching which makes room for the use of intuition. I'm not sure I could do it any other way! Kaizen-Muse Creativity allows for intuitive coaching and the use of a formula. It's works because it recognizes that the creative process in NOT linear.
Life is a creative act, and so it too, is not linear. Formulas, systems, and models, will fail you if you are staunchly devoted to them or use them as a crutch. Intuition, hunches, and following your gut will allow you to make better use of systems and more importantly, to connect in more meaningful ways by setting the formula aside when it's needed. If you work with other people this is especially a must because they are not devoted to your system, model, or mindset.
Intuition is the space between, the background, and the inner-voice of application.
Intuition is a tool just as the formula is a tool. Wisdom is knowing which one to use and the right moment.
MC Richards, poet and artist, talks about living at the crossing point. It is a place where one can be both grounded and a dreamer. The two impulses can co-exist. That is where wholeness resides. "I am both and I live in the crossing point."
I understand this to mean that to arrive at wholeness means to live at the crossing point of being grounded in practicality and still reaching for the light (intuition and curiosity). This is how I think intuition lives within our formulas, if we let it. According the MC, we shouldn't be talked out of it--we get to be both.
(Re-released from 12/17/2012...)
Creativity takes courage. There are many notions about art, artists, and creativity in general. If we have tried in the past to explore our creativity, there are barriers we hit and many of these barriers are derived from false notions and misconceptions about creativity. Unfortunately, we often accept these as truths.
These top seven false notions boil down to one primal thing: the fear of loss of control. This is based on the incorrect premise that we are somehow in control to begin with. We can generate our contexts, but we don’t control everything, instead we manage life. It is human to fear loss of control. But ask yourself, what happens when I lose control? No one ever died right in their tracks from losing control; nothing is “lost”. Losing control isn’t a game stopper, but letting fear stop you is. There is wisdom on the other side of this fear. Let go…be patient and try to appreciate what is so in your given situation.
Here are some false notions given in support of NOT heeding the creative call (notice that I often use the terms “creative expression” and “art” interchangeably).
1) I’M NOT INSPIRED.
“You can’t wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London
Ever find yourself waiting for that next “aha” moment, grand idea, or epiphany before you take any action? Picking up our tools and engaging in the process gets us to a space where these ideas and inspirations are possible. Concepts about “making something inspiring” usually do not take us in an authentic direction. Art that is completely conceptual lands flat; it lacks a heartbeat. We need to take up residence in our creative space and really listen…and FEEL if we wish to be fully expressed. Don’t wait for good ideas to pop into your head as a welcomed interruption. Go to a cozy space, and just sit, and listen with your whole body. Then, pick up your creative tools. If nothing happens, fine—but go to your space as often as you can. Instant inspiration could happen in your daily life, but only after you have opened the door to your creative expression.
2) I’M NOT AN “ARTSY” PERSON
“I believe that if it were left to artists to choose their own labels, most would choose none”.
Labels are limiting and shut down your creativity, period! Especially personal labels which detail who you are, and who you are not. There is no booby prize for being staunch or stubborn. Consider this: what you know about yourself is much less than what you don’t know about yourself. Furthermore, what you don’t know that you don’t know is mind-boggling. To be 100% certain of our own identity cuts off many possibilities of whom we could be and what we might consider DOING. Your personality and preferences are not fixed. If you have ever changed your mind about anything you get to see first-hand how fluid your opinions can be. You have a choice in the matter of who you are, so choose what inspires you now. This may possibly be different from what inspired you before. Change your mind any time; this is what makes life interesting.
3) SPENDING TIME MAKING ART IS SELFISH. What about my family, my obligations?
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!
The first line of this excerpt from Hamlet is well-known. The third line is even more illuminating. When we are true to ourselves, we are real—and true–with others. Making art may feel like a selfish task at times, can’t this be OKAY. Do people call us “selfish” when we brush our teeth or bathe? Of course not. Because everyone knows good hygiene is self-care, hence acceptable.
What does making art do for you? Does it replenish your soul, create peace, or give you a sense of accomplishment? Are those not valid reasons to express who you are? It just takes a little courage to tell the voice in your head (or well-meaning people) that you hear what they are saying (thank you), AND you plan to nurture yourself, because that is who you are—a person who nurtures.
4) I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO GET INTO MY CREATIVE ZONE.
Doodle, doodle, doodle! There are many activities you can do which require little time and give you the simplicity of not having to set up all your supplies. Zentangles is a SIMPLE--and beautiful-- way to try small art. Once you are using your creative muscles on a regular basis you start to see artful possibilities all around you. You might be inspired by tree branches and buds, or see how dried up bamboo leaves would work well into some homemade paper. Keep a small notepad or coupon filer with you so you write down ideas and collect materials. Pretend like you are on a scavenger hunt!
“Truly creative people care a little about what they have done, and a lot about what they are doing. Their driving focus is the life force that surges in them now.” — Alan Cohen
5) ART IS FOR THOSE WITH TALENT AND SKILL.
Try telling a child that! Their art is the most authentic and they've had almost no training. You wouldn't dare say to a kindergartener, “Well, ah, according to Art News Magazine that picture is not REAL art.”
Here we have a choice: to accept the status quo, or go forward with courage, no matter what. Often times, there is a basic urge at the heart of skilful creations which seeks approval; this is deeply ingrained. If you find this is a big issue for you, don’t make yourself wrong for wanting approval, just own it and ask: What would I make if no one was ever going to see this? You could be taken in a new direction entirely—this is authentic creation, listen.
“The highest form of intelligence is the ability to observe without evaluating.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti
6) I’LL HAVE MORE TIME…LATER.
This day will never come because you have forsaken your creative spirit; you have put it off like an unwanted chore. Your creative muscle will wither. Thankfully, your creative potential is forgiving–it will not hold a grudge. So if this neglect has happened, go inwards and find a way to make time today. Pick a wild flower and arrange it purposely somewhere in your home, open your journal and doodle some words and images. If you know other people who like to create, plan a date where you can create freely together—cook, craft, whatever!
You may very well have more “free” time at a later point in time, but you will mostly likely fill that time with other stuff. Give some thought to meeting yourself through creative expression. For some, this meeting is the hardest part of setting up a practice.
“Art allows us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ~ Thomas Merton
7) I’M NO GOOD. If can’t make something grand and beautiful, why bother?
All great idea starts with one stroke, one move. Do that one move and get the wheels turning–you can’t steer a parked car! If we start off with high expectations we have to either live up to that (which usually doesn't happen), or forsake our playfulness and freedom. The latter is really an awful choice because the FREEDOM to play is what opens the creative flood gates. Try-on being playful.
Judgement is huge is so many areas of life. We can either pretend we don’t judge, or admit that we do and look deeper.
“You do not define anyone with your judgement. You only define yourself as someone who needs to judge.” –Wayne Dyer
You also do not define your creation with your judgments. Sometimes we want a giant eraser so only the awesome can stay. Lean into the imperfections, fall in love with them…and don’t make them significant. Denying what you create is a form of self-denial. Laugh at your “mistakes”, and laugh often. All meaning you derive from your art work is invented by you. There are insights to gain from your creative work, but realize that it is YOU who invents the meaning/insight. This is not to invalidate the insights, but to give you power in designing your life.
“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” — Alan Alda
I can recognize many of these notions because I have subscribed to them at one time or another. I have not overcome all of them at once–it is a process. I still judge my work, but I spend much less time wondering how others will receive it.
You are probably reading this because you have strong inclinations towards creative expression. Whether you dance, write, paint, or assemble…you can use these ideas to assist you towards your authentic creative expression. If you feel strongly about creating, then just do it!
Stop making excuses and make creative play a cornerstone in your life. You’ll be glad you did