It was one of those wonder-filled days. Busy. Jam-packed. Enlightening. Filled with moments that blew my mind. Crammed with opportunities to explore the more that’s always out there.
The day included a tour of a family shelter that provides emergency care for 14 families. A conversation that expanded ideas into possibilities. A presentation that blew my mind on the power of data to inform decision-making. A panel discussion about ‘safe cities’ where I was one of three presenters to a group of 24 – 40 somethings engaged in making a difference in our city. And then, I painted.
Perhaps it was that I was inspired by the energy of the audience at the panel discussion. Or maybe it was just that throughout the day I kept encountering the expansiveness of possibilities everywhere. Or, perhaps it was just that I felt the call of the canvas inviting me to let go and create. Whatever the ’cause’, the process was divine — even when I decided that painting over one of my previous works was the only way to get it somewhere pleasing.
And so I did. Paint over.
Unlike life, paint-overs really do create possibility. They use what was to create a brand new what is…
My eldest daughter taught me that many years ago. If you don’t like it, paint over it, she advised me when she was sixteen and I had just begun to paint with her.
My dear friend Ursula had been at me for years to pick up a brush. An amazing artist, she kept trying to get me to join her in her love of creating beauty on a canvas. Don’t believe everything you think, she’d tell me. And I’d laugh and say, No thank you. I won’t like it. You’ll love it, she insisted.
I didn’t believe her.
Instead, I believed the voice inside of me that whispered, “You’re a writer Louise. Not an artist. You can’t paint. You have no artistic ability.”
Don’t you love it when you finally find the courage to prove the voice of self-doubt wrong?
One day, after Alexis had asked to go to the art supply store to pick up some fresh canvas and we’d returned home with canvas, paint and new brushes, I decided to pick up a brush. And fell in love.
Ten years later, I know how wrong I was. I am an artist. I do have talent. I can create! And on May 10 and May 11, I’m in my first art show and sale. How cool is that!
I wonder what else I tell myself I can’t do that really, if I just give myself a chance, I can? I wonder how many limits I set on myself just because saying, “I can’t” is easier than, “I can”? I can’t means I don’t have to take risks. I can’t means I don’t have to step outside my comfort zone.
I can’t keeps me uncomfortably stuck in my ruts of self-doubt, limitations and inhibitions.
I can sets me free to fly, to explore, to be the more I’ve always dreams was out there waiting for me to become.
Think about it. Everyday we’re faced with opportunities to explore the unknown and everyday, we turn our backs on what is not known or unfamiliar to hold onto what is within the comfort of our known capabilities.
It may be human nature to fear the unknown, it’s also human nature to step into it and fly.
For today, invite yourself to step out of the known into something, new, unexplored, previously untried. For today, let yourself talk to strangers, take a different route to work, wear different coloured socks, pick up a paintbrush, give a speech, ask the guy in the cubicle two over out for coffee, phone the one you’ve been avoiding, say “I’m sorry”, ask for what you want, turn down a drink, turn up the volume and dance.
Let yourself go where you’ve never dared to go. Let yourself be who you’ve always dreamed of being.
Just for today, give yourself permission to do the things you’ve feared, to be the one you’ve always dreamed of being.
Just for today, let yourself fly.
Who knows what you might learn? What you might do? What you might achieve? And along the way, who knows how many limits you might break?
C’mon, just for today, go for it!