I have shared before the story of when I awoke to my desire/love/passion for painting. I was in my 40s. Alexis, my eldest daughter, already a phenomenal artist at 14ish, asked if we could go to the art store to buy her some canvas and paints. We went. Came home and I announced I was going to paint with her… and as they say, the rest is history.
That one decision to paint with my daughter set me off on a creative exploration that I continue to dive into today with joy and passion. It also awoke in me the awareness of a lie I’d been telling myself most of my adult life that I believed was true, “I am not an artist”.
Not true. I am an artist. I am a creative soul. A creativity diver. I love to express myself artistically. In every way possible. Seeing that lie masquerading as truth, I wondered, “What other ‘facts’ do I tell myself are true about myself that are actually lies? Where else am I wrong about my limitations?”
It has been a good question to explore, to push into, to pull out and stretch and roll around in. Like Ellie, the wonder pooch, whose favourite pastime as a puppy (and beyond) was to find the biggest mud puddle she could and lay in it and roll, savouring the question, “Where are my self-beliefs keeping me playing small?” has given me a vast and expansive playground to roll around in and dive deep into to find my creative expression.
And in the process, I am learning things about myself I never knew!
Having discovered my artistic elements are deep, I wondered, where did it begin? This belief I could not, did not, paint or draw. Sure, I’ve always been known as someone who likes to make things. Christmas wreaths, decorating the house for seasonal times, creating warm and inviting spaces, all of those things I did. But to put a brush to paint, to cover a blank canvas in colour and texture and design… no way. I didn’t do that.
And then, I did and I wondered, where did the belief I couldn’t/shouldn’t/didn’t come from?
As a young girl, I remember always doodling, drawing faces, eyes, mouths, figures in the margins of my notebooks. When my eldest sister ran for school office, or Teen Queen, I loved to make her posters. Beatniks were big in those days and I loved drawing beatniks and crafting clever sayings to convince people to vote for my sister.
It was the same with singing. I loved to sing. Sang with a small folk group in junior high but by high school, even though I entered talent contests and often performed in public, I didn’t pursue something I loved.
Funny how one memory will trigger another. Typing that statement I remembered Teen Town, a center for youth on the military base where I grew up. One of my classmates was an amazing artist and he created a huge mural. I remember wanting to create with him and not having the nerve. I believed, I wasn’t good enough.
In my 20s, I painted a mural on my bedroom wall. I loved it. My then boyfriend, not so much.
I dabbled in creative expression but always, my lack of confidence, my belief, I have no talent, wasn’t good enough, hindered my expression.
And while I cannot find the root cause of my shutting down of my creativity with the lie, I am not an artist, I do know that lack of encouragement, lack of positive feedback, and the belief if I was going to do it I had to be better than anyone else, or at least as good, kept me from exploring the possibilities.
I didn’t try. I didn’t explore. I didn’t do.
I kept quiet about my creative yearnings and buckled down to life.
I know that I am not alone. I know that I am not the only one who has had a yearning to express themselves and then stifled it beneath a blanket of well-trod platitudes to distance ourselves from our hearts-desires.
It is oh so human. and oh so sad to limit our lives with beliefs that begin with, I am not, I can’t, I don’t, I shouldn’t.
I may never know the root cause of my limiting belief. It doesn’t matter. In re-tracing my journey, I have found signs of creative expression that confirm what I know to be true today. In that light, I find strength, renewed energy and desire to continue to explore my creative intentions and express them in every way, any way I can.
In my expression, I give myself permission to dive in, spread out and shine my light as brightly and fiercely as I can so that all the world can see, there’s no one way to be human, to express yourself, to show yourself in the world. There is no ‘as good as the other’, or better than or worse than. There is only what we each do to express ourselves freely. And in all our expressions shining brightly, all the world can see the wonder of each soul illuminating the dark!
And in our light, the world is a pretty amazing place!