When I was a little girl I loved to create. Anything and everything.
Stories. Paper dolls. Houses for all my paper dolls. Clothes for my dolls. I loved, Paint by numbers. Drawing. Painting. Card tricks. Building things. Exploring things. Creating things.
I was creative by nature.
Up until my teens, I loved to draw. Faces mostly. I created my own magazines. Books. Plays.
And then. The 3 C’s hit.
Comparison. Criticism. Confusion.
I was not as good as… the really talented kids in school who everyone said would grow up to be artists. I never showed anyone my work so no one knew I loved to paint and draw. I was pretty sure my family would make fun of me anyway, so I quit painting and drawing.
I couldn’t sing like the one’s who played guitar in the band I belonged to. My brother made sure I knew I wasn’t very good. So I quit the band.
I didn’t get the lead in a school play (I did get a major role but it didn’t matter. I was pretty sure my family wouldn’t come to see me anyway, and if they did, they’d make fun of me). I quit auditioning.
Don’t get me wrong. There were creative things I did my mother and father found acceptable. I was the best gift wrapper in the house and would spend hours wrapping all the Christmas gifts. I did make all the posters for my eldest sister’s run for School Queen (or whatever it was she was running for) complete with pithy quotes – Beatniks were a big thing back then and I remember painting a picture of a Beatnik on poster board with some ‘clever’ saying like, “Get with the beat! Vote_______!”
But the list of things I told myself I couldn’t do as well as… (fill in the blanks ____________) went on and on.
I didn’t sew as well as my eldest sister. I didn’t write poetry as poetically as my middle sister. And I couldn’t be a boy like my brother, which was pretty well all believed my parents wanted me to be.
My inner critic, who constantly compared me to the feats and abilities of others, confused me. I didn’t dare tell people the things I loved to do. I was so scared they’d find my efforts wanting, less than, not as good as… someone else’s.
In my twenties, I secretly took up writing poetry again. I painted, but never told anyone. I started a novel and kept it to myself.
In my thirties, amidst my friends, I was known as the one who cooked and created, who skied fast and ran faster. I had a cooking show on TV. Nothing big. Just a 10 minute segment of an ‘about town’ show, but I loved it. I catered parties for friends. A girlfriend and I started a cooking school. My dinners for backcountry hiking and ski trips were legendary.
At 35, I published my first feature length story in a Sunday magazine. I wrote a novel and sent it out. Once. And then I let it sit and gather dust.
In my 40s I wrote a screen play that was optioned. A novel I never sent out and was published many more times in magazines and radio. And still, the 3C’s slithered through my psyche telling me to stop.
And then, at 45, I picked up a paintbrush and fell in love with painting.
Recently, I read a woman’s account of her creative journey through life and decided it was a great opportunity to get clear on my own.
See, when I write it out chronologically, what really becomes clear is the fact that ‘being a creative’ is part of my DNA. Ultimately, it isn’t about the things I’ve done or created or what others thought of what I did or created. Just as it was never about my talent.
It was always about my lack of belief in myself, my voice, my message.
Yesterday, as I created another page in my “Learning to Fly” art journal, I did something I’ve never done before. I ripped out a page.
Now, my excuse is, I’d been working on the opposite page for several hours. It was a total experiment. layer upon layers of gel medium and alcohol inks and markers and acrylic paint and more gel medium and inks and markers and paint. By the time I sat back and said, “This pleases me,” I was tired and not really listening to my heart.
Which means, I wasn’t present. Not being present meant I was susceptible to heeding the critics whining insistence I get the facing page done and over with. When it got to the stage of “UGH!” I totally forgot I get to that stage in pretty well everything I paint. So when the 3C’s invaded and the critter hissed, “Tear it out!” I did.
And that’s the moral of this story. Being present is a constant breathing into and with your entire being. It’s about sinking deep into your creative essence and connecting to your heart, the wild places within you and the world all around you so that the wild things can grow and flourish and flow.
Yesterday, I was reminded how easy it is to forget to breathe into the wild places and set them free. To cherish and nurture my creative expression and to not judge it, or myself, wanting.
I am grateful. It was a wild and fierce awakening. A powerful reminder to let the wild things grow, especially my dreams.