Keeping a brightly colored raggedy Ann doll in my art studio is my cue to be playful, have fun and to love. She gently reminds me of a time when my lizard brain hadn’t yet taken control of my thoughts and actions. I faintly recall myself as a little girl, full to the brim with giggles, curiosity, unconditional love and headlong, blundering, joyful play. Going full out, immune to the "adult” concepts of failure and fear. Immune to the cruel or critical words of an-others judgment.
Raggedy Ann appeared in my life because a special little girl who thought enough of another to choose such a seemingly small, yet powerful gift. I am forever grateful to her, and for her wisdom and loving compassion, belied by her scant years among us.
Deciding to be an artist, really truly this time! Not just fiddling around in my occasional spare time has heralded an avalanche of learning and relearning of life and of myself. It may sound odd, yet I believe how you do anything, is how you do everything. You will always show up! I wanted to do it all perfectly. To be good, to be liked, to not upset anyone, conform, fit in, to stay invisible. I learned very quickly that this would not be the forum for those rules!
To be an Artist in any field of endeavour is to be someone who is not simply content to follow the rules, keep others comfortable, or focus exclusively on being productive. It is a person who discovers a way to add value, invent a new solution or notice a connection that truly makes a difference. Artists are tasked with the challenge of vulnerability. Of authentic communication. To share a part of themselves and their hearts. In short, they are gift givers.
In pursuing my life long dream I unexpectedly discovered this: the part of our brains that embraces creativity, uncertainty and passion is completely at odds with the other part of our brain whose only job is to keep us safe. The lizard brain = keeping safe.
Being who you are and putting it out there for the world to see will never = safe.
This almost suffocating emergence of my lizard brain overwhelmed me with an unending drivel of destructive and sabotaging and terrifying thoughts. Inciting a barrage of fear, procrastination, anxiety, paralysis, self-doubt and even illnesses. Ridiculous! Right? Not really . . . I was operating exactly as I was “trained” to--by everyone; parents, teachers, bosses, friends and society, an indoctrination or domestication that dims the “genius” of our uniqueness button and keeps us from being seen. "Stay safe don’t put your-self out there", it whispers, or at times shouts.
Having recently read a timely book entitled, “Linchpin” I have begun to understand that no one really knows what to do. And there are only three states of being:
- Not Knowing
- Taking Action
Trust yourself! It is ok not to know, it is ok to fail, it is ok to make mistakes, and it is ok to be different. Even though it may feel emotionally difficult to hold that space. To NOT hold that space is to give up, to give in to fear and begin to die in tiny places and in tiny pieces everyday. Fear cannot harm you without your permission.
“Your work is to create art that changes things, to expose your insight and humanity in such a way that you are truly indispensible. Your work is, to do the work, not do your job. Your job is about following instructions; the work is about making a difference.” Seth Godwin, author of “Linchpin”.
We all have a choice, even when we think we don’t. I am throwing myself under the bus, stepping out, taking a risk. Challenging myself to continue digging deeper, creating works of art that add beauty, uplift, connect and inspire the spirit. My wish is that you will also commit to this challenge. To breathe heart, and meaning to your life's art, whatever form that may take.