Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Enjoy the Ride

In Chapter 3 of The Artist’s Way, “Recovering A Sense of Power,” Julia Cameron says, “Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. You are capable of great things on Tuesday, but on Wednesday you may slide backward. This is normal. Growth occurs in spurts. You will lie dormant sometimes. Do not be discouraged. Think of it as resting."

If my career were someone else’s I would be impressed with what has been accomplished. Yet, when I spend a couple days, like this past weekend, laying on the couch sick with the flu, all I can think about are my unfinished projects. The paintings I haven’t completed, the creativity book I’m still writing, and the art class curriculum I have yet to finish developing.
With collectors Anita & Larry Larson, 2009

In 4 years, I’ve shown in 23 group art shows, 4 solo exhibitions, and was the featured artist at 3 silent auction fundraisers. In the process, I’ve sold 30 works of art, including 5 paintings at the opening reception of my first solo exhibition and 2 commissions. In addition, I was a Featured Artist of the Month on, received an Honorary Mention ribbon from Art of the Rockies, and was interviewed by the Denver Post regarding the Piano I painted for the city of Denver.

Then there are my writing accomplishments. In addition to this blog, I was a guest blogger for Tarcher/Penguin publishing for 12 consecutive weeks. I was published in 2 anthologies. And recently, I was invited to write a piece for Creative Thought magazine.  

Not too shabby for a girl who started sharing her creations with the world just 4 short years ago. But as I laid on the couch, too sick to be useful or productive, I wondered, “Are my dreams pipe dreams?  Am I kidding myself thinking that if I keep working at it, someday I may be able to make a living as a full-time working artist? Or am I hoping for the impossible?”

Even Georgia O’Keeffe, the first American woman painter to realize her life’s dream of earning a living by her art, took breaks. In How Georgia Became O’Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living biographer Karen Karbo says, “She would go through phases when she worked every day, but there were days and weeks when she would read, spend hours tramping around outside, write letters, sew, and play dominoes with the cowboys. When she was at the height of her fame, she spent an inordinate amount of time doing housework.”

As I convalesced, I contemplated the meaning of my life and the purpose of my art. I wondered, “Why am I not content to just live a simple life, to just hold down one job and be a wife? Why do I possess this inner propulsion to create, express, and connect with others? And if I need to create, why isn’t my inner muse satisfied with just one form of expression? Why must I feel called to paint, and write, and as if those were not enough, to teach too? Why God, WHY?”

The simple truth is, I don’t know why.  It’s like asking, “Why do I like the color purple or French vanilla ice cream?” I just do. It’s part of who I am. I’m a creative being, so I must create. I must! Creativity is what gives my life meaning and, at times, makes life bearable enough to live.  
Getting sick forced me to stop and take time to listen to my inner guidance. I was reminded that I can try to manage my time and schedule my days. Wednesdays are typically spent writing, while Saturdays are usually spent in the art studio. But as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

I will try to remember Lennon’s sage advice. And when I get ahead of myself and think I should be doing more, or have accomplished more, I will remember to enjoy the ride and release my attachment to the outcomes as I continue to Live The Artist’s Way.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Typos, Criticism, and Warm Fuzzies

With Anassa Publications CEO Melissa Kline (on left)
My essay, “Miracle of Yes,” was recently published by Anassa Publications in the anthology Anything Prose…and Poetry, Too!  When I received my copy I discovered not one, but TWO, typos!  I had proof read the printer’s layout draft before it went to press, but I had still missed my mistakes. After discovering my errors I was critical of myself for days. I felt so embarrassed, I considered not attending the book’s launch celebration.   

In the weeks leading up to the launch I had experienced a personal, family related, disappointment that I had allowed to affect my confidence and self-esteem.  After the whiplash of promises and let downs, I was feeling pretty low. When I discovered my typos it was further proof to me that I was a failure. I had to nurture my inner artist child – a lot! – and reassure her that she is talented and worthy of love and success, regardless of the perceived rejection and my so-called “mis-takes.”   

In Chapter 3 of The Artist’s Way, “Recovering A Sense of Power,” Julia Cameron offers advice for dealing with criticism. She suggests, “Do something very nurturing for yourself – read an old good review or recall a compliment.” 

Following Julia’s advice, I went to my warm fuzzies file. Every time I get a nice email, like a positive comment on my blog or supportive feedback on my newsletter, I save it in an electronic file titled, “Warm Fuzzies.” Since you can only focus on one thing at a time, to break the cycle of negative self-talk I read old, warm fuzzy, emails. I didn’t feel better immediately, but it was a start.  After writing about my feelings in my pages, meditating, and getting a few good nights of sleep, I began to gain a different perspective on my family situation and my writing errors. By the night of the book launch celebration I had mustered up enough self-love and confidence to attend. 

My essay may not be perfect, but I’m still proud of its message. Ironically, it’s about saying Yes (to yourself, your life, opportunities) and the Universe positively responding in serendipitous ways.  So, despite my embarrassment over my typos, I went to the launch celebration anyway.  I had a great time! I caught up with pals from the Rocky Mountain Women Writers group and I met some of the other contributors.  

After I got home I posted a photo on facebook that had been taken that evening of me with Anassa Publications CEO Melissa Kline. The next morning someone who had seen the photo messaged me about submitting my essay to them to be considered for publication in Creative Thought, a popular spiritual magazine.  

My publisher owns the rights to my essay for one year so I’m waiting to hear if they will allow the magazine to publish it. If they don’t,  the magazine has invited me to submit an original piece of writing instead. Either way, despite my typos, one experience synchronistically led to another creative opportunity to spread my love and light into the world. 

I’m learning that in life, and in art, mistakes will be made and there will be disappointments. But we must keep loving ourselves, believing in our dreams, and living The Artist’s Way.

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