Tag Archives: failure

A New Year’s List for a New Journey

On New Years Eve, I wanted to write something uplifting and hopeful and inspiring to start the transition into 2015.  I wanted to give you, my dear reader, a message to help kick-start your year on the right path, to help you accomplish your dreams and goals.  But lately I’ve felt like I didn’t have it in me, that there was no way I could write something with that kind of positive energy.  Lately I’ve felt angry and frustrated, and not with anything or anyone in particular.  One day I’ll be angry and agitated, the next I’ll be crying.  My close friends who have done a lot of personal healing know what I’m talking about, some of them call it “deep work”.  If you’ve ever been there yourself, then you know what I’m talking about, and I’m sure you know how frustrating it can feel.   But I was reminded of a saying I once read, “the medicine is in the wound”, and that is where I found the inspiration for this post.

I don’t do anger well.  To me, and most other people, its an emotion that feels dark, heavy, and negative.  Who wants to be angry when you could be happy?  Well, I’m sure we’d all agree if we could be happy all the time we would, but then we would have nothing to compare our joy to.  Instead we’d probably just feel apathetic or indifferent.  I’ve always felt that anger was a volatile emotion, that feeling it would turn me into some crazy, out-of-control, violent person.  So I’ve been stuffing it since I was a kid, and I think now it’s finally caught up to me.  I haven’t been able to work on my weaving much because the anger and frustration doesn’t translate well to delicate and detailed work.  So while I’ve been taking a break from my tapestry, I’ve been finding new tools and ideas to help me work through these darker emotions.

In the dark is where the first stage of new life happens, where the seed first cracks it’s hard, protective shell, and tender leaves reach up towards the light.  It’s where we rest, where dream-time brings us insights, where ideas grow, and new life takes shape.  The time in the dark is never hurried; everything that is preparing for growth needs time and care to be ready to be born.  There is vitality hidden in the dark.  And life is very cyclical, we all go through phases of blooming in the garden, soaking up the sun’s rays while others admire us.  Sometimes the weeds choke us and threaten to take us down.  And there usually always comes a time when we retreat back into the restorative cocoon of the darkness, back into our roots to rest and prepare to be reborn again come our next springtime.

During our time in this fertile soil, its important to actually do our personal work, mend what’s been broken, and remember that the darkness isn’t forever.  We will eventually be called back into the light, and to carry with us the gifts we have uncovered from our sacred wounds.

While I’ve been taking a break from weaving, I’ve been discovering new tools and ideas to help me work through these shadow emotions.  I’ve put together this list to serve anyone who is also feeling overwhelmed, stressed, stuck, or wanting change, now or in the future.

1. Gratitude ListsIf you’ve read anything about living a more positive life or how to manifest your deepest wishes, one of the suggestions you’ll find is writing a gratitude list.  But I use it not to just get what I want, I use it to change my perspective.  Whenever I’m feeling frustrated, grumpy, angry, or just plain ungrateful, I write a gratitude list.  It always, ALWAYS changes my  outlook.  On New Years Eve I wrote a gratitude list for everything that happened to me in 2014.  While it was several pages long, it was also filled with simple things.  Like #12: “All of the magical hikes I’ve been on out here.”  Or #15: “Practicing patience.”  #24: “Learning how resilient I am.”  And #30, my favorite: “All of the chocolate I’ve eaten.”

The little things really add up, and they’re not that hard to find, trust me.  Even finding just one thing to be grateful for, like a kind person’s smile, can start to shift your perspective.  Now imagine finding those little things everyday for 30 days.  Imagine a whole year.

2. When energy gets stuck and needs to be released, it can’t always come out as art, even ugly, dirty, messy art, or beautiful, light, and inspiring art.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  Occasionally it needs a physical outlet in order to be set free.  The mornings are usually when I get fresh hits of inspiration, and the other day as I got out of bed and felt the angry energy rise up in me, I saw myself in a boxing class.  I never thought of myself as someone who would ever want to try boxing, but there I was in a safe environment, able to release my emotions.  I signed up for a no contact, women’s only boxing class.  Thankfully we wont be fighting each other.  I may want to punch a punching bag, but I have absolutely no interest in punching someone else or getting punched in the face!

3.  Faith, and I’m not just talking church or George Michael.  When we find ourselves feeling like we’re drowning in sudden changes, forces beyond our control, shadow emotions, and feeling unable to get our heads above water for long, having faith in something is what can get us through.  I have what I refer to as “a spiritual posse”, a collection of various spirits, teachers, and guides I’ve chosen that I turn to when I need help.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a saint, an angel, the woods, or your cat, just start with having faith that you will get through, and you will get through.

2014-12-31 12.27.42

4.  Have patience.  Sometimes when we’re looking to create change in our lives, or to get through a storm, or to reach our goals, we can lose patience.  Keep in mind that we’re all on different paths.  Keep an open heart to what personal success looks like for you.  Sometimes when I feel like I don’t have what I want, I do step 1 above and I discover that I have everything I need.  What you want will come, just keep an open heart and give it time.

5.  Be easy on yourself.  This isn’t a competition, no ones’ perfect even if they appear that way.

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” ~ Charles Dickens

6.  Take inspiration from the success of others.  Seeing someone climb the ladder of their dreams and accomplish big goals can make anyone feel jealous, and wonder when it will be their time to shine.  I used to feel jealous of others’ success stories, but now I use them as a great source of inspiration to follow my own dreams.  Hearing about anyone making a living doing what they love and bringing positive change to the world fills me with so much joy, hope, and motivation.  Someone living their life through the gifts they bring to the world is also a gift for those of us wanting to do the same; it shows us that with unwavering dedication, patience, and a pure passion for what we do, we can also accomplish incredible things.  Usually after hearing or reading such good news, I’ll sit down at my loom and work away, feeling pure inspiration for what it is I do.  I simply love these stories.  Because if they can do it I can too, and so can you.

7.  Have funI don’t wait until the storm passes or things to get better to go forth and make the most of life.  I don’t sit around thinking that because I’m in a funk, I have to stay there and wait for it to be over.  Whenever I’m feeling grumpy, I watch youtube videos of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, or clips from Louis CK’s stand-up performances.  I often find myself laughing so hard I’m crying, and I’ve totally forgotten about my grumpiness.  Like gratitude lists, laughter has a profound ability to drastically change our outlook, even if for a few minutes.  And that’s all it takes to ride the waves to smoother sailing.

8.  Do something nice for others, and something nice for you.  It doesn’t have to cost you a penny.  It can be offering an ear to listen, a compliment (as long as it’s sincere!), or bringing food to an ill friend.  Last night, I decided to do something nice for myself that I know I’ve needed to do to help me grow as a professional artist.  I bought the domain name for this blog! 

One thing I do know is that crossing that threshold from the darkness and into the next stage of life will make me feel more confident, with a deeper sense of faith and trust in the work that I do and the life I live.   And that although there will be more hard days to come, having practiced these steps will give me the strength to keep weaving through the storms with serenity and grace.

My mom took this picture of South Sister in Oregon from this past summer.  My step-dad and I are the two tiny specks on the trail!

My mom took this picture of South Sister in Oregon this past summer. My step-dad and I are the two tiny specks on the trail!

Happy 2015 to you all!  I wish you great happiness, success, and opportunities to heal and let go of whatever is holding you back from accomplishing your dreams!
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Making time… when there is no time

I’m sure the vast majority of people, not just creative types, will agree with how difficult it can be to find the time to do what you love, especially if what you love is not how you make your living.  I consider myself fortunate as my commitments are simple.  I work full time… and that’s pretty much it.  Besides doing my errands, paying my bills, and cooking something besides a bowl of cereal, I have a lot of free time to spend as I wish.

So why do I get sucked into a youtube vortex when I get home from work?  Because there are endless hours of kitten videos to watch, that’s why!

But seriously, this is a pattern I’ve noticed with myself lately; I have quite a bit of time that, if used constructively, I could get a lot done with my art.  And not just the actual art making, but I could also be sharing photos on Facebook, posting here, sketching and painting ideas, searching for shows, etc.  When I choose to troll around aimlessly on Facebook for an hour, I am choosing to not create my work, to not bring into physical form the ideas and images I want to share with others, to not fulfill my life’s purpose: to be an artist.

I have a lot of creative friends, some of them with as much time as me to make their work, some with less.  I’ve seen the friends with less time produce incredible artworks that came from making a choice and a commitment to their art, no.  matter.  what.  I admire that, and I ask myself, “What’s my excuse?”  If I have a vision for my next piece, why am I choosing to not take the next step?

I have this book sitting on my shelf, perhaps you’ve heard of it…

warofart

And yes, that is a little peek at my finished tapestry!

I actually have not read this book past page 37, but I think it’s time.  My resistance to making my art is not serving me and is preventing me from bringing forth the thoughts and ideas I want to share with the world.

When we deny ourselves, through fear of failure, criticism, or even success, the time to bring our artistry out into the light, we are doing ourselves a disservice.  I think of it as a form of self-sabotage, and other people lose out because they never get to experience our creations.  Our audience, our readers, our listeners will never get the chance to be inspired, to be influenced, or to be changed by the messages we wish to share as long as we continue to deny our creativity.  When we perform a disservice to our creative self, we also do a disservice to others.  It’s a lose-lose situation.

Now, I should also clarify that I’m not supporting the whole work-you-butt-off-until-all-joy-is-sucked-out-of-you kind of work ethic.  In order to be at our optimal creating capacity our minds and bodies need rest and relaxation.  Life is for enjoying, for spending time with friends and loved ones, for being inspired by others’ creativity, and for recharging.

One of my fave places to recharge, the Portland Japanese Garden

Without this time for self-care, our artistic process can lose it’s feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction, and that will surely manifest itself in the end product.

What it really comes down to is a choice.  When we have the time and energy in our busy lives to either pursue our life’s purpose or to stare blankly at the computer screen, I hope we make the first choice.  I’ve been wanting to write this post for a month now, and I guess I just needed to make the time.

How do you overcome your blocks to making your art, music, writing, dancing, or other pursuits?  If you struggle with this like I do, I encourage you to pick up a copy of “The War of Art” and read it with me.  Let me know how it inspires you to make the time for your creative work.

Finding the Way Home

I’m having a hard time getting my next weaving off the ground.  Literally, the cartoon for it is lying on my living room floor, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to commit to it, to acknowledge that this is indeed my next piece.  I keep questioning myself: Isn’t it supposed to be something else?  A different design?  Less blue?  The real crux of this issue lies with my previous work, which I absolutely love and feel it is my best tapestry out of the 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5 tapestries I’ve woven.  I basically want to make more weavings exactly like it because then I know they will always be amazing, that is until I – and my viewers – get bored. 

And at the same time, I have lots of ideas I want to turn into tapestries.  I’m a very new weaver, most accomplished artists have been working in this medium for decades.  I know this because I spent the afternoon looking through every artist’s page on the American Tapestry Alliance website.  I was looking for evidence that my latest design is indeed feasible and will turn out beautifully, even better than my current weaving that I am madly in love with!  But no artist on there could prove to me that my idea will be a success, because no one has woven my design before, which is definitely a good thing.  My hesitation is also a testament to some of my other fears as a new weaver; I still don’t understand enough about the medium to predict how a design will turn out as a finished tapestry, and I am also a perfect perfectionist.  Surprisingly, tapestry weaving has been a great medium for me to learn how to let go of the annoying perfectionist tendencies and let the nature of the technique unfold. 

Mostly it’s the fear of starting again and trying to make work that is even better than the one before it that holds me back.  I keep thinking of this recent TEDtalk I watched where Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat, Pray, Love) spoke beautifully on how to overcome the fear of failure.  This one line continues to resonate for me…

“Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself”

She overcame her fear of trying to produce another successful novel by returning home, to her writing, because that was what she loved more than success.  And when her next book bombed, she was fine.  She wrote another book. 

It’s so simple, really.  All I need to do is make my weavings for the sheer joy of creating them.  The past few years I’ve struggled with finding my place in the world, but when I’ve been actively creating I’m no longer participating in all of the internal chaos.  By placing my heart and my hands in my artwork, I don’t question where I’m “supposed” to live anymore.  I can trust in my journey as an artist, which is also the journey of my soul.