Thursday, May 30, 2013

Anger Management

Sometimes I can't stand myself.
It usually happens after I have had one too many demands asked of me.  I am a perfectionist so I expect to be able to do all  things well and to do a lot of those things.  Then when something comes up or someone close to me says something to me that feels too critical or too demanding, the claws and fangs come out.
Those emotions feel so dangerous.  They are wild and powerful, like lions or tornadoes.  And the scariest part is that sometimes I want to feel those feelings, hold them close and nurture them, grow them, feed them.  That anger can feel so good even when it is scary.  I nurse it like a baby.  Only it’s a demon baby.  And if I let it, it will grow larger and larger and will become a beast that will lash out and destroy.
I don’t want that to happen.
I have been reading through Julia Camerons’ classic self help book, The Artist’s Way.  Ms. Cameron encourages self exploration and facing those demons that hinder our creativity and expressions of beauty.  I love the exercise she requires the participant to do throughout the book which she calls “Morning Pages”.  They are simply stream of conscious writing and she is not the first to use them, but I am finding the activity to be something like prayer.  And I am finding the things I have been nurturing but trying to hide are not worth holding on to.  In fact I am discovering for myself what artists though the centuries have already known; art and creativity can help us deal with our demons. 
I drew this monster a few weeks ago after getting really frustrated and angry. I sat in front of the computer, scribbling up and down a notebook page. The marks looked like rows of jagged teeth. I knew those teeth needed a mouth.  Then this little beasty was born.  And when I finished I felt like I had been emptied.  The monster which had been inside of me was now silently screaming up at me from the safety of the page.  She was captured and I could even laugh at her.  What an amazing thing to be able to laugh at what I had feared. 
God gives us paths to healing.  Prayer is an amazing way and art is a kind of prayer, I believe, because it calls for honesty and connection to who we are underneath all of the masks we wear.  No one can go to God and keep the masks on for long.  So in art of all kinds, the masks are removed and healing can come in.
Thanks for stopping to read about how anger got out of me one night and ended up looking silly on a piece of paper.  Have you experienced the healing of art in your own life? If so , I’d love to know about it. Please leave a comment! And share this article.  You never know who might need to hear an encouraging word about the significance of their art and its healing power… even in doodles!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Art as Meditation

I drew this little ball in a moment of need.  I was needing some peace.  And as I drew out the shape and then applied the hatching in indigo blue, I began to feel the stress I was feeling leave my body, melting onto the page.  The quietness of the shape with its smooth roundness and the calmness of the color, helped me to shift my focus away from the issues which had been pestering me to the process of taking what I saw and translating it to the blank paper.

It is easy to forget the healing power of creativity.  Music uplifts us, colors change our moods, making something with our hands gives our minds rest.  It is a crime against ourselves to think that art is frivolous when it offers peace to us.

Thank you for stopping to check out this post.  I hope you are inspired to let creativity sweep your heart clean and offer you a place to rest in this hectic world.  Please leave a comment and share how you use creativity to decompress.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

In the School of Motherhood

A sketch of my sister and her little son
Before I became a mother, I was a wimp.  It's true! I only had myself to look after and I resented anyone wanting me to look after anyone else.  And I was so scared! The thought of being responsible for the survival of another human being was terrifying.  I felt like I was doing good to care for myself.  Unfortunately, I failed to see that I was actually very good at looking after myself and I preferred to focus on me.  And without that challenge, I was happy being selfish and average.

I had made it through college, but had done it kind of half assed (sorry, Mom and Dad) and had considered doing an MFA but was too big a coward to want to work that hard or be under that kind of scrutiny  So, I didn't do it.  I wanted to "hurry up and get my life started!" I said those words a lot that last semester.  I honestly believed getting married was going to fulfill me completely (sorry, Hubby).  Can I hear all the married ladies laugh out loud at that? Yep, I hear ya! Naive, I know.  Poor guy.  Bet he had no idea he really did have to be Prince Charming 

So my art became a relic left under a dusty sheet at the back of a closet on the backside of my brain.  But that was sort of okay.  I didn't have to work at it that way. I could just complain that this life that I was in such a hurry to get started was now in the way of doing what I had dreamed of doing all of my life.  Wow, the irony is thick on that one.

Back to becoming a mother.  Okay, I avoided that as long as I could but finally had to do something about it, which was to basically cooperate with God because, it took 3 years for it to happen.  Don't know why, it just did.  No mystical revelations in that.  It gets a shoulder shrug, because I know women who have suffered with infertility and who yearn for motherhood.  All I can do is say, I'm sorry.  Pregnancy is still a mysterious thing and bringing a baby into the world even more so.

I am really getting off track here! Motherhood is such a massive subject.  No wonder other people devote entire blogs to that subject alone!

I am now almost 10 years into motherhood, because in July it will be 10 years since I knew I was pregnant with my first child.  And in these 10 years I have risen to the occasion of raising 2 amazing children like so many women before me have done. I have stayed up night after night with fussy babies and survived that loss of sleep which I had previously thought I could not live without.  I have learned some really humbling things about myself, like I can get mad at the drop of a hat and want to injure someone because of it.  I have learned that little kids are crazy smart and I can be just plain crazy.  And I have seen the raw creativity children are capable of.  My kids have been such an inspiration to me and my artwork.

Above it all, I am able to see now that I can rise to the occasion of creating art and then put it out there to be seen and even judged and know I will survive it.  Motherhood is the most difficult thing I have ever done or ever will do. Being an active artist who puts her work out into the world is going to be an easier task.

I am so thankful for my children, this mother's day.  Without them, I'd not be a mother, so it is their day as much as mine.  And it is a day for their dad too, for obvious reasons! But with the insight of time and age, I can see that God has worked all of this out.  Maybe not so I can be an artist, that is probably not so important in the grand scheme of things, but so I will see he has planned things out and it's not me.  I am acutely aware of some of my weaknesses and I know it is by his design if I overcome a weakness or two, or if I learn to trust him more.  Motherhood has made me stronger, weaker, angrier, more honest, more creative and more daring and more joyful than I had ever been before.  If I succeed at anything else, it will because I became a mom.

Thanks so much for reading my thoughts on motherhood.  This is dedicated to all mothers, past, present and future  who have known or will know the transforming power of that title.  It is also for every woman who yearns for that title for she is already a mother in her heart, even if she's not born a baby.  And that also transforms.  Blessings to every mother who has overcome and become stronger and more who she is meant to be because of that divinely ordained maternal calling.

I would love to know what your thoughts are concerning motherhood.  Leave a comment and share! Thanks for stopping by to have a read.  Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 3, 2013

How to Achieve Success in Creativity

The tortoise won the race, not because of speed, but because he kept working.  He didn't take a rest.  The finish line was where his rest was waiting for him.  He succeeded because he followed one tiny step with another inspite of the obstacles and the opponent's skills.  This is how you achieve success in creativity too, but it has taken me years to learn that lesson.

How many times have I gotten frustrated with something because I couldn't get it done as quickly as I anticipated and walked away from it?  I could point to small things like the stenciling I started in my kitchen 10 years ago and never went back to because I realized it was taking to much time and boring me to tears.  I could then think of other things like the lack of determination to do something with my art talents. I chose to not pursue my art because it seemed too hard to make the pieces and then to find a place to show them, because, what if in the end, no one was interested?

I have always been in a hurry.  Gotta get it done now or it will never get done, right?  If I knew the job would require a long drawn out wait, I would probably abandon it.  I wonder with dismay how many successes I have passed up on because I gave up before I even started.

But for some reason, I still want to write and create visual art.  Why have I kept that dream in my heart like a little nugget, hidden but quietly burning under all of the clutter?  Then every once in a while, I would find it again.  I would take it out, brush it off and dream.  Then I would start a project and before long, the urgency of life and my own lack of will power would cause me to toss the dream away, back into the dark places of my psyche.

But millions of other people have the will. Fortunately for me, I get to be around some of them.  They have taken their dreams and walked out the journey to make them reality.  They take the baby steps and one step at a time, come to the destination of seeing their dream happening.

I follow Graham Bradshaw on Face book.  He is a graphite pencil artist, capable of making the most amazing photo realistic art.  I enjoy how he posts progress photos so we can see his journey.  He has mentioned that he is a part time artist, working full time at a job that is not so creative but pays well and he is so gracious to say how thankful he is for that job which supports his family.  But his art has to wait for those stolen moments when the kids are finally in bed or a weekend gives him a stretch of time.  And he seems to be okay with waiting.  Art is food for his soul, not food on the table but it is just as nourishing and he is willing to do what it takes to make that art.

Another friend I have is a dog groomer.  She does it out of her home and it is a source of pride and satisfaction for her, not just income.  She took her inner frustrations and focused them into a business.  She is a craftswoman who sees people pleased with her work and those people are a source of enjoyment for her.  She says it took her a few years to get really good at her craft, she didn't have much support from those close to her and she wasn't even sure at first if she would ever get any customers, but eventually they came and she now has a business that is just right for her.  And she has is because she was willing to do the work, and wait.

My friend has told me she wishes she had started her career sooner.  She had to overcome personal issues, but she finally took that step and she has not looked back.  Though her craft and mine are not the same, the determination needed to make either of them happen is.

I so appreciate the examples of determined people I have around me.  They are mentors to me, showing me the value of waiting and being patient while I continue to work to excel at my craft.  I learn from their example and gather strength from their experience.

I hope you will be encouraged to wait patiently as you do the work of your art, whatever form it may take.  If this post has helped, I'd love to know. Please leave a comment.  And if you have a story from your own life or from the life of someone you know, please share it here. Thanks for stopping by!