It is in those moments when our intuition can get through all the chatter in the monkey mind that we hear our soul entice us with possible stories alchemized from our hardships into prose, give us ideas on how we can breathe new energy into that ...

 

Etch-a-Sketch Mind and more...



Etch-a-Sketch Mind

It is in those moments when our intuition can get through all the chatter in the monkey mind that we hear our soul entice us with possible stories alchemized from our hardships into prose, give us ideas on how we can breathe new energy into that landscape by painting the sky pink, and reinforce our place in the world of creativity.
 
To me, the feeling of words are powerful in shifting me from a stressed state of mind to one that is receptive to my inner world of creative wisdom. Here are some words I use, maybe they'll work for you:
 
1. Breathe in ... and as you breathe out imagine all your tension falling to the earth and melting like a snowflake. (Repeat as often as needed).

 
2. Imagine the chatter that is not serving you in your mind as scribbles on an Etch-a-Sketch

Cy Twombly Etch-A-Sketch Drawing

 
3. If you're practicing mindfulness, you can just be curious about this phenomenon of chatter-scribble, observing it from a compassionate witness consciousness. Our minds chatter, trying to get rid of it completely isn't realistic.  Just observe and return your attention to the melting of the breath into the body.
 
4. Imagine shaking your etch-a-sketch mind gently and allowing those chatter lines to form a beautiful scene that reminds you of the masterpiece that you are:

Image result for etch a sketch blank

 

 
5. Or allow your Etch-a-sketch to go blank then, close your eyes and imagine a benevolent soul writing a message on it that is kind and inspiring. What did you get?  I got: "Make it easier."


Image result for etch a sketch blank


6. Then ask a small question without needing an answer. Here are some I ask:

 
  • How can I make this easier?
  • What's one small way I can do this project differently in line with my originality?
  • How can I make this fun?
  • What do I love about my creative time?
 
Pay attention. You may effortlessly gravitate toward answers.
            
 

Make it Easy: Breathe

Breathe in the art

            
 

Breathe in vitality, Breathe out Art

2019 inside cover

            
 

SELF-KINDNESS - A Realistic Approach

Self talk header2

Being a recovering perfectionist, I am intimately familiar with the inner tyrant. Perfectionism is my creativity’s evil step-sister and robs the joy of who I am and what I do.... if I'm not equipped with a strategy. Those are big crimes in the realm of being a creative seeker. My inner tyrant committee (cuz there are several) likes to regularly remind me of total mess-ups from my past, how I sometimes squander my time away, and what an organization Neanderthal I am (I hope I haven’t offended an Neanderthals).

I figured out how to be free from her looping oppressive ruminations and party-pooping but it’s a little different from much of the self-help gristle you’ve heard, so stay with me here unless you’re enjoying the harassment.   Making a change has to be done in a realistic way or it will stick as well as throwing a basketball at a refrigerator.

I've read the self-help books that tell you to stop being mean to yourself, heard the talks, perused the inspirational quotes ... but nothing really gave me any method I could truly believe in, or that resonated with who I am. Just telling us to stop cold-turkey is wildly unrealistic but that's what they do.

 

Bird peace

I want to share what I figured out for myself because I know most of you are hard on yourselves and when we are hard on ourselves, we are hard on others too. This is my contribution to world peace.  I'm sure this is not an original philosophy, it's a little of this, a little of that, and a pair of new socks.

 

See if this works for you:

1.  Here’s the reality: As humans we often come with this feature: Looking for what’s wrong. It’s a primitive survival function but we still need it when roaming the back-streets of Detroit, eating food that’s made of crap, or sensing someone is not rallying for our best interest. It also helps at the end of a creative project when we need to be appropriately discerning … but the inner tyrant operates over-time, bonking us on the head with disapproval, judgment, and a lot of sarcastic “REALLY?s” It’s related to the Tasmanian devil in terms of creative destructiveness. It’s also fascinating and would make a great character in a movie.

My inner critic

2. Why fight with reality? Using your energy to stop “stinkin’ thinkin,” (oo, what an ugly term), censor your critic, or tell it to fuck off is using energy you could be using to create something else (I’ll get to “something else” in a minute). Plus when you are censoring, fucking off, and alienating - you are doing that to yourself. Your inner critic IS a part of you, SUrPrISE! Review: Self-love is needed for creativity.

 We need all parts of ourselves for creating – the shadows and the light. We can still love ourselves and accept there are some parts of ourselves that we aren't fond of . Accepting that we DON’T love all parts is a lot like compassion. (I’ll explain more about that conundrum in a minute). In new age circles, I think this saying is dumb: “You can’t afford the luxury of a negative thought.” WE THINK NEGATIVE THOUGHTS. WE ARE HUMAN. I believe this phrase, “What you resist, persists.” Resist the inner critic and she persists and brings in her friends, relatives, flying-monkeys, and jet-packs.

3. Something else: Create art, writing, contentment, whimsical gardens, fantastic dinners but first create a realistic, small-step approach to acceptance and compassion. Here’s how it works REALISTICALLY:

When you catch yourself beating yourself up, pause. Say to yourself, “That’s interesting, I’m beating myself up again. Oh well, I’m human we do those things.” DON’T TRY AND STOP IT.. that’s resisting! Sometimes for me that’s enough to neutralize the tyrant.

4. Accept. You don’t need to accept that you’re a self-beater, but you’re with yourself quite often, so experiment with accepting that you do beat yourself up sometimes and you DON’T like that. We perfectionists think things need to be perfect, that we need to LIKE everything we do … we don’t. But when we ACCEPT that what we do isn’t always the way we want it, life is a lot easier. This is a way not to resist, suppress or deny our tyrant, it neutralizes it. We aren’t perfect… YAY. How boring to be perfect.

Airplane

5. Interesting People in Your Club (for sensitive people like me): I used to think I needed to abandon places, groups, and events if there was someone I didn’t like there. I almost left my favorite Toastmasters club because a woman in it doesn’t like me, she will never like me, I’m not that fond of her either. We don’t need to like everyone nor do we need to even try to work things out… takes too much energy we need for the people and activities we love. The club has actually become more interesting now that I stay despite that fact that she makes it clear she doesn’t like me. It’s now full of freedom and rich layers of character.

The club inside my mind has a resident tyrant, I don’t like her either, but she can be there if she wants because now instead of being controlled by her or repressing her, I’m curious, fascinated, and not under her dictatorship. I hear her talk, tell her "Thanks for sharing" and then I engage my Muses (explained in #6). I accept that not all parts of me are likable, some are annoying but interesting, just like my Toastmasters "friend".

Dodad border too

6. The Creative Voice  But there’s another important step. This one is vital. After the awareness of the tyrant, Passion muse
after the acceptance and the inclusion of this part of you, summon up your kind and creative voices. These are the voices I call Muses because they inspire creativity. Say to yourself things like:

  • You may not be perfect but your damn interesting.
  • It’s okay, I’m always here for you.
  • So? Next!
  • Or anything you might say to your best friend or a gifted creative child.

Say these things CONSTANTLY. Write them on notes, put them in pockets, schedule a future e-card, ask yourself: "How will I remember this?". The only way they will stick is through repetition and ...

8. Making it Realistic

What makes this more realistic? Expecting small steps toward these things works better than making a big change when you’ve spent years cultivating your tyrant and this is how you do that: Accept that you are someone who has a tyrant just 5%, just crack the door open to the possibility. No need to be okay with your tyrant just accept that you’re human and have one. Going for a 100% acceptance will just not work and you’ll have a tendency to give up on the practice completely.

 

Ask: What would it feel like to be more accepting of myself? JUST ASK.. no need for an answer in the moment. Your subconscious will start finding an answer, and the more you ask it, the more you just might find that you are just effortless gravitating toward treating yourself better.

7. Buy Yourself A Comfortable Pair of Socks

It’s a symbolic gesture, feels kind, and you deserve them. You're enough just the way you are. Is your inner critic poo pooing that last remark? So? Be enough anyway.

Socks

 

(C) 2018 Jill Badonsky

            
 

So What, Sketch it Anyway

Edinburgh castle sketch-121Ever feel intimidated by other writers, artists, musicians, or dancers to a degree of despair or paralysis? Me too.

I ventured into travel journaling on my trip to Scotland a few weeks ago. I did this despite fears of messing up the pages of my newly acquired Field Artist 6.5 in. x 6.5 in. Square Watercolor Journal, Hardbound with 80 pgs. 200 GSM, Cold Press Paper.

Those fears came partially from looking at other people's travel journals and KNOWING mine wasn't going to look like theirs.   

Well duh. 

  1. Most of those people have been sketching on trips for years. 
  2. Why would I want my art to look like everyone else's?
  3. I teach about how to avoid the toxicity of comparison, but I'm only immune when I realize it's insidious nature has snuck past the guards standing at the entry way to my mind. I caught it JUST IN TIME not to be thwarted. I have tools. Comparison has been neutralized. Stay calm.

AND I DID mess up a few pages. Turns out I was okay with that. Tolerance to imminent blunders was the ticket to moving pass avoiding the whole experience of venturing into the scary waters of trying to render buildings, events, people [yikes!] and me sleeping on the plane right there in the exalted moment, bringing that moment more alive than is possible when snapping a photo - and practicing (because I'm not perfect at it) loving myself despite not flowing in my usual area of adequacy.

 

That's another reason people avoid these life-deepening episodes that could turn them on to an endeavor that makes their life more juicy: They fear inadequacy, but common sense tells us we must go through inadequacy before we find sporadic quality. Only a handful of people have a hall pass for instant talent and those people STILL need to practice. 

  

One of the most popular fears in the creative process is: "I won't be good enough." 

So, here's a thought. Don't be good enough. Use that illustrious imagination you have and give yourself permission to make your first journal part of an installation in a modern art museum.  Call it Floundering Sketcher With Her "Interesting*" Travel Journal

That's what I did and it worked. I even had myself a peanut butter s'more during one of my sessions. Let's put all our first sketchbooks in that exhibit and celebrate that WE DID SKETCHED DESPITE OUR FEARS. (And drew a blind contour Americano which made it fun.) 

If you have permission to show-up no matter what... you WILL get better. It's a mathematical reality.

*my mom used to called my art "interesting" as a way of being nice because she didn't get it. Not everyone is our audience and that's okay too.

Here's one of my favorite replies to fear's claim,
"You're not going to be good enough:

 

"So?"

[In my best snotty adolescent voice, fear hates that]

 

Vincent van Gogh knew:

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,'

then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."

 

  1. I actually liked my sketches more than I thought I would, placing me in that, “I’m-glad-I-did this-cuz-I-almost-chickened-out-and-now-I have-cool-mementos-of-my-trip-that-I-would'nt-have-had-and-I-want-to-do-this-again mode:
  2. Many of them didn't suck.
  3. But I love the ones that suck anyway....because it's good practice for the inevitable ones that will suck in the future and the writing that won't be that good and the ukelele playing - well, that's never very good... among the sporadic masterpieces.

 

 .

 

Sketch Guru and prolific author, Danny Gregory describes how wonderful it is to sketch when you travel:

When you sit and draw something, all of your senses are on. Study Notre Dame for half an hour and you will never forget it,.  Draw the plaza outside St Paul and it will be seared into your brain cells. Not just the sights but the smells, the sounds, the temperature, all of it.  While I draw, I am experienced life in super high definition.”

I will be speaking about:

  1. These and other tools,
  2. Experiences in exalted creativity 
  3. More sketches, blunders, tangents, Bermuda Triangles, castles, and epiphanies at Sketchkon in Pasadena in November.
  4. Join Danny Gregory, Austin Kleon, Jane LaFazio and a whole slue of other amazing artists and inspirational souls.

 What about you? How do you show up when you're intimidated?

  

Edinburgh, Jazz Bar August 30