So What, Sketch it Anyway
Ever 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.
- Most of those people have been sketching on trips for years.
- Why would I want my art to look like everyone else's?
- 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:
[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."
- 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:
- Many of them didn't suck.
- 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:
- These and other tools,
- Experiences in exalted creativity
- More sketches, blunders, tangents, Bermuda Triangles, castles, and epiphanies at Sketchkon in Pasadena in November.
- 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
Rumi will Gently Lead You to Your Creative Passion
When I was a miniature muse, I was a wild child -- rarely disciplined by my parents to be or do anything in a certain way. Perhaps, they were afraid of me because my real mom was Ruler of the Amazons and dad was Zeus… Oh wait, that’s not me, that’s some wondrous bracelet-wearing woman. But I was an imaginative and willful imp who liked to do things my way, which is not rare in the land of creative kids. Maybe you were a wild child too and that’s why we get along so well.
My parents kinda gave up.
The good news is because of the no-discipline-thing no-supervision thing, wolves raised me. Dang, that wasn’t me either, that kid hung-out with a bear. I wish! Back to the good news: I didn’t experience the limitations that came from parental discipline.
In fact, I had to figure out myself how life worked which, although a little lonely, made me ruggedly independent, boldly confident, and comfortable with owning many of my imperfections – which is a form of freedom I’m grateful for and encourage you to try if you’re trying to defend being perfect. It came from experiencing frequent errors involved in the trial and error of trying to figure out how to maneuver through life; either you learn acceptance or live under a bed (dust bunnies don't like that).
The bad news is, with no opportunity to develop internalized discipline, the shoulds, have-tos, or directives from myself to show-up were (and still are), met with rebelliousness because as a wild creative child I had the words, YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO, stamped on my forehead. That means I was the one I was rebelling against most of the time, I was my own worse enemy and it was a struggle to get to my creative passions. It’s not anymore because I don’t tell myself what to do anymore.
Despite lack of discipline, I did stuff I’m really proud of like designing three trainings, writing and illustrating four books; having a body of art work; writing and performing a full length one woman show; writing creative speeches; helping a myriad of people use an original approach to creativity coaching, and playing two and half songs on the ukulele.
It’s not about being perfect, because some days I rebel against having to do anything, and I know that’s okay because acceptance is freedom
Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.
I let myself be silently drawn to the things I love. Rumi, of course, is right. Being drawn to what I love IS a stronger, more enticing and therefore more effective than pressuring myself do things. Instead of discipline and following the often rigid directions that many claim to be the only way to succeed, I find that focusing on what I love about what I do makes showing up effortless. What we focus on becomes our world.
Focus on your procrastination, resistance, and inability to show-up, focus on what others are doing and you’re NOT doing, focus on not feeling good enough, that becomes your world too. And if that’s been your usual focus, it’s going to take a little ruthless practice to shift. Love is often the answer, and it is in this circumstance too. “Only love can truly save the world.” ~ Wonder Woman said that and here’s how I want to translate that for you – love will save your creativity. Practice loving your creative call, before, during and after answering it. Make love toward what you do as much of a skill as the sport of writing, art, and living.
- What do you love about your creative passion? Ask that, close your eyes, and see how many things you can conjure up.
- How can you show up for yourself with love?
- How does your creative call love you? (suspend logic all you literal thinkers).
Ask those questions without needing an immediate answer and watch what happens.
When we show-up with love not only is the process sweeter, we are likely stay longer and perseverance is in the top three qualities of successful (and content) creative people.
Parallel Universe Time Mondays! FREE
An hour every Monday at 8 am pacific/11am eastern to get to your creative work or anything you've been putting off. This is a sacred, grounding time where we hold the space for each other to focus. It's been happening for nine years now. No charge. All are welcome Save this link and show-up whenever you like:
Join from your computer or tablet: https://zoom.us/j/632116972 (cameras are off)
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +16465588656,,632116972# or +16699006833,,632116972#
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 646 558 8656 or +1 669 900 6833
Meeting ID: 632 116 972
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/cQ40oRm5e
Peace of Mindfulness and Car Alarms
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” ― Gautama Buddha
“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”
“But a true and accurate measurement of one’s self-worth is how people feel about the negative aspects of themselves.”
― Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Hi Creative Friends,
Yesterday, blissfully positioned in pigeon pose, (my favorite yoga asana), a car alarm went off in my neighborhood.
It kept going ON AND ON so I decided to try the practice of Tonglen. Here’s an explanation from the great reference guru, Wikipedia:
Tonglen is Tibetan for 'giving and taking' (or sending and receiving), and refers to a meditation ... In the practice, one visualizes taking in the suffering of oneself and of others on the in-breath, and on the out-breath giving recognition, compassion, and succor to all sentient beings.
So I breathed in the car alarm: the annoyance, intrusion, and the suffering of sound pollution, and breathed out peace and serenity to all living things.
And you know what?
It didn’t work a bit. Not tong bit.
So I went into a practice I’ve adopted and modified according to my own quirky needs: Mindfulness with a Creative Twist. Basically, there are times we can’t reframe, find the silver lining, or accept things with grace in their annoying, troubling form. It’s unrealistic and uses up a lot of energy we could be using for our creativity, plus, thinking we can overcome certain annoyances in life often creates indigestion and gas unless you’re an enlightened one, which you very well may be. I’m not. Do you have indigestion and gas? Read on.
If I've done all that I can to make a change toward the annoyance, the pain, regret, ineptness, or gas then I gracefully accept that I don’t like disturbing noises and that's okay. Life is always pleasing and as a recovering perfectionist I sometimes still think it should be until I remember I can’t fix everything to rainbows and unicorns, it’s unavailable as an option in this life. That’s where my mindfulness frees me, it's kind of a Buddhist thing.
Here’s how it looks:
I have high sensitivity to noise (and a whole host of other things as many of you creative people do too). I’m unable to realistically tune-out or accept the noise of car alarms, dogs barking, inconsiderate people talking loudly on cell phone, and leaf blowers. When I accept that they annoy me, I have more peace. It's the salve of common sense.
At first my mind can’t even wrap around this idea because I had the habit of going into radical annoyance, chronic crankiness, and “why is the world so unfair?” As I practiced accepting that I don’t have to like these things it began to neutralize the experience. Now after a few years of practice, I actually smile because it feels like a triumph to have found a solution. (Notice it doesn't work overnight, like anything creative it takes perseverance and practice ... and it doesn't have to be perfect).
I also apply it to things that break like favorite ceramics, illusions, and my heart; people who don’t like me, when I'm wrong, losing constantly at Words with Friends to Linda Mushka, the way the world can be so cruel, and any other problem that tries to steal my joy. I share it here in case it might work for you too. We need our energy for our creative passions.
Creativity Out There in the Cyberland:
Draw something soothing:
Tap your keyboard and make music
Seeing Eyed Dogs for Love Blindness
Dog caught in the wake of a wish on a dandelion
Hi Creative Friends,
"I believe when you stand in the middle of the driveway and wish upon a star for a handsome prince, you get bit by a mosquito and your mom tells you to come in and get a sweater." ~Me at 10 years old
I just recently had my heart broken. All the red flags were there, but ... you know ... love being blind and all. I needed two Seeing Eye Dogs for Love Blindness like the ones below. (They are blind memory drawings because I love how it looks when I draw without looking, it frees me from having to be perfect like I was expected to be in that relationship).
I need to look closer before I give my heart but when I take a risk and it doesn't work out, it's fodder for my first love - creativity. Out of the broken heart emerged these seeing eye dogs for blind love ^, (I drew big noses on them so they could sniff out the imposters including myself), this funny speech, a blues song I quite fancy (lyrics available upon request), and a renaissance of creativity as I returned to my own authenticity -- which, despite my tenure as a self-help author, I compromised.
And yet I am still a hopeless romantic, I still believe in princes, I'm still nine years old in my heart. I never want to lose the innocence and imagination that goes into wishing but at this age I know that if those wishes don't come true, or if the idea doesn't translate, if the result of sharing my work does live up to my wish, if I don't get the writing residency in Taos... I'll be okay. I'll wake up and create again. I'll love again. I'll laugh.
I'll write and even dance.
In the creative process we create more than the writing and the art. We create ourselves as more powerful beings. I've built my tolerance muscle in the creative process for Things Not Turning Out As I Wish - and that muscle now applies to life and saves me from sinking in a quick sand of despair. I don't pretend to be happy when things don't work out, but I can accept that I don't have to always like it when that happens, life is full of loss and pain. And grace and joy.
I shall go to Scotland in August and visit the castles ....
“Love is a circular emotion that surrounds you, like a hug. Or a noose.” ― Jarod Kintz
“My love is meatloaf flavored. I just wish my meatloaf was also meatloaf flavored.” ― Dora J. Arod
“I run like I have cirrus clouds for legs and rainbow knees. What is life, if not a marathon of love?
” ― Jarod Kintz
It's Monday: Thought You Could Use a Hummingbird
When you are convinced that all the exits are blocked,
either you take to believing in miracles or you stand still like the hummingbird.
The miracle is that the honey is always there, right under your nose,
only you were too busy searching elsewhere to realize it.
The worst is not death but being blind,
blind to the fact that everything about life
is in the nature of the miraculous.
~Henry Miller, Miraculous kind of an enlightened writer guy
Concerning that quote up there^ by Henry Miller? If you want it right under your nose, it's in the front of my book, The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard).
I found it important enough to put there because reading it shifts my entire existence ... sort of like a miracle does ... kind of like imagination can ... certainly how inspired thinking will when I remember to apply it to my life.
When I forget about the creative powers we have, I am convinced the exits are blocked:
The exits from heartache, the endless inner-loop of the blathering high-pressured commands, or irritable anxiety about the current destabilization of our country. The exits from growing old, from all the mistakes I made, from the constant inner taunting of "I'm not enough" are blocked... But they're not.
There's a door that opens the same time our mind does. EXACTLY. Time it.
When I pay attention to all I have and all I am right now, I can to choose to do what I love, instead of feeling forced to do anything in any way... period. I can defy the trance of never feeling enough and experience the bliss of enough.
When I pay attention to the flight of the hummingbird, the purr of the new kitten, the way the soundtrack in a movie transports me to a mood, the way a mood moves me to a poem, the way a poem heals my pain, and the way caramelized onions taste so much better than the grilled ones, I am in concert with the little miracles of being alive which is much better than staring at the graffiti on the doors I've perceived closed.
The creative mind gifts us with defining miracles however our we choose and in doing so, being in constant wonder instead of chronic crankiness. Creativity is a miraculous antidote to the craziness in the world.
And all it takes is a question: What's one small step I can take next in my passion and can I do it without putting a lot of pressure on myself because it's the pressure that leads to resistance)? Okay, that was two questions and some parentheses.
Or have a five minute tryst with your creativity's passion - see where it leads.
Albert Einstein said, "There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle."
What would it feel like to believe just 5% more in the miracle?
Some interesting links:
The Miracle of Paying Attention
The Magic of Perseverance Elephant-style
Workshops and Trainings