Monday Motivation

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” Brene Brown

It has a bad rap. We see being vulnerable as being weak. Letting our guard down means we can be susceptible to the slings and arrows from others. We can be “taken down.” We are tacitly encouraged through life to keep vigilant watch over the armour we wear in public; never let ’em see ya sweat, or cry, fall or fumble. Never let them see you be afraid, silly, or frivolous; never let them see you be human. We all have the desire to avoid being seen in our vulnerable states, and we do our best to keep up appearances by angling a flattering light on our qualities and strengths just so. Because what if, horror of horrors, while in a vulnerable state we have just met someone whom we probably will not see again? We won’t have the chance to show them our more solid, intelligent, confident, brilliant sides. We say to ourselves, oh off they go, thinking I’m this wing nut, or this sad, or frivolous, or untalented person. They will have an untrue image of who we think, who we know, we are, which now only muddies the vulnerability waters with the, What Will Others Think neurosis, followed close behind by its bothersome cousin the People Pleaser. The whole business is exhausting!

A large part of my creative recovery is trying to be conscious of my vulnerable states, and to allow them room. The songwriting I’ve been doing is the most vulnerable for me so far because it was a whole new thing for me to “put out there,” and because lyric writing feels very intimate and personal. And I already know I feel vulnerable about painting because in my head I’ve seemed to have created a critic who is waiting to pounce on the first brushstroke with, what the hell is that? I am still avoiding starting a painting. The easel sits at the ready with canvases stacked beside it. What will I say with paint? It’s been so long since I’ve painted anything, what if the work I produce is shallow, boring and trite? Am I shallow, boring and trite?!

Just writing that makes me cringe and say, Oh Pa-LEEEse, spare the dramatics, and get over yourself.

Yet I know down to my deepest self that to expose our soft underbellies, worts, beauty marks, and all, is to break through self imposed static and limitations and allow real growth to happen. I know this. Practicing it is the tricky part. Getting comfortable with vulnerability and allowing others to see it is masterclass league. Baby steps y’all.

Cheers~

Monday Motivation

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” Martha Graham

Ok. No pressure there.

I love this quote because it dispels the acquiescence we (I) can slide into. This quote tells me I have an obligation to fulfill my creativity, to whatever the outcome. There is some gravitas to this quote.

There is debate on “uniqueness” and “individuality” that argues these lofty attributes are false, they don’t exist but in our minds; we are told we are all the same, and to believe what we have to express is unique from any other is delusional thinking. You’ve heard the saying; Be unique, like everyone else. Yet when I consider a flower for instance, I can say to you, reader, I’m holding a flower, you would perhaps have a certain image of a flower in your mind you have seen somewhere, a favourite flower perhaps; a flower is a flower after all, you think. Then if I show you the flower, you will discover it most likely isn’t the one you imagined, because there are billions of diverse expressions of “flower.” And without that diversity the gardens would be a dreary place to dwell indeed.

Be a flower.

Monday Motivation

Sometimes the best thing we can do to tap our creativity is to leave. Go out, do something different, see something different. We may think we are being “unproductive” but our subconscious will be at work pulling in millions of bits of information, feelings, nuances that can bring a ton of inspiration; from a sound, a sight, even a smell can trigger some deep seated memory or emotion. Inspiration can come from the way light enters a room or spills across a street and onto a building. As a creative it’s too easy to dwell continually in ones own head. And yes, it’s what creatives need to do. That quiet concentration and focus requires shutting out the external distractions for a time. Then, we have to recognize when it’s time to leave our head or to look at it another way, open up the windows and let the fresh air in, let the view in. It doesn’t have to be much, or an expensive outing. Pack a lunch and be Huck Finn for spell.

That’s what I’m doing today. I’m heading up island with my sister and plan to hit the thrift, and antique stores. A good ol’ Rummage is what’s on the menu today, and maybe a walk on the beach.

Cheers~

Monday Motivation

A friend shared this TED talk on her face book page and I’m glad she did. Charlie Mackesy is an artist, a cartoonist, an author of the children’s book; The boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. In this talk he shares his experience of bringing together a group of elderly people and freeing them up through drawing. His story is quite profound and inspired. Be Messy !

Monday motivation

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali

These words bring me some comfort. Of course we all want to do things as well as we can, become “proficient” at our craft, take pride in a task well done, a skill mastered. And we do want it to be perfect. When it isn’t, many of us chastise ourselves feeling we’ve missed the mark (hello). I hold myself accountable to that, and with following through with a project, and I feel a little anxiousness build when I begin to slip. A fear of not perfectly accomplishing what I set out for myself; if I let that slip then all may be lost. (which, I am aware, is a ridiculous thought- but there it is). I also understand that to let this anxiousness dominate is counter-productive to creative thought and practice, nothing will come of it but tension. But, I can get caught up in a vicious cycle when this dynamic happens.

I am noticing more often now what my mind set is when I enter into a creative head space; funny I never paid attention to this before. But I do believe that over the last several months, maybe the last year, and with the help of committing to this blog, I’ve been conditioning myself to build and recognize the climate that allows creativity to expand and to overtake the mundane, and I have become aware of how this “feels.” I have been able to keep more ideas for art/creative work as the frontrunner in my thoughts and daily structure. Interestingly, I am becoming familiar with how I prepare myself internally, how I encapsulate my attention and focus. And I’m familiar with how satisfying it is to blur my surroundings and sharpen my vision to only the creative work at hand. This is a space I love to be in. A space I had forgotten I once inhabited a long time ago when an art student. I can honestly forget everything (and everyone) else and submerge into that space. An alienating prospect for an artist’s non artist spouse! (fortunately, he understands and supports)

Life has had, and continues to have, its myriad of distractions, pleasant and otherwise, that will always vie for attention. My aim now is for balance while keeping my inner eye trained on a soft but protective boundary that encircles my creative space. I can find a modicum of perfection in that arrangement. As for the work coming out of that arrangement, I will look for the perfection in its imperfection.

A bit of a ramble.

Cheers~

Monday Motivation

For this Monday’s motivation I am sharing a bit of what I had written in my Morning Pages the other day. But first I need to clarify, in case you haven’t read the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He writes about The Resistance. It doesn’t relate to any political agenda, not waging a war and overthrowing the powers that be. But it does relate to a war of sorts. The Resistance is the critic, the chattering monkey in your ear that says; just stop doing what you think you can do, because you know and I know you can’t do it. Why are you wasting your time? “Resistance is the war within.”

We’ve all had this inner dialogue at some point, if not all the time, anytime we take up a new venture or work away at an ongoing project and self doubt rears its poopy head. The chattering monkey, the self doubt, the self defeating inner critic IS the Resistance.

In my M.P I wrote:

I’m fighting against Resistance right now. I’m fighting against the challenges and expectations I’ve set for myself. I’m fighting to believe I have anything worth saying. One part of me says why set challenges or goals? The other part of me frets over each hour of the day when I’m not meeting the challenges and goals I’ve set; not doing the work. I can be near frantic if I let time slip or lapse one day- then two, that it will be too late to regain ground. I worry I will lose all momentum. I have a raging conflict of interest within. A part of me appears to have an interest to give up with the self imposed expectations, hang out, I’m sixty-three, it’s done. Any work I do or input I have from this point on has no merit, so chill. The other part of me says the exact opposite.

The other part of me ( the stronger part) has an interest in the exact opposite.

This is classic Resistance at work. My inner dialogue was sliding under Resistance rule, I was almost believing those words to “give it up”. It was only as I was writing it out in my Pages that I saw it for what it was. In fact as I was in the act of writing it out, I recognized immediately the seductive, slithery, slippery voice of Resistance.

How could I tell? Looking at what I wrote I knew I didn’t believe the words “give it up”. I think I saw those words as what others would expect of a sixty-three year old woman. The status quo who says, why put yourself in situations of having to meet “unnecessary,” self-imposed expectations, why challenge yourself when you don’t have to? What do you really hope to gain at this point? Because I recognized where that voice was coming from I had an opportunity to rally my better self and shake off the self defeating babble.

Setting personal challenges is the prodding, pointy end of the stick I use to ignite, motivate, to see what I can do. What I want to do. Because it can be too easy to succumb to acquiescence and let self discovery, and growth atrophy; and to allow that to happen is a kind of long, slow death with missed opportunities to blossom. And there is no excuse or reason under the sun to deny ourselves that privilege.

Cheers ~

Monday motivation

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding make even more art.”

Andy Worhol

Shut out the chatter and carry on!

P.S. The feature photo is the art of my three year old granddaughter who love to draw all the time 🙂

Motivation Monday

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” Pablo Picasso

Easier said than done! As we grow up we become layered over time with so many “should’s” and “better not’s” and “what will people say” that we shrink into a homogenous, bland, colourless expression of our child selves for the sake of “fitting in” to the stats quo.

I’m going to keep looking for ways to allow some of my actions/ activities to fall under the definitions of Just because and Why not.

Monday motivation

“Creativity is something you practice. You can’t be creative if you’re constantly censuring yourself. Don’t get ready, get started!”

Book, Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and rewards) of Art Making, by David Bayles &Ted Orland

Found this quote I had scribbled, who knows when, on a yellow legal pad while flipping to find fresh paper. Now I’m reminded, I need to get this book!

Monday motivation

“What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.” Eugene Delacroix

The saying; There is nothing new under the sun, is a truth, but our added perspectives are valuable and worthy to further understanding and insights and explorations of a theme or idea. In that, we “re-discover” something new.

Monday Motivation

“It’s nice to be able to put yourself in an environment where you can completely accept all the unconscious stuff that comes to you from the inner workings of your mind. Block yourself off to where you can control it all, take it down, that’s where true creativity comes from.” Bob Dylan

Monday Motivation

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Suess

This doctor gives great advice! Why do some of us ( Um, me ) have a tendency to shrink ourselves for the sake of being concerned what others will think ? I love it when I meet people that have moved on from the opinions of “others,” they are a breath of fresh air and an inspiration to be around.

Monday Motivation

“What do I want to express? The subject means little. The arrangement, the design, colour, shape, depth, light, space, mood, movement, balance, not one or all of these fits the bill. There is something additional, a breath that draws you into its breathing, a heartbeat that pounds on yours, a recognition of the oneness of all things.” – Emily Carr

It’s the unknowable knowing, that “something” that speaks to us with a volition of its own and completes the dialogue between muse and recipient. Emily’s words capture this eloquently.

Monday Motivation

“To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Just do it.” Kurt Vonnegut

The work is important in that it isn’t “Important.” It’s all in the doing. Watch a toddler with paper and paint. She creates like it’s the most natural thing to do, and isn’t it? It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is and of course it doesn’t matter how it “Looks.” A toddler doesn’t care, she is absorbed in the moment, and as adults looking on we don’t care either. It’s beautiful, whatever it is they’ve made, it’s genius. Let’s be that!

Monday Motivation

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.”

– Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’keeffe is one of my favourite artists. And I also admire her character, she was so much her own person. And I love this quote for its forthright grounding in reality. Drop the pretence, the striving, and contortions to grab the proverbial gold ring, it’s only a mirage. Simply make your unknown known. Then take a long solitary walk in the foot hills of Taos. (ah, if only)

Monday Motivation

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Pablo Picasso

So much depends on just showing up to the canvas, the page, the wheel. Picking up the instrument. Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art has a great quote by the playwright Somerset Maugham that nails it.

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

Even if it means sitting and staring at the canvas, the page, etc, for an hour and a half, you show up. This is such an important key to tapping into the creative process, not to wait for inspiration or the right “mood,” but to show up, ready and open. Even it’s to stare into space for an hour, I’m here and ready. And If I become tired of staring then I start, make some move, to engage, and even if it’s crap, something may very well come out of it. If not, that’s ok, tomorrow I’ll be back at the “desk”. Same time same place.

Monday Motivation

“To be a creator is to invite others to load their slingshots with rocks of disparagement and try to shoot you down,”

Grant Faulkner from his article, Overcoming Creative Wounds

Everyone’s got an opinion. We are hard wired for critical thinking, judging, assessing. It’s part of our survival mechanism, part of our Fight or Flight response. Reactions and judgements to something new or different that saved our skin, prehistoric and modern. Will this hurt me? Can I use/eat this? What the hell is that!? But in some cases it’s just jealously. Some don’t want to see you do something innovative or unique- because they didn’t think of it first!

Of course the antidote is to push through, deflecting the slings and arrows and to carry on. Easier said than done though ~

Monday Motivation

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”

-Ray Bradbury

I think this is one of my favourite quotes, and what I struggle with constantly. Being self- conscious, over-thinking, when I really want abandon. Abandon at the canvas, abandon at the page, abandon in singing. I recognize when I’m hesitating, when self consciousness tightens its strangle hold. And I recognize the antidote: To act! No matter the outcome! Have the courage to suck, and suck some more! Dare to be lousy!

But then I get self conscious. Sigh.

Monday Motivation

“Great things are not done by impulse, but a series of small things brought together.” Vincent Van Gogh

Those lightening bolts of inspiration, the creative energy that can burst out like a broken water main to land on a page, or a canvas, or an instrument has had its long formation from a series of tiny elements of thoughts, and experience and observations collected; steeped and layered over a time.

Monday Motivation

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”

This Monday prompt is a quote from Erich Fromm, a social psychologist, a psychoanalyst and philosopher.

Why do I feel apprehensive when faced with a blank page in a sketchbook, or a blank canvas, but have no such apprehension when facing a blank page waiting to be written on?

Not letting go and to allow myself to make a mark on a fresh surface feels different than writing. I can write with abandon, but the other I hesitate. Do I worry that I’ll waste material? There’s an issue right there- the word worry. Not conducive to creative endeavours.

In writing on a laptop I can delete and begin again without concern about the paper I’d be going through. But paint, canvas, brushes and good drawing paper is expensive. Can I be exploratory and playful with the medium; can I justify the cost when I can’t be certain anything will come of the work? So I become tentative.