Sometimes it can seem like the only thing bright in your life is the paint that you rarely get on your hands. Sometimes you surprise yourself because you thought you were pretty good at finding beauty, but not even the art journal pages are coming out pretty. Sometimes every single thing going on feels ugly and hard, and even your own feelings arrive as barbs you’re a little bit ashamed of. Sometimes you feel ugly and broken.
Those are the times to show up.
When you feel like hiding most, those are the times to speak up and tell who you really are. The world doesn’t need more “strong” superheros. The world needs more of us to recognize the superhero we already are, without the cape, without the mask, before the perfect timing or the dream come true or getting the girl and finding the fans. We need more heros who know who they are deep in their gut without looking for flashy affirmation.
The world needs more of us to recognize our own superpowers even when those around us tell us we’re only sidekicks.
The superhero shit we create on an everyday basis, neck deep in the trenches of real, regular, everyday life, is the most impressive power of all.
Recognize the power and bravery in showing up when everything is hard or mundane or exhausting. Recognize the heroism in not leaving real and substantial behind when neat and flashy come along.
We don’t need more “impressive”; we’re impressed enough. We don’t need amazing; we need real. We need reliable. We need someone to have our back. We need to be seen in the dark. We need to be kept when we aren’t the one in the cape, with the cool belt and the secret handshake.
This world needs people who own up to everything they’re capable of; who carry the bags they have to carry and set down the ones they don’t; who stay in the long race without faltering.
It’s not really a secret… generally, when I go underground and stop posting it’s because I am buried or overwhelmed (or, just maybe, a little depressed).
Lately, I’ve been all three.
My much-anticipated Goal Drive didn’t happen. I was hit by a big storm and an even bigger flu. That flu/head cold thing made it’s way through all my littles and then had its way with me and left me beat. By the time I dragged myself out of bed again I was depressed, behind, unproductive and sad. I stopped moving.
I sort of pride myself on having a high productivity rate. Oh, it’s not always measurable; in fact, it’s often not. Alongside a few finished articles and paintings, it’s more often about innumerable storybooks read, questions answered, and laundry folded – but between it all I have myself fairly well committed, and here in inkstitch-land things run pretty close to the wire… so it doesn’t take much of a slip-up for things to sort of, well, fall apart.
And then, sometimes, I fall apart, too.
This is a truth we’re all familiar with: It takes energy to gain momentum. It takes some serious oomph. Once you’ve got it, momentum is a generous and wonderful being; it can take you all kinds of places. It’s an easy, benevolent force that brings life to the party and water to the well. It’s a friend to laugh with… but sometimes it deserts you. Sometimes it drops you right on your ass just when you need it the most and leaves you dirty and cold and sitting in some dark place covered in snot and tears wondering how you’ll ever get moving again.
Which, I’m sorry to admit, is exactly where I’ve been. Weeks of big-project-burnout-then-holidays-then-illness robbed me of my momentum and left me bereft. I got feeling so barren and behind that I couldn’t possibly fit “Create” onto my To-Do list, let alone shop listings or tidying the studio. The longer it went, the more impossible it seemed, but I hadn’t the energy to do a thing about it.
These are the times it’s important to call up this equal but even more important truth that perhaps you didn’t know:Sometimes it takes momentum to gain energy.
Sometimes when your energy has left you, all you have to do is move, just a little, to bring it back.
You don’t have to do the whole dance; you don’t have to know the ending or perform the whole show. All it takes is a tiny wiggle. Momentum wants to work for you. With even the slightest nudge, it has the awesome ability to spring up and start running right where you left off, bringing with it new life and fresh air and a blessed rush of good energy. A small step can make a big difference.
This here, this is my wiggle: Today I got paint on my hands. I didn’t create a masterpiece; I didn’t try a new technique or complete a painting. I didn’t set out with any goal at all except “make a little mark.” With school work to be done and mud on the the floor and dinner waiting at the other end of a take-out line, I put paint on a sheet of paper and let it dry. A single step, that’s all.
But that’s all it took for momentum to pick me up and carry me the rest of the way.
I’m still “behind” (I probably always will be), and if we want to continue with the confessions, I’d have to tell you that the muddy floor got mopped with a wet-wipe and that’s probably all it will get this week. Yes, sometimes I think I don’t have the time or energy to create. But that’s okay; that’s when I need the paint on my hands the most. That’s when the littlest movements can make way for some big, gorgeous energy.
This morning, I was all ready with a somewhat tepid declaration of a project I’ve been waffling about. I’d worked through a thousand interruptions and, with no small amount of determination, written a post that was meant to be bold when I felt anything but. Then, with my mostly-decisive, semi-declarative post all written… my favorite little helper hit the delete button.
At first, it felt like a sign.
You see, I’ve had this project idea that’s been bumping around in my head for a few weeks now, and each time it knocks its way to the front, I think, No way. That’s crazy. Too ambitious. Too big. There’s no way you could do that. Better to make it smaller. Better to do it later.
I want to shrug it off, but it’s a sticky little bugger. It won’t leave me alone.
So I argue my case, but the she-gremlin in my head says, “Oh, Honey, when on earth would you find the time?” And I almost believe her, because as I’ve mentioned before, while I am really good at commitment and boldness in a lot of ways, with myself is where I tend to fall down. The past few weeks of considering this project could have been filled with the gearing-up that comes with a big goal, but instead it’s been filled with all sorts of obligation to everyone else’s stuff. So when the delete key came along to undo my determination, I could have easily stopped right there. I could have decided then and there that the speed bump was a wall, that the roadblock meant the journey was not meant to be. And I more or less spent the day doing just that.
Tonight, though, I called up my badassery.
Tonight I decided not to be stopped. Tonight I decided I’m going to be bold and do this crazy thing even if I’m not all geared up. I’m going to do the project that’s calling me, even if I’m not prepared. Even if we got the flu and a 3-day migraine and my son is suddenly moving to Sweden and we had the party with 150 people and there are two birthdays and a holiday and the two-year-old is really needy lately and the five-year-old never sleeps and there isn’t enough money in my bank account for supplies. I’m going to go bold even when it’s hard.
I’m going to go bold even when it seems ridiculous, even when I might fail. Instead of scaling back, I’m going to go bold and commit to my self and my creativity in a bigger way than I have ever done before.
I’m going to paint 90 canvases in 30 days.
That’s ninety. Canvases. In thirty days.
In my world, that’s insane.
I’ve thought all about the holes in this plan. I have lots of people, big and small, and they all need. I have limited resources, both time and money, and it’s all in my face. I have more deadlines and commitments and obligations than I can keep up with on any regular day – and this won’t be regular.
But I’m going to do it. Instead of a perfect set-up, I’m going to believe in a little bit of magic, in the expansion of resources and the ability of my life to adapt and grow.
I was going to be all on top of it and have supplies stockpiled and canvases prepped. I was going to have plenty of gesso and a new tube of cadmium yellow. I was going to brainstorm a list of ideas and have some backgrounds begun and have a fresh jar of ink and a fresh sketchbook and a new batch of pens. I was going to get the studio really, really clean.
I’m going to do it anyway. Instead of perfect preparation I’m going to make do and adapt and be open to the muse in the moment. I’m going to run in the middle and work it out and take the slow spots in stride and expect surprises.
Not least of all, I was going to write some really great posts and set it up all awesome-like. I was going to make a big launch and invite you all to join me. I was going to find sponsors and ad spaces and partners.
Still, I’m going to do it. Instead of great PR I’m going to come at it as me, a less-than-mega-blogger artist with a desire to grow my craft, my commitment, and my community, with an open invitation and a desire to connect with other artists who join me anywhere along the way.
I was going to be ready, but I’m not. Now I’m going to go bold anyway. I’m going to shut this laptop and go right now, tonight, and buy as many canvases as I have money for.
And then I am going to begin.
I am not going to give up on this particular dream, and I’m not going to spend any more time waiting for the right time or the right set-up. I am going to not wait one more day to be the bold force in my own life.
Yes, I am scared. I’m scared of failing, of blowing it, of not keeping up. I’m scared of sucking. I’m scared of becoming a bad mom or a bad wife or a bad friend/daughter/sister/teacher/cook. I’m a little scared of what my house will look like after thirty days.
But I’m also pretty excited. As someone who has never had even a junior high school art class, I am excited to see what I’ll learn. As someone who has always been “too busy” for full and steady commitment to my art, I am excited to see who emerges. And as someone who “always wanted to do that,” I am excited to just do it in a big, all-out, no-holds-barred kind of way.
I’m excited for this beginning.
What crazy-big move can you make toward your own growth this month? Join me! Let’s partner up and feed one another’s fire! Let’s go bold and move our mountains.
I'm Denice, a mama, storyteller and art-maker. I love all the crazy-awesome stuff life teaches me. I like discovery -- about art, about you, about myself and better ways of making or doing or living. Me and my site are a work in progress... and I'm honored that you came to visit!