There’s nothing like making the decision to practice the art of self-care or explore your creativity to bring up all of your STUFF. And by stuff I mean insecurities, self doubt, fear and resistance.
Social media shines with crafted, glossy exteriors and it’s easy to feel as if our delightful-but-messy life, isn’t up to scratch. Do you compare your fragmented processes to other people’s finished products and give your power away to procrastination? Honesty time: before I sat down to write this lesson for you, I procrastinated for two hours. I looked up flights home for Christmas, scrolled through Instagram, I made a cup of dandelion tea that I didn’t drink, curated the perfect playlist, lit a few candles, checked my email, cleaned the kitchen, reheated my cold cup of tea and munched on a few squares of dark chocolate as I stood in my lounge room, staring at my notepads and pens, willing these words to write themselves.
It’s not as if I doubted this lesson would be written. I knew that it would, eventually. That’s the funny thing about procrastination; we know it’s going to get done, at some point, but we expel so much precious energy NOT doing it. There are the more acute versions of this dance, such as the one I just described for you, and then there are the more obtuse scenarios; the wider, ever-present projects and ideas, lingering in the background, unacknowledged and unrealised. But here I am now, with almost a full page of words scrawled, I’ve found my flow and I’m wondering why on earth I didn’t just sit my arse down and do this two hours ago? It’s like when I put on my yoga pants and sit at the end of my bed, debating whether or not to go to class until it’s too late to make it in time. And so, this is resistance. The act of avoiding our work. Keeping our soul’s calling at arm’s length. Not doing the thing that we’re here to do. Not giving the thing that we’re here to give. Maybe even wanting to give up.
Steven Pressfield tells us that “the more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it” and so, I want this lesson to serve simply as soul-encouragement; may you remember that you are not alone in this journey, that you are completely enough and that you CAN do this.
Maybe you’ve been told that your expression isn’t very good, right, foolish or it’s unprofitable. Maybe others have questioned your dreams or doubted your capacity. I clearly remember a conversation with a friend, in her car, mid-2012 when I told her I was thinking about starting a blog. “A blog? You?” she asked, shifting gears. “How on earth are you going to get anyone to read it? There’s already so many blogs! What would you even write about that’s different to what’s already out there?” Ah, bless her. You may have heard similar things. It’s likely these kinds of comments are the insecurities of those from whom they came. Let them bounce off you. “If you’re not in the arena, getting your arse kicked too” says Brené Brown, “I’m not interested in your feedback.”
You have the power to choose your beliefs. So will they limit or empower you? Limiting beliefs cultivate behaviours that keep us small. They feel restrictive and tell us all the things we can’t do or be. Empowering beliefs are nourishing and uplifting. They cultivate behaviours that allow us to expand feel ripe with possibility. They tell us what we can do and be. Choose beliefs that encourage you to keep going.
You have permission to take your time. Remember when you were a child and there was so much to learn about the world? We give babes all the space and time — and naps! — that they need to learn how to navigate and integrate new things. Maybe you have kids of your own and hold this safe space for them. Why do we stop doing this for ourselves? We might get older and a teensy bit wiser, but our brains and bodies and hearts still need room to grow. Let yourself screw up.
Let yourself take all the time you need to try, grow, heal, learn, live and love. Go gently.
You have the right to celebrate your accomplishments. No matter how big or small, press pause and enjoy the fruits of your work. You have the right to say ‘I did this, I feel amazing, this is great, this is enough.’ I want you to take yourself out for your favourite dessert, get a blow dry, buy yourself flowers or simply soak in the tub tonight. Maybe it’s sharing a bottle of champagne with your best friend or dancing in your undies to Beyonce or simply sharing your big news with the world via an inspiring and excited Facebook status.
And then keep going.
You’re allowed to feel afraid. You might have fears around partnership and parenting, family and fertility, careers and creativity, sex and social anxiety. It’s normal to have fear about speaking in public, money, mental illness, death, disappointment, loss, love, weight, world travel, food and friendship, being a fraud or a fear of missing out.
Just keep going.
Here’s a few things I know to be true about fear:
Fear wants to quiet a curious heart. Fear goes hand in hand with creativity. Fear shrivels in the light. By getting it out of our body and onto the page or into a conversation with a trusted friend, the fear feels less scary, smaller, more manageable. Fear has many layers — with each one we peel back, we’ll find love, insight, power and flow. Fear might tell us that we’d never recover from our worst case scenario, but I challenge that. Should it happen, and it might, nothing is certain, but you’d be okay. You’d keep going. Fear often points us towards the thing that we desire the most. “Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator.” says Steven Pressfield, “Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
So keep going.
Here’s a few things I know to be true about courage:
Courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage gives life to creativity — living our life as art is sharing our soul with the world and this means being vulnerable. Courage is always available, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Especially when it doesn’t feel like it. You have already shown courage through pain and loss and struggle and lived to tell the tale. You know in your heart that there is a well of strength inside of you that you can turn to, even in the most chaotic and confusing of times. Thankfully, courage is cultivated, nurtured, learned, grown through the act of being courageous. Courage is cultivated by leaving the bank and stretching out on the river of change. Breathe in, straight back, look ahead.
Here’s one of my favourite stories.
On the 25th of April every year, we acknowledge Anzac Day in Australia; it’s a day to honour and pay respects to those who have and still are, serving our country in the defence force. One year, I was watching a documentary on the creative activities that soldiers in the First World War were engaged in; specifically, journalling, photography, watercolour, drawing and writing and playing music. As these men were interviewed about their experience, there was a recurrent theme of having found solace in their art. In the despair of war these men found themselves on the page, in their photos and in their music. They came back to their heart and their identity through expression, though their environment was tragic and uncertain. And their creative endeavours have lived on! Listening to their symphonies and journal entries reminded me that no matter what our circumstances are, we can always choose to connect and express ourselves in some way or another.
Remember the honour and privilege that you have to create as a woman in the world today.
My Nanna was in an abusive relationship for the majority of her life, and finally left in her 70’s. She used to show me how to make roses out of paper and was always dressed stylishly, even as her eyesight began to fail her. But it was only recently that I found something she had written and was moved by how articulate and quirky it was. She was a creative soul who lived in a time without the freedoms we can take for granted today. And her mother? And her mother? We don’t have to look far back down our maternal lineage to find women who weren’t free to be seen, to stand up, to tell the truth of their lives, to create.
Do it for them. Keep going.
“The more you become your own best champion, supporter, cheerleader, and trusted confidant, the better able you’ll be to fully and joyfully express your blessed creativity,” says Cheryl Richardson, “that’s when your art becomes more and more successful in the world. It begins with treating yourself with love, respect, kindness, and compassion.” In your workbook, you have space to declare your fears and work through them. Flip them. Love them. Burn them. Stretch. Evolve. Grow.
And if you’re still feeling sensitive, take some time off social media. It’ll help. Log out. And keep going.
Ps. This post is an extract from my online course Wild, Well & Creative. The next (and final) round of my beloved five-week course and community starts next Monday 1st May 2017. Details and enrolments happening over here. I’d love to have you join us!
Pps. Listen to this post below!