An Artist's Quest for "Soul" in a Chaotic World—by InnerSpirit

This is my InnerSpirit blog page...a page of reflection...inquiry...
and artistic questions about myself, my life, and the world around me. A place for my own personal contemplation of my emotions, my actions, my art, my spiritual journey and how they all intertwine and influence each other. I hope that you check it out, think a little about your life and the many creative things that you might be engaged do those fit into your life and impact the various aspects of your own life? Let's reflect together!

Friday, October 23, 2009

An Art Challenge for 30 Days

"Whaaaaaaaaaat have I done?" I am crying aloud to myself. I signed up recently for Leah Piken Kolidas's Art Every Day Month challenge @ that starts on November 1st. I guess I am having buyers remorse, and I have not even purchased anything. Maybe it should be called "creativity remorse" in my case. I am telling myself that I am very creative and that I should not have to worry about a 30 day challenge to make art every day. If I really think about it, I do a lot of creative things every day and Leah mentions that those creative things can be defined as broadly or as narrowly as you would like; anything from making a creative dinner, finding a creative way to save money, taking a creative outing, or just producing creative art. It's all about just recognizing and honoring that creative aspect of yourself everyday. I should be able to do that right?...then why is it still scary to me?

Riding the Roulette Wheel of Fear Again

I am reminded again of my sketch from my last blog post. How often this idea of fear creeps into my life. In response to my confession to her that I was a bit afraid of this new challenge, Leah wrote, "Fear is a good thing." She suggested that this might mean that the challenge is important to me and that "I might be at my creative edge, which is exciting". I guess the truth be known, I am both afraid AND excited to begin something new.

I have listened to several people over the years tell me to just "Do It Afraid", which is a concept that others make sound far easier than it actually is to accomplish. This shortened mental affirmation appears to reflect the essence of another quote that I have visited periodically during my life. Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman of great courage and strength once said "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing that you think you cannot do." I can not say that I would consider creating art every day a "horror" in itself, but my fear always revolves around failure or not "getting it right".

Listening To My Own Inner Voice and
Taking Notes

Listening to my own small "innerspirit" soul voice...and not "The Inner Critic's" voice that is always shouting louder to be heard, is something that I have to consciously decide to do each time that I set out to do something that makes me feel "butterflies in my stomach". I need to take more stock in some of the things that have told my clients and students over the years when they have experienced these feelings. I tried to make a mental list today of what some of those encouraging words or concepts were, since usually they came to me during the moments when someone was stuck, a group was staring at me with paint brushes frozen in their hands and terror in their eyes, or when someone was complaining that they had no artistic talent and lamenting that the things that they drew or painted never were any good. Here is the mental list I came up with to reflect on as I undertake this new month long art challenge. It comes from some of my favorite quotes, concepts that were shared with me by my own mentor/teachers, and from my own general stumblings through my art and life journey.
  1. Do you know what FEAR stands for ? False Evidence Appearing Real. (I always loved that one)
  2. Everyone is artistic. We are born with the gift to create. When I give a 6 year old child a piece of paper and a brand new set of 64 crayons, you do not ever hear them say that they are not an artist or that they cannot draw. That is a learned concept. Someone, several someone's and/or society have told you that you are not artistic, it's just not true. 
  3. "Fear is the prison of the heart." Anonymous
  4. "Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared." Eddie Rickenbacker
  5. Art is subjective. The concept of what makes "good art" and who is an "artist" are society created paradigm's. 
  6. Remember the Impressionists? Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Gauguin, etc? No one would discount that they are great artists and as such, their paintings hang in world class art museums. During the Renaissance, these artist's were denied the opportunity to show their work in the prominent french "Salon" which was the most well known and elite art show of it's time in Europe. They were not only denied for many years in a row, but they were told that their works were not any good and that they would never be successful. This certainly is something to think about.
I believe wholeheartedly in Ambrose Redmoon's quote that "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." This judgement has kept me trudging forward all these years. I am not perfect. I suppose that I am what some people would refer to as a "work in progress", but I am real. As I get older I am trying very hard to accept my own authenticity and cut myself a little slack. I have made progress and each little step along the way is helpful. At least I am "Doing It" sometimes even when I am afraid. I think that owning our fear is a huge step in our own personal growth.

Lastly, when I am really floundering and I need to make life a little lighter and let the anxiety lift,  I take a long, deep breath in and long, slow breath out and remember "A woman is like a tea bag—you never know how strong she is until she's in hot water." –Eleanor Roosevelt. That one always makes me smile. 

What things do you fear? How have you handled the fear or what tools/resources have you used to help you to cope with your fears? I would love to hear from you.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Roulette Wheel of Life

I have been thinking a lot about this sketch that I did about a year and a half ago during a worship service in my church. I usually find myself sketching thoughts that come into my mind that are evoked from particular ideas surrounding the topic of the day. Doing these types of sketches and other larger color paintings or drawings during these moments have provided me with a wealth of knowledge about my innerspirit and things that are going on in my heart and soul.

What Color Will You Choose?
Often, these images generate questions or queries about areas of my life that I was unaware were either problematic or challenging. This sketch is a perfect example of how this process provides me with knowledge about my unconscious thoughts or fears and helps me to crystallize behaviors or patterns that are reflective of how I live my life or should be living my life. I can see the two sides of my personality reflected very vividly in this artwork. My conservative, and analytical "Don't Do It" side and my opposing passionate, adventurous side saying "Dive In, It Will Be Okay."

Taking a Ride on the Wheel
This sketch constantly continues to remind me that my fears are often much bigger in my own mind than they really are in the big picture of life. As I reflect on it, time and time again, I realize that I miss out on a lot of experiences in my life because I allow myself to get so caught up in analyzing and predetermining the outcomes, that I miss opportunities for experiences that might be very fulfilling and energizing. I am trying to learn that there is a healthy balance in "playing devil's advocate" around the safety or practicality of certain choices in my life but at the same time not allowing that overly analytical side to become a fear monger which squelches the life right out of me. Sometimes, I believe it is healthier to just hop on the red square on the wheel, take the risk to experience the moment and all the feelings, sounds, sights, and emotions that those moments in life provide and know that when the wheel stops you can just get off at the next stop. It doesn't matter whether the square is red or black. You still can always get off life's track for a while if you want to and explore how the new place feels to you, or you can just roll yourself back onto the wheel and go around again. There are always choices in this life, the question I just need to ask myself more often is whether I am willing to take the risks to be able to explore the wealth of experiences that are out there, or if I will allow the fearful side of my personality to freeze me into stagnancy? I am trying to choose to play the game of life a little more aggressively and to take more risks.

Are there any risks you are trying to wrestle with or areas you feel stagnant in?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Re-experiencing the Bliss

It is interesting how even though we sometimes hate limiting certain things in our lives that we "love", or we know that having them or participating in them everyday or at least very frequently, could mean making decisions about our lives that are not nutritiously sound, mentally balanced or healthy for our bodies and our lives in general. Often, we "crave" these vices, whether they are people, things, or behaviors. What I noticed today was what I will call "Re-experiencing the Bliss".
Morning Ecstacy
     I have been dieting for several months or as I like to think of it "focusing on a healthy diet that I can sustain for my lifetime, with the short term goal of losing some weight". I have been focusing more consciously on creating a very healthy eating lifestyle that I hope will sustain me into my second half of life...5o is looming for me on the near horizon. This conscious restriction or moderation of some things that I love, but which may not be the best FOR me,  has actually increased the pleasure that they bring to me when they are indulged selectively and intelligently. I was overwhelmed by this new discovery today!
     I arose to a dreary and rainy day so I decided that I was going to treat myself to a hazelnut latte (my personal favorite coffee of choice). As I arrived at the coffee shop, I asked the person who took my order to be sure and make it with skim milk and sugar-free hazelnut,—I was being decadent...but still making some healthy choices by keeping my calorie count to 150 calories. My biggest indulgence came when I miraculously found myself ordering a toasted Asiago Cheese bagel with garlic hummus. Whew! Should I do it? My mind flowed quickly through the calculations and ramifications of this decadent indulgence and I let the order fly! A Calorie/Carbohydrate "upper"...and I was in heaven as I slowly bit into the luscious creation and enjoyed it's seductive qualities.
Life's Decision Making
     Our conscious moderation of these types of life's indulgences makes the times that we do "treat" ourselves to them all the more wonderful, as long as we think about balance in our lives...and don't go over the top never to return to our level of homeostasis. It is good to "feed our soul" sometimes with decadent things in life. In my case, I enjoyed a fairly low calorie latte by ordering it with skim milk and the sugar-free syrup (about 150 calories) and the extra carbs and calories of the bagel and hummus (about 500) will fall into an extra 30 minutes of aerobic workout at the gym during my normal routine today. I was aware of the consequences, intelligent about the choices that I made, and I allowed myself a wonderfully savory experience that "fed my soul" and my appetite.
     Like anything in life, I believe that going into things with our eyes wide-open, a sufficient knowledge base of the items at hand, and having a sound plan to manage the after effects of our choices in life can help to keep all areas of our life in a healthy balance. By not allowing ourselves to go overboard everyday and weeks and months at a time, with decadent choices we can help ourselves remain healthy in our mind, body and spirit AND as an added bonus, we are actually increasing the richness and the "heaven sent" quality and enhancing our ability to savor special moments in life such as my lovely coffee and bagel morning on this dreary, rainy fall day.