I am worth it

I was tested this weekend, as Friday night I went to get a pedicure after work and I did not feel like painting when I got home. I was like an unruly child throwing a tantrum in my head and thinking of all the excuses in the world of why I shouldn’t have to. I work hard all week, I deserve to relax! I have an art show coming up, and I want to be rested. I feel really tired, and I don’t want to get sick. I let myself complain for about an hour before I sat down at my painting table.

Painting is my happy place, but it doesn’t mean I float to my paints and canvas with a serene smile on my face and start passionately creating every time. In other words, it isn’t glamourous. It takes work and effort on my part. Most of the time, I am in baggy sweats, my hair in a pony tail, maybe I have washed my face, and maybe I have eaten. Sometimes I have to drag myself away from my guilty pleasure of zoning out to Bravo’s Real Housewives. I have a full time job in finance, and I wake up at 5AM, 5 days a week and work in an office all day. So, sometimes I am just plain tired.

Also, when I am in an analytical or planning mood, I have a hard time creating. Because planning and creating don’t go together for me. When I create I have to be open to what new inspiration will come to me. Being open is hard sometimes, because my mind wants to keep chatting in my ear about the details of life. When I am focussing on this chatter and the details, I can’t create. In order to ‘open’ myself to create, I have to clear my mind. Music does this for me, so I play music pretty loud when I am painting. But, I don’t really listen to it. I can play the same album on repeat for hours because it is more a white noise to me drowning out my chatter. Once my mind settles down, I will spend 10-15 minutes just staring at the blank canvas. The painting comes to me not as a complete picture but as an abstract curvy line. I draw that line, and that is where I start.

To me, it feels as though the painting is already on the canvas and I am just uncovering it. Once I fully enter this creative zone there is no place that I would rather be. I feel in alignment with my purpose, and it feels as if time stands still. I can paint for hours, and it seems like only a few minutes have passed.

I have come to realize that painting isn’t something that I ‘do’. Painting is something that ‘happens’. I am not the owner and master of my creativity, I am it’s partner. It is similar to a relationship with a person. I can’t sit down and demand myself to paint, just as I can’t sit down with another person and demand that they give me something. I mean, I guess I could do both of these things, but neither of them would work out that well. Just as in a relationship with a person, I have to have respect and patience for my creativity. I can sit down and be ready to paint, but then I have to wait for it to show up. When it does show up, it likes to speak first and tell me what it wants, and then I can start talking. Then it happens. Then I can create.

I feel so fortunate to have the capability to open myself to the creative world. It is such a beautiful place to spend time. But it took work to get here, and it takes work to stay here. I have learned to respect it and nurture it, and I learned this by first respecting and nurturing myself. I had to create a safe space within me for it to show up. I had to be strong enough to let go of my defenses, and allow inspiration in. Inspiration does not show up on demand. It shows up when it sees a place that it can be heard and grow.

I have been drawing since I was a little girl. I have had times throughout my adulthood that I have been creative and then stopped again. When I look back, I thought that I stopped being creative because I didn’t make it a priority. I put other people and other things first. I thought those things needed my attention and focus, and maybe they did. But if I am being honest, I stopped because I chickened out. My creative pull was too powerful, and taking me places that I had decided that I wasn’t good enough to go. I was scared to keep pursuing it because I knew it would change my life, and I wasn’t sure that I could handle the change. I was scared of the calm knowing voice of my creativity pulling me in and drowning out my fears chattering in my ear.

It has taken years of hard work to be strong enough to handle my creative power. I had to first make the commitment to myself to stay the course and keep creating no matter how loud the chatter got in my head. Then I had to strengthen my boundaries to protect my creative energy. All of this was preparing me not to ‘do’ but to be still and open so that my creativity could come in. And letting it in is the best feeling in the world.

I have spent most of my life trying to silence my creative voice, because it scared me. I still get scared sometimes, but I have made a commitment to myself to find the strength to follow my creative passion. It isn’t easy, it is work. But I am worth it.

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  1. This is absolutely beautiful! It speaks to my soul on many levels. Have you read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, “The Big Magic?” It is about her understanding of creativity in the universe and how it meets, lives and breathes her. I’m just as fascinated with how you so eloquently described your process. At the moment, my creativity is showing up in my writing and my spiritual journey. I am on, what I call, my “mining expedition” in search of myself and my worthiness—that is why your title captured my attention! I love how you describe your relationship with creativity and your process for respecting it and making room for it to land. Thank you for giving us a peek into your relationship and process with creativity! It is giving me a great place to start my day and to ponder how my “mining expedition” is making room for something magical, as well.
    May I ask a favor? Since I am writing this on my phone and don’t know how I can make a copy of your blog and my response, would you be kind enough to send this conversation to me in an email, if you have that capability? My email is listed below. I want to be able to go back to it for further inspiration and as a journal entry.
    I wish you the very best on your creative and spiritual journey. To me they seem to run parallel, intertwine, in tandem and from the same Source! Be well!
    In gratitude,

    1. Thanks Gail! I have read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, I found it spoke to me. I loved how she said that we can’t rely on our art to support us. It has to do its thing. Good luck on your ‘mining expedition’, I did mine a few years ago where I was up for everything and anything. I attended tons of MeetUps, book readings, events, just to see what was out there and then starting narrowing things down. I have a feeling our paths will cross again! Peta

  2. Wow! I can honestly say I have felt a lot of those same things, but about writing! It is my happy place but it also can be a little intimidating so sometimes I back away and do everything else but the very thing I know I need to do most! I too agree about not being able to “create” or write when at the same time you are focusing on planning or being more analytical. I also feel the same way about working out. It makes it tougher to create right after working out. So interesting! I create best when the house is empty and I have a full stomach and a cup of coffee and soft instrumental music playing.

    1. Yes, the cup of coffee is essential. I brew coffee and sip on it when I write or create art, and I need the music when I draw, but have to have silence when I write. Thanks for sharing Amy, you have such a warmth to your writing! I love it!

  3. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who has trouble sitting down to do creative work. It has so often baffled me that something that gives me so much pleasure once I finally sit down and get into it would be something I struggle to go and do. I wish I could say I had mastered this mystery by this age, but it’s definitely something I’m still working on (witness the half finished watercolor sitting on my art table in the same state of progress it has been in for the past few weeks, since I last got together with a friend for a painting session). Creativity is too much a part of us to give up when the resistance kicks in, though, isn’t it?!!

    1. Yes,for sure. I always feel better after doing some creative work, so I just sit down and start whether I’feel’ like it or not. I have never had a time, once I sat down to be creative that I didn’t enjoy it. Most times, I will sit and paint for hours and not want to stop!!