My friend wrote me today that she has simply been crying, in a state of being overwhelmed. So many people I know are telling me they feel close to the “end of their rope.” For that reason I’ve decided to share my response to her with you.
My sweet friend, I am crying, too. Our reasons are very different. And yet, they are exactly the same.
b) uncertainty about capacity.
c) a sense of being “alone” facing awesome requirements.
d) self doubt. um.
e) lack of trust in God.
f) um. what else? Everything else….
So today, I edited the phrase IF YOU THINK YOU CAN – YOU CAN….
to if you THINK – you CAN.
My answer to a)
I know I have a good thinker. I also know I really can only do one thing at a time, regardless of how many THINGS are standing in line, jumping from leg to leg like they gotta pee, just urgently demanding my attention. I can do a thing and then look up and purposely, calmly call, “NEXT!” I think – I can.
Answer to b)
If history is our tutor, and history often is…then I have demonstrated throughout my life a tremendous capacity for all things. Joy. Sorrow. The whole range. I can draw the concludsion that if I have had the capacity to bear things up to THIS point, I likely have the capacity to bear what is before me now. The thing that makes today different is that I am weary. And my weariness whispers in my ear the uncertainty. “Can you really DO this?”
The answer is, “Yes.”
Answer to c)
Part of the reason my answer to “b” above is “Yes,” is that I am NOT alone. Angels march before me. Watch above me. And while I cannot see them, evidence of their presence is apparent when I am willing to see the signs. My friends are also ever-present. At the ready to steel me up, support and encourage me and celebrate with me. I am alone, at my desk, doing my drill. I FEEL alone. My good thinking lets me know that I am not alone.
Answer to d)
Self doubt is a funny experience. I’ve marched at the head (and back) of my own parade for a long time. I’m a big fan of personal curriculum development, self-reference and personal authority. Ha! Somedays even I ask myself, “Who do you think you are?” And then, I remember. I’m mary anne radmacher. I inspire myself and others. I am committed to a creative life. I want to make the world in which I live better at dusk that at dawn. So when I become my own worst critic, full of doubt and dare ask myself, “WHO says?” The clear answer is,
Answer to e)
God is used to it. That’s why God’s invented so many ways to whisper, “Trust me.” How many ways? Too many to list. The water out my window is the first of many immediate reminders. Water itself is a call to trust in the provision of Spirit…it nurtures everything! The tide is another demonstration of trust. When the tide goes out…I do not have to stand at the shore with anxiety wondering if the tide will come back in. It will. It does. It always does. And when the water begins to rise again and cover the muddy, messy harbor bottom…I hear the whisper, “Trust me. This will pass. It will go away and come back again.”
Answer to f)
Everything else. I think this is the real heart of discouragement and tears of overwhelm. The “Everything Else.” I said to a friend of mine who complained that he hadn’t done what he promised me because it was near the bottom of his list. And he never seems to get to the bottom of his list. I immediately replied, “The only way any one ever gets to the LAST thing on their list is if they actually START there.”
I can do what I can do today. One thing at a time. Anxiety only seizes up the creative capacity I do have. If I have no capacity then the message is clear that my soul and my body need restoring and perhaps a nap is in order, or nutritious choices of food, or good water, or a walk. And then I remember. I cannot do Everything Else right now. I can only do this one thing, now. And then the NEXT! thing next.
So you and I can participate with our tears, let them wash over us and clean out the cobwebs so we can remember:
We have come this far – and grace will take us to the next next!
And then the next! after that.
We are far more capable than we feel today – all we have to do is look at the trail of achievements that are waiting, behind us, to be noticed and remembered.
Last week I did something for the first time. I entered the “comment stream” of a review on Amazon.
I went on Amazon to check the status of a book several peers in the design industry had recommended and found a snobby, snarly “Who told you you know anything about art,” review with a single star. In the review the reviewer validated everything she knows about art with all the initials that she’s earned. And she warns, WARNS, readers to steer clear of this book for the body image drawings are not anatomically correct. This made me smile. I thought briefly about my own body for the last thirty years and mused that it hadn’t been anatomically correct either, but it was still my body!
The point of this book was not to offer Master’s level courses in still life and body drawing. But rather to inspire and encourage people who had been discouraged from doing anything artful to try their hand at something creative. The warning ended ominously by announcing that this author needed a lot more practice (and training) before she was qualified to teach. And sharing the line from the children’s fable, “Remember the lesson of the Emperor’s new clothes.” Making art has been one of the joys of my life. And I was told early on that I had no talent for it. No sense of color. I understand now that those sentences meant, “You are not skilled at replicating the models we have put in place for you, as a student, to copy.” In my life time I’ve discovered that I WAS very skilled at expressing a line in my unique way. And that’s all that I’ve ever asked of the art that I’ve created, either for the industry or for my own personal use. I’ll be exploring this concept more in the weeks to come: Personal Authority. My art met the criteria of my personal authority.
Also in the weeks to come I’ll be introducing another artist to you by the name of Carmen Torbus. FYI – she’s got no BA or MFA in art, but she DOES have an INSPIRED HEART (no acronym, just a bunch of Capital Letters for EMPHASIS). Her first book is called THE ARTIST UNIQUE. Her greatest joy is to inspire timid creatives to get out their art stuff and just make a mess and see what they discover. But, I digress. Back to the comment in the book review comment stream:
Here’s what I wrote:
Several Professional Artists have recommended this publication to me. And I am anxiously awaiting its arrival from Amazon.
Here’s a familiar question I have encountered all my life, “WHO TAUGHT YOU THAT?”
Commentary such as this comes out of a highly academic path. Committed academics are much like believers of rigid dogma. Unless one has learned from the masters, their knowing is not considered viable. “Self taught” becomes a pejorative rather than an exclamation.
ART that enlivens a soul is about discovery, fearlessness and willingness. Assessments such as this one call to mind the red pen of the teacher that stripped many of their capacity to write or to create. “My freshman art teacher told me I had no talent or capacity and so I’ve never tried again.” Of course there is academic precision. OF COURSE! We need precision. We need the “masters,” and those who obey the rules of the masters. And we also need gentle inspiring souls who have the courage to step outside the lines of convention and invite “ordinary” people to experience the EXTRAordinary sensation of creating/making art.
I will also end this comment celebrating education and independent discovery, BOTH. And perhaps I will also admonish, “Remember the story of the boy and the Emperor’s new clothes.” One sentence spoken by two different individuals, with completely different meanings. Just like art. It’s never just “a line,” when it’s YOUR line.
I returned a week ago from teaching at Dr. Deanna Davis’s banner event, WOMANHOOD WEEKEND. Even though I was faculty and there to teach, I came away over flowing with energy and ideas and new insights. Dr. Davis reminded us all how powerful connecting over learning and friendship is. It was a fantastic fire lit under my creative burner…and in the days since returning I have completely re-modeled both my writing room and art studio. And there continue to be practical, measurable applications of all I learned in the context of the Womanhood Weekend. If I wasn’t already scheduled to go as a trainer, I’d be signing up to attend as a participant!
Dr. Davis has made a very generous offer for friends and fans of me and my work. It’s the finest discount that will be offered before the 2012 event. If you are inclined to plan ahead, this is the best opportunity to register. The Spokane area is lovely and the Northern Quest Resort is World Class. I had the best nights of sleep (away from home) that I’ve had in my travel experiences.
My Womanhood friends have set up the registration page for Womanhood Weekend and Success Summit events. I’m so honored they’ve asked me to be a faculty member again…they tell me attendees sing my praises! They are offering the deepest discount possible on these events through this Sunday, June 5th. Be sure to visit http://deannadavis.net/?page_id=106 – encourage friends to join you! It’ll be here quick!