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Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Today is Day 15 of my 31 Days of Self-Love posts to celebrate Self-Love Month with suggestions for jumpstarting your own self-love.

I’m happy to have Melissa Dinwiddie, an artist, creative coach and inspirationalist known for getting people sparked, stoked and creating as my guest today.  She shares why expressing your creativity says, “I love me!” Here’s what she has to say:

Creative Self-Love
by Melissa Dinwiddie

When Daylle asked the question “How do you show yourself love?” I knew my answer right away: I make time every day for my creativity. Specifically, I make art, I write, I make music. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes.

Since I’m a professional artist and creativity coach, you may think my making time to create is pretty obvious, but it wasn’t always that way. There was a long stretch of time–ironically enough, while I was growing a business as a calligrapher and artist–that the only creating I did was for work. I turned my art into a business because I loved making art, yet for years–over a decade!–I almost never made art to feed my own soul.

Yes, I paid my bills by selling art I’d made for clients, and that’s a very cool thing indeed, but it turns out creating to the specifications of others is a different animal than creating purely for joy. For me, it wasn’t enough, and my soul began to shrivel up.

I know from the many emails and blog comments I receive, and from the clients I’ve worked with, that my experience is far from unique. If you have a hard-wired hunger to create (and I truly believe this is a nearly-universal human trait), you know what I’m talking about.

Here’s what I think: I submit that expressing your creativity, giving yourself time–making time for whatever your creative thing is–is one of the biggest acts of self-love you can do.

Our society puts out a lot of mixed messages about art and creativity, though. On the one hand, we laud successful artists, actors, musicians; on the other, the arts are seen as “frivolous,” and we’re fed a line that “all artists are starving” (or should be). Is it any wonder we get caught up in the notion that spending time on things we do for sheer joy is somehow unimportant? It’s amazing any creating at all happens in this kind of atmosphere!

I am of the belief that we were put on this earth in order to find our joy. That the expression of joy, following our deepest desires, is an indicator that we’re doing exactly what we’re supposed to.

Everyone’s different, of course, and the things that make us happy are naturally going to vary. If you have the creative gene, though, if you have a hunger to create–be it painting, music, photography, scrapbooks, macaroni collages, whatever–giving yourself time to feed that hunger is, I would argue, one of the most powerful and profound ways possible that you can show yourself love.

Creatives who don’t feed their creative hunger end up like I did: feeling stilted and hollow. One client of mine came to me feeling like “a robot churning through to-do lists.” After joining my Creative Ignition Club and going through my 30-day Creative Ignition Kickstart, she wrote: “I feel like I’m human again, not just a robot churning through to-do lists. I’m really seeing and hearing and feeling and appreciating all over the place.”

Doesn’t that sound like a better way to be?

If all of this makes sense to you, the next step is to actually make the time to do that creative thing you love. It won’t happen just by wishing. And in our increasingly sped-up world, time seems like a rarer and rarer commodity. If you wait unil you “have the time,” it will never happen. Vigilance is called for! As far as I’m concerned, any tool or technique or trick that helps you do the thing that makes you feel most alive is a good thing.

I started my blog, Living A Creative Life, originally to chart my own journey away from a robotic life of churning through to-do lists, into the life of creative abundance that I really, really wanted. I’ve since turned what I’ve learned into a coaching and consulting practice, and an online community, all with the goal of getting people starked, stoked and creating.

Once you feel the effects of the kind of self-love that lights your creative fires, you won’t want to go back. But the funny thing is, even though we creatives know that creating feeds us, without constant vigilance “life” inevitably gets in the way. Resistance rears its ugly head, and suddenly you look up and days, weeks, months have gone by with no creative time to feed your soul.

My advice? Just keep at it! Use whatever tools work for you. Get help wherever and whenever you can find it. Remember, you’re worth it! Love yourself well and go get creating!
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Check out Melissa Dinwiddie’s blog, Living A Creative Life. She’s also the co-creator (with Cory Huff) of ArtEmpowers.Me, an online course and community to help artists deprogram the “starving artist” mindset and learn to thrive from their art.
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Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Challenge–a pledge to do something loving for yourself for the next 31 days–and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at http://howdoiloveme.com. Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts from 2011 HERE.

Please leave comments under my posts so we can stay connected.

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