Who Is Melissa Dinwiddie?
The “Official,” 80-word version:
Melissa Dinwiddie evangelizes that feeding your creative hungers is one of the fastest routes to happiness. As a Happiness Catalyst and Creativity Instigator, Melissa empowers people to find and follow their callings, create their art and share their work, because that’s how you will change the world! An artist in multiple forms, she models living a full-color life and shares her writings, artwork and music on her blog, Living A Creative Life, where you can also find her podcast, Live Creative Now!
The longer, more complex version:
My Vision Statement tells you a lot about what I believe, but there’s more, of course.
Some random facts:
• I’m a 4 on the Enneagram — sometimes called “the Artist,” sometimes called “the Tragic Romantic.”
• I’m an INFJ, but I’m a performer and have learned to be very outgoing, so people actually argue with me that I’m not an introvert. I’m not an extreme introvert, in fact I’m a social introvert who has learned to exercise her internal extrovert, but I’m an introvert. Get over it.
• My top five Strengthsfinder 2.0 strengths are (in order): Connectedness, Achiever, Input, Futuristic, and Positivity.
• I love animals, and when I was a kid I felt more connected to animals than people. (Sometimes that’s still true today.)
• When I was 2 1/2 I was going to grow up to be a cat. (My older brother told me I couldn’t, but my parents assured me I could be anything I wanted, which, to my great delight, irked my brother no end.)
• Speaking of cats, my husband (affectionately referred to here as Miracle Man, or MM for short) and I share our home with a very fluffy, hypo-allergenic Siberian kitty, Nika, the Queen of All She Surveys. (No, neither of us is allergic, but the boyfriend I was with when I got her was.)
• Speaking of MM, after knowing him for six years (and not seeing him as a contender for the first 2 1/2), we got married on December 28, 2013, in a tiny, intimate ceremony in my parent’s living room, before a crackling fire, with my best friend and her husband officiating. My mom played the harp and my dad played the flute, and I surprised MM by playing this song for him, just before we were pronounced husband and wife. (Nika was, alas, not in attendance.)
• Speaking of MM again, when referring to us in the collective, we are known among our friends and family as Team Sweetie.
• I’m very proud of being a 4th generation Californian and grew up in Silicon Valley back before it was Silicon Valley.
• My favorite charity is Animals Asia – check them out. They rock.
• I’m a natural teacher who comes from a long line of teachers. I’ve taught dance, voice, calligraphy & book arts, Torah trope, yoga, web technologies to technophobes, nursery school – and cannot help myself from helping out when someone has a need I can contribute to.
• I have a dream of overcoming my perpetual untidiness problem,
but only small hope of ever completely doing so and have made huge strides in that direction, thanks to my Great ClutterBust program! (I recently learned, to my great relief, that INFJs are typically organized thinkers, but disorganized in their physical environment. Yup.)
Want to know more? Well, all right, then. Here’s an abbreviated timeline of my life til now, or:
How I Got from Living in Black and White
to Living the Full-Color, Creative Life of My Dreams
As a child, I loved everything creative! Drawing, painting, dancing, singing, writing… I played piano and viola, too.
By about age six, though, my gremlins were already piping up, telling me that my classmates’ creative work was better than mine.
By age thirteen, I was well and thoroughly convinced that other people were the artists, not me (at least that’s what my gremlins told me!), and I took my last art class for fifteen years.
Enter Great Period of Stuckness #1 (now referred to as my fifteen-year hiatus. )
Age 13 to 28:
10th grade was my last year playing an instrument. Why? Because other people were the real musicians, not me. Same thing with singing.
I did find one creative outlet, though: at 16, I took a dance class and fell in love.
My First Creative Passion was born!
I dove into the world of dance head-first (feeling very over-the-hill at the ripe old age of 16!), and even took a gap year after graduating from high school in order to dance full-time. Then, after a year of college at UC Berkeley, I auditioned for Juilliard… and got in!
My life was mapped out! I would be a professional dancer!
Life was great for about a week. Then school started.
I hated it. And, to make matters exponentially worse, I developed a vicious case of tendinitis in my ankles, and spent most of the year unable to dance. (In fact, I spent the next five years on the quest for the miracle cure.)
The eating disorder I’d battled on and off since I was 17 spiraled out of control, and I fell into a depression. Worst year of my life.
I came back to UC Berkeley for my last two years of college, then went on to grad school, with the goal of becoming a professor, only to realize, a couple of months into a Masters program in England, that I didn’t actually want this life path.
I finished out my degree, and returned to California, utterly adrift.
I got married, and spent the following summer “trying to be a writer,” but writing was hard, and my gremlins convinced me that I sucked at it, so I started doing arts and crafts to procrastinate.
Within a few months I was taking every art class I could get my hands on, and within a few more months I was laser-focused on the art of calligraphy.
My Second Creative Passion was born! (It was a revelation that I got to have more than one!)
I quit writing and focused on calligraphy and art, and pretty soon I was selling my work, taking commissions from private clients.
Age 30 to 43:
Over the next seven years, I busted my butt to grow my little business. And I did! By 2007 I was on track to hit my six-figure income goal the next year!
Unfortunately, by that point I was also wholly burned out. All those years of focusing only on the business side of things, creating only to please others (my clients), and never myself, left me fried to a crisp, mired in resistance and perfectionist paralysis. I had become that sad creature — an artist who never made any art!
Enter Great Period of Stuckness #2.
Creativity always finds a leak valve, though. Arts and crafts used to be my escape, my procrastination device. Now I escaped into music — I started playing guitar, taking voice lessons, learning to sing jazz.
My Third Creative Passion was born! (Apparently there is no end to how many I get to have!)
But I still wasn’t making any visual art, and that made me sad and grumpy. “I wish I had time to make art for me!” was my constant lament. (It took me years to realize that it isn’t a matter of having the time, it’s a matter of making the time.)
Meanwhile, when the Economy tanked in 2008, my ketubah business tanked with it. I spent the next two years looking for a silver bullet solution, throwing money at the problem, only to find myself deeply in debt.
Cut to February of 2010.
I was broke, I didn’t know where my next mortgage payment was going to come from, I lost a big client commission (that would have more than covered my mortgage) by doing something really stupid, and the man I thought was my life partner walked out — bim, bam, boom!
The Universe essentially whalloped me upside the head with a 2×4.
I was down in the gutter. Desperate. Empty. I’d hit an emotional bottom, and there was nowhere to go but up.
Suddenly I realized that I didn’t have to just be a ketubah artist for the rest of my life! (Duh..) I could do whatever I wanted!
So I set out to:
1) Go after the life I really, really wanted.
2) Figure out what the heck that life looked like!
I started this blog to chart my journey, with the big vision of helping others find the lives they really, really want, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Present Time Me
Now when I’m not at my computer (where I work while walking on a treadmill), I’m painting, or singing and playing my ukulele, or performing improv.
I’m doing my creative things, instead of just dreaming about them.
How did I get here? I had to learn to tame the gremlins that told me, “You’re not good enough,” and “Who do you think you are?” and “Creative stuff is frivolous and self-indulgent — you should spend your time on important things!”
I had to learn to make time for what feeds me, rather than waiting to have the time.
(If you wait until you have the time, you never stop waiting.)
I had to learn to dodge distractions that suck my attention away, and treat myself with loving self-compassion when I stumble.
I had to learn to dump perfectionism, get comfortable with discomfort, lean into fear, and take risks.
Now I share everything I’ve learned on my blog and in my products and programs, because living a full-color creative life is just a better way to be!
But you know that already — that’s why you’re here! I’m glad you’re along for the ride.
Questions? Just ask!