Now, being empowered is actually pretty essential for living a creative life as a woman, but in college, my head wasn’t in creative expression; it was in Feminist theory.
After my first year in college, at UC (Cal) Berkeley, I spent my sophomore year following my first great creative Bliss (dance) to New York, where I’d been accepted at the Juilliard School. I was there to pursue my grand dream of a professional dance career, and when injury derailed that dream I came home to California, re-enrolled at Cal, and had what I now fondly (heh) refer to as my Radical Feminist Awakening.
As a Junior in need of a major, I declared as a Social Science Field Major with an area of concentration of “Gender in Contemporary Society.” (Which conveniently allowed me to take classes in a variety of different discipline, satisfying what I now recognize as my Passion Pluralite tendencies, of which I was totally oblivious at the time.)
I enrolled in classes that opened my eyes to the ways in which sexism pervades society, and lit a fire beneath me.
Or, to put it more bluntly, I got seriously pissed off.
I learned how patriarchal systems oppress all of us, how class and race oppression intersect with patriarchy, how we learn to be complicit in our own oppression (hegemony), unconsciously embracing belief systems and mindsets that hold us back and keep us down, as well as keeping us disconnected from each other.
(Think about it: when members of different oppressed groups are kept apart — whether through external forces or internal programming — they cannot work together for change. And when members of oppressed groups and members of groups historically seen as “the oppressor” are kept apart — again, whether through external forces or internal programming — they never have a chance to understand each other and join forces to make things better for everyone. But I digress.)
I could spout all kinds of academic jargon back then (Hegemonic systems! Objectifying complexes! Yadayadascoobydooda jargontalkthatnobodybutacademicsunderstandsorcaresabout!), and because I was filled with the passion and conviction of youth (not to mention being a redhead, AND a Scorpio, AND a Fire Horse [according to Chinese astrology]), my Feminist Awakening was rather… fiery.
(God bless my ex-husband, who met me right about then, poor soul…)
Where this is leading…
I tell you this, because it helps explain why I felt such a resonance when I encountered Tara Mohr of Wise Living, writer, coach and expert in supporting women to share their authentic gifts with the world.
Random fact: I actually first encountered Tara back in 2006, long before the blogosphere was even on my radar, when she purchased a ketubah from me for her wedding. I really knew nothing about her except that she was lovely to interact with via email, and she obviously liked my art (two very fine qualities, I must say).
Then in late 2010, we ran into each other again online, where I discovered that my former client was now coaching, writing for the Huffington Post, and clearly a kindred spirit. Tara has had a passion for making women’s voices heard since she was an adolescent, and she’s run an annual blogging campaign for the Girl Effect which turned me (and countless others) on to that wonderful movement (check the brilliant Girl Effect video out here– it’s awesome. I’ll wait. Bring tissues.)
So when, last spring, Tara launched the inaugural version of her flagship program for women, Playing Big, I took notice. Although I was sorely tempted, I didn’t sign up at the time, but I did join her team of affiliates, and I watched as the Playing Big participants transformed. (And yes, those are affiliate links, though the program is not currently open to new participants.)
Something really special was happening here. Something I was hungry to be a part of. So when Tara opened a second round of Playing Big in January, I not only re-upped as an affiliate, I joined the program myself.
That was one of my best purchasing decisions in recent memory.
The Playing Big experience has been nothing short of amazing. Tara has created a space where, instead of competing, women are supporting each other to leap forward despite our fears.
We’re learning to recognize the voice of the Inner Critic (or, as I like to call it, the Inner Critic Gremlin) and distinguish it from the voice of Truth — and how NOT to take direction from it.
We’re learning to trust our instincts, to dream bigger, and to NOT let the size of our dreams paralyze us, but to get on with taking little “leaps” toward them.
We’re learning tools for unhooking from criticism, and — just as importantly — unhooking from praise and the need for external validation.
Throughout it all, each of us in the program is working on our own Playing Big project, drawing strength and encouragement from our cohorts as we practice playing bigger by going after a goal that scares us and sends our Inner Critic (Gremlin)s into hyper-drive.
“You can’t do that!” says the Inner Critic Gremlin. “Who do you think you are to even try?”
But where such negative self-talk has shut us down in the past, we now have the grounded wisdom of an Internal Mentor to shepherd us forward. We’re harnessing the butterflies in the stomach and making them fly in formation!
I’ve had a lot of practice with the butterfly harness since starting Playing Big. First, as I approached my initial Playing Big project: to write my story into a book sharing how I went from being plagued with eating disorders, self-doubt and a belief that “I’m not creative” to living a more fully creative life than I ever imagined — and how YOU can do it too! Butterfly-harnessing tip: calling it a Book-Like Object seems to quiet that Inner Critic Gremlin a bit. The ICG doesn’t know enough about a BLO to tell me I’m not up to the task, or “who are you to think your story is worth making into a BLO?”
The second big practice area for managing the butterfly harness is via two other, more immediate projects I’m currently working on. One is not quite ready to share (stay tuned), but the other is.
Time to Glow
One thing Playing Big has really helped crystallize for me is that who I am and what I already know (ie, everything I take for granted about myself) is actually of tremendous value. I’ve been experiencing revelations around this, and I’m now truly seeing how just bringing bringing my full, authentic self to the table is the greatest value I offer. I’m realizing how much I already know, and it has been feeling increasingly important to me to share what I know in a more systematic way than I’ve done so far.
Just as Tara Mohr has brought together the sum of her wisdom, knowledge and experience around women playing bigger to create Playing Big, I have been feeling a powerful call to bring together the sum of my wisdom, knowledge and experience around living a fully creative life and share it in a structured format.
And despite the chatter of my Inner Critic Gremlin — who keeps waving its arms and shouting “You’re not as famous and accomplished as Tara Mohr!” and “Who do you think you are to try something like this?!” and “You’re surely going to fail — just give up!” and “You’re not ready! You need to do more research/get a credential/be more accomplished/have a larger audience!!!” — despite all that negative self-talk, that (ie, sharing what I’ve got) is exactly what I’m going to do.
In fact, I’m doing it next month!
Get Your Glow On
I see too many of my fellow creative women hiding their lights under a barrel, NOT making time to feed their creative spirit and pursue the passions of their hearts.
I see too many creative women with stunted dreams that are just waiting to blossom forth — all they need are the proper conditions for growth.
And though I’ve been witness to the spark and flame of rejuvenated creativity in my Creative Ignition Circles, I want to do more than spark people up and help them stoke their creative fires. YES, I want that — always that — but I also want to foster a persistent and steady connection to creativity (and each other!), the kind of fire that doesn’t flash and extinguish, but continues to radiate — that glows.
Next month that’s exactly what I’m doing, with my new program for women with a creative hunger, Time to Glow. It doesn’t matter to me what form your creative expression wants to take. (Right now, mine is almost wholly absorbed by the creation of courses and workshops — just as exciting and fulfilling to me as when I’m in “paint-all-the-time” mode or “write-and-perform-songs-all-the-time” mode.) As far as I’m concerned (and I’m not alone in this), creative expression is simply what humans are made to do — whether it comes in the form of painting or sculpture or designing a robot or crafting a product launch.
If it feeds and nourishes your creative spirit*, it counts, baby! *(And you know what that is for you.)
That’s what Time to Glow is designed to help you do.
Click here to read more and sign up on the advance list for priority access.
It’s time to get your glow on! I hope you’ll join me.
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!