When I was 13, I stopped doing art.
Not that I gave up on all creative pursuits. I played viola in the school orchestra, and at 16 I discovered dance, my first Bliss, which I pursued with a manic passion, until I was permanently sidelined by an injury a few years later (long story).
But drawing? Painting? Making cool stuff with my hands? That, it seemed to me at the time, was the purview of other folks.
Meanwhile, while I was focusing on other things, my friend Karen was honing her already-significant drawing and design skills. A visit with her to the art classroom in high school, where other classmates’ works lined the walls and shelves, seemed to offer irrefutable evidence that art was something other people had a monopoly on.
They were the artists. Therefore (or so I believed), I wasn’t.
I forged ahead, through college and grad school, with a rather zombie-like doggedness, and pretty much gave up on my creative spirit. (Academia has a way of sucking creativity out of you.)
The inner creative child cannot easily be suppressed forever, though, and thankfully, finally, at 28, I “re-discovered” mine. She was not dead, as I’d almost come to believe, but just needed some permission and play to spring fully back to life.
I gave my inner creative child art and creativity classes in every form and genre I could find — writing, painting, drawing, ceramics, calligraphy — and that last one, calligraphy, bit me hard. I was quickly hooked, immersed myself in the pursuit of mastering this art form, and gradually, over the years, I turned it into my livelihood.
The “Not An Artist” title, I discovered, had never been an accurate one, although I should say that it took me a number of years to fully claim the title as “Artist” (a fact which deserves, and no doubt will get, its own blog post another time).
Now I can only shake my head and laugh sadly at the pain those years of denying my creative spirit caused me. I now refer to the time from age 13 to 28 as “my 15-year hiatus.”
The Persistence of Resistance
I’d like to tell you that I and my inner creative child lived happily ever after from that point on, but I’d be lying.
As I share in the video above (and in this post), the reality is that, after I had finally reconnected with my creative spirit, it didn’t take long for the demon of Resistance to rear its ugly head and try and separate us once again.
What helped? That time around (because, dear reader, I hate to tell you, but Resistance comes in a multitude of costumes and is nothing if not persistent), what brought me and my creative spirit together again was the book The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, now known the world over as a classic in the realm of helping people reclaim their innate creativity.
Julia gave me permission to play. To experiment. To discover what was inside me to discover. To be okay with and embrace my own, unique way of dancing with my inner muse.
I still think fondly of that time of re-emergence, and Julia Cameron has my undying gratitude.
If I were to do it all again, though, this time around I wouldn’t go it alone. I’ve learned how powerful it is to go through a transformative process in community with others on the same path.
The really cool thing is that I do get to do it all again. We all do.
I don’t mean re-reading and re-doing The Artist’s Way (although that’s certainly an option!) I mean allowing my creative spirit to grow, re-emerge, shed its skin, become more truly me and shine ever more brightly.
And the best part of all is that now, oh-so-many years later, I get to guide other people on their own journeys of creative re-discovery. That’s my main focus here, in the Circles I run, in my coaching practice, and in the courses and workshops I’m brewing up.
Playing Around Online
Speaking of which (see how I did that?), I’ve got just such a course coming up in about a month, which I’m super-excited to be co-teaching with my brilliant partner and fellow artist and coach, Kelly Hevel. It’s called Playing Around Online, and it’s our way of introducing ourselves, and our new joint venture, to you.
(It’s also our online version of what we’re brewing up in “3-D”: creative immersion vacations in inspiring locations around the world! Coming September 29-October 7, Playing Around Istanbul — a week-long creativity retreat in (wait for it…) Istanbul! Yeah, you seriously want to mark your calendar and start saving your pennies for that one. But back to Playing Around Online…)
For 12 weeks, from March 14-May 30, we’ll gently lead you in an ongoing “playdate for the big kids,” where you’ll get to shed your inhibitions, try out new techniques, inject your personality into your art, writing, and creative crafts — and learn to use your unique life story as inspiration!
I’ll be sharing more about Playing Around Online over the coming weeks (including the “grand opening” of our website). For now, I invite you just to notice how your body and soul respond to the idea of 12 weeks together, attending to your creative spirit.
Excited? Scared? Raring to go? Resistant?
Any one of those reactions could be your inner creative telling you it’s time for this.
No need to make any decisions right now — just notice. And pay special attention to that voice of Resistance, which might be saying something like “You’re not an artist!” or “You don’t deserve this!” or “You don’t need this!” or “What a ridiculous waste of time!” or “What a ridiculous waste of money!” or “You’re not good enough!”
Um, yeah. (All voices I’ve heard in my own head, by the way, when seeking to dance more fully with my own inner muse. And pretty reliable indicators that whatever is making them shout so loud is probably exactly what I need!)
Ready to battle that Resistance demon? Mark your calendar and fill in the form below to come to the free tele-party* that Kelly and I are hosting on Wednesday, March 7, from 10:30-noon PST, Living the Creative Life: Fact vs. Fiction. We’ll be sharing the stories of our own creative journeys (including how we’ve battled the Resistance demon!), exposing the myths and truths around what it means to live a creative life, and inviting you to join in what we hope will be a lively conversation.
Plus you’ll get a chance to win a free spot in Playing Around Online — how cool is that?
If you’re even the slightest bit interested, just fill in the form below (or if you’re reading this on email and the form isn’t working, just click here to fill out the online form) and we’ll keep you posted on how to register for the free tele-party and the chance to win that scholarship spot.
I hope you’ll join us on March 7th!
What forms has the Resistance demon taken in your life? How have you succeeded in battling it?
PS – Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
* What’s a tele-party? It’s like a party of creatives (including “wannabe,” and think-they’re-not-creatives), over the phone. We could call it a teleseminar, but that sounds so “markety,” dry and academic — which we definitely are not!