My beloved cat Starfish has been gone for almost 3 weeks but of course he’s still one of my favourite teachers.
On any sunny winter day (and we have a LOT of them in Manitoba) he’d get excited to go play outside. The loft has floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall south windows on both floors. It is SUPER sunny in here. It’s also SUPER insulated so it stays SUPER warm.
So he would see the sunshine and feel warm and would want to go out and play. And at some point one of us would open the door to leave and Starfish would race across the room to get outside.
The floors are polished concrete…. verrrrry slippery.
As he would get close to the door and start to feel the -30 breeze or see the piles of snow he would try to stop, but his feet were still sliding along the slippery floor.
Half of him would be racing forward while half of him was trying to put on the brakes. Eventually his front and back feet would almost meet as his back arched way up and he would slide up to the doorway.
That’s actually how a lot of us approach our creative dreams. Our inspired creative selves are raring to go while our fears, old belief systems and inner critics are pointing out that it’s too cold to go outside.
I posted this photo on Instagram yesterday morning:
I’m diving in! With the journal that is big enough to eat all of my other journals for breakfast.
(You can find that giant watercolor Moleskine right here. I’ve been using the same one as my “big plans journal” for years – I love flipping back through it to see how my ideas have evolved over time.)
I was so ready: journal pile, paint pens in every colour of the rainbow plus metallic gold, a fresh latte, candle lit.
I took out my dark blue paint pen and kept hesitating before letting it touch the page.
What am I doing?
I’m trying to figure out what I am doing by mapping it all out. Once I see how it all fits together everything will make more sense and it will be easier for me to just work on one thing at a time.
But my hand keeps hesitating.
No I don’t know how to do this.
Rough drafts are always easier. I grab a sheet of printer paper and draw out what I think I want it to be like. Sure enough, I am wrong. I switch a few things around, then with a bit of a plan, I draw it out in my journal.
Before I am even finished mapping out the bare skeleton of the plan, my shoulders tense up.
I have a sip of my latte which suddenly feels like way too much caffeine.
I decide it’s time to figure out my direct deposit information for my health insurance, and get up to go do that.
And then, with the computer open and my focus shot of courses I ended up on Facebook.
Which is when I decided to come here…
I know I am not the only one who struggles with this.
I know that sharing what I am going through helps others who are in the muck with me and it helps me find clarity and a way through. So. Here I am. I’m uncomfortable but showing up.
This part is just hard and there aren’t a lot of ways around it. Mapping out the big picture for any new thing is hard because:
- it takes AUDACITY to begin any new project and I’m not naturally a very audacious person, like I don’t just have extra stores of audacity sitting around that I can draw from
- making things clear means not hiding in the fog of the unknown details
- drawing a map with clear actionable steps means no more excuses
- no more excuses is THE WORST because it means facing your actual fears + feelings, the ones that live underneath your excuses
The only way out is through. So what are the actual fears + feelings I am facing right now?
(Listing them actually does take away some of their power)
- this is too big I can’t pull it off I am tired just thinking about it
- what if no one gets it? Or what if they get it but they hate it?
- I am SO lucky to have what I have what if I lose it by trying to make it better? (which is actually a mask for: you’re not good enough to do this)
- what if it never turns out as good as I imagine it will be?
But the biggest feeling I have right now is: I’m tired.
Tired is usually a mask for resistance, which is the desire to not feel the fear that you actually feel. So many layers of circling-around-feelings!
So how do I make space for my fear right now?
Same as always: Honour it, listen to it, offer it love.
I close my eyes, sink into my feelings, let go of trying to be in control and give my fear the space it wants. It opens up, bigger and bigger and then something new starts to grow out of the center of it.
It’s another me! A little me with markers and journals and a big lightbulb over her head. Happily working.
OK in the center of my fear is my love + desire to do this work.
As I keep giving my fear space that love + desire starts to grow too.
I feel less tired.
I still feel unsure about a lot of parts of this.
And I feel like I may end up without enough steam to finish the journey.
These fears are valid! What do I do about them?
Light bulb flashes. I see it now.
It’s my APPROACH that is off.
I’ve been thinking of building the whole structure right now, putting it out there, and then filling it in over the rest of the year or however long it takes.
That may seem logical but this is NOT a good way for me to work. I need space to shift, change and grow as I go.
Me from 8 months from now cannot be bound by ideas I have now! That’s the opposite of growth and creativity.
Also I work with transformation and healing – these qualities just naturally grow everything they touch. It’s like working in a greenhouse and dousing everything with fertilizer and then trying to stop them from growing so much.
So instead I need to put my ideas in order. Build the foundation first. And keep going as I am inspired to go… but allow the work I do today to inspire what comes tomorrow.
Let it grow and evolve and CHANGE as it comes to life. As creativity + dreams tend to do.
I don’t know if this makes sense for anyone else but this feels like freedom and magic to me.
I struggled in university (my degree is in fashion design) because my creative energy didn’t fit into the structure which is needed to get things done + shipped in the fashion world.
I need space and freedom for my creativity to evolve while I play with an idea – that’s the big thing I learned in university. I struggled for 3 years with really shitty grades, and then in my 4th year when I had more space to develop a collection on my own over the course of the year – I ended up in the top 10 of my graduating class.
Even though throughout my 4th year I had several teachers tell me that I was absolutely bound to fail because my process didn’t look like it was “supposed to”.
Anyway that was an important lesson for me and I need to draw on it right now and not create a structure that ends up suffocating me eight months from now!
This is the core of what my fears are about right now.
And I can do something about this.
See? Digging deeper into what’s going on with your fears is Magic.
After writing that out, I went to lay down for a bit, just to give all parts of me a chance to catch up with where I am now.
And then I went to my journal and did the next part: I wrote out a list of all of the things that are involved in what I want to do.
And it felt light and inspired.
And like I can focus on *just one thing* at a time and build it *just one thing* at a time and it’s all going to fit together in the end AND there is space for everything to grow and evolve along the way. Creative freedom.
I feel inspired. And ready. And supported. And like I have everything I need to take the first step. And like everything I need to take each consecutive step will come to me when I get to that part.
I feel free and ready to dive in…