(“You can fly”, print available here)
“I am in the cage, I know I have the wings but I am afraid to trust them and try flying. How did you find the courage to spread your wings and dare to fly?”
My eyes filled with tears as I read this line in my inbox one day. I was moved by the sincerity and trust behind the question. But more than that I was moved by the fact that someone would ask me about something I have been struggling so much with.
(Be gentle with yourself, available as A5 postcard here)
Before I say anything more, let me assure you: I still struggle with finding courage, trusting that the way ahead will be good and safe, feeling uncomfortable by all the insecure bits in this puzzle of creative worklife. And overwhelmed by all the new stuff this journey pushes me to learn, and learn fast. I often forget I have the wings, then remember it, and struggle till I find the courage to trust them again.
But I do know something about moving through those fears, doing it anyway whilst being gentle with myself. And I want to tell some stories from what I found to be important keys in that journey:
FIIRST, DARE TO MAKE A DECISION
5 years ago I decided to find out what I was passionate about in life, and step by step start making it a part of my career. I wanted to parttake more actively with what I had to offer in this life. And so I went on a deliberate search to find my passion, searching in books and writings to get some guidance on the way. I knew it would involve lots creativity. I just didn´t know exactly what it was I was supposed to do. One of the books I read talked about how you can have many passions in life. And live first one, then another. And at some point maybe even combine them. You never have to be stuck with just one chosen passion. What a relief!
The first passion I found was teaching Creative courses for adults.
(From the course “Creative everyday”, creating visionmaps)
I really don´t think it matters so much WHAT you set out to do. What matters is that you DECIDE to do something you feel to some degree inspired about, for a start. But do choose, decide to do it and begin taking the first small steps. There´s a key in deciding and sticking with it, with small actions in that direction. At least for a while till the next chapter reveals itself.
(The exercise “Walking with visions” from Creative Everyday course)
A POWERFUL TOOL: ACTION
I prepared my material for the course and then I hesitated. I was so afraid of inviting people for the first course, the fear kept me back and that went on for a whole year! One day, at the point of desperation, I talked to a friend who had a lot of experience in teaching creative singing classes, and she suggested we set up a course together. Brilliant, that was exactly the helping hand I needed to move through the fear.
(From Creative Everyday course: searching for images)
ACTION ALWAYS REVEALS THE NEXT STEP….
About a year later, after teaching my own courses and enjoying it tremendously, an underlying passion began to bubble it´s way to the surface. I was teaching people to find and follow their creative passion and integrate it in their life. And now my own unfulfilled dream began shouting: “What about me? Bla, bla, bla, you teach other people to follow their passion. And yet I am still here, un-lived. I want to paint and express myself creatively! I WANT TO GET DIRTY WITH PAINT ON REAL CANVAS!” The whispers had been there for many years, but it was only when I began acting in a decided, passionate direction that they became loud enough – or I became open enough – so I could finally listen. Acting on my first longings gave me the ability to hear the other dreams that had been buried so deep I didn´t even know if they were there anymore. The dream of painting was still there, and once I began it was as if we had never been apart.
NEW DECISION, NEW ACTIONS AND DARING VISIONS
I began painting again in a winterholiday 2 years ago. I had one week alone at home without husband and children. I wrote about that journey here. After that, I made the decicion to paint every week. I have been painting one sacred day every week since then.
(Finding oneself, print available here)
I loved painting so much that it filled me with a giggly courage and I began to utter the wildest things to my closest friends, like: I think I want to be an artist, or: I would not mind being known by the world just enough so that I could live off my art. Or even: I am dreaming of licencing my art and creating cards and posters with it!!! The small steps of action evoked more passion, which in turn created more courage, and an upward spiral had started.
WHEN YOU FOLLOW YOUR BLISS, BLISS WILL LOOK FOR YOU
Around that time, wonderful coincidences began to occur. It was like invisible hands in my back, often in the form of other humans. Helping hands that lifted me along in small and big ways. But this only happened after I had gone a part of the way “blindfolded”, with passion as my guide. And a faith that my urges to create was there for a reason. That my creativity had a place in this world. You may think that can happen for others but not for you. I firmly belive that if you take the steps I talk about in a passionate direction, and keep listening to corrections on the way, this not only can, but surely will happen to you too. Bliss. To you! Yes, you!
(First “exhibition” ever, in a street market in Præstø here in Denmark, summer 2011)
SHOWING UP = CREATING STRONG WINGS
Today I am building a life around my true life passions, doing my best, still listening to the guidance inside. And, very important: showing up at the canvas, computer or wherever I am needed. Like I told, I still get regular visits from doubt and all it´s cousins. I also know that the exact spot where I can win new land is when I show up and do my very best in spite of the doubts. And as long as this journey is filled with joy and a feeling of genuine inner richness, more than with struggle and despair, I know that I am on the right track. I continue to experience helping hands and happenings of joyful coincidences when I least expect it. I also still have periods where I don´t get any signs, and then I know: I will always be the one responsible for this journey, and there will always be first steps it´s up to me to take.
(“Old friends”, available as part of 6 pack A5 card series here)
I believe there are helpers around us who love when we act on our dreams. In my mind they clap their joyful hands when it happens. I imagine they are watching carefully when we set out in a direction: “Does she mean this seriously? Is she going to quit at the first obstacle? Do I dare invest some of my bright gems in her quest?” And then, when they feel that we are genuine, they find the most charming ways to help us. We don´t have to be perfect, not at all!!! But we do have to take the first small steps, not knowing the outcome.
I think that real courage is daring to be vulnerable enough to feel fear and doubt and do something anyway, building our own trust one small step after the other.
(My business card made me jump with joy when I got the first batch; another step in believing my dream)
If you are gathering the courage to carry something out in the world, I wish you all the passion, strength and help you could ever imagine to take that first tiny step!
(“Dancing with life”, mixed media on canvas)
I want to share a sweet experience that came to me on a walk through the field a few months ago:
I am walking quickly through the high summer grass on my way down to the stream to call the children home. For weeks I have been working intensely to get my first webshop ever ready for selling my cards and posters.
It has been like waiting to give birth – heavvy, almost unbearable here towards the end. Like bubbling joy, turning into impatience and then into doubt if this child will ever be born at all.
Still walking, I speed up to half-running pace my eyes on the path where I see how it moves and transforms under my feet as I run. And then at once I am inside the sweetest bubble of a vision. I see how finely wrapped cards and posters are flying easily and safely from the area on the grass filled ground around me, up into the air – and like magnets they are drawn to their destinations….and they land softly and safely in caring homes all over the world. The whole thing happens very fast, but without any sense of rush.
(“Collecting thoughts” one of my favourite motives by the artist Fran Evans)
Immediately after this, still half running, I see my paintings. They are also drawn out to their recievers, a little slower though, as if it takes stronger magnets to attract them. There is a graceful charm and dignity in the way they move, and a deep happiness when they find a matching reciever.
The whole thing is like at dance unfolding right there, under my running feet and in front of my eyes as the high grass is passing by.
Then I reach the stream and the children and the next task in life. But with me I now carry a certainty that the right elements will always find each other in the dance of life. And that as long as I listen to that inner voice and do what I love doing, then what I do will find a place and function in the world. Attracted by the right places and people like giant magnets in the joy of recognition.
(Dressed up envelope, heading out from my shop into the world)
That day, I thanked the muse who was kind enough to slip this vision into that small crack of consciousness under my running feet, helping me remember that all I can do is my best. And then the rest will be reveiled as life unfolds. Just like you can decide to invite pregnancy but you don´t know if you will become pregnant or how your child will be until it´s there. And that´s part of the beauty of this weired and wonderful dance called living.
I love how my latest exhibition in at “Emely and Elliot” in Næstved (Denmark) turned out. I really think the owners did a wonderful job at fitting the paintings into their delicious shop and café. They never had exhibitions before, here is how this one happened:
Above: bird-painting/ birdcage match!
I can thank Stinne Gorell who makes the most wonderful and cool design with pure wool for this sweet match. She called me one day from shop where they are selling her design, saying she had found just the venue for me to exhibit and sell paintings. Also, she had already shown the owners images of the paintings and they were keen to see more. What a match, Stinne really has an eye for that!
So an exhibition was planned, and is now up. Some of these images, like the two above, was actually created inspired by the french vintage style that I love so much about this café. You see part of the café life outside too, wonderful little corner of Næstved is this.
Above: bigger paintings and goodies on the shelf
“Old friends” found a nice spot
For some reason this little exhibition makes me very happy. I think it is many things: The way it happened shows once again that no one can do it alone, we all need to give and recieve help. And that way we can all be more.
Happy also because I flair with beautyful surroundings and things, it matters to me big time. And this café is seriously a favourite place….they even serve soya latte!
And happy because I remember being a little discouraged the day Stinne called. That call that day was the small but important hint telling me to keep up the work and spirit….and some days I really need that. I guess we all do.
And that to me is the beauty: We can´t exactly plan how help and openings will come our way. But we can do our part of the work , and for the rest stay open for oppurtunities. And when they come, we can say thank you and go with them.
Thank you life.
Here comes the second part of the story about following my passion and beginning to paint again after more than 15 years. You´ll find Part 1 here if you missed it. Part 2 is actually the beginning. Like I promised, this one has a video in the end with a song I wrote one inspired evening.
Do you have your cup of tea or coffee ready?
Long, long ago I loved to paint and draw. The passion stayed with me as I grew up and later I thought that was what I wanted to do for life, paint.
LIFE TAKING OVER
So off I went to art school. Then I took up dancing to get more body in my paintings and got swept away with the love for stage-expression. So I went to theatre school. Later I got busy teaching and many other things, all good, and involving a steady income. I had two wonderful children with my dear husband, spending much time on family business. All the time thinking that of course I would paint again, some day.
Often friends or family who knew me as an aspiring painter, asked me if I had made any new paintings lately. That was so strange, because when I answered, I wanted to say “yes”, – I almost felt as if I had just been painting. Only I hadn´t.
(From Creative quickie book: “Imagine that you woke up one day and discovered something much greater than you ever expected growing out of your pot!”)
Now I can see that all those years I avoided taking responsibility for my deep passion: creating. I mean this in no regretting way, truly not. I don´t believe we are here to get everything right straight away. I simply believe we are here to do our best and learn whilst we do. And I learned so much. Many things that are utterly useful for me in what I do today. But true passions have a way of not leaving us alone. They are our own voice whispering persistently, and they will keep on whispering (even shouting) until we listen. Sometimes a lifetime. We may not be open, but the passions are there, ready to play the moment we are still enough to feel who we are.
TAKING RESPONSIBILITY AND ACTING ON IT
One day I stumbled upon a book about finding your passion and creating your life and income from that. I was totally on fire about this and systematically did the self-study during almost a year. Through that book I learned that we may have many passions in our life and that it is no shame to pick and follow one, then another, and then a completely different one. I had always thought that I had to get it just right, and did not dare to fully go for my passion since I was not sure if I knew which passion would be the right one to go for. I was also afraid I would make a fool of myself because of lack of true talent.
TALENT, PASSION and WORK
Oh, talent! Talent is wonderful. It is the gift we arrive with, ready to use as we choose. We all have them. But we need more than talent. I have a talent for being creative in many different ways. But god knows I wasn´t born with a big talent for taking charge of my dreams. It took me so long to realise that I had to deliberately work for that, if I wanted my own direction in life. Working with the book helped me choose one dream, for now, and try out what may happen when I dedicated time and effort to follow that. After finishing the book (only available in danish, but I believe there are many books on the subject in english), I attended a workshop with the author. Truly inspiring! And enough for me to get started on my first dream: to teach workshops about creativity.
During the coming year I created workshops designed to spark off a daily inspiration and a clearer vision of what you want in your life, using bits from all the artforms I knew and loved: Dancing and movement, writing, vocal exercices, creating images and working with life visions.
After each workshop I taught I was happy. And proud that I had given my dreams wings in the real world. And then, when I was done celebrating that, I started to hear a whisper that had been waiting patiently underneath this whole time:
“I want to paint. Please allow me to get dirty with paint and real canvas. Are you going to be too tired or busy for that forever? Isn´t that what you teach in your workshops: How to create time and space to do a bit of what you truly love, each day? So please listen to me, I REALLY WANT TO PAINT!”
(A creative quickie: “When you wish to help a plant grow, It won´t help to pull in it. Instead you need to discover how to nourish it´s own power to grow.”)
I felt ashamed. I had found my passion and followed it. I knew a lot about how to nurture creativity and do more of what you love doing. I was even teaching it, and still, the thing I kept dreaming about seemed almost impossible to do. I had been thinking about it, longing to paint on real canvas for so long that I was terrified I would let myself down if I dared to paint again. What if i was no good, or even worse: what if I would find the painting process donwright boring?
I needed a shift, a helping hand, something that could bypass the fear-effect that came from dreaming about, but not doing the painting.
One evening in october 2010 as I was sitting at my computer, I finally listened to the advice from a very caring lady who told me to visit Kelly Rae´s blog. She said that I absolutely had to check it out.
That was my first visit to Kelly Rae´s wonderful universe. That night, I just sat there at the computer, watching one painting after onother. I remember becoming very, very still inside. Such simplicity and freedom in the usage of colors, forms, words, images. The free mix of it all. Wauw! Here was the spark of inspiration I needed. I was transported into something similar to meditation, I must have sat there for hours, soaking in the goodness. And the following evening too. The paintings worked like healing, and up and out came a song, want to hear it?
(You can find the lyrics to this song here)
Seing Kelly Rae´s paintings helped me find back the freedom to paint from goodness. And to keep it really simple and close to my heart. A big thanks to her for inspiration, courage and belief! I know she helped so many creative souls listen to their passions, following their dreams. Whilst stayting true to her own.
(Heart, spread your wings of joy)
To end off this celebration I want to thank to all of you who gave your support this last year. You told me to keep going. You spoke kind words. You bought paintings when I started selling. You gave me a practical helping hand. You listened to me and was bearing with me during lots of words about my process. You commented faithfully and cheered me on here on my new blog. I believe all creative souls need some cheering and confirmation. In the end, all humans do. This year, your support meant so much. Thank you!
I recently finished a painting that I titled “Rain”. Rain like refreshing drops of water. Rain like not minding getting wet, soaked in life – all of it. Rain like going on an adventure, raining with surprises. Rain like small drops of heaven.
“Rain” mixed media on canvas, 50 x 50 cm, on exhibition now.
That day, a sweet soul posted a music video on facebook, titled “Rain”. I never met this lady, or even chatted with her. I smiled surprised, and watched it, of course. And really liked it. Totally different kind of rainy feeling, but oh, so beautyful. It runs in my head now, like drops of rain…
Rain like the beauty in feeling blue. Rain like pouring with life you can´t control. Rain like letting the tears out, finally. Rain like a soul going deep, deep to find herself again. Watch/ listen the video here: Rain – Patty Griffin