Finding courage to spread our wings
(“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!