Digging into Defining Beliefs
November 6th, 2007
No art for the day yet. I had wanted to write more last night, but posting art takes time and so, I bumped it to today, which is probably for the best as I feel so much better than I did yesterday. Yesterday was a little rough for me. I felt it was probably the day before my period (and today I found out it was), which is typically a rough day in which I feel extreme sensitivity, sadness, irritation, etc. It's a lot like how I feel when my depression has taken hold. This time of year can be a rough one for me and whenever I feel a day or two like this, I have this twinge of worry that it's not going to ease up. I was at my worst in late October/early November, 7 years ago, which sounds like a lifetime ago, but doesn't feel like it. It was weeks and months of feeling the way I did yesterday until I nearly gave up on life. I'm so glad I reached out for help. And I'm so grateful to be in a better place now.
I'm going through a major cleaning/purging in my home with the focus being on my office/studio space which as I mentioned earlier is frighteningly cluttered. My best friend has been helping me with it with her super organizing skills, which has been so awesome, but some of the stuff I really have to go through alone. Last night, I was pulling things out of my desk and came upon two old notebooks. I flipped through them finding budgets, a period of time where I was writing down everything I spent so I could see where my money went, writing exercises and such. This stuff was probably from about 6 or so years ago. Some of those soul searching exercises you may do from time to time are a wonderful treat to come upon years later. It brings to light the ways in which you've changed, things you've forgotten about perhaps because the transition was slow and gradual. Much like it's hard for a parent to see how much their child has grown because they see them every day.
In one small notebook from about 6 years ago, I found a few pages about "defining beliefs." This must have been an exercise from some book, but I don't know which one. On the first page, I wrote: "defining belief: I'm not quite talented enough to make it." I nod reading it, yes, I still feel this way at times, but less than I did before. Next I've written, "evidence" and underneath it: "Not having my designs chosen in high school graphic design class; Criticism in my art classes; I'm not creating much; I need projects to keep me going; I haven't sold my art or shown it in any galleries." It makes me laugh a little that my first bit of evidence was not having my designs chosen from a class in high school. I took that a little personally, eh? Then I wrote: "Price I pay for holding on to this belief" and under that, "I feel inadequate; I don't feel ready for grad school; I don't send my slides to galleries; I hide my art." Next line was titled, "Result I'd like" and then, "to be a successful artist (acknowledged.)" And then, "Evidence: I've shown my art in galleries to rave reviews and sold my art for big $." Underneath that I'd written two affirmations: "I am a talented, prolific artist" and "People want to purchase my art."
I wanted to share this because each year when I do AEDM, there are so many creative people who think their work isn't good enough, who feel inadequate or embarrassed, and/or who apologize for their work. And I want to say, don't apologize! Life is short and there is only one of you out there who can express what you can express. So, you've got to share it while you've got the chance! Maybe your skills aren't where you'd like them to be. They may never be what you consider perfection, but you can't let that stop you. It nearly stopped me, but my urge to create was greater than my need to be perfect. I know I'm never entirely satisfied with where I'm at, but it keeps wanting to learn and grow more.
And the other cool thing about finding this note, was to see how far I've come. I have shown my art in galleries, I sold 8 pieces in the last show I was in. I've sold individual pieces for what I consider a lot of money. So, by my standards 6 years ago, I am a successful artist. Now of course, my standard of what success is has shifted, but it was great to be reminded how far I've come and that I have accomplished a lot in the last 6 years. I also feel much stronger than that voice that wrote these pages, which is wonderful to see. Take a look at your own defining beliefs. And if they're limiting you, tear them down. It really helps to write it out if you can.
And here's a little something more. I found this on the first page of another notebook. I'd written out this whole quote from the book, "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg. Clearly it made an impression on me then. And reading it now, I think it's quite relevant to the journey that AEDM is. The author is talking about writing as a practice here, but you can apply it to anything really. She writes,
This is the practice school of writing. Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don't want to run and you resist every step of the three miles, but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don't wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run. It'll never happen, especially if you are out of shape and have been avoiding it. But if you run regularly, you train your mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. You just do it. And in the middle of the run, you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop. And you stop, hungry for the next time.
So keep on creating, my creative friends. You are all a great inspiration to me. Thank you!