Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Shadow Artist No Longer

For anyone who is blocked, this is for you.  If you feel the need for increased creativity in ANY arena of your life, this is for you.  The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, is saving my life, little by little.

For years I have been a shadow artist.  I adored music, writing, drama, and dance...just not my own.

I loved to collect music.  I sang all the time.  And I would listen all the time.  I made mix tapes for myself and others.  I became known for that in high school.  (Everyone remembers that person, right?)  I took voice lessons, but little by little lost confidence in my talent.  I never believed that my voice was beautiful because God made it that way, just because it was mine.  I majored in music for two years in college, wanting to be a singer, a music therapist, a composer, then a teacher.  Then I changed majors.  I let my own creative energy be compromised and neglected, preferring to focus on other people's achievements and never believing I was capable of anything comparable.

Literature was my next major.  As a child, I wrote in my diary religiously.  I read voraciously, collecting others' stories just as I did music.  I eventually taught high school literature, gravitating specifically to the theme of the power of words, the power of the story.  Also, I discovered a love of poetry for the first time in my life.  Reading gives me chills, makes me believe there is more to life than meets the eye.  It is the connection between all people.  But I never believed I could be good enough to write anything serious myself.  Other than a few love poems here and there, and a creative writing elective, I never wrote to express my own artist within.

As for drama, I always wanted to act.  There were not a lot of acting opportunities for children in my smallish town, but I craved the stage and as I grew up, took every opportunity to be in plays:  summer camp operettas, high school musicals, Shakespeare, whatever I could get, even if I had to be a cross-dresser at my all girl high school!  In college, I considered majoring in drama-communications, but my first acting class was so terrifying I dropped it halfway through the semester.  I couldn't bring myself to act unselfconsciously.  In fact, I turned away from it so completely that to this day I find it difficult to go to a play.  Oh, but I dated the hottest actor in my year.  At least I could shadow him.

And I have always danced.  At one time I was good.  Nothing else feels so good.  Nothing else embodies joy and passion like dance.  Now I watch So You Think You Can Dance, feeling envy and regret.

People always said, "Oh, you're so artistic," and I would just shrug and say, "Not really.  I love the arts, but I'm not really creative."  They knew something I didn't.  There is an artist within me dying to get out.  And I mean that literally.

After beginning this process, The Artist's Way, I feel alive for the first time in years.  There have been decades of depression, but feelings of despair have virtually disappeared.  I look forward to nearly every minute of every day now.  Even challenges are feeling like opportunities now.  I write my morning pages--3 pages of longhand every morning, clearing and purging my mind, heart and soul of the chaos that fills it.  I look forward to the weekly artist date, a few hours to myself to observe, receive, replenish, renew, feeding my artist's soul.  I don't always look forward to the soul searching tasks prescribed, but I know it is the most loving thing I can do for myself.  And for the world.

I choose to open myself up to be a vessel of the universal creative life force.  We are all radiant beings, all created with certain gifts and talents, whether they be traditionally "artistic" or not.  It is up to us to find them, believe in them, and use them.  We matter.  The world can be a better place because we are in it, if only we believe in ourselves.

Find your gifts, and pump them into the world like water.

Favorite quote for today: "Great Creator, I'll supply the quantity; you supply the quality."

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