When I’m training other folks to organize – to attract like minded folks to thier issue – the statement that brings them up short is always this: You have less than 3 minutes to keep the attention of someone you are trying to attract. What question must you ask them that will give them the curiosity and impetus to join your movement?
It isn’t as easy as it sounds.
And it is not easy to ask your own self the right question to encourage yourself to persevere in pursuit of your passion.
So when you are in the midst (“when” not “if” – not everyone takes a nosedive in the middle of winter, but everyone does take a nosedive sooner or later), do you have backups in place? And do you have a way to prod yourself to that first babystep to move toward the backup?
As you might guess, I’m in the midst of my nosedive. This week is better than last. Last was very very rough. It was the kind of week when you wonder why *everyone* else is making it as a coach or an artist or in their career and there you are: dead in the water. That is called all or nothing thinking and it is deadly.
Name it: Why, Tammy, that is all or nothing thinking. Then gently say something along these lines, “Self, you are entirely loveable. No one else can do the work that you are doing. You are SO lucky! You are following your passion. You are creating things no one else has ever created. You have opened paths for other women with Wylde Women’s Wisdom – just look at ALL the GREAT emails you get from women you have inspired. Lighten up. Take that step! You can do it!”
And Self replies: “Phffffffffffffffbbbbbbbbbbbbbtttttttttttttttt!” or something along those lines.
You are dancing in the dark with your shadow, and the lizard brain and hamster are singing the tune to which you dance. When the strobe flashes often you can see a glimpse of the world you see in the daylight when life is tripping along, but the dark returns. And so do the voices. I am not going to describe them. We all know them when we hear them.
At the moment I cannot pick up a paint brush. I cannot even get myself to play in my art journal. I can get my hands into clay – but up until today, it was for rote lines that I have already created. I did try out some new glazes and that was great fun and had great results.
Tip 1: Do something you don’t have to think about (art journaling requires thinking and designing. The kind of clay work I was doing doesn’t). At the end of the not thinking add a touch of spice (new glaze). It can be a jump start.
Yesterday, instead of beating myself up because I wasn’t accomplishing anything, I read a book about zombies all day long in front of the wood stove, and then last night watched DVDs of Boston Legal which I only caught just before it was going off the air. Brother-in-Law lent us all the seasons. And I did not once tell myself I should be doing otherwise. It felt like being on vacation! Tip 2: When you talk to your Self be nice. Berating yourself will only make the demons, the lizard and the hamster join in. Self may not reply in kind. That’s okay. Be nice anyways. Tip 3: Take a break. Not the kind of break where you clean the refrigerator and scrub the bathroom. Take a vacation break. Imagine what you would do if you were not in your house but you were on vacation. Do it.
Today I did not get out of bed until 10 a.m. Still on vacation. But while I was laying there, visions of the jungle mosaic I want to create which has stymied me (for no good reason; for reasons like: you can’t possibly do that! ) danced in my head. In the light where I could see them. I did not jump out of bed and immediately start to work on the visions. I am letting them stew. I ate breakfast, played Words with hubby, son, and girlfriend, drank coffee, read Facebook and emails and am typing this. But Self is getting excited about the possibilities of Jungle and getting impatient to get on with it. That is a good sign. I still cannot pick up a paintbrush. That is okay. Tip 4: Attend to your rhythms. Do not fight them. Pay attention when Self stops pouting. Follow, do not force, the energy that is emerging.
I also read my regular inbox mailing from Stacey Curnow who is a really good coach, who writes from the heart, and who I admire for finding her way with great integrity. I also get great input from Ruth Davis at Spark the Heart, coach and artist and MAC expert-person. Tip 5: Create your support group. It is mandatory. It can be just one person. It can be just one single great blog. But create a connection somewhere that comes to you regularly and gives you energy. Or, some days, hope, especially when you’re bumping into things in the dark.
The final tip is ask the question: Self, what is it that you are so afraid of? If you’ve done all the rest, Self will blabber it all out. Write it down. Because the answer you are looking for is what is driving the fear. Once you have named it, it becomes smaller.
Here is what I’m afraid of:
1. I have no way to get the things I love to make out into the world where they will sell. Wrong. I have Facebook, I have shops, I have this blog, I have juried and unjuried shows I am already signed up for. I did great in December with my ornament show. I DO have to do more of whatever works best. First I need to identify. If I can’t identify I need to move back through my own discoveries in Sell Your Art Keep Your Soul. Persistence is the key. Why am I afraid to persist?
2. After all this work I’ve done, I will have to get a job to supplement my income because of the economy. Maybe. But not yet. I can stop worrying about this until “maybe” becomes “definitely.” It may not become definitely in which case I will have worried for nothing. It may become definitely in which case I will have wasted the maybe time when I should be focusing on new work, new lines and more of what I list in item 1 above. Why might I fail at making a living at doing what I love?
3. I am not as good as I think I am. Wrong. I may even be better since I tend to be my own worst critic. Success is not what the outside world thinks and says (or doesn’t say) about my work. Success is being true to that creative spark in me that drives me to be a conduit for energy that wants to present concretely in this world. It is my gift to the world AND to myself – that creating. I can play small or I can grow into who I came to be one step at a time. What if I am successful by this definition and yet can’t pay my monthly bills?
You get the idea. There are more, but I don’t want to overwhelm you, just give you a taste of what we all experience in day-to-day living. I want you to see that you keep asking questions and keep answering them. Yes, it’s time consuming but otherwise you’re off fighting with shadows. Bring them on into the light and see how they shrink.
Good luck! Persist!
1. If you aren’t failing at anything, you aren’t trying anything new. You’re playing it safe.
2. Playing it safe will feel comfortable until you wake up (or are startled awake by something the ever generous Universe sends your way) and start paying attention to the fact that you’re being pinched and scraped and bruised daily and have numbed yourself out to it.
3. You came here for a reason. Are you living your reason? Have you even bothered to think about what your reason really is? Not the one that will make you money, the one that makes your heart sing, and gets you out of the bed every morning with a “Hell YES! Can’t wait to meet this day!”
4. Can you tell me, without thinking hard, 5 things you’ve failed at in the past six months? (and New Year’s resolutions don’t count).
5. We don’t begin. We reason there’s a better time, we need more money, someone else can do it better. Maybe yes to all that. But maybe they’re waiting just as we are and so nothing changes because none of us will just face the fact that tho we might fail, we might also create the space where the next person, riding on the energy that comes through, succeeds. We owe that to the world (see 3 above).
6. If you don’t begin, you can’t finish. You haven’t lost because you haven’t run. But you ARE lost.
Ready, Set, GO! Fail at something. You just might find yourself along the way.