Do It Scared

Boy jumping off boat into lake

I had a chat with my dentist today about creativity.

He was curious about my book, The Creative Heroine’s Path. Because his dental hygienist was unavailable, he cleaned my teeth, which gave us more time to talk. (Or, in my case, mumble.)

It turns out he is a talented musician, songwriter, and singer. Who knew? But then, so many creatives are hiding in plain sight. When I tell people that I mentor creatives, something comes alive in them, and they tell me their stories.

I mentioned that I’ll be giving an encore book talk at Barnes and Noble next weekend, and he asked how I went about getting scheduled there.

“Did you go in to the store and talk the manager?”

“I just called them up.”

He expressed amazement that I could call them like that, as though I have a huge amount of confidence.

I shook my head. “Do it scared,” I lisped.

“Oh, that’s right,” he said. “If you wait until you have perfect confidence, it will never happen.”

Bingo.

We tell ourselves stories about other people who are doing what scares us. That they are special or anointed or supremely confident and strong. Maybe some of them are, but I doubt it. Most of us are doing it scared, at least at first.

Think of something you do well now, that you have mastered. Was it easy from the start? Were you filled with confidence while you were learning how to do it? Were there times you felt quite vulnerable, even scared?

But despite all that—you did it.

What do you want to create next in your life? Will it stretch you beyond your current limits? How do you need to grow? Who do you need to become?

If it scares you a little, or a lot, do it anyway. To create the life you want, you must stand up to your fears. Over and over.

You can do it. Take imperfect action.

Do it scared. No one will know, but you.

You Can Live a Creative Life

Woman in silhouette typing

At the turn of the new year, you get to wipe the slate clean. The old year—with its joys and sorrows, failures and successes—has been written. Now you have a bright, shiny stretch of time, in which you can create your deepest dreams.

Of course, you have the ability to create something new every single day. But psychologically, the new year feels so fresh with possibility, that this is a great time to reflect on the past and set goals for the future.

This new year is a milestone for me. I published my book, The Creative Heroine’s Path—a labor of love for every soulful creative who fears that living a creative life is out of reach.

Your creative life isn’t out of reach. It shimmers in the world of possibility, waiting for you to bring it into the world.

This year, I will be posting blogs and vlogs about how to live your life to make your creative dream real.

Changing your life to support your dream is not simply about making a list of resolutions and checking them off as you flawlessly complete each one. If it was that easy, everyone would do it. Changing your life takes time. It takes effort.

And it begins with what you believe.

How Do You Want to Feel This Year?

That may seem like an odd question. After all, you will have many experiences that affect you in different ways. But I’m talking about your overall perspective, which colors everything—especially events outside your control.

The biggest challenge you may face as you make your dream real this year is believing you can do it. That’s often not only the first hurdle, but an ongoing one. Whatever your perspective this year, it must support your creative dream.

If that sounds daunting, remember you have a clean slate, or a blank piece of paper in front of you. This year is yours to write. You are the author of your life. What do you want to make of it?

Here is an example of a perspective I played with a great deal this past year: “Life is creative and abundant.”

There were times when I saw it clearly, and other times I didn’t believe it at all.

You see, life wasn’t conspiring against me to keep me from writing a book for all the years I didn’t do it. It was my own beliefs about life—how it really works, what I believed was possible, even what I thought I deserved.

I faced external challenges, to be sure. But when I began to see those challenges as opportunities, for me to push against to build my spiritual resilience, they shifted from roadblocks to bumps on the path.

When I looked at obstacles as life’s way of simply asking, “Do you mean it?” I began to realize that life is abundantly creative; I just had to answer that question with a “Yes!”

Dealing with difficulty is a necessary part of the process of life, and of living a creative life. The challenges you must work with are part of the material you use to co-create with the universe—like wet clay you mold with your fingers.

You have everything you need at this moment to begin to create a life that supports you.

What You Believe, You Create

Here’s another perspective that I experienced, profoundly, this past year. It could easily be rephrased as, “What you fear, you create.”

Beliefs are powerful. Recently, I had a big A-ha! moment while I was telling someone about why I left my creative path in my twenties. I told her that I compromised my gifts to make a living because I was afraid that if I followed my creative calling, I would become a “starving artist.”

Those words caught in my throat. Tears filled my eyes. I realized that I had become a starving artist anyway—the very thing I was afraid of becoming. For years, I made a living, but not a life. My soul was starving.

If your soul is starving, this is your year to nourish it.

Pick A Big, Bold Theme

This is the perfect time to look at the beliefs you take for granted. You may not even notice them, because they are the water you swim in. But a perspective such as “I cannot create the life I want” will hold you back. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What perspective do you want to look through in the coming year?

It could simply be, “The world wants my gifts.”

Get your rational mind out of this; let your soul pick your theme. Remember, this is about creating the life you want. This is big. This is wonderfully, incandescently real. Let your deepest wisdom speak to you.

Write it down. Keep it close to your consciousness. Put it somewhere you will see it every day, because there will be days you won’t believe it.

And remember, when you can’t see your theme, it’s still there, like a morning star, guiding you.

May the new year bring you the blessings of a more consciously creative life!

Seeding Your Subconscious

I’ve been out of the blogosphere for a month.

When I began the countdown to publishing my book, I cut back to writing my blog twice a month, rather than weekly. Then, as the deadline drew nearer, I stopped blogging altogether.

Oh, what I learned from that experience!

I keep relearning an essential truth: treat my creativity with respect. Nurture it daily, and don’t demand that it perform like a circus animal—that kills the spirit. Creativity is not tame and orderly; it’s a deep, mysterious process.

The moment I put demands on my creativity, the muse retreats like the moon at morning. Inspiration and imagination get blocked, and nothing works.

But when I shift from demanding that my creativity produce, to playing with my imagination, my creativity slowly begins to flow again.

I call this “seeding my subconscious.”

Drawing of things on my desk

This morning, I felt really blocked. So I looked at objects on my desk for something to paint, just to play, without any expectation that I would produce something “good.”

I sketched a gray conch shell.

I put watercolor on paper, quickly sketching sunflowers in a blue vase.

I played with my sun and moon motif, using a fountain pen with a semi-flexible nib.

Still feeling blocked, I chose four words (conch shell, sunflowers, sun, and moon), then I wrote a short vignette, using each word somewhere in the story. It felt like I was in the flow, at times, but most of what I wrote seemed flat and uninspired.

That’s okay. The muse is temperamental.

The shapes, colors, and words from this morning are all offerings to my subconscious, little nourishing seeds for it to absorb, or use to bring forth something new.

And that experience brought me to write this blog post, after waking this morning, unsure I could write anything.

That’s a good start to my week.

The Secret Drawer

I open my eyes to a blue light, the veil between waking and dream worlds, as thin as a spider web. I am so near the edge of sleep, it’s like waking up beside the deep pond of my self. The light of my mind touches on my mother, and some treasures in her secret drawer. I dip my hands into the water to bring them up.

Old key in lock

Last weekend, I helped my father sort through my mother’s clothes—some to donate to Goodwill, others to the high school Theater department.

It was odd to imagine my mom’s old clothing, altered and embellished for young actresses, standing bravely on the stage. I think my mom would like that. She enjoyed the theater. The things she touched, that warmed her skin, that she carried—all props in the stories of her life.

When we finished with her clothes, I opened her drawer of keepsakes, full of notes and artwork from me and my siblings. It felt intimate, looking at what my mom had saved. Like maybe I shouldn’t be looking—except that they were things that I wrote or made for her. They are my past, too.

I found a long piece of Christmas paper, with each end rolled toward the center. Puzzled, I unrolled it to find a note I had written in pencil.

“A scroll for the family. I love you [lists their names] — Love, Julie Ann.”

I felt a prick to my heart, and then tears. A vague memory of making that scroll flickered in my mind, like a few frames from an old film. And with it, deep feeling—of loving my family so much, and wanting them to understand that.

I looked further, curious to know what else meant so much to my mother.

I found a cigar box covered with pink contact paper, with gold stars and a red wooden knob. I recognized the paper and the box. One of my brothers—now a gifted painter—made it at school. Inside, I found a pinecone that was spray-painted blue. A pair of little boy’s sunglasses, with sand still stuck to them. And a small, round tin box that I’d decorated with felt, ribbon, rhinestones, and costume jewelry. In the tin box was a tiny photo of me, a little toy chicken and duck, a Christmas tag, two beads, and a toy ring.

I found notes I’d written to my mother and father, drawings, a story I wrote, and a “newspaper” I made. One newsworthy article said, “Mrs. Baldwin had to wait for 2 hours for the TV repair man!” And in the sports section, “They [sports] are stupid like always!”

Between my tears, I was laughing. I found at least three notes with promises to “clean my room tomorrow.” In one of them, I warned my mom not to look, because it was so messy it might be “hazeras” to her health.

Going through my mother’s secret drawer, I rediscovered some elemental parts of myself, moments I’d forgotten—like bits of old leaves in the silt at the bottom of a pond—and it is from them that I create.

Type block with word 'self'

I crave—and yet avoid—that initial piercing of my heart. The flow of emotion, the darkness, the light, the loss, the gifts, the betrayals, the kindnesses…. But I open the secret drawers of my memory anyway.

I peek inside. I shine a light through the depths of my pond, touching remnants of what I no longer clearly remember. That is where meaning lives—waiting to be reborn in a story, a poem, or a painting. Those are the treasures that I bring up from the depths.

Tune Out to Tune Back In

I need to go into deep places while I’m writing my book, but TV and Facebook keep pulling me—energetically—back to the surface. I’ve been feeling more and more fragmented by all the electronic inputs to my life.

Woman underwater touching surface

So a few days ago, I decided to take a week-long break from both TV and Facebook.

I thought I would miss them. But instead, I feel more peaceful, more present, and more in tune with myself.

It’s lovely.

I feel more connected to the place I create from. My work is benefitting, and so am I.

Are you feeling deeply connected to your inner wisdom, or are you disconnected and frazzled?

Consider taking a break from all the electronic media distractions. Drop a line into your subconscious. See what emerges. Notice the little tugs to do what you always put last in your life. Let them catch your heart, and reel you in, closer to your soul’s purpose.

What do you have to lose?