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.

Sharing my Gifts

Julie speaking at IAMU Live event

Photo by Isabella Zaczek

Whew! I’m back from New York, where I had the honor to speak at Rick Tamlyn’s event, “It’s All Made Up Live!” I was up on the stage, in front of over a hundred people, talking about my message and my forthcoming book, The Creative Heroine’s Path.

As I reach out to share my work in the world, I’m connecting with people who want and need my gifts—and it’s both scary and exciting.

It’s scary, because being authentic and vulnerable in front of people whom I don’t know activates the awkward seventh-grader in me, the girl who’s afraid she’ll look stupid.

It’s exciting, because when I speak from my heart, people who are touched by my words thank me. That’s how I know my dreams aren’t just mine; sometimes they’re yours, too.

As I continue to walk on the Creative Heroine’s Path, I keep pushing myself to show up, to share who I am, and to offer what I have to give to others. In that spirit, I’m really excited to announce that I’ve opened a Zazzle store, to sell some of my paintings and photographs online!

Here’s the link to my new store.

Julie's art cards

Right now, you can buy greeting cards with three of my watercolor paintings, and one of my favorite photos. I am committed to keep sharing my art, so I’ll add more paintings and photos over the next few months.

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer with lots of light, music, nature, family, and friends.

Love,
Julie

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.

What Matters to You?

Little girl offering red fuzzy heart

Last weekend, I attended Rick Tamlyn’s “Play Your Bigger Game” retreat.

“Bigger” is all about finding and doing your good work in the world.

“Game” refers to the tool.

You’re always on the “playing board,” and you can choose which step to take next—without beating yourself up about where you happen to be at the moment. Once you learn it, you never have to be “stuck” again.

I can’t wait to use this tool with my clients!

My husband came to the retreat with me. This morning, as we were discussing the retreat—and the grounded soul of someone he feels called to work with—things about my own work clicked into place for me.

Compassion is a way of deeply seeing

I’ve always tried to reflect back their beauty and worth to others, and encourage them to live the lives that are most meaningful to them.

I try to look at others through the lens of what I imagine God looks through. When I choose that perspective—often unconsciously—I see  the person I’m engaging with. Judgment may not completely fall away, but compassion reveals their inner light.

Each of us is unique. Yet each of us has more in common with everyone else than we realize. That’s why sharing our gifts is so powerful. It’s both distinctive—adding perspective—and connecting—creating a bridge between your perspective and mine.

We all want and need connection

Elephants with trunks intertwined

Creativity is an important way to connect with others. It opens a window between the worlds of the creator and the appreciator.

When I look at the sunflowers carved into my favorite mug, I see the movement of the potter’s hands baked into clay. There’s a little bit of soul in that mug.

When I read an essay by a writer who struggled through her own doubts and trials, who distilled her wisdom into clear, strong words, I see new possibilities.

In both experiences—looking at my mug and reading an essay—I am enriched.

Listen! I can’t say this enough.

You have a purpose and meaning in this world. Share it. Connect. Be real. We need you!

There are many ways to love the world. What is yours?


Check out the Bigger Game
and Rick’s book, Play Your Bigger Game.

The Power of Vulnerability

Small puppy peeking through bushes

Last week, I posted a blog about feeling hopeless. It was a little scary for me to share. Maybe a lot scary. I wrote it from a place of strength and wellness, but I was very open about a rough couple days I had the previous week.

One of the things I’ve been struggling with lately—as a writer and an entrepreneur—is showing up authentically. I’m good at the supportive, uplifting stuff. But sharing about the harder things activates all sorts of fears for me, and they all boil down to this: worrying about the judgment of others.

It just about kills me to admit that.

All my life, I’ve been proud of thinking for myself, not going along with the crowd. Peer pressure always seemed lame to me. I think when people try to pressure others to conform, it is often really about their own doubts about themselves and their choices. When you can see through the surface behavior to what’s really going on, it doesn’t have power over you.

Which brings me back to caring about what people think.

Of course, I care about how people react to what I share. In fact, I want them to react, because I want to touch people in ways that make a difference, no matter how small, in their lives.

But the truth is, some people just won’t relate to what I have to say. Others won’t like it, some will misunderstand it, and everyone will have some sort of judgment about it.

The challenge is to show up anyway.

When I was in fourth grade, my family moved to a new city. I left the group of kids I’d gone to school with for four years—all of my school life. At my new school, because I was new (and vulnerable), some kids were quite mean to me. For the first two weeks, I came home every day and cried.

Then one afternoon, I thought, “I would never  treat another human being that way!”

Something clicked. As soon as I realized I had no respect for those kids, I didn’t care what they thought of me.

And then, something interesting happened. The very next day, no one was mean to me—no cruel teasing or attempts to belittle me. It was that dramatic. Overnight.

Of course, there were a few times over the years, when a mean kid would say something to try to hurt me, but it didn’t get under my skin. That’s probably why it rarely happened.

I learned that there is real energy in our beliefs. Every time I “tried” to not to care, it didn’t work. It was only when I really didn’t care, that the miracle happened. And it was based on being true to my values.

I didn’t try to put on a “tough” skin, or act like someone I wasn’t. I stayed true to myself, and learned an important lesson about life. I could be both vulnerable and strong.

So—what is the power of being vulnerable?

You may help someone. You never know who may be struggling with the same thing. Sometimes just knowing we’re not alone makes a world of difference.

Your authenticity shines more brightly. Some of the energy caught up in hiding who you are gets released into simply being yourself.

You gain resilience. When when you practice good boundaries and listen to your intuition about what you choose to share, and with whom, you learn that it’s safe to be real. As others accept you for who you are, you learn to accept your own frailties, which strengthens you.

And the truth is, there are people who want to know who you are, what you think, how you feel. I’m thrilled to see the movement of energy in Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings. I’m in awe when I read Rumi’s poetry. I laugh out loud at the cat videos people post on Facebook.

View through colored glass in kaleidoscope

The perspectives we share with each other are kaleidoscopes of meaning.

They are little stained-glass windows into someone else’s soul.

They enrich our experiences on this earth. They add depth, lightness, and beauty. And I am grateful for all of it.

To borrow a piece of wisdom from one of my clients, don’t “hoard” yourself and your gifts!

How can you bring more of who you are into your self-expression?
(And what are you waiting for?)