For the first time in a long time, I went to the easel before doing anything else. I wrote words on the page about expanding, about accepting good into my life, about how I want to feel in my home. Here's the thing I know, the location is important but that is not the most important thing. The most important thing is how I feel in my space.
This practice in my journal has been consistent this year. When I am not with it, I think that it is something from a long time ago, like an ancient practice. Looking through my pages this week, I discovered that most of my work has been done this year. This is my work. This is what calls to me.
This week I spent some time with my friend, Betsy of WildThymeCreative. She is a friend whose life work revolves around seeing within and speaking truth. From her own creative practice of intuitive painting and journaling to her coaching practice for others, she is in flow when she is asking questions and gazing at the answers for new perspective. I called her and said I needed deep conversations and expansive brainstorming. We spent six hours together and it was glorious. ( Betsy uses that word a lot. I love that! More things and people and days should be called glorious) Though my original intentions centered the what of my work, she reminded me that it is the why and the way that is most important. When why and way are in energized, the rest will follow. It was a day of words about creative process as spiritual practice. It was a defining of work and boundaries.
Just after I left, I received a text from Betsy. She has new studio space and the sign guy had come by to take measurements for the window logo. She wrote:
And so the window sign guy came by and took measurements for the logo and asked about my work. I fumbled through an explanation of intuitive painting and life coaching. And he said, "It sounds spiritual ... interesting. I love to paint but I don't get to play. I have to work."
And so it begins. Every time I define something. Declare something. Claim territory. Forces/old message/resistance comes in and tries to rename it.
I am a professional. Just making my own declaration and claim.
Here it is. Here is the struggle. We live in a culture that doesn't honor art making as legitimate work. I am probably prejudice but I feel that the visual arts carries a greater stigma of invalidity and a narrow definition of success. Within the community of those who are called to express visually, there feels like there is a hierarchy of validity. Do you hold a Fine Arts Degree? Is your artwork in a gallery? Are you displaying at art shows? Are you selling originals and prints?
I see the idea of being an artist as a line drawn circle. Dots along the circle represent education, discovery, practice, exposure, etc. You may be anywhere on the line and you are still an artist. The reason that I represent it as a circle is that education, discovery, practice, exposure, need to be in process and occurring all the time. Again, where ever you are on the line, you are an artist.
In our conversation on Thursday, I told Betsy that if I did nothing but show up at that easel in my journal each day, I am still an artist. That is actually my most important work. That is where I work out my why and my way. That is what leads me then to the canvas and to the written word and to exploring all sorts of creative outlets. It is work. It is important work.
It made me sad and a bit angry that this man had brushed aside Betsy's important work as play. On one hand, play is important and keeping a playful spirit about the creative process is important. However, Betsy and I had exchanged many words that day about what it means to be a professional and to be considered a real artist.
The next day, on the phone, I told Betsy, "Here's the thing. He could never do what you do. If he tried to do the work that you do, he would be a puddle on the floor." I wasn't trying to set up another hierarchy where one person's work is better than another. I was making the point that Betsy's work is HER work and no one else can do her work. Heck, if I tried to do Betsy's work, I would be in a puddle on the floor too!
We can only do our work in the world and ONLY we can do our work in the world. It is unique for each of us. If you are spending time trying to be like someone else or hacking off of someone else's work, you will never be as successful as you could be. ( understanding that I am speaking of a deep, deep meaning of success) AND you will be robbing the world of what only you can do.
Show up to your work in the world.
Only you can.