Creativity, Self Empowerment

Perfectionism: be gentle with yourself

Well, it finally happened: I missed a day of blogging in my 100 days.

Not even for a good reason – mostly just poor organisation. I was tempted to beat myself up about this ‘failure’, but then I reminded myself of one of my intentions for the 100 Days Project: overcome perfectionism.

If anything, this is a good learning opportunity. I missed a day in my (so far) perfect 36 day blogging streak. In the past, I would have probably given up at this point because I’ve ‘messed it up’ (thank you years of dieting for this kind of thinking).

Actually, let’s be honest: in the past I probably wouldn’t have made it this far. I’ve mentioned before that it’s hard to blog every day. I actually think if I didn’t have followers I probably would have given up weeks ago. But I’ve managed to keep going.

And instead of using this missed day as an opportunity to berate myself for once again failing to do something right, I’m going to take the chance to congratulate myself for doing something well, and for getting straight back into it. I’m not going to let my perfectionism trip me up again.

I read an interesting quote about perfectionism:

At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success – Michael Law

Did I miss a day in my 100 days? Yes. Does that mean I’ve failed the project? Only if I stop here.

Life is not black and white, failure or success. It is not doing it right or not doing it at all.

Life is making mistakes, getting messy, quitting, then starting again, then taking a step back, then making headway, then hitting a wall, then trying again. It is never linear, it is never straightforward, it is never without error.

Celebrate what is going well, and be gentle when you make mistakes.

Speak to yourself as you would to your best friend, or a small child: you wouldn’t tell them they are a loser who you always knew would fail. You wouldn’t tell them to just give up now because they will never succeed. No: you would speak to them gently, you would remind them of what they’ve done well, you would encourage them to keep going.

Try to be aware of how you speak to yourself when you make mistakes or ‘fail’. How can you be more gentle with yourself?

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Creativity

Art journal play: The first two art journal prompts from the 30 Day Journal Project

I finally made some time to play in my art journal this evening.

I’m quite new to art journaling and I’m just trying to see what others do and pick up things from them. I also try to see what I feel inspired to do at the time. Sometimes this works, other times it doesn’t.

I love playing with different media such as stamps, washi tape, acrylic paint, watercolours, markers, collage etc. I also love the idea that I can just cover anything I don’t like.

I really feel my perfectionism creeping in when I’m working in my art journal.

grow

I’d like to learn to relax a bit and go with the process, rather than worrying about how it’s going to look in the end. I want my  art journaling to be more about the process than the result.

I haven’t shared much of my art journaling on here. I don’t actually do it as often as I’d like – it’s more time-consuming than pen and paper journaling, and also I guess I worry about it not being ‘good enough’. Which is silly really, because it’s not about that.

At the moment I’m following the prompts from Lisa Sonora’s 30 Day Journal Project. I love how she starts each list of prompts with ‘do one, some, all, or none, as you wish’. It really helps me to feel free to choose and journal how I most feel like it. One thing that I have found to be really difficult with projects like this are too many rules.

The first prompt is about beginnings. Lisa provided the quote, from Henry David Thoreau:

There is no beginning too small.

no-beginning-too-small

I wanted to bring in the idea of the beginning being like a journey. I’m starting where I am, which is literally Auckland, New Zealand on this map. But it’s also about starting where I am in my life right now – with the skills, feelings, and desires I currently hold.

So often I put things off because I’m waiting for ‘the right time’ – whatever that is.

But more and more I’m realising that starting where I am is fine. Starting now, in fact, is better. Start where you are. You are here. Move forward from here.

Have faith.

you-are-here

These words appear so often in my journaling. Faith is a ‘being value’ I’m forever working on – a character trait that I would like to possess. I so often doubt myself, my work, my dreams, my skills, the possibilities for the future. I remind myself daily to have faith that things will work out. It never fails to reassure me, and keep me on track.

have-faith2

Be bold.

Courage is another being value I’m working with. In case you haven’t noticed, fear is something that seems to follow me around! Reminding myself to be bold kicks its butt, though.

be-bold

The second prompt is to do with commitment. This is something I really struggle with.

I’m fine with romantic commitment (I’ve been with my partner for over 5 years) but most other forms of commitment are tough for me. The thought of a mortgage terrifies me. I usually don’t stay in a job for more than a couple of years. I move house a lot. I change my mind a lot about things: I lose interest, lose motivation, lose faith. In fact, blogging every day as part of this 100 Day Project is one of my best commitments so far.

I think I’m afraid of getting trapped in something I don’t want. And I’m also afraid that I won’t see things through, so committing to something can be really hard when I doubt that I’ll finish it. I worry about over-committing to things and getting too busy and stressed.

I love my freedom and like to make choices based on how I feel at any given time (this is why I find full-time employment quite hard). But, I also think there are benefits to really committing to something worthwhile and seeing it through.

commit

Most of all, I think it’s important to be gentle and kind to ourselves. You can only ever do the best that you can at any one time. You are doing the best you can. Go gently.

It’s a very strange coincidence – I didn’t read the text before I put it down and painted over the top. Then I noticed these words:

make-a-commitment

Just try it. Experiment…make a commitment. Respond kindly.

Or perhaps it’s not a coincidence at all. The universe works in mysterious ways when you invite creativity into your life.

Creativity, Self Empowerment

How journaling improved my relationship

When I first started journaling regularly, I began to develop a deeper relationship with myself. With that came a desire to express myself creatively and I even began to imagine the possibility of starting my own creative online business.

And something else happened too: my relationship with my partner improved.

I didn’t plan for this to happen. I certainly didn’t start journaling with the intention of improving my relationship. But it was a happy side-effect.

In fact, it wasn’t until I looked back on the benefits of journaling after doing it for several months that I realised how wonderful things had been in our relationship at that time.

Why did our relationship improve? I think it’s because I had made myself a priority.

It sounds paradoxical, but by putting myself first – by regularly journaling, connecting with myself and nurturing my creativity – I had formed a better relationship with myself, which had a flow-on effect to our relationship.

I’ve heard it said many times that you can’t love someone else or be truly loved by someone else until you love and accept yourself.

Over the past six months, through my journaling, I have developed a level of self-acceptance – no, self-love – that I have never before had.

For the first time in my life I can honestly say that I love and accept myself, exactly as I am, with all my imperfections. Journaling (and quitting dieting) has helped me to get to this point.

By loving and taking care of myself every day, I have become a happier, more secure and more creatively fulfilled person. And this has had a profound effect on my relationship.

In what ways? Well, we don’t argue very much at all. We actually spend less time together, because I spend a lot of time doing my creative things (he’s very understanding because he has his own creative things), but the time we do spend together is quality time. It’s enhanced by me being happier, more relaxed, more fulfilled and more in touch with who I am.

So, if you’re looking for a way to improve your relationship, try taking some time out for yourself regularly to journal or do something creative.

Have you noticed any outward improvements in your life or relationships because of your journaling practice?

Creativity

25 Days into the 100 Day Project: A reflection

Today is the 25th day of the 100 Days Project. I’m a quarter of the way through the project, and I want to reflect on how it’s going.

It’s hard.

I know I’m probably not supposed to say that, but in the interest of being authentic and vulnerable, I should be honest.

I’m actually really enjoying the challenge of coming up with new topics and things to post. I’m enjoying the daily journaling and creativity, the daily commitment. I’m enjoying getting comments and support from readers and other bloggers – that has been such a huge pleasure.

This is the first time I have blogged this consistently.

It keeps me focused on what matters in my life: creativity and sharing my creativity with others.

But some days I am tired. I work as a teacher which requires a great deal of energy. It is especially difficult at the moment because I have moved to a new school which is further away – so I have to get up extra early if I want to journal before work. That is fine, but then it means that I have little energy in the evenings to blog, or do any other creative work, such as my art journal, or poetry.

Oh, and my best friend and I are planning our own online business, which takes a lot of time and energy too! But it’s the good kind.

heart close upSo what does this mean for my blogging? Nothing much. I’ve thought about stopping the 100 Days Project but in truth I don’t want to. I enjoy the challenge. I like being committed to something. I like having to share my thoughts and my creative practice regularly. I think if you want to achieve something creative, particularly writing or art, doing it every day is important.

Can I keep going for another 75 days? I don’t see why not. When I read about amazing inspiring people like Lisa Sonora’s 1008 paintings project I am just blown away. It makes me laugh about my 25 days of blogging.

Lisa says throughout the course of the project she dealt with questions such as:

‘How do we stay on track with a big goal?
How do we start again when we’ve gotten sidelined?
What supports constructive action and creating? And what undermines?’

These are things I should explore in my own journal. If I’m feeling like I want to give up, why is that?

why I want to blog

Susannah Conway has said that every week she worries she has run out of good blogging material. Anne Lamott says that she often worries she has run out of ideas. So I guess the mild panic I feel each day about what to blog about is only normal.

I like the fact that it keeps me on my toes. The discomfort and challenge of blogging every day is good for me as a writer and artist. It keeps me pushing forward towards a goal, even when it feels a little uncomfortable.

So, on that note, here’s to 75 more days of getting outside my comfort zone!

Creativity, Self Empowerment, Spirituality

When in doubt

When you’re pushing for something you really want and it doesn’t seem to be happening as quickly as you’d like, it’s easy to lose faith. It’s easy to start doubting yourself and your dreams.

But, you just have to remind yourself to have faith.

Everything is exactly as it should be.

When I start to feel doubt creeping in, I write myself little reminders in my journal.

I find writing things like ‘have faith’ and ‘trust the process’ work as great reminders to myself.

It’s like having a wise friend reminding me that things will work out.

If you’re feeling doubtful about your dreams or goals, try writing affirmations to yourself in your journal. It always works to get me back on track.

Creativity, Self Empowerment

On authenticity, vulnerability and courage

These words are thrown around a lot. Especially the word ‘authentic’. It’s become a self-help buzzword, of sorts. What does authenticity really mean? I believe it is closely tied with vulnerability and courage.

Why? Because in order to be truly authentic – that is, to be truly yourself – you need to have the courage to be vulnerable, exposed. Being who you really are in a world that constantly tells you to be someone else requires courage. Especially if who you are is a little different.

The word vulnerability is a little scary, isn’t it? Sounds a bit dangerous, a bit risky. But really, there is a paradoxical truth here.

Vulnerability actually empowers us.

The more that we can truly own who we are, claim our identity and just be us – the less that others can influence us or hurt us. No one can take away who you really are. And if you know and love your true self, it really doesn’t matter what others think or say about you.

I’ve been finding that the more I come to accept and embrace – even celebrate – the quirks that make up who I am, the more I am forced to be vulnerable. I have to share myself, my true self, with others. It’s very difficult to tell ourselves that we are good enough while actively hiding parts of ourselves from others.

But a strange thing is happening: The more I share who I really am with the world, the more I am developing courage.

Brene Brown likens courage to swimming – you get good at swimming by practicing swimming. Similarly, you get good at courage by practicing courage. This makes sense.

So often we don’t share our true selves (our feelings, opinions, dreams, hopes, disappointments, fears) with others, because we don’t feel brave enough. We hide who we are; we are afraid to be vulnerable. We lack courage. It is only through the practice of being vulnerable that we can develop courage.

This can all seem a bit abstract. Let me put it in concrete terms. For me, vulnerability and courage look a bit like this:

  • Making peace with the way I look, including being overweight, and accepting that some people will have a problem with that (but that’s not my problem)
  • Accepting that others may judge me for some of my unconventional beliefs/choices (such as wanting to live in a tiny house, refusing to watch the news because it makes me very sad, not caring about things like fancy weddings or expensive clothes/makeup, choosing to be at home alone rather than out partying, refusing to eat low-fat dairy – because really, what is that?)
  • Being open about how I feel if I’m having a bad day
  • Asking questions when I am unsure, even if I think I’ll look stupid
  • Not caring what others think of me (still working on this one!)
  • Sharing personal things about myself on a blog!

But I’ve come to realise that in order for me to be authentic – to feel like I am accepting and loving who I am and just ‘being myself’ – I need to be willing to be vulnerable. I must have the courage to share who I am with others, regardless of what they will think of me.

Journaling has helped me immensely with learning to love myself and developing courage. The more often I engage in a journaling dialogue with myself, with my dreams and desires, my fears and opinions, the more I come to accept and even celebrate who I am.

Some questions to ponder in your journal:

  • What does authenticity mean to you? And courage? Vulnerability?
  • How authentic do you feel you are? Would you say that most people know the ‘real you’?
  • Are there parts of yourself that you deliberately keep hidden from others? What are they? Why do you hide them?
  • Are there parts of yourself you would like to share with others more readily?
  • How could you be more authentic? What parts of yourself could you start to share?
Creativity

Trust your intuition + journal prompts

I learnt an interesting lesson this weekend – to trust that gut feeling, my intuition.

I had a hunch about something, and it proved to be right. Except, I kept second guessing myself, telling myself I was foolish. I felt so certain, but at the same time doubtful.

The doubt came from fear (my good old friend!) and sometimes it felt like the doubt was speaking louder than my intuition.

You know that feeling, when you just feel certain about something? When, even if it seems silly, or you can’t explain it, or you just have a knowing… listen to it. Because it’s probably right!

trust-your-intuition

Journaling ideas:

  • Do you listen to your intuition?
  • How loud is it? Is it easy to hear, or is it drowned out by logic, left brain thinking and the busyness of everyday life?
  • What does it sound like, or feel like?
  • Is there something your intuition is telling you right now that you’ve been ignoring or dismissing for some reason?
  • How could you tune into it more?
What Inspires Me

Found poem: The Artist

I’d like to start sharing found poetry.

Mostly I ‘find’ my poetry within the pages of books I’ve loved (and bought extra copies of from second-hand bookstores just so I can cut the lovely words out). At the moment the two I’m most using are The Artist’s Way and Eat Pray Love.

 

I’m quite new to this and am just finding my way, but it’s lots of fun.

The Artist

When people feel

the light

of art,

it brings healing.

The artist may feel

mysterious vulnerability.

They call it

invisible achievement.

Creativity, Self Empowerment

One hundred days of scaring away fear

I’m starting something new. I have signed up to do something called the 100 Days Project. Basically all I have to do is choose one action then do it for the next 100 days. Sounds easy enough, right?

Um, no.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I have trouble starting new ventures. My good old friends fear and procrastination are right here with me, making me question my every move. I’m trying my best to tune them out, and I guess that’s what the next 100 days will be about.

My plan is to journal every day in some form, although I’m using the word ‘journaling’ pretty loosely: I will write in my journal, create in my art journal, do work in my visioning journal(s), create found poetry or practise my handwritten typography. I guess I count these things as journaling in some sense because I do them all in some sort of journal. Some days I might use a prompt, other days I will just go where my creativity takes me.

Then, I will share what I have done here: what I learn, an image, a quote, an insight, or just something to (hopefully) inspire you for the day. Some days I may have a lot to say, others very little. But the main thing is to show up every day.*

There are a few things I’m hoping to achieve, or make some progress towards, over the next 100 days:

  • Get comfortable with blogging (yes, it still terrifies me each time I press ‘publish’)
  • Vary the way I blog – some longer posts, some shorter posts, some mostly photographs, some lists, etc
  • Get into the habit of blogging regularly
  • Overcome perfectionism and procrastination around blogging
  • Build a following of readers
  • Challenge myself to be vulnerable, to stick with something, to take risks and push myself
  • Challenge myself to find inspiration each day

I guess the idea of blogging each day is quite simple to some, and it probably seems like I’m making a big deal out of nothing. But for me, it is a big deal. I’m not a blogger. Not yet anyway.

I’m excited and terrified. But I guess that’s the point. Seth Godin said,

In the long run, the enemy of fear is creativity. I’m sure of it.

Here’s hoping I can scare fear away using creativity. I guess that is my true goal for the next 100 days.

*The irony is that as soon as I’ve posted this I have to pack for a trip I’m taking this weekend where there is no internet… But, I will still type up posts and share them when I am home on Sunday – I promise!

Creativity

Listen to the little voice inside (despite the fear)

Every day I find myself being more and more drawn to creativity, to opening up to what the world has to offer.

And I’m terrified.

I can’t quite articulate why. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so long denying this side of myself. It’s new and strange. I worry about how my life is going to change once I follow this thread.

But how can I not? I see all these amazing things that other people are doing – their own journaling, writing, art, businesses, their own creative self-expression. And my soul cries out – I WANT THAT! I want to see myself unfold and create and inspire.

It’s scary because it means that my life is going to change in so many ways. But that’s a good thing, because it’s not filling me up as it is. I may be in a comfortable spot, but is comfort really what I want?

No.

I want creativity. Risks. Learning, growth. Inspiration. Freedom.

I want to express who I really am and say, world, this is me and I am great and how can I help others to be – no, celebrate – themselves? How can I use my own uniqueness to inspire others? How can my creativity help me to help others find their creativity, their bliss?

I love that saying by Fabienne Fredrickson:

The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.

whats-stopping-you

I am so passionate about being creative, about growing and inspiring others. And despite the fear, I need to keep listening to the little voice inside. I need to keep following the thread, see where it pulls me.

Will you come along for the ride?