It’s hard being a Creative. Yes, it’s also fulfilling, enlivening and essential. But some days it’s dang tough to put yourself out there… again. There’s the tight feeling in your chest when you present something and don’t know if people will be more mesmerized by the fly on the wall than your words. Or when you write a personal memoir or blog and it feels like leaping out into the world naked. The tiniest stone thrown from a reader can hurt on exposed skin.
But this stepping out into the unknown with our vulnerability is part of the creative process, whether we are artists, writers, speakers, entrepreneurs or anyone who dares venture outside our comfort zone. Self-doubt about our work and worthiness walk with us.
So what to do?
I walk this path daily – as a writer, as an entrepreneur, as a human being. At this moment my chest is tight and constricted as I’m thinking about an upcoming retreat in a new part of the country. In central Texas where I live, my retreats sell out. Every time. But here my reputation and connections do not precede me. I am confident in my value, but the rest feels risky and out of my control. I’m vulnerable.
So when I feel an onslaught of uncomfortable feelings and self-doubt, the first thing I do is stop, or at least slow way down. I breathe and feel the sensations in my body — the clenching of the throat or the queasiness in the stomach. I don’t judge, I just rest and let them be. I wish there was a way around feeling them, but I’ve learned that reframing too quickly just makes it worse. The feelings just come up again another day.
This way of meeting my experience strengthens my courage.
Yet to be courageous, we also need comfort and compassion. Recently Elizabeth Gilbert talked about a journaling technique she loosely calls “testing it against love.” Using our limitless imaginations, she suggests we come up with the most forgiving, compassionate human being we can think of. This person may be someone we know, or someone we concocted. This loving Spirit or person is incapable of judgment.
Then, we might begin by journaling “Help, I need you, I’m feeling ____. Or, I feel worthless because _______.” and off we go. Then, we pause and listen as “love” responds. One day she may suggest we take the 30,000 foot view of things (rather than making the problem so big we can’t see around it). She might remind us that we’re doing our best, or that we’re worthy simply by being on this planet. Or she might console us, rocking our hearts with her words, reminding us we are tired and need to rest. Don’t worry, she says, she will be with us. Usually by this point the fears melt as we “test” them against the strength of love.
As creatives and human beings, we come up against so much in our world. If we don’t strengthen our creative courage, then we start to weaken and shrink, losing confidence that we have what it takes to move forward.
As I was listening to the song “Be a Light” by Melissa Simonson, I was struck by the lyrics, “I want to know if you can open up your heart, find the fear and give it love.” My practice has been finding the creative fear and giving it love, again and again. And with each loving dose, I come back to myself to create another day.
How do you find YOUR creative courage? Share it here on the blog.
Women’s Creative Renewal and Writing Retreat
Saturday, October 14, 2017
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Have you found yourself a bit rushed, disconnected, or as poet Mary Oliver says, “breathing just a little and calling it a life?”
Are you longing to take a decadent slice of time that’s all yours? Time to stretch into your fullness, to greet your true self again (oh, so that’s what you look like, I had forgotten!). Time to remember what matters most, and to tap back into your creative seeds and desires?
If so (and honestly, isn’t this what we ALL need from time to time?), I would love for you to join us in Scottsdale, Arizona for the Women’s Creative Renewal and Writing Retreat. Read more and register here.
Joyful Momentum Writing Circles
Do you desire to write… but find that without support your goals go on the back burner? Can you imagine a small group of fellow writers (new and seasoned) to cheer you on? What about laser coaching to keep you on track? And a structure that works not through harsh accountability, but from continually re-inspiring you to remember your writing dreams?
If so, consider joining one of our intimate Joyful Momentum Writing Circles. Although they are currently full, I will be opening a new Circle in late 2017. If you would like to be among the first to get details as they become available, contact me here.
Creative Soul Winter 2018 Women’s Circles
Our next round of Circles begin in January, 2018. Details to be announced soon!