POSTS & PROMPTS 4: LETTING GO

We hang on by the skin of our teeth.

We grasp onto whatever shred of control we think we have.

The reality is, though, that we don't have much of that. CONTROL. 

I remember that the first time I got pregnant I felt that loss of control in such a big way. I felt so vulnerable. ANYthing could happen to me, to my baby. Somehow, I knew immediately that all the variables out there--the good ones and the bad ones--were possible and that there really wasn't much I could do to control any outcome. I could do the best I could to live a healthy life so that my baby would be healthy, but really...shit happens. That created huge anxiety for me. 

And then my intuition said: "You have to just let go of control." I got it immediately.

When I accepted it (and then accepted it and accepted it and fought against it and accepted it again) I could breathe again.

Accepting my lack of control, surrendering to it, was peace.

This came up again when my second son was undergoing years of surgeries. I spent so much time grieving the loss of our pre-chronic medical condition life and also so much time worrying about a possible pain-filled future that it was impossible to have any peace day to day. (You can read more about that here.)

When I finally let go of that past and future sadness--surrendered to my lack of control--the peace flowed right in. It was truly an awakening for me. Surrender led to Acceptance which led to Peace. Life improved immeasurably.

Release yourself from the expectation of a perfect outcome—and give yourself the gift of possibility.

In the studio, this comes up all the time. My students arrive full of ideas or expectations about who they are and what they should do in their journals.

  • I'm not an artist.
  • I want my page to look beautiful.
  • I don't know how to use these materials.
  • I DO know how to use these materials, so why does it look like that?
  • My page needs to be deep. 
  • I need to be better at this.
  • It's not perfect.

All of these messages create pain and suffering. They are the voices from our past, voices in our heads. They are our Inner Judge and Jury, our Inner Perfectionist. 

And it all leads back to control. 

My friends, WE HAVE NO CONTROL. And really, THAT'S NOT WHAT IT'S ABOUT!

I continually remind my students: Let go of your expectations!

Translated, that means: Let go of your expectations of CONTROL, PERFECTION, and BEAUTY. That's not what this is all about!

When we let go of our expectations with an art journal page we are allowing it to evolve. And when we allow it to evolve we are allowing our intuition to speak with a bigger voice. 

Letting go in art journaling means continually returning to a place of "I don't know"...

  • I don't know where this is going...
  • I don't know what this is about...
  • I don't know why I'm doing this...
  • I don't know if I like this...
  • I don't know if I want to finish this...

When we do this, surprises happen. Words float to the surface that we didn't know were waiting to be said. Images speak to us and inform us. Awareness, insights, dreams, desires all come through and our right-brain teaches us something new. 

Letting go in art journaling means truly being in the process. When we create in that way our work is heart-centered, not head-centered. There's so much power in that. And it's where the real work gets done.

When we let go of our expectations, we are allowing ourselves to be more deeply present in our creative process. And when we let go of our expectations we are also more deeply present in our life.

When we let go of our expectations we are allowing ourselves to be more deeply present in our creative process. And when we let go of our expectations we are also more deeply present in our life.

THAT is what it's all about. 

So, let your heart speak on your page. Let go of your expectations and just create!

What holds you back from letting go?

If you'd like to art journal in response to this topic, I invite you to download my art journaling prompt (button below) for some inspiration. I like to think of art journaling prompts as little shovels, helping you to dig deeper into yourself. 

This is part of my weekly series of blog posts and art journal prompts. I hope you'll use these to enrich your art journaling practice. For more ideas about how to art journal, check out my Art Journaling Nuts & Bolts video tutorial series. Or, sign up for an in-person class or onlineecourse with me!