At Unfold Studio there's a big sign that says "Let it go." And when first-timers walk through the doors to learn about art journaling, one of the first things I say to them is "I encourage you to let go of your expectations...about who you think you are and who you think you aren't, about what you think you can do and what you think you can't, and about what you think this is supposed to be and what you think it isn't. Just let it all go."
I heard his words that night and they brought me to tears. I agreed with him, bread is essential. And I've also always believed that bread is one of those things that you can find in every culture. It's a unifier. It's a commonality amongst all peoples. And so, this baker really touched my heart that night with his bread/peace/love offering and he gave me some hope for Paris, and for humanity.
I just got back a couple days ago from my fabulous month away in Europe. I spent 2+ weeks in England with my mom and sister and then my husband, Mark, met me in London and we headed to Paris to celebrate our 25th anniversary! I walked (what felt like) a million miles, visited umpteen museums, old gardens and monuments, and ate a lot of croissants! So much beauty and inspiration in that kind of trip and I soaked up every atom of it.
I did not grow up with a belief in dreaming or wishing. My mom is a realist and she raised me to be one. She still doesn’t have much patience for anything in the woo-woo realm. That’s fine…for her. But not for me.
Ever since turning 50 I have found that I am bringing the magic of dreaming into my life more and more and more. I make dream lists and dreamboards, I wish for big, bigger, biggest dreams…even dreams that seem completely impossible. Why not?
Has it ever felt like you carry around your own personal Judge and Jury in your head?
The voice of the Inner Critic is LOUD, LOUD, LOUD. It sneaks in when we think we’re feeling confident, and it barges in when we’re feeling especially vulnerable. Our Inner Critic tells us we aren’t worthy, aren’t smart, aren’t able. It may be trying to protect us from failure, but it makes us feel failure before we’ve even started.
Whenever I give new students the studio tour, I make sure to point out the many boxes of Kleenex in the room. "Tissues are as important as paint in here," I say. And I mean it. It's not unusual at all for a first-timer to shed a tear or two when sharing her first night's work. Art journaling is--sometimes, surprisingly--heart-opening.
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.
Gallup Polls asked me recently to fill out a career strength survey. In it, I was asked how many different jobs I've had in my adult working life. I started to count on my fingers. Teaching in Vallejo, teaching in the private school in El Cerrito, teaching in Berkeley, my parent education business, tutoring...1...2...3...4...13. Yeah, 13. I even surprised myself and I was there!
Each of those were jobs I chose to begin and end. I've never been fired, but I've definitely left.
I'm more of a do-er than a planner. An idea occurs to me and I jump on it. Spontaneous. Impulsive, you might say. It's not that I don't consider the up-sides and down-sides to a scenario, because I do love to plot and make lists and organize a program. But once I've considered the initial details, well then, I leap.
I'm not into facades or masks. Being real, being true to my core, being authentic is very important to me. My instinct is to be sincerely open and honest.
If you know me, you know me.
I've been an extrovert my whole life. Most of my growing up years I was out there and unreserved. I didn't guard my heart and I didn't hide. It just never occurred to me. Why would anyone do that, hide? What's there to be afraid of?
Two weeks ago I stepped over a threshold of fear right into the arms of someone I thought was my competition but who turned out to be my soul-sister.
The reason it happened is that I finally took a deep breath and believed in myself. I flat out decided that I'm ready to think of myself as excellent, an expert and worthy. In all of that is an awareness of how scared I am of competition and comparison, how hard I've worked my whole life to avoid them, and yet, how much I want to stand out from the crowd and lead.
The other night in the studio I looked around at the women congregated there. Five women, all bent over their journals, quietly painting, writing, stamping, contemplating. Each was passionate about art journaling, and each had only come to the practice, and my studio, in the past year.
More importantly, every single one had originally walked into my studio and announced to me, "I'm not artistic."
How can that be? Isn't just living your life a creative act?
It's not that my whole life I envisioned this. I guess I don't really work that way. The way I work is: I have an idea and I follow it. I'm not the type to brew a dream for years and years, squirreling it away, planning and, well, dreaming about it in my spare time.