“You is a very fluid concept right now.” -Hitch

Impostor syndrome is a deeply rooted feeling of insecurity that rears its ugly head when we step outside our comfort zones, and it aims for the jugular as it make us feel like a fraud, a sellout, a poser.  It usually strikes at a point that should otherwise be a proud moment, like getting a promotion, landing a new client, receiving a commission to do a work of art, or receiving praise and recognition. Impostor Syndrome is that mean inner voice that says, “So, you think you’re special now?” or “Who do you think you’re fooling?” and “You don’t belong here…  you don’t deserve this. You are going to fail.”

In one of my favorite RomComs, Will Smith’s character “Hitch” is a dating consultant who takes hopeless cases and helps them win over the loves of their lives. In an opening scene, one of his clients expresses his uncertainty about a new, very becoming, pair of shoes, “I don’t think they’re really me.” To which Hitch replies, “You is a very fluid concept right now. You bought the shoes. You look great in the shoes. That’s the you that I’m talking about.

Sometimes, we need to get unstuck from the self-imposed perception of who we were and what we did yesterday (and the days/months/years before that). Why, with all of the infinite possibilities that each day holds, do we feel trapped in cycles of doing the things that don’t work for us, and fail to make us happy?

YOU is a fluid concept every single day. YOU choose the “shoes” you will wear, what path you will take, and which lens you will see yourself and the world through. That’s the YOU I’m talking about.

Embracing Ugly

“Making art” every day is a fallacy. It gives the inaccurate impression that beautiful finished works materialize effortlessly for the lucky and talented few. On the contrary, making art every day is a humbling act of embracing ugly, as the artist confronts the gap between what is visualized in the mind’s eye and what she actually accomplishes.

Still, it is imperative to show up… to paint, ink, doodle, draw, and sketch every day. I do it because it makes me happy and aligned with a part of my “self” that is yet unrealized. As my inner artist emerges, I have to give her a safe space to play, experiment, find her “voice,” and make mistakes.

A musician may releases a great album with, give or take, 10 tracks, but the legacy of that one album consists of dozens of rejected songs, hundreds of castaway verses and hooks, and thousands of crossed out words. We don’t judge that musician for the outtakes because they served their creative purpose.

For artists, ugly serves a purpose… they are the outtakes, castaways, and rejects that beautiful final pieces are borne of… Embrace the ugly.

Don’t press the panic button…

It’s one of those days – a huge list of things to do and a highly structured day to make sure it all gets done. As a work-from-home mom, I know too well how fragile it all is… that feeling that if a call goes 10 minutes over or I spend an extra 15 minutes on one project, my work simply won’t get done and I’ll feel unaccomplished. What happens when, like it so often will, a wrench gets caught in our plans? Whether you tailspin into despair or roll with the punches is a matter of choice.

Today I had to remind myself to take a deep breath and not press the panic button. And it all worked out in the end.

Joyful Purge

Following the sage advice of Marie Kondo, the life/space organizer guru, I purged my work area of books, supplies and magazines that don’t spark joy. I have never been able to work in chaos so my desk and art area have always been tidy, but I realized that I was surrounded by a neat pile of clutter and things I didn’t love, or need for that matter – pens, notebooks, books, decor – things that just did not spark joy in my work life/ work space.

Why was I holding on to these things that I never use? Because I am afraid of being wasteful? Cause I might need it one day?

Sometimes the things that hold us back are the seemingly innocuous clutter of material things we hold on to. Lift the weight of things, and you’ll feel free to soar… and the things that remain and make the cut, will actually be the things you enjoy and love.

What are you holding on to that just doesn’t spark joy? Is it time to let go?

My mommy coma… and [re]finding my “self”

A year ago, I began to emerge from what I refer to as my mommy-coma, the period in my life when my “self” faded into nothingness as my life became consumed with the nurture and care of my infant. I was sleeping 6+ hours a night, showering regularly, and not waking up to phantom cries in the middle of the night. It wasn’t long before I started to yearn to get back into making art – music, painting, writing. The absolute highest expression of my “self” has always been to create things, but, having stepped away from it for over a year, I felt uncertain about where and how to begin making art. I was scared to start again and suck at it.

My husband knew I was struggling and he gifted me the book, Art & Fear.

I devoured the book hungrily and did manage to reacquaint myself with art – I dabbled here and there, making some small progress, but never really gaining much momentum under me. Since I recently committed myself to making art every single day, I picked this book up for a second read. Here are a couple small excerpt that are particularly validating for making art every single day. I’ll be sharing more as I progress in the reading:

“To all viewers but yourself, what matters is the product: the finished artwork. To you and you alone, what matters is the process: the experience of shaping that artwork… Your job is to learn to work on your work.

“The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars. One of the basic and difficult lessons every artist must learn is that even the failed pieces are essential… You learn how to make your work by making your work, and a great many of the pieces you make along the way will never stand out as finished art. The best you can do is make art you care about – and lots of it.

My takeaway: most of what we make will suck, but it’s supposed to. Make art deliberately and work at it constantly. Make a lot of art. Make it for you.

Learn to rest, not to quit.

My body is exhausted, though my mind is aglow. I’ve been so excited to write and make art in the mornings that I’ve been beating my alarm every day and staying up much later than I should be. So, tonight, I am going to just share this little nugget of wisdom to remind myself (and you) to listen to your body… if you’re tired, rest… but do not quit!

Good night! 😴

Living in the mommy moments…

Today, my toddler protested nap time and that threw my afternoon into a tailspin. I didn’t get to do any the productive things I had planned for that hour and a half of freedom. I was mourning the “loss” of this precious time while I tried to get my child to rest and play quietly in our bed. Cuddles with Mickey and Minnie and comfort nursing turned into her falling asleep on me in our bed, something she hasn’t done since she was an infant. As I lay there, trapped with my sweater, left arm and left leg pinned under 30 pounds of cuteness, I looked into her sweet squished up face and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of love. I felt that my heart was at once full and aching with a longing to make time slow down a little bit, and I knew it was a moment I would miss even as I was living it.

Days like today that don’t exactly go as planned (but still unfold beautifully) remind me of the importance of making the time to do the things that matter most to us every single day and to live in the moment. It’s a balancing act.

Below: Just sharing one of my morning scribble doodles in calligraphy – just playing around with motion and medium (ink + metallic watercolor).

Rosie Revere, Engineer

My two-year old is obsessed with Rosie Revere Engineer, and to put it plainly, so am I. There are a lot of reasons to love this book – it is a beautiful story with wonderful illustrations; it is poetically written and the main character is an intelligent little girl with big dreams and ideas. It is an absolute delight to read aloud every single day, exactly one and a half ways through. (I am always asked to “read again, please” but alas for the many distractions of the vibrant energy of a toddler.)

[Spoiler Alert] In the story, one of Rosie’s early inventions gets laughed at, not in a mean spirited way, but it makes her self-conscious and she vows to keep her dream to herself. But, a perplexing problem draws Rosie out of her hiding… to meet failure yet again. Except this time, her brilliant Great Great Aunt Rose praises her failure, proclaims her a step closer to success, and Rosie Revere learns that, “Life might have its failures, but this was not it. The only true failure can come if you quit.”

The truth is, at some point in all of our lives, we have been discouraged from doing something we really cared about, loved even. Sometimes the “advice” is meant kindly but it is just as negatively impacting as a hoard of hate mail and cyber bullying. Even as adults we carry some of the earliest memories of being ridiculed and discredited. The fear of being pointed out and called a fraud keeps us from standing out (and being outstanding, for that matter) and instead of living boldly and authentically as our true selves, we do our best to blend in.

I was always discouraged from creating art and music as a child, mostly because my parents thought I could better spend my time studying. I was told that what I created was good, but not good enough… that I lacked imagination. (Ouch, right?) Ultimately, they meant well but these words are still part of my inner voice and I struggle with that every. single. day… but here’s the beautiful thing… Every single day that I get up to write and make art, I am winning. It’s not the kind of winning that is done at the expense of someone else’s loss. It’s pure winning.

Whatever you are struggling with… more power and light to you.

Attitude of Gratitude 🙏🏼

I am a firm believer that an attitude of gratitude begets more blessings in life. This works inwardly and outwardly.

When we are grateful for the people and things in our lives instead of focusing on what we don’t have, we feel full, complete, and favored by the universe. It’s the very acknowledgement of the big and small blessings in our lives that make us feel so incredibly blessed… but an attitude of gratitude is an active and inward choice.

We have to choose to see and acknowledge our blessings – that’s our mindset. 

I also believe that the universe simply grants more blessings to those who are grateful because well, wouldn’t you be compelled to give more to someone who appreciated what you gave them? I think of the universe as operating much like we do on a cosmically larger scale, and the laws of attraction are at work. If we are poised to receive blessings, we are quicker to notice when we get them, and the more we feel that we are blessed, the more we attract blessings to our selves.

One small practice I have been doing every evening to stay more mindful of my blessings is to keeping a Gratitude Journal. You can also do this with minimal effort and maximum impact.  Every night, on your phone, your computer, or a small notebook by your bed stand (I am using my reMarkable writing tablet) write down something you are grateful for – it should be something specific and can be big or small. When you start this practice, you start to recount all the blessings around you. It’s really been a wonderful way to end the day and I wake up refreshed to embrace new blessings.

Try it and see. ♥

Quantity begets Quality – Do more work!

Today I listened to the Art of Charm podcast Episode 683: If Quality is What You Want, Focus on Quantity – a strong message that resonates with my personal commitment to make art every single day. It’s only Day #5 but already I’ve created more art than I previously have in a given month. The dream of my heart, is to, in 5 years time, be a full-time writer and artist.

That means I have to write and make lots of art NOW… every single day… “It’s like Miles Davis once said: ‘Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself.’ Because true mastery, as we know, takes years — usually decades — to achieve. Even the most talented, naturally gifted people have to put in a huge amount of time to become incredible.” -AoC

I need to start placing my dream at the top of my priority list, to hone and whittle my craft so that one day I can find alignment in my “work” and my calling.  The way I see it, my life is a canvas upon which I iterate, paint over, and tweak until it is exactly what I would wish it to be… instead of sitting back, doing nothing, content to complain.

I truly believe some of the things they say in this episode to my core, and they are bolstering my daily commitment to create:

Quantity is the road to quality.”

To make amazing things, you have to make a lot of amazing things… and probably start by making lots of crappy things.”

Quantity reinforces completions… A lot of people struggle with finishing a thing. Committing to volume means committing to completion.”

There is freedom in Quantity… “If we increase the amount of work we put out, then each individual piece of it matters less. That then frees us up to explore, try new options, make mistakes, and forgive ourselves when the work disappoints.”

Volume + Talent + Effort  = Quality

Confession: Anyone who knows me knows that I am a confident person, but somehow sharing my “practice” and “progress” works here make me feel insecure. But, here I go anyway… because success belongs to the courageous. [Below: Henna study with calligraphy pen]

I only recently picked up on calligraphy pens and I am so so so in love with the depth of expression that is possible with them that are not even conceivable on a ball point pen. I thought it would help me master curves and shapes to try Henna designs, also a new expression for me. Evidently, I need lots of work on curves. 🙄