I wrote a long read at another website:
During the week I sometimes paint with the mentally challenged. It’s not voluntairy work, they have the room, the paint and the blank canvasses. On top of that, they are the most inspiring bunch. They don’t mind calling their own work a piece of art without sounding smug. They are profoundly pleased with what they made. And they are not afraid to teach you to be equally amazing.
Maybe the purple made it easier to approach me, but, man, she loved that colour.
‘Look, I used it too. You see, here and here. I really love the colour purple.’
I nodded and looked at her abstract, but thoughtful painting.
Once I wanted to make the deep purple fade into a more lighter version, she stepped in.
‘This is too stripey. You need to blend it better.’
I looked at my painting and agreed.
‘So how do I do that?’
‘You have to blend and blend and blend. Clean your brush often and don’t use so much paint at once.’
Becoming painfully aware of the amount of paint I had on my plate, I tried to blend. Clean my brush. Blend.
An hour later she stood beside my table again. Nodding approvingly.
At home I think about the girls in that room and their own admiration of their own work. They told me once about their dot technique. Which was just painting with dots instead of strokes. It sounds easy, but I have learned, it requires the meditative focus and persistence of a monk. Here is my tribute to them. It’s not finished, hey, it takes time.
Remember that post I had written about giving yourself the compliment and just try stuff, even though you are not an expert? Well, I try that every other day since we have started the Dutch website DIY creatives. I find myself in creative corners I have never been before and sometimes it works gigantically well. Other times not so much. Like this morning.
I had seen this cute tutorial on how to make a squirrel from one glove. Very cute. I thought doable. But when I looked at my glove, which was nitted, I started to second guess the tutorial, because the moment I would set my scissors into the glove it would fall apart. The design was not right. So I decided to make the same squirrel from a different fabric. To make a long story short: it didn’t go great. It didn’t go at all well. It went bad and I threw it away. All that work for nothing, I thought, I could have used this time much more effectively.
But then I thought about that quote in that earlier post and the last two and a half sentences:
And if you are not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself.
What did I learn from this failure of a squirrel? That my old patterns (my previous survival strategies if you’d like) are still there, lurking in the back. I have voices in my head telling me ‘See, you should have known you wouldn’t be good at it. Why do you think you can do that?’
What to do? I mean, we can’t give this voice a chance, right? If I would do that, I wouldn’t try anything anymore. Or at least not stuff that might seem out of my league now. If I do keep trying, I might stumble across something that I will be brilliant at!
So I am taking on a new mantra:
I am learning and learning is never a waste of time.
I was sitting at this very computer almost two hours ago. My hands were stuck, my mind wasn’t going anywhere and my body just said: STOP. Sometimes we just have to give into that feeling and surrender, because when your body feels ready for it again, it will tell you. Like it told me. I watched a Dutch tv-series called Cheating (Overspel). It is very exciting (it’s not just about cheating, or it is, but not only in love affairs) and it took me completely from this world. Into the next. And I loved it. When the episode was over, I got up and I managed to do what I came for. BAM. That’s how energy works. Give into the energy that shows itself.
I have to tell you, giving yourself a compliment is not bad. It’s realizing what you are good at and admitting when you are not. I love the quote above, not that I want to brag about being a great person, but I am someone who does stuff before I am good at it.
I personally hate not being good at stuff, I like to master a skill before I set even one toe on that path. I don’t want to admit I can’t do something, even though I am getting better and better at getting criticism and taking the learning points from that.
One advice I should give you though: never take criticism without critically looking at the ‘learning points’ given. If you can take the criticism and hold it before you, you can see if you agree, if it is something you can learn from or if you disagree. Take it in when you have decided what to do with it. I used to take in criticism as a whole and started thinking about it after this absorbing.
Yesterday I got a massive load of compliments about my work. Today I disappointed a client. Yesterday I celebrated my good work. Today I realized writing is my strongest point, but other skills should be developed. Yesterday I floated. Today I compliment myself for feeling the disappointment and celebrate the intention to be more honest about my skills.
Those skills you are not good at, you have to decide: what do I want to do with that? Which extra skills do I want to develop first? I have ambitions. Lots of them. Let’s travel first, write later and when we are back on solid ground, let’s explore and get more skills.
There is an economy of happiness. We all have to be happy, we post our happiest moments on Facebook and we buy products and services to enhance our happiness. Businesses en people make a lot of money on the promise of happiness. It is a dangerous business, I think, because although happiness is a wonderful place to be in, happiness doesn’t stay forever. Happiness is not something you can grab and put in your pocket. It is tidal; it comes and goes. And you know what? That’s okay.
It’s something I like about Buddhism (I am not pretending to be a Buddhist or know everything about it though); they accept that life has its down moments. We become ill, we loose loved ones, we disagree and fight. However, if we become more detached from our surroundings we are more able to enjoy the good moments and not let the down moments destroy us.
It is something I have been struggling with in the past years. Attachment is said to be something good, because if you love people you stick with them no matter what and you are naturally attached. When they die, you are devastated. When we talk about being detached, we often respond with: sure, we want to be detached from things. Yes, but it’s better for us (errr, me!) to be detached from people as well. Saying this will probably ignite a feeling of; then you don’t love!
It’s actually the opposite. The thing is with attachment is that you identify yourself completely (or partially) with the other person. So, when the other person does something that hurts you, it hurts you in the core. When they move, you have to break the cord if you don’t want to move with them. It’s a process that takes a lot of energy (trust me).
I learned only yesterday that we can be detached ánd be involved at the same time. It’s like what my psych says: I used to absorb things. I am/was subassertive. Which means my skin is completely transparent. On the opposite of the universe there are aggressive people, who let anyone and anything bounce of their skin. You could say these people have a hard time loving.
Assertive people on the other side decide per situation if they let in whatever is coming at them. Yesterday I got a comment on one of my pieces, I didn’t agree with him and my first reaction was to react very aggressive, because I am trying out different ways to respond then the subassertive way. It was only then that it struck me, that I could respond to his remark with my view in a friendly matter and leave it at that. No thoughts left in my head, no reasons to defend myself; this was me and he could take it or leave it.
You could argue that assertive people are detached, but detached people go much further (and I am far from that): they love without expectations. If another person hurts you, when life gives you lemons or when you loose someone who is dear to you, you love. You love the lessons learned, you love yourself to be able to protect yourself, you love the other because they act from their own perspective, you love the challenge. You stay friendly.
Forced happiness is not the real story, from forced happiness you don’t become a happy person, forced happiness makes you a bitch, mainly to yourself. Because life does give you lemons. Sooner or later. If you don’t allow yourself to feel that, to experience that, you deny yourself. You deny your own story.
(forgive me for not linking directly to creativity, I had to share this)
Thankfully, the inspiration does not always have to come from within. There are so many touching stories in the world and the internet is a great channel to communicate these messages. I wanted to share, because sometimes you have read stuff by other people in order to make your own story complete. At least I do. Not all posts at all sources are worth watching or reading, but most of them are. I don’t like people to impose stuff on other people. We are all free and so, if you don’t think these sources are truly inspirational, no worries! In fact, I am very curious what would inspire you!
1. F**k It!
I have to start with the people behind the F**k It books and retreats, the lovely Gaia and John. I am more like John, the thinker. I am drawn towards Gaia, with her inner strength and intuïtion. Man, I can still learn from her: to be able to trust in the earth to carry you. To rest on the energy that is inside and around you. What I love about F**k It, is that they are open, non-judgemental. You can believe whatever you believe and you can join them or not, either way is fine. And I love their humor. Especially John is what we call in the Netherlands a ‘dry’ Englishman. I love it. You can find them on Facebook and at their own website of course.
(You know what the funny thing is? I started going through their images on Facebook and I couldn’t choose. A lot of it still makes a lot of sense (even though some stuff is really clear and obvious), I have to reread that book again!)
2. Justine Musk
I have probably mentioned her before. The pieces she writes, man, that is some powerful sh*t! These are long pieces and it started coming back to me this week that taking time for these articles actually inspire me to be more me and to believe that the choices I make and the steps I am taking are good. I read this piece and today I have told a friend of mine, I was worried about her. Perhaps it’s not exactly what the articles encourages, but I wanted to hear her truth. And by asking her, I was telling my truth: I wanted to connect with her again.
3. The Elephant
For this website you need a subscription. Or, when you are good with reading just 15 articles weekly, you can sign up for the free newsletter. The latter I did, because, well, money is an issue. Anyhow, I love the articles coming into my mailbox. Even the pictures are just inspiring. It’s on mindfulness and how you can live a more conscious life. Worth checking out.
4. Upworthy/ Button Poetry
Yes, it is getting less and less special, we haven’t heard of these and into the yes, we know. Okay. But I have seen some pretty amazing stuff on there. Mainly videos by Button Poetry on the most courageous topics. Like for example on rape. Or this video on how women grow in, instead of out.
5. Aww Club
Sometimes you just need a friendly smile, a hug and a picture of cute animals.
Today it is d-day for a lot of writers: do I participate in the NaNoWriMo or not?! It’s a difficult question, for me, because it is very motivating to have a bunch of fellow writers struggling with you through every heart-breaking moment. However, this year I have decided not to participate. I had to share. Why? Because I need some validation that my decision is just. Well, of course it’s just. It’s my decision. And there are probably 50 projects that I am involved in at the same time. Which is good, starting your own business, you can better be too busy than bored to death because there is nothing to do. On the other hand, I forget stuff. Obvious stuff, like birthday’s, important stuff, like deadlines, and still I manage to keep my head together. And I still want to do more. Yes, I really want to do the NaNoWriMo. But. No. I really shouldn’t.