Abraham tells us that we will continue to experience contrast– situations arising, change and moments we do not prefer. Prompted by intuitive guidance, I signed up for an art class this spring. For last 12 years I had not studied art with a group. Entitled Plein Air, the sessions focused on techniques for painting landscape from life outdoors. In recent months I had been creating landscapes mostly from photos or from imagination– part of why this sounded good.
The class meeting called for students to look at still lifes or outdoor scenes and draw or paint them in the moment. Putting down what I am seeing on the spot is at best unfamiliar to me. Honestly, I have not excelled at it, I have avoided it. Here I was facing it. Observing my inner process I heard much inner chatter that boiled down to : I can’t do this: I am lousy at this: What am I doing, etc. Feelings of embarrassment and “not enough” were periodically running through my veins.
At this stage of life I have skills to soothe myself. Here I mean to share some of how I navigated through these uncomfortable waters:
1. I remembered that:
- I chose this class,
- These were feelings based on the past
- There were no standards that I was not meeting
- I have created much art that many enjoy- some even buy it 🙂
2. I reminded myself that I take “achievement” off the table and let myself learn. Learning involves going into unknown territory and in art, it involves letting myself create messes. 🙂
3. When I had a class or assignment, I focused on it and then took generous breaks. I often took at least one day off after the class, did the homework over two days and then rested again for a couple of days before the next class. Paying careful attention to what I focused on helped me tremendously. When I focused off the source of “old stuff” and onto what I love, I felt better immediately. Such a powerful demonstration of how I want to live!
4. I looked around at beautiful pieces I have created over the years. Right now I have an art show hanging and the curator loves my work. I reviewed that frequently.
In the last assignment especially, I worked for hours, then something shifted: I reached for having even more fun. I let go of pleasing the teacher and went for pleasing myself. The final homework painting looked good to me: it satisfied me– felt great.
Turned out the teacher liked that piece too. I had expressed my skill with color as part of the fun and she commented on how she loved the color. She noticed how I used what she taught and how much I had improved from the first class. She even liked the painting I created during the last class.
This blog entry offers examples of how I soothed myself as I journeyed through an adventure of learning and growth, how I sharpened and applied my power of focus. Please note the ways in which I soothed myself. I trust that some of what’s described here can be useful and adapted to the diverse and exciting episodes of your life.
Want to share an example? Please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I love to hear from you.