Working Through the Artist Way

Done is Beautiful

This one is for all you perfectionists out there because sometimes, done is beautiful.

And don’t miss the outtakes. Apparently, the camera operator (who I happen to be married to) thinks I carve pumpkins like I’m in a horror film.

 

~Ali

The Verdict is in.

The gavel bangs. The court is silenced and the judge speaks to the jury. “Mr. Foreman, have we reached a verdict?” he asks. “We have Your Honor.” “What have you?” says the Judge. The Foreman proceeds.” On the count of calling the defendant lazy for the inability to create as one desired, guilty. On the count of wasting energy being frustrated for not being a rockstar overnight sensation, guilty. Count three unexpected U-turns from which we unwittingly sabotage our progressive success, guilty.” This went on for count after count. Guilty….guilty…guilty. However, of all these crimes, the biggest and most devastating was the lack of compassion for the wounded blocked artist whose “inner child” sat in helpless in the defendants chair. Likewise, that I was my own judge and jury, which could never result in a fair trial. Not until reading the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron did I, her caretaker, realize that only with love, compassion and nurturing could this beautiful child blossom into the amazing artist that God had intended her to be. According to Mrs. Cameron, it is fear that blocks an artist and it is love that cures the fear.

Ahh…now the purpose of the Artist’s dates are really starting to make sense. She says, “…being an artist requires enthusiasm more than discipline.Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process, a loving recognition of all the creativity around us.” “Enthusiasm is grounded in play, not work.”

As we approach the end of this year, it seems that not one of the chapters in this book has left any stones unturned. With the rediscovery of our inner artist, and the process of restoring love to that child through self assessment, admittance, discovery, nurturing, strength and now compassion we are better positioned for success in whatever artistic endeavor that we seek. As we approach the things we do with joy, realizing that fear may come along for the ride, we will continue to move forward even when u-turns occur, and they will, we will not be broken by them but use them as a footstep for empowerment. For me, I realize that fear may be my constant companion. However, the way I harness it will catapult me much further along in my journey than if I allow it to overtake me. Ultimately if we enjoy the journey, stay on course, and show ourselves compassion along the way we will get to the fulfillment of our goals.

This year has brought much awareness to the many creative U-Turns I have experienced. The fears are still near by. Life is …life and things will always be there to steal my attention away from moving towards my dreams. Some of these things have been holdbacks even recently. Questions remain. Doubts arise. Challenges beckon. Family awaits. As my portfolio building comes to a close and some the SOAR Support hands are letting go others have grown in their place. Relationships like the beautiful community of SOAR sisters who have created a network from which to strengthen, empower, educate and virtually uplift one another through a common goal. It is time to move into the next phase of building. Sometimes we just have to jump!

Adrenaline overtakes fear everytime.

And before you know it, the view is breathtaking.

Dream it … Own it.

Goodbye Fear!

“Fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough…..The fear of failure and of success. The fear of beginning at all.” O.M.G. These words jumped off the page and lit up in bright blinking lights right in my living room. How did Julia Cameron get in my head?

Now that I am out of my portfolio building stage, I am ready to move on and start my full pricing and getting more clients. But I haven’t yet…..because of fear. My biggest fear? That my clients won’t love their pictures. I know in my mind they will, all my past families have. I know that I take great pictures. But that stinkin’ artist’s child is blocked by fear.

“Finding it hard to begin a project does not mean you will not be able to do it. It means you will need help-from your higher power, from supportive friends, and from yourself.” I have found it hard to begin to find clients for my fall mini sessions. I haven’t done much advertising other than facebook and word of mouth (mainly my mouth). That fear has prevented me from going for it and getting some clients. Luckily I have supportive friends! How so, you ask? I have two friends who have booked mini sessions with me! Hooty-hoo! (Thanks, Kappels and Harts!) Now that I have those two booked, I am more confident in mentioning to people that I am offering mini sessions. I am also more confident in myself-I even gave out my card to someone at the grocery store!

Though there is that little bit of fear in my head (which is just enough to keep me grounded), but for the most part it is making it’s way out of my head and back into the universe. And what a great feeling that is!

What have you done to overcome your fears? How did you know you were getting past them?

Smile and Go For it!

Rachel

I Get Knocked Down

I should have seen it coming. That was the first thought that went through my head as I was lying on the sparring mat. My second thought was that I should Google “cracked rib” if I made it home alive. And my third thought went something like, “I’m too old for this (insert expletive here),” which is laughable now considering I was only 27 years old.

I was a green belt (respectable mid-level) and my sparring partner in class that night was a second-degree brown belt (skilled enough to kill me with her big toe), which meant she was probably having mercy on me. (In my own defense, I was neck-deep in spreadsheets all day while she was probably picking out her prom dress). All it took was one well-placed kick on my unprotected side and I was on the losing end of a Bruce Lee movie. Sure it hurt physically, but that was nothing compared to how my pride was bleeding out right there on the mat for everyone to see.

Though it was on a smaller, less serious scale that night, I had experienced one of those common denominators of humanity: Loss. Fortunately for me, it was only loss of pride;  I had shown up, pushed myself hard and sweated it out. Even so, sometimes you just get knocked down. Maybe it’s a professional set-back, a relationship malfunction, or a diagnosis. No one lives life without getting the wind knocked out of them at least once.

 

Julia Cameron knows what I’m talking about. If you’ve been following along at home, you know we’re up to Chapter 8 in Cameron’s The Artist’s Way now. This chapter deals with strength, loss and survival as an artist – not exactly warm and fuzzy stuff.  I know with certainty that I will get the wind kicked out of me (photographically speaking) at some point in my career. It will happen and I will be crushed, angry, and maybe even embarrassed.  This isn’t pessimism, but rather it is me guarding against the tendency for perfectionism. I am not prepared for an “artistic loss” as Cameron phrases it, but I know that I will find a way to frame my loss as gain.

I know this because recovering from loss means you have to first get up off the mat. Then after your ribs stop hurting, you realize that you just learned to protect your open side a little better.  You just learned how to get up after failure, through pain and even embarrassment. And then you shake it off.

 

~Ali

Shifting perspectives…

It seems a common requirement for those who are able to be successful is Vision. Not only the vision that foretells us what direction we should be going in, but the vision which allows us to see each and every circumstance we encounter as positive or negative. Are you a glass half fuller or half emptier? How do we see our shortcomings? How do we see our failures? Are they really failures at all or do we acknowledge them as foundational stepping stones required to reinforce the structure of what we are building? Is there really a loss of time, or a gaining of experience?

Julia Cameron reminds us ” Every loss must always be viewed as a potential gain; it’s all in the framing.” “Gain disguised as loss ” is a potential artist’s tool. She adds. We simply must change the questions that we ask ourselves in relation to it. Success in life and in art seems to come when we are able to metabolize our pain as energy. A poet friend of mine claims to be an emotional writer. However, some of her most dynamic pieces come at the heels of passion driven raw emotion. Where is the negative in that? The saying goes what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. Likewise, if what you create the first time is not your masterpiece, then when looked at with proper vision, it should lead you to refocus, readjust and redirect yourself towards those pieces that you will be proud of.

One of the things we were asked to do this week was to plan our Ideal Day without any restrictions or limitations, then live it.

One day I will have a house on a beach. Until then, I will go watch my children frolic in the sand each and every opportunity I get.

How about you? What is your ideal day? Tell us about it on the forum.

Color Says it All

One of our tasks this week was to take a look at our favorite color. To see what items we had in that color. Julia Cameron asked us to write a few sentences as if we were that color. See what happens when I take on the role as my favorite color.

 

 

Risky Business

It sounded like a good idea at the time; the adrenaline rush, the wind rushing through my hair, the view that only birds get to see. Plus, I’d always wanted to conquer the fear of heights that kept me from peering over the railing into the abyss of my local shopping mall’s food court. I figured jumping off a mountain 5,000 miles away from home, while tethered to a devastatingly handsome Swiss guy and his hangglider would be a pretty good way to do that. As it turns out, I was wrong. I still can’t look down from the top of my kids’ backyard jungle fort, but at least I can say I jumped.

I. Jumped.

I haven’t launched myself off an actual mountain since that day in the Swiss Alps, but I’ve jumped off plenty of figurative ones since then. I’ve moved to new cities, taken new jobs, made new friends at each stop. I took the proverbial plunge when I married Brian. I’m currently in the free fall of parenting and don’t expect my parachute to deploy until somewhere around my girls’ mid-30’s. And lately, I jump every single week when I risk spilling my thoughts and my images onto your computer screens.

It’s easier to take a risk when you think you have nothing to lose; no dependents, no money, no skin in the game. You take risks for everything from applying for the job that’s a long shot to driving too fast on the freeway. In fact, you don’t even think of it as risk because there’s little value on the line. Real risk occurs when the possibility of failure makes your spine sweat at night. And personally, it scares the crap out of me, which is why I have a hard time jumping off mountains, literal and figurative, the older I get. Sometimes it’s easier just to watch everyone else from the safety of a comfy little perch.

But that’s not an excuse to stay at home, curled up on the couch drinking wine and surfing the web late at night to compare your worst photographs to the very best everyone else posts on their blogs (totally hypothetical, of course). It’s just the opposite – becoming a parent or getting older is even more of a reason to take risks; the measured, intelligent kind. Not the “Did I really just quit my job and blow my entire savings on a brand new camera because then I’ll take better pictures” kind.

I’m not saying you need to apply a complex mathematical risk assessment equation to your life. Or that you need to draw fancy flow charts and Venn diagrams to decide if you should start a business or ask someone out. I am saying you’ve got experience on your side and you’ve probably made some dumb mistakes.  All of that is data you can use to make a smart choice about a risk you’ve been contemplating. And I know there’s at least one. So if the potential downside is limited, but the upside looks pretty good, you better get a running start off that mountain. In case you need a little shove, here are some examples:

  • Start a blog: Worst case is wasted time and best case is you create and sustain a community of readership that benefits many.
  • Take a photography/cooking/whatever class: Worst case is wasted time/money and best case is you gain new skills or make new friends.
  • Apply for a new job: Worst case is you don’t get called for an interview and best case is you find the career you love.
  • Apply for the SOAR! Scholarship: Worst case is you don’t get selected and best case is you SOAR anyway.

You know exactly what limits you’ve been living within so you can feel assured of success. It’s jump time. Go.

 

~Ali

Connections…

This week we learned from the Artists Way about how reconnecting with ourselves can restore our inner artists to a place where we are able to not only listen, but act upon what we are being urged to pour out artistically. She gave us a mantra to help us build ourselves up by cherishing ourselves in order to restore inner strength. While many of us are adept at slinging diapers and cameras while juggling books, homework, housework, and significant others we can unwittingly loose sight of the requirement to pamper ourselves as well. This video is a brief exploration into some mini pampering moments that I now do regularly with my pretty little Sony A33 close by. I believe it is benefiting me in more ways than I realized. While my technical skills can be improve with practice, creative vision needs room to grow and be inspired from.

What ways have you incorporated taking care of your inner artists on a regular basis. I would love to know. Please visit us on the Soarority forum to share.

A daily dose of me time

Julia Cameron has a great way of teaching us new tricks to dig deeper into ourselves, all the while constantly reminding us of other important tasks. Each month she reminds me how important it is to take care of myself. To take care of me mentally. To nurture and baby me. She reminds me that by not taking care of me, I can’t take care of others. How true it is!


We all have our vices-the things that make us feel good. They help us de-stress. For some folks it could be knitting, others it’s reading, others still may enjoy taking a bath. For me it is exercise. I was reminded of this in the past couple of weeks. We moved into a new house less than two weeks ago. 9 days after our stuff was delivered we had a bbq at our house! What does that mean? I was hastily unpacking boxes so our house would be a home before our guests came. While trying to get all that done, I did not exercise for 8 of those 9 days. Looking back I realize how much of a crab I was, how short I was with my children, and how the littlest things bothered me. I was reminded once again how important it is to take care of myself. For me that means getting to the gym or going for a run at least 5 times a week. This is not only beneficial to my body, but also to my mind. Healthy body, healthy mind, happy Rachel.

I notice that when I feel better, when I am less stressed; I also have more confidence in myself. Being so new to the photography world, I am constantly critiquing my photos and worrying about the quality of them. I find that when I am less stressed (exercising), I  am less worried about my photos. I relax more during shoots and in turn have better photos.

 

So it all boils down to one thing-taking care of me. I do that by exercising. How do you take care of you? What is your vice? Share it in the comments (I really do love reading them!)

Smile and Go For It!

Rachel

Theoretically Speaking

Like a lot of things in life, sometimes theory doesn’t play nicely with reality:

  • Sugar-free cookies just make you dread swimsuit season even more.
  • Skinny jeans. Need I say more?
  • And then there’s this…

 

Disclaimer:

No SOAR! Scholarship recipients were harmed in the making of this film. Scenes appearing to place SOAR! recipients in danger of being pummeled by a box of waffles were simulated…sort of.

~Ali