I found out yesterday that my jewelry was not accepted for the Richmond Craft Mafia's Spring Bada-Bing craft show. As I read the email, my heart sank, my cheeks flushed, and my internal critic instantly chimed in: How could I have thought my work was good enough? What was I thinking? I won't try *that* again. I felt embarrassed and foolish for even having submitted my work for consideration.
And then I stopped myself. I brought to mind the reasons why I submitted my application in the first place: to courageously practice sharing a little bit of myself with the world, something my shy and self-conscious nature vehemently resists. And then, despite my disappointment, I realized that I had accomplished what I set out to do. I acknowledged what a tremendous feat it had been just to simply apply, and I silently congratulated myself on my success.
Throughout the day, I returned to the conversation I had with my coach during our last session. I shared with her that since I had submitted my application for the show, I hadn't really worked on any new pieces. In fact, I hadn't even pulled up the stool to my worktable. Not once. We talked through several possibilities: I had been really involved in writing my essay for Richmond Magazine - I had been so focused on creating pieces for the past couple of weeks that I was ready for the break - that I was allowing my creative energy to be stifled by the possibility of rejection.
Honestly, I think it was a combination of all of these factors. But the one that concerns me the most is the last one. By "putting myself out there," I added another variable into my creative process. For the past few months, I have found energy from the simple act of creating. I had not been trying to impress anyone or win approval or even involve anyone else at all. It was a private affair, a love affair really, and I felt safe and content in my cocoon, basking in the warmth of the energy I was creating and sustaining.
I wonder what it is about my creative journey that has brought me to the place where I want to share it with others, where gaining the approval of others has become more important. Is it that part of seeing myself in a new way - as a creative person - involves others seeing me in that way as well?
Last night, as I continued to process my feelings on this, I thought of a post written by my friend Jim when he realized that his photographs weren't selected for a photo contest he entered through Virginia Wildlife magazine. I felt drawn to return to his post, sure that I would find comfort in our shared feelings. As I reread his words, I found out that we did share some of the same feelings. But I also noticed that in some ways, we reacted very differently. When Jim described his reaction to receiving notice, he wrote, "I was angry. For a few seconds, everything that blazed through my mind was stupid. Stupid magazine. Stupid competition." I thought back to how I reacted, and I was aware that while Jim's thoughts were focused on the external - the magazine and the contest - mine immediately went to my shortcomings as being responsible for my work not being accepted.
Now, I'm curious as to how others deal with these type of situations. As for me, I know there are many more opportunities awaiting me where I will grow stronger and become more comfortable in my own skin.
I imagine that bringing our new puppy, Rilo, into our home is giving
us the tiniest taste of what parenthood will be like. It's been a long
and difficult three days. I feel like we've had a rambunctious toddler
transplanted into our household without the benefit of a couple of
years together to establish some form of working communication. Since
she arrived, the conversation between John and I has pretty much been limited to the following:
strategies for getting the puppy to stop barking or crying
the best way to house-train the puppy
the last time the puppy pooped or peed
how to go about the routine tasks of living while managing the puppy
how to puppy-proof the house and keep the puppy from chewing everything in sight
We're both exhausted. It seems that everything else in our lives has
stopped. I think we're both a little ashamed to admit it, but more than
once, we've discussed whether or not we are up to it, whether we should
take her back to the rescue organization. We've asked ourselves how
we'll ever be parents, if we're really cut out for this.
Rilo isn't a particularly bad puppy. She's just a puppy. In fact,
she's a really cute puppy. I think she's very smart, and a fast
learner. She gets along well with the dogs next door and seems
completely uninterested in devouring our felines. I imagine that in a
few weeks, we'll look back and be amazed at how far she's come in such
a short time. I look forward to when she is a bit bigger and we can
take her for walks and to the dog park and out on other adventures.
At the same time, I want to enjoy these times with her, while she is
still small and cuddly and only 8 pounds. I enjoy her silliness, her
curiosity. It makes me feel all fuzzy to see how excited she gets to
It's been tough, but I imagine that this is really good practice for what lies ahead.
While the new pup is quiet and content, I'm taking a few minutes to breathe and enjoy the silence. The past 24 hours have been both joyful and trying. I haven't had a puppy since I was a kid, and I had forgotton just how high maintenance these little creatures can be. I do think we're settling into somewhat of a routine, and I keep repeating silently to myself that this will get easier.
Since she arrived, there have been many moments when my love and I have looked at each other, frustrated with the high-pitched squeals, relentless barks, and unending chewing and asked ourselves, "What have we done?".
When things feel the most frustrating, I try to stay present. I try to focus on the quiet between her cries. I have empathy for the confusion and sense of loss she must feel at being removed from her familiar environment, from the warm closeness of her brothers and sisters. And it doesn't hurt that she's so darn cute.
I intended to write more in this weblog. And I have been writing - I just haven't been writing here.
For the past couple of weeks, I've been putting most of my creative energy into working on my jewelry (see the link to the photo album on the right) and into the writing of an essay that will (hopefully) appear in the upcoming issue of Richmond Health, a smaller publication of Richmond Magazine. The magazine has a column called "My Alternative," and my friend,
who is the editor, asked me to write about my experience with an intuitive that
I saw last fall as I searched for ways to continue healing after my fourth miscarriage last summer.
This flurry of activity was sparked by two deadlines that had been looming
over me. This Friday, March 9th, is the date I had to have my first draft
to the magazine, and is also the cut-off for submissions into the Richmond
Craft Mafia's Spring
BadaBing show. The initial relief I felt in turning in my work ahead
of schedule was soon replaced by a flood of anxiety as I realized I was putting
my work - little pieces of myself - in the public eye, to be judged by a world
I've been making jewelry for over a year. Since I left the world of full-time employment in December, this creative act has become a moving meditation for me. I have also realized how it is a microcosm of my larger world and the way I have tended to approach my life. Somewhere along the line, I became very intent on having it all figured out (ha!), needing to know what comes next, and focusing on where I was going to end up when I set out on a path. Closure was my focus. I have lists - lots of lists - and one of my little pleasures is crossing things off and moving on to the next item. I've also struggled with the idea of "waste." It makes me intensely uncomfortable to think I'm wasting time, energy, money, or materials without something to show for it. You can probably guess how these little obstacles might hinder the creative process.
So, several months ago, my coach gave me an assignment. She asked me to just play, to just see what happens when I twist wire or place beads together with no particular idea of what the outcome will be. She encouraged me to buy some wire with the intent of just practicing technique. "Just see what happens," she urged me.
She was right. For the first time in my life, I'm starting to see myself as a creative person. I can hardly pull myself away from my studio. I've been enjoying the process so much, that sometimes it's hard for me to even finish a piece because ideas keep popping into my head. One thing leads to another, and before I know it, my every available space on my worktable is covered with the little bowls that hold my beads and half-strung necklaces.
The same thing happened when writing the article. I had trouble even sitting down to write. All I could think about was that this intensely personal experience was going to appear in a magazine read by half the city. Although I've been writing in my fertility weblog for well over a year, this felt different.
But then something happened. I consciously tried to approach my writing with the same mindset that I now bring to my jewelry. And it worked! Before long, I was well over my 800 word limit. My writing became not about my word choice or how the words flowed on the page, but about the process. One idea led to another, and I was caught in a whirlwind of typing and jotting down notes about weblog posts and art projects on scraps of paper.
Yesterday morning before I headed to work at the acupuncture clinic, I emailed the story to the editor. When I turned on my computer this afternoon, I found an from her email waiting for me. She said she had a few questions about the article, which she had noted in the document attached to the email. When the attachment wouldn't open, a wave of panic washed over me. I immediately assumed that she had changed her mind about running the article, that she didn't like my approach, that I sounded like a flake. I started to ask myself how I could have agreed to do this.
And then I got the attachment to open through a different program. I breathed a huge sigh of relief to see that she only had a few suggestions on wording and requests to expand a couple of ideas. My ego remained intact, and I am thankful to have such a gentle guide through this process.
For the past few days, I've had similar anxieties regarding my jewelry. While my intent in submitting my creations for consideration was simply to flex my courage muscles by putting my work out there, often, I feel like the focus has shifted to whether or not I will be accepted. I worry that my developing creative spark will be snuffed out instead of stoked into a brightly burning flame. I know that my challenge through all of this will be to continue to nurture my creativity despite how it is received - or passed over - by others. You see, these endeavors have become a trapdoor into my soul, leading me to a richer understanding of myself and a deeper faith in my potential. I am determined to keep that little door open, pushing it wider, creating more space as I go along.