Monday, October 1, 2012

109/365- Permission to Begin: Say It Like You Mean It

Today I made:
a breakthrough...

As far as one year anniversaries go, this is a pretty special one for me. I lost track of it until recently, but I found it again in time to celebrate. One year ago today, I posted this message on my personal Facebook page: 

"OK my friends, I'm putting this out there so you and the rest of the Universe can help hold me to it, however long it may take. Creative Business Plan, Step 1: Today I decide to let go of fear and doubt, and choose instead to follow my bliss.  And away we go..."
~ Me, October 1, 2011

I don't know what came over me that sunny Saturday morning in early Autumn. It was a magical feeling. I was sitting on the couch in my pjs sipping coffee and contemplating my happiness, and the future seemed ripe with possibilities. For the first time (ever) a creative life seemed very attainable. What had changed? I wish I could put my finger on it. I think it was a combination of factors. I have a hazy recollection of the weeks that led up to October 1, 2011. There were solo beach walks, long talks with my husband (my greatest cheerleader), searches for quotes that spoke to me, the discovery of creative bloggers who inspired me and a book on the chakras. These ingredients fueled a fire that had been burning for a while, and helped me dispel the doubts and muster up the courage to see myself as an artist beginning on the creative path. The couple years before that consisted of  creative dabbling and doodles, artful gifts for friends, sporadic  journal entries, a lot of standing in my own way and a good dose of false starts. Those were the first stepping stones on my path. Now I see that they were all necessary.

Reading back through the comments a year later, I smile at my responses to friends' questions about what my creative business would be. I didn't know! I didn't have to know. That day, I was simply giving myself permission to begin and figure it out along the way. I was deciding that art needed to be a bigger part of my life. Setting the intention and sharing it with my nearest and dearest made it real to me and brought in the accountability factor.

A year later I'm still figuring it out, but I have these experiences to strengthen me: big goals and baby steps, serious conversations with family and friends, months spent envisioning the life I want, so much soul searching and deeply personal art journal entries, brave experiments with various mediums, learning from dozens of incredible books, an encaustic painting workshop and a hugely inspiring e-course, collections of my work to share online, my first little art show, documenting my process in a creative journal and eventually a blog, the sharing of my thoughts and voice with the world, successful efforts to reach out to like-minded creative people, collaborations with a creative friend to start a business, the building of a creative community in my city,  my name and "art" on the same business card, more artful gifts for friends, a cozy art space all my own.... 

As I sit here typing this list of milestones, I am thoroughly surprised at myself. I had no idea one year ago that I would have the enthusiasm to accomplish all this. I don't share it to brag, but to illustrate a point that even the most undecided, fearful, inexperienced, undisciplined procrastinators (like yours truly) can make things happen when we chase after something meaningful. These are all baby steps in my humble beginning that brought me to where I am now- feeling a little more confident. Today I honor them and my commitment to follow my bliss.  

I think I understand what this year has been about for me. I needed to get really honest with myself about what makes me happy. I needed to establish my creative existence and identity, and to choose to share what is truly important to me.  As I sit here typing this I am getting a bit emotional (in a good way!), a weight is lifting, a self-imposed anxiety is releasing. I spent this year agonizing over finding my voice and style as an artist. Now I realize that is the next direction on my journey. I had a few unique prerequisites to fulfill  first.  {Breakthrough...sigh...}

I imagine all our initial stepping stones look a little different, but we all have to start somewhere. Whether it's the beginning of a creative business or the commitment to live a more joyful or creative life, we can decide that we want to move a bit from where we are right now, to give ourselves a chance. We can declare that we are setting a coarse for greatness. We can draw up a rough map and prepare for a long journey with many twists and turns. Deciding and declaring feel like good first steps. 
Mine was a sloppy beginning, wobbly and unsure, yet spirited and hopeful. It felt like the first conscious, independent decision I had made toward my happiness in ages. It was liberating and terrifying. It still is. I think beginnings are supposed to be.

Give yourself permission to begin, without having it all figured out. Just decide that somehow, you will follow your bliss, your truth, the thing that makes you come alive. Don't know what that is yet? That's OK too. Simply decide that you want to create a life of happiness no matter what. Maybe, to start, it's just a change in attitude or a shift in perspective. 
What would you like to declare when it comes to discovering your potential and achieving your greatness? Say it out loud. Don't you just love the sound of that? 
Give yourself permission to begin. Set the intention. Say it like you mean it
And away you go...

"Begin today. Declare out loud to the universe that you are willing to let go of struggle and are eager to learn through joy."  ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

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