Being an Artist in the Age of Social Media

Well….This is a topic I’ve been swimming in lately as prepare for my art show in September. As a mother of two young children (one of whom is home today), I have to actively create time and space to connect and create. This is not necessarily an easy task and as I mentioned in previous posts, I am often called to surrender to various situations and just let it be.

I don’t go on social media until 10 in the morning because I have found that creating that space has been a wonderful act of self care. I also spend much less time than I used to on it which feel both wonderful and scary. What I have discovered is that as a creative and visual person I need emptiness and openness to be in my imaginary world, a dream world that I can float in. When I find myself spending too much time out of that space I leave myself and go into others which I find a bit challenging. As I type this I fear I sound selfish, but it’s the truth. Don’t we all need that space to live in our own ideas and dreams?

Having said all this, I have expressed and completely believe that inspiration is valuable beyond description. Therefore my thought is…can we curate our inspiration? Can we become disciplined in our quest for seeking out and allow that which elevates us and informs us to be what seeps into our inner world? Of course we all need that down time and as an artist I need to share, but does it have to feel so endless or can it be a delicate dance? I believe it can. There is a balance in this life and it is a gift to get to know ourselves. That is the beauty of art. To truly create something with depth, we must go deep. We must delve beneath the surface. I enjoy swimming in that space.

Lauren

Allow

Last summer I conquered my fear of jumping off a high spot into the water. I have avoided the high diving board for my entire life. I did it. I jumped off the Jaws bridge in Martha’s Vineyard 15 feet down to the water below. I conquered my fear! It was a symbolic moment and I had to do it twice because my sister hadn’t filmed the first jump. What I noticed is that when I stood on the rail to jump off, I didn’t really look around and take it in. I jumped off as fast as I could…both times. This has stuck with me since my experience.

I mention this now because I have started working on paintings for my solo art show in September and it in many ways feels the same as standing on a very high spot about to jump off with nothing to hold on to. I guess each piece I create will feel like this since they will be different from each other. What I’d like to do differently this time than in the past and also when I did the high jump off the bridge, is to take time to look around. Take time to gather myself, gather info and be present before and during the leap. There seems to be a balance between wanting to be free, letting go and presence.

My word of the year as I have shared is open. This to me now not only means to be open in general but to also open my eyes and take it all in. Really be present and not partially there. This is a challenge in our world where there’s always a chance to get pulled away, eyes averted.

Out of curiosity I looked up the antonyms for the word averted and do you know what came up? Allow. I prefer allow, don’t you? Let’s just take the leap, allow, and keep our eyes open all along the way.

Lauren

Space

A few years ago I was having a conversation with the woman who used to clean my house about my clutter issues, especially in my kitchen. There was an area that attracted the most piles and that was right to the corner of the refrigerator, around the microwave and down into the junk drawer below. I told her that I struggled to see how to organize it. I asked for her help. Together we cleaned out the entire area and it was empty except for the appliances, but to me that meant it was really empty. It made me slightly happy, but mostly very uncomfortable.

My clutter gave me comfort, something to close me in and help me to feel safe. What came along with that feeling of safety from clutter also came a lack of space. Space is something I crave and as I get older I realize how crucial it is for me to be able to breathe. Having two young children at home who have learned my messy ways doesn’t help, but little by little over the past few years I have slowly been opening up more and more. It is a process.

Last year we had to have our kitchen redone due to a leak so it was time to say goodbye to all that we didn’t need. This is no problem for my husband who is extremely neat and tidy. I am the one with the challenge here, but it felt freeing. Not even looking at the junk drawer and just dumping it into a garbage bag felt like a weight was cut off of me. We decided to then clean out our cluttered pantry, paint the interior and make it look nice and purposeful again. The pantry was another area that was hidden but plaguing like a dark deep shadow voice that called from the depths of clutter….clean me!! With each area we have tackled we have opened our lives a bit more. I think there’s something more meaningful to this then just straightening up which we now see on Marie Kondo’s show, Tidying Up. It is a release, a way to create space to open up into.

The issue that comes up though, is that when we create space to grow into we then really do have to allow that to happen without reverting to our old ways. Truth be told, I did clutter up the microwave area after we cleaned it out that first time. Now that we have new kitchen things have changed. I feel I have changed although I still have quite a ways to go. The reason that I mention all of this is that recently something good happened to me and space felt as if it were created. At first I was excited and then I started to feel anxious. I journaled about it and what came up was that I am afraid that I can’t handle the space and somehow I fear that I will fill it. I thought, how can I learn to trust myself in this process, allow the space to open rather than shut it down? I pictured a plant in a pot in my mind and thought of the point when it outgrows that pot. When that happens it needs to be moved to a larger pot. I wondered if in that space there is this uncomfortable feeling that there’s nothing to hold on to…no friction to push against until the plant grows again. That’s the feeling. The space between where we are and where we are growing. Can we allow that space without cluttering it up or moving back? I’m working on it.

Lauren

Stretching

I have been pretty athletic for all of my life. I’ve gone back and forth with exercise, sometimes committed, sometimes not so much. I decided three years go to truly make the commitment this time to myself and for myself. When I grew up much of what I did in this realm was based more on the external. Will I look good enough, play well enough and perform in general well enough to be accepted? The external was my focus and that that’s where my drive came from.

I am now 41 and things have shifted very slowly with the compass now pointing inward, every day focusing on building the foundation from the inside out. One thing that I have avoided though, is stretching. I exercise three days a week in an class that I love. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I get to my 7 o’clock class just after 7:05. I am not terribly late, but I’m late enough to miss the stretching portion of the workout. Stretching to me is like water, I know I should be partaking, but I have some major resistance.

This has not been majorly conscious, but more of a subconscious thing that has grip on me that is slowly becoming more and more clear. When I go back to my past I can see that I didn’t really take time to build the foundation, I was treading water on the surface. I started to shine a light on my lack of stretching and water drinking a couple of months ago. I started to ask why? Why am I resisting these things that I know are good for me when I’ve started to incorporate so many other healthy habits?

Suddenly around a month ago my lower back started to ache. It felt so tight and it was very irritating. I’ve never had an issue with my back which I was always very happy about, but now there was aching. My mind had been able to avoid the depths of foundation building by skipping the stretching but my body was now saying no, it’s time. Take time to stretch. I have been listening.

I mention this because I think stretching applies to all different areas in our life where we are required from within to dig deeper, to build a foundation. This can be waking up earlier in the morning to have some extra time before we are off for the day, taking vitamins, opening our hearts and being vulnerable to those we love, taking time to express ourselves creatively. These are all ways that we can stretch and they are calling to us and getting louder and louder like my back did all at once one morning. What are you being called to stretch?

“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

―Anaïs Nin

Lauren

Sparks of Awareness in the Car

I drive my daughter to school most mornings. I started to take her when she complained about the bus here and there and then it evolved into a nice extra chance for connection. In my way, taking her to school is like a hug. I’m really doing it because I want to and I think she knows that.

On our 15 minute journey, sometimes we talk, sometimes we just listen to music (and sing at the top of our lungs, especially to Queen for the past few months), and sometimes we’re just quiet. The other morning we had a great conversation and an awareness sparked from it that I’d like to share.

I didn’t like school when I was young. Actually, I never really liked it. My daughter asked me if I ever liked a grade or a teacher and I told her that 5th and 6th grade were good for me. I loved the two teachers I had because they let me create which is all I really wanted to do. They saw me and valued me as a person and I felt it. It felt really good. I was able to blossom a bit in certain ways. My Elementary school art teacher came to mind suddenly along with the word inspiration.

My art teacher wasn’t overly involved in our process. He was often working on his own projects but I learned the most from being around him. Why? He inspired me. His art was at a level and spoke in ways that I could only dream of. I wanted to do that! I wanted to open up in those ways and refine my skills, not for praise or achievement, but for passion, desire and growth. Even thinking of this feeling makes me take a huge breath in. That feeling is something I’ve carried with me inside my heart all of these years and hadn’t really made the inspiration connection until that very moment in the car.

The word inspiration comes from the Latin word inspiratus which means to breathe into. In English the meaning was to draw air into the lungs. Isn’t this how we feel when we are inspired? Like we are literally taking a deep breath and coming alive? I’d like to ask, what inspires you and why? Definitely something to connect to on the path of our own evolution and desire. Spend time with those things and around those people who inspire you.

Lauren

Flashlight

Yesterday while journaling, the concept of the flashlight came to me. Not to light a path in the dark in reality, but in our lives. Often times each situation that comes up in our lives touches upon choice. What do we say yes to? What do we say no to? How do we get really clear about what our instincts tell us and follow that inner awareness? It is hard to be true to that inner awareness oftentimes because of fear. When fear creeps up it literally dulls our vision and the haziness makes it hard to see what we really want or don’t want. The image of the flashlight came to me because I had this thought that if we only had one flashlight and it shone only one beam of light, where would we direct it? In that moment our power of choice would become pretty clear. This could be choices for many things…When to speak, when to be silent, when to say yes, when to say no, when to move and take action, when to remain still and create space. Choices that we otherwise dull due to fear would suddenly become clear in the light of our flashlight. This is a daily, and truthfully moment to moment experience. We are not meant to be perfect and always make perfect choices but to be true to what we feel in our heart from a place that is not about ego, but about inner truth and honor. This is a lifelong process I think of making some choices that connect to this place and some that don’t all the while learning and growing from each experience. What choices would you make if you used your flashlight?

Lauren

Open

I have decided that my word of the year is Open. I love words of the year and I feel that connecting to a word of meaning is a foundation for growth and exploration. Open is a word that both speaks to me and frightens me. What does it mean? Does it mean that I may have to open up to things that I am not ready for or not willing to step towards due to self protection and preservation? How can I maintain control if I commit to being open? This leads me to the thought of an Open Mind. What if I left my mind open, didn’t try to manage thoughts or use my thoughts to manage life? Where would that leave me? I listened to a book last year called The Surrender Experiment, written by Michael Singer. This book fascinated me and I highly recommend it. He just let go and was open to life. He went where life took him while all the while being as present in wherever it took him as humanly possible. Surrendering didn’t mean no effort. It meant going with the flow but wherever it brings you, showing up 100%. This makes me think of one of my favorite movies, Forrest Gump. This is what Forrest did. He didn’t let his fearful mind get in the way and his life unfolded beautifully, sometimes painfully and always truthfully before him. So this brings me back to Open. I know that I have certain innate qualities and I also know that left to my fearful devices I can block them all. I choose not to do that this year. I choose to keep opening because, why not?

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” -Helen Keller

Lauren

Giving Birth to Ourselves

Lately I have a lot of energy churning. I recognize this and know that it must be channeled through action, but I often get confused as to what action that should be. What should I do? This is often a question I find myself asking. Only when I get still do I realize that the answer is as plain as the nose on my face...Create. When I say create I don't only mean paint a painting, I also mean create something, anything new, bring something into existence. While thinking about this today, I thought of my life now and the friends I know who are in the same spot as me. We have young children, but our youngest have either just started school or are starting soon. The pressure builds to answer this question of what should I do now? It dawned on me that we are all creators, longing to create, longing to channel and express this creative energy. The problem is that we don't see ourselves this way. Somewhere along the way were told, you are not an artist or we thought this ourselves when we compared our creations to someone elses. Unfortunately being an artist falls into the category of creative being and therefore we cannot be either since we like to categorize and put ourselves in boxes. It is a lie that we are not creative because we create every day. We create in many different ways.

Going back to my thoughts on mothers with young children in or starting school...This is a time of transition, a time of shifting. We are not taught in this culture to reflect on or to sit still in times of transitions. We are taught to hold on for dear life and squeeze as hard as we can, hence anxiety and stress. This brings me to pregnancy. When a woman becomes pregnant she has to wait over 9 (sometimes 10 in my case) months to actually hold her baby in her arms. That is the beauty of the experience and we cannot control that. We must wait and let our baby grow until they are ready to be born. Can it be this way for ideas? Can we accept the cycles and allow our lives to flow and evolve and when the time is right, allow birth to happen? Can we give birth to ourselves?  Can we give ourselves permission to do that? Wouldn't it be a beautiful thing if we cared for this potential the way we care for those outside ourselves. There are so many cycles in our lives and each contains a birth process. I am sharing these thoughts because they are on my mind. We were born to create in whatever way feels right. It is my desire to let the energy flow, be still when I feel called to do that and bring the light of regeneration and birth when the time is right.

Lauren

Patterns

I love art and I love creative living. Just because I love these things, doesn't mean it's easy. Because art and creative living are so deeply embedded in my need to feel joy, I have to break through some challenging blocks to stay connected rather than just remaining in my comfort zone and hiding away in frustration and anger. Sometimes I'm sailing through like a boat on calm seas and other times I hit a storm and have to make my way through instead of turning around and going back the way I know, with my tail between my legs. Getting through the storm means that I have to employ some new skills because each storm may be different.  When we face challenges often we go into auto pilot, reverting back to our old patterns and relying on our old solutions which may not be what we need now to get to the next level of our lives, or as I am saying here "the current storm". Lately I have been coming face to face with old patterning. If it weren't for this work I love so much, I might turn my back on growth but now, that just isn't an option. I'm in it for the long haul. There's a sort of thrill in surrender to the unknown. There's a power that comes in knowing that I can handle it. I'll get through the storm and come out the other end wiser and more self reliant and resilient. This is what the journey is about to me. Growth. I know that at my age in some ways I'm just beginning a new, and I am very grateful.

Lauren