Who are you
To stand there and judge
what you refuse to understand?
Your position holding tall
Over those you’ve deemed too weak
To push back....Read More
Just be yourself. I think I have heard this piece of advice more than a thousand times in my life. It comes from a good place and I can understand what they mean in theory but does anyone actually know how to do that? Everyday, there are new headlines, magazine articles and talented leaders in the field of psychology and self improvement touting this notion of living more authentically and intentionally. But what they don’t say is just how hard that really is and to be honest, I am not sure that most people who talk about this even really know what it means...Read More
There is something that happens to us as we age. I am not sure when or how the transition is marked but there comes a point in our lives where many of us stop creating.
As children, there is no filter on our imagination. We get curious about everything and allow ourselves the space to be vulnerable. We put pen (or paint or pencil or marker) to paper, sharing the innermost workings of our mind with those around us. The possibilities are endless as we journey beyond the limits of every box we have ever known and do one of the most miraculous things anyone can ever do – create.
Guided by passion and an unyielding energy to explore our minds, we freely walk into such a unique space of vulnerability. Our minds are uninhibited and we are celebrated by all those around us for the conquest in our creations.
But over time, that inhibition begins to dissipate. Vulnerability is no longer celebrated but feared and we begin to sift people into boxes that define who they are, what they do, and the things they do that are worthy of celebration. We move from being unified as creators and innovators to professionals with predetermined benchmarks for success, herded like cattle through the channel to adulthood.
Imagination is no longer seen as a skillset but something to “use with caution” for fear of moving too far from what has been deemed acceptable and normative in a world driven by complacency and obligation. Our time becomes filled with the never-ending list of responsibilities to which we become enslaved and we reserve the ability to create for “true artists”. But what is it that marks a “true artist”? How are they defined and what is it that separates them from everyone else giving them the freedom to keep creating?
I used to think there was some special quality all artists had that made them different. But the truth is…there is nothing. Nothing separates one person from another and makes them more deserving or capable than another to create. I became a painter the day I picked up my brush. There was no special ceremony…no sorting process…no test. I simply decided to paint, and in that, a painter was born. I am no better or worse than any other person who puts brush to canvas and tells a story through their art. There is no scale on which I am measured. I am purely telling my own story, paving my own path and courageously sharing it with others in the hopes it can inspire.
I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some part of me that judges my work and at times, compares my work to the work of others, hearing that treacherous voice of adulthood whisper in my ear that I am not good enough and have no right to spend my time doing frivolous things like painting. But over time, I have learned how to reclaim my life, redefining it with a priority to challenge myself every day to see the world from a new dimension and uncover the inner workings of my unique ever-exploring mind. It doesn’t happen over night. Like any practice, you have to build up your capacity to freely be in the moment, simply allowing yourself to do whatever it is you are doing without judgment or the pressure to fit into some box of what is worthy or beautiful or “good enough” to be celebrated. Creating anything is miraculous and holds equal importance in this world.
So go ahead. Rebel against the shackles of adulthood. Take back and nurture your imagination. Pick up the pen (or paint or pencil or marker) and put something down on paper – even just a dot or line. Then stop, look at it and celebrate. You have just bravely ventured into a world without limits. You are reclaiming your right to create and have the opportunity to reacquaint yourself with a long-lost part of your identity. And as best as you can, shove your criticisms to the side and marvel at your courage and creation. You are officially an artist and now the only responsibility you have is to never look back!
This weekend, I decided to post a new profile picture in conjunction with my project #ReclaimBeauty. Now, this picture was nothing like pictures I had posted before and I had been really uncomfortable posting it given I had not done my hair, I had no make-up on, and I was just feeling all around a little uncomfortable in my own skin that day. But, I decided it was important I put myself out there the same as all of the brave people I have asked to participate are doing as this is a movement that cannot enact change unless we are ALL willing to be vulnerable together. And with that, I posted it. I was shocked when so many people started liking it and making positive comments. I did not see the joy and beauty in the picture. I had not looked in the mirror and thought I looked beautiful. But you reminded me I deserve that opportunity every day to look at myself and think, "I am beautiful". It was truly transformative and uplifting to have all of this positive energy. And then, Monday night, I saw someone from my family had commented on the picture. I was excited to see what they would say because even though I am not close with my family, I assumed they would be supportive of this movement given the opportunity it has to bring people together for the greater good. But then, I saw it. There it was...all spelled out and in just 8 words, I went from feeling beautiful and invigorated to ashamed and fake. In 8 words, they made me feel so small and tried to point me out as a hypocrite in my post. Sitting with my fiancé at dinner, my eyes started to well up with tears. I couldn’t understand why someone would make it a point to say something so mean, especially when what they said was a lie. What had I done to them? How could they not see the detrimental effects their words could have not only on me but everyone else involved in this project. I deleted the post immediately. I blocked them from my account and thought long and hard about calling them and telling them how much they hurt me with just a few ignorant and effortless keystrokes from miles away.
But then I stopped. I wiped away my tears, put my phone down and decided that was not what they needed. Instead, I needed to work towards forgiveness and finding a sense of empathy and understanding for their pain. I needed to extend the opportunity they may not have ever had to be seen on a different level - to look behind the facade.
I may not ever say it directly to them but thought it was important to share with all of you as a reminder that when people inflict pain and harm onto others, it is reasonable to want to shut them out but I think it is important to try and see beyond that initial anger or sadness to understand where that person is coming from and what they have had to endure that has led them to this negative place. When you can do that, and see beyond the act to look at the person as a whole, there is a greater sense of peace you can find. And in some cases, you can truly come into forgiveness. This is not to say anyone should ever feel pressure to do something they are not ready for or don't want to do, especially something as intense and personal as forgiveness. This is also not to say everyone should be forgiven. Rather, I pose the challenge to you to endure some of the pain others may cause and trudge through to a deeper sense of understanding and empathy so we can extend a hand rather than close the door.
To my distant loved one,
I felt really hurt after you made that comment on my Facebook page. The way we can tear someone down in just a few words is absolutely frightening. From anywhere in the world, we have the power to make people feel small and meaningless. Where does that come from? What urge does that fulfill? What love have you missed out on in your life that leads you to this dark place? I feel a sense of sadness for you and wish I could help you find hope and love and meaning in your life to take you away from these dark places. I wish I could tell you the things you never heard so you have the capacity to feel and bring love and joy into the lives of others. You have been brought down by the same system we are fighting against – one that is fueled by judgment and a constant need to tear others down because you feel so stuck in a cruel and hopeless world. A world where you don’t get to hear how valued and loved you are every day.
I want you to know that my passion to create positive change cannot be dragged down by your comment and rather, I understand where it came from and it is not your fault. I want you to know that you are worthy of love and joy and forgiveness. I, and all of the brave people who are joining me in the fight to #ReclaimBeauty, want to invite you and everyone else who has been overtaken with hatred and despair to join us in our quest so we can help you break free from those chains.
And lastly, I want you to know that you are beautiful and I forgive you.
This is a space that is meant to share my wonderings, experiences, ideas and challenges for you to explore your own creativity! I am already working on some fun posts I can't wait to send out and look forward to the opportunity to have a more interactive working relationship with each and every one of you. Any ideas on what you want to see this space used for? Please feel free to let me know!
Never stop exploring your creativity!