|illustration by Lisa Congdon|
When this illustration by Lisa Congdon crossed my feed a couple of weeks ago, it seemed like a great opportunity to take a little inventory. How am I doing in this particular time and space with these "tools of the trade"?
Discipline: It's so funny, isn't it? To have discipline here and flexibility right beneath (or next to) it? I am not a procrastinator. I love creating my own structure and discipline and have had much success with this in the history of my art making. The problem is, I can become so acutely disciplined that I can lose track of the spiritual or mysterious aspect of art. It's probably not a surprise to you that nothing is ever created in this state (with the exception of frustration and a lot of wasted materials). This is when I have to step back and remember, once again, to be more flexible.
Flexibility: This is usually found after painful awareness (see above in "Discipline")
Energy: Since I have been able to work from my home studio on a daily basis, I have noticed my energy is quite cyclical. I always knew I had much more energy in the morning than I ever would any day after 2 pm but I don't think I had accepted the fact that there are times of very high and very low energy in my creative cycles. The highs are the ones that are addictive. The lows are not that much fun. Where I have grown, though, is in my ability to manage the lows. I have much more faith they will pass and the highs will return. I am better at having and accessing a list of "work to do" when a higher level of energy isn't necessarily required.
100% Backbone: I had an experience just last week where I noticed I had a much stronger backbone. I didn't have to do anything except trust the process and stand in my quiet confidence. "You've come a long way, Baby."
Perseverance: Gol' I'd say I have this. Please don't tell me I need more?
Humility: Since the very beginning, I have known that my creativity is an unbelievable gift from a greater source. I think it is rare to have one day pass where I do not express gratitude for the ability to express myself in this way. I also know that there are times (in certain public arenas) where I feel the need to protect myself (still). And I know that this defense mechanism can possibly be misinterpreted as a lack of humility. I am working on this and have noticed I am improving. Thank you. MORE PLEASE! (see below in "GRATITUDE")
Enthusiasm: If I listen and honor my energy level, my enthusiasm can run through the roof. This is also a characteristic many people bring to my awareness. It's so much a part of me that I usually take it for granted.
Extra Strength Grit: Before I looked up the word, "grit", tenacity was the word that came to mind. I have tenacity. But do I have grit? The first definition that came up for "grit" was "passion and perseverance for long term and meaningful goals." Oh, yes, I have this. It's the short term goals I have difficulty with (believing that they'll add up in favor of the long term ones).
Patience: If I feel like I am hitting the wall over and over again (which tends to happen in cycles as well), it's my job to, once again, ask for patience. On challenging days the inner critic says, "But haven't you been patient enough?", "Aren't you the Queen of Patience?". When these days occur, it's time to check back in with humility and do some writing. I usually get to the place where I need to ask for the willingness to become more patient. If you REALLY think about it, patience is just another form of trusting the process. Who doesn't want to trust the process? I DO!
Although not represented in the illustration, I'd add these to my tool box as well:
INTUITION: Gol', if I trust this (which I have learned to do more and more of), there is so much payoff for me in the long run. I have proof. Life and work flow so much more easily. Intuition is another ability I find myself expressing gratitude for on a daily basis. I know many struggle with the ability to tap into this. I do not take it for granted.
GRATITUDE: I've got this! Even on bad days I've got this. I say thank you every day (and I mean it). And I've learned to add "More please" after the fact.