I like to think that one of the most important things I foster as a teacher and creative enabler is PRACTICE. And by that, I don’t mean ‘sketch for 2 hours a day’, though that could certainly be a part of it. When I say ‘practice’, I say it like one might say ‘yoga practice’ or ‘meditation practice’. I want to get people into their painty spaces (wherever they may be) on the regular, meeting themselves on the page, falling in love with whatever they see reflected back at them in the mirror of their journals.
I don’t know about you, but the only way for me to ensure that I do anything consistently is to make space for it as a regular PRACTICE. If I wait for inspiration to strike, or if I just do it when I ‘feel like it’, I lose steam very quickly. If my motivation is the end product, samesies. Steamless. Juiceless. Interest wanes, and I move on. But if I think of what I do as a practice, and if I know my reasons why I’m doing it as such, things shift for me.
Why I Engage Creativity As A Practice
If you were to ask me what my most important goal in life might be, I would tell you that it is to be self-possessed. I know that’s a big goal, and I know I’m not quite there yet, but my heart’s deepest desire is to know and love myself in all my parts so much, so fiercely, so consistently, that I cannot be knocked off course by anyone or anything else. I want to, in the face of a storm, declare that I am the storm. I want to, when feeling buffeted by waves, declare that I am the wave. I want to ride life. I don’t want it riding me.
If I know anything about riding life it is that it requires self-awareness. It requires regular visits to the internal landscape where the truth of my reality resides. It also requires self-compassion, because if you’re riding your life (as opposed to letting it ride you) you know yourself to be ultimately responsible for your every response. You are in charge. The buck stops with you. The good, the bad, the ugly, it’s all on you, and that’s a heavy responsibility to bear if you’re doing it without self-compassion.
This practice of meeting myself on the page, whether through written or art journaling, allows me to know myself much more deeply than I might otherwise, and knowing myself deeply allows me to have more self-compassion than I might otherwise. In an atmosphere of self-compassion, I can try and fail, grapple, soar, plummet, weigh, sift, heal, and grow under the watchful and tender eye of a self that loves herself like a mother loves her babe.
And, given where I come from, that’s huge.
Somewhere over the last couple of years, I fell out of practice. Everything I did, I did for work, and because it was for work, I was focused on technique, focused on teaching, out of alignment with my deepest desire (which is to be self-possessed). Everything I did, I did for your eyes, not my own.
I had other practices that kept me somewhat in touch with that self that makes magic, and I made a lot of beautiful, worthy spreads for you all to engage in the classes I was teaching, but I started to feel lonely for my *self*. I started to wonder where *I’d* wandered off to. I longed to woo myself back into alignment, to woo that wild child within me to come play, to reveal herself to me anew.
I needed to revisit my own reasons why I do this thing I do, and I needed to recommit to it. I needed to rebuild trust with the self I’d all but abandoned.
Last year, I made a decision to shift things around a bit so that I’d have more time for my personal PRACTICE. I went monthly with BOD instead of bi-weekly, which made *all the difference* and freed up so much time that I could gently ease myself back into the daily routine of meeting myself on the page with the video camera OFF. When the new schedule went into effect, I dusted off a journal given to me by a beloved friend, and I returned to my practice with gusto. The spreads I make in this journal are for me and me alone. I may share images of them, but I don’t feel compelled to explain them, film their creation, or otherwise leverage them for work.
It’s had an enormous impact.
I forgot, while I was off trying to run a business, how effective art journaling is for sifting and weighing the contents of my soul. I’d forgotten how good it was as a way to self-soothe, to bring more self-compassion into my every day. I’d forgotten what a lovely way it was to be in conversation with myself – with all my parts. I’d forgotten how nourishing it was, and how this kind of unfettered creativity seeds more creativity. The less I practice, the less inspired I feel. The less in touch with myself I feel. The less self-possessed. The more I practice, the more ‘in my own skin’ I feel. The more beloved. The more seen. The more attended to.
So, I’m walking my talk.
And it’s good to be back.