Laying Down Fear and Claiming My Artistry: An Apology

Here’s the ninth prompt in the month-long Quest 2015 with Tracking Wonder. Over the course of December 2014, you’ll see 12 posts on a variety of topics, all designed to help stir the pot and spark the mind, body and spirit as we turn toward 2015.

Eric Klein prompts us with:

“How will you face your shadow bag and stop the stink, so you can bring forth what is best within you in 2015?

What can you claim right now?”

Eric is referring to the shadow behaviors that we all have – and is asking where we can reclaim that part of us that has been banished earlier in life for being unacceptable.

I can claim my current struggle with reclaiming my creativity.

I’ve written some of this story here before, but recently, it’s been taken further. I’ve had some huge wins as I’ve delved into writing a book this year, but the struggle is now spilling over into this business of mine, and will shortly impact my clients, for the better.

Here’s the salient portion of this story:

The part about a little girl who loved to draw stories and scenes from real life.

When I was a child, in early elementary school, every Monday we wrote and drew our “Weekend Stories” on big pieces of newsprint with the bottom half lined for writing. We could write a few sentences about our weekend and then draw a picture with crayons.

I can vividly remember many of these drawings. The green trees, the evergreen trees (this was Washington State), always a sun (ok, so even then I was an idealist) and big shoes on everybody.

Apparently, either I was insatiable on the drawing front or wasn’t too bad at it or both, but I soon found myself in oil painting classes. I finished my first painting at the age of 9.

It currently hangs in the hallway of my home. It’s a desert scape. I can only claim having done some of the painting. But I love my name at the bottom, along with the date – it’s a reminder of that little girl who loved colors and places and spaces.

As the painting was being finished, I can remember the teacher telling me that normally, we’d not date a painting, but this was my first and so dating it was necessary.

It was fun. I loved the smell of the linseed oil and the smooth quality of the paints as opposed to the crayons or pencils or markers I’d used up till that point – the varying textures of smoothness or glossiness, depending on the pigments in each color. I loved the different shape brushes, and how some felt soft on my skin, others rough or sparse when I brushed them along my arm before dipping them in the paint.

I loved all of the equipment that was mine to care for: the paints, brushes, the thinner and oils. I loved the colors in the tubes and the colors I could mix up on my palette. My dad got me a wooden painting case and stained and varnished it for me. I still have that case and consider it the best present my dad ever gave me.

All of that joy and curiosity was slowly degraded into dread as the months of Saturday classes became years of Saturdays wasted.

Each weekend as my teacher painted over my work and didn’t really show me how to do it any better, I came to loathe these painting classes. I spent my time playing with paint on my palette, going for walks to the nearby store for candy, or wandering around the hobby shop – looking at the other art supplies and dreaming of what it might be like to know how to use these supplies properly.

I was finally able to convince my parents to let me stop going sometime in middle school. My mom still has the dozens of paintings which I painted but didn’t paint, tucked away in her garage. I hate them. They are not mine. I did not do them. When she passes away I will take them to the dump. Though, I do have a couple I consider to be mostly my work, which I treasure.

Fast forward to college. I studied architecture.

Architecture was full of drawing and designing, but with a ruler and math, which hid my broken creativity. Before I was accepted into the department of architecture at my university, I thought I’d either study oceanography or sculpture if I didn’t get in. I got in and that was that. I was saved by the acceptance letter from facing the anxiety of my inability to create even though I still found that world of art and story fascinating.

Fast forward again to me finishing up my short career as a licensed maritime officer – I’d run a small privately-run yacht in Western Alaska with my captain’s license, though I was technically the first mate for the owner who was the captain. I supported the details of someone else’s journey, though loved the moments where I was secretly having my own journey. As my time in this job was waning I knew I was going back to university for a graduate degree. Before I decided on the behavioral science work, I was considering an MFA in photography.

Again, and not for just the second time, I turned swiftly away from a career choice that would have had me call myself an artist. I dreamt about it but did not dare consider really doing it.

For years, even as I sketched in my free time, worked as a chef – an artist with food, knitted, learned some boat-building skills, and photographed my way through my twenties and thirties, I wondered what I might accomplish if I had some training.

Of course I never allowed myself that. How foolish. I was not creative.

Typing out these sentences still produces at tightening in my throat and tears in my eyes.

Good lord. Of course I was creative.

We are all creative creatures. Some people are creative with paint or food and some people are creative with words or selling or building or manufacturing or hitting a ball with a bat.

I get that now and have for many years.

But I couldn’t, for so many of my years, allow myself to believe I could ever be an artist, that I was really a visionary.

Other people could create visions. Not me.

Over the last decade or so, I’ve realized that the artistry that I’m most interested in developing is the written type. I’ve realized the so-called painting teacher I’d endured as a small child had actually done me a favor and set me on a trajectory that has let me to my current work and love of words. I probably WOULD have gone to art school had I had a good teacher in those early days.

This is my path and I’m happy and deeply satisfied to have lived the life I call my own.

But here’s the stink. I still let others be the artist or the visionary while I keep myself in the place of sorting through all of the information (these days the astrological details) and keep it all tidy so that others can fly.

I’m still supporting other peoples’ journeys and forgetting about my own.

And don’t get me wrong. I love helping other people sail their ship. It’s a big part of what I do in this business and it’s what I do in real life – it’s what I’ve always done and am called to do.

It’s just that the part of me that calls herself artist, writer, and visionary needs to be sown back on – and on to the visible part at that. This part is not hiding anymore. Not being projected onto the other people who do it better, anymore.

I am sick and tired of talking really fast.

Talking so fast that I don’t slow down long enough to drop into the creative process that scares the hell out of me because this story is still alive: That I don’t know how to do it. That I can’t do it. That I’m wrong when I do it.

Even though I’ve spent so much time working to support my creative identity, I still feel like a fraud.

No wonder I spend so much time advocating that we’re all just perfectly designed for this moment in time.

And I do really believe this. I’d stake my life on it.

I have staked my livelihood on it.

Right now, it’s time I take the next step ahead of me on my path: To heal this part of my life, as I’ve tended to so many other parts and people before it.

If I can stand up and tell my dad I’m a professional astrologer, I think I can tell you all that I’m also an artist and a visionary. I think I can tell myself this as well. And maybe even fully believe it.

There’s more.

This day has been coming.

I’ve been noticing for a while now that I’m ready for this next step:

I don’t think I’ve been doing my best work. Not for myself and not for my clients.

I haven’t been serving them in the way I’m designed to serve them. Not because I don’t know how, but because I’ve been afraid to slow down long enough to admit that throwing logic and reasoning and lots of astrological information at a difficult challenge isn’t often enough.

I’m ashamed to admit this. That I have traveled with my clients, not always, but often, in a speed boat when a skiff with oars would have been the better choice.

So here’s what else.

I’m mostly done with a small re-brand where the astrology will take a step back.

I’m ready for the part of me that is a visionary to sit side by side with the part of me that is a thinker and a translator.

The visionary part of me sees the whole, the big picture, the narrative, the poetry.

The visionary part of me sees how to slowly make my way, by myself or with a client, through the thicket of paradox and ambiguity, from the place where all is known to the place where only some things can be known and where faith and what the ancients call “mythos” trump reason and “logos”. Frankly, most of life – at least the big important parts – are lived in the former place, not, to the chagrin of the moderns of the world, in the latter.

I’m ready to claim the next step in my work and rather than start with looking at the underlying patterns of a person’s life, look at the larger narrative first, so that then the underlying patterns have a context within which to find meaning. So that my astrological work can have just the right foundation, so that I stop drowning clients in too much information before we’ve built them the survival suit of a life narrative to hold them buoyant.

I’m ready to up the ante and offer all of myself.

I’m ready to defend the small sapling that is the poet and visionary in me. So that the sapling can grow to be mighty and can play alongside my strong intellect – so that I can experience more fullness and wholeness in myself, and so that my clients can experience my best work and my most wise self.

So that we can all benefit from having the experience of truly seeing that we are all perfectly designed for this moment in time.

I’m done ignoring the contents of my intellect’s shadow – the large dark place where my visionary and artist has been hiding – afraid to come out and be ripped to shreds by the authority in me that does not want to be wrong. What I’m claiming right now is my ability to play a bigger game and to serve my clients with a larger slice of wisdom.

Because I do know better.

And because I’m sorry that I’ve not been ready, for so long, to let my ship sail to all ports on my map.

Stay tuned. The re-brand will show itself in the next few days.

Where have you been denying yourself? Which part of you is ready to come out of the shadow and play a bigger and more cherished role in your life, now?

If this post has stirred you, I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts below in the comments.

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10 Responses to Laying Down Fear and Claiming My Artistry: An Apology

  1. Molly Morrissey, you are certainly an artist in words and business. I would not be at all surprised to see you add poet and visionary as well. Thank you for your bravery and inspiration!

  2. Molly, Looking forward to where you sail that ship into new horizons of a rebrand. There is such honesty and vulnerability in this post. It’s really wonderfully refreshing to hear these words written so very well. Thank you!

  3. Molly, this is gorgeous. The story of the paintings painted over pains so, but how generously you have viewed it here to reclaim your path. Can’t wait to see your map…and that ship on horizon sailing from port to port. Go Molly!!

  4. I’m honored to watch this shift, Molly! I re-branded in 2011 and it still feels fresh in some ways, so I can relate. It’s an inspiration to see this change coming through your self-induced call to personal and artistic integrity. Thanks for that example.
    Many blessings for all of this and the coming year.

  5. This is very inspirational to read. To stop, to consider, what was I before? What did I push aside for something people said was more “me”. I can’t wait to hear more of (and learn from…)your journey. OXO

  6. Wow – this post gave me goosebumps and made me well up – both because I love seeing this insight you’ve had, I applaud your clarity and bravery, and I can relate. Supporting others on their journeys is noble, and it’s a safe place to hide. Thank you for helping me see that. Your posts always make me think…. and I’m left wondering what my journey is. Can’t wait to hear more about what’s coming next for you! Love you.