3 Words for 2013

“Make your life an incredible masterpiece.”

These were the words of wisdom I found on my “Lift Your Spirits” calendar as I flipped the page to February 1. I immediately started thinking, “What does an artist need to create incredible masterpieces?” Jokingly, I answered myself, “a commission.” Then I got serious and tried to see if the words I’ve been considering for 2013 would fit the calendar.

The Writeous Babe Blog gave me the idea to focus on three words for the year instead of a long list of resolutions. While I still have personal and professional goals for 2013, I like the three words concept for giving me a way to focus my energy.

This will take me a second, but follow me. I know it’s February and the time for resolutions is over, but it took me this long to figure out what my three words would be, and that’s partly due to “Finding Your Own Voice.” FYOV is a workshop to help women reconnect with their creativity and intution and to trust it. In the second session of the workshop at the end of January, we learned about Chakras, seven energy centers in the body that receive and transmit life-force energy to and within the body. I’m way oversimplifying it here, but when the chakras are in balance, life is good. When they’re not, it really isn’t.

Our workshop facilitator gave us the article, “Chakra balancing,” in which Gayle Kirk explains, “Chakras are located deep within the center of the physical body next to a hormonal gland along the spinal column.” The root chakra, the red circle in the picture accompanying this post, is right around the place where I hurt my back. The root chakra is responsible for physical needs and security. Physical symptoms reflect your energy, so even though I fell and there was trauma caused by the fall, I can’t help but think my injury and my energy are related and that one influenced the other just as much as it did before the fall as it has since. And as I’ve learned through this injury, one damaged part of the body affects everything else.

What does it mean to be uprooted, ungrounded? To be unstable? I’ve felt this way for years. Nothing can throw you off balance like not knowing exactly what you want to do with your life, and having to make this decision in a world that’s changing faster than you can acquire the knowledge to change with it. And just when you think you’re settling in, there’s another shift—in my case, a layoff—and you’re back to flying by the seat of your pants.

The starving artist life (i.e., making all sorts of sacrifices to pursue your evolving dreams and live as an independent artist) always looks cool until you’re living it. It’s extremely stressful. I’m supposed to be a “too blessed to be stressed” Christian, and you know, that does (did) help me live as an artist. But even when I know the outcome is that it’ll be alright and God will meet all my basic needs, if the process involves juggling seven jobs like a Jamaican on “In Living Color,” that process is unsettling, at best. (At worst, it gives you high blood pressure and you have to take meds that make your hair fall out. Been there. Not fun.) “Unsettling” isn’t good for creating your best work, but there are a few words that are.




My creation with my cousin’s blocks


I decided an artist needs play, presence and power to create incredible masterpieces. An artist needs recreation, to do something just because it’s fun, and I say, all the better if it’s something a kid would do. I’m a big fan of going to the park and playing on the swings, and I recently re-discovered playing with blocks.



I also need to be present, to be in the moment. I probably spend 20-30 minutes each day looking for stuff I’ve set down somewhere. You think artists are flaky, but the creative mind is actually well-organized. An artist should also be alert to all the moments happening around her, moments she can possibly capture.



Finally, an artist needs power to create an incredible masterpiece. I started to use the words, “boldness” or “fearlessness,” because that’s what I mean, but I wanted another word beginning with the letter P. There’s also a strong power that comes with moving without fear of unknown consequences. During the workshop, I realized this fear had been holding me back for years and making it hard to make (good) decisions for myself. What if people don’t like this painting? What if the book doesn’t sell? What if I go to grad school and just end up with debt? What if I don’t and I never get a real job? What if I marry this guy and it turns out he’s not “The One?” Instead, I’ve decided to start asking myself, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid of what might happen?” and go with that.

So I’m going through the remainder of 2013 remembering to play, to be present and to embrace the power that comes from moving forward without fear. And I’m hoping that puts me back in balance.

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