Rest is good. Sunshine is great. Vacation is the best. I was so glad Stephen and I got to get away for a cruise with his family right after the holidays. It was wonderful to experience the beauty of the islands, spend time with family and relax. Our ship took us to the Grand Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Labadee. My favorite moment was when we were in Labadee, surrounded by the mountains I grabbed a floaty mat and just drifted around in the still ocean. Talk about great - it was. I didn't take my professional camera for the sake of relaxation, so I roughed it with my iphone, I was bummed at the quality of the photos I got, especially people pictures. But I'll always remember the snapshots I took in my mind of the beautiful shining sun, tall green mountains and sand beneath my feet. Oh and did I mention the food ... I ate A LOT.
"The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude."
I read this quote today and it hit me - my last post about creating was only slightly written out of a heart and mind of gratitude. Like, I am very grateful for the truths that I mentioned I'm doing my best to hold onto and claim daily. But half of me feels like if I was really grateful for them - if I really believed them - my life and business would look and function a lot differently.
You know what was really at the heart and mind of my last post on creating? Fear. Fear of people. Fear of failure. Fear of missing out. Creating is a very vulnerable activity. But it seems as though instead of being grateful for the opportunity, materials and the very act of creating - I am usually to afraid of what will become of my creation.
But this quote, it brings me back to the point of why we create, make, paint or construct art in the first place - because we are joyful and grateful. I believe thankfulness is one of the biggest motivators. It can drive us to do better, work harder and feel stronger - because we realize what we have and who we are because of what we've been given.
Now I know sometimes, many times, beautiful things are born out of not very beautiful circumstances. But I feel that the pieces created in response to hard times, show the grateful heart that down deep is rising up to overcome - to notice there is something to be grateful for, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for.
Now wouldn't you believe that one of the greatest lessons God taught me in 2013 was that 'Thankfulness can conquer so much fear!'. Hard to believe that I came to this understanding last Fall - literally one year ago. At that time in my life, I was believing these words with great hope for even more things I would soon have to be grateful for - to leave my corporate job, to go full-time with my photography, to get to work from my home ... Here I am people, living a life where all those hopes have come true. Yet, I struggle with gratitude and fear!?
Fear is very selfish; it is deciding to cower, instead of boldly choosing to overcome. You are scared. You then allow whatever you're afraid of to have more control over your life than your own self.
Gratitude is very humbling; it recognizes the gifts given and revels in the fact that you are the recipient. You are special. You then allow whatever you've been given to have more of an impact on your life than your own fear.
Everyone is creative. We truly all were created to create. However, with that creativity comes responsibility. Responsibility to do your part - to give and give more and try harder and go beyond what you thought you were capable of. Now there is no one person checking in on you to see what you've made or come up with. But in this social media age, really in most any of the ages, there is always someone who made something better or greater or who achieved more.
I say all this because lately I've been feeling PRESSURE - pressure to perform, to have enough work, to make enough money, to be better, to improve more and on and on. I believe there is good pressure and bad pressure. Good pressure comes from within, from your passion to create. This pressure drives you in a positive way. Your concern is for the craft, the clients or the enjoyment. But bad pressure ... ew; bad pressure is a nagging feeling. It stunts growth and traps you in your own little dark hole of worries and fears and what ifs and 'I'm not good enoughs".
Do you ever step back and wonder, "What am I doing?! and Why the heck am I doing this?" (Please catch the tone here - there is an anxiousness about it. This isn't a healthy positive self evaluation. It is a freak out moment.) I have been doing this a lot. If I'm honest with myself, it is stemming from that evil devil of comparison and joy stealing fear of what others think.
As creatives, we work and mold and bend and make art - it is very personal. Then we put ourselves out there, saying, "Here is the product of not only my hard work, but even more, my heart work." Then we wait - for approval, for a purchase, for a client, for likes, for a buyer. This process makes it very hard to find a balance between appreciating ourselves and what we've created and being approved or hired. Basically, it is hard to make money and have the correct creative mindset.
I feel very strongly, that God gives us the opportunities we are each, as individuals, supposed to have. So my creative endeavors will always be different from those of others, even in my same industry. However, when you see your industry peers, movin and shakin and money makin, you can easily start down that slippery slope of negative thinking. I am getting very personal here and it is a little, quite honestly, scary.
Truth is the only thing that keeps me grounded. These truths:
God made me special and unique from anyone else.
God has given me specific talents.
God will give me just the right opportunities for me to use those talents.
God loves me for who I am, not what I do.
The same is true for everyone else. Everyone.
So, I'm hoping and striving for a more truth-filled everyday; every work day. One that grounds me, motivates me, excites me and drives me to continue on in my own creative efforts. No matter where you are or what you do - you are being creative. May you allow the good pressure to produce your best work.