Posts tagged self discovery
Celebrate the Normal: The contagious

Week 16 and now 310 pictures have been submitted in the Celebrate the Normal series. You all are unbelievable in your keen sense of capturing moments and emotions. I love that this continuum has allowed creators and artists the space to share what could be put in the box of the everyday but is instead elevated to the beautiful.

I'm going to hold you captive for just a moment before I show off this week's captures.

And it's been a recent (though not new) epidemic going around our house.

You may have heard of it; likely you've experienced in extensive ways in your years walking the earth.

It's fear. And it's a strange connection, that place where fear and celebration comingle.

Let me take you through two quick scenarios that happened in my house this week...

Scenario #1: My eldest is fearful of bike riding. The prospect of having to balance on her bicycle and not fall brings her quickly to tears and a whole bunch of anxiety. In fact she's been so terrified that she been talking and talking to her little sister about how dangerous riding a bike is, and she's mentioned and shown off all the bumps and scrapes she's received (and attaching the label - From biking - in her head).

The confidante, her younger sister who last summer was breezing by us all on her two-wheeler with training wheels has developed a new fear of falling from her bike. Her imagination from too-careful listening has made her unable to enjoy riding and now we have two fearful bike riders.

Scenario #2: When my younger daughter gets sick, she most likely suffers from a bad cough or sore throat. During a winter doctor's appointment for an acute case of symptoms, she got to experience the strep swab. The fear that this procedure may happen again has brought a new found concern into our house.

And so when her little brother was sick with a bad cough, and she warned him and warned him about how scary the doctor's office is, and how he'll have to get something down his throat, he began crying at the announcement that he was going to the doctor. He asked amidst his sobs if he'd have to get something in his throat. And a new fear is born.

Fear can be contagious.

When we generalize from our own helplessness and project that others will also develop the same fears we have, we make the transmittal route from one young mind to another a slick and easy pathway.

And yet what is more normal than fear? To think that we will never fear or inadvertently pass along our fear is naive at best.

As someone who has had fear sitting next to me for many years, I have 2 thoughts to share on using fear well.

1. Own it. Stop yourself before you make the blanket statement that snakes are absolutely terrifying, that needles produce the deepest pains, that giant hairy monsters live under your bed in the dark. And turn that fear into a personal story rather than a generalized truth.

I have no psychology in my background, so this is just speaking from my mom life - when fear becomes a personal story that you share and a vulnerability to open, it takes the sting and even the shock away from those around you. And the anxiety has a space to be released. Bonuses all around.

2. I recently heard a mentor talk about stumbling blocks in our lives: disappointment, rejection, fear, etc. Often these roadblocks keep us from becoming and being the people that we want to be. They can also intrude on our sense of the divine and our connection with God.

Plenty of times, I've been too distracted to pray. Sometimes I feel fearful or ashamed that God thinks less of/loves me less. Sometimes I'm angry and convinced that my way would have turned out better.

My mentor suggested, as his mentor had suggested to him... in these times of struggle with silence and with prayer... make it simple.

Are you angry today? Make that your first line of prayer (eg: "God, I am angry today, and I don't understand how to let it go)

Are you scared or ashamed? (eg; "God, I'm scared today. I'm afraid...")

And I have found that beginning with the placement of the fear right in the beginning of my prayer conversation takes away the power that fear sometimes possesses. I dare you to try it.

So let's celebrate fear this week. When we normalize it and celebrate it, the horror is released, and you and I can, in fact, relate on a deeper, more meaningful level.

It's a family affair! ~ Lidy

First cuddle with her granddaughter ~ erin_lily

July 27 ~ roglows

The sun was setting on my way home and lighting the sky on fire. ~ Mere

Farmer's market love ~ Paige

Big fragrance, saturated color ~ M.J.

Received all these wonderful cards within the past week or so. ~ Brittani

Enjoying fresh air ~ Julia

Love it when packages come with a Thank You ~ Eden

And via Twitter, Dani: Just had a delicious dinner by my favorite chef, . Now watching jr w/my smalls.

Let's have week of bravery, friends!

xoxo, MJ

Discovery in a Doodle

I grew up drawing pictures - filling notepads, the backsides of used typing paper, and even the white cardboard inserts from pantyhose that my grandma saved for me - of my world. God bless her, my mother has boxes and scrapbooks of these efforts to sketch Donald Duck or Garfield the Cat. I come from a family that communicates visually; each of my siblings artists in their own right. 12-hour car rides often consisted of my brother and me making a shared doodle, trading back and forth to add one element to the picture at a always trying to stump him and never succeeding.

I began college as a studio art major, and my favorite classes were drawing and figure drawing. Charcoal and conte crayon were my companions on easels and sketchpads. I identified with the title "artist," and I had gallery showings to prove this point.

So why would a whimsical series like the 30 Day Sketchbook Challenge throw me for a loop? Nicki and Kim were great enthusiasts and artists so it sounded like a great way to stretch a bit and warm up the old muscles again.

I pulled out my bestest pens, my favorite kind of paper, and I sat in my most inspiring spot. I began to draw. I started sketching objects around me.

Hmm, is that worth a drawing?

Oh, wait, the line looks bad.

I think that shape is way off, and the proportions look goofy.

This does not look good. Seriously, I should redo this one.

Starting over. Urgh. This one is worse than the last one.

No, not like that.

It was loud, I tell you. That inner critic of mine came racing out to greet me at every sketch. I didn't even notice it at first (we do, in fact, live together all the time so it's not that surprising), but as I began to take "too long" to finish I realized that I was becoming more and more self conscious of my work.

And I didn't want to finish.

And I didn't want to photograph it.

And I didn't want other people to see my work.

That gal who used to identify (with even a hint of arrogance) as an artist now felt embarrassed to show simple sketches.

So what's a gal to do? Well, nothing. I mean that's what I had planned - nothing.

Inevitably, my children had other thoughts. Lovingly nosey as they are, they wanted to know what I've been up to.

"Mommy is drawing!!"

"Can I draw, too?"

"Will you draw with me?"

"This is so much fun. Ooh, Mommy, are these your drawings? Oh, I love that one. Oh, and this one, too. You're so good, Mommy."

I won't deny their enthusiasm and affirmation felt good to my wobbly ego. But it wasn't as much their input that made me move from my nothingness.

It was my need to be more for them. I couldn't expect them to push past their mistakes or less-than-loved creations if I couldn't. What kind of mom is fearful of her own imperfections? Well, this one, but I decided to push through it.

With my big girl pants on, I took my photos and posted. Some enthusiasm and affirmations came from kind and generous people on the internet. I took a deep inhale at every SEND to Instgram.

And somewhere around Day 4 or 5, I caught a glimpse of one of my sketches on screen. In the first millisecond I didn't recognize it as mine, and I really liked it. Sinking in that I had in fact drawn the piece, I looked carefully at the details. And then I went through and looked at other sketches. I began to see my style, my technique coming out.

I remembered it from ages ago, and yet it was something new, too, and fresh.

And I've discovered "it" in other artist's work as I follow along with these drawings. One day you'll see a breakthrough - a new subject or letter creation that really seems to hum uniquely from that individual - all from committing and sticking with the journey.

I've asked that noisy critic to take a seat up in the balcony where I can't hear her as well while I move on and create a whole bunch of what needs to be made.

And I'm pushing on through because I know something new and even better awaits.

Happy doodling and discovering.

xoxo, MJ