Let Go: How I Learned to Step into My Dreams #MotivationMonday #SiezetheDream #Creative

Perfection has a price, but I cannot afford to live that life. It always ends the same; a fight I never win. Oh control. It’s time, time to let you go.” -JJ Heller

A few years back, on my birthday, I woke up after having an incredible dream. The dream was prophetic for my personal future. It hit straight to the core of some inner struggles I had been having. It gave me a greater hope for the future that I am now living.

For several years I had felt like I had fallen into a dark well or a completely lifeless creative downward spiral. Sure, I had been making art, commissions, and though I was pleased with the outcome of each, I have to say they were indeed lifeless … to me.

I was so detached from these paintings that I didn’t even really bother archiving them for my own portfolio. That says something. It says a lot.  My writing was like swimming through mud.

I had gone on a rampage to control everything in my life that I could. My art was controlled. There could be no mistakes in it, which meant I hardly ever created anything. My writing had to be flawless. And because it wasn’t, because I couldn’t really control it, I began to grow duller.

Spiritually, I felt like I had been traversing a craggy wasteland, always walking forward in the direction of the sun (Son), waiting for this storm of torrential rains and floods to come, but I was always waiting, always walking, and there was never a drop of rain in sight nor a cloud in the sky.

I began to grow used to the desert, both the spiritual and the creative. Oddly enough, my inner spirit man never really felt like it was in a drought, just thirsty, content, but never satisfied. No matter how much I fought to be satisfied.

As years past in my reality, circumstances not changing, my hope for a better future, for the flood rains in my creative life and spiritual life to come, became like an old plane ticket in my hand. It had no expiration date, but neither did it have a date of departure, and so I ceased looking for one.

I was a desert wanderer. This was my reality. But on my 31st birthday, waking up from that hope-reviving dream, remembering other dreams that partnered with it, I began to smell the scent of rain in the air again. A change was coming and it was right on the horizon. Messiah Yeshua Jesus even led me to a verse in the Scriptures to solidify this newly revived hope and expectation.

Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing what is new, let it now spring forth. Do you not know it? I am even making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Now, for several years I had been having a connected series of dreams about living in a trash bag tent in the desert amongst many others who were fearful of a coming flood.  So when I read this verse, and the images of those old dreams of my desert lands being flooded out with enough water to fill the oceans,  I knew it was a Word of life for me from Him.

This, however, is where faith gets tricky. People of faith LOVE a word about CHANGE and BREAKTHROUGH, but they never take into consideration what CHANGE and BREAKTHROUGH really mean.

Simple analogy, think of how a child who has come to the end of his or her stay within the womb feels when they are are BREAKING THROUGH to their new place. It is not a comfortable transition.  The very fluid they had been thriving on for nine months is squeezed out of them as they pass through from one existence to the other.

Isaiah 43:19 is awesome, but there is a verse that comes before it. This verse was the training breakthrough verse from me.

Isaiah 43:18 Do not remember the former, nor consider that of old.”

STEP 1: Confront your past disappointments.

In order for me to move forward out of my desert, I had to forget the things that were behind. I had a lot of disappointments and false starts,  a lot of heartaches, a lot of wounds, and all of those things not only blocked my creativity but stifled me spiritually and emotionally.

Art doesn’t thrive in a box. Creativity is organic and grows how it grows.

I was in agreement with ‘forgetting’ all of those things. I had buried them for a reason, but I had not healed from them. I was still carrying them with me, and the load was rotting lot gangrene and affecting every creative part of me.

I began to think I was a failure because I could not make myself forget these things that Messiah Yeshua-Jesus had let out of the bag. I cried. I didn’t understand until He gently and lovingly told me a simple truth.

In order to forget what is behind, you have to confront it, heal from it, so that it never has power over you again.

You know what it is like when a clogged pipe has been treated and all that grime comes out before the clear water flows? That is what had been taking place with me ever since. I began to allow my pains to be redeemed, and I am talking about those old pains, the-school-bully-that-scared-you-when-you-were-nine kind of pains.

STEP 2: Embrace your unique path and timing.

The pains of not feeling good enough and trying to achieve those superficial plateaus that society has put in place, but failing every time. And why was I failing? Because these things are not part of His design or rather they were not part of His design for my life back then. Striving for those things (marriage, children, nest, 9 to 5 job … not really on the 9 to 5) at the WRONG time was creative suicide.

Because of my wounds, the ones that were sneaking up on me even though I had pressed them down, I had gone on a rampage to control everything in my life that I could. My art was controlled. There could be no mistakes in it, which meant I hardly ever created anything. My writing had to be flawless. And because it wasn’t, because I couldn’t really control it, I began to grow duller.

STEP 3: Divorce yourself from perfectionism.

Art doesn’t thrive in a box. Creativity is organic and grows how it grows. I was trying to control all of these things because I could not control the pain that I refused to confront. But now I know better. I was blessed with the chance to journey far way from home, away from the noise and get a glimpse of the creative woman I once was and am in the process of becoming.

I leave you to take another listen to the song that makes my heart dance. It’s one of my new anthems. It comes from the “When I’m with You.” Album by JJ Heller. The song is called “Control.” I have let go of the control now. I have ceased to clip my own wings out of fear and the need to control something, anything, just to feel secure. I gave Yeshua Jesus permission to heal my hidden hurts and to draw out the creativity that had been backed up.

BONUS: LET GO OF THE NEED TO CONTROL!

I gave up control and I am getting to know me again and you don’t need control for that. It’s actually best to let it go.

COMMUNITY QUESTIONS:

  • What steps have you taken to walk into your creative dreams?
  • What were some things that were holding you back?
  • What advice would you share with others who have struggled to take hold of or regain their footing in conquering their dreams and goals?

Please share your wisdom and advice in the comments below.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

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Writing like Chopsticks: 3 Tidbits to Help Improve Your Creative Flow

*Note: This post is an updated version from one I created in 2014. Nevertheless, eat up!…I mean, who doesn’t like leftovers?

Writer's TableIt amazes me how something as simple as Chopsticks can actually hold very profound power. After all, basic chopsticks are fashioned from two pieces of wood.

They are nothing more than sticks, but to use them, to be able to feed yourself with them takes practice and elegant form.

When thinking further about the analogy I made between Chopsticks and Time management, I realized the same holds true with creativity as a whole. To that end, I am to give you 3 tidbits to help you along your creative path.

Your art is a living, organic thing. Allow it to grow in its own way.”~ Crystal Robinson Clark

Years ago, I was having a conversation with my eldest sister, Crystal, about my art not doing what I wanted it to do and certainly not doing it within the window of time that I had set for it.

Crystal’s response was that “Your art is a living organic thing. Allow it to grow in its own way.” Referencing chopsticks made me think of this . Ruminating on the connection gave birth to the image below. (It’s more a diagram really)

Vector Drawing by Candice Coates

A few years ago, while having lunch with some of my friends who are Korean, I learned that a person who holds the smallest amount of their chopsticks happens to be very proficient. In other words, the person who takes up the LEAST of controlled space, actually has the MOST power and control.

An employer who is able to have friendly relationships with his/her employees but still receives the utmost respect and honor from them is a person who takes up the Least but has the Most.

This comes from confidence. You can hold the reins with a lighter hand when you are confident in your position.

When it comes to time management, writing, creating visual art, I, like many others, have strained to make things happen in the exact way that I envisioned because of some type or form of fear. I was working out of a place of low creative confidence.

I shook those shackles off of my writing years ago and I am so glad that I did. My fiction has grown much stronger because of it. There is nothing more exhilarating than to be in the midst of typing and your main character suddenly makes a shocking decision that makes you gasp because you didn’t even see it coming.

I remember the first time this happened and me, shaking my head saying “Octavia! Why did you do that?! You are so stupid!” This is true organic creativity in action or writing with chopsticks.

I always have a “recipe” for my plot lines but I do not marry myself to them…I hold my writing chopsticks covering as little space as possible, leaving the rest to organic growth.

Some might be thinking, “Well, Candice, what do you do with ideas that pop in your head about a particular storyline you are working on?” Simple, I write those ideas down and keep them in a separate file.

Chopsticks_(PSF)I very rarely trash an idea altogether. Even if in the present moment it doesn’t seem to have a place, that doesn’t mean it won’t have a place in the future.

I like to think of these files as my “literary spice cabinet.” (I’ve mentioned this several times before.) When I come to a place in my manuscript that needs a little something special, I open up my file and I find the right plot twist, add it to my story and see if it works. I am guiding my creativity this way, not controlling it.

The same holds true for visual arts. I was taught in undergrad over a decade ago, that ratio of time for drawing is 30 to 70. I am to spend 30% of my time looking at my canvas or paper and 70% of the time looking at the form that I am capturing. This way I “draw what I see and not what I think I see.”

This is only relevant if you are creating from life, the 30 to 70, but it speaks again to being confident in your skill. Control says look at your paper more than the object you are recreating, while organic process says just flow.

In closing I want to encourage with the 3 tidbits I had woven in this posting:

1. Be free with your process: Remember what Crystal said, art is organic, so let your art grow in its own way…even if you have to trim the hedges later.

2. Hold your reins with an easy but steady hand:  Only cover or control what is absolutely necessary to guide your art but allow it to become what it is meant to be.

Art is after all a lot like children. Children raised with overbearing, overprotective, controlling hands, never really grow up to become confident, able adults. Their potential gets stifled. They are birds with fragile wings or trees that never reach the sun.

Which leads us to our last tidbit…

3. Be confident in your ability: You’ve been given a gift so use it. Raise your creativity/child with confidence!

Children guided with a hand of confident authority typically end up being well-rounded adults, given just the right balance of boundary and freedom to become what they were meant to be.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

I didn’t forget: A Poem

I didn’t forget

Ink Illustration by Candice Coates
Ink Illustration by Candice Coates

Your words hit like a cannon

Blasted through my armor

Left my heart beat stammering

Blazing…

You set my world on fire

Burned me down to cinders and exposed my desires

Light breathes

Dark sighs

Thoughts swirl all around me

Floating on the wind and crashing currents that I can’t see

No

I didn’t forget…How your touch broke through

Seared passed my layers

My flesh branded with your tattoo

Guttural…

Is the force of this motion

The shifting of my world is like a storm upon the ocean

Laden with the hope of the calm from peace

Driven with the fury that put me down to my knees

I didn’t forget

 

This poem, to me, is like a hall of doors. Each line has far more to say than has actually been said. The last couple of months for me have been like being caught in the eye of a storm. Not so much in a bad way, but in a way that makes it clear that I can’t bring the issues swirling around me to a level of order…not on my own Things seem to be completely out of order. The good news is I have peace. Trusting in Him (Messiah Yeshua/ Jesus Chirst) gives me hope. He is in control here. I don’t need to be like Carrie Underwood and scream “Jesus, take the wheel!”  Nope. He has got it.  Like a child being born, I depend on Him. But the process of the storm, and the swirl and whip of the “winds” can make a person moan with agitation. His work in me (in us) can often be painful, but the process is worth it.  Birthing is traumatic. Growing is often coupled with pain, silence brings clarity. I am at the brink of something. And this I will never forget!

Cheers!

 

I came for the soup.dpp widgets

 

Getting My Steps Back in Order

Today was the dawn of another glorious Monday, and with that comes my musing and plans for the week. Honestly, I have to say my mind has been racing a mile a minute with all the things I have to do (things pertaining to the blog and things that are not related, but equally important.)

Ordered Steps

In the crevices of all the occupied space in my mind are the lines  and phrases of characters of stories that I am currently working on apart from Ascension Graveyard, and those that I have not yet settled down long enough to breathe life into outside of the confines of my imagination.

Needless to say, all of this thinking and all of these task have created quite a struggle for me. I have a TON of pinned up creativity that is desperate to come out! Life has been hectic for over 3 months. Unexpected needs have arisen and with those familiar needs have come sacrifices…time sacrifices.

As a result, what was once a free flowing production line within this blog has, in my view become a mess with things spilling over onto the floor. LET ME CLARIFY. The blog isn’t a mess, MY THOUGHTS ARE! I feel like I have lost control with my balancing act . Which means I need to whip myself back into shape.

To help you grasp what I mean, watch the video below…

Its in times like these that I wish I had a doppelganger…but then it would probably try and knock me off because I am certain I would micromanage. But since I don’t have a doppelganger I will rest assured my life will go on and that I will regain balance, without over stuffing my plate. I simply need to regain my ebb and flow…think of it as riding a bike. No one really forgets how to do so.

SO WHAT IS THE PLAN? The plan is simple, sit down and write, give my 15min to art and freewrites, close out the things that I can without having to pay for it later. Basically, I just need to take a breath and focus. I took the first week of July off and even though the rest was AWESOME and needed, it also allowed for some other distractions…basically I have all these books that I have acquired and I want to read them.  Tragic, I know.

I am confident that by the end of this month everything will be back in its place. If things happen my way, they will be so by the end of this week. Its a bit of wishful thinking so bare with me if you will.

See you all tomorrow with my Writing Prompt results.

Have a creative week.

Cheers!

Decisions part II…More on Chopsticks

It amazes me how something so simple as Chopsticks can actually hold very profound power. After all, basic chopsticks are fashioned from two pieces of wood. They are nothing more than sticks, but to use them, to be able to feed yourself with them takes practice and elegant form.

When thinking further about the analogy I made between Chopsticks and Time management, I realized the same holds true with creativity as a whole. I briefly mentioned it at the end of the previous post, but I wanted to take some time and expand on it.

Your art is a living, organic thing. Allow it to grow in its own way.”- Crystal Robinson Clark

Over the past few weeks of blogging, there have been a few reoccurring themes; time, control, and of course, creativity. Years ago, I was having a conversation with my eldest sister about my art not doing what I wanted it to do and certainly not doing it within the window of time that I had set for it. My sister’s response was that, “Your art is a living organic thing. Allow it to grow in its own way.” Referencing chopsticks made me think of this yesterday. Ruminating on the connection gave birth to the image below. (It’s more a diagram really)

Vector Drawing by Candice Coates
Vector Drawing by Candice Coates

A few years ago, while having lunch with some of my friends who are Korean, I learned that a person who holds the smallest amount of their chopsticks happens to be very proficient. In other words the person who takes up the LEAST of controlled space, actually has the MOST power and control. An employer who able to have friendly relationships with his/her employees but still receive the utmost respect and honor from them is a person who takes up the Least but has the Most.

This comes from confidence. You can hold the reins with a lighter hand when you are confident in your position.

When it comes to time management, writing, creating visual art, I, like many others, have strained to make things happen in the exact way that I envisioned because of some type or form of fear. I was working out of a place of low creative confidence.  I shook those shackles off of my writing years ago and I am so glad that I did. My fiction has grown much stronger because of it. There is nothing more exhilarating than to be in the midst of typing and your main character suddenly makes a shocking decision that makes you gasp because you didn’t even see it coming. I remember the first time this happened and me, shaking my head saying “Octavia! Why did you do that?! You are so stupid!” This is true organic creativity in action or writing with chopsticks.

I always have a “recipe” for my plot lines but I do not marry myself to them…I hold my writing chopsticks covering as little space as possible, leaving the rest to organic growth. Some might be thinking, “Well, Candice, what do you do with ideas that pop in your head about a particular storyline you are working on?” Simple, I write those ideas down and keep them in a separate file. I very rarely trash an idea all together. Even if in the present moment it doesn’t seem to have a place, that does not mean it will not have a place in the future.

I like to think of these files as my “literary spice cabinet.” When I come to a place in my manuscript that needs a little something special, I open up my file and I find the right plot twist, add it to my story and see if it works. I am guiding my creativity this way, not controlling it.

The same holds true for visual arts. I was taught in undergrad over a decade ago, that ratio of time for drawing is 30 to 70. I am to spend 30% of my time looking at my canvas or paper and 70% of the time looking at the form that I am capturing. This way I “draw what I see and not what I think I see.” This is only relevant if you are creating from life, the 30 to 70, but it speaks again to being confident in your skill. Control says look at your paper more than the object you are recreating, while organic process says just flow.

In closing I want to encourage you to be free with your process. Be confident in your ability and hold your chopsticks with a sure and steady hand, but only cover what is absolutely necessary to guide your art but allow it to become what it is meant to be.  Art is after all a lot like children. Children raised with overbearing, overprotective, controlling hands, never really grow up to become confident, able adults. Their potential gets stifled. They are birds with fragile wings or trees that never reach the sun. But children guided with a hand of confident authority typically end up being well rounded adults, given just the right balance of boundary and freedom to become what they were meant to be.

Chopsticks…the certainly are more than just two pieces of wood.