Archives for posts with tag: do you?

“Do you.”

“Be who you are.”

“Be yourself.”

“Be real.”

If we’re struggling to know ourselves, it follows that being ourselves comes with an obvious challenge; we may only be trying things on for size, exploring our options, or even (and often) terrified by the potential that we may be wrong about it. Uncomfortable – and in our discomfort, and insecurities about “who we think we are”, we lose our way, and potentially become a composite of other people’s values, notions, and assumptions of who we are – some tidied up caricature of who we most want to be, perhaps, or worse, in the struggle to resist, we remake ourselves as monsters. Yikes.

Is it enough to “be who we are”, if we’re not sure about who that is, exactly? Is there an alternative that doesn’t require fakery or bullshit? How do I “become my best self” – and who is that? 56 years old and still, sometimes, wondering who I want to be when I “grow up”. It’s not a process that has a clear conclusion, ideally; I will strive to be that woman I most want to be, until the day I stop being, having become, in that final moment, only a collective of deeds – and memories. No “finish line” – and it’s not a race, more a walk in the countryside. When we’re fortunate, our journey is well-lit, paved, and we’ve got company along the way, and maybe a sense of direction. Less fortunate travelers walk a harder path; it’s dark out there, the way is not paved, at all, there’s no map, and we wander, confused, alone, and feeling wholly fucked over. There’s a lot of options in between – variations in the human experience.

I’m sipping my morning coffee, and thinking about mortality. πŸ™‚ Oh, I’m not feeling gloomy, or down, nor am I obsessing over the details, just very much aware that even this will pass. All of it. I’ll “move on”, not necessary to anything else, perhaps this truly is all there is? I can’t know that in advance – that’s part of the challenge – and I personally choose not to attempt to fill that uncertainty with any sort of conviction about the unknown. It will be what it is, when that time comes, right? Whether I face it with inquisitive openness and curiosity, or with an assumption built on faith and assumptions, it will, reliably, be only what it actually is, in fact. We’ll see when we get there. Or, um, not. lol Sorry – I’m not prone to existential angst, and if you are, this prosy nonsense about whatever the hell may or may not be on the other side of life could be stressful. My bad. Please forgive me – let’s move on. πŸ˜‰

We’re mortal creatures, that’s my point.

Being my authentic self got tested yesterday. Work stuff. I had a moment, as an adult, to live my values, speak my truth to power, be as frankly and honestly the woman I am, without compromise, in a work scenario that would previously have provoked me to mold myself to the moment, and to try to be who I perceived myself as expected to be. Reasonable enough; people do that all the time. Compromise. Small compromises in values justified as “choosing our battles” or “not starting shit” can so easily lead to becoming a shell of a human being, feeling disconnected, closed off, “not heard” (because we’re not speaking our truth in the first place), and even ashamed – once the dust settles –Β  of whatever the outcome turns out to be. I don’t want that for myself. πŸ™‚ I went home feeling… clean. Satisfied. “Legit.” I felt whole, empowered, and inspired; I was heard, accepted, and valued. Well… so, yeah, that made it easy, didn’t it?

It’s much harder not to cave to social pressures when we are not accepted, not valued, and dismissed or diminished, instead of heard. It’s not up to chance, though, and I made specific choices to refrain from making assumptions about the outcome of necessary conversations, and chose to simply prepare for the moment in an authentic away – relying heavily on experience, professional knowledge, and trust that my values – and the convictions I hold that are built on those – would be enough. No panic. No “presentation” building. No “controlling the narrative” – and frankly, I’m pretty good at conversation. πŸ˜€

…I even managed an entire 45 minutes of conversation without interrupting. lol

This morning, I sip my coffee, smiling, listening to music, looking forward to brunch, and feeling something I guess I can call “proud of myself”… or, maybe… “inspired”? I am even excited to return to work on Monday, which actually feels pretty strange, I gotta say; I’m not generally “about that”. lol It’s not that I don’t enjoy the work I do… it’s more that it definitely feels like a job that takes time away from my lifetime. Time I could – and would – so easily use differently for myself, were I a woman of means on that order of magnitude. I’m not. I work. That’s just real. πŸ™‚

Being our most authentic self is challenging at work. Challenging in relationships that are precious to us – particularly if we feel insecure about the relationship… or who we are. A few years ago, I opted out of most relationships in my life that felt insecure, or which seemed to hold an element of investment in my worst self. Easier than trying to force some other human being to be a different person than they are, I learned to understand that (as with any work team) “fit” matters – and not all human beings are “a good fit” for friendship, romance, partnership, casual fun, lunch out… so many humans to choose from, why would I spend time struggling to force any one relationship to be something it isn’t? Those choices definitely served to make authenticity easier. That just leaves managing the work piece – and the “being out in the world” piece.

Random interactions with strangers. Right. Those, too. There are expectations of how we behave socially. Being my best self doesn’t require me to be inauthentic – but it may require me to change, to grow, or to choose differently than I might, if I were left utterly on my own, feral, undeveloped, un-socialized, and without context. lol There are choices to be made, every social moment. Kindness or cruelty? Compassion or callousness? Patient or angry? Polite or rude? Distant or intimate? Quiet or talkative? Chill or anxious? Rushed or relaxed? So many choices. Who am I?

Who are you?

“Your vibe attracts your tribe.” That’s real. When I am “my own person”, living my life in an authentic way, the people who enjoy my company are enjoying “the real me”, and my social circle, over time, fills with those people. Other people walk on. Letting them go is a natural fit – no need to fight it. Easier not to, too.

Today, this moment, feels easy and relaxed. My coffee is nearly gone. It’s a lovely morning that looks like a hot day to come. I sip my hot coffee grateful for air conditioning. My Traveling Partner went back east to see family – during a heat wave. I frown sympathetically, and ineffectively, at my monitor, when I think about that. I’m sure not going to bitch to him about 86 degrees, when we next speak. πŸ˜€ I finish my coffee, and jot down a quick list of things to do today; I like being prepared, when I begin again. πŸ˜€

 

I admit I love the increasing cultural encouragement to embrace our authentic selves that I see popping up everywhere, often in the form of a response to some thing or other, phrased as “do you”. I like that. Definitely. Do you. Be you. Invest in you. Grow your brand – and your self. Explore who you are. All that sounds pretty awesome, and very supportive and encouraging… but…

…It also sounds “too easy”. I know, I know. Authenticity is actually pretty fucking daring, even now, and it requires self-awareness, self-compassion, openness, honesty on this whole other level a lot of people are not prepared for, and a willingness to let go of attachment to our own assumptions about who we in fact our, when those conflict with who we in fact are.Β It’s not actually easy to be our authentic selves in a culture built on controlling people through their insecurities, fears, and doubts. It’s even… brave. There’s still another “but” to move beyond…

…It’s also not enough to just drift in a sea of our own filth and basic bullshit. It’s not really the ideal “do you” scenario, is it? To just… stall in life and make no attempt to become the person we most want to be? To just… rest, assume the most slack possible approach to the question “who am I?”, and just… not bother doing more or being better? I mean… aren’t we capable of more?

This morning I am thinking about what it means to “do me” and how I can become the woman I most want to be. I know there are choices to make. There are verbs involved. I know my results with vary. I know that being authentic – truly frank and real – with the human being in the mirror has to come first, and be reliably a thing I do for myself, without fail. I know I have more questions. More opportunities. More chances to begin again.

I guess I’ll get started on that now… πŸ˜‰

Sipping my coffee and thinking about all the many things I’ve tried out over the years, qualities I have explored, places I have seen, styles enjoyed, projects undertaken, seems like a lot of variety – whole lifetimes of change. A lot of what I have been, I am not now. A lot of what I have done, I no longer do today. I’ve picked up skills, and built practice, that have since fallen into disuse… I give a moment of thought to the things that have mattered most (not all of which I pursued beyond the past moment in which they existed). I think of how all of this contributes to who I am, now.

…Hell of an interesting and varied journey… certainly worth giving a moment of thought to. I put on some music. I get a second coffee. I look around the studio, half-finished canvases… just everywhere. lol This back and forth stuff between here and there every weekend takes a creative toll. For the moment I satisfy myself thinking about the not-too-distant future that is (hopefully) retirement. My life is, I am hopeful, barely half over. πŸ™‚

Try things. It’s okay if you don’t “stick with it” endlessly forever. Learn new things, try new stuff, make things, do things, learn things – there isn’t anything “wrong” with taking something up, learning a bit about it, moving on to the next interesting thing. Oh, I know, there’s a ferocious culture of “don’t quit” and “you never finish anything” lingering about to discourage shallow interest, and changes of heart – and that literally does not have to matter at all. Interested in the sound of Mandarin Chinese as a language? Start learning it. Lose interest in things that are hard? It’s okay; languages can be quite difficult, and maybe you give up on that – you are still changed by what you have learned. Expose yourself to the world of options and opportunities that exists. Become more than you are.

Become more than you are. Be the person you most want to be – whoever that is. πŸ™‚

It’s not too late.

Begin again. πŸ™‚

 

I’m sipping my coffee and thinking about life as art. Authenticity, creativity, beauty… transcendence of pain, finding voice for those things in life for which we lack language or words… isn’t a life well-lived, itself, an artistic endeavor? Life, lived, as an art form, itself… means… what? Another day in the studio. Today, a lot of questions, consideration of the day behind me, work already started, unfinished – like life.

Who is the artist?Β A question for answering, individually, subjectively, personally. There is only one answer, for any one artist, really;Β gnothi seauton. The journey to the answer, is the life as art.

A woman told me, once, some long time ago in another life altogether, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body – I’m not an artist. I don’t do anything creative.” I took that at face value, at the time, and it fit my understanding of the world, then. I later saw her in her home. Her home struck me as a piece of fairly wonderful artistry, and the lack of paint staining her jeans, or dust under her nails, or bits and pieces of creative moments needing to be cleaned up didn’t detract from that impression at all. Her home was lovely, orderly, cared-for – each piece of memorabilia, each ornament, carefully selected, an impression exquisitely crafted – how is this not also art? Wherever she moved, she appeared to be quite carefully placed to communicate a mood, a moment, or an idea of beauty. The point I’m trying to make is that, as an artist, it isn’t really for me to define “what is art?” – only to define who I am, as an artist, myself. Those choices are not made of words – they are conveyed by my actions. By my art.

Words over coffee. It was a good day in the studio yesterday. Playing with paint – and chaos. I choose my materials with care.

A pair, 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and UV. “Chaos Theory”

I did several pieces as pairs yesterday, specifically indulging my fascination with chaos theory. I started with two canvases, the same palette of colors for each, the same measured amounts of those pigments, placed similarly on each canvas, the canvases placed side by side, and worked as a single larger piece, to the same playlist. Mood, movement, brush strokes, technique – all as much the same as I can easily make them.Β  In every instance, of course, two different canvases still result. Not just different-as-in-separate-and-individual, but also just… different, as in – not the same. It was a fun day in the studio, playing with science, chemistry, and philosophy.

I spent the day in a meditation made of movement, color, and music, contemplating differences and similarities, considering the way I’ve carved up my life into “separate canvases”; the life of the artist, alongside the life of the analyst. The lover, alongside the angry woman. The professional, alongside the free spirit. The citizen, alongside the protester. I spent the day thinking about life as art, and contemplating this vast broad canvas of experiences as a single unified whole. I spent the day free of any constraints aside from those I have assigned myself. I answered a few questions – I asked a lot more.

I spent time in the garden, too. Another living metaphor.

I gardened later. I grilled a lovely summer evening repast. I meditated as evening came, and watched the dwindling twilight become night. It was the sort of day I could single out from among many and say “this is some of my best work”, as an artist.

Happily enough, it’s already time to begin again. The day stretches ahead of me, a blank canvas. You, too. What will you do with it?

I’m “taking a media break” from news feeds, streaming contact, social media – pretty much most of the digital distractions available have been paused, logged off, or shut down for the weekend. I suck at this, so it is a constant effort to be vigilant about the potential time and bandwidth drains, and to choose wisely – and consistently. This? This right here is part of who I am. If I were not writing this blog post, I would be perched on a sofa, chair, or rock somewhere, with a hardbound blank book in my lap, still writing. Probably about the same number of words. This is a thing I do – and have done so since I was quite young (12?13?).Β  No point, really, in trying to halt the flow of words, entirely; it would be an endeavor with (historically) limited success. πŸ˜‰ Gnothi seauton.

Today I’m spending the day (and likely the weekend) in my studio. Painting. Sorting through years of stacked canvases to select inventory for sale. Giving thought, too, to the installation at the gallery where I am presently showing my work. I could rotate something out, put up something different… or… not. πŸ™‚ I could paint all day, instead.

In the studio, I’ve got a couple larger, time-consuming works that I am working on slowly, with care, but today “feels like” new work…

I sometimes find it tougher to get started on new work than I expect to. I have an idea in my head of where the work should finish, what I want to see, but the “point A to point B” of that journey rarely seems to straightforward. Do I begin with a finished background, already painted? Will I “ruin it”? (Which really only amounts to painting something different than I’d planned on – which happens a lot. πŸ™‚ ) Truth is, like any beginning on any journey that seems to have a fixed destination, but an uncertain route, getting started sometimes feels… hard. So, I put a fresh canvas on my easel, much the same way I’d write an observational first sentence when I’m unsure what to write, and grab a big brush, a tube of glow in the dark, and a bunch of glitter. “My first sentence” on this weekend’s journey isn’t written in words – it’s done on canvas, in glow-in-the-dark and glitter. πŸ™‚ Just a bit of fun, loosely inspired by summer mornings, and fireworks shows, and a chill, happy place within myself that is purely okay with who I am. It’s an excellent beginning, lacking in performance pressure, crafted of coffee, birdsong, and personal delight.

…a beginning has to start somewhere… (an unfinished work of glitter and glow, begins the day).

What makes your day – or your life – “sparkle” for you? What do you yearn to make, build, or do? What do you resent your job over, that you wish you “had more time for”? I get it… we’ve got to get out there in the world and hustle, make some motherfucking money, pay the bills, “get ahead”… but… what about what matters most? What about your passion? What about that spark in your soul? Write a novel? Poetry? Paint? Sketch? Sculpt? Craft? Build? Create? Restore? Grow? What excites you about life? Who are you when you are not at work? There’s time for that, too – there has to be, otherwise, what’s the point of living? The thing is – sometimes we have to set a firm boundary, snatch our time back from those who would have it in service of their agenda, instead of our own. Don’t forget that person in the mirror – you matter. Take care of you. Live some tiny fragment of even your boldest dreams!

“All that glitters” is most definitely not gold – some of it? Some of it is actually, literally, “just” glitter… but glitter has its place, too.Β  (My Traveling Partner calls it faerie scabies, and some days its “place” does seem to be… everywhere. lol) πŸ™‚

Enjoy life’s sparkle!

Start somewhere. Begin again. πŸ™‚