Sunday, September 15, 2019

The First Lesson

Learning how to paint echinacea

I'm taking a class called RAW by Amanda Grace right now on art journaling.  It's designed for women in recovery and the whole focus of the class is about allowing ourselves to be our whole selves, authentically, without judgement.   I'm spending a lot of time identifying the stories that my mind tells me.  It's been great.  And hard.  And amazing.  And terrifying.  And great.   Really great. 

We're in the second week of the class now and in our weekly zoom call, Amanda told a story about wanting to learn how to play tennis when she was a child.   She showed up to the first lesson and the first thing she learned was...

that she didn't know how to play tennis.  

That principle right there was totally worth the price of admission for me.  

I do that all the time.  

I want to learn something and so I take a class, or get a book or whatever, and the first thing I learn is that I don't know how to do the thing.

Which surprises me.  Because deep down, I'm hoping that I will find out that I'm secretly brilliant at that thing.  And when I turn out not to be, I feel like a failure.  

I feel ashamed, right off the bat, that I'm not good at the thing.   

And then shame takes over and my mind tells me all these stories:
  • I suck
  • I should never make mistakes because Mistakes Are Terrible [a toxic cultural more that Amanda pointed out in that same call]
  • I should always be on the lookout for mistakes - in my work and in others.
  • Avoid all mistakes all the time!  Constant Vigilance!
  • It is possible to avoid mistakes all the time.
  • You can't and shouldn't respect any work with mistakes in it. 
  • Mistakes = failure
  • One mistake can ruin an otherwise awesome thing/event/creation/conversation/project.  
  • Everything should be a masterpiece.
  • If something is a not a masterpiece, then it is a waste of time, resources, space, effort, etc.
  • Never ever share something that is less than a masterpiece. 
  • Less than a masterpiece = garbage.
  • Better not to try.
  • Better to be invisible.
You guys, this is a pretty accurate list of what actually goes through my mind sometimes.  Every time I hit publish to share my work, knowing I have not created one single masterpiece, is an act of courage.  An act of recovery.  An act of healing. 

Because every time we share something that is less than perfect in every way, we change the stories to these:
  • I create stuff.
  • Mistakes happen.
  • I can overlook the mistakes in my work and in others'.
  • It's not possible to avoid mistakes; in fact, one person's 'mistake' is another's 'best part of the piece'.
  • You can and should love any piece of work that you wish.
  • Mistakes = the human experience.
  • Awesome things/events/creations/conversations/projects are about more than the sum of their parts, so don't bother looking for or remembering the rough spots.
  • Everything is.  It just Is.
  • Time, resources, space effort, etc. can freely be spent wherever we see fit.
  • Share everything.
  • Do the art, don't judge the art.
  • Keep trying.
  • Be visible.
Over time [we're talking years], I can feel my stories change.

It's OK if I don't have a hidden genius for joy.  Or yoga.  Or painting people.  Or keto baking.  Or html, css, IG or CTA.  Or fb pixel.  Or recovery.  

I'll figure it out.  I'll learn how to do it.


  1. I love how brave you are writing and sharing this. Blessings to you


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