“At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles. Friend, client, child, sickness, fear, want, charity, all knock at once at thy closet door and say, ‘Come out unto us.’ But keep thy state; come not into their confusion. The power men possess to annoy me I give them by a weak curiosity. No man can come near me but through my act.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson
A month after I published my first book, Enlightenment Is Sexy, my brother was diagnosed with an extremely serious form of leukemia. Terror flooded my body as I prepared to join forces with him in the fight of his life. What was supposed to be a period of forward movement in my career became, in fact, a race against time to keep my brother alive.
All my desire to create disappeared. And truthfully, I never knew if I would write again.
Months went by, as my daily hospital visits consumed most of my waking moments. One afternoon, I had a gentle thought cross my mind: “You will continue to write. Writing is your destiny.” With that, I went home and wrote on of my favorite blogs ever! As soon as I sat down at the keyboard, my fingers immediately began to type away. And just like my book, a “higher power” took over.
My point is, whatever you want, that’s what you’ll get. Whenever you let “other things” get in the way of your heart’s desires, then you obviously wanted those other things more. Distractions will always be there in many, many forms—whether it’s your day job, screaming kids or even an ill family member. But if you have clarity about your dream, about what you truly desire, nothing can really stop you from bringing it into reality but you.
I think it’s important to note that my sitting down to write didn’t mean I didn’t love my brother or that I was in any way taking any time away from supporting him. It just meant I still was holding on to the desire I had inside of me to create, and I was giving it what it needed to continue emerging. Like air, I need my creative expression to breathe.
I’ve always had a thirst for knowledge and the marriage between creativity and information feels like a slam dunk to me. After spending the last year promoting my book, establishing a blog and tuning in to “what’s next” for me, I decided it was time to get another degree. My interest in both spirituality and psychology led me to Sofia University and a graduate-level course of study in transpersonal psychology.
My first class was in Transpersonal Approaches to Creative Expression and it was a perfect start. As the class went on, I began to notice some of the blocks that not only have held me back, but I believe live in most, if not all of us. For example, I completed my first five assignments, but did so in spite of experiencing a pretty strong dose of resistance and “pain” due to a good old-fashioned case of procrastination (which I eventually recognized is just another form of resistance). And then it hit me: “Valerie, you need to break through the blocks and win the battle of resistance.”
Whenever we’re moving forward in life, there’s always going to be at least some resistance and fear. Change naturally makes us somewhat uncomfortable. It’s scary to expand. An unknown future looms ahead. Whether it’s writing a book, starting a business, making a painting or recording a song, resistance and fear will always creep in.
However, as bestselling author and inspirational speaker Marianne Williamson has famously pointed out:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.”
In other words, your ego doesn’t want you be grand. It wants you to stay small. And really, isn’t our creativity all about expanding the horizons, moving to a higher level?
I began to create a ritual for myself around my art. It goes like this: Get up, immediately dump my thoughts for the day on paper, make an amazing pot of coffee, do any work that’s needed for my day job by 3 p.m., and then no matter what, spend 2 hours working on my ideas, photography or writing. Whether it be for class or for a personal project, no matter; what’s important is that I create, like sitting at my computer and writing, driving somewhere beautiful and taking some pictures, or reading some poetry and jotting down how it makes me feel. It’s all the same. My “doing” is in no way connected to the end result.
So, here’s my “get-past-the-resistance-block” suggestion: Try and create every day. I found that to be the hardest part at first, just sitting down and starting. Once you start, though, something else seems to take over and animate you, as though “it” just creates the project for you. I believe that is your “higher self” stepping in and taking over and accomplishing what your ego-self resists.... here’s my “get-past-the-resistance-block” suggestion: Try and create every day. Click To Tweet
And my experience is this: The pain of not creating is worse than actually just diving in and getting started. Anyone who has had the experience of not doing what they know they could and should be doing has had that feeling. I say, pursue your calling with everything you’ve got! That is what will put you in the flow, or as I like to call it, ecstasy. In this space, there is no time—it is only the present moment, where everything is actually happening, anyway.
It’s essential to grasp that it’s you who must make a decision to pursue your dream. You have to initiate it yourself. There is no depending on someone else, and there is no waiting around till “the right time.” C’mon! There will never be a right time and there will never be anyone else who can fulfill your dream. Sure, people can and will help you along the way, but only you can be the master of your destiny.
Each one of us will have to face our own fears when it comes to expressing our creativity… and only by just “getting down to business” can you really confront it. You may panic at some point, and everything may begin to fall apart… but you must keep going. The negative (“negate”-ing) thoughts aren’t real. (Recall what we’d clarified earlier regarding distractions? Nothing can stop you, but you.) They don’t actually hold any weight and they have no power over you—other than what you give them. I believe they are there, ultimately, to make you stronger. To make you more resilient, so you can live up to your true potential, which is directly connected to your higher calling.
I think my love of all the arts stems from how they make me feel. Sitting down to do my schoolwork these days isn’t a chore; it’s a gift. It’s leading me toward all that is good in my life. To my best self. Creativity draws me directly to the space in which God resides. Just like silence and meditation, they put me in the zone.
And just like in meditation, when I “do” art, I’m reminded that my thoughts are not me. That notion comes from the ego trying to keep me small and in need of it (the ego). I say, fight back.
As Steven Pressfield so brilliantly stated in his book, The War of Art:
“Most of us have two lives: the life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.”
I get chills even thinking about it.
For me, my creativity is a personal prophecy. A direct inspiration from God flowing right through me. My prayers and my creativity are woven together. Since I started my meditation practice six years ago, I always end my twenty minutes with a conversation with God/my “higher self.” I silently say, “I am open, use me to do your work.”... my creativity is a personal prophecy. Click To Tweet
Whatever shows up after that is none of my business. I just do the work. I am just a servant, and my job is simply to do my job. To “turn pro” in the business of my own personal calling.
One note of caution: the people around you may be threatened by your creativity. You may lose friends and connections to family members because of your art, but I am here to say it is worth it. I am your cheerleader who urges you onward, yelling, “you must become a warrior in the battle for your dreams!”
Just go in there where life is happening for you, wherever your resistance is, and start kicking some ass… and worry about the rest later.
Peace & Love,