The Artist’s Way
I am currently reading ‘The Artist’s Way‘ by Julia Cameron. It’s about connecting to our creative selves, our artist child. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while based on recommendations I’ve heard, but was reluctant because of the title. I’m not an artist, I’m not creative, so what does this book have to offer to me. But upon diving in further, my definition of artist has been limited. An artist doesn’t have to be a painter or sculptor, have a studio or lab. You can be an artist in the kitchen, with music, writing, in nature, or just in being. Tapping into our creative selves opens a line of communication with our inner selves that may be blocked for a lot of people.
I had a realization while I was reading the book and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The book describes exercises to do to regain that connection to your authentic self by writing “morning pages” and asking questions that reflect on your dreams, beliefs and childhood. As she was talking about how our creativity gets muffled through growing up, she mentioned that as children, our parents may have not believed musicians or artists could make a living, so they redirected passions to a “back-up” plan. In that moment, I realized that I had done that very thing to my 7 year old daughter recently.
My daughter came home from school a couple of months ago with a sign up sheet for the talent show. She enthusiastically let me know that she wanted to be in it. In my knee-jerk reaction I blurted out “Are you sure? What would you do?” She said “I don’t know, I just want to be in it”. Even more warily, I said “Do you even know what it is? It’s where you stand on a stage up in front of everyone and do a talent.” This time with the added touch of fear in my voice. That caught her attention. And she decided that she didn’t want to do it.
So many thoughts were going through my mind. The time I sang the star spangled banner at a basketball game and my voice cracked and one of my teammates laughed. All the times I was wrecked with nerves when I had performances (did I mention I used to be a voice major?). In that moment, I pushed all of my fears onto her.
Why we’re afraid
I was afraid that she would mess up, that she would have the anxiety I have, that she would be embarrassed if she messed up. Not to mention that I would have to make an effort to get her “ready” for whatever she wanted to do and I certainly don’t have the time or energy for that. My gut reaction was fear. It was physical, I could feel it in my stomach.
The talent show was this week, and after seeing all of those kids get up there and do their thang, combined with this book about nurturing creativity, I felt horrible. What if my fear is holding my children back? And worse, what if I’m pushing my fear down to my kids? I would never forgive myself.
I decided then and there, that I would NOT let my fear hold my kids back. This will not be easy because it’s still my gut response, but I want to nurture my kids dreams, not crush them. The world will throw enough criticism their way, I want to be their cheerleader and the one on the front lines…and that is so far out of my comfort zone it’s going to be a challenge.
Check your fear at the gate
If your gut reaction is fear, notice it. This is the mistake I made. I just reacted. Take a minute to breathe, and notice the feeling. If you don’t feel a positive response is going to come from it, take some time to think about a response. Really think if this is a valid fear or it’s from something coming from or within you. Tell your child that you’ll discuss it later if you need more time.
Nurture their passions
Too often growing up, we abandon our passions because “we can’t make money” doing x or we’re not as good as so and so. But is that still true? I feel times have changed. The internet can offer such a bigger platform and opportunity to share their passions and gifts. Get a YouTube channel, sell paintings online, share their music with social media, the options really are unlimited.
That goes for getting them the skills to develop their passions too. There are online classes in almost anything you want to learn. Just search it out (online or in your area) and find a class for your child.
As an adult and mother of three, I’m still trying to figure out what my passions are and used to be. I don’t want my kids to have the same problem.
Support and learn even if you can’t relate
I’m sure there are a lot of parents out there that can’t relate to Minecraft, the piano, or even different styles of art. But if your kids is passionate about it, learn about it. Google it, or better yet, have them teach you about it. Kids love teaching their parents things.
Even if you’ve passed some fears on to your kids (like I have) it’s never too late to open a line of conversation about it. When my daughter got off the bus yesterday, I talked to her about my realization about the fear I was having. I apologized that I pushed that on to her and that I believe in her. When she decides what she wants to do, I will be there to support her and cheer her on.
We signed up for piano lessons yesterday. 🙂