Being An Artist

“To be an artist is not compatible with being a woman by definition.  The whole point of creative work is to let yourself go enough to pick up whatever falls out of your right brain before it disappears.  If you’re always paying attention to everybody else, that’s hard to do.”

– Too Good for Her Own Good by Claudia Bepko and Jo-Ann Krestan

In the book Bepko and Krestan talk about how being good is instinctive.  The things a good woman does are so small and simple no one notices them, not even ones self.  This is my dilemma.  I get going and by the end of the day or late afternoon I become aware that not much has been done.  I have been dilly dallying all over the place.  I don’t feel satisfied with the day.

I have a writing prompt emailed to me each day and today’s prompt was to write about a time when I felt capable.  Sadly I struggled recalling a time I felt capable.  After writing for a few minutes I reminisced on feeling capable when I took care of myself and then my family.  During this time I had a routine of meditating, yoga cooking/eating right and writing.  When I had these things in my daily routine I felt I could take on the world.

Why don’t I do these things everyday if it is so wonderful?  Laziness and I get sidetracked.  I get pulled in other directions because I want to be helpful.  Like this morning, I have been up since 2am because my puppy Chances was barking outside and I was worried my husband wasn’t getting any sleep.  So I got up to handle the situation and have been up ever since.  Then I get pulled into my sixteen year old’s work preparations.  She is asking me where work gloves are and if this sandwich meat is still good to eat and who’s car is she taking.

Why didn’t I just let my husband worry about his own sleep?  I bet when he wakes up he will tell me that he never even heard the dog barking.  I am such a worry wart and a pleaser.  I asked Sherese, my teenager heading to work, to prep last night but she was out hobnobbing with her friends until after I went to bed.  Now I am pulled into her drama.

I am up and feel I have so much writing and research to get done that I have made myself believe I do not deserve to sleep.  Stopping for yoga and meditation isn’t worth it.  I keep myself awake to work.  Cause I miss it so.  I have not done all that I have wanted to for at least a week.

My new strategy to mend this belief that I need to serve others in my day and not myself is to experiment with drawing a line in my life with the question “Does this act serve my goal, my gifts, my life purpose?”  I don’t think every situation I apply it to will be cut and dry, black and white but I am going to give a go, experiment.  I also think it is going to take practice in even recognizing when I am being pulled into that goodness code I live by.  I need to create a new code of goodness.


A Reflection on Sunlight – Being Good

One of the big lessons I had to learn during my time of burnout was that I was being too good.  I was too accommodating, agreeable, pleasant and boy could I hide my emotions.  It took me months to be able to cry.  As a good girl I was most definitely responsible for other people’s feelings and was not entitled to cry, be angry or express my opinion that could cause others to be unhappy or feel uncomfortable.

If I could use a highlighter in my story, the scene where my husband attends my first counselling appointment with me is the showcase, the moment where I showed my key core story that needed to be unraveled.

“I cry as she talks to me. Not full tears because I want to be in control of my emotions. Not wanting anyone to feel uncomfortable but tears are running down my face. I can’t control it completely and I am worried about Craig judging me. He probably thinks I am an idiot for crying in front of a stranger. Perhaps I am embarrassing him.”

–  excerpt from Sunlight

Everyone seemed to like me as this gentle person, so agreeable and helpful but inside I was suffocating.  Stuffing all my needs and opinions to the side because of a fear that I would disagree with someone or make someone feel uncomfortable if I expressed myself.  Lord forbid if I said ‘no’ to someone.  That would be the most selfish thing I could do.  Good girls often find themselves responsible for what others feel.

I have seen it in my own daughters, their concern for hurting their friends feelings if they said how they actually felt.  Oh, the legacies we pass on.  How often have I told them not to allow themselves to be hurt to protect their friends feelings from them expressing themselves.  Yet, I have been unable to take my own advice.

“In our society’s emphasis on qualities like autonomy, competitiveness, strength, aggressiveness, and acquisitiveness, we’ve developed the tendency to see all feelings as weak and shameful.”

–  Too Good For Her Own Good by Bepko and Krestan

Often feelings of resentment or envy would come to me when I saw women standing up for themselves.  Ahh, that is how that is done, I would think.  Which grew to my love of strong female lead characters in movies such as Charlie’s Angels, or the characters Grace and Neytiri from Avatar.  You know, strong women.  They inspired me but I could watch movies until I was blue int the face and it didn’t change anything.  I needed to practice.

It takes courage to stand up for yourself the first time.  I was always surprised at how the other person did not respond as I expected.  With a positive experience you try it again and it goes okay.  Eventually it gets easier and easier.  The trick is to not let yourself slide backwards once you have made a commitment to yourself to change.  Breaking your good girl virginity helps you build new core stories – stronger ones that allow you to be you and not feel guilty about it.