I’ve never been one to pay much attention to the hoopla surrounding my milestone birthdays. That is until I turned fifty last year and a small inner voice accompanied the occasion wanting to talk numbers and reckon accounts. Ideas are infinite, time is not. It left me with a sense of urgency. Not panic, or gloom just an awareness to get on with it. “It” being my art, my path, my potential. I decided I didn’t have time to be scared.
I didn’t start jumping out of airplanes or into race cars, but when Rug Hooking Magazine called, I embraced the opportunity and committed to write my first magazine article. When the Alberta Craft Council’s “call for entry” deadline loomed in the middle of a busy period and a bout of artistic self doubt, I pushed myself to go for it instead of waiting until next year’s call. When Deanne honored me with an invitation to present at her October workshop, I let my excitement guide my decision instead of fear. Sometimes the things I care about the most are the ones I want to hold back on. They bring out an impulse to wait for a more perfect state of readiness as if that will quell anxiety and guarantee a perfect outcome.
Good, bad or ugly, it all came to fruition this fall in rapid fire. The article came out in September and I received word my exhibition proposal was approved shortly before I jumped on an Atlantic bound plane to make my public presentation debut. When I pinpoint the start of my real artistic journey the marker sits on Amherst in a workshop with Deanne six years ago. At that juncture, Deanne opened my eyes to where individuality and art comes from. She set me on a path to travel inward to find my way and voice. It was an extraordinary experience to return to Amherst, to be in Deanne’s company sharing my work with such an enthusiastic group. Cradled by the wonderful energy of the workshop and the Nova Scotia Fiber Arts Festival right when my inward journey was moving out into the world was a big, beautiful, profound experience that I will always be grateful for.
I left Amherst with a glow inside that matched the fire like intensity and beauty of Nova Scotia’s fall landscape. I was home for two days and still living in those embers when I almost forgot I had tickets to see Dr. Maya Angelou. In her wise, witty way she spoke of many things including courage. She says It’s not something we are born with but something we develop like a muscle. Bit by bit, over time. It can start small and imperfect. The important thing is that is has to start somewhere. It got me thinking how creativity, art making and finding your own voice are journeys of courage too. Personal growth is not about always feeling comfortable.
Edmonton may be buried in snow but I’m still feeling warm and giddy from my trip and recent run of good fortune. It represents a significant move outside my comfortable creative bubble. With deeper reflection perhaps the more important step came when I was willing to try things even though waves of doubt and uncertainty threatened. The small steps I took and want to build on are the ones where I looked my fear and angst in the eye and realized I may have to bring them along for the ride but I didn’t have to let them take the wheel. Maybe the biggest act of courage we can take for ourselves is to make peace with what grieves us; to find a way to release ourselves from the things that can leave us pinned to the board like a beautiful butterfly, poised but unable to take off. What my experience has taught me is that with a little courage we can build the freedom to find our own flight path and soar.
“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind,true, merciful, generous or honest.”
Dr. Maya Angelou