I got to spend time this week wearing ALL the masks, I was student, teacher, space holder, hostess, mother, wife, friend, daughter. I would love to be able to say I navigated that dance with ease and grace in the transitions. And on the outside I probably did, but on the inside I felt like a yearling just learning to walk, much less dance the tango. I am going to focus on my role as student because I think I could write a book (and I just might) on all the things I learned about myself in just this one week. Things I thought I learned; stories I thought I had all worked out.
I was asked twice in recent weeks, why I continue to be the student, why I continue to take classes, why don't I just stop that and teach. My response is, because there are always different ways to absorb the same teachings, become more aware, and most importantly to be in community, because we learn from each other, doesn't matter who is the teacher, who is the student. Several times this week, I had to let my ego go, I ate my words more than once, I leaned into discomfort and as a student, I become more informed as a teacher. It is not lost on me that I ask my own students to lean into discomfort, to dig into areas that have been buried, and unearthing them for all to see, and at the SAME TIME make art; but I know in my deepest places that doing just that is where the medicine is. I know this is scary, and I know I am asking for a deep level of trust. Being the student reminds me of just how much I am asking of you, and it is humbling that some of you choose to take the journey with me. I honor that, you have no idea the gratitude I hold in my heart that you trust me to guide you through it.
I ate my words when I said to my colleague and fellow Intentional Creativity teacher "I am such a perfectionist in all the areas of my life, art is the one place I let that go, and just do it, no matter what it looks like and no matter the outcome, its about the process and not making gallery art." It is so freeing to send the Perfectionist packing while I create. 24 hours later I was sitting in her class, and working on my painting; guess who showed up? The Perfectionist, and the Comparison Queen, I got the double whammy. Because really you can't have one without the other, I also learned this week from another teacher, that there is only perfectionism when you are comparing, comparing yourself to something, someone external, some measurement that makes you feel not good enough. And until that moment, I really thought that I didn't do a lot of comparing, normally I rock my perfectly imperfect self and just do my thing with total self-acceptance. But not that day. I also realized that I am calling myself a perfectionist, but when I am not comparing myself to others (and I really don't compare very often) I am using words that are simply not true, and so I have re-framed that. I am not a perfectionist, but it is important for me to do things well, to the best of my ability in the moment and with the information I have, and with impeccability. Very different than perfection. And I am so grateful to have been the student because in teacher role, this would not have come up. It was a reminder that my students are sitting there going through this exact same thing, and don't always speak it out loud, and so it is my job to PAY ATTENTION and name it when it happens, and to say it will be OK, what is the lesson here?
For me the lesson was, despite a shit ton of deep inner work, I am not above having these feelings and emotions show up, but the wisdom is awareness of it, reflection on it, rather than burying it, and then turning it into a gift and a teaching for myself and others. I also received many lessons as a student that will inform how I teach, one of which is to SLOW DOWN. Which is an interesting dichotomy and paradox for me. I also claim to be a fast mover, and normally I am. But I realized this week, in the art process for me personally and for others, slowing down is the name of the game. And yet, there is a reason to move at a faster pace, normally it doesn't give the Inner Critic time to show up, but I realized for me moving that fast, and not being as IN IT as I would like actually makes her show up more. And so that makes me re-think me offerings and my process as a teacher, trust me I would love to have my students in class with me for several days and yet the practicality of that, at least right now is asking so very much. The wisdom that keeps coming is simplifying, remaining fluid, start where they are. How much discomfort are they ready for? How deep is too deep, or not deep enough? In both the inner process and themes, and the art itself.
That is my question to you, beloveds. Where can you open up more to being the student? How much discomfort are you comfortable with? How much time are you willing to give yourself to explore those places and the stories and come on the journey with me? I would love to hear feedback on that. What themes about yourself are you ready to explore and transform them on the canvas, even when you don't think its that pretty?