Guest Blog Post – Horseplay by Angie Kidd
My good friend, Angie Kidd, is a guest blogger today! Angie and I met a little over eleven years ago during the summer before I entered law school. We worked together at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, which turned out to be a really fun summer! When we first met we talked frequently of our passions and aspirations. Today, even though we live in different states, have each gone through many changes, we are able to discuss our passions, dreams, and aspirations together, as we did when we first met over eleven years ago. Today, I am happy to have Angie share information on making art. Also, please check out Angie’s blog entitled, Artwork and Musings by Angie Kidd!
My good friend Katie has been asking me if I’d like to do a guest post on her blog for a while now. I’ve been putting off, mainly because I wasn’t sure what to write about. Who am I kidding? I was really thinking: am I qualified to talk as a professional on being an artist? What would I say? Then I gently reminded myself of section 2 of the book The War of Art. I almost didn’t read that section because it was all about being a professional and I didn’t see myself as one yet. The joke was on me. When I actually started reading section 2, I realized I needed to see myself as a professional artist now, no matter what stage I was at. The concept of “You, Inc.” really changed my way of thinking. That said, I still need daily reminders. I think most artists do. It comes with the territory.
So where to begin? Katie asked me recently if I felt like I’d made the right decision choosing to quit my day job in order to work from home and try to become a published children’s writer and illustrator. She asked me if I felt like I was being true to myself now and if I felt like I was on the right path. A loaded question. I wasn’t sure how to respond. There are days when I really question if I’m on the right path. But who doesn’t? Is there even such a thing as a right path anyway? I’d like to think there is more than one path to getting where you need to be. Despite this conundrum, there is one thing I can say for certain. This is the first time in a long time where I’ve felt completely true to myself because I finally accepted myself for who I am, accepted my gifts, and am offering them up to the world, like it or not. I’ve spent way too much time trying to do what I thought was right, or safe, or expected. For once, I’m just being me and exploring the boundaries of myself more than I ever have before. I hope that I am making progress, but I know that I can’t get bogged down with that. I just have to focus on taking action and doing the work and let the universe figure out the rest.
If you are in any way like me, and trying to start up a new project or do what you always wanted to do, I’m sure you’ve hit some road blocks, many of which are self-created. I can’t help you with all of them, but I can give you suggestions for how to deal with the self-created obstacles.
Step 1: See yourself as a professional. We covered that. Read the book — The War of Art!
Step 2: Start an affirmations page. Think of all the times you completed a difficult task, all the times you received an award or other accomplishment (related to your new project or not). Write down examples. Think big and small. Include any praise you’ve been given by teachers, friends, peers, and strangers. Why? Because our brains are wired to be focused on the negative. All it takes is one negative comment to destroy our whole day or week, no matter how many other positive things have happened. You have to learn to reframe your mind. This is no easy task in the moment. But if you carry around a tangible list that you can refer to every time the negative thoughts start creeping in, you can fight back and get back on track that much faster. I find this list especially helpful after getting a critique on my writing or art from peers.
Step 3: Develop a mantra…or 2 or 3. You might be asking: What’s a mantra? On a basic level, it’s an affirmation or intention you repeat over and over to help you stay focused on your mission. But be careful how you phrase it, because you will get what you wish for. If you say, “I will be a doctor,” then who knows when it will happen. If you say, “I am a doctor,” then you might find better results. Nobody knows for sure why positive thinking works, only that it does. Some believe it helps the universe draw you closer to what you want. Others believe it simply helps you stay focused on what it is you want to achieve. But research supports that staying positive does keep the happy chemicals in your brain flowing, which is what you want. What are my mantras? I like to keep some of them private, but here are a few favorites:
- “My cup is empty”: This helps you let go of whatever you are hanging onto and embrace change.
- “I’m investing in myself”: This is a good reminder for when you are worried about financial gain while pursuing your dream.
- “A cheap apartment in NYC”: This is a new favorite and one that I picked up while reading about Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, on her website. It’s a reminder that just like trying to become a writer or pursuing your dream, everyone wants to do it and only a few succeed. On the other hand, everyone wants a cheap apartment in NYC and only a few exist, yet every day someone finds one. It can happen.
Step 4: Experiment and play. This is the most important. It reminds us why we are doing this. We’re usually trying to support a childhood dream. But the child in all of us really just wants to play. Get messy. See what happens. Try not to get caught up in the outcome, which is so easy to do. It is okay to make big plans and imagine being rich and famous. We all do. But at the end of the day, it is how you feel about yourself while you’re doing what you’re doing and how you can help others during this process that counts. If you aren’t having fun, if you aren’t able to laugh (especially at yourself), then why bother?
That being said, these steps aren’t made of stone. They’re just my own personal building blocks so far in my creative journey. If I can leave you with one single piece of advice it would be: TRY.
Below a painting done in blue calligraphy ink with chopsticks by Angie Kidd entitled, “Horseplay.”