Open Studios this past Saturday night was an unexpected gift. I say unexpected, because I was supposed to be on a retreat this past weekend but a series of unfortunate events interrupted those plans. So though I had planned to get away this weekend to Camp Allen & not show up to Open Studios Saturday, some decisions made months ago made it impossible for me to leave.
I'm not going to lie. Thursday I was pretty bent, discouraged & drained. All I wanted to do pull up netflix and wrap up in the bed all weekend. The struggle is real every now and then. Like an artist I follow on instagram captioned a week ago, "this journey is not as easy as it seems in all the pretty pictures posted to social media." There are days when you doubt, fear speaks louder than creativity and you just can't seem to find your way.
The key is not to allow those days to have the last say; you muster up all of the courage, support and hope you need to keep showing up to your craft... keep showing up to life. Before I decided to resign from my job and embark upon this unknown path of being a creative entrepreneur, I created a "Survivor's List." I wrote down 7 things I would do to survive the days that could have the power of making you quit if you let them. I pulled on 4 of the 7 last week and honestly, they were game changers. My situation did not change, but I did and I decided if I was going to be in Houston this weekend I needed to continue to show up and fight for the life I want.
So Saturday night I was at Hardy & Nance Studios for our monthly Open Studios, even though I did not feel like it and was a bit distracted by life as I settled at my desk to work. But I showed up and I am so glad that I did because I got to....
connect with friends whom I love,
sip on a delicious Tout Suite chai latte (YUM!) gifted to me by my friend,
run the studio halls with Zion (one of the coolest 4 year olds I know!),
meet some lovely new people whom I will see again,
sell a few art works,
as well as add some more layers to my first #100ArtWorksChallenge piece (100 Stories of Her).
Needless to say it all was a perfect recipe for a great night at the studio.
Not all nights or days living in the studio are going to be great, externally affirming or even without some real drama going on outside of the studio. It's just how life goes. The struggle... the fight is real.
The gifts are just as real too-- when you keep going and doing what you know you were born to do.
Studio life is teaching me more & more, every single, day that a major part of my work as a creative entrepreneur is showing up. This work requires staying focused on the path that I'm being drawn towards & surrender fully to every imperfect, at times lonely, messy, stretching, life-giving & beautiful second of it. See I am just foolish enough to believe that if we do that... if we can show up and live authentically from our core... we will get to where you are wanting to go & so much further.
"When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage to call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong, that’s celebrating."
“And suddenly you just know…it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”
When it is time for a new season, you can just feel it to your core. No matter how hard you try to ignore it or put it on pause, there comes a time when you have to say "yes." It is the time when the choice of not walking towards the new is more frightening than the choice to take the steps of faith towards your dreams.
That moment happened for me about 2 months ago. It was a moment when I decided it was time to turn my "cant's into cans, dreams into plans." The awakening has been happening for a while now, the journey towards "becoming" has be one I am grateful for. There were a few losses and pains I could have definitely done without, but the journey has truly awaken my soul. For that, I am thankful.
Excited, happy, anxious, alive, uncertain and grateful- I step towards this new season in life where I live fully into my life as a creative. As I go, I must say I am thankful I do not have to go it alone. One important part of this transition is partnering with local artists to cultivate spaces for creativity and beauty. Community is a gift.
One of my first collaborations is with my studio mate and friend, Abbie Preston of Boxsparrow Studio. On Saturday, September 27, we are hosting a mixed media workshops, where we will guide participants in creating art using stamps and stencils they create. Both of us utilize stencils and stamps in our creating, and we are looking forward to helping others figure out ways to express themselves using some of the techniques we have learned along the way.
If you are going to be in the area September 27, definitely register to join us.
If you know people in Houston who would find life in this experience, do share. The space is limited, so the sooner you register the better. To register click HERE. A good time should be had by all.
Also, keep me in prayer. First time in my life when I was choosing to step into a season of so many unknowns, without the security of a job or paycheck. I am trusting the One who has been nudging me to start living fully from my core, and I do believe all matters of things shall be well.
“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
― Frederick Buechner, Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation
July 7-19. I had the pleasure of serving as an artist-in-residence at the Texas Youth Academy (TYA) of the United Methodist Church. TYA is a two-week summer program for selected high school students to live in intentional Christian community with adult mentors, artists and leaders on the campus of Southwestern University. For two-weeks we shared life together, days patterned by the sacred practices of our faith with the intent of growing in love and understanding of God.
Each morning began with morning prayer in the chapel before heading to breakfast. Every evening we worshiped together and shared in the Great Thanksgiving/Communion. In between we delighted in table fellowship, recreation (lots of frisbee), theology lectures by professors & teachers from around the country, rest, service, silence, creativity, holy conversation, story sharing and so much more.
TYA was modeled after the Duke Youth Academyn(DYA), which I had the privilege of serving as a mentor for in 2008 and 2009. I was delighted when I was invited to TYA as an artist-in-residence, because I remember at DYA being intrigued by and deeply drawn to the artist role... wanting to embrace my identity as artist/creative, but fearful of it and insecure about it at the same time.
Without a doubt, I had a great time being apart of this community again this year. I led 5 Mixed Media/Encaustic workshops, collaborated on an experience of workshop-through-art (I invited people to help create a community graffiti prayer wall... loved it!), shared some insights about being a good neighbor to those are experiencing homelessness and gave part of the lecture on New Creation.
Loved every part of it, especially the drive along 290 (hence the horse, cow and sunflower photographs) and cultivating space for everyone to tap into their creativity through an art practice that has meant so much to me on my journey with God the past few months.
It was a time of being still, listening, healing, delighting, crying, tending, remembering, affirming, resting and claiming... it was good.
I even got an opportunity to go to "Hope Outdoor Gallery" on Castle Hill in Austin, Texas, to view the graffiti art there and even paint some words onto the wall myself. I included some photos below, but will blog more and share more later. That time, as well, was very good.
While at TYA I was introduced to Bless the Space Between Us by John O'Donohue. It has been my daily companion. I prayed these words through tears the first time I read his "A Morning Offering," and I continue to pray them still today...
... May my mind come alive today
to the invisible geography
that invites me to new frontiers,
to break the dead shell of yesterdays,
to risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
to live the life that I would love,
to postpone my dream no longer
but do at last what I came here for
and waste my heart on fear no more.
Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly, and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer the goal.
– Elbert Hubbard
Over the past year life has taught me, and Love has basically slapped me in the face with, this truth: she is who is brave enough to live her heart out loud is truly free.
Each heart has a song. And it’s song longs to be heard and shared… it needs to be heard and shared. When each person is able to live out her passion, the world is a more beautiful place. I’ve always loved the words of Howard Thurman who says, “Do not ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
His words are so true; the world needs individuals who have come alive. Our communities need them. Our families and friends need them. Our souls need them.
Lately I’ve been inspired, challenged, and even encouraged by those who bravely ask themselves “What makes me come alive?” and, in time, just do it. Some even make it a daily practice to examine their lives, asking themselves penetrating questions:
What drained me today?
What gave me life today?
How do I receive more time with what gives me life?
How do I lessen or let go of things–with love and grace–that drain me, both relationships and activities?
The list of names of those who have lived out their life’s passions, or calling, regardless of the risks, work, vulnerability, and time it requires, is as diverse and as beautiful as the world in which we live. These are individuals who have undoubtedly experienced much failure and disappointment, but they have also exhibited a deep spiritual quality worth emulating: the moral courage it takes to risk all–at least to onlookers– for a more personally meaningful possibility. I marvel at those who dare to do so, for they embrace this “aliveness” of which Thurman speaks…
Day by day, one step at a time, pushing past fear, impatience, failure, insecurity and/or whatever else may keep them still, they just do it.
At the sun’s setting today, our lives may not look like the full picture we’ve imagined for ourselves, but undoubtedly we shall be steps closer to that life than we were at the sun’s rising. So we hope.
Lanecia A. Rouse