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This is Me Being Courageous And Vulnerable

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In case you’ve forgotten, “courage” is one of my words for 2014. With that in mind, every day, I am often confronted with situations where I have to choose whether I want to turn tail and run or to face them and endure the consequences. I’ve discovered that “courage” and its’ cohort “vulnerability” play a large part in my life, and it is no accident that I choose it as my word for 2014. There are many instances wherein I choose not to do something because of the specter of failure. There are instances where I want to speak my mind but because it is contrary to the beliefs of those present, I choose to hold my tongue. There are instances where I refrain from doing or saying anything for fear of ridicule or ostracism. Admittedly, there are many more.

This year, I’ve vowed to be more attentive to those instances when I feel vulnerable and am, as a result, more likely to be less courageous. I realize that it is more important for me to tell my story, to show who I am without the fear attached to the outcome. I choose to be less fearful and to allow myself the joys that vulnerability brings. It is true that saying “I love you” first, may result in an awkward silence followed by embarrassment and regret; it is also true that choosing to do so in face of the potential risk, may be the one thing that sparks a life long love or friendship. The thing is that the courage to choose vulnerability, leads us to some unwanted outcomes, but they also open us up to new relationships, amazing opportunities, infinite blessings, and the fulfillment of dreams that were only imagined. 

All of this is to say that I post the above multi-media piece with trepidation and fear. As one who has long dreamed to paint and draw, I stopped waiting for the perfect moment and last year, I jumped in with both feet. In 2014, I’ve continued to achieve that dream and in so doing, I am taking a slew of painting and drawing courses. I am in classes with a range of people, but among them are honest-to-goodness “artists,” whose work is incredibly inspiring, as well as others who are amazingly talented people. Inspiration aside, I am like most of us, and sometimes, I can’t help but compare my work to others and as a result, my work feels not good enough. My rational mind knows that I should not do this, but sometimes the ego says, “Screw the rational mind.”

The above piece is for one of those classes. I loved the piece until I decided to do ‘one more thing.’ The outcome mortified me. (I am still learning to discern or intuit when a painting or piece is finished or incomplete.) Anyway, I berated myself for ‘ruining’ the piece and vowed that it would never see the light of day. Although, they encourage us to post our work on a closed Facebook class group, I had no intentions of doing so.

And so, my mind, in its’ infinite wisdom, returned again and again to the words “courage” and “vulnerability.” Still, I resisted. My thinking mind, quite relentless, wouldn’t leave me the hell alone, so I surrendered. I gave some thought to the words and how they applied in this situation. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that courage was lacking. I finally acknowledged that it was my fear of being vulnerable that kept me locked into the same old patterns, ones that, in 2014, I sought to change. Given that I choose the word “courage” for 2014, then this is a perfect opportunity to surrender to the unknown and to seize the courage to be vulnerable.

In this post, I wrote about my reasons for choosing the word “courage.” In it, I wrote that

[i]n 2014, I will continue the task of telling the story of who I am, but in a more honest and open way. I seek courage to tell it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. In all honesty, I feel overwhelmed with fear, doubts about failure, and questions about my sanity, but every day I vow that I will imbue each interaction, each post, each encounter with the courage to be true to myself and others. I will pray for the courage to be vulnerable, whatever the result, and to be compassionate with myself when I inevitably fall, which I surely will. Yet, I also pray for the courage to get up, and simply, begin again. By practicing “courage,” I hope to make “vulnerability” a way of life, a way of acknowledging that I am enough.”

With that said, I posted the piece in our Facebook group, it is closed after all. More importantly, I offer to you this imperfect work of art and how you choose to react to it, is not for me to worry about. What is important is that even though I dislike it, it is a piece of me that I created with my own two hands. It is unlike any other art work in the world, and that is reason enough to courageously risk any outcome. By sharing it with you, I acknowledge that it is enough. I acknowledge that I am enough.

Blessings, Lydia

P.S. The word “meraki,” as partially defined in the art work, is my second word for 2014. After I wrote the piece choosing “courage,” a good friend introduced me to the word, and I was instantly drawn to it. As a result, it too, is my work in progress.

All Will Be Well, ~ St. Julian of Norwich

8 thoughts on “This is Me Being Courageous And Vulnerable

  1. Beautiful, courageous you!! Thank you for sharing! Not only sharing your art, but sharing your courage, vulnerability and process!

    My word is courage for this year too and I have just had a very similar situation not too long ago.
    Brene Brown calls shame the “swampland of the soul” and I believe that is where we both went, when we “ruined” a piece of art and fiercely berated ourselves for it.
    Learning to react differently, leaning into the vulnerability, truly experiencing it, can be so very hard, but it is the most integral part of courage and of wholeheartedness! And of truly showing up for ourselves!
    As for your painting – it is NOT ruined! Maybe it just wanted to be something else! ❤

    • Dearest Birgit, You last line made we smile from ear to ear. I remember a recent class with Flora Bowley where she encouraged us to get out of the way to allow the painting to become what it was meant to be. Here’s to both of us being courageous throughout this new year. I’ll definitely toast to that. Blessings and warm hugs, Lydia

  2. Lydia, what is it about this piece you don’t like? i think it’s a great mixed media piece. Your words sound just as how I approach a lot of my own life/art. We have to be brave and honor the place we are now on the journey. Time will bring us knowledge and skills to take our art to the next level. Thank you for sharing it with us. 🙂

    • Dear Susie, I think that it is me trying to impose my will over a free-flowing ever changing process. I have to get rid of this idea that my work must look like this or that, and I must stop comparing myself and my work to others — that always ends badly. You are right, time is the greatest teacher and I have to let go of what I want it to be and accept it, as is. Thanks for your thoughtful comments and I always enjoy your insights. Blessings, Lydia

  3. Lydia, thank you for sharing your beautiful artwork and your generous kind soul with each of us today. It is truly a wonderful piece of art created by you and that alone is always a reason to celebrate. Be courageous, create with abandon and know, you are always enough!

    • Dear Kelly, Thank you for turning this into more than a lesson for me. I value your comments and perspectives and realize that as usual, I am too hard on myself. With each piece, I will become more and more courageous and less fearful. I appreciate your role in making that happen. Blessings and thanks, lydia

  4. Lydia, your story so resonates. I had a very busy professional career as a teacher until 3 years ago when my husband suffered a brain injury. Literally left school one evening as usual, found him on the floor, ICU, coma etc and then full time nursing duty. Never went back to my 70 hr a week senior management post. I was a young mum too and fought my way to University, my career so hard won . I was busy busy busy barely pausing to breathe, migraines aplenty and then I was at home, bathing and dressing my husband, teaching him to walk and function again. We are getting there… He drives now again but I look back and like you think what exactly was I striving for? I think fear of failure, poverty drove me? We have less materially but our quality of life is better. We potter around, I have my art and he likes his history and so value our time together because of what happened. Be kind to yourself, enjoy your creativity and relax. You showed the world, you made uni, great mom, attorney. Now just be….xx

    • Dear Amanda, Thank you for your kind message. It is obvious that you learned more about be and I always delight in meeting kindred spirits. In hindsight, it is amazing to think of that things which we truly valued and are no more. In all honesty, it has taken me a long time to regain my footing and to rediscover my path, but I am finally getting there. I’ve learned that the good and bad is there for a reason and it is our task to take notice and listen to our hearts. I am so happy to hear that your husband is recovering nicely. You have been tested and y’all performed admirably. I welcome you to my blog anytime that you please. Blessings and warm hugs to both of you, Lydia

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