This week I had the pleasure of showing my art at a friend’s yoga class, as she launched a brand new yoga class based on creativity and wellness. I was so honored to be asked to bring my paintings for others to see, and was so thrilled she was teaching about the importance of creativity in her yoga practice. I had not attended a yoga class myself in many years, since before my last two children were born, so I was excited to be a participant as well.
As I shuttled one of my kids home from swimming lessons, dropped him into the hands of my husband, and rushed out the door to make the class, I was reminded how I continuously juxtapose this work I do. I juggle my motherhood and creativity, along with developing and running my creativity business, and try not to drop any balls in the process. Sometimes it all works, and other times I have a good cry when it doesn’t.
I drove up to the building and fiddled with parking meters, then balanced my canvases in my hand as I crossed the busy downtown street. I was running late. I wasn’t feeling centered at all. And started to wonder if I would come across as “professional” enough or a complete phony. All of the negative stories started to float their way to the forefront of my mind.
When all of a sudden, this sweet older couple who were dining outside at a restaurant next door stopped me.
“What do you have? Turn them around? Let me see?” He was referring to my paintings.
“Oh, these are my paintings,” I said shyly, not really wanting to show him what was in my hands.
He persisted and craned his neck.
“Oh my. These are amazing. Did you go to art school? You are so talented.”
I was lost for words. I didn’t know what to say. And in that moment, I realized that my own comfort level was more important to me than letting this genuine person see my work. The work that I poured my heart and soul into. How vulnerable and how scary a moment it was.
It was also a moment of truth for me, highlighting the need for me to own my work and my identity as an artistic person.
My default up until then would have been to downplay the significance or sidestep the importance of these paintings. I would have talked about how I never had any training, I wasn’t an artist really, and it just did it for fun.
Instead, I forced myself to accept the praise. I stood there as my artist self, as it truly brought him and his wife joy to see my art.
They went on to tell me how they loved to visit museums, and they traveled to other countries to see famous original pieces in person. The wife was into oil painting. It was their thing.
And once I could see how honest their interest was, I relaxed and appreciated their response to me. I was grateful and thanked them, and smiled from ear to ear on my way to class.
The lesson I learned from this sweet couple is that it’s so important for us to let go of the fear we have of sharing our souls. When we keep our gifts to ourselves, we are truly denying others the opportunity to bask in the glow we radiate.
We have a tendency to downplay our talents and strengths, so we don’t come across as conceited or self-righteous. We don’t want others to feel uncomfortable, so we don’t toot our own horns. We get to a point where true praise and compliments make us uncomfortable. We don’t know how to stand in the spotlight.
And once we can let go of the beliefs that keep us small and hold us back, we learn how much others need what we have to share.
So this is your permission slip right now to go out and ring your own bell, stand in your own spotlight and receive the praise others are wanting to bestow on you. See how it feels. Even if it’s uncomfortable.
After awhile, it won’t be.