It’s been a bit over a year since I started writing a blog about my path of becoming a West coast abstract artist. What started out as a necessity for creating content for my website has become a most pleasant surprise and joyful practice in my life.
I’ve never put much emphasis on writing. It’s not that I didn’t like writing, it’s just that visual arts have always had the strongest pull on me creatively and so I never really investigated writing as a creative outlet. That and the fact that my Mother is a writer…well…I guess it just never occurred to me that I would end up doing what my Mom did for a living.
When I started developing my website, I was encouraged to start a blog as a way to create content. I have to have content in order to drive web traffic to my site and so a blog, I was told, should always be an active part of marignygoodyearart.com. I was given a bit of guidance in that my first couple of blog post should be my “pillar posts” and should tell people all they need to know about me and my art. I worried about what I could possibly share with people after that.
Just as sketching helps me to see the path to a painting, journaling brings me towards emotional clarity.
Keeping an artist's journal is a path to understanding.
I started to keep an artist journal in my studio that I would write in after my art practice for the day was done. I would just reflect on what I did that day and how I felt about it. Well…from that I came up with idea after idea about me, my art and why I do what I do, how my personal struggles contribute to my art and how my art contributes to my life. I learned things about myself that were there all along, but I had never been able to put words to. Writing fixed that for me.
I’ve written about my art process, my struggle with anxiety and depression, the things I’m grateful for in my life, how I deal with stagnation, my passion for surfing, nature and doing things out of my comfort zone… The list goes on and on. 1 to 2 a month for over a year now. Because most of my writing revolves around my own self-development, my articles fit into a “self-help” category but my intention is not to fix other people rather to heal myself.
We are not alone in the hardships of being human.
I have received emails, messages and comments after posting blog posts that have shocked and humbled me. People have reached out telling me things like “I have struggled with this same issue but didn’t know how to put words to it until I read your post.” One woman told me that she was about to end her relationship but after reading my blog post on the problems with having too many expectations, she realized that she too had been expecting her partner to know what she needed without her having to communicate it, and it always ended with disappointment for her and frustration for him.
I want to repeat that I don’t intend to help people with their problems. I don’t think I know how to solve everything and I sure don’t want the burden of helping people through darkness. If I did, I would have become a therapist or something. But having people reach out to me from all over the world and tell me that they relate to me and that my writing has helped them put things in perspective has been a powerful experience for me. Powerful in that I didn’t know that I could help people but even more so in that I know that I am not alone in the dark times.
For a person that has felt extremely isolated for the majority or her life, it is a comfort that I had no idea was out there. Just to simply say the things that I have always been scared to say and then have people respond that they feel that too. Wow. We are never alone. No matter how dark I can go, I now have an understanding that I am not crazy. I am not abnormal. There is nothing wrong with me.
Being a person is hard. My most important job as a human is to learn how to be human. I think that means showing compassion and kindness to all of the insane appearing emotions that come from my head and my heart. Until I learned to do this, I couldn’t get anything done. I lived in a place of not understanding the voices in my head and feeling unsure of just about every step I took. Until I started writing, and sharing my writing, I had no idea that I wasn’t totally alone and that my problems are not unique.
I am no longer scared of my imperfections.
Now, I am an open book. I am honest about my emotions and I’ll talk to most anyone about them. Really. I’ll never forget being at a party where a woman that I just met shared with me that she was a bit uncomfortable because she didn’t know many people. I responded that I feel uncomfortable in social situations about 75% of the time…even when I do know people. I said that it was ok though, because that was just how I am and I’ve learned tools to deal with it and be social or tell people that I’m just not up for it and stay home. At first, she looked shocked that I would share such a thing and then a look of relief spread across her face. She wasn’t alone.
I’ll talk to you in the middle of a party about my struggles with alcohol, anxiety, insecurities, depression, how hard I can be on myself when I feel like I can never do enough… Whatevs. Bring it. I’m not scared to identify these things anymore. That is what writing has done for me. It has allowed me to process some of my deepest secrets and thus took fear out of the equation. Writing takes vague and uncomfortable feelings and turns them into concrete words. Seeing them in black and white makes them less scary.
Now, I laugh at the judgement I used to have when seeing a bunch of self-help books on someone’s book shelf. I realize that it was my own insecurities I was uncomfortable looking at, not theirs. Seeing someone embracing their problems made me cringe. I get it now. Having organized words explain difficult emotions is a powerful thing both for the reader and the writer.
Our emotions are what make us human and if we meet these feelings with an inquisitiveness, compassion and understanding, that is what will allow us to grow. So, thank you for reading and for reaching out. I’ll keep writing openly and honestly. We are all human and we not alone, ever.
Happy New Year everyone. Onward we march into our unknown adventures. I, for one, am pretty darn excited to see what is around the corner.
Photo Credit: Chris Goodyear
The photo at top is a sketch for a duo of whale paintings that I'm working on.
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