Collaboration is the Mother of Invention
I’ve been working on this exercise every morning: to say something I like about myself, and then—here’s the clincher—to be grateful for it. It can be difficult enough to be grateful in life, and even more difficult to feel truly lucky for who we are. The world raises women to be humble beings, and it’s time we take back the reigns on this. This morning, before I sat down to write this, I was grateful for the gift of self-forgiveness. It is not a gift I have always possessed, which is why it truly feels like a gift.
Here’s the things about self-forgiveness, and why it is so important to me. I used to think that the best version of myself was so full of self-love and understanding, and was so in touch with the world, the universe, and everything in it that the words doubt, fear, loneliness and despair would cease to exist. I found that thought to be a cycle of failure. Because whenever I did feel any of those things, I would come down on myself for feeling them at all. I would essentially come down on myself for feeling. Today I am grateful because when I do feel those things, I let myself feel them. I acknowledge them as a part of me in that moment. I own them. And then—and here is the part where self-forgiveness comes in—I let them go.
Letting go is the essence of forgiving ourselves. It allows us to acknowledge that we are not wired to control our feelings. But we are in control of how they impact our lives.
In this year of my becoming an artist, I have struggled with the usual doubts and fears. The greatest fear for me, which is something I have struggled with as a writer, is the fear of being blocked. I used to have this image of a giant wall, and every time I felt stuck, I’d add another brick and the wall would get higher. It was my fear of the wall that made the wall real. So when I started painting, I made a vow to turn away from the wall. I reminded myself that it didn’t exist. I reminded myself that there was no obligation. If I was to create, then I would do it for myself, at my own pace and in my own time.
Now there is no wall, because I do not fear it.
It’s not that I don’t still feel blocked at times. But now, when I do, I just step away. I take a walk, and I take in the world. I breathe, I taste, I touch and I feel. I allow myself the gift of self-forgiveness. I allow myself the gift of new inspiration.
And when that inspiration comes, I work with, not against it. It’s like Godard says, “It’s not where we take things from, but where we take them to.” Not everything worth making comes only from within. I have begun a series of collaborative projects inspired by the works of others, and the things around me. I have found that this builds not only my repertoire of color and shape, but my connections with a growing network of creatives. It’s amazing what a simple outreach can achieve. To comment on a post and say, “You’ve inspired me, and I’d like to make a piece that draws on your work.” I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback! I’ve worked with stylists, designers and other artists. But most importantly, I’ve worked with myself, to move beyond doubt to a place of forgiveness.