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What I know About Fear – Part 2

Firstly, I have to thank you all for the wonderful responses to my last post – Part 1 on Fear! I have been blown away by the positive response… particularly because this was a vulnerable post to share. I found myself immediately wanting to take it down, totally unsure of what the response would be! Yup, I was… what’s that word? Afraid! ;) All of your comments have really proven to me that is was worth putting out there though. So thank you!

In the first part of this series on fear, I told you a bit of my personal history with fear and how it has evolved through the years and through experiences that life has brought me. In this post, I want to share some of the things I’ve learned about fear just specifically in the past 4 months since losing Andrew.

Having had to face one overwhelming fear after another in the past months has given me a perspective I did not have before all this happened. The funeral arrangements, the viewing, the funeral, designing the headstone, going back to Dallas to clean out his apartment, trying to go back to work, deciding not to go back to work, packing up my cats and a carload of stuff and saying goodbye to the city we called home, packing my apartment (that part is still in progress, I decided to make a slow move to it wouldn’t be quite to overwhelming, still is), birthdays and holidays without him… every single huge, unthinkable, insurmountable task screamed “this shouldn’t be happening. This is wrong.” And each of those things feels like a ladder that reaches up into space that must be climbed. Hell, even a normal day sometimes feels like that still. But I did discover something of value in each and every one of those steps…

I discovered first-hand that human spirit is a remarkable thing. We can withstand absolutely incredible amounts of trauma and pain… far more than we ever truly know until it happens to us. I am dumb-founded still as to how I manage to get out of bed everyday and find some level of joy somewhere in that day. Some days are better than others, of course. As each painful task or event comes, I think that surely I will drown in the pain of it – or get halfway up that ladder into space and slip and fall. Aside from the overall living with this loss, speaking at his funeral was the hardest thing I will probably ever do in my entire lifetime on this earth. It was at his family’s church, the church where I sat by his side for Christmas service the last 3 years. The service was horrible and beautiful all at the same time. I remember afterwards so many people coming up to me and saying how much grace and poise I had and just how beautiful my words were and how it helped them… and I remember how odd it felt to be complimented for such a thing. I felt proud, that I made him proud, but what a horrible thing to even have to feel proud over. I knew, no one could even imagine how I ever got up there to speak. I couldn’t either, to be honest. All I knew was that in my mind, it wasn’t a choice. It wasn’t about being brave or having guts, it was about doing the right thing. If anyone on this earth was going to speak about the man I love and what our life together meant, it was going to be me. He deserved that – and it didn’t matter how scared I was. He would have done the same for me, this I know, and so fear didn’t matter. And that was just it – something in my life became more important than fear in that moment.

I found out what happens when a thing becomes bigger than your fear. This is a big deal in moving forward with anything in our lives… something has to mean enough to you, so much, that the fear doesn’t matter anymore. In fact, it has me looking back at many times in my life when this very idea lead to positive changes that had been waiting in the shadow of fear. It has me thinking back to when Drew and I first started dating… I’d been in a bad relationship before and was terrified to date again. But he was my best friend, and eventually over time, the idea of building more with him became bigger than my fear of a bad relationship, and I let go. That was definitely the best decision I ever made, as it led to a more beautiful relationship than either of us had ever imagined. And today, choosing a new direction in my life, a new career path, the desire for change finally became bigger than the fear. The fear is still there, and I still feel it, but it doesn’t matter anymore. Because now I want something enough that fear is not going to stop me. There will be hard days still, many hard days to come, but I will still stay committed.

I have learned to feel afraid and do it anyway. We learn through loss that today is all we have. We might as well fill it with the experiences and people that we love most. Fill it with our most authentic selves – whether that is joy or sadness or anger or love. Say yes only to the things that feel right with our souls or bring us joy today. Do things that truly matter to us and help others. And do things we are afraid to do, things we’ve never done before, with the perspective that we’d rather fail on a new adventure than succeed on a path we’ve already walked before. And also be honest with ourselves – truly, bluntly honest, about the things that fit into that life. Deep down, we really always do know what works and what doesn’t.. it just gets buried.

I want to feel life, not just live it out. And fear is just a feeling, one of many. It’s not a pit of lava or a thousand bullets or a raging bull charging at me… it is just a feeling. It is a natural feeling to anything new… and it will come. I think I’d rather it come over something important and meaningful than over something mediocre that my heart is not on fire for.

I have learned to sit with my fears. Our fears have the best of intentions. They believe they are protecting us from scary or dangerous things in this world. And sometimes they actually are. But other times, they overreact and hinder us. I’ve learned that it’s important to acknowledge fears, and to take the time to sit with them and see what they are really trying to say to me. Having lost both of my parents and now the person I was going to build a future with, I’m very afraid of losing people – and I probably always will be to some extent, but I know this, and so when it comes I try to listen to make sure I have the support from myself and others that I need. My fears about financial security are a big one too, especially now that I’m working to follow my dreams of being a self employed artist. I’ve had a stable job since I was 17, so of course I’m going to feel fear about trying to change that. That fear must be listened to also, and reminded that I have always landed on my feet in the past, and even though we’re trying things in a totally new and scary way, I will not let anything bad happen. I am in charge, and I can be trusted (or trust myself) to make the right choices. And with that, the fears can relax. They can be like small children that way, fears… sometimes all they need is a little reassurance that it’s all going to be okay.

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So now, I have a part time job at an art gallery that barely pays for my gas money. But I love my boss and coworkers – and I get to be surrounded by great art, learn about talented local artists, and meet new people each day. I can feel Drew’s spirit beaming to know that I am here. I’m staying with his folks for now, quite possibly the first time in my life I have ever truly let my guard down and just allowed people to help me, really help me, to get somewhere new in my life… and am grateful each day for their support. And the rest of the time I am feeling life… the joy, the horrible pain of grief, the anger, the love, the beauty. I’m writing and painting and reading and sharing… I’m crying and trying and exploring and falling down and getting back up and figuring out this new path I am on. It’s kind of messy, I will say, but there it is.

As I look back, I think about where I was a few months ago… completely petrified with making the decision to quit my corporate job, leave Dallas and commit to this big idea. Barely even eating I was so freaked out. It was the scariest and saddest and most immense decision I’ve ever made – but it’s also been the most healing thing I probably could have done for myself right now. Every day I am glad I didn’t allow my fears to get in the way of making this change… even if I have no idea where I’m going yet.

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I’m curious to know… is there something big in your life you have always feared? Are you still fearing it now, and is it holding you back? Or have you found something bigger than your fear that helped you to move through it? I would love to hear about other people’s experiences with fear, particularly relating to your dreams and making them happen!

Weeks 3 & 4: I Hate Wool and All Wool Related Things

Yup… here I am, at the end of weeks 3 and 4 and completely off-schedule. The theme for the past two weeks has been “I hate wool and all wool related things and will find anything to distract myself from having to do any more of this!!!” Distractions of week 3 included early birthday celebrations for my boyfriend, since he was out of town for his birthday… as well as movies, facebook and Pocket Frogs – the most gloriously addictive game I have on my phone. It’s very clear that resistance has come to visit. By the end of week 3, I thought it might just move along and go bother someone else. Not so. Week 4 was more of the same. oof…

My goal for weeks 3 and 4 was to make five bodies each week, 10 total – including arms and legs and tails… yeah that may have been a bit too ambitious. I only got 6 torsos done, and a whale on accident. (I got a little carried away on a torso for a fox and decided I had to turn it into something else… and started to make it a weenie dog… which also wasn’t working, and so then it became a whale. Whale to save the day!)


Five of the completed torsos for various critters! Getting closer!


The accidental whale! Still needs some eyes, but he’s looking cute!

I jumped off into random land last week and started a dinosaur just do some different and interesting shapes – since another problem is that I’ve been getting really bored making the same shapes over and over. Also experimented with an ADORABLE tiny snail a while back that I never posted! How cute is he!

So even though I could have done more, I guess I didn’t do too bad considering the level of resistance to felting (It’s been pretty much code orange or red nonstop). I suppose the most important thing about these weeks is that I got SOMETHING done and explored a great deal about self motivation and what gets in the way of it.

A few notes on getting past Resistance and Stuckness and staying Motivated…

Keep a Creative Balance: Focus is good, but not if you go overboard!
I’m learning that striking a balance between your various creative outlets and interests is very important. I figured this out when I went on a little road trip to go photograph wildflowers Sunday afternoon. I came home from that trip totally energized and ready to felt. For a while now I haven’t been allowing myself to enjoy my other creative outlets as often as I’d like… I think after doing that for too long, part of me just lost motivation because I wasn’t giving my soul what it wanted. I learned these past few weeks that all that other stuff is actually very important in keeping me recharged and energized throughout this project. In the next few weeks, I’m going to try to keep a balance of felting and all the other things I enjoy – and hope that keeps the energy flowing a little better.

Do NOT play Pocket Frogs for hours!
I’m positively addicted to this game on my phone. If you are a collector of things, do yourself a favor and NEVER start playing this game! I suppose that goes for any addictive games out there ;) haha

Have all the materials you need
I never realized before how hard it can be to be motivated when you don’t have everything you need. I have a limited variety of colored wool on hand right now, and this has really added some frustration to my process! Some nights I may get to a point where I would rather switch from doing the base shapes in white to adding color to more finished pieces for example. Since I don’t have the colors that I want or need yet, so I just keep going with the plain base stuff… bored out of my MIND. So last week I finally ordered a big multi-pack with 40 different colors in it and it should be arriving any day now. Opening up that box I’m sure will just cause an explosion of inspired energy about which critters will be which colors!

Give Yourself a Break… And Schedules are Made to be Broken!
I’ve definitely been too hard on myself for not meeting my goals the past few weeks. And I’m learning that being unhappy with myself about this is only making things worse. It’s only making me less motivated to keep going. I need to stop being a perfectionist about staying on schedule. A schedule is great to have when it helps you get somewhere, but not when you attach yourself to it so tightly that it starts to make you struggle even more! Nope, that’s not what schedules are for!

Instead of beating myself up over the fact that I didn’t get everything done I wanted to, in weeks 5 and 6 I’m going to practice relaxing a little and giving myself a break. I’m going to remind myself that a schedule is just a loose framework to start from, and nothing more. And that this is not a rigid process, but an organic and flowing one in which I may not get to my end goal, but I WILL get somewhere I wasn’t before! I’m going to replace moments of berating myself and being attached to one specific outcome with moments of trust and openness about where this will go. I hope this will help flip things around… because I need to rid myself of this intense disdain for wool and get excited about this project again!

I hope you enjoyed this lesson-packed post! lol. I look forward to updating you guys in the next few weeks – hopefully with a lot more learning to share and a whole little hoard of felties that are complete or close to it! I would love to hear from you all about your experiences running into resistance or lack or motivation on creative projects. What always seems to get in your way? How have you approached it differently or mixed things up that has helped your process?

Thanks for stopping by!

Welding: It Takes Forever…

So if you’ve been reading along with my quarterly project of welding, you know that I announced that my first project in the class would be a truck bed extender/kayak rack. It’s been a while since I’ve posted progress on this so here we go…


These pieces will end up creating something similar to the image below, minus the pivot point.

Tada! Yes… sadly this is as far as I’ve gotten in like two months of class. With only about a month left, it’s beginning to look like my first project will become my ONLY project. I’ve learned that there’s a lot that must be done before you can actually get around to welding pieces together. You have to plan and design, purchase metal from steel companies that are only open when you are at work (of course), measure measure and re-measure, cut all pieces to size, grind down cuts so they are nice and smooth and safe to handle, drill any holes or do sandblasting or any other thing you might need to do… and THEN… FINALLY… you can start welding shit together! Sheesh…

So this past Sunday I spent grinding and smoothing out a few remaining cut pieces, and then… I got to try my hand at the giant drill press!


Drill press… this thing was at least 6 ft tall
. Machinery bigger than me = effin scary.

I was surprised that drilling holes into metal was nothing like I’d imagined (I had conjured up images of sparks and very loud, jarring metal-on-metal screeching and grinding sounds). The trick is to use lots of oil and drill slowly… (refraining from dirty joke here). To my surprise the process was really quiet and smooth… like butter folks, like butter. My fear instantly dissolved as I drilled holes where holes needed to go!

Next week I plan to finish drilling a few holes I didn’t have time to get to Sunday, and then at long last I can finally start welding the thing together! Man, I better not eff this up… over $70 and endless hours of time already put into it! Here’s hoping that in 1-2 weeks I will have a totally completed kayak rack… just in time for the paddling season!

Quarterly Project: Welding & Malformed Metal Frogs

I haven’t posted in a few weeks about my adventures in learning how to weld. Since my last post, I’ve gotten to try out the plasma cutter and practiced just doing straight lines of welding beads to try and get the form and technique down. Plasma cutter is gloriously fun – mostly used for thin metal to do more finely detailed work. It was a ton of fun – like drawing in metal!

Finding My Niche
In my last class I also decided to mess around with the torch welder a bit. I grabbed some scrap re bar and started heating and bending it… my teacher showed me how to braid re bar, and off I went braiding away. Pretty sure I’m in love with bending and forming metal. My teacher said that I would probably really like blacksmithing because its more about bending and manipulating the metal form. Oh my.. looks like I will just have to take the blacksmithing class next!

Making Malformed Metal Frogs
This past weekend I started on an exciting project. Back in early college, I made these fun little wire frogs for my sculpture class. Over the course of a year, I sold about a dozen of them to various folks. Back then, I’d wanted to make larger versions of them, but the wire became too hard to bend at thicker gauges and I didn’t have any access to tools, so eventually I just filed the idea away. That was almost 10 years ago. And now I’m excited to get to dig this project back up and finally make the giant versions of these little guys I’ve dreamed of for nearly a decade!

Last Sunday I started on a test version just to see what size I want to make them, and to test the proportions of the limbs to the body and such. All I had to use was some pretty thick re bar scrap from the shop, so as you can see this little guy came out a bit malformed so far. Talk about some giant feet! I’m going to go buy some more metal in smaller diameters and try again next Sunday to hopefully get things closer. It’s going to take a lot of trial and error for sure. One of the trickier parts has been cutting all the ends on the arms so that the angle will match up to the body piece it needs to weld to. It’s a lot of “put piece in vice, cut it, take it out, check it, put back in vice, re-cut it, check it, grind it down, check it…” Definitely not anything as quick as just wrapping some thin wire together like the small versions! I’m excited about the challenge though, I think I can get there in maybe a month’s time.

Quarterly Project: Welding Is Definitely NOT Sexy

This past Sunday was my second welding class – and we got to do a bit of welding finally! I’m definitely not having the same awesome “fish in water” experience with this as I typically do with most artsy things. A little frustrating to not feel like comfortable as quickly as with drawing or photography – but we’ve all got things that don’t come naturally for us! So I’m having fun realizing that my vision of being this sexy welding chick is not exactly fitting into reality…

Yup. That is me. And I look like man. Lord almighty, welding is definitely not very flattering, particularly when it’s cold outside and you have no choice but to wear a 3XL leather welding jacket in which you can barely bend your arms enough to do the welding. I went to buy some leather work boots yesterday –  an area of women’s clothing that could really use some help. They make my feet look so immense that I look like Meg from Family Guy. Despite my disappointments in being able to retain a ladylike appearance in any form, I did grow up a tomboy – so really I quickly forget about all that and am suddenly lost in learning this cool new process!

Oh yes, and that helmet? You can’t see anything (and I mean anything) through those things until you make a few sparks – so it’s pretty impossible to actually weld where you planned on.

In the shot above I’m doing some MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding – which is essentially like a big hot glue gun. There is a piece of steel wire that runs through it, and when you hit a button on the nozzle it comes out and uses an electrical current or arc to melt the steel onto your metal surface. Pretty neat stuff! It took me some practice to figure out how to comfortably hold the nozzle and all, but after a short bit I started to get the hang of it.


(Instructor and one of the other classmates doing some stick welding)

We were introduced to stick welding too – which made me a little nervous. You use two giant positive/negative clamps like you’d use to jump your car. One clamp attaches to the metal table you’re working on and the other will hold a stick of steel that you weld with. Yeah… this just sounded like a bad idea to me. Alas, I did try it – and sucked pretty bad at it – but proud of myself anyway! Really hoping I can do most of my welding with the MIG welder though!

We’ll be starting our first projects in the next week or two. Right now, I’m thinking of making a truck bed extension for Andrew’s truck, so that we can more securely transport both of our kayaks this summer! It’s a pretty basic construction, just an L-shaped piece that fits into the trailor hitch with a bracket or bar on the other end to hold the kayaks. I’m a little nervous about making something functional – but going to give it a shot! Very excited!!

First Quarter: Lessons Learned

Hi friends,

The project has been going for 3 full months now. This seemed like a great time to sit down and reflect on the project thus far and record what I have gained from it – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Like any journey, it’s had its ups and downs.. here’s a few of the bigger ones:

Creative Confidence:

When I first started this project, my only real goal was to do all the things I’d thought about doing for a long time. Pretty simple really. No fame or fortune or grand discoveries. Just the ole Nike slogan working here.

In just a few short months though, I’ve already realized that this project is going to leave me changed in a lot more ways than I expected. Much like the things I create, the project has become a part of me. It is something that belongs to me and something that no one can take away or ruin. It’s given me a confidence and deeper belief in my creative abilities simply by giving me permission to just do all these things. It has served as a sanctuary for my creative spirit – a place where I can play as a child does, without judgment or concern for how things will turn out in the end.

Creative Connection & Trust:

It’s also given me a new level of trust in my own creative abilities and in the abilities of others. And believe me, for a creative control freak this is a VERY new experience! For the first time in my life, I am really learning to let go and trust others to help me create things. Together we can create beautiful things and have such a great experience, but to have this requires letting go of trying to control it all. I’ve been practicing this sort of thing in other parts of my life for a while now – but never really thought about how control (or the illusion of it) hindered my creativity. February’s friendship project is where I learned about this kind of trust and creative connection. It’s probably the lesson I am most grateful for thus far, as it has really improved my creative relationships at work as well as in my personal life.

The Flow and what Interrupts It:

I’ve learned some important stuff about The Flow of Creativity in these few months. For one, it’s not always there.. but there are usually reasons why it’s not there. Some things flow inexplicably and effortlessly.. the ideas just appears and you know with all your soul “yup, that’s the one!”. Why does this happen sometimes but not others? I’ve found that, for me, the effortless flow comes only when I have managed to let go of my expectations, judgments, fears, and insecurities so that the ideas CAN flow and my creative spirit feels safe enough to even get excited.

When I find myself stumped and really struggling to get excited about any idea.. it always seems to happen because I am carrying around all those negative emotions while I’m trying to create. It just doesn’t really flow – it can’t. I start trying to control and strive for perfection. It’s as though I get so caught up in trying to find THE idea that my creative spirit cannot even get excited about ANY ideas at all. I mean really, how could it? I’ve totally terrified it by saying it needs to make something incredibly brilliant and clever (while also saying that I don’t really think I am that clever) and make something that everyone will love and that we cannot, under any circmstances, FAIL at this thing. Ick. What creative spirit would want to come out to play with all those rainclouds brewing overhead?

March taught me a lot about this. I created quite a hefty cloud cover for myself and my creative spirit. And no, she definitely did NOT want to come out and play. Thus most of the month was full of avoidance of the project and general stress and frustration. Looking back, It’s a bit disappointing to see how things took such a turn and I only now am noticing it. Short film was a scary place though – so it’s not surprising that I fell back into some old bad habits. But now hopefully I will be able to catch it quicker the next time around and remind myself: We’re not making things that are “good enough” or “the best” or “perfect” (ick) – we are making things we LOVE! Things that excite us and fill us with wonder and awe! And if the question is asked “What if we are the only person on EARTH that thinks it is cool?” The answer will be a resounding and most certain “That is precisely the reason that we should make it!” followed by a very sassy “I don’t care if they don’t like it – I’m not making it for them!” ;)

I could probably go on and on about all the awesome things I’ve learned through this project so far, but those are some of the more important points. Hopefully, a bit of this may help you on your own creative endeavors – no matter how big or small!

Sweet Dreaming (preferably with no rain clouds!)
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Showing the Whole Picture

Howdy there!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Arg, i’m totally annoyed with the fact that I have not been updating you guys with my progress this month. I won’t lie… I’ve definitely discovered that motion film is NOT my forte. My brain doesn’t exactly think in motion or camera angles or plots. Although I suppose most people’s don’t. And I guess since most of the month was filled with me being aggravated or just flat out avoiding the damn thing.. I figured I didn’t have much to post about. (wrong!)

After talking the other night with the beau, I realized that I’ve gotten a little off track of what I wanted this blog’s purpose to be. This is a place to record my journey – both the exciting and terribly frustrating.

Being the excellent little perfectionist that I am, I’ve conveniently omitted posting much of anything about the struggles I’ve had thus far (hence the lack of posting this month – a LOT of struggle going on!) Which pretty much means I am leaving out HALF the journey!

So from here on out, I am making it a point to write a MINIMUM of two posts each week. I will write at least one post each month that focuses on the frustrations or struggles I’m going through as well. This will definitely help to keep me honest and hold me accountable for not slacking on my projects too – which I quite honestly did pretty badly this month. (and obviously did not want to share with the world my pathetic lack of effort. lol)

So here’s to a new month, and to trying this thing in a new, more comprehensive way!
I’ll be posting later this week with the finished video – as I’m still cutting it all together. I’ll also be posting a nifty little quarterly update about everything I’ve learned in these first 3 months of the project.

Stay tuned! =)
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John Cleese on the Creative Process

Hi All!

I came across this great video this morning of John Cleese speaking on the topic of creativity and what he has learned about the creative process throughout his life. Pretty interesting stuff. Thought I would share with you guys! Enjoy!

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