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Week 19: Resistance

unnamed-7It’s likely no one else has noticed that it’s actually been two full weeks since my last portrait. But oh have I noticed… and been acutely aware of the growing length of time passing by. And still no portrait. The frustrating part is that I’ve actually had the idea for well over a week now… this really powerful visual about the tension of being stuck between two worlds… but still I’ve done absolutely nothing but expertly avoid it. So instead, I decided to share the sketches for the next image and talk a bit about that really freaking annoying thing called resistance.

In every long-term project, resistance will rear its ugly head. Logically, I know this. I’ve done other long-term projects in the past, so I know that there will be points along the road when I will just plain get TIRED of doing it and want to drop everything. I also know this is totally normal and happens to everyone. Yet somehow, I still get completely frustrated with myself when it happens. Which just makes me resist and avoid it more of course. The worst thing about resistance is that I don’t usually know why it’s there or how to make it UNhappen. But I’m thinking what it boils down to is a mixture of exhaustion and fear.

Exhaustion is definitely a big part of it. A long-term project requires a lot of stamina, discipline, and focus. This one in particular is also requiring more and more depth of emotion from me the further I get into it. Mix in a few other variables like commissions and more marketing and trying to locate a publisher for the photo book of the project next year, and it’s easy to start stumbling around and losing focus. This is really the first time on this journey as an artist that I am having to juggle other variables more heavily and also stay committed to the project. And I gotta say… it’s SO not easy!

I’m also flat out TIRED of feeling and examining every last raw emotion that goes through me on a daily basis. This really isn’t anything new. I’ve been feeling exhausted from grieving for two years now. The difference seems to be, that for the first time since my fiancé died, there is beginning to be some room in my heart for things that are not my grief. My counselor has told me this is a huge and awesome shift, that all the hard healing work I’ve been doing all this time is beginning to allow me to embrace more of life again. And it’s a beautiful thing. It means there is suddenly space for new friendships that aren’t focused around grief. It means there is room for new aspects of myself to begin developing – like being a mentor and guide to others, and challenging myself to become healthier and stronger physically. And it’s all really exciting and beautiful – but it’s also pulling me in two very different directions and leaving me exhausted on whole new levels.

And then there is fear. Fear that I won’t finish out the project (despite knowing myself well enough to know that I will NOT allow myself to quit on it). Fear that I’ll run out of good ideas and good images. Why does this keep nagging me? For nearly six months now I’ve proven to myself that the ideas continue to keep flowing – yet still, that fear persists. And of course the fear that once I finish this whole thing, I won’t be able to find a publisher to back it and it will end up in the pile among the myriad of other forgotten projects. And the other side of fear too – fear that it might just blow up into this huge and well-known project and that suddenly there will be all these expectations on me about what I will do after it is done. I think getting so close to the halfway point of this thing is what’s really setting in the fear, because I’m so far in, and so much closer to my end goal, but that’s also where all the pressure lies. Momentum is building, and as it does, it requires more and more energy to harness this beast.

Looking at all of that, it’s no WONDER I’ve been resisting creating my next image. I mean hell, who wouldn’t be? If you were to ask me what the single most important tool is for working past the walls of resistance, I would say to sit down and talk to someone about it. Just discussing this with my counselor for an hour yesterday helped me to see that even if I didn’t get a portrait made this week, I could still create something of value out of this experience and share it here. There is always another way to look at a situation, and sometimes we need another person’s mind to help us out with that. Talking or writing it out also helps it to lose it’s power over us. It gets the block out of our heads which will begin to leave room for us to feel creative again. Somehow just writing this gave me a lot more gusto too… I’m feeling ready to get out there today and make this shoot happen, no matter what. And I’m reminded to not give up. To keep on pushing and challenging and growing and trying. No matter how much resistance might get me stuck sometimes… it’s not the end, its just another part to learn how to work through on this crazy creative journey. Thanks for listening.


If you’re new to this project, you can read more about it in this post. Or to see the full image gallery visit 2014 PROJECT. Please share with anyone who you feel can relate to the imagery, my hope is that it gives many others a visual for something they are going through in their own lives.


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!

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