How do you become a fearless dreamer? How do you reach those dreams? Following 3 key strategies make reaching your dreams easier. Your life should inspire you.
As I wish for oven mitts so I can safely touch my sizzling steering wheel and cringe at the outside temperature reading, 105 degrees, it is hard to believe that just a few weeks ago I was wearing sweaters and paddling in the Provincetown harbor.
Summer is here and hot! You know it’s bad when you think 105 degrees doesn’t seem that bad. Hey, it could be worse. It could be 115.
Seriously, that 10 degrees mean the difference between craving a cool creamy grande hazelnut and pistachio gelato and wanting to swim in a vat of it.
But it also means that I take refuge in my air-conditioned studio exploring cold wax and making new work (ceramics too) for the fall show season.
Working in my studio, I am entertained by the javelinas drinking out of the fountain in my front yard.
Mostly I long for the cool Prussian blue waters in Provincetown, MA. I went to the Encaustic conference in Provincetown again this year. I decided to make a vacation out it for myself and spent 10 days there.
It was a mini-sabbatical, a personal retreat. It was an opportunity for me to reflect on what I accomplished this year and think about what I want to achieve in the second half of 2019.
It was a chance to take stock of where I am and where I want to go. I took time to do some soul searching and figure out what was working and what wasn’t.
Here’s the thing. I needed to go back to basics.
I needed to use the hacks I teach during my annual Ignite Your Creative Potential retreat.
I used my 5 Minute Journal app–a gratitude practice that keeps me grounded and helps me appreciate all the good around me daily.
I took walks in nature–a hike along the break wall,
a meditative stroll on the beach,
and a kayak ride to the lighthouse on the sandy tip of Cape Cod.
Here’s the thing. Spending time in nature has many benefits.
- It is a great way to tap into the intuitive power of your subconscious. Your subconscious is a mighty supercomputer. You know when you say, “Oh, I need to file that away for later,” it is your subconscious that takes all those note cards and experiences and makes the aha connections that result in those “Eureka!” moments of brilliance. The problem is that we are bombarding our minds nonstop with information and sensory input–social media, music, and videos. It is like that I Love Lucy episode when Lucy and Ethel take a job at a chocolate factory. At first, the conveyor belt is slow and they can put the candy in the wrappers and then in the box. But then the chocolates come so fast they start stuffing them in their mouths and then down their shirt. Our brain and subconscious are like Lucy and the conveyor belt of chocolate. At some point, it is just too much too fast. Your subconscious can’t make those crazy creative connections if it doesn’t have some quiet space. And the truth is, you can’t hear her awesome ideas if you are drowning in sensory overload.
- Nature lowers your blood pressure and calms you. Trees are powerful medicine. I’d rather walk in the forest than take high blood pressure medicine any day.
- A stroll in the park also energizes you. A study showed that ICU hospital patients who had windows had shorter ICU stays than those with no window. We are hardwired to connect with nature. We are like little seedlings that need sunshine and to be outside.
As my paddle dipped in and out of the cool Prussian blue water, I was overcome by a deep sense of calm and connection. The water was so tranquil with just the slightest ripple on the surface.
Inspiration was flowing.
I got clarity on an art history podcasting idea I have been pondering. I had ideas for new work which I jotted down in my small journal that I keep with me. I know, who stops mid-paddle to write in her journal.
The sun was shining, which was awesome since it had been cold, overcast, windy and a bit rainy most of the time I’d been in Ptown.
It was magical.
And then I heard it. Duuunnn, duunnn, duunnn…
I couldn’t stop thinking about the sign, “beware of great white sharks.”
I’ll admit it. I have only one phobia. It is fear of dangerous creatures in the water–sharks, piranhas, giant squid, etc. I don’t like to swim in water that I can’t see more than 5 feet around me. I need someone in arm’s reach (I am proud to say I do not need someone to hold my hand when I snorkel anymore. My hubby misses that though.) I know. I shouldn’t have watched all those Jaws and piranha movies as an impressionable kid. Alas, the damage is done.
I didn’t see a fin or a wake or any shift in the water, but my heart was pounding, and all I could hear in my head was duuunn, dunnn…dunnn, duuun.
This is what anyone else would see:
This is what I saw/ imagined:
That was when it hit me or should I say when my subconscious bitch slapped me across the face and told me to knock it off. There clearly was no shark, no danger lurking below. It was all in MY HEAD, and I was ruining my marvelous first kayaking adventure (I grew up canoeing but had never kayaked before).
Here’s what I learned out on the water.
As you may have noticed, I have been talking a lot about fear this spring. Fear can be useful, but mostly it is a huge phantom great white shark under our kayak taking away from our happiness. I realized that dealing with fear is one of the 3 key strategies for reaching your dreams.
3 STRATEGIES FOR REACHING YOUR DREAMS
1. MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR FEAR
As I wrote in a recent blog post, fear can be a powerful magic detector pointing the way to greatness. The louder fear screams when you are pursuing your dreams, the closer you are to a breakthrough.
After my kayak ride, I strolled along the rainbow-colored main street all decked out for Pride week (Ptown is a big LGBTQ vacation mecca). There were t-shirt shops with pithy sayings (which I bought for my sassy kids). I turned a corner and was face to face with my biggest fear! There, right in front of me was a giant stuffed great white shark. It took me a minute to notice the sign, the name they had given this beautifully terrifying creature…
After I stopped laughing, I had to take a picture. I didn’t bother with a selfie since she was me and I was her.
My greatest fear is me! It is all inside me.
So I made her my friend and put her to work for me. I did give her a name change, Tina. So now when I am having a 2 am committee meeting with me, myself, and I and my inner critic is on a rant, I call Tina.
Tina comes swimming up with a big shark grin, and that is enough to silence my inner critics. The committee meeting is officially adjourned, and I can imagine I am back in the harbor paddling. But this time the shark beneath is my new BFF intimidator, Tina. Don’t mess with her. She is my fear’s alter ego. The one who is here to help me get shit done and take no prisoners.
Sure, we could probably all do it alone, but when we have a community to lean into, share with, be inspired by, laugh with, be vulnerable with, and that supports us, we can conquer the world.
I am fortunate to be part of an artist mastermind group. We have video conference calls twice a month. We are spread all over the world, but that doesn’t stop us from becoming a powerful force for change for each other.
When life keeps me from connecting with them, I realize that everything is just a bit harder. I feel isolated, and the Jennifer great white shark, not the Tina shark takes over. It ain’t pretty.
Find your community and choose wisely. Feel free to let people go that aren’t supportive and refine that support system to meet your needs.
I loved being part of a community of creatives for a week during the Gillian Lee Smith workshop in Santa Fe, NM, in May.
Some, I will stay in touch with (I already visited one new art friend when I was in San Francisco at the end of May), others were part of the experience.
We shared, learned, connected, laughed, and I treasure every minute of these moments. I will see some of them again next May during two back-to-back workshops of Gillian’s that I will take–one in Northumberland and the other in the Shetland Isles. I can’t wait to share it all with you.
Workshops and retreats are more than just learning opportunities. They are connecting opportunities.
3. BE A FEARLESS DREAMER
When we were cleaning out my mom’s house over Christmas to move her into the senior apartments, it was fun seeing the old photos from my childhood. There is something so endearing about those wonky color prints. Touching them, smelling them in all their blurry yellowy-orangeness is so magical. Something is lost in looking at digital images. Maybe it’s the absence of a tangible object…
My son, Andrew, loved this image because he saw it as part of what he calls my gender non-conforming years.
If you haven’t figured it out, I am the one on the left in the baseball uniform.
So what do my tomboy years (that’s what I was called back then) have to do with being a fearless dreamer?
As I sorted through all the pics from my childhood, I started to channel that younger me. I remembered why I had that horrid haircut (rebelling against my mom’s desire for me to have long hair which she’d put in hard plastic curlers every night–no long hair, no curlers, amen) and why I wanted to be on that team. I wanted to play baseball, not softball. I was the only girl on that all boys team. The other teams had girls, but it was a badge of honor to make the “boys” team.
I never understood why girls were supposed to have different rules, different dreams. I wanted to play baseball, soccer, and basketball. Sure, I agreed to be a cheerleader in middle school, but I also played on all those teams.
I had so many crazy dreams growing up. Amongst the dust and clutter of my childhood bedroom, peaking out the bookshelf was my journal. I tucked it in my bag and looked forward to returning to Tucson and connecting with my childhood me.
It was so endearing. The highs and the lows. So many aspirations, adventures to have, love to find, and ultimately a desire for freedom. Freedom to explore the world, my interests, to live my life the way I wanted free of family drama.
It’s interesting to compare my youthful bucket list to my adult one.
MY ADVICE–WHAT I LEARNED
- Look at ways to make fear your friend. Give it form if it helps. I gotta tell you that Tina, the great white shark, is really working for me right now.
- Find your community. I always loved George Carlin’s observation about Cheerios floating in milk, they are always in groups, odd numbers like 3 or 5 but never just alone. Be like Cheerios. Don’t float alone (and don’t just float with someone because you are afraid of what might lurk below the surface).
- Channel your inner daring dreamer. Dream big. Have audacious, impossible dreams, and go all in.
So what were the results of my “taking stock” retreat?
- That I need to dream bigger.
- I need to connect more with people. I am eagerly anticipating my artist mastermind’s retreat in Vail, CO, in September. 4 glorious days laughing, connecting, and working on our art businesses.
- That sharks and fears are only as scary as you let them be.
So now I ask you, what do you still want to accomplish this year?
If you want to master these 3 strategies and more, join me in Florence, Italy Oct. 13, 20, 2020.
Registration is open. Learn more.
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JOIN ME IN FLORENCE OCT. 13-20, 2020.