Accidental Spellcasting

The kind of creative magic that I’ve been talking about comes very naturally to kids. Because another word for creativity is just this: playing.

Put two kids in a room together, they will start pretending. Have you ever listened to a four-year-old playing with trucks? (I am doing this every morning and night so it’s fresh on my mind). You’ll hear them repeat and reuse and recycle everything that’s been happening in their lives — they use that play time to work out conflicts, figure out what they don’t understand, be the bad guy, be the good guy.

Think back to how you played as a child. Can you remember doing this?

One of the big questions I ask every day is: why do we stop doing that? Why are we in a rush to grow out of it and give it up? What happens when we make space for it as adults? For working things out, actively and creatively?

It’s the reason I put together the Creative Magic Workout: When we practice, when we pretend, when we play, we embody an alternate reality. And just like that, we’ve cast an accidental spell.

It’s easy to see accidental spells in retrospect – not always as easy to see them as they’re happening.

For instance: I cast an accidental spell eight years ago.

I wrote a post on my old blog in November 2009 (which I am not going to link to because I am not quite ready to give attention to the parts of it I’m embarrassed about).

Here is what I wrote — I was speculating about an imaginary world in which I might have a business:

My business isn’t really a business. It’s a weird combination of artist haven / social service agency. It looks like a kindergarten classroom, if kindergarteners had an amp/mic/delay pedal station. And a waterless shower where they get to sing their favorite songs and shout imagined rants / visionary speeches.

I am selling dreams and rainbows and story time and a place to talk about your fears and practice becoming the badass you already are but don’t know it.

Yeah. Um… is that something I can sell? What would make me qualified to provide that? Can I just say I want to do that, and it’s cool? Will anyone buy it? Am I wacky enough to pull something like that off?

I would love to get to where I can embrace my own wacky, woo woo, stumbling dreams. That is what I want: to believe in myself enough to go there, to lead people in wacky, crazy workshops where they spend half the time thinking it’s total bullshit and then have a breakthrough. To have a space where I can work on my stuff and other people can too. Where they can show up and I’ll make them a cup of tea and we’ll sit on a big old rug in the middle of the room and I’ll pull out a book and read from it and we’ll put some music on and dance out the stress.

Holy shit y’all. Eight years ago all I could do was articulate how much I wished I had the guts to do this totally impossible thing, and now I AM DOING EXACTLY THAT IMPOSSIBLE THING. Like that is for real what I am pursuing, with zero irony.

That, my friends, is an accidental spell.

I was casting a spell without realizing it – planting seeds deep in my unconscious mind for the kind of space I wanted to create, the kind of work I wanted to do, the kind of world I wanted to live in.

I cast it, and then forgot about it. And then life or my inner voice or my unconscious mind started moving towards that vision like a magnet. And now, eight years later, through rain and shine, through trolls and money mud traps and confidence-scorching dragons, through child-birthing and job-juggling and mom-guilting and the neverending tetris of childcare: here I am, doing this thing that I feel like I’ve stumbled into, and yet eight years ago described with perfect clarity.

That’s my exercise for you today: write / draw / speak out loud the biggest, goofiest, boldest, most ridiculous version of your impossible dream. Spend two minutes imagining it and seeing yourself in it.

Then put it aside and don’t give it another thought. Do NOT try and pursue it for real.

(This part is key, I think – it’s got something to do with how resistant my four-year-old is to doing anything I tell him he has to do, and how motivated he is to do something I tell him not to do.)

So whatever you do, do NOT start taking steps towards making your dream a reality. Just let it sit there, okay?

Using magical intervention to do your taxes

Lately I’ve been thinking about how to bring magical attention to the most mundane, minuscule, everyday activities.

Some things stubbornly resist magical intervention (though I’ll keep trying to figure out how to apply magic to clearing out my email inbox, wiping my kid’s poopy butt and doing my taxes).

But you’d be surprised at how many mundane things open like a flower when you slow down and look at them with magic in your eyes.

For instance, I decided last week to approach my kid’s toys with a magical eye, and try to Marie Kondo them, which I thought would be impossible. Hold each of the 1000 tiny cars and bits of playdoh in my hand and decide which of them bring joy?! But my four year old was totally down. I asked him, “Does this spark joy?” and he said, “What’s joy?” and we went from there.

What is the most mundane thing that you could approach with an eye towards creative magic? 

Maybe this sounds like a glib question but I’m for real! Can you do your taxes with magical intent? Let’s do some brainstorming about how that might work. We can use one of my favorite tools: the stupid solutions brainstorm. It is what it sounds like: we brainstorm as many stupid ideas as we can, and we relish in the stupidity, we embrace it. The stupider, the better. I’ve done it on all kinds of things (including truly impossible problems like gun violence but that is a topic for another day) so let’s try it on this:

STUPID SOLUTIONS FOR HOW BORING IT IS TO DO YOUR TAXES

+ Fill out tax forms with a feather quill and ink
+ Fill them out with invisible ink, mail them in to the IRS with a matchbook and instruct them to hold the forms over a lighted candle for the writing to appear
+ Use numerology to determine the magical significance of your gross income
+ Do your taxes in a wizard hat
+ Do them by the light of the full moon
+ …and naked
+ Get your 1099 in a foreign language and try to fill it out
+ Fill it out with your left hand

I’d love to hear your ideas, for magical taxes or anything that seems impossible to enjoy.

What to do with this sadness

It’s been a hard week, and like many of you, I’m struggling with what I see in the world around me. I wrote out some thoughts the other day and was able to pull myself out from the cloud of hopelessness — I share it in case it helps you too.

Last night I opened my eyes
I had fallen asleep holding my sweet baby boy
He kept sleeping while I reached for my phone
and let the information in

Cholera in Puerto Rico
Another shooting
Every day a fresh horror

What to do with this sadness rolling over me like a storm

And then I thought: this is not my sadness
I am not directly experiencing these losses today
Someday I might but today I am not

Those who are do not need my sadness
They need my help
They need me to hold theirs

So why don’t I put aside my imagined sadnesses
and get to work

Maybe it feels like running away – to escape into dreams
but in order to make a new world
We have to dream it first

It’s a radical act, dreaming
And to speak the dream out loud can be downright dangerous
So we must band together
For protection
For strength
For encouragement

And when we come together
In vulnerability and anticipation
Our new world is born

Artist residency in anything

What I love about my artist residency in motherhood is, it helped me to see the creative energy that was already pulsing through every moment of my life. By calling it an artist residency, I put a frame around it that made things visible, and gave me a reason to create for the sheer joy and necessity of it.

Have you heard of Sister Corita Kent? She has an exercise that’s the physical version of this – you find a frame and hold it up anywhere in the world. That’s art.

This was like that, except the frame was time.

It helped me to notice the poetry in my everyday life, like this:

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River plays piano with his feet

And this:

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A sea cave for sleeping

Being more attuned to noticing these moments made it okay that I had much less time to transfer them into … you know, actual poetry.

There is a poem to be written about the feeling of piano keys on a newborn baby’s feet, and I don’t know when I will get around to writing it. There is also poetry in just noticing it. For every fully formed piece of creative expression, I have ten that are half jotted in my journal or my iphone notes or deep in my subconscious. And somehow, that becomes part of my practice. Like scattering wildflower seeds – the beauty is in the scattering.

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It only takes one roll of toilet paper (and four minutes) for your four-year-old to lay down a path to adventure

It helped me see patterns.

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It helped me step out my frustration and see the genius in my four year old’s chaos theory:

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An accidental collaboration with my young child leads to a new exercise: let your kid draw all over your planning chart, then interpret the ink blots — what do they tell you about your now/next/future plans?

My artist residency in motherhood could have been an artist residency in anything. In activism, in gardening, in mountain climbing. It could have been focused on summer itself, and maybe I’ll do that someday — focus all my creative energy on savoring sunshine and river swimming and garden harvesting and dancing by the light of the midnight moon.

Will I continue my artist residency in motherhood throughout the year? Will I have time / space / capacity to hold it while running the creative magic workout? I don’t know. I also want to do an artist residency in dismantling white supremacy (starting with myself) and the world seems hellbent on convincing me that now is the time to start that one. I’ll keep you updated, and I hope to hear about your residencies too, wherever you are.

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remember growth comes from doing impossible things

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self confidence, world building, creative muscle building

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banish or embrace the boss bitch

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reaching out touching you touching me

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To make this happen, who would I have to be?

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Ready, dream, action

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green devil thrill

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to create to improvise to build to make rules to destroy to be every day humbled and exalted

 

Artist Residency in Motherhood

Hello, dear friends.

For the last 3+ months I’ve been in the newborn dreamtime, remembering the things that make it maddening and miraculous. I have been thinking of you and the work we are all doing in the world to keep the flame of creative healing and revolution alive. I’ve been crafting manifestos in my head, while I’m cradling a tiny human in my arms.

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In some ways this has been much easier than the last time around, when it was all unknown and I groped forward guessing at the unknown. A lot of beautiful, hard-won truths emerged from that unknown, and I am surprised to find that this time around, even on the hardest days/nights/days, it’s a lot easier. This time it’s a known challenge. It’s looking down the path and being able to see a bear coming towards you and reaching for your bear spray, versus listening to grunting in the darkness and wondering what it could be and letting your mind race to all the worst possible outcomes. (I’m not sure why I’m drawn to bear metaphors when it comes to motherhood – something to explore in a future creative time).

So many things seemed impossible the first time. The fact that some of those things now seem easy helps keep me going when I hit a snag that feels impossible (like how to handle bedtime with two small children, or how to figure out childcare, or how to take a shower).

I tell myself: right now this seems impossible, but soon it will be possible, and then it will be easy.

Which is not to say that it is all sunshine and rainbows over here. (Obviously, since last week it was toxic wildfire smoke for all of us in the Portland area). There are plenty of times when I am feeling grumpy or edgy or full of self-pity or exhausted or coming down with mastitis AGAIN or taking my baby to the emergency room because his fever is too high or waking up with a four year old’s foot in my face. Trying to go out into the world with both my children is total madcap chaos and it takes all the good humor I have to laugh at myself as I chase my four-year-old across the park while clutching a tiny baby to my chest.

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A moment of stillness

It feels impossible, but I am doing it. Doing it badly, sure! But doing it!

And I have tools to help me when I feel overwhelmed. I can take five minutes to draw out my feelings or put my hand on my heart and breathe or pull a tarot card or text a friend or go on an imagination walk.

The beautiful thing is, when I use these tools, my kid picks up on it and dives right in. I’ve gotten so many great ideas for exercises from him, like stomping around the room pretending to be the bad guy, or building yourself a literal safe fort space, or scribbling all over your (or your mother’s) five year plan.

This is a whole different way of seeing myself and my life and my creativity. Motherhood isn’t the thing that keeps me from practicing my art: it is the practice. The challenges are impossible to separate from the rewards. This time around, though of course I do need breaks from being all mom all the time, I am feeling less of a need to escape from it and more of a desire to dive into the mess.

This has been my artist residency in motherhood (an idea I first heard of from this brilliant artist/mother, Lenka Clayton). Mothering my children makes my creative work stronger, and creative work makes my mothering stronger.

 

Give attention to the thing you’re embarrassed about

Hello from the other side of newborn mountain! Or in the middle of it? I’m not sure but I can tell you that this ridiculous bundle of sunshine is 2.5 months old.

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I’ve got a lot to tell you about my birth experience and maternity leave (or as I have been calling it, my artist residency in motherhood) but first I thought I’d share this creative exercise that came to me yesterday.

I made a video about it here (co-starring my newest collaborator, River Rowan Helma-Walters) or you can read on below if you’re more of a visual/verbal processor.


I had a quick idea for an exercise today and I wanted to share it with you while it’s fresh in my mind. Here’s the context behind it: so I was walking my son, Waylon, in to summer camp this morning, and I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the window and had one of those classic moments of, ewwww, this shirt does not fit me well, my belly looks kind of weird… etc etc…  

Anyway, I continued on my way and hugged Waylon goodbye and passed the window again on my way out, and had a reflexive cringe as I saw my reflection again. And then I thought, hold on, hold on: why am I feeling embarrassed?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last four years, it’s that when I feel embarrassed about something, whether it’s physical or emotional or otherwise – it’s a good idea to slow down and pay attention to that feeling.

So I noticed that feeling of embarrassment and took a second to ask myself, hey, why am I feeling like I should hide my belly? Why am I feeling some shame here?

And then I thought, What if  decided to I flaunt it instead?

So I did. Instead of tucking it in and folding my body inward, I took a deep breath and stuck my belly out. And you know what? My embarrassment dissolved.

And that’s basically the exercise: take something you’re hiding, and try flaunting it. If there’s something you feel as a flaw, ask yourself, what would it feel like to show this off? And give yourself two minutes, whether it’s alone in your bedroom or out in the world, to do that.

This is especially potent to try on your belly, because man, the belly is such a loaded body part. I’ve heard it from so many women I know, this shame around having a tummy, like it’s not okay, it’s repulsive. Unless you’re pregnant, and then it’s gorgeous. Both times I’ve been pregnant it’s been striking how much love and admiration and worship is lavished onto my belly from other people. People encourage you to flaunt it! They want you to show it off, they compliment it, they ask to touch it. Some people find this intrusive, but I find it kind of lovely, this loving attention given to something that doesn’t usually get attention.

And then immediately after the baby is born, BAM – the exact same part of your body is suddenly NOT cute, it does not get any attention and if it does, it’s shameful. The worst insult a woman can hear is someone asking if she’s pregnant when she’s not, right? Oh god, the horror!

Why is this belly so horrifying when there’s not a baby, why is it no longer beautiful now that it’s just my body?

So the exercise for me is to pretend my belly is just as beautiful without a baby inside it, to act proud of it, to show it off the same way I did when I was five months pregnant.

I encourage you to join me in drawing attention to whatever body part you’re embarrassed about and giving it some love. Give attention to the thing you’re embarrassed about. This is like a Daniel Tiger song! Give attention to the thing you’re embarrassed about. Just give it some attention, that’s all I’m saying. This applies to physical parts of your life and also to the emotional things, which is trickier. Or maybe it isn’t! You could pretend it’s not trickier.

Anyway, that’s me reporting to you from my artist residency in motherhood, with creative ideas inspired by my own body and my own life, that I hope speak to you, in your body, in your life. I wish you well on your artistic journey and navigating the world in all it’s complexities and violence and joys, I hope you’re finding solace amidst the chaos.

The chaos of nature

I’m writing to you in the midst of a wild Portland spring. One day it’s 80 degrees, the next day it’s cold windy sheets of rain. In between, there are moments of glorious rainbow transition.

I’m in transition too: wrapping up the first online round of the Creative Magic Workout, which has been a lovely and fruitful experiment. I’m making plans to retool it a bit and launch it again in the fall. (Registration will open September 12, if you want to sign up).

I’m also preparing my body, mind and soul for the entrance of a new baby into the world (and its exit from my body).

Not gonna lie: I’m scared. And this is different from the last time I had a baby. It’s the fear of the known (or, relatively known) versus fear of the unknown.

Last time, I handled my fear with bravado and denial and blithe ignorance. I went in overconfident and underprepared. And it’s taken me a long time to forgive myself for not knowing what I didn’t know, to see the beauty in how things unfolded as they did, to trust my body and my instincts. Honestly, it took me a long time to forgive nature itself.

I thought my body would know what to do naturally — I thought wanting a “natural birth” would somehow guarantee me a blissful, pain-free experience. And that is not the way it went. (Someday I’ll get around to writing the epic tale of my birth story, because it was beautiful in its own way, medicated and mediated and messy as it was).

This time, I’m approaching the prospect of childbirth with more wariness. The way you might approach a wild grizzly you happened upon in the woods. It’s natural, sure. And it also might claw your face off.

I went on an imagination walk with my son the other day, and we happened upon this sign:

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The funny thing is, I read it as: “Take time to listen to the chaos of nature: it is the music of life itself.”

Either way — chaos or chorus — I love the reminder.

In the years since I gave birth to my son, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve accepted the parts of myself that I used to reject as flaky and soft and inconsistent and weak; I’ve reclaimed them as the strengths of spontaneity, empathy, improvisation and vulnerability. I’ve created a new world for myself, a beloved community that comforts and calls me out, that reflects what I value and shows me what is true.

I’ve forgiven nature her fierceness, her brutality, her dramatic swings. They don’t negate her chorus of calm and loving care. They exist alongside it.

Thank you for being on this journey with me, friends. I will probably be off the radar for the next few months while I adjust to new life. I’m excited to see what I learn while I’m down in the dirt of newborn baby bootcamp, and to return to you in the fall with some hard-won insight.

Until then, I wish you kindness and good fortune on the chaotic chorus of your creative journey.

chaos or chorus

Bragging as a bridge (not a wall)

Bragging is a big part of the work I do, and we’ve been talking about it this week in my Creative Magic Workout, so I thought I’d open up the discussion to everyone.

Watch the video:


If you’re doing any kind of creative work – by which I mean, living life as a vulnerable, expressive human being – there are so many opportunities for rejection, and not many for building you up and celebrating what you’ve done and how you’ve grown. That’s one reason it’s essential to cultivate a healthy ability to brag about yourself and your work.

But when we do, fears come up, and one big one is the fear that if you brag, you’re going to push people away or turn them off. We often associate bragging with a kind of aggression, someone who can’t stop talking about themselves, someone who goes on and on at a party or is trying to sell you something or is desperate for your approval. The fear is that when we brag, we’re pushing people away, pushing them out.

But what if we can see bragging as a way of connecting, as an invitation, a way to bring people in? What if we can talk about our strengths and triumphs in a way that draws people in?

I think of it as approaching bragging as a wall, or as a bridge.

A wall divides, it keeps some people out and some people in, it projects an image of strength that is a fakeout, a façade, a lie to hide behind while you lob flaming arrows at supposed attackers to keep them from finding out the truth.

A bridge says, welcome. Come on over and see for yourself. There’s room for you here. I am open to you being here, I want to help you cross over anything that might divide us, I want to provide a path for you to find me.

That’s a different kind of confidence. It’s not about lying, it’s about being totally transparent. And I think when you brag like that, it’s infectious and welcoming and not threatening.

So how does this play out in real life bragging? Let me give you an example from my life: this week I realized that I’ve gotten a lot better over the course of the year at getting my 3.5 year old dressed and fed and cleaned up and out the door on time to school.

The wall version of bragging out this would be to inflate it, to project something bigger and better than reality. I could say, I get my son out the door and to preschool on time every single morning with no problem because I’m a bad ass.

That sounds good, right? Except it’s not my actual reality. And when I have a hard day – like I did yesterday – that kind of brag is an unrealistic expectation that makes me feel worse. And if it makes me feel worse, I imagine it might have that effect on others too!

So what’s a bridge version of that brag? How can I be confident and strong within the challenging circumstances, within my lived reality?

I could say, it’s really hard to get my kid out the door on time. But you know what? Day in, day out, I’m doing it. even when it seems impossible, I find a way to make it possible.

That’s true. That’s reality. It makes me feel better. It opens me up to seeing my own strength in a challenging situation.

And really, that’s the most important thing, right? Building a bridge to yourself, inviting yourself to feel confident as you move through life in all it’s fluctuating paradoxical glory. In my experience, that kind of bragging helps me see the ways in which other people are growing and struggling and doing great things. And that’s how we build a strong community of love and support.

When you encounter a troll in the shower

We’ve been working with our trolls this week in the Creative Magic Workout, which is one of my favorite things to do.

Trolls are what I call the critical thoughts that divebomb you when you’re trying something new or creative or risky or, you know, taking a shower.

That’s what happened to me this morning! I was in the shower and the thought popped into my head: “You should have figured this out five years ago.”

(“This” being “how to balance motherhood and making enough money and having a career that makes everything you want in life possible.”)

And I almost let that thought slip by unnoticed – it’s a thought I have often — but because we’ve been working with trolls, I did notice. I stopped and went, wait a minute, what was that? Is that a troll talking?

You should have figured this out five years ago.

So I did a transformation spell. This is what I call the process of considering, questioning and turning around those critical thoughts.

I considered it: is it true, that I should have figured this out five years ago? Do I agree?

Well, not really. I wish I had figured it out, but I also don’t know how useful it would have been. Or how possible. My life was totally different then, and I’m not sure I could have even imagined how it would change, much less figure out how to respond to that change.

I questioned it. What would be different now if I had “figured it out”? What does figuring it out even mean? Is it possible to figure it out? What is the benefit of figuring something out in advance – wasn’t I figuring things out then that were useful then? Aren’t I figuring this out now? Are there other women I can think of who have figured it out? Honestly, I can’t think of a single mother who has figured it all out. Everyone’s struggling with something.

And I turned it around, which means, I came up with opposite thoughts that are also true.

I should not have figured it out five years ago. In fact, it would have been ridiculous and impossible and kind of miraculous if I had.

It is a waste of time to try to imagine what your life might need in five years. It would have been a waste of my time then.

I am figuring this out now and that is the best use of my time and energy.

I did figure this out five years ago! I figured out some of it, anyway.

Once I went through all this – which was less than five minutes, tops – I was able to laugh at that troll. I wasn’t wrestling with it or struggling to shake it off. It stepped away of its own accord.

Later when I was out of the shower I thought: who is this troll, exactly?

And what came to mind were associations of impatience and wanting to know everything in advance and being very annoyed when things don’t go a certain way. I got an image of the classic rom-com business woman protagonist who falls in love with a laid back handyman and learns to laugh and not take herself so seriously.

So I sketched a picture. Here it is:

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Do you want to try it? Notice your critical thoughts as you go about your day, and when you have a couple minutes, jot down associations with that critical voice, sketch a picture, and give that troll a name.

And then do a quick transformational spell.

  1. Consider the thought
  2. Question the thought
  3. Turn it around

And see if the troll doesn’t soften, stand back and let you cross that bridge after all.

Creative Breakthrough: how I learned to dance

I was driving yesterday, stuck in traffic, and I don’t know why but I found myself remembering the process of how I learned to love dancing. And it occurred to me that it might be a good story to share, because it involves overcoming fear and awkwardness and that is so central to all our creative journeys, whether they involve dancing or not.

So here it is! The story of my creative breakthrough as a dancer:

… IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE WATCHING THE VIDEO, HERE IS THE TEXT …

I love to dance now, but I didn’t always feel that way. For many years I was super self conscious about my dancing. I felt like I didn’t move right, I didn’t get it, I thought I danced like a white girl and that was not a good thing, so whenever I was in a situation where dancing was called for I moved as little as possible and got out of there as soon as I could.

Of course when I was a kid I loved dancing. Every kid I’ve met has loved to dance, and it seems to be a natural reaction to hearing music they like, their bodies just move. So yeah, I loved dancing when I was five but by the time I was ten I was crippled with self-consciousness. And I think this is true for a lot of us, we hit adolescence and we get self conscious, we don’t trust our bodies, we feel like we don’t look right or talk right or move right, so we spend a lot of our energy hiding, and that’s what I did. I can remember standing at the edge of the gym during school dances, arms crossed, terrified and annoyed and waiting for the whole thing to be over.

For me, two things changed this, and I’m so glad they did. they were pretty random.

One of them was this one time at band camp – yes, this is a real story about band camp – when I was about 13. There was some sort of a dance we all had to go to, which normally I hated, but because I was at band camp, there was a freedom to be someone different, to explore different sides of myself. And I felt safe with my new friends and we were all outside our normal lives, so for some reason, the song Rockin Robin came on and I had a reaction of total love for that song and my inner five year old busted out and I started dancing like I was on fire.

And it was really clear to me in that moment that when I loved the music, I loved dancing. It didn’t carry over – I didn’t go home and love dancing from that moment on – but that awareness stuck with me, the joy I felt shedding my self consciousness in that moment.

Flash forward to my freshman year of college. I was hanging out in someone’s dorm room with some new friends. Somehow this girl I didn’t know very well and I got to talking about dancing, and I said, I don’t feel comfortable dancing, I don’t get it, I can’t do it. And she decided right then and there to give me a dance lesson. She put on some music and for about 30 minutes she watched me dance and pointed out to me what I was doing that made me look like stiff and uncomfortable and showed me some moves and helped me get comfortable enough to try them myself.

And I can remember the big aha moment: I thought the problem with my dancing was my flailing, awkward, hopelessly uncoordinated limbs, and my response was to bring them in and move them as little as possible. But she was like, you are barely moving! You gotta get in your body more, really move your body. Your arms and legs don’t matter, what matters is that your hips are moving. Let your arms and legs follow the core of your body.

OH! I’d been so fixated on what not to do, I hadn’t noticed what was missing, And she showed me what that meant, she drew my attention to my hips, and I had time and space to try it out and look stupid and hesitant and practice moving boldly and feeling foolish and laughing at myself and there was nothing humiliating about it. And by the end of those 30 minutes, I felt like I got it. Enough that the next time I was in a situation where dancing in public was called for, I felt confident moving to the music and realized: this is fun! This is a fun way to spend time with people! If I liked someone else’s moves, I could copy them. If the music didn’t speak to me, I could sit it out and jump up when a song I loved came on. I lost my self-consciousness, and now after 20 years of dancing I can say, I am a very confident dancer. This doesn’t mean I’m a good dancer necessarily – I think I am, but in the end it really doesn’t matter – because I like dancing.

When I look back on it, this is such a metaphor for any kind of creativity. You need time and space to move through that awkward phase, to do it badly, to do it wrong, to look stupid, to flail your arms, to hit the wrong note, to draw a shaky line, to write a meandering sentence. And the irony is, when you give yourself that room to do it fully and badly – that is how you move to rocking it.

I’d love to know if you had a formative experience, with dancing or any form of creative expression. What led to your breakthrough?

And if you’d like to join me for a six week process of breakthroughs and creating and failing and practicing being bold in a safe and loving space, the very first online version of my creative magic workout starts April 3! Wooooooo!

Here’s some Dr. John for you to dance along to: