By Kate Maria Pennell
When we can no longer do what we love to do, it’s time to shine light on the fears that hide in the corners of our creative hearts.
I still remember the tension in my body—the emotion choking me and pressing behind my eyes. I was angry, helpless, and in pain again. In my teens, I dealt with a painful condition that left me with arms and hands that didn’t work properly. And now there I was, sitting in art class. Art was personal to me, art was a passion, and once again my hands wouldn’t work properly.
That day my dam was close to breaking. I remember the kindness and optimism of Mr. Hall, my teacher at the time. He always treated me with understanding and respect, trying to support me however he could. I never thanked him enough.
“You could try to put the paintbrush in your wrist splint to hold it, or you could try using your left hand.”
I had already been forced to give up my music as my fingers had lost their dexterity, and now I was facing the heart-wrenching fear that I may have to give up my art too. What if I can no longer do this?
As creative people, what we do is often interwoven with who we are and how we see and relate to the world. To stop doing what we do can mean more than just having to give up a hobby. We feel as if we are facing a form of death—the death of a dream or a little part of ourselves. Who am I if I cannot write? How will I balance my world if I cannot play music or paint? What will my world look like without looking through a lens?
We wonder if the creative flow will build up and blow us apart or just leave us fractured and cracked if it chooses to flow elsewhere and we are left dry, with only our memories of more fertile times. Enough of that, let’s look at the good news.
Facing the Fear
Living through what I did was dire, but what it taught me was that if I let the creativity flow, it will find a way. The fear and the anger (and the pride because that was in the mix, too) blocked the creative output more than the physical problem did. I had to give up my illusions of control and perfection and then experiment again. It may have been easier for me to do so being younger, but isn’t our inner artist like a child? Luckily, children have a loose understanding of limits and thrive in finding a way around them.
What I learned was that when my creativity could not flow in one way, it would find another outlet—if I let it. My creative writing and poetry developed as it had never before; I learned to paint with words, to imprint my heart on the page in another form. I became more mindful of my artistic practice. Painting with my left hand taught me to consider every mark that I made, which, incidentally, my teacher had spent a whole term trying to teach us.
My paintbrush had to be put aside to rest, so I learned to reach for other untried mediums, like pastels or clay that I could control more easily, directly with my fingers. I experimented and gained new skills. I grew. When I was no longer able to play music, I dared to sing.
I learned to acknowledge how I felt, to grieve, to be kind to myself, and to choose to continue a creative life. The king is dead; long live the king.
All in all, my greatest lesson was that I can trust my creativity.
I feared that the situation I was in would rob me of my creativity, of my very soul, and yet it was that creativity that helped me to overcome my situation. Like water, I both needed it but feared its depths. And, like water, I learned to let it flow and carry me in its currents.
My intention in writing this is to shine a little light on the fears that hide in the corners of our creative hearts. Like the bogeyman, those fears dissipate when brought into the light and examined. I want you to take heart and know that you can trust your creativity to bring you through, even if you face losing what you love to do. If it feels like game over, play a different level or a whole new game—but stay in the game.
The fear of losing something can be worse than it happening. Although it’s right to honor what has to be laid to rest, the good news is you can find a way forward if you trust your creativity and expand your creative expression. It’s not just for the special people; I am as special as you are.
Author’s Note: You’re welcome to a copy of “Create Smarter Not Harder.” It helps you to use the innovative power of your subconscious mind to be less stressed and more productive—even in your sleep. To receive a copy, visit: https://katepennell.net/subscribe/.
Kate Pennell, English and slightly geekish, is a coach and dream catalyst who lives in Spain with three kids, various furry creatures and a patient husband. She loves nature, creativity and seeing people discover what truly makes them come alive. Kate provides the people she works with permission to launch and helps them begin to fly as they were made to. She teaches, encourages and connects with fellow travellers across our global village. Find out more at https://www.permissiontolaunch.website/.