Art is About Finding the Path of Love; Not the Path of Duty

In college, every adult in my life was touting the same tagline: “Get a degree in business. That’s what you’re going to need.” “Business is where the money is.” And though wanting a piece of the post-feminist, business-woman pie seemed the ticket to having an independent, self-assured life, business left me cold. Even when I succeeded at it—which I did, early and before college—I felt no love for it.

I had a voice teacher when I was 21 who took me aside and told me he thought I should pursue music full-time, as a lifelong career. But with no practical skills offered on how to follow that advice or how to live and support myself while I did it, I felt rootless and lost. I knew I was missing things I shouldn’t be missing, but I couldn’t practically put them together to build a livable life.

What was I supposed to do with the ubiquitous gifts of talent I was uncovering? How was I supposed to apply them? How could I make a living? With no one around to help me learn how to make the choices that mattered to me, how could I know if I was making the right ones? And just how could I fend off poverty if I wanted to pursue my artistry and still live a decent life?

Years passed in which I missed the bold, brash road signs about my creative nature that were dumped into my path—years in which I was miserably trying to fit myself into professions that squeezed me into pretzel positions that truly made my soul ache.

By my mid-thirties I had worked as a restaurant professional, a sales rep, a counselor, a non-profit fundraiser, a grantwriter, a personal chef, a fitness trainer, and more. But I felt like a pretender: I could sell myself as a worker, but I had no long-term commitment to the work. I was tormented by the fear that I was wasting my life.

By then I had also worked as an actor, a writer, and as a singer—all for very little money. But I had yet to step out; I had not yet learned to listen and take the steps needed to put solid supports under my feet to do my art consistently.

It would take me almost three decades to stop doing what I thought I was “supposed to do” and learn to use the creative skills I knew I had been given to live my life with art at the center. It meant I had to get real about having a dayjob I could live with. It meant I had to live more simply, on less cash, to buy myself art time. It meant I had to stop trying to be everything to everyone else and start crafting my own path—one that had not been blazed before, one that had no dotted lines showing me how to beat back the underbrush.

It took every ounce of strength I had in both spirit and will to right my ship and turn my life back towards my artistry.

For some years now, I have been living my life with art as my guiding principle. And every experience I have ever had—good and bad—gets added to the mix, enriches my art, and lifts my history into something I claim as good.

But when I look back at the winding track of my life—at the arduousness of it financially, emotionally and spiritually—I wish I had had a guidepost, a teacher, a book, or a practice that could have helped me understand what it is to live as a creative person. Something to help me learn that I’m not alone, that there are tools that can be employed to live healthily with artistic gifts and desires, and that with steady steps I can achieve the joy of creative accomplishment. I wish—with all my heart—that I had not lost so much time resisting and searching.

I would have liked to have had a little guidebook I could keep referring back to for encouragement, guidance, inspiration and direction—something to lead me out of the woods when I’m deep-in and lost; something to give me practical tools to live by.

That’s what I’ve crafted this year in my new book: A set of simple principles to help us learn and remember what a gift it is to be endowed with creativity, what to do to keep our heads in and hearts uplifted, and what practical steps to take to manage our talent well. It’s a book to help us put into place the steps and supports we need to make sure we don’t lose our mind, our shirt or our creative compass while we’re on this road of artistry.

This book is for all of the creative souls who know what I knew—that they have artistic talent—and who need support to craft a life that lets them find, build and grow their gifts.love

The artist’s road is about finding the path of love, not the path of duty; it’s about honoring what we’ve been gifted with, and building the courage to live the life we were meant to live.

The insights I am sharing have changed my life, and have brought me—finally, after a long road of insight-inspiring hardship—to artistic happiness. I hope they give as much to you as they have to me, and that they make your artist’s road clearer and a whole lot easier to walk.

Remember this: It’s never too late and we’re never too old to have a happy ending—and our artistry is the brave, amazing, and visionary road that will lead us there.love

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