Monday, June 25, 2012

Forgiving Emily Carr – Reflections on Graduation

Emily Carr rejected me on the eve of my high school graduation. Obviously it wasn't her personally but  school that was named after her did. I was devastated. I had given up so much to pursue her appreciation and acceptance only to be delivered the bad news on night of the grad. I was stunned. I walked through evening’s preparation in a daze replaying the interview process through my mind. What did I do wrong? What did I say? Why don’t they like me?

The fact is that I shouldn’t have been too surprised. The two faculty members that interviewed me were less than enthusiastic. They said my work was rigid and my style too technical next to my competitors. I recall a fellow classmate – who did get accepted – had a portfolio filled with pictures made with a can of spray paint and coat hangers as stencils. He called one Penguins on the Fourth of July. He got in. My portfolio had ballerinas, children in poverty and landscape paintings. Could they not see my depth, compassion and soul? It was there in the stroke of every pencil and the reflection of every colour.

I had dedicated four years of my young life to art. Lived through the elementary school years where my mind struggled with with all those left-brained tasks. From Grade 8-12 I was officially on the artist’s path. My teachers believed in my talent and suggested to my parents that I focus on drawing, painting, printmaking and photography. Although not artsy folks themselves, mom and dad could see that was where I belonged. They let me take the basics of math, science and French so I was a well-rounded student but never pushed me too hard down the “you need to make a living” path.

So what made me so rigid and technical? Well it was my elementary school mindset. I just thought my struggles with anything that didn’t involve a sketch pad meant I there was something wrong with me. I seemed to live in a different world than everyone else. I was too sensitive. Too shy but, like most folks, I desperately wanted to be accepted. I struggled with the different points of view my mind jumped too. The images I picked out of the blue. There lived in me a strong need to express something important to the world but didn’t have the words to do it. Those would come later in life.

It’s funny how life is sometimes. I moved on to Langara College Fine Arts program where they embraced me with open arms. My interviewer opened my portfolio, saw the scholarship and awards I had won, closed it and said “You’re in.” His quick decision startled me and, seeing the confusion on his face, he explained that my commitment was evident and he didn’t need anymore than that (although he did look at the contents with equal enthusiasm). But the sting of rejection was too much. Everything I did in those 2-years never seemed good enough. The filter of failure robbed me of feeling connected to my creations.

That never good enough has haunted me since then. Although I have had artistic successes in life I’m never fully dedicated myself or appreciated that aspect of life. Mostly I have morphed my talents into different careers to produce creations for others but I’m frustrated at not having my own visions brought to life. As I shared this story with a friend I found out I’m not alone. She too was told not to pursue her writing and, like me, many years later, she is creating a new life and a new vision of herself. It’s never too late to take a new direction.

So if you know a new grad or if you are revitalizing your own life don’t take the perceptions and judgments of others to heart. They don’t know who you are or who you need to be in this world. If you’ve delayed expressing yourself don’t beat yourself up just start now. Start with what you can. Plant your seeds and tend to your talent. That’s what I intend to do.

Oh yeah, Emily, you're forgiven.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

1,728 Chances to Get It Right

Okay, I'll confess I'm one of those. As of today I've a racked up 1,728 readings between and I know what you must be thinking that I'm a bit of a nutcase and you would be right. I know how it sounds letting a computer generated program give me advice on my life but there are some days it helps. Really.

You see I spend most of my days flirting with niggling concerns, picking fruitless worries, and watching out for anything that I could be blamed for missing. It might sound like a difficult way to live but I've grown used to myself. On a good day I can take this negative engery and use it to fix problems, plan for different outcomes, and prepare for the future. On bad days, Tarot cards, IChing, and astrology readings distract me from myself and keep my mind from running away with me. I'm a creative gal and if I'm not focused the gambit of fears I can so effortlessly whip up will run me straight into the nearest brick wall.

It wouldn't be correct to say I believe in this stuff, not like I believe in Love, Beauty, or Justice, but they do help redirect me. I'm trying to come to terms with my Idealism and how it gets in the way of my just being human. I can be a harsh judge of myself and the creatures that live in my world. I have in many checklists detailing how people "should" be but the real world works doesn't work this way. All my efforts to be optimistic, kind and patient  just as often morph into frustration, anger, and blame when the world doesn't live up to my expections. I don't like to admit that but it's true.

Although my life isn't that extreme, this tentative balance between my perception and the world around me is daily undertaking. Take today. I've thought about writing this post for a while now and of course I flip-flopped between what I thought the dire conclusions people would come to, so I did a reading about it. Here's what the 2-card "Letting Go" reading from LotusTarot had to say...

Card 1 (The Star): What you should consider letting go of
... is your lack of self-belief and self doubt. You may be feeling tense and lacking in confidence due to past failures, the future is bright and you will receive good luck.

Card 2 (2 of Wands) : What you will gain
... is a harmonious and prosperous partnership, this could be a professional or personal relationship. This is a time of great potential in all areas of your life.

Shit. They nailed me. It's just what I needed to read to move forward and start writing. I know it might sound silly but think about all the ways we make decisions in life. How often are our actions really rational and objective? We react to symbols and intuition. We move towards what feels right or move away from things that we don't feel we deserve. If a few well played cards can move us towards happiness then why not.
I know that about one-third of my circle of friends will "get" what I'm talking about and not think that I'm too crazy. Some will shrug and say, "There she goes again." Others will snort with a bit of disdain but I don't mind. In the end I know that I'm the answer to my problems. I take responsiblity to act or not to act and pay the consquences either way.
In other words, I can choose to play the cards I'm dealt or I can reshuffle the deck until I get the cards I want. It's all in the way you play the game.

Monday, May 07, 2012

It Hurts to Be Human

This is my dad. I miss him today. That's really all there is to say but somehow I feel so full of emotion that I need to put some of it here.

It's amazing how we can hold someone so close to our hearts but still remember all the hurts and pain that was inherent in the relationship. It's hard to embrace the humanity of it all. We rise and fall. We succeed and fail. We hurt others and they hurt us.

But in the end we connect. We want to bridge the pain and celebrate the love. But it can be hard. It hurts.