"Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got." ~ Steven Pressfield
"I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you." ~ Frida Kahlo
I have been hosting a weekly Open Studio here at the Center for Mindful Living for a little over a year now, and I have come to know some extraordinary human beings. The range of education, experience, skill, and confidence of the individuals was notable-we have had professional showing artists, calligraphers who haven't picked up a pen in several years, therapists, musicians, dancers, survivors, linguists, travelers, philosophers, and people who haven't held a colored pencil since school.
I have seen people dive into complex, multimedia work and those who bring their own coloring books for fear they would "mess something up." Despite all of our differences, I have been honored to witness a beautiful, unwavering kindness that permeates every session we do.
There is a vulnerability that comes over us when we think about doing something creative in a group. We worry that others will look at our efforts and deem them unworthy, or the work won't meet our own expectations, and we won't know what to do.
We worry about being judged, looked over, compared, or called out. We think about what might happen if the work goes well, will people think we're showing off? Or, "oh no, what if I make a mess?" But we show up anyway. We listen to those doubts and fears, then decide to walk through those doors, sit down, and try something new. This is an act of courage.
I believe that when we have several bravely vulnerable people in a room at the same time. They can't help but be kind with one another. Gentle encouragement and conversation often deepens into commiseration, support, deep laughter, and a feeling of belonging.
It is a beautiful sight to behold; watching two individuals who have never met before laughing until their breath runs out, sharing a sweet treat, and gently pushing each other to take risks, try that water color, oh that green was a good choice, your daughter is going to love it! We know that everyone is trying to be brave, coming here, and we want them to know that yes, we see them and they are right where they need to be.
I want to share this experience with more people, so after talking it over with the group we have decided to move Open Studio to the Second Sunday of every month. While we won't meet as often, we will have the time and energy to come up with monthly themes that will help tie our groups together.
This month we learned how to finger knit: being patient with yourself, enjoying the feel of the soft yarn in your hands, and giving yourself permission to make mistakes. I hope these themed groups can lead to a greater sense of peace and self compassion for the rest of the day. I am excited to offer this time to a greater part of our community and want to invite you to be brave.
Come on in and join us.
You might find that it's exactly what you needed.
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