brave heart

Monday, July 9, 2012

double mock orange

When we were children, 
we used to think that when we were grown-up 
we would no longer be vulnerable. 
But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... 
To be alive is to be vulnerable.

Madeleine L'Engle

I knew if I allowed my fear to overtake me my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe, I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me. Insisting on this story was a form of mind control, but for the most part it worked. Every time I heard a sound of unknown origin or felt something horrible cohering in my imagination, I pushed it away. I simply did not let myself become afraid. Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn't long before I actually wasn't afraid. 

Cheryl Strayed - p. 51 Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail - a fantastic book !!

Every time I show up at the canvas, I am riddled with self-doubt, my inner-critic and the risk of failing. I want so badly to create something that I love, and often have an idea of what that may look like, and have to throw any preconceived ideas out the window and let come what may.

This vulnerability and risk-taking on the canvas mirrors that of my own life and my constant striving towards alignment and authenticity. I am in the middle of a painful and growing moment right now going through a divorce and rebuilding my identity: my art is healing that piece and informing what I paint too.

Mati Rose - from a great interview at Brene Brown's Ordinary Courage blog

I must constantly remind myself that both fear & vulnerability are such universal emotions. I take great comfort in Mati's first paragraph - because that's exactly what happens to me ... to all of us I suspect. I finished my last, my 12th, collage illustration last night. 12 illustrations in less than 30 days & with other stuff, projects & life thrown into that timeline mix. With maybe an hour left to go I wanted to cry so badly. I felt so exhausted, mentally exhausted. Tired of the big brass band & cheerleading team in my head hollering & doing back flips, smashing the cymbals, blowing the trombone trying with all their might to continually chase away demon girl and her pal Perfect. Away from me while I worked ... and I finished 

+ I'm reasonably* happy with the finished products ;-)
* note to self you are never happy with anything in the beginning

 I know in my heart ... that my heart is brave.

A fantastic Brene Brown TED talk The Price of Invulnerability watch it here  LOVE her !


  1. Susan, after reading this entire post I found myself with tears in my eyes! Congratulations on finishing your collages! I know they are wonderful without even laying my eyes on them. God bless you, my friend.

  2. Never doubted it for a minute !

  3. This post had my heart with the Madeline L'Engle quote. It has been so long since I've read any of her work. Gorgeous photos. Thank you for this post.


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