When I was seven, we lived in the tropics of Miami, Florida. Our backyard had a large sprawling lawn that butted up against a canal that I was sure was full of people eating alligators. I was terrified.
In the winters my grandparents would escape the New England cold of Rhode Island for the sunshine state. My grandfather was a retired physical education teacher and I was a budding gymnast.
Our green grassed backyard was the perfect place to saunter my cartwheels and practice my moves.
I took to hanging upside down and sideways quite easily, but when it came to the idea of springboarding and twisting my body backwards into the air, you might as well have thrown me into the canal with the alligators. It was the same kind of hand-sweating heart-racing fear.
In the late afternoons in plaid Bermuda shorts, white tee shirt, and baseball cap, my grandfather would set up his green plastic lawn chair on the back patio. Sitting, cane twisting in his gnarled fingers, he would wave his cane like a baton and conduct my performance. But mostly what I remember of him are his words of encouragement to boost my morale.
He would say, “Now what’s the word?” I remembered it was very long and began with a capital C. He would then slowly say, “C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-E.” It’s just a word, but my brain was distracted just long enough to do the thing I feared. This word has surfaced many times in my life since then when faced with the fear of "I can't."
Recently, I was asked to speak in front of an audience of 120 on the creative process. I was hand-sweating heart-racing terrified. Yes, I teach in front of people, but speaking to a large audience seemed much more daunting. While telling a friend, “I can’t do it,” she mentioned that the quickest way to move into the natural flow of our lives is to do something just beyond what we think we can do, which reminded me of what I learned from my grandfather at seven. Confidence might just be a word, but changing “I can’t" to “I can” is a powerful cognitive shift which can trick us out of our comfort zones, so we can be terrified and do it anyway.
I survived standing in front of a crowd in the end and realized I actually enjoyed it. A new flow to approach in the future with added confidence.
The exhibit Stewards of Light is still up in Ketchum, Idaho. View the exhibit here.
Paint Big and More: Anything Goes May 2 - 5 at Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM (1 space left!)
Open Studio Sale July 14 from 1 - 6 pm (2:00 pm art talk)
A variety of large and small pieces will be made available for purchase at studio prices.
Wrangling Paint + More July 18 - 20 at Mantecón Studio
The Space Between Painting and Intuition September 26 - 28 at Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM with Lauren Mantecón and Stacy Phillips
Big-Small-Big: Approaches to Mixed Media Painting June 24 - 28 in Cullowhee, North Carolina
The Alchemy of Mixed Media October 12 - 13 at Weehawken Art Center in Ridgeway, Colorado
Paint Big: Abstract Expressionism October 31 - November 1 at Mantecón Studio in Santa Fe, NM with Lauren Mantecón
Ongoing Wednesday Open Studio from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm at Mantecón Studio in Santa Fe, NM
Virtual Studio Mentorships Buy a series of personalized sessions catered to your own individuals goals. This could be setting up accountability schedule, critique of work, writing statements, researching ways to get your work out into the world.