Archive for ‘June, 2014’

The “Brave-Afraid” Dance

Fierce BlessingOk, I admit it– I’m afraid to let go and risk.  (Again.)  I’m offering original art for sale, and it scares me.

For years, I’ve held on to my original art too closely, like I’d never make another meaningful painting… or as if I couldn’t possibly part with each hard-won image.  I know why I’ve been clingy: so many of my art works literally kept me alive and breathing when I made them.  Even now, each one points the way back toward wholeness and truth when I lose my way.  Paintings and art quilts hang on my walls like mentors and steadfast friends.  Yes, I admit, I’m afraid to let them go.  And yet…

I want to serve and offer my gifts of art more freely in the world, and it’s not going to work to wait until I’m unafraid.  What’s more, (and I really don’t want to admit this one) maybe the fear itself is a more valuable part of this journey than I realize.

I spend a lot of energy trying to get around fear, or above fear, or through it.  Do you?  Fear is uncomfortable– who wants it?!  But strangely, I’m discovering that the right fear can actually be one of my best dance partners.  For example, there’s a certain kind of anxiety that itches in my heart and stomach when I consider doing something new or brave.  I don’t mean the sort of danger-fear of touching a hot stove; the kind I mean is more like the fear of failure, or dread of exposure, or anxiousness around change.  When that flavor of fear shows up, it usually means I’m on track for my own growth and courage.  That particular “brave-afraid” feeling is often a really good sign and companion.

Maybe you know this variety of “I’m on a courageous edge” anxiety?  Turns out it’s such a reliable signal for me, I’ve been practicing to welcome this new-edge fear when it comes around.  I want to follow its lead out from my comfortable habits into the juicy realm of exploration.  Well… SOMETIMES I want to follow…  and honestly, sometimes I’d rather not be challenged by its wisdom and invitation.  When it comes to a threshold of vulnerability, it’s far harder to stay curious and open.

Homing-InstinctThis explains my feeling terrified about sharing my images a more public way.  I worry about the brave territory of offering the nakedly honest paintings, showing some of my weirder paintings, and ultimately about what people will think of me.  I’m especially afraid about pricing art!  What if people think I’m arrogant to ask for so much, or stupid to ask for so little?  My nerves kick up over the impossible conversation around the value of work, or art, or humanity.  And as expected, it scares me to risk failure.  Truthfully, it scares me even more to risk success!  Clearly, these are all fears that lead me to my growing edges of courage and change.

If you’re reading this article, it means I stayed in the dance with anxiety long enough to act on this exciting, nerve-wracking vulnerability.  No doubt I felt nauseous (as I always do) when I priced and posted the art images on the website, pushed “send” on the announcement email, and updated on Facebook.  But I got through it one more time, remembering that this fear shows up to confirm my bravery.  Best of all, my anxious dance partner kept me stepping (one backward, two forward) toward sharing the images with you.

Please click on the link if you’re interested in seeing the latest here: Original Art Gallery.  (I’ll be adding about 60 more images in the next couple of months, so check back often.)

Are there certain fears that might serve you as good messengers, or as invitations?  What courage or risk is tugging on your heart?  I encourage you to consider welcoming a dance with your “brave-afraid” feelings to see where they lead you.

With blessings,
Melanie

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Keeping the Flame

Congratulations to my dear friend, Rev. Sue Joiner, on her installation as Pastor of First Congregational UCC Church of Albuquerque yesterday!  She’s passionate about community, ministry, and her favorite Christian church holiday, Pentecost.  To honor these sacred occasions and also the 20th anniversary of her ordination, she commissioned me to create this fabric clergy stole.

Creating this clergy vestment was a surprisingly meaningful and challenging adventure– combining a dear friendship, a chance to illustrate Sue’s calling, gorgeous fabric, and a big learning curve.  The design for this deceptively simple shape kept me guessing and listening close for guidance before it finally arrived.  And then the meditative hand-stitching became another sweet and powerful prayer of blessing for Sue’s joy and service, keeping the flame.

Enjoy these photos of the stole in action at the Installation service taken by Holly Bahn, then several of the creation process I made along the way.

Pentecost-Stole-9

 

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