1.22.2009

12 Secrets: Follow Fascinations

12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: Secret 3
Following Your Fascinations

This week McMeekin asks us to look at our risk taking and intuitive self-talk history in regards to our creative lives. Do I take risks? What kind of risks? What stops me from taking risks? Am I committed to these risks? For those of you lovely souls in the blogosphere who are not participating the the reading circle, the author is refering to creative risks: starting a business, showing work in public, choosing to commit to creative practices, or just gettin over the fear of making. These are not free-base-jumping sort of risks--however exciting that may be. :)

I had mixed feelings (strong feelings) about this chapter, especially the concept of the "inner patriarch". I have certainly had moments of doubt or fear in regards to my artistic life, but I never classified it as my inner patriarch chopping me down from the inside out. And I still wouldn't. In fact, in my creative endeavors I have found that it is most often the matriarchal voice that does the cleaving. I've never been told by a man (or a subconscious male voice) that I wasn't pretty enough, or smart enough or talented enough. It's been other girls that have been the source of berating or creatively crippling comments. We see it in Queen Bees and High School Bitches, the toxic cattiness that is transmitted from one grown woman to another under the guise of "girl talk". I have never seen men get together to talk trash about someone they have invested enormous amounts of energy into to maintain the facade of friendship. Did you see her? What is she thinking?! You know what I would do? Seriously, did you hear about_____?What a slut. When I perform or show work my fear is not of the patriarchy, but is of the shark tank-like ferocity of women lurking in the crowd who have been bred to compete and conquer.

Ouch...

Where my mixed feelings come in however is here: while I don't believe my "inner patriarch" is destructive, the outer one certainly is. (I'm going to keep this brief as I hadn't really planned for this post to become an Orwellian-esque tirade...) Our culture has bred us to believe that to be a joyful person is to be naive-- that to be open to experiences is asking for trouble in the form of heart ache and betrayal. That being kind is a waste of time, unless of course you're sitting in a pew with other people just like you waiting for the collection plate and give not with your heart but out of fear of your peers thinking you are stingy. Bitterness is not a passing phase but a survival tactic.

Patriarchy as we know it doesn't value art in any of it's forms, and if it does, it has a funny way of showing it. It comes down to cash--creative time is seen as a privilege and not as a necessity, reserved for people with time and money to burn. Symphonies, galleries, theater companies, schools and libraries are always scrambling for funds and are the first victims of budget cuts. Culturally, the ability to screw someone over and cheat your way to "success" is held in higher regard than the ability to teach or create beauty. We see proof of this in payrolls and sociological standings. This form of patriarchy is a creative killer. Take away a persons ability to love, to be intimate with the world around them, to trust, to feel as though they have the freedom to choose and the ability to create--and what are you left with?

But enough of the Doomsday mushroom cloud....

So as Ladies of Action, the question ultimately becomes, how do we deal with it? How do we stave off the sharks and dive into the pool of creative risk taking? McMeekin suggests that we closely examine examples in our lives when we've taken the leap and been successful. She asks us to analyze, to break down what steps we took to achieve the goal and use those ideas as stepping stones. She also states that the practice of positive risk taking is that--practice. It's not a one time ordeal, but must be done again and again. I honestly believe that this chapter could have been condensed to nine words:

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

I'm putting this into practice by pulling up my Big Girl Pants, learning from my mistakes and celebrating the victories. I am not going to be smothered by fear of failure. I am also doing my best to provide support to the women around me, cut poisonous talk out of my life, help other's ideas grow by offering what I can, encourage those who are embarking on a creative journey and stepping out of their comfort zone by dipping their toes in the pond.

Come on in. The water's fine
. :)

21 comments:

Genie Sea said...

Oh Molly. I could not have said it better myself.

The key lies in this. We can be our own worst enemies. Girls and subsequently women are taught to compete for a man's attention, whether it be amorous or not. It's ridiculous, and it's outrageous, and any number of feminists might even hire hit (erm) women (?) to get us for saying so.

If all women showed the spirit that the wonderful women we have come to know through these blog circles, and book groups, no amount of patriarchal, and condescending pressure would have any affect.

Sing it sister. :)

Shell said...

I love this book. I've read it so many times, so even if I'm not participating directly. I feel like I'm in a way reading everyone's delicious take on the chapters.
I agree. Women can be really bitches sometimes. I don't where that comes from. I'm lucky that the women friends I have are very supportive.

My own joyful nature has been called naive and soft. That women who are bitter are supposed to more "real" than me. I've ignored that because I know it's easy to be bitter and cold. It takes strength to be joyful, sweet and kind. Maybe in a way that is outer patriarchy ruling it's ugly head.

I feel the best way to keep taking risks is to just do them. Don't think so much, just do. Surround yourself with other risk takers who understand and encourage you is the key.

Kavindra said...

Yeah I think it's all a steaming pile of mess because of boxes we build for ourselves and each other ... even the men are trapped in the "patriarchy" and with good reason, women can get soooo peeved and take it out on everyone.

I strive to be in women's groups and circles, especially creatively, because while we are so amazing and supportive and free and intelligent when we are together, the dynamic changes when the 'pants' walk in the room. I don't think it's fair to point at the men, or the women.

Plus miss molly, you really are amazing - you're gorgeous, funky, intelligent, multi-talented ... I think you're going to have to learn to live with the fact that you stir up some envy sometimes. Maybe even by people who are appalled at discovering they have envy! It's a human emotion, and just goes with the territory of greatness.

I love your shark picture.

Anna said...

..."I am also doing my best to provide support to the women around me, cut poisonous talk out of my life, help others ideas grow by offering what I can"...

Mo, what wonderful focus and admirable goals. It can be difficult at times to be toxin-free.. I have been struggling to do so in my life. And you know that I believe you have so much to offer. Also, I second Kavindra.

Kavindra,

I could not agree more. Perfectly stated.

Merry Writtings

June said...

Ohhhh will be back to read

Hello my friend
there is something over at my blog here for you
http://junesartyretreat.blogspot.com/
Hope you like it :)

Hugs June xxx

Melissa said...

Amen about the women talking about each other. I've put so-called friends out of my life for that very reason.

I once heard someone say that courage doesn't come before the risk, it is gained because a risk was taken. We mistakenly think it's the other way around and often spend a lot of time waiting for the courage to just show up.

~Magick~
Melissa

risa said...

Lots to think about. Filled with truth. And so well written. Thank you!

traveler one said...

I am fascinated by JOY!
I am fascinated by KINDNESS!
I am fascinated by LOVE!

And with all the risks involved in embracing these things!

Kim H
http://kimssoulcollagecards.blogspot.com/

shecreates said...

Molly, so true we women can sometimes be the worst critic's of the things we are most passionate about, especially when we project our fears on the other woman and then walk away....

I can find this in myself and know it to be true.. and I am also able to find the loving supporter of another womans dream. Its the duality of my humanity, so mindfulness and acceptance of all things as they are, just as it is calls me to attention of my duality.. Thank you for speaking this here......

Tanaya said...

This is why finding women like you feels like such a gift; such a treasure!!

Loving, supporting, encouraging each other....how could someone not want to be a part of that?

Sacred Suzie said...

Oh you so ROCK! First, I love that you point out the nasty female voices floating around our heads. Girls and women can be the worst "crab in the buckets" in the world. One of the reasons I loved being a tomboy was guys were straight with me and girls were sneaky and mean. I'd rather a guy punch me in the face that deal with cruel gossip. I think that's a big part of my inner dialogue as well. Thank you for that, that's a HUGE realization.

That's a terrifying picture! I am completely phobic of sharks and won't go into the ocean because of it. Where on earth did that come from?

I know you won't give up. I have no fear that you will persevere and surround yourself with fabulous women and offer them your support.

curious girl (lisa) said...

I couldn't agree with you more regarding the hurtful voices being female rather than male. I also agree that (other) females have been the greatest source of support and strength for me.

intothedawn said...

Excellent post. I've seen the cattiness and back stabbing many a time and am baffled by it. That is why I love this book blogging group; it is exactly the opposite! Its wonderful to share this opportunity to support other women in their endeavors and to get to know more women like YOU.

Beautiful Witch said...

I think some of McMeekin's comments are a little dated. I completely agree with you that the themes are still current, but I don't think this fear of being ridiculed or made fun of or not valued can just be classed as being "patriarchal". I think we have all experienced and even participated in our younger days in the evisceration of another woman. I choose not to partake in this sort of behaviour anymore, but it still abounds. I agree with you - let us take risks and find our esteem and support inside ourselves and around ourselves in the form of supportive friends and family. Your art will only bring joy to those whose hearts are big enough to truly appreciate it.

gemma said...

Yep...got on my big girls pants too. Whew that took a while!

dieadjustormigrate said...

your photo of the woman being eaten by the shark made me laugh out loud!!! you are so right that girls can be horrid to each other. i am a teacher (an underpaid one) and i see it daily. plus, my 12 year old daughter is in the middle of the angst of it all. i must admit that i didn't get the same thing out of the chapter that you did but, boy, was your take on it interesting to me. thanks for sharing.
olwyn

jennlui said...

oh yay yay yay!!! i LOVE this post molly!!! yes this chapter was a challenging one and left me just plain angry... but upon reflection i have come to see that i don't see it the same way as the author (well you read my post...) so power to us!!! ladies of action!!!

may we all leap and bound in our creativity and never feel like we are risking!!!

peace out!!!

Lisa said...

The beautiful thing about groups like this one is that it helps erode those ideas we have of catty women (brought on by catty women we have known) and we can replace those voices with the new supportive voices we are hearing every week. I am learning to assume that the number of women who want to be encouraging is higher than the other kind of women and that makes the catty voices harder for me hear.

Beautiful, beautiful post!

(have to add: My verification word is "comye." "Com(e) ye in, the water is fine." :)

laundrygirl said...

Women can REALLY damage on another for sure! It's rare to get a group of women together and not have it get catty or turn into another scenario of high school! I am grateful for this group and can totally relate to what you have written here.

Jenn said...

Yes! YES! This post is totally bang on! I love that you are trying to cut the poisonous talk out of your life. I love that we are part of this group and providing support and encouragement for one another. It is so invigorating and I hope that each and every one of us succeeds.

Thank you for saying it so succinctly!

chest of drawers said...

Sounds good to me!

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