As we approach the end of this Year Like No Other, I find myself ruminating on the issue of trust. Knowing what to trust and how to trust when the world has turned completely upside down, the road map of life as we have known it is gone and nothing is going to ever be the same again is a big question for a lot of us right now.
I often joke with my students that my wild heart painting classes, workshops and retreats are not REALLY about painting. That painting is just the bait I use to sneakily lure people into doing some profound inner work using the promise of creative freedom and the deceptively simple tools of paint and brushes and paper.
I know what trust and surrender looks like when I’m being creative. I know what it means to let go and allow the life force to take me wherever it wants me to go when I have a brush in my hand.
But even though it IS the same process it still feels radically different and like SO MUCH MORE is at stake when it’s my actual life. Which is actually true. There IS more at stake. But that doesn’t change the fact that the process is still exactly the same.
So what are some things I have learned about trusting that process during this wild and woolly, not-so-fun haunted house carnival ride otherwise known as 2020?
Like so many of us, I had the rug pulled out from under what I knew to be my life in March of 2020. All of a sudden I was scrambling for masks and hand sanitizer and learning about this brand new concept called social distancing. I was thrown into a world where human contact was suspect and in-person gatherings could be life threatening. However, my work in the world was almost completely dependent on meeting in circle with my students where we could share and feel and create together in community.
And the door closed on that way of working with a loud bang! To say I was freaked out was an understatement of major proportions. I had dabbled a bit with teaching online, but the primary way I had of connecting with my beloved and devoted wild heart community was up close and personal.
Prior to March 2020 I had a map, a plan, a schedule and a routine around my working life that had served me well and that I had assumed would continue indefinitely, but in what felt like the blink of an eye, all of that was gone.
This situation was just like the intuitive painting process when I am faced with a blank piece of paper and no clue as how to begin. So the first level of trust was being open to believing that SOMETHING would happen even if I had no idea what it was.
What came next was the process of listening to my intuition for some clues as to how to begin and being willing to experiment with some things I had never tried before.
Experimenting and having the willingness to not KNOW how things would work out is a huge exercise in trust. It’s the attitude of “ Let’s just try this”. It also requires letting go of expectations around a particular idea of what you think success is supposed to look like.
My intution, as always, was MORE than happy to oblige me with all KINDS of ideas, because it really, really, REALLY doesn’t care about the outcome.
For example, since I could no longer offer my circles in person because… pandemic… I had to make a very quick pivot to bringing my work online. But how to do that? What would be the form? Could this even work???
I must admit that I had a definite prejudice against teaching online because my work goes DEEP and is very intimate and vulnerable and I didn’t trust that I could offer that same level of depth and transformation in an online format.
My intution very clearly said Phooey and Pshaw to THAT idea presenting me with the question of how do you know that’s even true if you’ve never really tried it?
This was a great example of another primary principle of the intuitive painting process which is to continually challenge limiting thoughts about what you think you can and can’t do when you’re creating. It’s always asking you to NOT believe the crazy chatter in your mind but to follow where the energy is leading you by listening to your heart.
And truth be told, I was actually excited about the idea of exploring this online format. There was definitely energy and a LOT of it to take this next step. So in the service of practicing what I preach, I needed to allow and trust the energy to lead me.
So I said yes… what the hell… let’s give it a try.
My intuition suggested that I offer a free online workshop with no limit as to how many people could join… which was a radical departure from the way I usally work which is with smaller more intimate groups.
So I opened the doors, had over 100 people sign up and had a fabulous time leading people through the intuitive painting process in this new format.
I kept experimenting. Offering ongoing weekly painting classes online with larger groups that have become powerfully intimate healing circles. I LOVED doing retreats in my pre-pandemic life, so now I had to be willing to trust that even retreats online could work. So I created one day retreats and two day intensives using intuitive painting and embodied movement practices and meditation and circle sharing… all the things I used to do live and in person. And I’m now in the process of putting together a version of the Wild Heart Expressive Arts Teacher Training Program that I can offer online!
Some of these offerings were better attended than others but they were all deeply satisfying on a soul level for me and my students. I experimented with pricing and workshop structure all the while practicing trusting that keeping moving and maybe messing something up was always better than holding back and waiting for the perfect time or idea to present itself. And also remembering that I don’t need to have the whole picture of how this is all going to unfold. I just need to take the next step. Which is exactly what I do when I paint.
I’m still in the process of this unfolding. And if there’s one thing I learned from 2020 it’s to not EVER think you know what’s going to happen next! All you can do is stay open to the changes that are constantly swirling around you and trust that by aligning with your intuitive wisdom, following your life force energy and being willing to say yes to where the mystery of that unfolding wants to lead you, something will happen!
And it might even be a pretty amazing something that you couldn’t have planned if you tried.