Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Baby Steps

It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person: Always do what you are afraid to do.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

With few, fortunate exceptions, many of us are discouraged early on from making serious financial or career commitments to our youthful artistic yearnings. These messages often come as dire warnings, from parents, teachers, and even our culture (think of all the grim clichés attached to the concept of “artist”).

So the first step in our recovery process is to restore a sense of safety, or at least entertain the possibility of “what if,” without the fear that the Universe will rain pain down upon us for daring to do so.

Julia admonishes us, “Remember, your artist is a child. Find and protect that child. Learning to let yourself create is like learning to walk. The artist child must begin by crawling. Baby steps will follow, and there will be falls – yecchy first paintings, beginning films that look like unedited home movies, first poems that would shame a greeting card. Typically, the recovering shadow artist will use these early efforts to discourage continued exploration.”

In my many past years as a corporate trainer, and even now, when I teach workshops, I find that most adults are their own worse critics and have little tolerance for their own learning curve. If not guided gently, they easily get frustrated, defensive or give up.

So when it comes to exploring your creativity, I encourage you to revert to your stubborn five-year old self, who would not take no for an answer. Especially if it was something that might just possibly, eventually, be delightful.

Julia is crystal clear about this, and I hope you’ll post on a sticky note someplace where you can remind yourself each and every day: “Judging your early artistic efforts is artist abuse.”

“This happens in any number of ways: beginning work is measured against the masterworks of other artists; beginning work is exposed to premature criticism, shown to overly critical friends. In short, the fledgling artist behaves with well-practiced masochism

“In recovering from our creative blocks, it is necessary to go gently and slowly. What we are after here is the healing of old wounds – not the creation of new ones. No high jumping please! Mistakes are necessary! Stumbles are normal. These are baby steps. Progress, not perfection is what we should be asking of ourselves.”

Julia notes, “In order to recover as an artist, you must be wiling to be a bad artist. Give yourself permission to be a beginner. By being willing to be a bad artist, you have a chance to be an artist, and perhaps, over time, a very good one.

I know, I know. Our ego does not like this. It’s all or nothing, we tell ourselves. Or else our inner perfectionist chides, “I am too old to start with baby steps, because I don’t have forever.”

I love how she responds to the question, “But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano/act/paint/write a decent play?”

Yes. The same age you will be if you don’t.

So over the weekend, start playing with some journaling and your morning pages. Think of it as a snapshot of where you are, as you set out on this discovery journey. And if you haven’t had an artist date for yourself yet, set it up. Next week, we’ll be doing some Spring cleaning, sweeping away the negative beliefs from our past.

Share this:

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • February 27, 2009, 9:50 am meggins

    “I am too old to start with baby steps, because I don’t have forever.”

    Boy, does that one ring true. Or its variant: I’ve been doing this off and on for thirty years already. Souldn’t I be past baby steps?

    Time for a time out (a.k.a artist’s date).

  • February 27, 2009, 9:52 am meggins

    “Souldn’t” = “shouldn’t”


  • February 27, 2009, 10:29 am ARIE

    Speaking of art I opened a page from the book “Views from the Real World” Early talks of G. I. Gurdjieff pages 179 – 192.
    He answers: ….
    I am not speaking of fantasy but of mathematical, non subjective art. A modern painter may believe in and feel his art, but you see it subjectively: one person likes it, another dislikes it. It is a case of feeling, of like and dislike.
    But ancient art was not for liking. Everyone who read understood. Now this purpose of art is entirely forgotten.
    For instance, take architecture. I saw some examples of architecture in Persia and Turkey – for instance, one building of two rooms. Everyone who entered these rooms, whether old or young, whether English or Persian, wept.
    … With these architectural combinations, the mathematically calculated vibrations contained in the building could not produce any other effect. We are under certain laws and cannot withstand external influences. Because the architect of this building had a different understanding and built mathematically, the result was always the same.
    Gurdjieff is speaking of objective art, of objective laws in music or painting or architecture.
    The art we know is subjective, for without mathematical knowledge there can be no objective art. Accidental results are ver rare.

    Well I may have jumped to step 100.
    But intuitively I felt drawn to open a page in that book.


    When I was a child my father, a garden planner, tried to teach me everything about plants. His gardens where perfect and produced the same emotions on whoever saw them. As per Gurdjieff they could be consider objective art. But I was not so interested at that time and had other things in my mind. Only at a later age, when he was already gone, did I felt drawn to his world. Today I spent my time in nature as long as I can. Somehow trying to keep up. Hoping to make it to EAT UK. But costs are high.
    I still need to work in sales to survive these times.
    But I am an artist by DNA. Whatever I paint or do with ceramics people like.

    Sorry for such a long post.

    Spring blessings

    Love and Rain!

    NB: this was my homework. It all came out without me thinking too much. 🙂

  • February 27, 2009, 11:35 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    Meggins! Thank you for being imperfect!!!!! Hugs!

    >Sorry for such a long post.

    Never, never too long, dear one! There is amazing synchronicity and magic in this! Thank you!

    Here's to all of us who are artists in our DNA (which, I think really means all of us)!
    – Beth

  • February 28, 2009, 4:01 pm Thalia Took

    I’m one of those ‘few, fortunate exceptions,’ I guess, and there’s never been any question that I was an artist. I went to art school, and all my ‘career’ stuff has been art related (aside from the occasional part-time job).

    And I can make some really, really nice art.

    I have always gotten a lot of positive reinforcement for my ‘choice’ to be an artist (well, except for that one guidance counselor in high school who when I told him I was going to art school said, ‘Well, I won’t stop you.’)

    And yet, even with being actively encouraged all my life, your post rings really true. Perhaps I am just surprised–I mean, I should be beyond this crap by now, shouldn’t I? But I judge my work and stop before I even start so much of the time. And when I’m blocked, and what is needed is to experiment and play and try something new I can’t even start. I need to learn the baby steps approach, too, and give myself permission to make bad art, or fun art, and also, give myself permission not to show anyone if I don’t want to.

    Or, what meggins said. 🙂

  • March 2, 2009, 9:08 am Darla

    Fear of starting. Fear of sharing. Fear of committing. Yup. For sure, these all apply to my writing. During the past several years, I’m at least getting past the fear of sharing my writing, but the insecurities dwell firmly in my depths. I’m so grateful for the cyber comaraderie of others on this journey … starting with baby steps. 🙂

  • March 3, 2009, 2:42 pm Beth Owl's Daughter

    Darla! Welcome! Yes, baby steps!