Why I Like Making Rules

The prompt for ICAD was "intersection." My mind flashed to the visual of a big red stop sign in the desert. 

One thing I've noticed during this ICAD challenge is my tendency to want to ignore my first response to a prompt, ruling it out as unartistic or uninteresting. This is important to note because as it turns out, I am writing to you a blog post about how I sometimes seek to be an artist rather than being myself. 

The bits of backstory you need to track with me for this blog post are:

  • In the Meyers Briggs personality profile the last letter stands for either Judging (J) or Perceiving (P). Previous to 2010 I was a J. In the midst of my Thrashing Period, my husband mentioned to me that he felt sure my personality had shifted, and sure enough, I was a P. In 2015 I made an ever slight return to J and in recently taking the test (as suggested through Hillary Rain's Dear Artist course) I was a stronger J than ever before. While I very much resist the labels that come with pigeon-holed personalities, I do readily embrace the secret messages that help me skip merrily along in the direction I intuitively feel I want to go. As I see it, P is a seeing to my self in the ImagineNation and J is a seeing to the Real World.
  • My North Node is in Virgo.  (Typical descriptions of Virgo include: organized, detail-oriented, careful.)
  • I've had a deep desire, since about 2005 to call myself an artist. This is when I started my Messy Canvas blog. And while I've come to embrace that name, I am consistently discovering new facets of what that means for myself. 
  • Deserts have been on my mind lately via these three sources: My friend Deb is moving to the desert. Sharing the book I'm In Charge of Celebrations with my friend Teresa, and the colour orange which came to me as a direct connection to the desert. 

Okay, back to the stop sign visual.

In college I had a professor who gave a lecture once about spirit of the law versus letter of the law. He asked for a show of hands of who would stop for a stop sign that was at the intersection in the middle of a desert where no other cars could be seen. I raised my hand as someone who would stop. I don't remember how many others raised their hands, but I remember the strong feeling of being one of the few. I also remember the feeling of being ashamed that I had raised my hand. How could I be one of "those" people. The people who obeyed rules even when no one was looking? The people who needed rules. I so desperately wanted to not be the goody-two-shoes - the Sandra Dee before Sandra Dee found the tight leather pants, the big hair and the cigarette. That stop sign bothered me. I tried to imagine myself blowing right on by it. Practicing in my head what it would feel like to not tap my breaks, because "My god, Mandy, there isn't another car in sight."

I haven't thought about that in years. And then one word, "intersection," prompted all those memories. 

I tend to be of the sort that throws the baby out with the bath water. If I want to rid myself of something I want it to be obliterated. I am very much a clear the decks sort of person. Blast them to smithereens, light it all on fire, see what remains and then move on to the next and new. I swing from one side of the pendulum to the other and with great passion. I imagine a see-saw, teetering and tottering - now we're over here. And now we're over here. It is my yin and yang. I am not surprised that my personality, over the years followed suit. Especially since I went through a life-altering thrashing event that is equivalent to my own "BC" and "AD" measurement of time in my own life, meaning, I'll always look back and say, "Was that before I thrashed or after?" (Lakin talks about Time Before and Time After HERE.)

So when I allowed the stop sign to show up in my ICAD art I noticed a wounded place in myself that needed healing.

Here are those healing revelations:

  • The stop sign could be art. It didn't need to be abstract or beautiful or more creative. It could just be a natural expression of something I was dealing with. This is why I went ahead and made the ICAD card as is.
  • I carry around a lot of voices in my head that tease me for being a "J." As I opened up the stop sign portal, so to speak, out poured a lot of other voices and instances where Mandy needed to "lighten up."
  • I've seen both sides of that "J" and "P" coin in myself. I have learned things from both. I am "J" and "P" and honor that I can flip into either depending on what is needed.
  • I sometimes resist following my Yellow Brick Road (North Node) because it feels like raising my hand again in that lecture, all those years ago. It feels like opening myself up to ridicule.  
  • I embraced words like bad-ass and rebel during my thrashing years, but currently feel repelled by them. They were words that pushed the Real World away so I could make belief in myself, but currently I am wanting to face the chaos of the Real World and make sense of it. I want to enjoy my life outwardly, not just inwardly, which currently means a lot less middle fingers to everyone and everything. 
  • I am finding that my healing is actually pouring in through making right brain plans. If I don't second-guess and beat myself up because I have become a person who loves and is calmed by sun and moon cycles, the routine of bedtime and morning time and planning my day, my week, my month, my quarter, my year, and imagining up temporary make belief rules (EXAMPLE: painting my fingernails orange for the 3rd quarter is absolutely necessary), then I can feel supported and grounded and held as I enter into all the wild unknown that I have come to accept as the Real World. Following my North Node (leaning into my Virgo magical powers) is what I secretively want to do now, but have supposed no artist should do. (All the voices inside say a real artist is unpredictable, spur of the moment, impromptu, fly by the seat of her pants.)
  • Personality tests, and zodiac signs, and tarot cards and planners and birth charts, and schedules and enneagrams and secret messages found in all sorts of places are all to held with a certain degree of laughter. Nothing is so serious that it can't shift, morph, or go up in flames. But I wholeheartedly embrace any and all methods that make it into my daily routines for such a time as this. 
  • I don't always have to set things on fire to begin again. Accepting my Virgo North Node means I won't be doing a whole lot of vagabonding because I don't want to. I bought a home because I want roots. I am staying in the same job and with the same Messy Canvas = Secret Message Society + The Magic School equation because I want to grow something over a long period of time. I am sticking with my people in this family and these friendships because I want to see a snowball have time to gather snow. But there are a limitless amount of ways within that "structure" that I can have and will have to take my fluid creative freedom and dance with the chaos of the unknown Real World. (I like Janae's take on either/or AND both/and. It's the first time I had heard it put this way.)
  • Expect to see more bullet points because I am sick and tired of being personally overwhelmed by chaos when I know I am the one who as the magical power to raise my hand and say, "But I have a rule that will make this a lot simpler and help me hurt a lot less." I can assimilate a lot of information in the ImagineNation and condense it down into a bite-sized, do-able action step that can affect your Real World living. I aim to flick my magic wand around a lot more with this power in mind.
  • I made a third quarter vision board as suggested by the Right Brain Planner and on it I found myself including the word "RULE" three times! I resisted gluing it on the page all three times, but remembered the wisdom in the planning guide that said not to edit myself in this process. (Creating a vision board is like a brainstorm, and everything that comes to the surface has a reason for being included. Nothing gets weeded out. It is ALL useful data for self-exploration.) That word rule is a synonym for law, and of course is a direct connection to my stop sign wound. But I realized when I am thinking of the word "rule" I am thinking of it like a board game. In order to play the game, you need certain perimeters that hold the structure of the game, so others can have an understanding and play too. So when I want rules, as a Virgo, I want ways to make the Wild Unknown of the Real World work for me. When I share my rules with the Real World I am offering an invitation for others to come play in my ImagineNation. It puts us on the same page. Gives us a common language. Creates a community by which we can make the chaos of the Real World make sense to us. I like to create rules by which we as Artists as Magicians can enter the Real World, collect data and report back. This is the ultimate game of spy in my mind, and increased learning, awakening and empowering comes through the sharing. 

Final thoughts:

I will first be myself and out of that will come my art. 

If I think first and foremost I want to be an artist, but I have conditioned myself to believe an artist cannot be X, Y or Z then I will not be myself, and the expression of myself (my art) will be restricted. If I think first and foremost I want to be myself, then my art will be a natural overflow of that self.

In charting my emotions, I am finding a lot of my fear is in the context of relationships. It feels very childish when I communicate about the data I'm collecting, but I want to mention it here anyway. If I think me and another person have made a nonverbal agreement to stand for something, then I resist breaking that agreement for fear of harming the relationship.

I have seen this surface in regards to being an artist. If I think another person might be put-off if I, as an artist, am being too regimented, calculated or careful, because "Hey, didn't we make a pact to be badass, rebellious and spontaneous?" then I feel fear.

When paying attention to my emotions, I am now able to notice the fear, trace it to its source and ask myself, what is the worst thing that could happen? 

  • I could lose a relationship. 
  • I could get made fun of. 
  • I will realize I am not strong enough to be a "real" artist. 

Like I said, it starts to feel childish as I put words to it, but what is happening as I address it is that the energy behind the fear is getting dissolved, making it less and less charged. 

I can come to the conclusion that even at the risk of losing a relationship I truly want to be my ever-changing self at every given moment and have my art come from that, and so when this particular fear arises again, it is easier and easier to let it go. In this way I am currently learning to be my "following my North Node (my current white rabbit) version" of myself first and my OWN version of artist as a result.