Remember the part in The Wizard of Oz when the white-haired guy says, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"?
I love that line.
I'm all the time wishing that I could do the work appointed to me--skillfully and with diligence--and just slip it out the mail slot into the universe, without fanfare or notice. And then I would climb back up to my studio and begin the next one. Pay no attention to the woman behind the mail slot, but please pick up this treasure because it could change everything forever.
"How do you what you do?" people sometimes ask. "How are you so brave?" You know, dear readers, one of my answers. But another one could go like this: Through an elaborate ruse I've constructed and mind games I play to pretend that no one knows I'm in here.
I wish you could have seen the confused looks between my students and myself when I started teaching at Squam Art Workshops (maybe you were one of them). I pretty much believe that five people read my blog, so the first time I met two of the five in person, I was completely floored. The large dining hall with over a hundred people filling it gave me the perfect cover (so I thought) to fly under the radar, completely undetected. This is perfect, I thought. No one here even knows who I am--I bet everyone will think I'm an attendee, like them.
Let's just say, some of them knew who I was. And I was completely shocked, every time. Their surprise equalled mine when they realized that while they knew Who I Was, I apparently didn't.
If I were being really honest here, I would confess that this is the frontier I'm at in my own development. Right here, right now. These hiding out moves served a purpose in the past, but they don't serve me any longer, and now I'm trying to set aside my imaginary invisibility cloak (which only ever worked in my head) and learn to still do what I do and be who I be without it.
And it is so hard. (And here is the part where I tell you how I am really suffering.)
Do you want to know what's hard for me--I mean, really hard? It's not getting onstage, or 'fessing up to embarrassing things in a sound studio. It's not admitting on my blog that I worry that someday, decades from now, I'll look back and realize I was beautiful, or strong or fierce, and never knew it or enjoyed it at the time.
What's really hard for me is promoting anything I make or do. Every word of copy, every guest post and tweet I write makes my stomach hurt. Makes me want to walk around with my hands covering my face or curl up into a tiny ball in the corner. Breeds fantasies of a change in careers. I think I would probably make twice of what I make and host or attend exponentially more gatherings if I simply didn't have to promote them. It literally makes me want to crawl out of my skin and hide under a rock.
How about that for brave?
But then what happens is that I look at these treasures I made, and think about how I knew a specific number of them needed to be made--that they are intended for very specific homes. I'm not making 1,000 of these things, I remind myself. Just a few stacks, for the people who need them, right now. And then I think about what will happen if I just try to slip them out the mail slot into the universe, and if the people who need them never know they are even there. And then my heart breaks.
So I make another cup of cocoa for my quesy belly, and I write another email. I draft another post. I show another person and ask her what she thinks. But God, I just want you to know that this part is really wrecking me. And the truth is, I don't want to change careers. I just want to work through whatever this is in my soul.
Please help me spread the word about Finding Your Voice, and be with me while I am doing this part. I know I need to do this, I just really don't want to be in it alone.
Here are some ways you can partner with me:
If you love this work, or have loved your experiences with me as a teacher, send me a short quote about why you're excited about this project that I can use here on the site.
Embed the making-of-film, Content and Containers, on your own site if you would like to share it with your own community. Invite me to do an interview or a guest post.
Share this Finding Your Voice badge on your own site using this html code:
And keep the kind words and encouraging comments coming. Every word is like manna to me right now, I promise. If I seem quiet it's just because I keep having to climb back out from under my rock and into my skin. Over and over again, day after day, and praying that maybe someday this will get easier.