51 for 51 #41

The day’s ICAD prompt was “mismatched.” 

I quieted my mind. Asked my intuition for guidance and thought: What does mismatched mean to me today? I waited a few seconds and directed my attention to my abdominal region. Through practicing meditation, I’ve learned to feel the difference between ideas generated in my head versus my gut. Trusting my gut has been a lesson I had to learn and re-learn over the last several years and it’s now part of my creative process. My gut doesn’t have ulterior motives related to perfection or people-pleasing . My gut knows more than I do. A second or two later one thought popped into my mind: You.  

Are you freaking kidding me?! I leaned back in my chair. After all my spiritual delving and personal growth work what was mismatched was me? Fine. I decided to go with it because I’m forever encouraging my art students to fret less and enjoy more. “Don’t overthink,” I’ve bellowed during class. “Go with the first thought that comes to mind!” At home, I wanted to practice what I preach.   

But I needed more information. “You” didn’t narrow much down. I followed up by asking myself how I felt mismatched and the unfortunate thought that came to mind was the square peg/round hole cliché. Oh brother. I wished my gut was more original, but whatevs. It wasn’t far off the mark. 

How many times over the decades had I thought I didn’t fit? That I was too weird or too normal or too boring or too needy or too big or too something? Too much in the wrong ways and too little in the right ways? Figured that changing my shape-bodily, spiritually or both—would literally and figuratively, finally, make me fit in. Hundreds of times? Thousands? It's taken me 51 years to understand the greatest con of our lives is falling for the notion that better lives “out there,” and we can contort ourselves enough to find it (whatever it is) and be accepted. 

I boiled my internal conversation down to still needing more self-awareness and forged ahead with completing the card. I searched the internet for images. When I saw this poor fellow with his large square and that tiny hole I printed him out. A little glue, some washi-tape and one awesome Joplin stamp later, voilà. I was finished. I snapped a pic and stored this bad boy with the previous 30 I’d made, where it would get buried under the next 31 and where it would remain for months. Until 3 weeks ago.   

Three weeks ago I wrote a post about finishing (read here.) The post was also about creativity and how creating stuff creates us back. I finished the post and an image of this card, out of the 61 I made, popped into my mind’s eye. Why? I had no idea, but I dug the card out of the pile and tossed it on my desk hoping to eventually make sense of it. Eventually arrived this morning.  

For weeks I'd cogitated over the idea that what I create creates me back. It sounded good when I wrote it and it’s an idea I’ve read elsewhere. It's the point of Mark Nepo's newest book, drinking from the river of light: the life of expression. But I also realized I was wondering what the fuck it actually meant? I mean really meant. Over the years doing art has changed my perspective and given me oodles of fun and joy. I’ve met wonderful people, enhanced my connections and brought a rainbow of color back to my life. But was there more? Had it created me? Looking at this card I realized with certainty the answer was yes.    

My internal makeup, critical in nature, has shifted because of the joy, fun, color and connection I’ve been part of. I’m less harsh with myself, more accepting and laid back, able to go with the flow. And listening to my gut and creating the card concretized unconscious thoughts and gave me an opportunity. I got to consider, by holding it in my hand, a notion I didn’t realize I was harboring: Me as mismatched.

No. I may on occasion judge my art, my abilities and myself but piece by piece, project by project, medium by medium, working the process through my hands, changing this and adding that, coloring this and shading that, reshaping, accepting, celebrating, and going with my gut, redraws an outline of me that had been sketched over time, since childhood, by other people, places and events. Bit by bit, stroke by stroke what emerges from my brain onto the page and back into me is a version of me created by me. Sculpted by me. More self-awareness is the gift of a relationship to the process.

That's my two cents. What's yours: Can you identify at least one way creativity has made you feel more authentic?           


  1. I love this post, Tracey! You wrote: "… what I create creates me back." Yes, I get that. Like you, creating art has changed who I am. In the last few years, I have delved into the creative process, steered away from self-criticism, explored new mediums and have had loads of fun with like-minded friends. I have changed from this. The process of art has kept me calm at times when I needed to quell anxiety. Art has brought me joy and new friends. It's helped me develop more self-esteem and it's allowed me to help others get lost in the joy of creating. I am thankful you helped instigate my return to the creative process after being waylaid for too long! <3

  2. Thank you so much, Sue! Yeah, it's pretty amazing I think. I wish when we were kids (and for my own kid) this beautiful and inspiring part of creativity was discussed. I don't remember my art teachers ever talking about the salve that art can be for our soul and spirit, the connections it can help forge etc. I figure they taught art because this was true for them, but can't be sure. Anyway, I look forward to continuing our art journey together and seeing where it leads us…besides Canada!! xoxo

  3. Oh my. I have have been feeling this way for months. Both sentiments of "writer's block" and not fitting in. To be honest, I think life is getting in my way. I maybe overthinking, as you say to your students but, I cannot seem to do anything to help it. I have been so distracted that my reading for pleasure has suffered. Please take as a thank you for making me feel that I am not alone in "all this",whatever it is. Thank you for post this blog and somehow being a friend even 3000 miles away!

  4. Oh Christina, thank you so so much for this comment. My number one thing..here on my blog, in my life, with my family and friends, for my students, is to let them know they aren't alone. None of us is. But so often it feels like no one could understand…but when we open up a little, share what's what of ourselves, we will find those who feel as we do. Yes..I am your friend! Even 3000 miles away! I've had to learn how to be a commando around my self-care..here's hoping you can find some time during this holiday season to settle in with a good book. Much love xo

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