Creativity Takes Courage! Stop Living Small!

creativity-takes-courageAs many of you know, I am living in Italy right now.  Not too shabby you say!   I live in the charming, historical city of Vicenza known for the architectural feats of Andrea Palladio (Jefferson modeled many of his architecture after Andrea Palladio’s designs).  It is located in the Northeastern part of the country between Venice and Verona.  It is an opportunity most people could only dream about and so I do not take this part of my life’s journey lightly.  I realize on a daily basis that these moments are to be savored just like you might savor a fine wine (and there is no lack of wine here!) or delicious food.  But, reality is, it is NOT a vacation every day as it would appear.  No different than when I lived in the States.  When opportunity knocks, Rob and I travel, take day trips and explore our surroundings.  But, on the days when Rob works, I have to find my way.  Sometimes those days are exploring with my friends, taking long walks, sweating through pump class on the base or driving around on my own to explore.  Many other days, however, besides working on my Recovery Coaching certification so I can collaborate with clients who struggle with addiction, I have my own struggles.  Not just the struggles of living away from my young adult children and friends, or, at times, missing the choices I had in the States of “should I eat Mexican, Chinese or a salad today” (yes, Italian food is delicious but sometimes one does miss choices!); but the bigger struggle is, “how can I nurture the part of my heart and soul that needs to be fed and nourished?”  Because my husband works for the United States government, there is an agreement between Italy and the U.S. stating that the spouse of people who come here to work cannot find employment in the Italian economy.  This is so that we do not take away any jobs from the local nationals who are struggling to find their own jobs in this ailing economic system.  Volunteering off the base is even difficult as I know enough Italian to be dangerous, but not enough to have unfailing conversations.  Volunteering on base is a process as many spouses are looking to do the exact same thing so even that is not easy.  After years of doing legal work back “home,” I had the privilege of allowing my voice to be heard on Internet radio giving me a platform to cheerlead and inspire other’s to live their passion, heal themselves and go for it.  I also volunteered on a hotline for a local domestic violence shelter listening to people who were fighting for their lives and the lives of their children, many times running from violence and struggling just to find shelter and food.  It was heartbreaking but rewarding.  It touched the core of my soul knowing that maybe I was the only voice they heard that day which gave them hope, even if for one day.

As 2016 rang in, I felt a calling to get back to my roots, to utilize the creativity that was yearning to get out.  The first year here was a lot of exploration and visitors coming and there is still plenty of that to be had, but it is now about getting down to business and not playing small.  I recently listened to a talk on YouTube by Dr. Brené Brown on bravery and authenticity and it sparked a fire inside.  Brené Brown is, among other things, a research professor who spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.  She is the author of three #1 New York Times Bestsellers: Rising Strong, Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection.  I have even taken an online course she taught in 2015 on vulnerability and shame.  As I believe, inspiration comes to you when you need it.  Whether that is a book, words you need to hear, a song that gives you a message, a license plate, a billboard, if you look, what you need is always right there. It never ceases to amaze me where I see messages, the latest on the side of a bus! And, we are each here to do something that is unique to us.  No one else can duplicate exactly what we have and the message we have to share.  Whether you are a photographer, teacher, writer, painter, mechanic, it doesn’t matter what the gift, just do it!  But, we get stuck with fear, worry what others may think and making assumptions about what they are thinking about us, which most of the time, is not even true.  The bigger picture is, “who cares what other’s think?”  If we are getting out there, doing what we love and doing it with passion and authenticity, we are the ones getting “dirty” as we do the work.  No one can take away from you what you have to offer and the work you have done to get there. There will always be naysayers but for every naysayer, there are many more people we help and inspire just by going for it.  Putting ourselves out there feels vulnerable and unsafe but it is really courageous.  Let’s face it, as Brené Brown points out, when we use our creativity and do what we are meant to do, we WILL fail.  You see, it is not about falling, but how we get up and try again.  Do not be afraid to fail! Of course it sucks!  It isn’t easy, but is anything worth having always easy?  Playing it safe keeps us small.  Every day there are multiple opportunities to be vulnerable and feel hurt but isn’t the real life lesson in how we handle those moments?  For many people, it takes a major life event to shift our vision of why we are truly here and what we are meant to do.  Mine was in 2008.  It was a game changer, but every day since then not only has been a gift, but there have been plenty of moments of wanting to “hide under the covers.”  Hiding is NOT living.  So, I challenge you, what makes you feel vulnerable and how can you start living a bigger life?  Remember, creativity takes courage….. be brave and go for it!

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.  Muhammad Ali


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