“From my earliest days, I was most satisfied when interacting with nature and, even better, carrying a favorite crayon in hand.” This is the start of my artist statement. The second sentence, however, is a bit misleading: “These passions followed me into adulthood and are now expressed through my paintings.”
The truth is that at the start of college I made the conscious choice to set down the “crayons” for something more practical and achievable. It didn’t matter that my happiness (and possibly even mental health) rested in those moments of quietly drawing and painting and creating.
I walked away from my true voice—my true self.
Without painting and drawing, I was a fraction of my true self. This incompleteness culminated in a few years of depression. Foggy years. Hard-to-leave-the-house years. Dark, thick, heavy years. Depression led to therapy. Led to art journaling. Led to understanding my artist-soul. Led to releasing my artist-voice.
And HERE I AM, just a handful of memories later, living the best years of my life. I got those tattoos I always wanted. I cut my hair pixie-short, like I longed for since I was in first grade. I found an inner strength and external voice that my own mom didn’t even know I had.
I don’t take this wholeness and clarity for granted, and I have a passion in life to help others bring their own creative voice to life. Nurturing it. Guiding it. Calling it out.
Why? Because I can’t think of an act more violent than rejecting who we truly are.
So, let’s put our weapons down. Let’s stop pushing ourselves away from who we truly are. Let’s embrace those things that make us unique.
I’m here to give you permission to speak. I’m here to remind you that your creative voice is worth sharing. Your messages and makings are worth offering to the world.
You have permission to:
Believe in yourself. BE yourself. Know what you want to say and go after ways to say it. (Yes, you already know—it’s been in you all along.)
Give specific and real time to listening to your inner voice. This is where you will find your creative voice. Remember yourself. Think, journal, write, catalog your life, dialog with your life.
Strengthen your voice through creative play. Practice! Experiment! PLAY!
Chase your creative dreams. Write them down and plan them out. Spend time working towards those goals, even if its just a few minutes every day. Turn off the television and turn your dreams into reality.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: You have permission to do things differently—differently than you’ve done things before, and differently from how others expect you to do things. Permission to live your life. Wear blue jeans and t-shirts for days on end. Buy that soft blanket from Target that you always touch when you roll through that aisle. Drink coffee at dawn, or chai tea, or hot chocolate, whatever feels like YOU. Permission to be you: beautiful, flawed, perfectly imperfect, with something unique and distinct to offer the world. We need your voice. You were placed here during this time for a purpose. You are to realize that purpose and actualize that purpose. Be a good steward of the life you’ve been given—BE YOU.
So we take this little life we’ve been given, and we so desperately want it to mean something. We want to mean something. And we can. We use our own unique voices to make art as our offering, and we place it on the altar of humanity. It is not a gift received until it is given. It is not a word heard until it is spoken. We have a responsibility to share. We have a responsibility to speak. We have a responsibility to make that offering.
What is your offering? What do you have that the rest of us need to receive?
And can I give you an offering? I’ve made a few encouraging cards for us to use, as we find ourselves, believe in ourselves, BECOME ourselves. Please print some out, glue them into your journal, stick them in your planners, use them as lock screens for your phone.
All of these little things are meant to remind you: You were made to be you.
As a child, Mandy wasn’t happy without her favorite crayon in hand. As an adult, she’s a mommy who spends schooldays “coloring” with mixed media on canvases, or working up fun tools that encourage others in their own creative pursuits. And if she’s not in her studio, check to see if she’s in an orange hammock at her favorite beach.