You carry your worth so gracefully and powerfully. It’s hard *not* to notice how you own your wild creativity in the arts and in business. Were you just born like that? Or did you have to re-learn how utterly radiant of a being you are and re-teach yourself that you are worth showing up in your power?
First of all, thank you! That is such a nice reflection.
Making art has always been my go-to happy place. I do believe I was born with this innate and insatiable desire to create, so whether it was seaweed jewelry, clay pots or paintings, I always had my hands in a creative project as a kid. Thankfully, I also had parents and teachers that encouraged me in my creative endeavors, so I grew up with a sense of “being good at art.”
This led me to art school, which led me to having shows at coffee shops, which eventually led me to thinking I could be a full-time artist. I’m still a little shocked that I got this idea in my head back in my early twenties, but honestly, it’s the one thing I was always super passionate about, so in that way it makes perfect sense. I figured with enough hard work and perseverance, it would eventually work out — which thankfully, it did!
So yes, being an artist has always been a pretty natural extension of who I am. However, being an art teacher, writer, “public persona” and business owner are certainly not so natural for me— quite the opposite in fact. The learning curve around each of those endeavors has been pretty steep because I’m actually quite shy. For example, filming the videos for my first e-course was completely out of my comfort zone. I had to dig so deep to show up like that and “be seen” by so many people. I was so afraid of looking bad, sounding stupid, you name it — the fear was hot.
I think the thing that has carried me through the fear over and over again is my sincere belief in the work that I do, and the deep knowing that what I do can help other people. Carrying that belief deep in my bones has always inspired me to keep moving forward, sharing my ideas and stepping up to the plate in ways that are still quite uncomfortable. If it’s a question of possibly looking stupid vs. making a difference, I’m always going to choose making a difference. Being in service has always been a major core value for me in this way.
Do you ever struggle with worth now? Like, do you ever put work out there and think it’s not worthy? Do you ever have a hard time naming your price for your work? If so, what are the things that seem to block it for you? Why do you think?
As for pricing, I’ve always priced my work according to what feels like a fair market prices, as well as the size of the piece which makes it really easy and unemotional. I have my price list and I stick to it. Again, not attaching a lot of stories to the prices and sales of my work has saved me an amazing amount of stress over the years.
I actually have way more anxiety around the teaching and writing aspects of my work now. Like I said before, these pursuits do not come as naturally, and I also tend to attach more self-worth to these offerings. I think it’s because my voice has always felt like a real place of vulnerability and teaching and writing focus people’s attention right on that core insecurity.
That said, the more I write and teach, the easier it becomes. I’m even starting to feel pretty comfy in front of a video camera these days which is a HUGE breakthrough for me. I’m always telling my students that the only way to feel more comfortable painting is to show up and practice — to do the work, so to speak. This could not be more true for me in terms of showing up to share my love of painting with others in a public sort of way. It just gets easier and easier the more I do.
What are your practices around holding your worth high?
I have quite a few practices that all contribute to a well-balanced body, mind and spirit. I find if I can come from this place of simply feeling good, it’s so much easier to own my worth and really carry it on my sleeve. I practice yoga regularly and lately I’ve been really into Bootcamp classes that leave me super sweaty and energized. There’s something about occupying my body in this really intense way that bolsters my confidence. I’m sure it has something to do with endorphins and oxygen, and well, abs 🙂
I also find that having a consistent creative practice allows me to “walk my talk” in a way that’s really important to me. For example, pursuing what I’m actually feeling really lit up about at any given time vs. doing what I think other people want or expect keeps me connected to my purpose, and aligning with my purpose, keeps my worthiness intact. I find there’s a really powerful feedback loop there.
What would be your advice for creatives of all types to show up in their worth, to own their brilliance and to know that they are just as worthy as anyone else and are worth being seen?
Gosh I could go on and on about this one. The more I teach painting, the more I realize how much the creative process is all about self-love. I can talk all day long about color and composition, but when a student steps in front of a canvas, the most important thing is their ability to trust their own voice, intuition and ideas. This often boils down to self-worth on a deeper level.
However, the importance of practice and patience also play a huge role in self-confidence and self-worth. I see so many people these days wanting to suddenly make a booming career out of their creative passion, but this kind of transition actually requires a lot of time, hard work and dedication. If you rush this process, it’s easy to question your worth because you simply might not be at the level you want to be at, and that can be really unsettling.
Ira Glass talks about the gap that exists between having good taste and having the skills to create what your good tastes desire, and it’s so true. The gap is where the practice needs to happen, but the practice is also a wonderful part of the creative process. It’s when the cultivation of your unique style really happens, like a good marinade!
I believe we all have infinite creative potential, but showing up and flexing those muscles is a key part of feeling successful and worthy. Also remember to surround yourself with conscious loving people, write positive affirmations on your walls, resist the urge to compare yourself to others and remember your timing is absolutely perfect. You’ve got this. You’re awesome.
Flora Bowley is an internationally celebrated painter, workshop facilitator, creative pioneer and author of Brave Intuitive Painting. Combining twenty years of professional painting experience with her background as a yoga instructor, massage therapist and lifelong truth seeker, Flora’s visionary approach to the creative process invites brave spontaneous expression, while honoring the connection between body, mind and spirit. Flora’s unique and holistic approach to the creative process has inspired thousands of people worldwide to “let go, be bold and unfold.” Flora lives among a vibrant community of artists in Portland, OR www.florabowley.com
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