Labels, seeing, and the magic in dark days

What has stopped you, historically, from creating the thing you dream of creating?

For many of us—myself, included—it's a label that stops us.

Or the lack of a label.

Because not having a label usually indicates the absence of a specific degree or credentials or experience. And who are we to do a thing without that external validation in place?

To make this concrete, several examples from my own life:

I'm a writer.

I use that label, and I feel confident using it, because I have a graduate degree in creative writing. A university determined, after I jumped through the appropriate hoops, that I should be awarded a master's degree. Do I feel like a master of creative writing? HELL NO. I feel like someone who has spent countless hours creating entire worlds out of words...and who has a hard drive filled with proof of a love of storytelling.

I'm also a coach.

I use that label, and I feel confident using it (though I don't particularly like it), because I have a certification in coaching. A seasoned coach, who created and runs a coaching school, determined, after I jumped through the appropriate hoops, that I should be awarded certification in her program. Does this feel like adequate endorsement? Eh. Yes and no. Coaching school equipped me with a skillset, but it's the actual coaching I've done since that has honed my technique and made me a good coach.

In creating Halcyon Days—a small, illustrated (in watercolor!) compendium of the rituals and comforts I'm holding close this solstice—I'm trying to learn to call myself an artist.

I don't have a degree in painting, nor do I hold any sort of certificate or award or even a gold star.

I found my way to watercolor this last spring, while grieving.

My husband and I lost a very dear friend to suicide last February. Without any warning, our whole world looked very, very different from how we'd imagined it looking.

This painting practice started as a way of keeping my anxious hands busy during all the mindless TV watching that happened in those difficult months, but it swiftly became an exercise in enchantment for me. I learned how to create something from nothing—and sometimes, that 'something' was so realistic, so full of dimension, that I floored myself with an ability I hadn't known I possessed.

I learned that I could make something exquisitely beautiful simply by seeing it.

(Even in a world that looked very, very different from how I wanted it to look, from how it I thought it was supposed to look.)

If that isn't alchemical, I don't know what is.

Interestingly, I coach people around the topic of labels. Around the idea of being who they are at their core and doing what they most need to do during this one lifetime of theirs.

I help these people to not get caught up on degrees and credentials; I teach them to value what feels most like their calling—even if it flies in the face of their education, of their formal training, of the career they're 'supposed' to be pursuing.

And here I find myself, offering up something personal and creative and wildly fun, and almost (almost!) supplying the caveat, I'm not saying I'm an artist or anything, so...

As my friend Doña, a fellow coach, says, "Here's where I admit that I teach this stuff not because I'm good at it, but because I'm still learning it."

I'm learning how to be an artist, but more than that, I'm learning how to tell you I'm an artist...and how to believe it, myself.

Halcyon Days, my inaugural artistic offering, is for sale right this way.

I'd love to help you tell the world who you are...and even believe it, yourself.

Hit 'reply' if this sounds like something you might want to explore with me in the new year. We'll set up a time to chat about how I can help.

Love,
Helen