Thursday, December 15, 2011

You are not 'inferior' or 'superior' | If you read this, you WILL feel better. | A free helping/excerpt from "Project Muse" Masterclasses

the constraints you have in your life, you have put on yourself, and that's the truth. so, let's talk this out, alright?

bear with me, because 'self' work can feel so heavy. the viewfinder can begin to show us this part of ourselves, but if you are being honest ... that's only the beginning.

the most useful thing i've been reminded of these last weeks, is how important it is to lose your man-made facade. that's not your identity. your true self is something so sacred & lifts you up from within. it is no judgement and it tireless and completely endless. it is without rank. it's not screaming crowds or the lack there-of, or recognition, or lack of recognition or external affirmation that somehow keeps you afloat. that is such an ego trip (which is, btw, NOT you) and it's a never ending battle with yuck. yes, yuck.

why use words like yuck, instead of more poignant words like fuck? because i'm speaking to the kid in you and, if you don't want me to speak to the kid in you (do you want me to speak to the adult?) then that word's really just no big deal.

oh my gosh, ashley, sweetheart ash?! (the bottle bell?!) just swore.
let's be honest, do you really think i got to be sweet and become an artist because my life was some innocent, easy, PG, cake walk? ::shrugs shoulders:: do i have a story for you.

anyway, back to yuck and that inner youth in you.
have you locked that kid away that i'm a'talkin to? did you turn them into some sort of bully? gosh, did you turn into a bully of yourself? how's that goin? i bet you're lacking that creative energy you once knew, yah?

or maybe it goes like this: "I reallllly want to create, but i'm just SO tired these days..."

oooh oooh ::Raises hand:: and how about this one:

"I suck at my job. I have no creativity or time for creativity."

Then, there is this culprit:
"Noone liked that picture. (or song, or whatever, or STATUS, or whatever, etc) I'll change so that next time, they will."

these 'inferior' / 'superior' thoughts you have and anything mentioned above are all transient, impermanent things. the true you is perhaps the reason you began this profession and this endeavor (whatever makes you just COME ALIVE, whatever profession you are in) but it's a good practice to ask yourself why you continued it, down the path you chose (was it because of external recognition? if it was, then your success is dependent on the continued approval of others and, god, what if they fail you? What if they fail you when you are already feeling so low, and what if they fail you once you are up at the 'top'?? | the goal all good artists should aspire to work towards is practicing how to create truest to yourSELF. (part of creating for yourself is in living a life behind that lens that honors that).
If u do that, you're not only a better artist, but a better human being. do you know how simply FULFILLING to the core it is to feel like a good human being? NOT an important human being, or a FAMOUS human being, but a good ol' fashioned beautiful human being who was good to others and good to yourself?

i'm talking love, sex, life, kids, travel, career, money, stress, everything. these are not conquests, they are experiences, feelings, beliefs, etc.

if you don't think they are one big circle, all related, think again.

take yourself out of that place (that rank) that you find yourself placed at. the more successful you become (externally, to others, etc) the more of a tendency you have to scream how incredible you are or, sadly, live like you are above others, because it starts to wind it's way into your identity. do not let 'success' change you because, oh, IT WILL.
and it will ONLY be able to do this to you if you let it or if you need it to. i don't recommend either, but i see it all the time. i have seen it in lovers, family, bestest friends forever.

but don't let that be a low point, a point of no light...
let it be a bullet point. upward and onward.

the less successful you find yourself (and by that, i mean, publicly/monetarily/showmanship stuff - because that's really all 'success' is, for the most part) the more you find yourself adhering to kissin' ass or to the will of what other people, maybe the entire public, perceive you as.

this is all just a dance you are having in your head.
clear the ballroom.

let's use photography as an example. let's take the camera out of their hand (imagine a person you feel inferior to, and then just.... take their talent out of their hand (in this case a camera, but it could be a musical artist, or hairstylist...anything).
would this STILL be a person you aspire to know or be like? is your desire to be 'like' them because they are liked or because they are good people? do you like the way they present themselves? do you like the way they talk? are they compassionate, inherently good? do you like the way they live? are they roll models? are they good to people, genuinely, or are they good at playing 'the game'. would you BE PROUD TO BRING THEM AROUND YOUR CHILDREN? would you let that person (or industry standard, there are many) watch your child while you took a nice long vacation? does that person inspire you?

I mean, does the core of you say yes or no? learn from these lessons. sometimes it'll be a "yes, gosh, this person is amazing, i can't get enough" and then sometimes it's going to be "Oh,"

when it's a no, walk away. (metaphorically or other)
wash your hands of it, and drop it. just get over it, however you have to, and as gently as possible.
the idea that things are hard is a MYTH and usually it's a myth taught to us by people we REALLY looked up to, people who couldn't possibly be wrong. maybe they were if they made it hard for you to move on.

if you are rockstar enough to do it quickly, do it quickly. all limits are self imposed.
if it's a part of yourself you need to walk away from, don't look back. that's a trap.

seriously, visualize them walking away. good riddance when / if you actually get to watch this person walk away, this metaphorical weight which feels so, so real if only because you made it so, so real. (i'm not saying it isn't real. fear is VERY real and so is pain.)

do you know the psychological reason we can't let things (ideas, people, thoughts, etc.) go?
it's so simple. it's because we think we need them. we somehow think they define our sense of identity or happiness or freedom or worth. now, if that thought is something like 'i'm a crappy photographer' and you can't let that thought GO, then you know something really profound. why are you thinking something so negative about yourself? and, why can't you let something so negative about yourself, just... go? that's where the REAL work comes in.

so, take a deep breath. you earned it by reading this. this is not usually easy/breezy work.
exhale. okay.

if you apply this to your love life, it will carry to your work. if you apply this to your work, it will carry to your love life, and so on and so on, forever. apply it to anything, watch that ripple. it can't help itself. that is the nature of it.

you must create in a separate place from that voice that speaks "CREATE FOR THE CROWDS!" "LIVE FOR THE CROWDS!" "CREATE LIKE A SCREAMING VOICE SO THEY HEAR ME AND THEN I'LL BE WORTH IT" [or] you might say: "If they don't hear me or love me, I'm nothing, that creation, that endeavor wasn't as worth it or good." (notice how those sad thoughts are lower cased? - because that's how you feel when you have them -- you feel totally lower cased...)

Don't live for that egoic result. EEK.
and some people catch this. if this speaks to you, you're farther than you think. kudos.
and then, some people just don't, and they won't and it's not up to you (don't burden your beauty) to change them or let them hurt you or change you or tell you you aren't good enough. people have to know and find that for themselves and, let's just hope, in time, they do. and some don't (it's okay).

that's like settling for a leaf, though, when a tree is what you want. a tree that blows in the wind and stands steadfast, knowing that it is fulfilling it's purpose. it has ZERO doubt because, i mean, what else would it do?
wouldn't that feel AMAZING??!!

let those leaves fall where they may because, metaphorically speaking, they're going to blow away with the next season. that's just what leaves do. they are not sustenance, but they are ever so dazzling. but, once they leave their solid base, they are lost. do you understand what i'm saying to you?

but you know what stays solid, through every season? the tree. it might not be as showy, but why do you NEED to be showy? ego. fear. the external search for validation.

be the tree.

oh pretty, pretty please be that pretty, pretty tree.
be you.
hell, even pick your kind. change it up, why add constraints?

don't create with the intent of doing anything other than whole-heartedly pulling your spirit up by the boot straps (hey, dust it off if you need to) and saying 'heck yes, i'm sooooo doing this for ME from a place and for a place that is nurturing and constantly re-seeding my inner strength and total sustenance, like you are filling a pool of creative freedom which, by the way, lives in all of you.


when you fulfill your own freedom, which is often and most easily felt in things like art, creativity, love (love is so important you guys) (and you already know this if you've EVER created ANYTHING you enjoyed or truly loved).
you are just ... you are so beautiful. you are really embodying all of you, not some false version chipped away over the years by convention, industry, debt, money, people who weren't (or AREN'T) good for you, and societal concensus. it's a nasty beast when it becomes you.
it's especially hard on artists, these thoughts, because we became artists *usually* having already been people who felt SO MUCH, already being people so hard on themselves. Artists are MADE. I feel so passionately about the beauty (bittersweet though it is) in that.

it's such a step backwards when people lose themselves to the industry abyss, which is almost ENTIRELY ego driven, money driven, soul chaos.
the sense of entitlement and rank is false identity, no matter how you cut it, no matter how real it seems. would you really choose to look up to people that are lost in a false identity and need for things like judgement and rank? (whatever industry ----> JUST FILL IN THE __________.) | i have seen / met, especially recently, so many incredible human beings (i'm talking at their very CORE = AMAZING) totalllllly lost in this recognition thing because it feeds this need for inner approval. in these cases i found myself surprisingly very quiet (2011 was a year in which i was determined to listen, even when i didn't want to) because in EVERYTHING they spoke to me, i was listening and thanking my lucky stars i saw outside of the blinders. these are people i give thanks for, because without them i'd have zero lessons to learn and no matter how hard the lesson, there's a chance for some real growth. it's the kind of growth that, if you master it, will put you to sleep with a smile on your face and, of that, i promise.
you know what else is so good with realizing (after the fact) that you simply listened and didn't bite back? simply that you did just that. you broke a pattern that was terribly difficult to break out of.

but, you can't feel that beautiful light if you don't live it. you have to live it. be the beacon. sometimes beacons are the minority, but beacons are gorgeous and much better places to visit.

want the truth? guess what, you are already perfect. you are totally enough. TOTALLY.
hey, feel that pressure dissipate a little? now, just when you feel like it might save your life, such a SIMPLE, KIND thought, you feel that doubt IMMEDIATELY creep in and it takes it away. if that just happened to you, at least you know that now.

you want to hear something even more perverse?
you are beautiful, too.
you don't even believe me, do you? it was just one sentence that threw you off.
god, but what if you did believe it. because, you know what? I mean it. and you should live a life where you can FEEL beautiful in YOUR OWN BEING. take every SINGLE thing out of your life that doesn't feel beautiful or fulfilling and, if you can't, work towards it.
let it breathe JUST A LITTLE LIFE into you, today. feel how much energy immediately comes back into you?

of course you do. that is what it is to be human.

::and, please, steal this, swipe it, share it, live it, use it, smile about it. this isn't *my* truth (though it is my truth, because it's everyone's and i'm a part of that pool, which is where we all connect)

taste it, find that deep breath you've been looking for, god why keep yourself without those deep breaths? how many years are you going to suffocate yourself?
how many moments, minutes, years are you going to be stifled by the limits that others put on you? (and that you allow them to put on you.)

find relief in it, LOVE it, and be effing proud of yourself! (by proud i don't mean beating your chest and screaming how awesome you are (again, that's ego parading itself as you) | by proud i simply mean sitting back and catching those stars, for once, smiling in honesty when you see yourself growing inside or walking by a mirror.) | so many people suffer from these same, repetitive, patterns, but noone really talks about it. life can be so daunting. (!!)
and a couple more of these: !!!!!!!
i am not saying something to you that i somehow missed out on, that i didn't go through or experience first hand. i crawled through the swamps of this stuff, you guys. i really, really did (underline, italicize, bold bold bold).

do you know what rules about you? about YOU, you unique creature who is the only one of YOU ever created in the history of ever? did i mention EVER?
how cool is THAT?
mull it over. there is ONLY ONE OF YOU, you know? live in that. live in you. it's what you have, why not USE it.

what is that one thing you feel pretty amazing at? is there one thing that you like in yourself, right now, today?
if you know that ONE thing you kinda/sorta like if you let yourself breathe into it, others will follow when nurtured.

if you don't yet know the answer to that, then seek to know it. seek to be true enough to yourself where that is a beautiful journey of sensual self discovery, a real no-holds-barred inquiry.
cry if you need to. move if you need to. let it work itself through you, not bury itself IN you. you deserve to live a life in which you feel okay with what's happening in it.
embody yourself. don't embody others. it's such a mess. don't let others embody you through judgement, money, rank, fill in the blank. if they do, good riddance, no need to raise your voice. that's precious energy and it's also not necessary.

life is not a conquest, nor are people, or things. you have nothing to defend. it is all an opinion. these are all false senses of identity and we seek them for REAL reasons. we seek them from fear or loss or habit or just not really knowing.

let's play cause and effect with an example:

Sole Cause: my parents never validated me, growing up, and i wish they had, even once.
Ripple Effect: i have an overactive tendency to validate myself, sometimes outwardly.

(or perhaps we see this tendency in others and how they use it on us, our work, our very world or, god forbid, our vulnerable hearts...)

everything has a cause and effect.
this industry, creatives especially, are just CHOCK FULL of cause and effect. ;)
usually in the ever-so-dramatic domino effect.
we are dramatic creatures, the lot of us, with the need to scream with self expression.
but do your best to channel it into your work, not your life or at people/events/possibilities in your life.

gosh, it feels so good to talk to yourself like this, doesn't it? really getting to the pulp of you.
maybe, kind of? yes.
you wanna know why? cuz it's feeding the REAL you.

- A few pages from my "Project Muse" masterclass. Class group is here.


ps. extra credit if you just want to have a giant, awesome party to conclude reading this blog, to level the heavy whirlwind emotion a bit.
go put on your favorite piece of clothing, or spritz yourself in your fav.o.rite cologne/perfume and just have an impromptu dance party to a song you feel SO ashamed for liking. (hey, i do it too ;)

oh, come on, go be a kid for a few minutes. noone's looking.

and, by the way, there is no wrong way to dance.


Emily Bemily said...

Beautiful truth. Thank you for the reminder :)

Maplemusketeer said...

Dear sweet soul speaking sister, <3 and truth and hard learned lessons of the deep core. As you shine so do we shine and the world be made anew.

Shine on and know love deep

Dave said...

This is wonderful. I'll be coming back to this... It touches on some themes in a book I really liked and learned a lot from: "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz.
Thank you for this Ashley.

Anonymous said...

this is exactly what i needed. A friend of mine was trying to tell me about this concept and I will be reading it often.

Vanessa said...

Just great ideas...things I've been trying to define for myself, but couldn't quite reach. Thank you.

Karen Ferguson said...

Read through tears, touching my heart. Thankyou xo

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I cannot express how much I need to read this, like, daily.

Smash23 said...

Thank you for that it was brilliant! reminded me of things i'd forgotten..

have a look at my photography blog: i really devote myself to this and hope you like it! :D

Zack said...

I'm sorry, but I had to do this. I gave you the Kreative Blogger award. I love your work so dearly, and the mind and soul behind your words. You're the butterfly I've always dreamed to catch ;)

canvas prints said...

very good work, i think not only that but you have made a great example of a very well put together website to show of your work

-Beautiful_Mess- said...

I have been spending the last year trying to harness this. Looking in there mirror used to be so hard and reading this really hit home for me.. lol cried like a baby in my class he he. But it was a happy cry. Thank you. :)

-Beautiful_Mess- said...

I have been spending the last year trying to harness this. Looking in there mirror used to be so hard and reading this really hit home for me.. lol cried like a baby in my class he he. But it was a happy cry. Thank you. :)