How To Escape A Rock & A Hard Place

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B&W girl collage, glitter, paint on ceramic

Post written by Amelia Critchlow.

A few years back now, I felt between a rock and a hard place with things in my life, particularly work. For those of you who have ever had the feeling that what you are doing to earn money doesn’t resonate, in fact it begins to make you feel a little ill when you have to force yourself to do it, and something tugs at you letting you know that there is ‘something else’ better and more worthwhile – well, that’s the place I found myself in, along with trying to care for a young child who I had not long found out had a form of Autism (Aspergers Syndrome).

A final day came when I felt that if other areas of my life were so hard then I had to work at something I loved to bring in money. I had to work at my passion. But knowing this wasn’t easy I had to set up a way to enable this to happen.  And so I began to ask: ask myself if I had it in me to take this plunge and do the risky thing with an unstable income. I had to ask for support with childcare, and ask my employer if they’d give me some time out.  But before this I worked hard and earned and saved enough money to cover the necessities for a few months so I could write an online course in the very thing I was (and am) most passionate about – visual art.

Prior to launching my online art course I had started my blog writing from the heart about my journey and what I was going through at the time, along with a myriad of arty experiments. It became clear that what I was also sharing was life experiments. Many things in my life (and in my art) are experiments – I feel this is the best way to ‘discover’ and the only way if we want to find answers, whilst not being scared of failure – and this is where I began to see that art and life crossed over: the ability to be free to create, where there are no ‘instructions’ to follow, only the tug of our own hearts and the passion in our guts.

Capitalizing On The Power Of Regret

And so began a journey in 2010 that I had no idea where it would go, but what I did know is that I wanted to do it with a passion. I wanted to change my life and dare to do, instead of only simply dreaming. A job for a year in a nursing home was the final call to action as I realized with what speed our lives fly by and I asked myself: “What would be the thing I would regret the most if I didn’t do?”

And so I ask you that now? What would you regret the most in your life if you did not do it? Most people at the end of their lives do not regret what they did; they regret what they didn’t do.

I knew for me, that if I did not give ‘my art’ a chance I would live with a nagging in my heart. And so it is that over the last 3 years I have taken a leap into the void, not knowing where I will land.

Things I Have Noticed

Yet these are some of the things I have noticed along the way:

  • that when we dare to do, the world meets us in strange and uncannily supportive ways
  • when we take one small step towards a dream the dream comes one step closer to us
  • that if we dare to ask, and focus on the ‘hows’ not the ‘whys’ we get positive answers
  • that when we dare to do what had only previously been a dream, people admire and respect us for that, and by doing what you are pulled to do we give others permission to do what they are pulled to do
  • the money comes: instead of chasing how to get money I’ve learnt that an income seeks you out in thanks for doing what you are called to do; in fact what you are meant to do with this one precious life

And so since I started this journey, I continue to teach both online and in person (Art), I get to write (another passion of mine), and I get to spend time with my children after school instead of daycare. I managed to do my MA in Fine Art as a result and right now as I write, I am waiting to sign the lease on a space here in London, UK where myself and three art friends can set up an experimental art space for those who wish to explore, experiment and exhibit their art, and I know this is what I am supposed to be doing – even though no-one told me this is what I should I be doing.

A Whispering In Your Heart

Do you have a whispering in the heart of something you passionately want to do? If so, that is the very thing you should be doing. No-one else will give us permission to do what we feel we need to do the most – we must do it. And I’m talking about life-affirming things. And sharing a passion with the world is one of the most valuable things we can do.

I recently read an article about wealth being not simply financial, it spoke of all abundance in one’s life including health, relationships, finances, emotions and then there was the part that struck me the most: there is work, there is a career, and then there is your mission; the thing you feel is your purpose in life and what you were born to do.

If you can:

a) Identify your mission &

b) Start doing it – then the world will reward you in more and greater ways than you can imagine.

The key is about our ability to add value; adding value to the world, adding value to others, and whilst I am only baby steps in to this adventure I would say my experience so far tells me this is so true. As soon as we are grateful for what we have got, it’s easy to discover that actually we have lots to give, not lots to get. That whole shift in perception is the route to dreams coming true in every sense of the word.

In Summary

I recently came across a couple of quotes that sum up the journey:

“Art is frightening

Art isn’t pretty.

Art isn’t painting.

Art isn’t something you hang on a wall. [..]

An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity and boldness to challenge the status quo. […]

Art is what we do when we are truly alive […] Art isn’t a result; it’s a journey. The challenge of our time is to find a journey worthy of your heart and your soul.”

- From Seth Godin’s book The Icarus Deception.

And if we are able to imagine it/dream it, then we are able to achieve it.

As Albert Einstein says:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

A Call To Action

And so I leave you with an invitation for a call to action – go do what you feel you need to do; take the first steps at least. And if you are already doing what you are passionate about the most, sit down and write out what it is you need to do next, then ideas-storm and ask ‘how can I make this work?’ (always avoiding the ‘why isn’t this working?’ as we always get the answers to our questions. We need to ask for what will be most helpful, which is how to craft the future not why something in the past didn’t work!) and take one small step toward doing it.

You know the answers already. Next up is doing something positive in alignment with that desire.

Article written by Amelia Critchlow who graduated from Wimbledon College of Art (2012) with an MA in Fine Art, as well as obtaining a BA Honours Degree in Fine Art in 2007.  Her work has been shortlisted for The Jealous Graduate Print Prize, 2012, Photowandsworth 2011, The Idris Pearce Award in 2007, and the Brixton Open Finalists in 2005, as well as being the artist chosen to represent Wandsworth Artists Open House publicity in 2007. Find out more about Amelia on her website.

photo source: Original work by Amelia: B&W girl collage, glitter, paint on ceramic.

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