June 7, 2011

Slaying your creative monsters.

I moved to Boulder in 2004 during the height of my yoga obsession.

In the year leading up to my move, I started teaching yoga, attended two yoga teacher trainings, began assisting my yoga teacher at conferences, and met two girls who would later become my Recovering Yogi partners in crime. It was all happening.

After landing in Colorado, I quickly became reacquainted with, and started dating, a guy who was my boyfriend for a brief stint in the 8th grade. Throughout our relationship, my pursuit of all things yogic intensified. I continued teaching, attended any workshops I could get my hands on, and even began looking at empty commercial spaces to open up my own studio, which had been a dream of mine for years. From 50 thousand feet, my Boulder boyfriend seemed to be supportive. He even went with me a few times to look at studio spaces. But up close and personal, where it really counts, there were always subtle (or not so subtle) comments that told a different story. Such as, “Why do you tell people you’re a yoga teacher when they ask what you do? You’re a medical assistant who happens to teach two yoga classes a week.” But I was always too busy manifesting abundance or attempting to master a handstand in the middle of the room to notice. After a year together, we called it quits and never spoke to or saw one another again, praise Allah.

Last year I finally completed The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron after about a brillion previous attempts to get through the 12-week commitment of daily journaling, weekly artist’s dates (I sucked at making myself do those), and weekly exploratory writing exercises. Her premise states that everyone is an artist who, at some point along the way, lost their connection to their creativity for one reason or another. Often, this reason is a person (or “monster,” as she says) who was critical of something that our young, impressionable, and wildly artistic minds created. During the course of those three months, I had no problem pinpointing the precise moments when, as a girl, some “monster” blatantly squelched my spirit by laughing at a self-portrait I’d painted or a paper mâché toucan bird I’d made.

In my adulthood, however, recognizing the monsters has not been so cut and dry. Often it’s been down right confusing, as they typically come in shiny packages (read: tall, smart, and knows how to fix things) and have been someone I’ve actually dated. But here’s the thing I’m discovering about monsters as of late: they almost always circle back around. The things they did and/or said to you in the past festers, and they boomerang to repent or take another stab. And in the case of my Boulder boyfriend, he came back to sink his teeth in one more time.

I was shocked to see his name in my inbox recently. He started off the message by saying he needed help confirming a mutual friend’s email address. (Really? Of all the people in the world that he could ask for help, I was the best choice?) It didn’t make sense at all until I got to the last paragraph of his email, when the real reason for his contact became apparent: a belittling stab at the person he knew six years ago disguised as compliments about who I have become today. He mentioned that he was impressed with my part in founding Recovering Yogi, considering how genuinely obsessed I had been with yoga when we were together. He then threw out a few good digs about how annoying my enchantment with yoga had been to him, and how he never really trusted it.

Checkmate, monster.

The other thing that I’m discovering about my monsters as of late is that they actually fuel my creativity. My tagline for my online journal reflects the new discovery. It forewarns, “F*ck with me and I’ll blog about.” And so that’s what I do. Every time a monster rears its ugly head, I write about it. My way of processing a monster squelching my spirit and creativity is to be creative (and to f*ck with them a little in the process, too, given all the cyber stalking around here). I guess I’ve kind of turned the whole monster theory on its head, so to speak. And, I’d like to think that Julia would be proud.

Artwork by: Vanessa Fiola 
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