My 8-year-old granddaughter has been making
art since her toddler days. Some of my
favorites are framed and hanging in my
office, including her delightful Chihuly as
When she comes to visit me, she usually asks
me to fetch her art box from the closet
shelf before she even inventories the snacks
in my kitchen.Then she gets busy making art.
So I was quite unprepared when she began
drawing yesterday and was overcome by a
crisis of confidence. "I can't draw," she
wailed and laid down on the floor and
covered her head.
I challenged her. I tried to reason. I
handed her a copy of Julia Cameron's
How to Avoid Making Art.
Nothing would appease her.
What was going on here? When she finally was
willing to talk about it, she told me how
she'd been comparing her work to some of the
student art adorning the hallways of her
school. "I can't draw," she repeated.
Personally, I think 8 is too soon to become
discouraged. So is 80.
Perhaps the fact that Zoe had gone to her
first slumber party the night before and was
sleep deprived contributed to her crisis of
confidence. Or maybe she was judging herself
Whatever the explanation, I am as determined
as ever to help Zoe get back to championing
her dreams. If only I could show her what
happens when we abandon our gifts, I
Then I realized it would be more valuable to
show her what happens when we surround our
dreams with support.
So how do we do that? Here are three things
that made a big difference for me.
1. Encountering the Human Potential
Movement. When I discovered the
writings and teachings of people like
Abraham Maslow, it felt as if I'd been
handed a pair of high-powered binoculars.
More importantly, I learned to listen to the
prompting of my heart.
2. Connecting with others who are
diligently committed to living a creative
life. I recently finished reading
Dan Buettner's Thrive which examines the
behavior of people living in places that
rate high on the happiness scale.
One of his conclusions is, "Who we hang out
with has an enormous and measurable
influence not only on how happy we are, but
also on how fat we are, or even how lonely
People who are busily building their dreams
tend to be supportive of others who are
doing the same.
3. Being a voluntary student.
Staying curious is essential, of course, but
a big discovery was that my business could
be one of my wisest teachers.
If you want to keep the optimism that
accompanies the start of a new year going,
create your own laboratory (your life) and
test those three ideas for yourself.
Now I just have to figure out how to teach
Zoe to do that for herself.