Recently, I shared a blog post titled: Doing What You Love Is What Makes Sense. In less than 24 hours, the post had nearly 1,000 views and several heartfelt comments. However, one comment stood out the most: “I’m so glad you’ve found your bliss. I don’t know why I can’t find mine…”
This comment struck a deep cord of familiarity in my own soul, and I was overcome with empathy for those who are struggling to identify what they love. As a result, I decided to share my answer to: “How did I find my bliss?” in hopes that it offers some insight and guidance.
The Breaking Point (aka The Transformation Point)
By the beginning of 2008, I found myself living with my mom and dad again after nearly a decade. I was 29 years old.
Recently divorced, too sick to work, a dwindling bank account, and pumped full of meds to help me cope, I felt like the ground had literally given way, and the very foundation upon which I was standing had been taken from me. I can honestly say that I have never felt so devastated, desperate and low.
For months I felt like I had slipped underneath a thick layer of ice. Looking up from the frigid waters, I could see the world above me as if it was playing on a movie screen, but I was unable to be a part of it. I felt separate and alone. Thoughts of suicide where a part of my everyday, and I came close to taking my own life.
The Question That Changed Everything
In all sincerity, I hope you never have to find out how this feels for yourself. But I now understand that this “breaking” was an essential component to what led me to find my bliss.
As dark, desperate and lonely as that time in my life was, it also acted like a crucible in a hot fire to distill what was really important.
After a lifetime of living the life I was “supposed to be living”, and losing everything I thought was important, I finally had the courage to ask myself: “What do I really want for my life?”
The answer was faint, but clear: “I want to be an artist.”
The Beginning Of Fearless Abstract Painting
And so, after 10 years of barely doing anything artistic, I spread a tarp on the floor in my parent’s dining room, hung bed sheets from the ceiling in order to build myself an enclosed studio (I was too shy to let anyone see me painting) and I surrounded myself with canvasses, paint, rollers and music.
By that point, I was so tired of rules and “shoulds”, (because I knew first hand they didn’t’ work) that I decided to give myself permission to paint “my way”.
It was there, in that makeshift art studio - in a mind frame of uncompromising honesty with myself – that Fearless Abstract Painting was born:
I preferred to paint on the floor. I was too weak to stand or sit on a chair anyways. Besides, with the amount of water I was using, the canvasses had to lay flat or else all the paint would just fall off.
No Color Wheel:
I decided to toss the color wheel because it represented all of the rules I told myself I had to learn in order to approach the blank canvas. In fact, I didn’t read a single book, product label or watch “How To” YouTube videos. I wasn’t interested in how anyone else was painting; I was interested in how I wanted to paint.
No Pre-Conceived Ideas
My entire life I had been taught that I needed an idea in order to approach the canvas. This did not work for me. I decided to just begin and allow the process to evolve into ideas instead.
No Paint Brushes
Finally, I ditched the paintbrush. Oh the dreaded paint brushes! More than anything else, they were tied to more ideas of what an artist “should look like”.
I decided to pick up a small paint roller because it was blunt, and didn’t allow for perfectionism or painting inside the lines. Plus, it was also fast! A paint roller can cover more surface area than even the biggest paint brush. That appealed to me. I had so much pent up energy and emotions that I wanted to get out of me, that the paint roller seemed like the only obvious fit.
Closing Thoughts (aka Opening Thoughts)
This is my story. This is what it took for me to finally be able to let go of who I thought I should be, in order to embrace a life more authentic to who I am.
I am not suggesting that in order for you to find your bliss you will have to reach a breaking point or a rock bottom.
However, I am suggesting that finding your bliss requires a level of honesty that very few of us are capable of, or willing to admit. Further still, honesty with your self is only half the equation.
In my case, feeling like I had lost it all, gave me the permission to not only ask myself what I really wanted out of life, but it also gave me the attitude that I had nothing left to lose. If I can survive my biggest fears coming to reality, then I know I can also overcome any obstacle on the path to creating my dreams.
And so can you.
This blog was created to share my belief that the art making process can be a vehicle for empowerment.
I am living proof.