I got to hear quilt artist Susan Shie last night at the Front Range Contemporary Quilters meeting in Westminster, Colorado. She's delightful with a great sense of humor. I'm looking forward to taking her workshop later this week at High Peaks Camp outside Estes Park.
When I got home I saw Robert Genn's twice weekly newsletter on Artists with Low Self Esteem. You can find this letter here. I count myself as one of the 10 percent or more of artists with low self esteem, due to childhood experiences.
I learned two things from Susan and Robert tonight that have helped me immensely. First, Susan pointed out that one of the recurring images in her quilts is the stinkpot. Stinkpots are like compost bins or piles. You put your garbage thoughts in them and they decay and through a magical energy exchange turn into the most wonderful fertile muck that helps you grow strong. I love that idea of a stinkpot filled with all my stinky negative self doubt, where I can imagine it changing into a mud mask that will comfort, support and encourage me!
Second, Robert wrote that a 'patient methodical approach' is needed to overcome low self esteem. As I reflected on this, I recognized a problem area for me. Because this process of dealing with low self esteem takes sooooooo much time, and I want to be over it like last YEAR, I often look at slow progress and interpret it as NO progress!
Does this happen to you? If so, stop this moment, think back 5 or 10 or 20 years, and see how far you've come. Right? The fact that there's still more work to do does not negate how much work you've ALREADY DONE!
So get your stinkpot ready and next time you catch yourself saying something mean and nasty to yourself, write it down and stick it in the stinkpot. The more garbage you put in there, and the worse it smells, the more lovely will be your flower beds and the juicier will be your tomatoes!
Here's my stinkpot. What's yours look like?