In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron discusses Shadow Artists. These are people who have a deep-seated desire to be an artist—a painter, poet, actress, singer, etc.—but who are so blocked by fear or firmly planted negative messages that they never bring that desire up and out. They prefer instead to bask in the company of Authentic Artists—people who are fully engaged in making art.
For a long time I was a shadow artist living a shadow life. Afraid to fully engage in my art even though God had sent me a strong message to step out on faith and do so. Oh, I talked myself into thinking that I could do both—work full-time jobs that I hated and write in the evenings/weekends. But that’s all it was
—foolish talk and foolish thinking.
Then one day I had no choice. Well, let me restate that. We always have a choice. My choices were to continue living as a shadow artist with a shadow life or live authentically as an authentic artist. For me, I had reached such an unhealthy level of unhappiness and dissatisfaction that there really was no choice. I resigned from shadow living and swore I would never go back to the shadows.
So far that has been the case but I tell you…it hasn’t been easy because of fear. Fear is a powerful emotion, as powerful as love. Fear is what kept me operating as a shadow artist for so long. I was afraid of having no money. I was afraid my quality of life would degrade. I was afraid my talents weren’t good enough to sustain me. But to live an authentic life, I knew I was going to have to step into the ring and fight fear. So I did. It was September 2010. Here’s the blow-by-blow…
I had finished a freelance assignment in August (2010) but the jerk client refused to pay me (that’s another story). I had maybe $10 in my checking account and another $25 in my savings. My mortgage and car payments were several months behind, all of the utilities were due, and I had received more rejections for my novel. Thus burdened, what did I do? I went to bed. I just couldn’t face fear or the future so I went to sleep, hoping to never wake up. Just before drifting off, I had enough sense to ask God for help.
Before I woke fully the next morning, a thought pounded in my head: Go to your safe. Dig out your savings bonds and cash them in. I had forgotten all about the savings bonds I had purchased over the years! Needless to say, I broke all speed limits driving to the bank, and after cashing in the bonds I had enough to keep the utilities going, purchase gas and groceries, and have cash on hand until my unemployment checks kicked in.
When I returned home, I received a prompting from Spirit to call the finance company that held the note on my car. With butterflies in my stomach, I dialed them up and they were so nice, granting me a two-month deferment. A month later when I should have been evicted from my home, I received a letter from my mortgage company and HUD (Housing and Urban Development) stating the Obama administration had called a halt to all foreclosures, and oh by the way, there’s a program you qualify for where HUD will pay the bulk of your mortgage for two years.
But that’s not all…sixteen months later, I sold the novel I had been trying to sell since 2000.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! The winner is: Ann.
I won that particular fight against fear, but the battle is never over. Every day I face fear and every day I rely on prayer, journaling and the prompting of Spirit to stare it down and come out swinging. This I do so that I may continue to live an authentic life as an authentic artist.
I ask you … Are you bound in shadow living? If so, what deep-seated fear(s) has beaten you? Are you ready to face that fear and live authentically?