3 rules to break to go make your art

6 months ago I had a dream. There was an online dance party on Zoom. Faces smiling, bodies grooving, and me in my element mixing some beats, streaming them live for people to move to.

It would be a Monday night, maybe a Tuesday. And here’s the catch… instead of this being a perfected and well-polished DJ set, it would be a practice session that everyone would be joining in on, with full disclosure that mix-ups, mess-ups, and mishaps were likely to happen.

And in this dream, despite the disclosure that (gasp) I was still practicing, people were still smiling. Despite the mix-ups and mess-ups, they still had a good time.

Because it wasn’t the finished product of ‘art’ they were there for, it was the heart.

This dream felt exciting. Empowering. Even… rebellious.

A challenge to some unspoken rules that I really want to break.

Rule #1: Thou shalt not share your art until it is polished and perfected and signed off by the powers that be.

(Because art must be flawless.)

Rule #2: Thou shalt not call themselves an ‘artist’ until your art is hanging in a gallery, or performed on the big stage, or you are on your death bed and have slaved away at it your whole life.

(Because you’re not an artist until it’s achieved something, or it’s been really hard to make.)

Rule #3: Thou shalt only share your art with a marching band, a parade, and a fanfare of Google and Facebook ads to formally launch it into the world. If thoust breakest this rule, your art no longer counts as art.

(Because it only counts when the masses know about it.)

Ugh. It’s like a bad dream from 1984. Checking your back and covering your tracks every time you feel an ounce of creative pleasure or joy. And then quickly hiding your creative genius in the back of the closet lest you get caught doing what you love.

Well, my dream came true, just a little different to how I imagined it at first.

Instead of streaming a practice session ‘live’, you can catch the replay here.

Listen whenever you like, for as long as you like, however many times you like.

Grooves, moves, smiles allowed.

And while you’re at it, maybe you can let your inner rebel come out to play too.

I used to think there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t shake off my perfectionist streak. I used to think I just had to work harder at being comfortable with my mistakes being seen.

And then I learned this thing about my nervous system; our nervous systems.

How they work really hard to protect us from perceived danger and threats.

Like, the possible threat of what might happen if you break those rules.

Laughed at. Sneered at. Nose turned up at. Outcast from the ‘group’. No longer allowed to hang out with the successful ‘cool kids’.

No wonder it feels safer to play by the rules.

And while our nervous systems may have been learned how to be a good student, they can learn how to be a good rebel too. Let’s start with:

I am allowed to make art.

I am allowed to share my art in ways aligned with my heart.

So maybe if you listen to this Thursday night practice session with all its mixups and mess-ups, and your body wants to start moving, you can go ahead and let your grooves be messy too.

Maybe, by letting your body do what it loves, without over thinking it, you can let your nervous system get comfortable with breaking a rule or too.

And then maybe, by letting your body do what it loves, you can let YOU do what you love, and let your heart make some art too.

Here’s to Thursdays in February, to doing what you Love. Here’s to Love.

PS If you’d love some more inspiration to give your creative heart a voice, check out this new podcast, ‘ReBloom our World’. It’s hosted by my trauma teacher Rachael Maddox. Her first couple of episodes have helped me shake off that ‘need’ to have everything all wrapped up in a perfect little bow before sharing my art and my heart with you. She might have something for you too.

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