“The House You Live In” 11″ x 14″ original mixed media painting–acrylic paint, vintage map, receipt, and stamps, decorative papers, washi tape, stickers, gold leaf, paint pen.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the things we tell ourselves. I’m not talking about woo-woo talking to yourself in the mirror. But the underlying subconscious messages that swirl around in our brains and the way we speak about ourselves in conversation. And I realized that in the past, I often played small. I would tell myself and others that my work wasn’t that great or professional enough. I might not have discussed some new and exciting project I was working on or “brag” about a success I’d had. Because who was I to brag about my work? It wasn’t that special. And God forbid I call myself an artist. I might get laughed out of the room. I relegated my work to hobby status and kept it hidden. All my dreams of being a working artist, a published author and a teacher were far-fetched and seemingly impossible.
But a lot of the feelings we have about ourselves and our work stem from the words we use. Do we always speak kindly about our bodies, our work, our relationships and our intellect? If we say, “I hate my thighs or my nose or my height” aren’t we really saying we hate what we see when we look in the mirror? If we constantly speak about our artwork as if it’s less-than, then doesn’t it become so? The most important thing that I did for my creative life was to begin to take myself seriously. Not because someone told me I could or because I received some professional accolades. But because I’m entitled to as a human being who makes art. I express myself with a paintbrush and through collage and printed words. It’s both my therapy and my contribution. My art is good because I believe that it is. And it is worthy of being seen because I have something to say and something to share. I am an artist.
That’s why I was attracted to the quote by Hafiz that says, “The words you speak become the house you live in.” Your house can either be bitter, dark and depressing or uplifting, motivational, and optimistic. Let your words–particularly the words you speak about yourself–become a call towards action, self-love, and fulfillment. And the next time you find yourself saying something unkind towards yourself, reconsider. Remember that with every word you speak, you’re building the house you’ll live in.