Teach me the rules so I can change them

Last month I took a leap and set off on a journey to Tulum Mexico with 6 other women for a retreat to kick off a 7 month group coaching program. It was magical, beautiful and scary too. The retreat preparation list instructed me to bring paint supplies and canvases with me. The painting that happens in my house is from a pallet of water colors for kids under 10. I certainly never considered myself a painter and I knew that some of the women that I would be meeting soon were incredibly talented artists. Intimidated…yep.  I found myself sitting on the floor of the paint aisle at the art store for way longer than I imagined possible as I tried to figure out what to buy. It was out of my comfort zone.

I like pushing my edge a bit. One of the things that I love about me is that I try new things. I’m not sure who said this to me but it is something I rely on a lot: If ‘that guy’ can do it, so can I. Because ‘that person’ and I are more alike than we are different. So I took an acting class in Minneapolis right before I moved to LA after college (cliché 22 year old moves to Beverly Hills). When I got to LA I took a course in Krav Maga (an Israeli military self-defense practice). At one point in my 20’s I decided to learn how to invest money in the stock market and over the course of a year or two I could talk nasdaq with men in suits at any bar. I don’t need to find a friend to sign up with me. I love daring myself to stretch a bit farther than feels comfortable.

I just do it. If I don’t like it, I quit. I can’t know until I try.

As I sat in the aisle surrounded by colors and paint brushes I knew that there was a possibility that painting wasn’t my thing but I thought that if Allison could do it, then so could I, so I sucked up that little girl fear in me that I wouldn’t be good enough and remembered that in writing, the first draft always sucks so it was okay if my first painting sucked…or the first 100. I don’t expect a baby to start walking when they are born right? These are the pep talks in my head.

What I didn’t realize would happen is that painting would break open a belief I didn’t even know I had. This is why I try new things. Because sometimes it isn’t about what it is I am trying, it is the inside work that happens and opens me up for major shifts, aha moments, personal growth or the spark of a new fire that was waiting for a bit of oxygen.

On the second day of the retreat the tarps were laid out all over the expansive patio and everyone had their supplies set up neatly around them. I was ready for the instructions. I was ready to learn to paint. Allison gave a bit of direction but kept repeating that this was intuitive painting and the real wisdom was inside of us…to tap into our intuition, listen to our inner whisper and let her paint away. Intuitive painting happens in stages and sometimes over days and weeks. You paint layers and layers which is supposed to be liberating because if you mess it up, you just end up painting over it anyway.

I tried playing along and I noticed how uncomfortable I was. I was trying to follow the directions. I was trying to be a good student. I wanted to do it ‘right’ because I am always trying to do everything ‘right’. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized I didn’t like it that we were going to paint over it again. I wanted to paint something beautiful and then let it stay beautiful. I didn’t want to follow the very little instruction that I had been given.

I wanted to break the rules. I wanted to make my own rules for my own painting experience.

It shows up like that. Me wanting to be the best student in the class. Me wanting to be the smartest, the fastest, the strongest, whatever it is. I have a competitive streak in me. I know that. What I didn’t know was that it was fighting with this other love of doing things differently. I like to rock the boat. If everyone does it one way, I like to try to do it differently. It seems complicated. I want to do it right but I don’t want to follow the directions. It sets me up for inner conflict and yet makes perfect sense to me.

The question becomes, what is right for ME? Not for my teacher or society or the industry I work in. What is right for me and my heart and my spirit? I might need to change the rules a bit so it fits better. It isn’t about breaking the rules. It is about creating new rules for SARA.

Sara’s Rules. Looking back I’ve done a lot of things differently and against the grain and sometimes I’ve felt bad about that. From now on I am going to release the need to do it right based on someone else’s standards, protocol, or specific 5 step process. I won’t stop learning from others. I love learning from other’s experiences and I don’t like reinventing the wheel. But I will be more conscious of my ability as the Goddess of my own Universe to take a couple of things that I learn from how Allison does it and a couple of things that I learn from someone else or a book I’m reading, and of course my inner whisper and create my own way. It’s what we’re all doing already anyway. I just get slowed down or I beat myself up in thinking that is the wrong way. There is NO wrong way. I have been open to everyone else doing what is right for them but I wasn’t allowing myself that same freedom.

When there is so much comparing going on it is easy to get lost in feeling like I’m not enough because I’m not doing it exactly like that other person who I perceive to be better than me. No thank you. I live in Sara’s Universe and I am the Queen of my own rules that I’ll make up, change, borrow and play with as I choose!

And I’ll paint with hot pink, turquoise and lots of glitter.

painting pose


2 thoughts on “Teach me the rules so I can change them”

  1. Deborah Wunnicke says:

    A delicious breakthrough… articulating what you’ve really always done….but now with clarity, bold colors and peace of mind. I love being your mom.

  2. Sheri White says:

    Love your blog Sara! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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