I'm a control freak. And like a lot of control freaks, I'm also a perfectionist.  I try to keep everything in perfect order, pay attention to every detail, do everything right. I don't want to mess up, disappoint anyone, or  . . . FAIL. Weirdly, I'm ok when a painting "fails," but my perfectionism still has a huge negative impact on my creative life.

I'm going to bet that you can see where this is going. TRYING TO CONTROL EVERYTHING DOESN'T WORK. I'm frequently anxious, have yet to achieve perfection (surprise!), and I PROCRASTINATE.  

I've been thinking a lot about this as I get ready for my workshop coming up this weekend, "Creative Allies and Adversaries." (Of course, I put it off until the last minute).  One of the things we do in the class is pull a tarot card for our Creative Ally and our Creative Adversary.

Why tarot cards? Because it totally SIDESTEPS OUR CONSCIOUS MIND with its randomness! For me, I get to step out of my own anxious thoughts, and look at things in a new way! I think of it as a way of shutting my busy brain up long enough to hear my inner voice - you might call it fate, or your subconscious, or the universe, or spirit.

Tarot cards are full of archetypal imagery and expressions of universal experiences and energies. All the cards are open to interpretation, and exploring all of their possible meanings can help you to see new things. 

In my workshop, we use the Osho Zen deck. When I was working on my book, The Creative Conversation: ArtMaking as Playful Prayer, I got permission from the artist Ma Deva Padma to use her artwork in the book and in educational settings. I love this deck because it uses simple language and modern symbolism that feel immediately applicable in our loves.  In preparing for this class, I drew "Patience" for my Ally and "Thunderbolt" for my Adversary.

Patience is pretty self-explanatory. When I give my work time and space, it unfolds. New, amazing imagery, connections, and meanings emerge. It's a reminder to take my time and let the art speak to me. Hmmm. Kind of the opposite of controlling, yes?


But the Thunderbolt? That represents destruction, a sudden disruption or uncomfortable change. EXACTLY WHAT I'M TRYING TO AVOID WITH ALL OF THIS CONTROLLING and PERFECTIONISM. And in the cards description, it says:

Your sense of security is being challenged, and the natural tendency is to try to hold on to whatever you can . . . But this inner earthquake is both necessary and tremendously important - if you allow it, you will emerge from the wreckage stronger . . . Say yes to the process by meeting it halfway.

I tend to think of these cards as parts of myself, or energies I hold, rather than ominous things that might happen to me. So I ask myself, "In what ways is a destruction, sudden disruption or uncomfortable change in my current life be my creative adversary?" After reading the description and doing some journaling, I came to a clearer understanding.

Yes, my controlling, my perfectionism, my procrastination are definitely stifling my creativity. And more than that, I've been wanting to change up the way I do my art - both in its creation and the way I approach it as a business. And that change isn't going to happen in a graceful way if I keep a death grip on the way things have been!  And if I try to do it perfectly, it may never happen - or it may happen in a way that's really destructive. I'll end up being reactive rather than proactive. And a chaotic, earthquake-like change is ALSO going to have a negative impact on my creativity! So the question becomes - how do I work WITH the change that's coming - the change that I want?

What kind of artist do I want to be?