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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Shut Up & Show Up

"Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position."  -Stephen King

  "Be You" painting can be found HERE

It seems I have lost my words.  This morning while I was running (aka: very slow jogging), I wrote an entire blog post in my head but I must have left the words out there on the trail because now, as I sit down to begin, I can't find them anywhere.  It feels like too much to write about all that's going on here inside this mind of mine—it all feels too intense and too scattered to contain here on the page.  As I write that last sentence, I wonder—do I need to contain it?  Does it need to be written all neat and orderly or could I just say it as it wants to be said?  

My mind has got a tight leash on me lately, so death grip tight that I can't seem to breathe deeply.  I can't seem to move or paint or write or run.  I can't seem to get on the other side of that fear I write so much about.  Although, I've got to give myself a little credit (and maybe some high fives)—despite HUGE resistance, this morning I did manage to get my body moving anyway.  That feels a little like a miracle.  And now I'm showing up to write anyway.  And later today I will show up and paint anyway.  

I'm realizing that the most challenging thing of all is to DECIDE.  I've spent so much of my life completely overwhelmed with the number of choices I have at any given moment and it's (in many moments) been paralyzing.  So, last week (with help from my dear friend, Brooke) I made a daily schedule for myself & this schedule, this knowing what I will do next (even if everything in me is kicking and screaming with tsunami strength) feels like a life saver.  It's forcing me to show up and plow through the resistance (which is really just my terrified mind trying to keep me "safe").  

So, after a busy, full summer with my family that included almost no creating, I've been sitting down to paint.  My intention during these painting sessions is to GET OUT OF THE WAY and allow something to flow through me.  But here's the mind has decided to kick in with a ferocious intensity and it's felt impossible to get out of the way.  Instead, I've had this white-knuckled-gripping-trying-to-control-every-brush-stroke thing going on that feels painful and hard.  And it's felt like all I'm managing to do, in Stephen King's perfect words:   is to shovel shit from a sitting position.

What's funny (although I can't seem to muster up even a tiny giggle) is when I talk to people about art/, I tell them to just begin, to breathe deeply, to trust, to quiet their minds and allow something to flow through them.  I tell them to let go & TRUST THE PROCESS, to make a mess, to PLAY.  


The thing is, when I've been able to do this in my own life, with my own paintings and writing, when I've managed to release that white-knuckled-grip—miracles happen.  Release happens, expansion that transfers to every area in my life happens.  I know it's possible.  I just need to shut up and show up.  That feels pretty damn clear—just shut up and show up.  That might have to be my new mantra.  

And now I'm going to shut up, go put on my special little painting apron, take out my paints and brushes and just show the hell up.  

Wanna join me?


  1. Julia, first of all thank you for the amazing review for Cosette's Tribe! Your words touched the deepest part of me. When I think of the endless hours spent penning that novel—at work in between tasks, on a piece of shit laptop and how I couldn't really judge if it was good or crap. I only knew that it felt right writing it, and to have readers like you praise my work,'s magic, and validating, and it makes me want to write more.

    Lately I've been in a funk. It's been a crazy year and a half, with so much going on. Each day brings its calm and chaos—challenges and triumphs. I gather my successes like wildflowers and put them in a significant place , so that when I'm stuck and stifled I can remember the magic that flows through me. The truth that is uniquely mine to share. And yet it has nothing to do with me. I need to remember that also. What a relief.

    I hope today's painting time was fruitful. I was sharing your art with my husband the other day, noting how whimsical and innocent it is and how it stirs up joy and peace when I look at it. He agreed and together we went page by page appreciating your art, finally ending with a reading of your poem, On the Other Side of Fear. Thank you for that Julia. You're so blessed and gifted...perfectly you.
    Love! Love! Love!

    1. Leah, first--you are so welcome. It was such an honor to write that review for you, for your precious Cosette's Tribe.

      I understand all about funks and craziness, my friend--I'm right here with you. I take such comfort in knowing that we are always right here for each other, knowing and understanding and loving through it all.

      Thank you for sharing that sweetest ever story about you and your husband looking at my art--the image of that stirs all kinds of things inside. Truly, that is the sweetest.

      I appreciate you so much, Leah. I see you & marvel at all the beauty that is YOU.

      With so much love,


  2. I love how honest you are, sharing the highs and the lows, the frustrations as well as the miracles that come your way.

    It's important for me to know that you have days like this, otherwise I would picture you as the painter/writer all the time. Yet you are real, you are human, you have the same struggles we all have.

    And you are so loved.

    The cool thing is that you Know how to get to that other side of even on your crappy days (which are SO like our crappy days) we know that you've been Over There. We know that this little bit of life will pass and we can take courage from your example and overcome our own fears.

    Meanwhile, we're just gonna keep reminding you that we love you.

    1. Deb, I'm not sure how you do it but you always do. You always know just the things to say to open & warm me. These words from you felt like the best ever embrace and have left pouring gratitude.

      Thank you for taking the time to come here and listen in your beautiful Deb way and for leaving behind words that soothe and encourage.

      You are seriously precious.

  3. YES, I want to join you, dear friend. Just beginning, taking those first little motions, can seem so difficult for me. I resist, protest, think of all the reasons why I should just go back to bed, and basically think myself into a frenzy. I've been resisting moving my body and am going to join you with the schedule - just showing up and beginning. Thank you for sharing your heart so freely. I've missed your words, your energy here and am so happy to wake up to this post. Loving you.

    1. "think myself into a frenzy." These words are so right on & understood, Alia! We just need to let our crazy minds go on doing their crazy things and, in the meantime, we can keep showing the hell up!

      I take so much comfort and get so much energy knowing you're here, my friend. High fives to shutting up and showing up!

  4. i love your birdie n message n you.
    i love you so, friend. xox

    1. Rachel, dear Rachel--I so love you too. I feel crazy-giddy lucky to have you here.

  5. I basically feel like you are in my mind and reciting everything I have been feeling lately. So needless to say I completely understand what you are dealing with. Starting always seems so freaking hard, like I'm trying to lift 5 tons hard. I'm with you sweet sis.

    1. "5 tons hard" Oh, yes--it does feel like 5 tons, doesn't it? So well said, sweet sis. What a gift it is to understand & be much comfort in that.

      Wrapping you in love, Amy. Always right here.

  6. I'm right on board Julia, One time when I was shovelling shit a good friend of mine reminded me that it wasn't really shit but more like fertilizer.Maybe miracles are made of fertilizer.'Shut up and show up'. What a brilliant quote. I will be recycling it sometime soon in Kick A$$ Friday. Sending you a big hug missus.

    Love Nige

    1. Nige. This made me laugh out loud! Like I had this huge, bubbling up all over the place kind of laughter that untangled something all tied up inside.

      And I love looking at the shit like it's fertilizer--it's so much prettier and less smelly that way.

      You are one of my favorite people, Nige...I appreciate you so much.

      Okay, now pass the shovel. :)

  7. I love that, Nige... Miracles are made of fertilizer. We need t-shirts!

    And I love you, Julia. I think anyone who commits to a creative life knows exactly what you're feeling.

    1. Alright, t-shirts it is! I love imagining us all in our "miracles are made of fertilizer" t-shirt-we'd be so cute.

      J, it's like the biggest ever blessing to be loved by you. I love you right back, my lovely, fertilizing friend.

  8. Wishing you release, relaxation, relief. May you surrender. So much love to you.

    1. Thank you, Jill. Release, relaxation, relief, surrender--sounds like just what I need, what I always need. I wish the same for you, my friend.

      Love right back--and big, grateful, smiling hugs.

  9. Why yes, my dear friend, I do. It's very early here and I haven't been painting and rather than go back to sleep, I think I'll join you and paint!

    And that's the way it happens with me, too. Words, words, words, then images, images, images then the painting. In waves.

    It's time. Thanks for the invitation.

    Love to you.

    1. Sounds like just the way it is for me, Christa. So happy you're joining me in the paint!

      Love to you, dear person.

  10. Shut up, and show up. I think that pretty much says it. :-) I'm happy to have found you through my dear friend, Kindy. Your visual art, your poetic art, your journey through fear to acceptance...all so beautiful. I look forward to seeing more. Just wanted to say hi, and thank you for the encouragement this evening. Joy, peace and freedom to you.

    1. Ah, Ashley...what a great surprise for my morning! I'm smiling & a little giddy that you've dropped in to say hello after Kindy & I talked about you just yesterday.

      I look forward to hopping over to your blog and getting to know sounds like the two of us have a lot in common.

      Sending love to you today. Thank you so much for taking the time to connect.

  11. Julia, thank you so much for commenting on my blog! I do believe we've got similar hearts (and perhaps experiences). I'm so glad that you "happened upon" my post "Live Fully Awake" of all things. As I was reading this piece of yours last night, that one of mine kept rattling about. Resonance with a fellow of my very favorite things! Sending love.

  12. By the way, my second daughter is named Julia, though I call her J on my blog. :) Love your name, obviously.

    1. I'm so happy to share a name with your daughter, Ashley--so much sweet resonance here.

      It's amazing how quickly we recognized each other's hearts...I'm tucking this sweetness in close---yet another beautiful gift for my travels.

      So much love to you, new friend.


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♥ Julia