Stuck? “Where’s the energy?”

Where's the energy?

I went back for my second intuitive painting class yesterday. As I mentioned last week, the purpose of the class is to focus on the process of painting rather than the product. Instead of approaching the blank canvas with a plan, you’re asked to paint what you feel in the moment, even if it keeps changing. You’re also asked not to judge what you (or anyone else in the class) creates as “good” or “bad.” It’s simply a reflection of that moment.

While we’re painting, the instructor, Chris Zydel, comes around to see how we’re doing. If we’re stuck, or feel like the painting is done, she’ll often ask, “What else could happen here?” and “Where’s the energy?” to help us keep going. I’ve been thinking a lot about how these questions can apply to realizing our Big Visions.

Personally, I recently finished up my staff position at Rockwood Leadership Institute, and am figuring out what’s next. Will I go back to working for myself full-time, or work for another organization? Do the same kind of work, or something different? Honestly, I’ve been feeling pretty stuck and unable to take any decisive action.

On the other hand, while I was painting today, each color choice and brush stroke came so easily. I wasn’t worried about making a mistake, or if it was ugly, or how the whole thing was going to turn out. I just kept painting what felt right at the moment. Sometimes I painted over parts I loved and it looked worse; sometimes it looked better. I just kept going. When I wasn’t sure what to do next, I’d step back, look at the whole piece, and notice what section stood out and the color I was drawn to add. When I started to feel anxious that the painting wouldn’t be done by the end of class, I was able to tell myself, “Slow down. It’s the process that matters. You’ll continue next week.”

As I painted, I realized that I’m trying to plan out my whole Big Vision instead of stepping back as I go and asking myself in the moment: “What else could happen here? Where’s the energy?” I have a feeling that by taking action based on what resonates in the moment and understanding that each action might lead from A to J to D to V, rather than from A to Z, I will become un-stuck.

It makes me think of a story I love to tell my Big Vision clients about how in my 20’s I wanted to be a massage therapist. It seemed like the perfect job for me at the time: healing, mellow, spiritual, entrepreneurial, until I took an introductory Swedish massage class. As we got set up to practice what we’d learned on each other, I realized that to be a massage therapist I would need to massage naked (sometimes hairy) people I didn’t know. No, no, no, no, no, no. I honestly didn’t think of that when I imagined my magical massage therapist life. Reflection is an important part of the Big Vision process, but so is taking action, experimentation, learning, and taking action again.

So this week, my assignment (and yours too, if you want to try it) is to keep asking Chris’ prompts: What else could happen here? Where’s the energy?

Let’s keep the paintbrush of life moving!

Image by me.

2 thoughts on “Stuck? “Where’s the energy?”

  1. Margaux O'Malley (@margaux_om) says:

    Thanks Britt, this is great! It’s true, as much as we would like things to be linear, that’s only one of the many ways to move forward. If we expect a straight line, we’re perhaps just setting ourselves up for disappointment and frustration.

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