Reflection on the 500 Word Challenge

The invitation to join the challenge could not have come at a better time. I had stopped writing, painting or in any way allowing the expression of my inner artist to surface in my personal life for over a year. There was a numbness in my skin left over from a healing journey that I had curtailed to push myself back into my career as a fulltime teacher. I made the excuses. There were so many in my life that I could be an encourager for that I had almost been able ignore the mutterings of the artist within.

Yet, as 2014 began, there was an unrest inside that couldn’t seem to settle anywhere. My first thought on seeing the invitation was the incentive it would give me to begin risking opening up again. My second was fear of what might be reopened if I dared take up pen or keyboard again. It was time though. I knew it. So I undammed my words and let them enter the river of thoughts shared by others in the 500 word challenge.

Both hopes and fears have come true in this journey through the challenge. As my writing in the first week of 500 words challenge came to a close words had begun to flow more freely. I had even risked recording my thoughts in an accountability blog for others to read. This trickle further dislodged the clutter inside blocking the flow. If free writing could do this, what would happen if I also did free painting? I rearranged my space to create an art corner and let canvas and easel share in what was proving to be a quest for my inner artist. The painter and writer would walk side by side for the rest of the journey through January.

There was feelings of intimidation in the process. So many of the other bloggers seemed to be working on big projects like books or wrote on topics that I had become numb to. Would I find my voice in the mix? I didn’t even know what my final goals were for this quest just that there was a hunger inside to free words and images that would no longer accept imprisonment. Was that enough to make me worthy of taking up this challenge?

It would have been easy to stop if I had not determined to make this a personal goal instead of giving in to feelings of competition so I used the opportunity to encourage others and to welcome the encouragement that was given to me. These interactions with others who held similar hopes and fears about their journey were one of the most invaluable parts of the experience. The drive inside of me to keep tearing down the obstructions inside built and soon I had to write and paint just to keep up with all the flowed from behind the dam.

As is inevitable when writing or other art making has been stopped up because of painful events, I did come up against the obstacle that had kept my artist impotent for so long. It is another stage of this quest to free the passion within me from the chains I have allowed so long.

It is a journey that will be easier to make though. Having had this time to walk with others who risked sharing from their own life, I have a deeper well of hope and possibility to draw from. I will need to walk through, write through this present story to see where my quest will lead. That I have been able to communicate my thoughts to others whether in blog posts or in supportive comments has been a meaningful experience that will do much to take me forward through the joys and perils of this quest as I get to know the artist within.

P.S. My first free-thought paintings of 2014:

Bouquet of memory

A Bouquet of Memories, L. J. Andres,  January 2014


Murmeration, L. J. Andres, January 2014


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