Sunday, 4 May 2014

Taking Risks

I have not typically ever been a bit risk taker, though risks are perhaps somewhat subjective.  I have done things about which others have commented "That was so brave of you." and yet it did not seem a brave or difficult thing to me at all, only a necessary thing.  Still, I am generally someone who has lived with the better safe than sorry motto, someone who is cautious and who does not really like to put herself out there as the saying goes.   I do not believe there is a need to apologise for this.  It is who I am and it is typical introvert behaviour.  In a world where extroversion is the norm and considered the ideal, introversion can sometimes be seen as something that needs fixing, correcting or changing.  This is not true.

Having said that, I do sometimes need to push myself a little bit to take a risk.  What that risk is or whether or not it can even be defined as one is my own personal decision and I don't usually feel the need to have it validated by anyone else.  I also sometimes find it valuable to remind myself of the things I have already done or am able to consistently do which are risks in the eyes of some and thus remind myself that I am not a timid wee mouse.  What is  frightening or challenging to one person may not be so to another and I have sometimes been surprised when someone has said to me "Wow, I could never do that."  This has happened with regards to my painting, or I should say with the fact that I paint.  I do not have the chutzpah to sell my art or display it publicly and showing it on my blog has been a big first step for me.  But I have had some people tell me that from their point of view it takes enormous courage just to paint at all.

Another thing I do, which seems bold to some, is write fiction.  I have been sporadically writing fiction all my life, but I rarely share it and certainly nothing is published.  I do not yet have the boldness to pursue anything like an agent or publisher or even to self publish.  I am not a self promoter.  And yet as someone who creates, whether it is art or writing, I do recognise that I do it both for myself and for others.  I do it primarily for my own joy and yet things created are often meant for sharing.  I hope that what brings me joy could potentially bring others joy too.  I abhor the idea of fame, I am terrible at self promotion, but I dream of my work being shared, recognised of something that has value not only to myself but to others, and above all, I simply wish to be good at it. 

I often ponder the concept of Patti's Visible Monday, and completely understand  women can become invisible in our youth equals beauty culture.  Introverts can tend towards being invisible too.  I wonder just how visible I want to be or if I do want to be visible at all.  I am uncertain.  I believe that what I really want is to put what I create out there and then myself step back into the shadows.  I prefer the idea of some notice paid to what I create rather than to me, the person.  I am perfectly well equipped with social skills and could not really be described as shy, but I do not like to be the centre of attention.  I would appreciate recognition and perhaps even praise where it is due but do not like a fuss.  Trying to find this balance in my life seems like a constant sort of juggling act.

Once, years ago, and I am perhaps fortunate that it is only once, I experienced the frustration of a colleague taking all the credit for work we both did together.  I fumed silently.  I was angry.  It was particularly challenging to cope with as she was also a close friend.   In retrospect I believe that she is not a calculatingly evil person so much as she is someone who is much more prepared than I am to bask in a bit of glory and it was something she sought.  Although we are not as close as we once were, I still see this quality in her and I do not wish to have it but I have learned from her on my journey to understanding myself and what I want, why I do what I do and what I may need to do next.

A strategy that seems to work for me, when I do need to push myself a little, is to tell others of an intention so that I feel held accountable.  This is what I do when I feel I need or want to take a bit of a risk.  This is essentially the strategy I am using when I show my art on my blog.  I am saying, look, see I am an artist and this is something I have painted.  I am setting up an expectation in others that I will make more, that I will grow and improve, and that I will continue to share.  Or at least, I am setting myself up to believe that others expect that.   The next step is to do that with my writing.  I am not yet certain if I will share any of my fiction writing here on my blog, but today I am going so far as to state that I am adding to my collection of short stories, intending to seek out some contests and submit them.  I am also working on a much larger project, doing research for what I hope will be a novel.  It may be spectacularly bad or it may be the next best seller.  I will never know unless I try.   And I am more likely to find the courage to share it if you hold me accountable.

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 Dressed for writing, both at home and in my local cafe, I'm forced back into darker and warmer clothes due to some nasty weather.  My solution is to add liberal doses of purple!  The new to me red tooled leather tote has become my writing bag.  I have my notebooks, pens, items for editing and a book for research stashed in it.  It fits my laptop too if I want it but I don't want it today.




45 comments:

  1. Risk-taking and confidence are highly personal issues. When I worked in mental health, I used to facilitate assertiveness training groups, confidence building, anxiety management, all that stuff. A really interesting exercise was to ask participants to place themselves on a line, a continuum, running from shit scared to completely comfortable, given various situations. Even the most anxious and timid didn't rate themselves as terrified about everything. It depends. Likewise even the most apparently confident person has soft spots of anxiety.
    So - whether it is drawing the attention of others through one's clothing, or sharing art, or speaking up about something, or standing by our actions or creative endeavours, these can all be considered on that continuum. Are we comfortable with it, or not? And yes, it's good to challenge ourselves. We're all physically visible when we engage with the world. And I think if we create and want to share what we make, than that is also visible. Perhaps we should just embrace it and admit it - yes, we want some attention, approval, love! Nothing wrong with that!
    Lovely outfit, btw. It seems a little superficial, given the subject in hand, but you look really great, Shawna! The purple, the scarf, the boots, the bag - love! xxxx

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    1. My son suffers from a very debilitating anxiety disorder, which is much different from my experiences of simply being an introvert and having a few every day anxieties. There are as many variations on this as there are people in the world. I think that even introverts want to engage with people and contribute and participate, but we have different ways of doing it. I agree with you, that we all want some degree of attention recognition, approval and love.
      Thanks re the outfit. It's very me and that always makes a big difference I think. I like my clothes to feel like an extension of me and not a costume.
      xo

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  2. I love the outfit, especially the way you've tied the scarf around your waist. It's very flattering, and has a sort of boho vibe. And I love that your new bag is your writing bag! I'm sure just picking it up will help put you into the creative state of mind.

    I know what you mean about intention - when you tell someone something, you feel like you have to follow through. Although in the past I have sometimes felt that since I said it, the work was done. Do you know what I mean? It's easy to plan to do something, but the follow through is hard. But you're doing it! Good for you!! Even if it's just baby steps or if it's only for your eyes, the process is important. I hope you'll share your fiction at some time, though, because I'd love to read it!

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    1. Thanks, Val. I have decided to use my scarves more creatively and keep them off my neck for awhile. This one is purple and has doodangles so I love it!
      I do know what you mean about how sometimes intention makes you feel like you have done the job. That does apply to some things in my life too only I can't think of any examples at the moment. I think the follow through happens if one is really passionate. I am a real dabbler and many things interest me but I know which of them I am truly passionate about.
      xo

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  3. First of all, gorgeous outfit as Val says! This reminds me of my art bag with watercolours and book and pens and pencils all ready to grab when I have a few moments to spend in the outdoors. I totally get the whole self promotion shyness. I have it too! I'm getting better at sharing and realise sometimes I'm my own worst critic. I'm glad you have set off on this new adventure. Blogging is mine. I hope you meet as many wonderful people on your quest as I have on mine (pointing towards a certain Shawna)!

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    1. I don't have an art bag, I have an art basket. I cart it from room to room on my more sedentary days and go back and forth between sofa and bed. I call it my happy basket and will probably do a post on it sometime too. I have met many wonderful people with this blog and although I made a few stabs at blogging in the past, going back to around 2009, this is the one that is sticking, the one that lead me to a wonderful community of bloggers, and I am glad I took this risk too. I'm glad you are sharing your creativity on your blog because you inspire me and I"m very glad I met you!

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  4. Wonderful post, and gave me lots to ponder. Introversion seems so natural to me too, and I have to push myself to be "outgoing" in work and social settings. But I agree, a bit of recognition feels good when we've created something. It is a personal choice, to be very "visible" or not, but I don't want to be forced to fade away! Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday, and oh yes, your outfit is very cool too. xo

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Patti. I think about this concept of visibility often, thanks to you. There are so many ways to look at it and think about it.
      xo

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  5. This morning I read a clipping that said many of the worlds biggest celebrities are in fact, introverts. I think the difference between the two is that introverts want to be noticed for their art, etc, while extroverts want fame to be seen. So I understand and can relate to what you stated about wanting your work seen but then fading into the back. I understand because I too am introverted. By the way, this is my favorite look on you yet:)

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  6. Thanks, Glenda. It's interesting how when we dress in a way that is true to ourselves other people notice and like it.

    I have read that many celebrities and performers are shy and/or introverted and I completely understand that as one of the things I can do is perform. It is much easier for me to perform on a stage with a huge audience than it would be for me to speak in front of ten people. As soon as the crowd is big the individuals sort of disappear for me and I develop the ability to lose myself in a character, even if that character is Shawna making a speech or Shawna singing a song.

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  7. Ah, writing from a cafe sounds heavenly! I adore what you wore! I am pushing myself more in 2014 to take risks--calculated ones that make sense. :) So far, I'm glad I have. I am definitely feeling the growth from my little moves forward. Cheers! T. http://tickledpinkwoman.blogspot.com

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    1. Tina, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Writing from a cafe probably sounds more romantic than it is-lol. I actually had to cafe hop, as the first one I went to was too noisy for me. It's a nice cafe but either their machines are really loud or their acoustics amplify the sounds. So I went a little further afield to another one I like and which tends to be quieter.

      I am all for calculated risks. I am not a big gambler. Here's to feeling the growth of little moves forward!
      xo

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  8. wow! cool outfit! that scarf at your hip is perfect!
    if i would see you on the streets i would immediately think "that woman is an artist!"
    and would make contact. :-)
    with risks - risks are for me when there is a possibility to get injured/killed by doing a certain thing. or they will send you to prison ;-) all the other "risks" are chances. not that i´m very brave. but on the other side i can´t imagine a life still in the town where i´m born, in the job i learned with 16.... uuuaa.
    so from time to time in my life i jump in cold, deep water - and see - i swim. maybe i don´t earn a gold medal, but i come to new, interesting shores....
    we will look out for your writing here!!!!!
    xxxx

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    1. You make an interesting point, Beate, which ties in with my suprise sometimes at what someone else perceives as my bravery. It is not a risk unless we personally fear it. While some people are cautious about everything, some of us are more cautious about avoiding physical harm and some of us about avoiding emotional harm.

      Although that brown skirt is not the star of the outfit I love it and am hanging onto it when I probably should not. It has some grease stains on it which I cannot get out, and is two sizes too big for me. It is truly my ideal skirt pattern and made of heavy cotton jersey which I also love.
      If you miscalculate and take a risk that sends you to prison, I promise to come and visit. ;-)
      xo

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    2. this will be very gracious ;-)
      especially when you bring me a cake with a iron saw in it...
      try dish soap on the grease stains. if this is not working hack the skirt to make a pattern of it - and sew it in colorful 70´s upholstery fabric or so.......
      :-)

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    3. Oh yes, definitely there will be a cake with a saw! That will be the risk that I will choose to take-helping you bust out of prison!

      I have tried everything-dish soap, commercial degreasers, lighter fluid! While I am aware that the skirt could be taken apart and a pattern made and more skirts sewn, this is beyond what I have the skills or even energy and stamina to take on. I am, however, really considering finding a tailor to do this for me.
      xo

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  9. I understand where you are coming from because for many years I too sat and watched others take credit for things I had done, always saying to myself, someday, someone will notice that I was involved in all this good work. It was a frustrating experience but I believe it's just another step that's made me who I am today. You look lovely. The scarf around the hip is very chic!!! XO.

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    1. It is probably a quite common experience, having someone else take credit for what we have done. I like to think that it happened to me with something that was important I would stand up for myself. I agree with you that all the hurdles we jump over, short or tall, help to shape us!
      xo

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  10. Oh Gawd, what's up with this weather, really!!!! It sucks here!
    I love the camel and purple mix, they looks awesome together, who would have thought! :D
    I understand what you mean. It's even more annoying when a person takes credit for work only YOU did :D This happened to me in University, I was furious, but when I thought about it, it was just a stupid project no one really cared about anyway...
    The thing about taking risks it that as long as people are okay with the current situation, they wouldn't change it even if it means it would be for the better. I've seen so many of my family and friends going in circles just because they're afraid to take risks and do something differently. It's silly really, we only live once after all.

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    1. We usually have a very hideous May or June, but never both. So I'm going to assume May is the hideous month this year.
      I didn't show the scarf in close up but there is just a touch of camel in it, so I thought I was being very clever to wear my camel coloured boots. Of course I also happen to love those boots with a love that allows me to claim them in my top three footwear ranks.

      You are referring to what in idiomatic English is called 'better the devil you know than the one you don't' and it leads people to 'play it safe'. Perhaps what to you looks like a small risk with the potential to improve life, seems like a huge risk with the potential for pain to these friends and family members. Keep on being your adventurous self and maybe some of them will be inspired to make some changes that are beneficial!
      xo

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  11. What a great post. I find personalities to interesting. My husband HATES to be the center of attention and I never understood why he never wanted surprise parties, or even to open gifts in front of people. He was an absolute mess at our wedding, and barely remembers saying his vows because he hates being in the limelight. Me on the other hand...
    On another note, I love the scarf around your skirt. What a fun way to wear a scarf!

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    1. I find personalities really interesting too. I did minor in psychology at university and was intending to go back for further studies/degrees when my chronic illness derailed those plans. :-) I didn't like the whole wedding thing either. I have the ability to pull it off, but do not enjoy being princess for a day.

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  12. Oh dear, taking credit or having no recognition for what I've done - yes, a few times, heartbroken - yes, a few times, still recovering from the last one. But I decided that my heart has a miraculous ability to heal and be still the same - brave, naive (it's a great quality in my world), and loving. It takes time, but I'll get there.

    I am another one who jumps into cold water from a high bank all the time. I am afraid of the unknown just as the next person, it's not fearlessness. But I guess the excitement of learning something new, living life without limits which we mostly put on ourselves to feel safe, is much stronger in me than fears. I think that at the end, there are only two things in life which matters and we pick one of them in each and every big or little situation - fear or love. I think when you write or paint, you pick love. And I applaud you for that. Of course you will write a book and publish it! And I will too. Why not? What can stop us from doing it? Only ourselves. :)

    You look very you in this outfit, and you glow. Love your writing bag! Hugses!

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    1. Well said, Natalia! I too have a resilient heart.

      The kinds of things I do which could be considered jumping into the cold water do not actually feel like risks to me, but just the right thing for me to do. It's when other people call it brave that it makes me stop and think how we all perceive these things differently. Hugses to you too!
      xo

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  13. It's good to hear you have decided to submit your fiction writing into some contests, good for you. It's good to have something to aim for and making an announcement can really help confirm your actions. I often find it more effort just thinking about doing things than actually getting on and doing them.
    Love the way you are wearing that scarf.

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    1. Thinking about things is more of an compulsion for me than an effort. It would be an effort to not think about everything before doing it. LOL ON the other hand when I do something spontaneously it is awfully good fun. Like tying a scarf around my waist! ;-)

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  14. What a great post Shawna! I feel like I am an introvert, I need quiet times and 'recovery' from social events, I feel uncomfortable being the centre of attention, yet I can be quite loud, have no fear of public dancing and like to dress up. I make no sense to me sometimes!! I am taking more risks to at the moment and pushing myself to do more, so I feel I understand it a little when you talk about being bolder, when you are ready and if you want to to show your art and your fiction I will look forward to it - another great outfit too, and I do like your waist wrapped scarves x x x

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    1. People mistakenly believe that being an introvert also means being shy. Those are two separate things which may or may not go together. I think that everyone's personal risk taking should make them happy. If it feels good and harms no one then try it! Compared with many of our blogging friends, my dressing style is conservative yet in the small town where I live it actually stands out. This is a jeans or yoga pants town. I don't dress that way because I want attention but because I need to be myself. I don't mind if people look at me or talk to me when I am out in public, in fact I quite enjoy talking to strangers and do it all the time, but I also like to disappear into a crowd. That's one of the things I love about a city. I like to be anonymous and just watch the people. :-)

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  15. Great, thought provoking post Shawna ... so much of ourselves is tied up in our self confidence ... or lack there of. Sometimes it's liberating to just let go and not to give a damn ... but that's much easier said than done.
    xx

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    1. I think there are different kinds of letting go and not giving a damn. If that makes sense. I try to aim for something that pleases me and to not give a damn if it displeases anyone else. The I haven't bathed in a week and I'm wearing sweat pants kind of not giving a damn is more likely to be indicative of having crashed but I still wouldn't really want to be seen in public like that-lol.
      xo
      xo

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  16. Great post Shawna and gorgeous ensemble.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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    1. Thank you, and thanks for stopping by!
      xo

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  17. Very good post! I need to write more, I always start, then the self-loathing kicks in. I love the outfit, purple is pretty!

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    1. Thanks, Sarah. I am compelled to write and so thankful that some people actually read it. I always enjoy your writing so you must stomp all over that self loathing!

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  18. Welcome to Visible Monday! I think you chose a great outfit for your linkup --the scarf tied around your waist gives a touch of Bohemian vibe and it goes so well with that gorgeous skirt.

    I think you've hit on the way to balance out your large comfortable jackets. You look sleek and ready to move, all at once!

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    1. I used to really hide myself in enormous coats so if you think I wear large comfortable jackets now you should have seen me way back when. When I was young and skinny, we're talking teens and twenties here, I was inclined to be a bit pear shaped, with muscular Beyonce things and a tiny waist that made my hips noticeable. Hips were not in back then, nor were booties or thighs so I successfully internalised all the dressing tips to balance a pear shape. Then something odd happened. My thirties were a blurr of motherhood and hideous clothes but I woke up in my forties and my body shape had somewhat reversed itself. Now if anything, I am a bit meatier on top. But I still instinctively dress for the opposite, so I put on light colours and voluminous shapes on top with dark minimalist bottoms. I'm a slow learner but gradually I'm getting the hang of how to dress the body I really have and not the one in my head. LOL

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  19. Purple is the color that brings the invisible into the visible realm- seems natural for a creative such as you to be drawn to it. Your outfit speaks "creative" and you look warm, comfortable and spirited.

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    1. Thank you, you do say such lovely things! I always think of purple as an extroverted and flambouyant colour and yet I am neither of those things. Still, purple is the colour that speaks to my heart so it is the one that makes me happiest.

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  20. First of all, my english is very bad. However, I wanted to read your text absolutely and of course understand, because the topic interested me very much . So I translated it with the Google Translater.
    I am very impressed by your open and honest words. In many perspectives I recognize myself. I am a mix between bold and shy. Often people tell me how good I can do some things and bad that I 'm not trying to do it professional. Should I be honest? I have not the courage for it. I also think that I 'm not as good as others that might be expected of me. I myself am very critical with me. Far too critical. If I would try it I think it would not meet my expectations. And I might disappoint others then . Maybe I 'm too much thinking about every detail . Maybe I should just be more brave and dare a lot. But I'm not the type of taking risks. I'm more for safety and proven .
    Sometimes I would like to but slightly different but this change goes against my nature .

    Dear Shawna , I hope you can understand me a little bit. The translator may have possibly made ​​some mistakes ;)

    At least.. your outfit is gorgeous. The colors you´ve chose fits perfectly to your skin and your hair. The skirt and the scarf around the waist makes a wonderful silhouette:)

    have a wonderful week
    Dana
    with many greetings from far Germany

    http://danalovesfashionandmusic.blogspot.de/

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  21. Dana, thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment. There are many ways to take risks or show courage and you do that by making a blog and reaching out to communicate with people. You took the chance that you could communicate with me despite how wonky those translators can get. I understand you quite well. Sending you hugs, which don't need any translation!
    xo

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    1. That´s true dear Shawna.

      It takes a lot of courage to show yourself on the blog infront of the whole world. Especially because you know exactly that not everybody will like you as a person or the things you are showing on your blog. This criticism we must be able to endure. Some days it does not bother me. Some days it bother me very much.
      Much harder it is when you have very few visitors. Then I begin to ponder. Nobody cares what you do and if you are there or not.

      The hug has arrived. Thank you :)

      have a wonderful day
      Dana
      hugs
      http://danalovesfashionandmusic.blogspot.de/

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  22. Thank you for sharing such a lovely post. Timid mouse I think not, you are you and that is it. You look lovely, keep being artistic and creative you fabulous woman you!!

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    1. Awwww, thanks Sue. I am me and that is that. I like that motto and I think I will write it on my wall.
      xo

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  23. Grand post, Shawna ... just grand! I got to see your "scribble" drawings and am delighted with your painting. I get it that your skills are a work in progress, and I hope you will continue with expansion of the tools you'll use in both your writing and your painting!
    My formal education is in fine arts ( my BFA is from Cornish there in Seattle) and I really get your urges to create. Although I'm clearly an extrovert and am always "on" and "out there" I do have some introverted places in my psyche. One of the things I value most about painting as a mode of expression is that, unlike dancers and actors and performance artists of all kinds, visual artists get to stand behind our work, a little removed from it and can maintain all the privacy we wish from viewers and all those with whom we communicate. That is certainly true of writing as well. Very suitable for an introvert wanting to dip a toe into a wider venue.
    So hurrah to you!
    Have you considered life drawing classes? That was what I enjoyed the most ... I paint the figure almost always, and I loved the years of classes. So often there are adult extension courses at colleges and universities and community centers. As much as instruction, I valued the structure ... making me stand my ground in front of a drawing pad and and just do it.
    You are surely rocking that boho look. Pretty in purple ... don't you just love purple with browns? I do, and you look great in the combo.
    I wish you much happiness in your pursuits.

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  24. Thank you Jan, you are such a sweetheart and I always love how you are direct, honest but kind. I suspect that participatory classes are favoured by extroverts, and I tend not to like them. I prefer to either learn on my own with books and practice, or to sit anonymously in a lecture. I do like life drawing and I dabble in that as well, with lots of anatomy books to support me.

    I do love purple and brown! Of course I love purple with everything and I also love brown.

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