Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Weekly Reflection (week 26): Thoughts on being BIG

What scares me about being BIG? What excites me?

I have to explain that BIG is the latest and in my humble opinion, Greatest e-course offering by Connie Hosvicka of Dirty Foot Prints Studio (and damn, her Art Journal Love Letters course is awesome, so she's batting a thousand here folks!) BIG is painting big. BIG is creating from a place of Fearlessness, a place of Passion, and a place of Faith whereby I am jumping into the sea of creativity and trusting the process to carry me to a new shore. And then jumping in again.

We are in our first week together and already I can see something powerful is happening. Connie has asked us to journal about our experience and to reflect upon the process rather than the product. To get us started, she gave us some journaling prompts on BIG and the above is my spin on her questions. What scares me about being BIG?

my first scribble piece; each painting is done on large poster board with acrylic paints

Wow. I immediate thought about how I have lived my life trying to be small. I was big as a kid (I know, anyone that knows me never believes this) and at my biggest, I was 45 pounds heavier than I am today. I was uncomfortably aware of my size as a kid. Add to this being a redhead and I just stood out. I hated being called "Red" which is what most adults loved to call me. I did not want to be singled out; I did not want attention for fear than any attention I would receive would be negative. I was the kid who always hung back, hoping to pass unnoticed and hoping to be left alone.

I think this desire to be left alone fueled my drive toward perfectionism. If I did everything everyone else wanted, then I could slip by without comment. See, even doing well did not mean praise, but anonymity. So what scares me about being BIG is being noticed. What I find sad is my equating being noticed with being found lacking.

Being BIG means taking up space, taking what I need and also what I want. Being BIG means declaring "I am and I have a right to all of this." Of course this runs counter to what I absorbed as a child: not to make a fuss, not to be a bother, not to waste, not to speak back, fight back and certainly not to put myself first. I say "absorbed" because I do not believe these lessons were consciously given to me; but they filtered in none-the-less.

scribble #2

I wonder if being BIG - or rather the fear of it - is particularly a challenge for women? We are taught to tend to others, rein in our emotions - in fact, doubt our emotions or our emotional reaction to situations - never mind the cultural preference for physical smallness/thinness. To be BIG is to be substantial. I decided to check out the definition of substantial: "of considerable importance, size, or worth" and "real and tangible." Interesting is the derivation of the word from the Latin substant meaning "standing firm."

To be BIG then is to not merely take up space, but to hold it and proclaim my right to its occupation. And in painting BIG, I am declaring my experience, my creative expression as worthy of existence and attention. Each time I paint BIG, I am expressing my dance between feelings and pigment, energy and brushstrokes, intuition and color and form. I am putting it out there to be noticed. And really, the person who needs to see and accept it is myself.

lines painting - this process reminded me of a zentangle

So what excites me about BIG is exploring the spaciousness within me and sharing it with the world. Fellow BIG tribe member Lisa wrote about the experience of opening her wings and it struck me that my habitually stiff shoulders are so not from the weight of responsibility I place upon myself, but perhaps sore from the effort of holding my wings tightly closed. I am ready to open my wings and take in their full expanse and power. This excites me; this feels daring - to explore my full power and to affirm my experience in vibrant, strong color and form.

shapes painting

Yes, BIG is proving to be the best leap ever - a leap back into my heart and into myself. And look who is joining me ...

Cowgirl working on our second piece for Painting with a Purpose

while our first piece sits, Cowgirl started a new "self portrait": a C-Dawg

What would being BIG mean to you? Do you hold or shrink back? What keeps us small? I am learning it is only myself and Fear that keeps me small and quiet. No more!


  1. I *loved* reading this and relate so much to living small - trying not to take up too much room, making sure there was enough for everyone else, etc. etc. I have found that deep down I have some unconscious beliefs about there not being enough and that if I am too big (success-wise, attention-wise, etc), then there will be less for others, so somehow by living small, I am ensuring there are enough of those things for others. Weird, huh?

    Very well written and well thought out - this shook out a few funny ideas that are good for me to look at.

    Thanks, Lis!

  2. Love this from your post:
    "the effort of holding my wings tightly closed"
    I made a SoulCollage card about this once - it really resonates.
    thank you for sharing.

  3. Wow - you're taking the BIG class! I love "real and tangible", that makes sense to me. Also poignant was you holding your wings close. Oh, I felt it in my own shoulder blades as I read that. I'm not sure what makes me big other than me. I am slowly coming into my own, speaking up for myself, saying my truths. If I had met me 3 or 4 years ago, I would never recognize myself. I guess that's BIG.

  4. Wow - This is BIG! It is amazing how taking up space - our rightful space is - such a challenge and i love how this BIG Fearless course is challenging each of us to claim this space with courage and grace... honouring you ((Lisa)). Jane

  5. i hope you take up tons of space! :)

    yes, i do think it is especially hard for women, too.

  6. Wonderful post Lis!

    I'm in the class too, and although it's been less than a week, I can testify that it is already a truly transformative experience.

    Your story has echoes of my own....thank you so much for sharing your's with such eloquence. I love this "I am declaring my experience, my creative expression as worthy of existence and attention." I'm with ya! I see ya! You are BIG!

  7. i so wanted to take connie's BIG class but just couldn't fit it into my schedule right now! i love your scribbles! i'm hoping she offers it again in an open-ended format.

    i'm 5'10". i was 5'8" by the time i was 12 years old. i sprouted up quickly. my first two years of highschool, i was also on the heavier side, so i very much felt what you describe here. when i was in the 10th grade, i got very sick, spent 6 weeks in the hospital and lost 30 pounds. i went from a size 13/14 to a size 5/6 and looked way too thin. but that's what society does. thin is idolized. so i stayed thin, grew two more inches and by college i was a size 4-6 and 5'10". looking back, that was darn skinny. but i started modeling. that helped my confidence but it also became a crutch of sorts. i could hide behind the pictures or the clothes on the catwalk and fit society's image of what women should be. thin. i was still modeling and still a size 6 when i met my husband at 26. in our first year together i gained 15 pounds! i've stayed right about there, give or take 5 pounds, and now a 5'10" size 12, feel i'm at a much healthier weight. i've grown into my biggness and very much like my size now. i think it took getting rid of the skinny and getting a little more meat back on my bones to finally grow into my size and be totally happy with it. and now at 44, i still subscribe to glamour magazine and have loved watching them evolve to include more and more "real size" women. embrace big, Lis. in all it's shapes and sizes. you're beautiful! (and, yes, as you probably already know from visiting my blog, i'm partial to redheads!)