Your creative work is not your baby: if anything you're its baby.
~ Elizabeth Gilbert
Hmmm . . . not in my book (still adore you, Elizabeth). True, you yourself are a "baby" of creative Source, but "your creative work" is not the same as creative Source! The keywords here are "your" and "work."
12 Reasons why your creative work is your baby vs you being its baby:
Being inspired by a creative idea is like conceiving a seed of mysterious new life from the creative gods. It can be something you've wanted to happen and worked toward for years or it can catch you totally off-guard and unprepared. When you first find out, you might feel elated with joy, possibly a bit cray-cray and overwhelmed by the miracle growing inside of you, or you may feel extreme dread, wanting to disown it and the daunting care and responsibility it requires before it fully gestates.
Right from the start, it becomes clear that you and only you'll be the host and incubator of this embryo, feeding, nourishing, and generously sharing your life's energy, body, and resources with it so that it can take form, survive, and thrive. It can cause so much havoc to your poor dethroned body that your most frequent initial reactions are exhaustion, nausea, resistance, and a desire to projectile vomit it back out. You owe it to yourself to carefully listen and discern if this particular creative manifestation is your soul's true calling and the best choice to proceed with at this point in your life. Meaning, your most authentic self gets to say yay or nay, make conscious decisions, and set things up right from the start. Give yourself a promotion and full authority before you're knocked down and kicked around—a lot—by little legs, feet, and elbows that you'll end up resenting instead of adoring, and before you're told what to do by well-meaning outside authority. You get to call the shots, decide when to share the news, and practice being the grown up in relation to your creativity, if you weren't before, as early as now.
If you make it to the second trimester (and in the creative realms, each trimester can last hours to years), you're by now not only offering up your body but you're also giving your creative baby prime locales in your mind, your heart, your daily schedule, and your physical space. It can take such a central place in your life that it feels impossible at times to talk about anything else but that great bump right under your nose. You realize that for this stint to work (well), you need to know and stay grounded in you. Your creative work is only a small subset of you, but it requires your whole you to be present and aligned when creating it (that is, if you want to prevent bouts of pre- and post-partum depression and anxiety. Yes, a whole lot can be done to prevent these by honoring the needs of your authentic self).
You're stretching and busting out of your comfort zone in ways you didn't realize were humanly possible. You're intrigued by the notion that the thing you're creating is made out of your flesh and blood yet it clearly has a mind and personality of its own. It's fun to get to know how it is and isn't like you. You feel devoted to support its mission in life and wonder who it will befriend, what will most inspire it, and who it will catalyze and inspire back.
In the last trimester, there's almost no room for the old you and it's hard to imagine life without this baby who's taken up so much space and is almost ready to be born. You have gained so much clarity and learned so much while growing this baby it does feel in some ways like you have been rebirthed too, but don't forget that you and only you will soon be the one moaning and groaning in labor. And need to start practicing your deep breathing and relaxation exercises for the transition and pushing phase ahead.
Your excitement and anticipation of its birth are so consuming that the pain and sleepless nights you're about to go through don't really phase you. Your heart is so full, you're willing to put up with more crap than you ever have in your entire life. You lovingly take care of its demands and needs 24x7, especially after you see the face of your precious newborn for the very first time. You've learned a good dose of accountability, commitment, and not taking yourself so seriously, often without realizing that you were being worked on. You're much more aware of an energy bigger than the two of you that keeps you going and guides you both.
You enthusiastically roll with the punches and accept its growing pains, cranky teething, missteps and mishaps. Its job after all is to find and push all of your buttons and force you to face whatever issues you got away with in the past. As your heart, body, mind, and soul give into the ride, you're pleasantly surprised that you're expanding into a better and fuller version of yourself. And that you probably would never have done this overhauling and challenging transformational work if it weren't for your baby. You feel grateful, accomplished, and fulfilled.
While handholding and slowly easing it into the world, you're more invested than anyone else in exposing it to the right opportunities and people, giving it the best start in life it could possibly have. You introduce it to potential friends and collaborators who have its best interests at heart, encourage it to show up in new places, and help it to know and accept itself and its worth. You’re primarily focused on building robust baseline resilience for necessary risk-taking later in life. You utterly believe in its mission and understand its potential impact on others. You find yourself talking about it with anyone, even on the date or retreat that you went on with the intention to get a break from it. You happily realize that it will always be a vital part of you and loving it energizes you.
You’re its fiercest advocate and while the opinions of others matter to a degree, you unconditionally love and stand behind whatever organic path it needs to go on next. Your past struggles have strengthened and prepared you to withstand future criticism and rejection and you know it better than anyone. You vow to always be open to and do what's in its best interest regardless of who agrees with it or not, who gets it or not, who loves it or hates it, whether you’re in the mood for it or not. It taught you to deeply love yourself and simultaneously transcend yourself in your special dance. The quality of your relationship serves as the backbone and cornerstone of its success, defined and honed by you.
After investing so much time, care, and energy in preparing it for life on its own, you may feel mixed feelings of relief and grief when it's time to let it go and fully deliver it to the world. It will travel into the homes, hearts, and minds of strangers who will intimately engage with it in ways that you might never hear about. You feel proud and trust that it will create many positive ripples and do what it's born to do. But you also feel anxious and bittersweet sadness. You’ll miss its physical presence and the mental space it occupied in your life.
While twiddling your thumbs in your empty nest, you realize the need to fill the aching hole in your heart with a new project, fast! You move on but your eyes and ears are sharply attuned to news about its wellbeing. Yes, it can defend itself and stand its own ground, but if someone were to deliberately burn or thrash it or try to steal its core essence, you'll be the first protective mama there. You won't back off until the matter has been resolved and you feel assured that it's getting the proper treatment bit deserves.
Even when your creative work has fully matured and is doing well, it will always be more of a baby than a grown up because you or your beneficiary will continue to make important decisions about its life course. It will never be fully independent, running its own life, having its own family and babies. The only thing it will ever have are siblings, coming out of your creative womb. It may end up traveling the world to your delight, learn new languages, and in a few rare situations, become a huge star and do so well financially, its earnings will offer you a cushy future, but don't hold your breath. You're more likely to invest a whole lot in its educational and start-up needs, financially boost it every now and then throughout its life, and sometimes be up till late at night wondering if it arrived safe and sound at its next destination (chosen by you). The reward - your great mothering, inconspicuously advertised by your baby, will attract of many seekers and students to you who are interested in knowing your secret.
If you were your creativity's baby, which one of your creative works takes care of you like this?
Loraine Van Tuyl, PhD, CHT, holistic psychologist, shamanic healer, Depth Hypnosis practitioner, and author, is happiest when exploring how the natural world relates to our true nature in healing sessions, on the page, and in her journeys and dreams. She has guided visionaries, educators, holistic healers, and master- and doctoral-level psychotherapists from the Native American Health Center, the UC Berkeley Counseling Center, the Space Clearing Society of the Sacred Stream, and at her private practice, the Sacred Healing Well, where she seamlessly weaves modern psychotherapeutic and ancient practices into her holistic approach. Her creative outlets these days involve designing a Soul Sanctuary Alchemy online course to complement her debut memoir, Amazon Wisdom Keeper: A Psychologist's Memoir of Spiritual Awakening (October, 2017).
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