There is a hilarious skit from Inside Amy Schumer, where Bill Nye describes the stunning scientific discovery that “we now know the Universe is essentially a force sending cosmic guidance to white women in their 20’s … Imagine it as a giant dream board on which women pin their wishes.”
Poor Bill, all that woo messing with science. How many times have you said or heard “I’m putting it out into the Universe” or “the Universe is telling me” in the last few years? I’m not in my 20’s, but I know I’ve said and hear it … a lot. Like, a lot a lot.
We all intuitively look for signs, for guidance to point us in the right direction. This has been done since ancient time in Greek, Egyptian, Celtic, Native American cultures and more. But, as a friend insightfully asked, “when is a squirrel just a squirrel?” When is spotting that squirrel a legitimate and meaningful “sign from the Universe” and when is it just a distraction? An excuse? Or fear and doubt bubbling up?
Earlier this year, I had an uncomfortable experience sifting through intuition and fear.
I believe in paying attention to synchronicity and signs, and the power of manifestation. I see synchronicity, circumstances falling into place, as an invitation. My natural instinct is to accept these invitations. But, fear or doubt can creep in. I start looking for signs to contradict the synchronicity, something else to read into for my decision making. The Universe. Or a squirrel.
Consistently making art is a constant struggle for me. While I love getting my hands dirty — it feels natural, connected and energizing— it’s easy to put off in favor of commitments and responsibilities (or, a new episode of MasterChef). This struggle is compounded by the fact that Souldust focuses on the healing qualities of creativity. I beat myself up for not always practicing what I preach.
The struggle came to a head earlier this year, when I was adding more offerings and feeling the internal tension between principle vs. day-to-day practice. I was in crisis, anxious and restless. You’d think I would just get off my ass and make some art, but that would have been too easy. Shhh… MasterChef is on.
So, when I was unexpectedly invited to attend a 24-hour painting marathon down in Portland by Whitney Freya — whom I had only met virtually a week prior (basically during the peak of crisis) — it felt like an invitation to address that tension. I said yes.
A wise advisor pointed out “since you won’t show up for your art, your art is showing up for you.” Hello, synchronicity.
Then, fear and doubt joined the party. I learned that a number of seasoned artists were going to be in Portland, some of whom had written books I owned. I was immediately intimidated. The rational + excited side of me could see this might be a great networking opportunity. But fear of being inadequate began beating a frantic drum in my chest, so I started casting about for “signs” to back out. Squirrels.
Squirrel! I had forgotten my son’s SAT exams were that weekend. Clearly a sign I shouldn’t be going. However, I will give the Universe the benefit of the doubt, so I will ask the house sitter if she is available, even though it’s unlikely on such short notice. Dammit, she’s available. I guess that’s a sign I’m supposed to go.
But wait, squirrel! I can’t leave until that morning, so I will be late joining the event, which is supposed to be 24 hours and who does a 24-hour event for 19 hours? Maybe that’s a sign I shouldn’t be going. Crap, Whitney says it’s fine if I’m late. In fact, people are coming and going during the day and really the overnight part is what matters most. So my schedule is perfect. Dammit, I guess that’s not an excuse.
I ended up going. The Universe was clearly not interested in my excuses.
I bought a pile of canvases, drove to Portland, and parked myself in Flora Bowley’s studio with Whitney. I met wonderful women, and I painted. And painted, and painted through the night, side-by-side with a new friend whom I’d met in-person only that day.
Here’s the rub. The most intimidating aspect was not the expert artists, the trek, the duration, or spending all this time with a “stranger.” It was facing my demons around creative blocks and pushing through them, the true root cause of why I procrastinated on making art. I was chasing squirrels not to avoid the event itself, but to avoid creating, period. The irony? Most of the paintings I made ended up being filled with their own symbolism and signs.
Thank you, Universe.
Where have you felt the tension between intuition and fear? When have you known something was the right thing for you, and then second-guessed yourself by looking for signs? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Curious to learn more about symbolism and signs, and how to recognize them? You might be interested in one of our upcoming events.