This week we’re doing something a little different. I’m the guest (your host, Tricia Rose Burt) with some thoughts on the trait that helps sustain my creative life and a story about the importance of having a tribe.
Also from this episode:
Tricia: [00:00:03] Hey there. I’m Tricia Rose Burt. And if you’re a regular listener to this podcast, you know that I’m usually introducing a guest at this point. But this is a bonus episode, so we’re doing things a little differently. And I’m going to be the guest because it’s my show and there’s no time to be timid. And I want to talk to you about the trait that helps me sustain my creative life. And that trait is identity. [00:00:24][21.7]
Tricia: [00:00:25] Identity has been on my mind recently because I just went back home to visit. And as most of you know, I wasn’t raised to be an artist. I was raised to make babies, which I didn’t do, or money, which I’m still trying to do. So before I became an artist, I had an entirely different identity that’s actually my default. Seth Godin talks about identity in his book The Practice, which I can’t recommend highly enough. It was a game changer for me. He quotes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer Dave Grohl, who said “Dr. Dre, Michael Stipe, Zac Brown, Pharrell. Everybody is so different, but all of their stories are almost exactly the same. At this window of 10 to 13 years old, all of these kids decided they wanted to become musicians.” Grohl’s mom wrote a book about it and said that she and the other moms saw this desire in their kids and let it flourish. Godin goes on to say in his book that it’s not important the kids developed their musical skills when they were 11. It’s important that they developed the habit of identity. When they looked in the mirror, they saw themselves as musicians, as artists, as people committed to a journey. Godin continues to say there’s nothing magic about being 11 years old except that it’s easier to develop an identity when you don’t have to walk away from one you’ve already developed. That’s always been my challenge. And maybe yours too. [00:01:53][88.8]
Tricia: [00:01:54] At a particularly tough time several years ago, I started working with a creative coach, Mark McGuinness. He appeared in Season One, Episode Four and if you haven’t heard the show, check it out. Mark observed that I’d lost perspective on my own gifts and my mission, partly because I was surrounded by people who weren’t reinforcing the image of who I wanted to be. I wasn’t connected to people who reinforced my identity of being an artist. Who we surround ourselves with matters. We need a tribe to help us keep our artist identities intact. Here’s a story about one of the most important tribes in my life. [00:02:29][35.3]
Tricia: [00:02:29] Several years ago, a dear friend of mine held an intimate dinner party for her 50th birthday. She didn’t invite me. It hurt. We’d spoken every day for several years and got together at least once a week. I thought we were close friends. It never occurred to me I wouldn’t be included. And when I asked her why, she explained that the invited group had been sharing birthdays together for years. It was their tradition and that started to make sense to me until she added, “Plus, you have that big personality.” Immediately my eyes welled up with tears. [00:03:10][40.8]
Tricia: [00:03:10] I have had this big personality since I was a little girl. Mama said if I was her first child, she would have never had another one. It’s not clear she was joking. My entire life I have battled with this big personality, trying to contain it, squelch it, manage it. But no matter what I did, the words of well-meaning authority figures echoed in my head “Don’t draw attention to yourself.” Which translated into a big personality is a liability. [00:03:39][28.9]
Tricia: [00:03:39] Several years before the birthday incident and after I spent my entire career staying behind the scenes, a friend asks me if I want to take a public speaking class with her because she’s afraid of talking in front of an audience. I think to myself, “That’s so strange. How can someone be afraid of an audience? I actually look for audiences.” So I take the class. Now, at the time of the class, I’m a visual artist telling stories through obsessive pencil drawings. But I feel compelled to make larger and larger artwork. Instead of small drawings, I start creating these large scale works that take up space. Lots and lots of space. And then in this public speaking class, it hits me. I don’t want my artwork to take up space. I want to take up space. I want to tell my stories firsthand, not just visually through drawings. I may have to draw attention to myself. [00:04:34][55.0]
Tricia: [00:04:34] So I developed a one-woman show, perform it for several years, and that leads to working with The Moth. I love to perform, but every time before I go on stage, I sit in the green room and quietly beat myself up for drawing attention to myself, that this is going to cost me somehow like not being invited to birthday parties. Two months after my pal had excluded me from her party, I’m backstage at the Moth’s sold-out Mainstage event at the 900-seat Somerville Theater. I’m one of five storytellers. I’m still shaken by the big personality comment and a little ashamed, pacing back and forth once again, beating myself up for drawing attention to myself and wondering who I think I am to be doing this at all. Then the director approaches me and says, “Hey, Tricia, we need for you to open the show. I realize that’s a tough spot, but you have that big personality and we know you can fill up the space.”. [00:05:33][58.8]
Tricia: [00:05:34] Thank goodness for the folks that reinforce our artist identities and nurture our creative instincts. Here are some things we can all do to develop that habit of identity. First, decide to be an artist. Look in the mirror and see yourself as the creative person you want to be. Second, start a daily creative practice. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, just long enough to keep that creative part of you front and center. Third, read books on creativity and artists so you can understand the ups and downs of the creative life. And don’t forget to order them online from Interabang, a Dallas-based independent bookstore with a terrific online collection. That’s interabangbooks.com.
Lastly, find your tribe. It’s so much easier to practice your creativity when you have fellow pilgrims on your journey. And if you’re looking for a tribe or need some help developing your artistic identity, join me at my No Time to Be Timid retreat November 10-12 at the beautiful Cranberry Meadow Farm Inn here in Peterborough, New Hampshire. It’s an intimate gathering of eight like-minded women who are eager to integrate more creativity into their lives. For more information, check out my website, triciaroseburt.com and click on No Time to Be Timid. Then contact me by email. We’ll schedule a conversation to make sure it’s the right fit for you. Remember, this is no time to be timid. [00:07:05][91.0]
Tricia: [00:07:05] No Time to be Timid is written and produced by me, Tricia Rose Burt. Our episodes are produced and scored by Adam Arnone of Echo Finch, and our theme music is Twist and Turns by the Paul Dunlea Group. If you like what you hear, please subscribe to the show, spread the word, and review us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen. No Time to be Timid is a presentation of I Will be Good Productions. [00:07:05][0.0]