How do you know when it’s time to move forward? When nothing else is possible.

If you follow my blog, you know I’m writing about a series of steps to create your own artist support group. It’s harder than I thought it would be, though I’ve done it many times. Even though I took the training not once, but twice.

I am obsessed with doing it right, hoping this “I’m not in the room to show you” approach will translate and transfer. I can’t stop thinking there’s someone out there who really needs to hear this today.

Today I finally realized that person is me.

I’ve been trapped in a whirlwind of my own emotions, my self-doubt, my inability to figure out what “the universe” is telling me. On top of the difficulties of melding with (relatively) new surroundings, trying to rebuild an audience for my art (and writing!), dealing with difficult family matters (I almost said family “members”, but have to remember they might describe me the same way!), I have been in a tsunami of allergy-related health issues. I am achey and ill-at-ease, exhausted, and I sleep round the clock. A friend said, “When allergies hit us, it feels like the universe is attacking our body.” True dat.

I’ve been reaching out to people who have had my back in the past. People who know me well. People who have seen me at my worst, and still love me. Unfortunately, when I look at how far back our conversations go, I can see that some started before we even left New Hampshire!

And slowly, slowly, I’ve realized, the universe isn’t trying to tell me something.

My heart is.

I’ve always struggled with “shaman”, just as I used to struggle with “artist”. The three aspects of a shaman are intriguing and feel right. Whether I am one or not, to go “in that general direction” just felt like the right path.

Artist. Teacher. Healer.

What about my training for those facets of who I am?

I claimed my story, and my art grew from there.

Teaching? It was one of my very first “aha!” moments, when I thought/realized I wanted to be a teacher. (Turns out I DO, and I AM, but not in our traditional idea of teaching. I share what I’ve learned in my writing, in workshops, and often in conversations with people who happen to cross my path. In a classroom, 8-4 every weekday?? For 8 months??? Not so much.)

Healing? My hospice training blew my heart up, in a good way. From sitting with clients, sitting with them, not “fixing” but simply being present. Then learning to sit with clients with Alzheimer’s, not “fixing” but simply being in THEIR moment, not mine. Then I moving on to creating and leading grief writing workshops: Helping people heal from deep and/or complicated grief and loss. (ALL under the guidance and supervision of trained professionals!) I learned, and I learned, and I learned.

But though people have urged me, I’ve always edged away from actual “coaching” coaching. It would seem like a natural “next step”, but it feels…wrong.

When I work with the wrong person, at the wrong time for them (and me!), before they are ready, before they are able, and when they are in my life for the wrong reasons, it ricochets badly.

And sometimes, I just get caught up in “I know better than you!” (I call it “triangulation”–“Let’s check in on these questionable people we both know, are they just goofy, or dangerous?” But some people call it, “Please mind your own business, I didn’t ask you!” OW!!)

I feel these efforts are always sketchy anyway–I don’t feel like a healer, though I believe my art heals me, and my art can sometimes heal others.

Lately, my “coaching” efforts have been a lot more than “less than”. They feel awful.

What it feels like: The minute I assume I know what I’m doing, it blows up in my face. And because I’m vulnerable in that role, it’s devastating.

It felt like the universe was saying, “Get over yourself!”

But today I realized there’s a gap in my training.

I need more training in healing/coaching.

I still reject the notion of this aspect of my life. It still feels wrong, it still feels uncomfortable.

I need more information on how to stay grounded. How to assess the situation. How to realize when to fold, the sooner the better! (I do have good instincts for self-protection, but sometimes they kick in too late.) How to tell when someone really is “ready”.

And to acknowledge that often, when it works at its best, there is reciprocity. Not money-wise. But every time it works beautifully, there is an exchange of energy. We both walk away better for the interaction.

Hard for me to describe. I’ll think about that.

So I share this with you today. It’s why I’ve been quieter than usual. Why I’ve made myself “smaller” instead of “bigger”.

I’m at another turning point in my life. I don’t know what it looks like, and I pretty sure I’m leaving art and writing behind. (How would I survive?!)

So today I start another trail of learning. My “next step”: Today I’m contacting someone I trust with my heart, to get a thought on how to move forward on this.

Today is another “life lesson”, just waiting to be learned.





Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

11 thoughts on “GROWING”

  1. Great article! If I may share a few thoughts….

    Although I am a very well trained therapist/psychiatrist/healer, I have a firm rule IN REAL LIFE, with my friends and family: NEVER GIVE ADVICE UNLESS SOMEONE HAS ACTUALLY ASKED A QUESTION. Just shut up until you hear a question.

    RARELY, I say, “may I make a suggestion?” That allows the person (usually my medical professional daughter) to say, “no,” or if the person is willing to hear my suggestion, it allows her to prepare spiritually for an unsolicited idea from me. This results in NO DEFENSIVENESS to my “brilliant idea.”

    When it comes to accepting or rejecting a new patient in my office, I have a LONG phone conversation with them to see if there is a “good fit” between us. I may not accept the patient based on that conversation. The first visit is always a consultation, to further examine the “fit.” If I do not accept them after that first visit, I do not charge them, even if it took the whole 90 minutes to figure that out.

    There is absolutely no reason to work with someone where there is not a “good fit” between us. They deserve better. I deserve better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A beautiful way to frame the suggestion thing, Susan, and I am so grateful you shared it! Same for your other suggestions, all useful, and I’m starting a file!
      I’m edging away from the coaching. It was a reaction to some bad interactions I’ve had in the last year or so, offering support to people I THOUGHT I knew, who weren’t ready, not willing, and probably not able to accept it in the first place.
      And I’ve reacted badly to that, when I could/should be reminding myself that it’s a side effect of being vulnerable and open to possibility in the world. My nose was bent out of shape, and my entire psyche went with it.
      But you, and others, have reached out to me, or been there when I’ve reached out to YOU. I am in awe of the wisdom shared, and the encouragement I’ve received. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  2. Hi Luann, it is always a scary/ exciting/ unsettling time so I am simply sending love and wishes for clarity, calm, openness and wisdom and you proceed. I find myself hearing a lot lately about the need for precision, gentleness and openness. An interesting combo for me! Best wishes. And thank you for sharing your journey andnthinking. Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wendy, I so appreciate your gentle thoughts, and good wishes. Clarity, calm, openess, and wisdom is exactly what is needed! I’ve reached out to some wise people in my life, and I have received wonderful feedback and love and support. I’ve gotten a little clarity and a “next step”, and more understanding of what I’m looking for. Thank you!


  3. First of all, after reading your blogs for a long while and after having some personal exchanges with you, I’m going to ask “DO YOU KNOW HOW FABULOUS YOU ARE?” You may have no idea the effect you have on your supporters in both your writing and your art. Self doubt seems to be part of the package that comes with the gift of artistic talent. No matter what success I have, there’s a part of me that whispers in my ear, “Your a fake.” When you reach a point that you can pretend that voice is someone you can speak back to, you can say, “Yeah Yeah Yeah. I’ve heard THAT before. Now go away. I’m busy being successful.”

    With all you do, you may have no time to read, but while I was working day job and driving a long commute, I listened to an audiobook of Susan Jeffers’ Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.” It’s become a bible for me. A life changer for sure. Over a few years, I listened to the whole book four times. In the years since, I’ve plastered over many of my brain’s doubt centers with what I call “mental bumper stickers,” sayings and words of advice that keep me moving forward, even with the doubt. Two of those bumper stickers are from her book. I may slightly misquote these a bit but one was GK Chesterton’s “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” The biggest one, which is supported by her writings about why was “YOU CAN HANDLE IT.”

    This isn’t meant to trivialize the things you’re going through, but sometimes, when you’re sick and tired of the scary stories that part of your mind tells you about whatever mess you’re in, Look it squarely in the eye and say “GET THE **** OUT! I have a life to continue.”

    It’s gotten me through the worst.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was astonished and delighted to see this comment, and I’m going to sit with it for a very long time. Because it was unexpected, and it is amazing, and it is so healing during this very fragile time for me.
      You are absolutely right, of course! Not about the fabulous part, about the fear that comes from being vulnerable and open enough to make the work of our heart. That can leave us wide open to the slings and arrows of others.
      As to the fabulous part, THANK YOU!!!!! And in a word, no, I often have no idea how others feel about my work. Of course, what I DO remember is every single person who complains that I spelled something wrong, or I write too much, etc.
      But that’s the nature of the beast (me, and them!) and you are absolutely right: If we can do it for ourselves, then we need to set that all aside for the sake of having our work in the world, where it can work its wonders. And thank you for encouraging me to do that today!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Carolyn, NO WORRIES, I know those two activities are not going anywhere anytime soon! Art taught me who I am, and writing shares what I’ve learned, with others. There’s a third component I’m getting a handle on, but I got clarity today about how much I need, and it’s not as much as I thought! Now, first, CONGRATULATIONS, such exciting news, good on you!!!!! YES, I’d be interested, and the timing is especially interesting. More on that when we next meet up! AND WHEN ARE WE MEETING UP???? Talk soon!!!


    1. No worries, I won’t stop until I simply can’t.

      I’m mostly talking about adding another aspect or level to what I do.

      And even after a few days, I have a little more clarity about that. Like, not making major life decisions when you’re in the middle of major health issues!

      When it feels like the universe is attacking you, then all you can think is, “What am I doing wrong??” When that can be healed by an inhaler and more bed rest, AND getting better at ignoring the nattering nabobs who are always happy to take another bite out of you, well, then, things look a little brighter. :^D


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