Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Magic of Believing

'Im Possible' affirmation card

Once upon a time, I dreamed about becoming an artist.  My dream life had a wonderful studio space where I would work every day creating amazing paintings (and of course the sun always shone).  I would sell my work the world over and feel deeply fulfilled by my creative enterprise.  I would have my work in galleries and exhibitions, I would teach workshops and tuition to private clients in my bright, airy workshop space....

...and I would wake from these dreams, and stare at the computer screen in front of me as my heart went into freefall back to reality.  I would glance around the office I worked in listening to the hum of voices speaking into telephones.  I'd hear the rustle of papers in the filing cabinets and I would feel a heavy feeling settle in my belly...this couldn't be it - this deadened, numb existence...living in a world where every tick and every tock of the office clock signified a small lifetime passing...this couldn't be it, this slow, melancholy way of living, week in, week out.  A way to pay the bills but nothing more.  It just couldn't.

But for many of us, a dream is just that - something that we yearn for which doesn't occupy space in our real lives.  For many of us, we don't know how to begin taking the tiny steps towards making our dream a part of our real lives, so we continue with what we know: being responsible, ignoring our desires and feeling the pain of not living in the way that we really want to.

Many of us are taught that the best path through life is Doing The Right Thing ~ paying our bills on time, raising our families, being a good spouse etc - and yes, these were the beliefs I was brought up with too - to get good grades in school, find a good job and earn a good salary.  It was important to be in a Pension Scheme and to find a nice man to date, one you'd eventually marry, get a house and a mortgage with before filling it with children, and all preferably in the same part of town that you had been born and brought up in too.

And I believed that that was how things were done.  For a long time.

I'd been at my office job for five years, and I took an evening school course in Interior Design.  And then I did something that nobody in our family had yet done:  I left my secure, well paid office job with its Pension Scheme and annual bonuses and ran off to Devon to be an art student at the University of Plymouth.

And over the years that followed I learned a very valuable skill: self belief.  Sat in that office all those years ago, I never imagined that one day yes, I would sell my paintings around the world, yes, I would exhibit them in galleries and shows and teach art workshops.  Back then I thought it was impossible, I didn't believe it for a minute and here's why:  I told myself I couldn't do it.

A belief is just a thought we keep thinking over and over, until it becomes a truth for us.  Did you know that?  If we persist in telling ourselves things like "I'm never going to be an artist, a sculptor, a great photographer etc", it eventually becomes a belief and that becomes our reality.  So, if we begin to gently tell ourselves that things are possible, on a daily basis, those good thoughts will become a belief too and that's when the magic starts to happen.

As I look back at the journey, I see how it all took place with the tiniest of steps - it wasn't achieved overnight and there were many mental hurdles like fear (and those limiting beliefs of how life ought to be) that needed to be overcome.
Step by step...bit by bit...I let creativity infuse my life, and it lived companionably alongside my day job for many moons.  Here's how I did it:

I got seriously fed up with my office job
I went to night school to study interiors
I started drawing and painting at home more regularly
I went to university to study architectural interior design
I carried on dreaming 
I went self employed as a signwriter/mural painter for several years
I got a house and started to work more on my art
I quit my signwriting completely to become a full time artist
I became a Mama
I took part in exhibitions
I taught art workshops
I sell my work around the world
I keep painting, sketching, writing in my Portable Ideas Book
I read heaps of books and research the net to help me build a better business
...and I have many more exciting plans and dreams that I am planning on realising.

And during all that, I overcame this stuff:
Fear:  Fear I'd never be good enough, fear I'd fail, fear my art teacher was right and that I really couldn't do it.
Guilt:  That I wasn't following the conventional path through life, that people were raising their eyebrows at me, that I was being selfish by following my dreams, that I was disappointing people.

But I kept telling myself "Im Possible" and I surrounded myself with other people who thought I was too, and with encouragement and support, mixed in with a generous scoop of self belief, anything is possible.

I still have the odd day when fear flutters like a dark butterfly in my chest, when there are bills to be paid and mouths to be fed - it stems from those deep rooted beliefs I've known since being a child.  But stepping out of my comfort zone is all part of the journey for me, and each hurdle that is overcome sends me a step closer to everything my heart desires, on this crazy, joy~filled path that is life.

Thank you so much for visiting and reading ~
Sending you love, 
Julia x


  1. Such a lovely read...positive advice too.

  2. Just loved this post!

    And very true too. I too have always followed the conventional way of life when there deep inside my heart is another being that dreams of being free. And able to do those things that I feel I was meant to do.

    I am working on it, slowly mind as I own a timid soul but I do truly beleive that one day I will get there.

    Here's to hoping, dreaming and believing................

    Thank you for such a heartwarming post.

    MBB x

  3. Well time and your talent have proved what a fool your art teacher was.
    It is hard to step off the path of conventional expectations and risk following your heart, but worth it.x

  4. Thank you so much for the inspirational post! You definitely ARE possible!

  5. Great to see some positivity, I am just dipping my toes in the water of making art my life and it's great to hear from someone who has managed to do it so successfully. Thanks so much for an inspirational post.


  6. Hi Julia

    Really good post! I could relate so much to your post as I did similar things to get to my goals. I left a job in a busy office when I was 32 and studied to become a clinical aromatherapist & other therapies for 2 years.I did not work during that time. I qualified a couple of months after Miss P was born. I also had another dream, setting up a vintage online shop and I am almost almost there, the shop opens soon. All this has taken much time and effort and has not always been easy but with determination you CAN get there!
    I do often think of people following a routine and being afraid of taking that step. Like you I would urge people to follow their dreams!
    So pleased that you followed your dreams Julia and it has certainly paid off. What a waste of talent had you stayed where you were!
    Isabelle x

  7. What a great post. After art college I was at the 'working in the office dreaming' stage and I gave it up, I just didn't have my heart in it. I say 'gave up' I had two children to replace it with - and then I went back to my art. I'm now at that 'barrier/I'm not good enough' stage but am hoping to work through it. Thank you for giving us the idea that it IS possible.

  8. Youhave made my day - what inspiration, it is so me - always doing what I "should do" rather than what I "want" to!! Never feeling good enough!

  9. Hello Julia! Thank you for your thoughts! Thank you also for reminding us about all those important things in our lives!
    I love your painting!
    I'm so happy that I know you!
    xxx Teje

  10. Slightly different story for me, I went to art college straight after school (in Wales) then went to London to try for a job in advertising. After a year of being turned down for work in art I gave up and went into 'ordinary' work. Now retired, I am afraid to try again but you are, gradually, pointing me in the right direction. Bless you my dear.

  11. Hmmmmmm, What an inspiring post to read sitting here at my "office job"... where i've been sitting for the last 13+ years ~ dreaming of a different sort of life. I am stuck waste deep in large vat of responsiblity, fear and guilt... but maybe just maybe I too can crawl out one day ~ and leave the phone ringing behind me as I walk off into to an new life. Thank you for sharing ~ it's a comfort to that real people really can take the leap and come out the other side happier and still in one piece. :)

  12. But... If I don't have a dream (and I don't) how am I going to make that dream come true? It's easier to get where you want to go if you know where that is. I don't have any of the conventional ways of thinking about work, life etc as they were not part of my upbringing. I would quite happily change things to 'my way' if I knew what that was. I am totally without ambition and dreams - being expected to have them is what makes me unhappy. I enjoy best living in the moment and appreciating what I have - I don't want more. I don't want anything. But this is not right either! Success is far too often seen in monetary terms - if you can make money at what you do then you are successful, if not you have no right to call yourself artist (or whatever, otherwise what you do is a 'hobby' - there is a lot of elitism and snobbery in art as in everything). In my view a successful life is a a happy life, however you live it.

  13. Fascinating read

    I really wanted to study ceramics, but ended up nursing - its a job I love & afforded me my own home. The plus side is I can now dabble in purchasing other peoples beautiful wares, & hopefully when I have got the balance right, I will be able to indulge in my own creativity in the future....

    Carry on, your work is fab, & I know you will continue to do well...

    I believe in you!


  14. Timeous words - right, time to stop wallowing in self doubt and do something about it.....as soon as I've washed up, tidied up, sorted out the ironing, put the kids to bed etc etc etc!! No - seriously I think I need to stop dreaming and start doing.

  15. Thank you for sharing this piece of your heart with us. x

  16. Nice one, Julia. So glad you took that risk, or we wouldn't have met (so to speak!) xx

  17. all things are possible to those who believe. You are following your dreams, I give you so much credit. My daughter attends FIT in NYC and I have instilled in my kids to follow their dreams and work a job they love. Something I have never been able to do.

  18. Hi Julia, thanks for your inspirational and encouraging post. After joining your Being Creative project, I decided to start my own blog. It is in Dutch for now and my family and friends have been quite positive (while I still feel it is not good enough).
    This post is another step on my personal way to self belief and making dreams come true. Thank you!
    (my blog is http://carozcorner.blogspot.com/)

  19. Wow, right from the heart, thank you Julia xox

  20. This is a lovely post Julia, so encouraging for us all.

    For the person who wrote the anonymous comment, everybody should be able live the life they want. If you are happy as you are without ambition, being content as you are, then well done to you. Living in the moment and being happy with what you have is a tremendous thing. That being said, let us appreciate the goals and desires of others as when they achieve them, they too will feel contentment as you do.
    We are all different, thankfully. So perhaps if we don't understand ambitious or goal oriented people, we can at least be happy that they are doing what is right for them.

    Have a wonderful day Julia,
    Anne xx

  21. You bring tears to my eyes with your profound words. Wow...I love what you wrote here. xo Annette

  22. Hi Julia..keep dreaming! Thank you for such an encouraging, hope-filled post. I love reading about how people travel on their journey through life!

  23. What a great post, Julia. After reading it I feel I CAN achieve whatever it is that I want to do, but, like the anonymous poster, I don't know what it is that I want to do. It is very difficult when you have no idea which direction you want to take your life. I know I want to be creative but that's it. I am very much of the 'do the right thing' mentality on the oustide when inside I'm screaming to do something creative. Your posts always give me a little 'lift' and I am loving being a part of your Being Creative group, even when it makes me panic! Have a lovely week. xx

  24. Great post Julia, so glad you followed your dream xxx

  25. Have passed on a blog award to you, for all your encouragement to other arty types who just need some kind nudging in the right direction!

  26. Belinda, thank you very much that is extremely thoughtful of you!

    Thank you also to everyone who has left a comment here and for private emails you have sent to me, I am quite in awe that my little stories have touched quite so many of you.

    Sending love,
    Julia x

  27. Dreams are wonderful things, I'm so glad for you Julia that yours are coming true. Mine have gone a little awry at the moment, but are still there tucked away safely, your post reminds me not to forget where they are! ♥

  28. Thank you for this great inspirational post. You were right to follow your dreams, you are a very talented lady!

  29. Oh, I just needed this today.

    I know I want to . I know I can. But I might fail. Then, I might not. I might miss out on other things. But how is it a job? Is it enough? What would they think? I'm too busy. I'm not ready.

    And really, I'm not actually ready yet, but I'm preparing for the time when I will be.

    Thank you.

  30. This is really good timing for me. I have worked in the health sector for ages but after buying a sewing machine on a whim late last year found that I wanted to do something more creative. I was flagging slightly because I haven't felt confident enough to try to sell any of my stuff yet but your post has kind of got me back on track.
    And I've joined the Being Creative group too!
    Thanks for spurring me on.

  31. To Anne who did not like what I said - I think I am the one who is getting the criticism! Not the other way around - I put no one down or critised them, I just said 'what if you are not like that' You have subverted my comment - I am the one being critised by society and now by you too!

  32. A beautiful post Julia! Most of us go the conventional way for a whole host of different reasons, when what we want is something different and to fulfill a dream inside. It's quite a scary thing to do, to break away from comfort and security and go down a new path..........but I think, the older we get, the more we feel that we want to embrace it. Life is so short, and to spend it not really feeling 'fulfilled' and 'unlived' is not so great!

    Maybe I might get a bit of self belief one day and do what I want to do..watch this space!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ha ha!!!!!

    Hope you have a great friday and a beautiful weekend my lovely!!!!!


    p.s was this rambly? one of those days!

  33. Thankyou Julia for sharing your thoughts here. I always find it so encouraging to hear how people overcame their fears. Your hard work and determination has truly paid off. :)xx

  34. Such wise words and so true. Well done you for being so brave. Your art is wonderful. Liz xx

  35. Wow...I don't quite know what to say. I'm so glad you took each and every one of those steps. I'm following, hope I don't get left too far behind :)

    My favourite sayings are...

    'If you don't have goals, you just run around the field and never score.'

    'If you love what you do, you'll never work another day in your life.'

    These were a couple of the many inspirational saying posted on the walls in the M&S store where I worked for many years. They were there to spur us on to work harder and achieve more...and it worked, I hated it so much I thought yeah thats right and I'm not staying here any longer. I've now been left nearly 4 years! We've escaped to the country and although I don't earn much, I'm earning it from my artwork. Hoorah! I've never had so little money and yet been soooo happy!

  36. Thank you for this sharing post. It is very inspirational to me, as I start out on a new path myself. Fear is something I'm trying to overcome, too, and this is just the thing I needed to read!

  37. I've just discovered your blog and what a fantastically inspirational first post for me to read. I think the greatest gift you can give yourself in life is "self belief", so happy you conquered your fears and trod an unconventional path, and you're sharing your inspiration with us.
    lily x

  38. Gee, I'm getting in late, but I don't care! Julia, I just felt to say that you have an amazing, unique artistic style; and it would never have been born if you had just given up on yourself. So, thank you SO MUCH for not giving up! And also, I can tell you are SUCH a great mum, just from reading about your perspective on your beautiful daughter's learning about art. I have 4 kids, and frequently get frustrated with all the kiddy problems I encounter. It's not easy to see things from a child's perspective, as an adult. But, having that ability relieves a WHOLE lot of parental stress. You being able to enjoy your little girls' artistic learning makes it so much more of an enjoyable experience for both of you, and more educational for her. In other words, if you yell at her for having paint all over her hands... "Why can't you paint without getting paint all over yourself!!"... she will learn to be scared of being creative.
    Love to you and yours, Julia...
    To anonymous #1. I have 7 words for you, and I hope you read this. THINK POSITIVE! No one is critising you.

  39. Just dropping in to say heartfelt 'Thank You's' to everyone for leaving comments on this post, I really appreciate the time you take to come by and read, and I'm really happy if my posts have touched you, or spoken to you in some small way. Let's keep sharing our creative journeys here!

    Big Love to you,
    Julia x

  40. A friend of mine shared this post of yours with me and after reading I had to stop by and leave a comment to tell you how much I loved it. It's so true. I hope I can continue to make the steps I need to in order to fulfil my dreams. xx

  41. Thank you for writing this, I too, will never give up!


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