Bird by Bird
Breaking self-limiting narratives
Do you know what happens when we dare to challenge our long-held beliefs and break free from the narratives we’ve told ourselves for years? Well, that’s when the magic happens 🙂 It may sound like a cliché, but it’s so true that if we let go of fears and jump into exploration of uncharted territories, we open ourselves up to growth and the discovery of aspects of ourselves that we never thought possible.
For years, I convinced myself I needed a stable daily routine to create. At least three, four hours per session, no less. Without that scheduled block of time, I wouldn’t even attempt any creative pursuit. I put a “slow artist” label on myself and it got fixed in my mind.
To provide some context for this story, I’ve struggled with chronic back pain for the last year and a half. Nothing I tried seemed to alleviate it. So, like any normal person, I decided to leave everything behind and seek solace in the Polish countryside. Pain aside, I had always wanted to give my mom the gift of time – a chance to travel without worrying about the house and the responsibilities of managing her Airbnb for guests. It was a good moment for both. Therefore for the next three months, I became a lady of the house undergoing intensive physiotherapy and meticulously ironing a lot of sheets (A LOT).
Adapting to a new routine is always a challenge. It had been years since I last lived in my childhood house, so it took some time to readjust and familiarize myself with the environment. After two weeks, a nagging persistent feeling appeared in my chest. I haven’t done any art yet, not even picked up a pencil. Maybe at that moment, I needed a break indeed yet at some point it became unbearable.
But… I didn’t have those four hours due to persistent pain and many responsibilities around the house. So, what if I tried to cut that time in half, what could I do? I needed to do something otherwise I’d go crazy. As my eyes wandered around they landed upon a collection of little porcelain birds my mom had been gathering over the years. Among them, the vibrant red one immediately caught my attention. It seemed to possess an inner fire. It’s exactly what I needed! Without hesitation, I took it upstairs to my little art corner, which I had managed to declutter, and just began to paint, no preliminary sketches, just straight onto the piece of leftover canvas, stroke by stroke. What got into me? Crazy! Maybe it was the fire in the bird’s belly or maybe all those different circumstances allowed for that shift.
Everything about it was new, far beyond my place of comfort. I struggled, but at the same time, it was like taking a deep breath after spending too long underwater. There were no expectations, no pressure that someone might see it. I was flowing, and trusting myself. It had been a long time since I felt this sense of self-trust. It was truly magical. The effect was far from perfect, but I didn’t care. I didn’t care about the outcome because the process itself was priceless. It pushed me and unlocked something inside.
It was supposed to be just a one-time study, just a way to warm up and to do something. That something turned into my bird-by-bird summer story that I’ll always remember as a breakthrough. It may seem small but these little breakthroughs drive me forward and make me hungry for more. How far can I arrive if I keep letting go of fears and fixed beliefs? For the next ten days, I chose a different bird to paint each morning. It became my anchor, my sole objective for the day. The paintings weren’t perfect, as they shouldn’t be, but they taught me something invaluable. It felt like breaking through the limits and barriers I had imposed on myself.
What Bird by Bird adventure taught me?
- Once you surrender peacefully to the circumstances, instead of fighting them, you discover new possibilities that may surprise you
- A new environment offers opportunities to explore new activities and break old routines and habits
- Hard times reveal what we are capable of
- Struggle pushes us to find different ways and make new discoveries about ourselves
What is that one story you tell yourself that deeply inside you know is limiting you and your growth?