The Big Why - Connecting my Art to my Ancestors

My parents were artists.

They were closeted and neglected artists, but they were artists.

Early in my artistic creative discovery I used to say that art and creative ventures were never encouraged in my house.  I would talk with a certain level of resentment about how I was supposed to be an academic; other paths were simply not open to me.  I think I might have said this as recently as a month ago.  To some degree, it's true.  I was SUPPOSED to be an academic of some kind.  I was not encouraged to take art or music classes, and my dance career ended when I was 8-years-old and my dance teacher told me I was too fat to dance.  I liked to read, I was pretty smart, and academic subjects were generally easy for me.  It made sense.  I would find some career in history or English, and very likely I would end up married and would not need to use my degree anyway.  I'm a Gen-Xer, you know, so that women-are-meant-to-get-married-and-make-babies message was still alive and well.

My parents did not encourage me to be particularly creative, but that doesn't mean that they weren't.

My Dad took sculpting classes, bronze classes and drawing when he finally went to college.  He used to doodle pictures for me all the time, made me a bronze piggy bank, and created a bust of his art teacher, mounting it on a sewer lid.  My Mom had been a painter, and she loved arranging flowers and creating displays in retail stores.  She was a decorator.

Both of my parents hated their work-a-day lives.  Together they were financially unstable and stressed out about money all the time.  Art was something that had to be shoved down and pushed away.  Yes, there might be a doodle on a napkin, but that was silliness, something to be thrown in the garbage can at the end of the meal.  Life was hard, and when they weren't drinking and fighting, they were working at blue-collar jobs and worrying about money.  My parents' inner artists weren't aloud to be loud, proud, and really ALIVE.

And I was encouraged to move in a direction that would be safe.  Art and creative pursuits weren't even on the map.  Honestly, it never occurred to me to ask if I could take a theater class or an art class.  To me, those classes didn't even count and any bit of creative electricity I'd ever felt had already been numbed.

I have spent my 40s diving deeper and deeper into my Creative Self.  I've been diving, AND at the same time, I've been calling myself names and making fun of myself for the dive.  I want to be an artist and a performer, a dancer, but there's a very loud voice in my head that says that those things don't count for anything.  I've been fighting against myself for years.  I might draw every day, but I call myself lazy for doing it and think of 30 other things that would be more REAL, 30 other things that I should be doing.

And I wanted to stop.  Making myself feel bad.  I wanted to start.  Embracing myself as an Artist.  I signed up for a coaching program called Change Your Story saying that I wanted to take myself seriously as an artist and writer.  I figured that we would work on setting goals and deadlines, and that, by the end of the 4 weeks, I'd have a practice that felt real.  That's not exactly what happened.  I mean, that's how it started, yes.  We set some writing goals, and as I was in the middle of Inktober and already drawing daily, we added that as an ongoing goal.  What it really came down to is that I was looking for my Why.  I was looking for something to hang all of my creative practices on.  Something that would make it OK for me to call myself an artist and would make it OK for me to put time into art.  What I thought I needed was a regular, scheduled, structured THING that would result in another THING that I could put out into the world.  I discovered something even better.

I found my Why, and my Why ended up being closely connected to both my spiritual and healing work.  For me, that kind of connection is key.

Jumping back to the beginning of this little missive - here's what I found.  My parents were neglected artists.  By embracing myself as an Artist and by putting time and effort into my art, I am giving a gift to my parents and very likely to some of the rest of my ancestors.  I am a full believer in generational trauma, and I have no reason not to think that if my parents criticized, abused and neglected their inner artists, it's very likely that the rest of my line did the same thing.  By allowing myself to create, write and perform, I am mindfully honoring the line of my kin on a daily basis.

What could be better for a Heathen Hippie Witch than that?

I am an Artist, and beyond the Gates, sitting in corners drawing and on stages performing, and in hidden coffee-shops-beyond-the-veil, I see the line of my people, going back to the dawn of time.  And one day, I'll take my place among them, but for now, you'll find me down at the local theater improvising and then sitting in bed the next day drawing to my heart's content.

Copyright Fálki Heiđdóttir


  1. Coming to these conclusions took so much courage. It's easier to ride resentments or just old patterns, even if they clearly are in no way serving. Your ancestors applaud you for seeing the value in your resources that weren't available to them. In the end, they only wanted to protect you from disappointment. Picking up your tools and creating is the highest honor. xoxo

    1. Sondra, you are a gift. Thank you for walking with me.


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