The Gift of Empowerment

 In The Artist Date, Weekly Forum Discussion

Legacy. This word has a sense of bigness and importance about it. One definition is, ” a thing handed down by a predecessor”, with some synonyms including “effect”, “footprint”, or “fruits”. Often, when asked what we would like our legacy to be, our thoughts immediately go to our death, and what we will be leaving behind — I like to think of legacy a little differently. Given a few select synonyms, legacy can also mean, “a change or impact which is the result or reward of work or activity” — so legacy can also be thought of as being the feeling, memory or experience you leave people with after an interaction. Not just the first impression, but after every interaction. What is it you intend to leave people with? How do you want them to feel after an interaction with you? This is where my thoughts for the day have gone.

To be honest, in everyday life, I have never thought about this. It has come up recently in my business, interestingly, while defining my passion and purpose, and creating mission statements. I define my purpose as enabling the discovery of the true, imperfect self; nurturing acceptance, kindness and curiosity by demonstrating the necessity of self-care through art and play. My wish is to leave people feeling empowered.

And as I sit and ponder this a little bit more, I come to realize that I do wish this to be my legacy in everyday life as well. I wish to inspire people to follow their dreams, even if only for a few moments a day. To give them permission to spend some time discovering and nurturing themselves, connecting with their inner child, and experiencing the value of play. Inspiration, to me, is in the mind, whereas empowerment signifies the strength to take action, and the ability to make your own choices.

An example outside of my art was completing the New York City Marathon with 261 Fearless. Their whole movement is about empowering women, and I stepped into that charity role very easily. I was a role model for many, and an example of not needing to look a specific way to be considered a runner — and I did it!  I completed the marathon! I felt amazing, and it empowered me to believe that I really can do anything I set my mind to.

In my art, I seek to connect with people’s emotions, and acknowledge that we all have a light and a dark side, and that they both need to be cared for and treated gently, with love. We can be inspired to take a leap of faith, or we can crumble into a ball. It is our choice. And my hope is that my work sparks the feeling of empowerment, that even with the shadows, everyone has the power to step into the light and take a leap of faith.

In my newest project, I am planning to complete a challenge of creating a piece of art a day for 100 days, and then teach a workshop about using only 4 colours of paint. Why? Because it is empowering to blend and mix your own colours, to own every piece of that canvas or paper, and make it never-to-be-repeated because it is so uniquely yours in that moment. Also, going into an art store can be very intimidating, with all of the colours and brands available. Where does one start?! And what if you want to change media, from acrylics to oil, let’s say. It can be very expensive. By learning to create many colours from only 4 tubes of paint, it empowers you to take the step and begin a hobby, experiment with colour, or a new medium, and step into a playfully curious part of yourself, without breaking the bank. Enabling confidence in your abilities through a modest colour palette, feelings of self-reliance and fearlessness are reinforced. Art allows us to embrace where we are, own our vulnerability, and courageously take action towards our goals, by proving to ourselves that we can, in fact, create beautiful things, one step at a time. By accepting our imperfections, we gain confidence and trust in ourselves and the universe around us. This course is all about empowerment.

I wish to live by example and give everyone I meet the gift of empowerment. That is my legacy wish.

Written by: Liz Chamberlain; Lizzie Lou Mixed Media

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