Moving forward vs. slipping backwards

Grow your imagination // APAK

“When you’re being told that you’re good at something, you start to believe them and then you forget about your hopes and dreams,” ~ Ken Spillman 

This topic of growing has been on my mind lately.

Growing, shifting, experimenting; along with the fear and excitement that comes from it all. I lost this a while back, and instead of pushing myself forward, I found myself a bit more frozen with fear with each passing day. I wasn’t excited either. I was stuck. I thought it was just an internal rumbling that came from being bogged down with work, my impending wedding, and my grandmother being unwell. I didn’t listen to that small nudge that persisted inside my heart and my mind. I blocked it out, convinced that if others didn’t feel the need for me to change, then there must be some truth to what I’m doing – that it’s okay to stay the course.

I attended a talk during my time at The Asian Festival of Children’s Content two weeks ago, and Ken Spillman was giving a talk about finding his calling. And what he said stuck with me for a long time. He was a non-fiction writer who turned to writing for children after many, many years. When he was writing non-fiction, everyone told him how good he was at it. He believed them although he felt conflicted inside – and it tore him apart. “When you’re being told that you’re good at something, you start to believe them and then you forget about your hopes and dreams,” he said. We talked a bit more afterwards about it one-to-one, and his message hunkered down deep.

It’s a funny feeling.

There’s a lot of pushing and pulling. And yet I’m stagnant. Coming to terms with it has been liberating.

I’ve known only too well that anyone – whether you’re an artist, a writer, or an entrepreneur – that there is no such thing as being stagnant. There’s only moving forward, or slipping backwards. No two ways about it.

And I’m excited to move forward.

What about you? Have you ever been in a situation where you consciously moved forward instead of letting yourself slip backwards? I’d love to hear your story, and I’m sure that it will resonate with others as well!


If you’re a little confused, allow me to shed some light – this week marks the last online class that I’ll be teaching for now, and it’s called Visual Journaling, and I’m teaching with Jamie Shelman. It’s part of the Pikaland Artist Bootcamp series as well as Camp Pikaland – where I gather teachers and students together for online classes which started in 2010. I love bringing people together and it was great fun too! But the time has come for me to grow personally and as well as take Pikaland to the next level, and in order to do that, I’ve had to give up Camp Pikaland for the time being. Technical difficulties also played a big part in the decision, as it would take enormous resources to upgrade the site – I’ve been given an ultimatum to comply and to make these changes to the Camp Pikaland website, or be shut down. I chose the latter.


10 Replies to “Moving forward vs. slipping backwards”

  1. Nicole says:

    I totally understand, and it’s scary when you try something new and the uneasiness you feel. “Will people like it”, and all these insecurities come into light. I felt like i was inspired again when I went to a recent art festival and saw everyones passion, I was reminded how much I love to create and ready to move forward with my own art!

    1. amy says:

      That’s very true Nicole! Moving outside our own comfort zones is easier said than done, because it’s a very terrifying thing to experience. Oftentime the fear of the experience may lead to resistance, instead of the actual experience itself.

  2. comet says: a fearsome word to me.Really.

    I don’t even know if i’m just moving forward or slipping further at this rate.Best if either ,than just ‘Stagnant’ not able to know own status quo.

    Nothing seems to make a difference.Artworks doesn’t sell.Bills pilling up and i have no backup plans.

    Sorry if this sound like ranting to u.Well..maybe just a little.

    1. amy says:

      It’s okay to rant Comet – but you need to make some plans, and soon too. Put one feet in front of another and push through – small steps and you’ll soon get to where you want to go.

  3. aijung says:

    Actually, I disagree that there are only two ways of being – moving forward or being stagnant. I don’t think life is that black-and-white. Sometimes I feel stagnant when I’m not actively “progressing” on something I think I should be better at, whether it’s from feeling apathetic, unsure, scared or just plain too busy with other things to do anything about it. but I’m finding more and more that everything you do, even if it’s wallowing in fear for awhile, is part of a process that never ceases to unfold. Sure, some periods feel stagnant and some feel like progress, but life isn’t always so linear or cut and dry. we leap ahead, sometimes without even trying, and we linger and we fall, in all different kinds of orders and degrees. but anyone can learn from their fear, and maybe that was what was required in order to make a clear decision in the end. and so maybe fear or doubt are part of that progress, and shouldn’t be considered a bad thing. it can feel great to accept what is, without trying to change it or make it better. in fact, sometimes that is what gets me out of the ruts – to simply recognize my feelings and not try to push them away. Recognition is key.

    but i know what you’re saying, it’s absolutely wonderful to let something go that you didn’t even realize was weighing on you. i’ve recently experienced the feeling that i just need to breathe and let myself drift for awhile after having a period of working very intensely. the idea that i didn’t HAVE to do something and use every spare moment productively was liberating to me! i feel so much better.

  4. aijung says:

    oh, i was reminded of this zen tale that shows how you can’t always judge what happens. i’ve found this very true in my life as an artist – sometimes things feel like a failure but then i find that other opportunities pop up from those supposed failures… and the cycle goes on and on.

    “There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “May be,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “May be,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “May be,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “May be,” said the farmer.”

  5. I am definitely moving into a period of deliberately moving forwards since I have been realizing that my current methods of creating aren’t thrilling me as much as they used to. I still enjoy aspects of my work but I have a new style and subject matter that I’m going to try for a while to see if it will help get my spark back.

  6. i.ikeda says:

    I had the pleasure of taking a couple of classes in Camp Pikaland and I’m so glad I did. I’m sad to see it go, but I totally understand. I’m so happy to see Pikaland grow as a whole. Good luck to you, and I’ll be hanging around here. Cheers!

    1. amy says:

      Thank you so much Iluska!! xoxo

  7. Pingback: Link Hype 6-14-13

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *