Sticking Points – Facing Challenges in the Face of Fear

Sticking Points

Sticking Points © 2011 Bo Mackison

There are sticking points in life. Places where you can’t see the beauty of the cactus plant because you are focused on the thorny spines. Places where it becomes hard to focus on the whole because there is a part that is strange and unknown. I am at a sticking point.

I achieved a huge goal in my “art show plan” this past week. And, as is sometimes true in life, achieving a big goal added new challenges to my life. It also brought the gremlins out in full force. The gremlins are showing up as fear. FEAR — in giant, capital letters.

Last year–my first year doing an entire year of art fairs–I did smaller shows, regional shows. When it came time to send in the applications last autumn, I made the decision to apply to big shows, to the nationally ranked shows that drew artists from all over the country. Five months ago, it seemed like a great idea.

When the notifications began showing up in my email box, there were quite a few rejections. There were some wonderful acceptances, too, for really good shows in the Midwest. I was thrilled. There were also several shows where I was wait-listed – my art was good enough to meet the show’s requirements, but there was not space available. Yet.

Last week I got a phone call from the Tempe Festival of the Arts, one of my wait listed shows. There was a space available. Did I want it? Yes, of course I wanted it. I made some arrangements for an assistant, and I accepted the space at Tempe. And all was good for a few days. And then…the inner critic started blathering.

Yep. The inner critic focused on FEAR.

One of the biggest life challenges I am working to overcome is my fear of the unknown. It is one of the reasons I came to Tucson. I had visited Tucson several times and I was deeply attracted to the region, but I had no connections. When I made the choice to live in Tucson for a couple of months — alone — I knew I would be living in a place whose daily special was a serving of the unknown. I also knew that I would have to come up with the resources to deal with all the fears that ride piggy-back on those unknowns.

When I agreed to do the show in Tempe, I achieved one of my art goals – doing a nationally ranked show. Coupled with that acceptance was  taking on one of my huge fears — doing a show in a city that I had never visited before, and well outside my comfort zone. I also chose to  face my fears, meet them head on, continue to move forward.

Then suddenly, I saw only the thorns in the cactus, not the whole plant. I let fear speak. And I began to listen.

Global Pattern

Global Pattern © 2011 Bo Mackison

It took me a few days to realize that if I listened to my fears, it would interfere with a big life goal – showing up as the artist I want to be. I gradually realized that it was okay to have fears, but that I did not want to allow fear to govern my decisions and my life.

I really am pleased to be in the Tempe show, and I am stepping up to the challenge. I am choosing to be the artist I want to be.  I am choosing to be a person who does not let fear get in the way of her dreams.

Living in the desert offers many life lessons. I choose to see the cactus, aware of its thorns, but focused on the beauty of it as a whole. That cactus has a lot of similarities to living a full, meaningful life.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.  She is living in Tucson for two months – exhibiting her photography in art shows, taking photographs, and blogging about photography, art fairs, and living life “solo”.  She will be exhibiting her photography at the Tempe Festival of the Arts in Tempe, Arizona, March 25-27, 2011.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. You are a brave, brave woman. 🙂

    Congratulations on being accepted in and making it past the wait list for a nationally ranked show. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll get where you want to be, Bo.

  2. I love the first photo – intimidating and fascinating at the same time. Your willingness to share your experience, fears and determination is also very welcome.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks, Gandalf. Sometimes it seems like a good idea to share–maybe someone else is struggling through the same kind of situation, and it’s good to have company when facing a challenge.

  3. Joanne Keevers says:

    I so admire the courage that you have drawn out of your fear of the unknown, Bo. If it helps, you know you have your online friends, cheering you on and admiring your strength and determination. 🙂

  4. Congratulations on getting the Tempe show! You will do well there. I lived in Tempe for about 5 years and then worked at a plant there for 8 more. I’m sure it’s busier now than when I was there, but I think you will like the people as I did.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      The whole Phoenix area has had a population explosion. You might not recognize your own haunts. My booth will be on 7th and Ash — I’ll let you know how the downtown is, once I;ve seen it.

  5. Joanna Paterson says:

    Bo, that first sticking points image is fantastic… and revealing – the thorns and spikes are there to protect us, even if we wish they wouldn’t 😉 and there is such beauty in the pattern, the whole… we do eventually learn to accept it as part of the process… and do the art show 🙂

    I am sure it’ll all go great, and you will have all these desert found resources to take with you too.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Remembering the reason for those thorns and spikes–protection–is a good thing to keep in mind. And it’s quite amazing, Joanna, what one can learn when living in the desert. Thanks.

  6. Excellent cactus photos, and wonderful post. Yes, I certainly understand about the unknown and fear. It takes courage to keep going when one heart pounds and not knowing what is up ahead. Bo, you are doing just fine and admirably.

  7. It looks like a crown! Everything worth doing has a hurdle–or it doesn’t seem like a challenge. Your work is so wonderful, it needs to be in national shows!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Maybe a very sharp crown, Quinn! Yes, the show is worth the challenges, and the work required to meet those challenges head on. And thanks for the compliment. I truly appreciate it.

  8. I’m catching up with you after being away about a week, Bo. This post is truly inspired….and inspiring. Good for you!

Leave a Reply