Getting Unstuck



Michelle Kirsch

This is BIG for me at the moment. The ground beneath my feet feels unstable, there's change afoot and my family and I are in the process of making some MAJOR life decisions. I'm confused, I'm afraid of making the wrong decision and as a result I FEEL STUCK.

Enter a familiar inner voice..."PAINT... PAINT FEELING STUCK."

After a frenzy of colour and movement, mirroring my frustrations with feeling stuck, this image (below) emerged. I didn't consciously intend to paint a bird/insect. I simply listened within and released the tension in my body through paint, and it came.

I allowed myself to spontaneously dialogue with the image afterwards. These words came swiftly, without any prior thought. Initially I wrote in third person ("Her wings can't fly'), yet after rereading it occurred to me to write it in first person. The insights resonate deeply, uncannily relating to my current predicament.

"My wings can't fly.
This saddens me to tears.
I have a beacon of light on my head,
always seeking,
keeping an eye out for what's coming.
I feel burdened by so many legs
all moving in different directions,
not knowing which way to go.
I am pregnant with possibilities.
Another bird is waiting to be birthed.
Her wings outspread,
she has a clear direction.
Her proboscis seeks the nectar of life.
The mother bird's head is weighed down by her seeking."

My 11year old daughter had been staring at the painting for a short while. I shared my insight with her. She very patiently waited for me to complete before offering her feedback.

"Perhaps the light on the bird's head is a spotlight, pinpointing EXACTLY where you need to go."

And with that, she left the studio.
Where are you feeling stuck in your life? What happens when you let go of needing to know the outcome?...

What is Intuitive Painting to me?

Painting at Fire Tree Studios, Austin, TX 

Painting at Fire Tree Studios, Austin, TX 

I feel as if I am standing in a sacred gateway, reflecting on the journey that has led me here, knowing that when I step out into this beautiful vista before me that my life will never be the same. I have been here before. In fact I believe that we can choose to walk through this gateway in every moment. This threshold however, feels like a significant rite of passage to me…from this place, I can see the trapeze bar in sight and am teetering on my toes reaching out for it. In an eternal second, I reflect on and acknowledge my unique process - my painting process, coaching and other Expressive Arts modalities. Each and every twist and turn has its place along my path, in one moment revealing to me my truth in love, in another reflecting my fears.


The intuitive painting process combined with meditation practice, somatic body awareness and yoga have taught me to witness passing thoughts, releasing attachment or judgment. When fear or contraction arises, I am now able to acknowledge my false personality, the ego grasping on to less than serving patterns and beliefs. By acknowledging and expressing these parts of myself I am able to return to my connection within, where I am more able trust in my process. I then surrender to limitless possibilities and allow my journey to unfold, like an image in one of my paintings. This trust is at the heart of intuitive painting. My commitment to trusting in my process and trusting in my own inner guidance is crucial to this work. Trust is the foundation of my role as a facilitator, my painting process and upon which I live my life.

 Conscious Relationship

The key relationship that has transformed through this powerful process is my relationship to myself. As I have learned to align with my own inner voice and explore my wholeness, releasing less than serving core beliefs and stories, I am less inclined to seek validation outside of myself. Many of us, from childhood, are conditioned to seek external validation. Through the painting process, I learnt to notice and practice what it feels like when it comes from within. Interestingly, other relationships in my life have followed with equality and acceptance. They often mirror my relationship to myself.

 Shadow Work and Acceptance

Through intuitive painting, the shadow parts of myself are finding their voices within me. Through the potent process of archetype and shadow work, the pleaser, the over-empathiser, the victim, the child, the martyr, the magician, the artist, the charlatan, the hypocrite, the hippie, the damsel to name but a few… are finding their sweet place of acceptance and integration. Thus revealing to me my own blind spots of projection. From this place of awareness and accountability, my acceptance and unconditional positive regard for others is heightened.


Embarking upon working with abundance, I imagined it might shift my relationship to money and prosperity.  Interestingly, what evolved out of this process was an enlightening and powerful shift in my relationship to separation and oneness. A core belief of 'not good enough' that I had held on to for many years, spoke her truth with me through that process, revealing to me ways in which I had been inauthentic with myself and others during that period, manifesting as spiritual bypass, self-doubt, projection, dishonesty, fear and self judgment. It was in that moment that I committed to wholeness, acknowledging that my self worth and patterns of scarcity (less than) are intrinsic to and inform my experience of abundance. I allowed myself to surrender more freely and I continue to practice this everyday.

Process as Teacher

Through the intuitive painting process, I am learning to trust my own internal guidance system. This system, I am realising is one that is guided by intuition and grounded in my body. Being in tune with and listening to my body is my greatest teacher in discerning not only my own emotional and internal states through my painting process, facilitating, coaching and life at large, it also guides me in facilitating and holding space for groups and individuals.

 Holding Space

My experiences and witnessing of holding space as a facilitator in intuitive painting, have empowered me to recognise my sacred role as the ‘gate keeper’, firmly grounded in the harmony of my inner family, trust, presence and my connection to creative source. In holding space, I am learning the subtle and powerful art of modelling the witness. The gift of holding space encompasses not only my needs for safety and freedom of expression, it also discerns and senses the needs and boundaries of those whom I am holding within that space.


My training in the expressive arts has taught me the incredible gift of trusting my own internal guidance, recognising my resistance and acting upon my own clarity. I am learning the gift of authentic and honest communication, holding strong boundaries both professional and personal and speaking my truth in love whilst releasing the outcome, irrespective of the fear welling inside…a fear I now recognise as the withdrawal of love from others and myself…illusion.

 Relationship to Source

My relationship to creative source has been and continues to be my sanctuary and my anchor, grounding my experience. So here I am, passing through this sacred gateway, ever evolving, ever learning and growing. The trapeze bar is closer now. I can feel it, arms outspread, heart expanding towards the sunlight and filled with love, gratitude and endless possibilities, and my journey continues….

 These words are inspired in gratitude for the Fire Tree Method,

Melissa - my mentor, soul sister, inspiration and beautiful friend - and

to all of those courageous souls who have journeyed with me in community.






Carrie's Journal, 2014

"The turquoise and gold call out to me, my heart leaps as I envision golden butterflies, wings fluttering up the page.  And I pick up the brush to manifest them, and they begin to take shape ... a clumsy, bubbly, child-like shape, not very much like butterflies at all, really.  Stupid and dumb, the scribbler doodles of an 8-year-old who dots her i's with hearts. 

Or so says a voice in my head ... except it's not a voice, there are no words, no critical monologue, no vicious rant.  It's just that my chest tightens, my shoulders stiffen, and I feel like giving up, because I obviously can't do it "right".  I don't have to wait for the voice at all - my body contracts, and I know what it will say. 

The butterflies in my head are bold, confident, beautiful, quirky, brave, artsy things - mature, grounded, risk-taking, unfolding, shimmering with all the excitement of their act of becoming.  Dancing, leaping, full of energy and motion ... joyous motion. 

But the butterflies on the page just sit there, like bubbly lumps, not even the suggestion of a flutter.  The only motion is the tightness in my chest.  I want to give up.  But I paint them anyway, breathing into the tightness, the disappointment of where I am and its distance from where I want to be.  Because starting ANYHOW is essential.  And persevering EVEN THOUGH is, too.  Start close in.  With the first step. 

And the more I keep painting these butterflies, letting them be as they are, the more fondness I feel for them.  Perhaps, some day, if I dedicated myself to painting gossamer-winged beings, perhaps eventually they would fly off the page.  Maybe I end up dedicating myself to other things.  But, regardless, one must start.  Be present to where one is, not where or how one ought to be. 

The first bubbly butterfly, or awkward presentation, or grant proposal, or community program.  You don't have to draw perfect butterflies.  But if your heart is calling you to draw golden butterflies on a turquoise background, listen to its call.  You are not accountable to the mythical, imaginary butterflies in your mind.  You are accountable to the paper in front of you, and the paint, and the art of starting, that small humble step where you stumble into making mistakes in the real world. 

The ideal that flutters there in your mind should be inspiration, not impediment.  Your job is not to recreate it, but to take one tangible, honest, authentic step in its direction.  And then another.  What would it look like, my 20th butterfly canvas? My 100th?  You can never know unless you paint the first one."