We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda Newman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amanda, how do you think about risk?
Over the course of my life, I find that I fluctuate between twirling through minefields and a sudden onslaught of insecurities that I don’t have any business trying to fit into a world already oversaturated with artists and with writers. Where does wisdom lie in the tension of these extremes? What risks are worth the potential pain of a fail….which can I handle if they succeed? For me, it helps to have people in my life who know me well and love me without ulterior motives. I have people who will dream with me and sometimes push me off the cliff when I freeze in fear. One of the biggest risks I have taken is trusting people to that extreme. It is a trust that has grown over time. Who is your person? The one that you can risk trusting to help you untangle your dreams. This year, I took another big risk. For years, I have shared my writings in social media posts and blogs, but this year, I published my first book. I took a collection of writings from the year and compiled a book called “Art of Pondering” which combines paintings with writings because maybe grown-ups like picture books too 🙂 I have been overwhelmed by the feedback and the success. I never dreamed it could feel this good. My temptation was to rework it and overthink it–infinity. This year, however, I set a deadline and did it. I’m so glad I did! It has opened up writing, speaking, and teaching opportunities. I feel empowered and emboldened to write and create even more. It was a huge hurdle–but honestly, it was more of an emotional hurdle than a physical one. Now that I have done it, doing it again will be easier and more natural. Figure out what risks are worth taking to achieve your big dreams. Calculate the costs, make sure you can pay the price. Have someone who will wrestle through it with you, then once you have vetted and fine-tuned the idea, be brave.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The unique blend I bring to the artistic community is the combination of painted art and written art. I love to ignite the two senses in a way that helps you understand the deeper implications of both. It is vulnerable to share deep, often personal ponderings on a platform that has the option to offer no feedback. Thankfully many of my readers are actively engaged, so I am able to hear back from them and see how the work of my hands continues to impact people’s lives. I love people, so I really enjoy hearing the ponderings they have as the result of being still with Jesus. I am a counselor by degree. My journey has honestly not made a lot of sense, but each step has put a tool in my toolbox that becomes invaluable in the process. I think initially, it wasn’t easy to believe my art belonged in the same space as other talented artists. As I have matured and settled into a more steady pace, I recognize that there is room for us all at the table. We each bring a different flavor and it’s good. It’s ok if there are a million people doing what I do, we don’t do it the same way which is cool because variety is the spice of life. Also, apparently, I am hungry because all of my analogies seem to involve food right now… I have learned to stop chasing other people’s shadows. It’s much braver to be authentic and to step into your own light. There is a risk when you chose to expose yourself, to be your unique brand, but when I was finally willing to be vulnerable, that’s when I began to find success. In the process, I learned to reassess what success actually looks like in my life. When I expanded my idea of what is valuable, I suddenly could see how the work I do has longevity and purpose. I am told it has inspired life changes that will forever impact family trajectories. Suddenly success lights me up instead of being an illusive burden.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in Columbus, GA. Over the years, our downtown has become one of our favorite spots to hang out! There are amazing local restaurants sprinkled all over the city but a good concentration downtown. We love Vertigo, The Black Cow, 11th and Bay, The Food Mill, My Boulange, and so many more. There are a couple of cool rooftop bars that overlook the city and our river. We have a very active paddling community, so there is always activity on the water. We spend a lot of time walking and riding bikes. We have great new mountain bike opportunities at Standing Boy Trails. We have good hiking from Providence Canyon to Pine Mountain where you can also visit Callaway Gardens. Our farmers market overtakes most of Broadway on Saturdays, and when there is no COVID, we have free outdoor concerts in fall and spring. I love shopping at our local boutiques. One of the best things about our city is if you have the heart to give back. There are amazing, innovative organizations that bless the needs of our city in powerful, practical ways. I love being a part of it and seeing how interconnected they are. If you are looking for a sweet place to raise a family, for outdoor adventures, and for inspiring philanthropy, Columbus is worth checking out!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am so thankful for my man, Brad. He has worked tirelessly to give me space and encouragement to work towards my dreams. He intentionally steps out of his comfort zone to dig through deep thoughts with me. Also, he is super good looking 🙂 I am inspired by my kids and the freedom they have with artistic expression. I am thankful for how they have found their own role in Artistic Therapy. My son runs my website at 13 years old. Both of my kids offer valuable suggestions as I paint and create. They pray for me and the work of my hands. My parents have always spoken life into my strengths. My dad is a ponderer by nature and nurtured that tendency in me my whole childhood. We would spend limitless amounts of time chatting about things. I am surrounded by passionate and inspiring friends. My girl, Jessica pushes me to be brave. She is willing to dream with me and push me off the cliff when I need it. Come Away Missions has put my feet and heart in places where I have been able to hear the Lord more clearly. Spending so much time pondering in Rwanda over the years has inspired my creative work in more ways than I am probably aware. I am so thankful for the encouragement and opportunities that serving the Lord in Africa has offered me. Jean Baptiste is my African pastor and mentor. He challenges me to do hard things but also trusts me with his vulnerabilities. My friend, Nicole has been instrumental in helping me figure out how to make the shift from writer to author. Her writing teaches me and inspires me. Her faith after the death of her husband is powerful. My friend, Raven took my hodge-podge gifts and helped me put the pieces together. She walked the technology side of it out with me and never lets me struggle with the necessities that are outside of my wheelhouse. My friend Jenna captures my work with her amazing photography skills and sometimes lets me pay her in coffee and girl time. She and Raven inspire me to be generous with my small business when you see someone you simply want to invest in. I have benefitted so much from the mad skills of my fellow small business owners and the flexibility working for yourself offers. It’s my joy to look for unexpected ways to pay that forward. I am thankful for other writers who have pioneered a path before me and left deep wells for me to drink from: Beth Moore is a huge biblical mentor. Bob Goff has given me tools to “Dream Big”. I am inspired by other artists: Deann Herbert was the first artist I connected with both artistically and spiritually. One day she will realize we are besties 🙂 The ponderings of ‘Farmer Jason’ aka “yonder way farmer’ inspired me to sit still and look deeper at little things in nature and in my daily life. I am inspired by the brave humans in my life who take calculated risks and put their hearts into work for the greater good. I am inspired by generous people. I am inspired by happy people. I am inspired by nature and I am so grateful that my sweet Jesus–the holy creator of all the things that inspire me is willing to ponder with me. He agrees to give me wisdom when I ask. My work is simply an overflow of the goodness and understanding that comes straight from time with Him.
Facebook: Artistic Therapy
Other: “Art of Pondering” by Amanda Ray Newman available on Amazon