Some thoughts about all the mean-spiritedness as of late

Nov 21, 2013 | Life in Progress

(I’ve always loved this one.)

People are surprised when I tell them that just about every week, sometimes several times a week I get nasty, mean-spirited comments that come through my email, my Facebook page, my blog. Ever since I made the decision to step into the creative life and start selling my work almost 7 years ago. Ever since I’ve put myself out there. Ever since I became a mother. Ever since my work has received more visibility. It just keeps coming – a hazard of what I do. Of course, there are the supporters and life-line encouragers, too, for which I’m incredibly grateful.

But man, the judgments. Judgments about my not having any room to “complain” or struggle given my “amazing life.” Judgments on how I do or don’t market my products and e-courses. Judgements about perceived privilege,”selling out”, success, and so on. Judgements about how I parent, don’t parent. I received a few nasty-a-grams about my recent Wear Your Joy Project post – folks telling me I’m copying fashion bloggers who also post selfies and lots of judgement about where I shop, how etc.

I know I’m not alone in this. I receive stories like this often from my friends, near and far.

I keep thinking about something Donald Miller said recently during a talk of his that I attended. He said  this: we are not our failures but we are not our successes either. 

I think about this a lot when it comes to my work in the world, as well as the comments I receive. Honestly, between all the social networking sites and regular ol’ email, sometimes it feels like a ton of momentum/energy coming toward me – the lovely, supportive comments (thank you, immensely), the helpful feedback (always useful), and then the mean-spirited comments (fear-based, hostile). Although I care about what people think (I’m human), I work really hard on my boundaries and to not allow my worthiness to get caught up in any of it – the good or the bad. I don’t want my self-esteem to become other-esteemed by how much good feedback or negative feedback receive, if I’m having “commercial” success or not, if so likes me, etc etc. This is something I think a lot about, checking in with myself often.

I am not my failures. And I am not my successes.

I’m just a girl, a woman navigating her True North, showing up, putting herself out there, and creating a life that she loves with her family and her art.

Whenever people ask me advice on how to handle the criticism they’re receiving, or when I need to be reminded on how to handle it myself, I always refer to my friend Brene Brown who has taught me so much about this subject in our conversations and in her books.

In her book, she shares and writes about the Theodore Roosevelt quote:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the
strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the
arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives
valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually
strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great
devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
Ahhh yes. This always brings me back to center. Brene’s work on this subject challenges me to consider a few things. Are the critics in the arena with me? Are they also being brave with their lives, putting their work out into the world, engaging authentically? Then, I’ll listen, especially if it’s useful feedback. But if they’re not, I gain perspective and try and move on, though sometimes, especially if it’s a tender week, I feel the sting. I’m human. Ouch.

By the way, this is an awesome Q+A she did on this subject that I just read for the first time and that I found to be really helpful.

So here’s to those of you in the arena with me. It takes a ton of vulnerability and courage to keep showing up, putting our work out there, staying true to our voices, telling the truth even when it’s hard (like this post feels for me) despite making a ton of mistakes (sometimes publicly) along the way, and despite the mean-spirited judgments that come our way from people who don’t know us, and perhaps people who do. Count me as one of your biggest supporters, encouragers along the path.

Really + truly,
Kelly Rae

Sending much love,

Show/Hide Comments (68 comments)
  1. LadyLike

    I think people just can't stand someone else's success or talent. I've been copied in my art more often and I just choose to ignore it. Your work is beautiful! Continued success and ignore those unhappy people! 🙂

  2. Anonymous

    oh kelly,

    i had no idea, really, that such things as you describe are a part of being an artist, nowadays. surely, you have achieved great success in many avenues. and so, there are detractors-whose comments are seeded in jealousy and fear as you describe in your post.

    years ago before the www, so much of 'this' would not have reached the ears or eyes of an artist; they were shielded. and with every new avenue you pursue, it leaves more opportunities for your fans to praise and detractors to shadow. I'm truly sorry they behave and are lost in this manner-and have hurt your beautiful, open, vulnerable heart.

    more important is that you are a guiding light, a 'possibilitarian' for
    SO many people with ALL that you are and do and show. at the least, you are that for me and I so appreciate ALL that you offer; i drink it in.

    on a side note, i adore your new 'joy to the world' line with demdaco; i'm SO looking forward to bringing a piece or two into my life, heart and home. thank u, truly.

    peace be with u,

  3. deniseb

    Dear Kelly Rae, I love your art, your style, your insights and honesty. You radiate positive energy that is rooted in a very real and authentic heart. I enjoy reading your blog and newsletters. There is always inspiration there for me.
    It is brave the way you and other artists put yourselves out there. It is courageous to focus on what is good and spreading kindness as opposed to saying nothing and being inaccessible.
    Thank you for all you have done. You have been an inspiration to me for many years, and I know will continue to be for some years to come.

  4. Julie Betts

    I can't remember quite how i happened upon your blog a few years ago, but i'm so happy i did! You are such an inspiration 🙂

    I think that any mean comments are from those who are jealous and may mis-interpret your writing. Sure, you write in a positive way, and sure, it may sound like your life is always rosy — who the heck would want to read about all the negative stuff? And how would you feel if all you ever focused on was the bad?

    Keep doing what you're doing girl!

  5. Dee T

    Thank you for your honesty and kindness.

  6. Robin

    Thanks so much for this today..Im so glad I checked into my feedly today…I guess this is a common obstacle to getting out there and becoming vulnerable…but you handle it amazingly..thanks so much..!

  7. Linda

    I found your post about vulnerability an interesting post, reflective of our society as a whole. Those that make mean, nasty comments are bullies. Being a bully today has become a way of life for those who choose to bash people rather than learn to accept. I do admire your courage, your art, and am grateful that you continue to do what you do. You are an inspiration!

  8. Herma Starreveld

    Congratulations with your vulnerability. I admire your courage! I wish you all the power to stay vulnerable in all your strength. I love what you do!

  9. Sharon @ Crooked Creek Studio

    Thank you for sharing and for staying strong and true to yourself. You are such an inspiration. Blessings!

  10. Tracy Verdugo

    Oh sweet Kelly I cant even conceive of anyone being nasty to you and as yet I haven't experienced it in my own path. I don't know that I would handle it very well even though one of my favorite quotes is "What other people think of me is none of my business. One of the highest places you can get to is being independent of the good opinions of other people." – Dr. Wayne Dyer
    I hope you know that those of us who support you, cheer you on, expand our own worlds in part because of your inspiration, far outnumber those whose only way to hide from their own fears is to belittle the growth of others…much love to you beautiful mama….all the way from sunny Australia…keep shining your light. It is truly illuminating for so many ♥Tracy♥

  11. Anonymous

    So sorry to hear that you have had so many of these experiences. You try to give and share so much of yourself so that others can learn and be inspired too when/if possible , and its surprising and sad that its so common. I think when people have a lot of misfortunes in their life and/or can't see or understand how they are getting in their own way and/or just simply depressed its too easy to blame others, focus on the negative, and get mean-spirited. So much of it does seem to whittle down to shame and/or desperation. Hopefully the people who attack you and others like you who are blessed with abundance will find their own fulfillment and blessings too and move away from such unnecessary and hurtful attacks towards you. Keep doing exactly what you are doing!
    Alexandra in Portland!

  12. Franchesca

    I just wanted to tell you I am so glad you are doing this new wardrobe series. I am excited to get involved. I had an idea to do something similar but I lost motivation to get it going on my blog. We lost our first child four and a half years ago and just recently I find myself healing in new ways, anxious to dive back into some of things I feel like I have lost over time since her death, one of those being putting together an outfit that makes me feel good about myself. Anyway, I'm sorry you've had people passing judgment. That seems so silly. I hope you know how much of an encouragement you are. Hugs.

  13. Clare

    You go girl! I have been running my own business for a long time and have put myself out there. It takes courage and diligence and the ability to believe in yourself even when others don't. Don't ever let the naysayers affect what you do. They try to bring you down b/c they can't bring themselves up. We all have gifts and it is important to use yours! Best wishes.

  14. Blessed Serendipity

    Jealousy is an ugly thing. Hasn't anybody ever taught these souls that if you don't have anything nice to say then just don't say anything? Thanks for sharing this today. We all have bad days. Good news is there are good days to follow. 🙂

    XO Danielle

  15. Brittney T.

    Hi Kelly Rae! I'm so sorry that people can and are being mean to you. You are such a bright light in the world and you spread joy and love through your art. You have been inspiring me for about a year now with all of your posts and I can't thank you enough. I hope that one days our paths will cross and I will have the plessure of meeting you.

    I hope you have a great weekend



  16. Amy

    Dear sweet Kelly…my preacher always told me and I quote, "if you get in the ring with a jackass he will kick your brains out!" Let it go sister and never crawl in the ring with those who are not joying in all the beauty you create and inspire the rest of us to create for ourselves. Keep running north my friend and know that by being so vulnerable and authentic you encourage the rest of us to live our lives in the same way. Consider yourself hugged!!!

    Your fellow sojourner and faraway art friend,

    Amy in NC

  17. Tawny Moon Studio

    I'm so shocked tht you getmail like that, I'm a huge fan of yours and you are inspirational in an honest and beautiful way. People who say nasty things or act that way are only ever truly in a battle with themselves, it is not about you at all! Keep shining your light bright girl 🙂 i'm a UK fan and have just bought ten of your paintings!!! They adorn our walls throughout our home alongside my own paintings, thank you, and, to hell with 'em! WE LOVE YOU KRR ♥

  18. Anne French


    I have been a HUGE fan of yours for years and I love this project! Thank you for being so graceful in spite of the 'haters'. I blogged about my participation in the #thewearyourjoyproject and linked up to this and the previous post.



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Hello + welcome!

I’m Kelly Rae Roberts

Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my creative whispers, and today I’m an artist & Possibilitarian. I’m passionate about creating meaningful art and experiences that awaken and inspire our spirits.

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