I was at my 2nd Brick Fiesta, a LEGO fan convention with a public exhibition, and this story almost didn't happen because I thought it was already too late to enter the Master Builder Contest Game because I had missed Heat 1. My husband then kindly explained to me about preliminary rounds vs. final rounds, and thus our story begins.
The funny thing is I would never have even been brave enough to even consider entering a contest at my 1st Brick Fiesta last year. A game yes, but not a contest!
At that time, I was halfway through my 366 project of building a creation out of bricks every day and I was barely brave enough to display some of my creations at the public exhibition. You can read about how I overcame that comparison and instead focused on individual uniqueness in the blog post Creativity Is For Everyone.
With my creative courage on a firmer foundation this year, I knew I could enter and do my own thing, I just never expected in my wildest dreams to progress or place. But I had something in my pocket that others didn't - no really I had something in my pocket - a creative courage quote.
To keep my creativity alive and well after finishing my daily building project last year, this year I've been pulling a quote about creativity (I call them my creative courage quotes) once a week and building my own creation (you can check them out on my Instagram where I post pictures). It's usually on Fridays, but since I had learned I could still enter a heat I decided to do my creative build during heat 3 on Saturday.
Here was the quote I had pulled for the day and had in my pocket:
"I made a commitment to start looking at other artists out there that had different approaches to painting and that painted different subject matters from myself. Not looking at their art to rob it, rather looking at it to be inspired."
We got 15 minutes to select parts from a bulk parts table (which had to fit in a tall cup), and then 45 minutes to built a M.O.C. (My Own Creation) in the given pre-selected theme.
Well the theme was automation. Hah.
I still remember how happy I was the first time I figured out how to properly use a hinge piece so my creation of a box could open and close. Adding movement to my pieces is still a big deal for me, having it move by itself, again, hah.
But with my quote in my pocket I surveyed the bulk parts bins. Thanks to the quote, I had an idea in my head of somehow celebrating Brick Fiesta, and all the amazing brick artists and their inspiration.
I spotted a car foundation and the idea that came to me was to build a Brick Fiesta parade float. That way I could push the car and it would keep moving, automation enough for me!
With my idea in mind, and saying a silent gratitude for my weekly creative Fridays that I think helped it come so quickly, I selected my pieces.
I constructed my parade float, and thankfully I had selected well and it worked out. I even added in with my remaining time and bricks a road, spectators, a parade marshal, and some scattered bricks to represent all the bricks you get at a BrickFest, like beads at a Mardi Gras parade.
The participants judge each other, and I was tied for 2nd place with two other aspiring master builders. After a second vote, I officially won 2nd place! First place was an amazing moving helicopter by a Kid Fan Of LEGO (KFOL) named Robert. We were both moving onto the finals with the winners of the two other heats.
The story could have ended there, me very happy with my 2nd place win in a preliminary round. If I didn't know how resistance and comparison worked, it would have.
But how could I, who had for the past two days been handing out creative courage quotes to people visiting the exhibition, reminding them they were creative beings, sell myself short and say I wasn't good enough to participate.
I did my meditation/prayer that morning and heard that it's all about the power of your story, something my wise husband had reminded me of just the other day as well, that my story of what I built is just as important as my build.
So I kept the comparison gremlins at bay...
I mean have you seen what these people can make out of brick!?
Who the heck am I to think I should even be at their table?
Don't you remember when you showed up to register and it was assumed your husband was the main fan?
It's fine to be here displaying your little creations but don't try and get too big because really, who do you think you are?
..and did some deep breathing and focused on the 8 creative courage quotes in my pocket!
Seriously! As I was sorting out quotes to hand out at the exhibition, I kept putting my favorite in my pocket. I needed them!
And I did the most important thing, I showed up. I said yes.
I was actually inspired by a woman that morning who when I asked if she wanted a creative courage quote she said, "Absolutely!" Some of the other responses had been confused looks and hesitant responses of, "What is that?" I wanted to be more like the "Absolutely" woman, saying Absolutely to what life was presenting.
For the final round we were to be given a mystery set for our parts and only 30 minutes to build.
I couldn't have been happier - we were given classic creativity boxes and no specific theme!!!
I was in my element. It was like this competition was made for me.
You see, I had an advantage I didn't realize, because when I started my 366 project last year I had no idea what parts were or how they were usually used, so I had learned to use any part in a creative way to make it work for me.
Also, because I didn't have a gazillion bricks, I was used to using what I had, which often meant I didn't have matching pieces or colors.
And finally, I usually don't have a plan when I build, I allow the quote and whatever else is inspiring me at the time to take the lead.
So thankfully, again, an idea came as they were joking about whether we had to build in the bags (a game at Brick Fiesta, where literally, you build the set without opening the bag, yep).
But that gave me the idea to represent my time at Brick Fiesta, including the games I had played (build in the bag, build only from the box, blind build, this master build contest, and displaying my creations). I also included what I love to make - words - to spell out "Brick Fiesta."
And then I did the most important part, I told my story. I told my story of how Brick Fiesta was about everyone and about playing well. How everyone was included and welcomed and that it was that environment that gave me the permission and courage to show up and be seen. How everyone was appreciated and not compared and we could all play together. How someone who never thought she could have won 2nd place in a master builder contest heat did, because that community enabled her to try.
And then, the unbelievable, I won 2nd place in the finals!!!
The power of sharing your story folks and building from your heart and soul.
The power of believing in yourself and believing in the creative process and continuing to invest in both.
The power of not giving into your fears and instead focusing on creativity and courage.
The 2nd place was icing on the cake.
If I hadn't been voted 2nd place, it was a victory for all the little yeses and BIG YESES I have said along the way.
My pieces were disjointed and crazy and nothing like the solid matching plane that was put together or the winner's beautifully connected scene of an alien spaceship seeing the sights of Earth for the first time. But all my little pieces added up to a bigger story, an inspiring story about creativity and courage.
And that's what I'm all about.
So I hope this tale from a 2nd place master builder will inspire you to believe in yourself. I remember teasingly calling myself an aspiring master builder during my 366 project, who knew it would come true? Your words are more powerful than you can ever imagine. And you are a creative being!
If you want some daily support and inspiration to make yourself and/or your creativity a priority, I hope you will join 100 Days of Building Creativity. For 100 days you commit to building a creative practice or healthy habit that will support you and your life and you'll get an encouraging community doing the same. Also, 100 days of brand new creative courage quotes I have been carefully cultivating. It's pay what you want, as I want as many people who want to do it to be able to and have no blocks in the way. I hope you will take the time to honor and build your unique creativity. If you are interested more in the specific magic of how free playing with bricks can increase your creativity, I have announced the date for the next session of the UnBLOCKing Your Creative Magic E-Course and you can check out all the details.
Gratitude and Pictures
A BIG THANK YOU to Brick Fiesta and all the amazing people who volunteer to put it on and participate. I have not met a kinder group of big-hearted people. Thank you for your welcoming spirits and for creating such a beautiful community of creativity, fun, and inspiration.
Here's some pictures to inspire you from this year's Brick Fiesta:
Lee Ann Hilbrich (she/her) is an author of three books, a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator of Brené Brown's work, a Qi Gong and Yoga Teacher, and a SoulCollage® Facilitator. She is also certified in Equine-Facilitated Learning. Learning.
Lee Ann Hilbrich, MA, LPC, CDWF, RYT 200
Daring Discoveries abides by the Brené Brown Education and Research Group's Belonging Statement (Click Here to View) and is committed to inclusivity, equity, diversity, and belonging.