Insipid No More

December wraps up the twelfth chapter and 12 months of The Artist’s Way for this creative. I would only recommend completing a chapter a month if you are ready to have your world rocked. I heard other participating artists talking about needing to stop part way through the year due to blocks surfacing that they had never experienced before. This was true for me as well. Every fear, every block, every experience was intensified sometimes to the point of being too difficult to withstand. On the other hand, I have never accomplished so much, had so many breakthroughs, and been so much at home in my creative skin as I have in the last year. I really came into my own. Artist’s Dates evolved from outings into taking advantage of many live stream courses. Artist’s Pages evolved into long meditations clearing the mind’s negative self-talk/sabotage. Mediation lead to a peaceful and a more positive creative!

Chapter 12 is entitled Recovering a Sense of Faith. This chapter reminds us to trust in our Creator–trust that the Devine’s plan for us very well may be in line with our own deepest desires.

I pondered back on a time when I had told myself such a clever lie that I even deceived myself. I believed that my artistic and creative talents were lower than a true life purpose. What I mean is, I believed that I needed to be giving some sort of service (for the greater good) in order to be living my true purpose. I believed that my creative pursuits were self-centered and indulgent. I guess I hadn’t considered I could live a life of giving back while being an artist. I had always had a great eye for home decor and visual art. I felt that I would be swallowed up in materialism and worldliness if I dedicated my life to my creativity. Deep down, I had known that I had so much talent and desire to be an artist, but had talked myself out of it on so many levels. I even told myself that I didn’t want to do it as a living because it was too special to me and it would be ruined as a passion. When we take so much time to talk ourselves out of something so important, we should recognize this as the red flag it is. The further I got away from these gifts, the less I felt like me. The final nail in the coffin for me was when bought into the idea of finding a career based on making money.

This happened to be in healthcare. What was dangerous for me was that it was a hungry monster with a never ending need for service. Luckily, that is when I discovered The Artist’s Way. I was heading for a degree in social work to be a step in my goal to be a medical social worker (the highest paid in the field of social work). The course brought me back to my authentic self, so doing it for an entire year made perfect sense. It had become my self-care. I had found a mode of healing. Art, creativity, the process had become not about creating bodies of work. It had become feeling and being alive.

This year, I learned that God is in the details. He is there wanting you to live your life to the fullest. He wants you to be on fire with purpose and excitement for living. Cameron points out that we have this idea that spirituality is about living a life of scarcity.. never being given permission to be truly aligned with your hopes and dreams. As you learn to have faith that the universe has your back all the while practicing your spirituality and creativity, you find you grow. Your ability to give back increases. Your talent increases. Your reach increases. Learning a craft, an art, or a skill is bonus! There is so much to gain and so little to lose.

If you are ready for the most amazing adventure, make your creativity a priority. Make creativity a regular part of your life. This isn’t about being a professional artist. It is about being fully alive. Finding your soul’s truest expression. Honoring your spirit, your voice. Honoring life.

“Adventures don’t begin until you get into the forest. The first step is an act of faith.” -Mickey Hart

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This painting was created in Shiloh McLoud’s Awakened Woman live stream class. She teaches a visioning/intuitive/imagination process that is beautiful and empowering. “The Muse is the Voice of Your Soul.” -Shiloh McLoud.

Title: “Lady of Fire.” Going deep to talk with my muse.

Being True-The Most Beautiful Journey

November’s focus for The Artist Way was chapter 11: Recovering a Sense of Autonomy. I found this chapter to be a difficult, yet such important focus for my month.  By the end of the month, I realized that I was angry at myself for what I thought had been a failure to remain true to myself. I felt I had let myself down, slipped from the track. I don’t know about you, but when I feel this way it gives me some type of ticket to get really off course. That didn’t happen, but my attitude was terrible. I started feeling really sorry for myself. Things were slowing down and I was spending less and less time doing what I really loved doing.

When I start feeling this way, I usually go deep within to reflect. In certain ways, I began growing and discovering new insights, but those were difficult to share with others. I feared I was being swallowed up by all the needs around me, so becoming spiritually strong and steadfast became even more imperative. I meditated often. I prayed. I practice my intuitive work as much as possible. All of these practices led me again and again to my creative work. As I worked, I realized, it’s impossible for me to get lost in other people’s agendas. I am too stubborn for that. I just become grumpier the more I get pulled away from my art, and then comes the readjustment! Julia Cameron stated, “Creativity is oxygen for our souls. Cutting off our creativity makes us savage. We react like we are being choked.”

I believe I have appreciated my creativity for most of my life, but only in the last 10 years have I fought to give it center stage. It makes me so happy for painting classes such as Shiloh Sophia’s Awakened Woman. It took place right before Thanksgiving, so I had a lot to think about. You were to write down the 12 big lies you tell yourself. Some of my lies were that I am not the red rose kind of girl, I am not ready for big change, I am just a people pleaser, I lack direction, I am alone, I don’t need intimacy…. AND for me the biggest lie was OTHER people are sabotaging my efforts.

By the end of this class, my heart opened to the truth. I do love red roses, I do need love and intimacy, I am powerful, I am ready for the right amount of change to bring about my next steps toward my purpose, I aim to please God, I have been driven since a young child, AND I am the one sabotaging my efforts. BUT why? I realize that sometimes I get scared. When that happens, I use other people’s actions as an excuse to back down from my goals. It is my own convenient copout! Things flash through my mind like, “They are so controlling. I need some space.” Or, “He is going to stand in my way of this. Instead of speaking up, I’ll let him have this one.” I discovered that my need for control is what sabotages me sometimes when it counts the most.

I remembered the advice I had given all too often about sussing out motives. “What’s in it for you?” So, what is in it for me? Julia Cameron said, “If I allow myself to be bullied and cowed by other people’s urges for me to be more normal or more nice, I sell myself out. They may like me better, feel more comfortable with my more conventional appearance or behavior, but I will hate myself. Hating myself, I may lash out at myself and others.” So deep down I realize that staying true to myself leads to a happier me, so shouldn’t this be an easy choice–a no brainer?”

It is my belief that we get so comfortable with our fears that we would rather stay stuck in that place that we know so well than journey into the unknown. The unknown might just be even scarier than a stuck place which you dislike. At least you know that you have all of your creature comforts. You know that you have your familiar routine. You have your anger. You have your resentments. You have your disappointments. They are YOURS. You own them, but shouldn’t life be the most amazing experience? Shouldn’t we be fully alive to experience the beauty in relationships, the earth around us, the magic present in every waking breath?

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“It is safe for me to grow, to create, and to experience life as the most beautiful journey.”

Acrylic on 18 x 24″ canvas. Created in Shiloh Sophia’s Awakened Woman live stream course.

Major Creative U-Turn?

The last couple of months have been very strange for me. I started back to work full-time and had less time for my art, writing, and personal life. My artist child was ticked to say the least.

Chapter 10 in The Artist’s Way is all about creative u-turns and exposing “The Deadlies” which are alcohol, drugs, sex, work, money, food, and family/friends. One of the exercises has you write these words on strips and draw them. You put the paper previously drawn back into your pile and there is the possibility to draw it again. The strange part of this exercise, is that I drew the same three over and over. When you draw the slip, you are to write how the deadly is having a negative impact on your creative process. I drew work 3 times, money twice, and food twice as well. It killed me that on a month that I was supposed to be focused on improving this aspect of my life, things were amplified compared to normal life. Work was more demanding, situations were more complex, and I had taken on a new role that I needed to learn and settle into. Talking about something that I was having mixed feelings about and leaving a positive message with my readers seemed impossible.. so I did what I do when feeling that way. I retreated.

How many of us react this way when we feel like we may not be living in our truth? Pull back. Reverse. Hide.

The truth is, finances were feeling tight, and working part-time had began to take its toll. I had been reveling in creativity is true, but somewhere deep down, I may have felt a little selfish. Finances hit and the kids need shoes. Okay, so maybe it isn’t as simple as just needing shoes, but you get the point. OR was I really just scared that the ride was over and that things were going to start getting too real for me? Do you ever have that moment when you make a shift and you know it happens, but you aren’t sure why you made the choice? I remember that happening. Almost like a tantrum. Things had not moved fast enough with my art endeavors. I was hoping to have prints up 6 months earlier and things were happening in slow motion. Anger surged as I decided to go back and make up with the lack of income through my day job. My heart broke a little. Image

A question that I have: Who made the rule that artists need to go through financial depravation in order to succeed? I am grateful for this new paradigm that we are building together where artists and creatives alike are valued for their contribution and are blessed with the abundance life has to offer.

This week, I feel like I finally came out on the other side so-to-speak. I got real with myself and faced facts that I did have a choice–I do have a choice. The truth is that I find great satisfaction in helping others. I love to see that I can make a difference and do my part in breaking down old, worn out systems that grind on vulnerable populations. I am not ready to leave my day job behind in the dust. I am still learning, growing and developing skills. I know that boundaries are important and I will need to take even better care of myself. I made the right decision for where I am at during this very moment in time. My creative dreams are very important to me and will continue to be a top priority in my life. One day, my passions will become one in purpose and I will be able to incorporate my desire to help others with art and creativity. Until that day, I learn and prepare.

Living My Truth?

The last several weeks have been really interesting. I have found myself questioning myself a lot and wondering if I am on track with my vision and my goals. Things have been so busy. Too busy. Whatever calm I was feeling with life seems to be gone.

I have gone through a couple of times this year where I felt impatient with my progress and stage of being. When this happens, I know it must be related to ego and it is time for me to step back and really try to gain some insight on what I am feeling deep down. Willowing’s Lifebook has actually been a lifeline this year. This week the lesson was tied to the creative goals that you made for yourself early in the year. Although I didn’t connect with the style of the lesson, the meaning was there for me once again. I remembered the words that I chose with Kelly Hoernig’s  first lesson were soar, flit, bloom, blossom, and shine. I made the little cards that went with her lesson and they have been a reminder of my goal with my art to use it to bring more positivity and light to this world. As I pondered those words, I questioned whether I am still on the same path. Am I living my truth? At this very point in time living one’s truth seems ultra important.

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All of the goals that I chose are goals that I have stuck with all year. This month I am reading and working on chapter 9, Recovering a Sense of Compassion in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I am reading about fear and creative u-turns. The funny thing is, that I am wondering if I could be living more fully in my truth. I am not sure. I am searching for the insight to find out if I need to step more fully into the light. Where could I be doing better? Or is this my perfectionist veering its ugly head? As I write, it dawns on me that it is a natural wrapping up of 2013. We are nearing the end of the year and it is time to gather in the fruits of our labors. Maybe the fruits aren’t as bountiful as one may have envisioned, but nevertheless, they are there and waiting. The harvest is ripe and it is good. It is time to be grateful and to start to plan for a new chapter.

Blessed

July has been a very busy month with the sun out and all. The beautiful weather always gets the best of me and before I know it another day has passed and I have little to show for my time. I love the long, warm days where I can twiddle away my time in my garden and take long drives to farmer’s markets and what not. I do wish these days of summer could last.

So, what happens in my art goals is that I get stuff done, but don’t take the normal amount of care documenting. I also tend to let my Morning Pages slide quite a bit.

This month also seemed to be packed with lots of projects as well including finally launching Michelle Quesada – Mused Art (my artist page). So Saturday morning came and I noticed it was the LAST weekend in July and knew that I was running out of time to get my Artist’s Date in for July. Imagine my excitement when I saw that Shiloh Sophia was offering a same day class called Being Abundance. I have long learned that abundance is a state of being–as well as a fleeting state at times.

I had just enough time to get down to make a few stops to pick up a few essential items to create an abundance alter before her class began (candles, chocolate, peaches, and flowers).

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I already had the other listed items for making the painting. I happen to be a huge fan of her style of art which she says she uses a style of Jungian-Shamanism or Visioning-Imagination. This really means that you search for meaningful symbols through guided meditative journeying. It truly leads to beautiful and meaningful art pieces. I had taken a class from her before and found her process fruitful.

Although the six hour class had several breaks (including lunch), she taught it live and walked the students through a painting from start to finish. In this type of process, she is the guide to assist you in connecting with your own answers. I think this is what I really love about the philosophy that she uses. There was journaling, processing, letter writing, medication, prayer, and symbol identification. At the end of the day, you came away uplifted as well as with a beautiful symbolic painting of your own. I received several symbols some of which were included in my painting of my lady of abundance. I realized that the message that I heard was that I am blessed and that I only need to open my awareness to the beauty all around me.

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This was by far one of my favorite Artist’s Dates so far this year! What has really struck me is that there are so many opportunities that would have never been possible a few years back due to the world wide web. How lucky are we all to be able to have access to talented artists such as Shiloh Sophia and so many others! What a beautiful day and productive class for only $47! I will be heading back for more of her teaching!

Layered Inspiration

June’s Artist Date was another special experience for me. I decided a couple of months ago that I would take Flora Bowley’s Bloom True course on the process she calls intuitive painting. It complimented The Artist’s Way theory quite perfectly. Each week the course followed a theme like play or bravery and each day you were given a task to complete. 2 days per week you were to paint. The bigger the canvases, the better as far as she was concerned. I went through so many emotions over the past 5 weeks, and today my Artist Date brought my painting to a conclusion.

Funny enough, this month’s chapter focused on abundance and treating yourself with luxury intentionally. What this means is that you pay attention all month how you are spending your money (no judgement), and then seeing how you are stingy with yourself in areas that would actually matter more. I found this to be true. I found myself being reluctant to buy the canvases, but in the end found coupons and my unspent birthday gift which helped me purchase my first 36 x 48 inch canvas for only $12. It’s original price of $79 felt like a lot of pressure to make something spectacular. I also had several 12 x 12s laying around and decided to do a grouping of 6 for my living room.

Each week I added new layers of paint to my canvases and started feeling a little more performance anxiety with the last 4 layers. In her course, she teaches a style that is very free flowing and without pre contemplation for the final outcome. You put on music and paint layers in warm colors, then cool colors, then blacks and whites etc. In the end, you start seeing images emerge and go out seeking inspiration on walks or in books.

This month, in The Artist Way, you were to go for a walk and collect leaves and rocks. This was also an exercise in Flora’s course. Yesterday after working on my painting I felt that the colors were just not coming together and I began feeling stuck. So this morning, I took my final Artist’s Date by going to the park with my camera, a big plastic baggie, a sketch book, my Artist’s Way journal and a pencil.

I wandered up the riverbed and calmed myself with the water’s flow and began taking pictures and sketched a rock. I then walked back up toward the trail when a big orange butterfly almost flew into me. I watched as other butterflies danced through the clearing. I wished I could have gotten a picture before a crow upset the magic. I walked up the trail and found a clearing on the path with huge trees and hundreds of ferns and realized those were the final elements missing in my painting. I collected my leaves, moss, bark, and pine cones before making my own little forest offering (another assignment for the class). As I arranged the wildflowers, moss, twigs, and leaves a woman stopped to watch. I had to wonder what she thought I must be doing.

I went home and worked on my painting with my new pieces of inspiration surrounding it, AND I finished it and loved how it turned out. I felt the most excited that it really reflected my family. Every bit of the painting was symbolic of what inspires us and our spirit. Next up, I will be working on the last few layers of my huge canvas, but as for today, I celebrate. I felt like a real painter. Something that I hadn’t quite owned yet.

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Time Out

May was a great month for my Artist Dates, but tough for my Morning Pages. In the previous chapter of The Artist’s Way, you were challenged to stretch your Artist Dates out a little. So, when my husband had a business trip to Florida, I jumped at the opportunity (something that I have passed on for the last two years). I have been excited to explore new territory & it had been too long since I took a break. I took the month off from lots of stuff, and unfortunately, I also let my Morning Pages slide. By the end of the month, I felt really out of sorts and that could have been a contributing factor.

Fort Lauderdale and Miami are favorite spots for my husband & I, so going back would be good for couple time, yet when he would be at all of his business stuff, I would have time for adventures of my own. With the reading deprivation exercise of April, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a book. I found The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh at the airport prior to departure and blazed though it by the next morning. Image

The whole trip was magical & I felt tuned into beauty where ever I went. On the plane, even though I couldn’t sit next to husband (due to our boarding order and limited seating left), I sat by a chatty lady who reminded me of a book character in the making.

While in Florida, I limited my internet time and spent the majority of my time soaking up the sun and relaxing (that is, when it wasn’t pouring rain and storming). The up and down weather amazed me because one minute it was 90 degrees and the next you were receiving tornado or flash flood warnings. The tropical climate with its distinctive personality draws me back again and again.

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I came back refreshed and feeling creative. As we landed back in Portland, Belinda Underwood, a beautiful, young musician was playing folk music in the airport and I bought both of her available albums as souvenirs of the trip.