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.

Creating Community-Imagine a World Fulfilling our Unique Life Contribution

For the last 15 years I have been taking an interest in the welfare of healthy communities, and before that my parents raised me to give back. I have learned that with the principle of creativity, we can reclaim our souls, our families, and our communities from the corroding disease of apathy and address our own ambivalence towards change once and for all. Creativity is not the end all principle. We will continue to need to lead lives of character, but creativity is an incredibly powerful catalyst in the fight of change and improvement. Creativity is also the key to discovering our personal vision and voice. In order to build communities in “wellness,” we will need to consider the following points:

  • Taking care of yourself and your family is the FIRST priority.
  • Understanding the difference between the scarcity vs the abundance mindset will unblock creative community processes.
  • We are a world divided by politics. We must break free from the “either or” mindset that is spoon fed to us sometimes on a minute by minute basis.
  • Realizing the amazing, powerful creative potential dormant within our communities.
  • Life in community can be positive and productive. We will receive the energy that we are sending forth.
  • Do we have an obligation to the greater community? Discovering and labeling the reasons why we should all care.
  • Once set in motion it is easier to stay in motion. Get to work. Do good continuously.
  • Being a part of community means that we have a responsibility to nurture and care for us. Self-care.

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Getting out and throwing ourselves into improving our communities will feel like a small accomplishment if our own families are suffering and unhealthy. As a social worker I have seen over and over again the difference a social support system can make within a person’s life. Without a support group an individual is at risk of needing already taxed governmental systems to fill in the gaps. This would not be a big deal if the number of people needing such a safety net was not on the rise. Family dynamics can be beyond difficult and for some even dangerous. For those people, seeking safety is of utmost importance–that is what the system should be there for. For the rest of us, we can delve deep within to ask is there something more that we can be doing to strengthen ourselves and our own families.

I feel blessed to have been taught from a young age that there is enough. Scarcity thinking creates fear. We worry that impending doom is right around the corner. We are taught that there is only so much money to go around etc. We should not live in fear of running out. I see every day the resilience of families facing tough times. Resources are everywhere. This does not mean to be wasteful or foolish in our stewardships. It is quite the opposite. Abundance means that we find gratitude in simplicity. Abundance is available to each one of us, but we need to be open to that energy. This is ever so true within our communities. This is not some kind of socialism principle were each person is obligated to put all they have into a government pot to receive back their share. It is quite opposite. It is a principle as free flowing as the wind. It must be allowed to move with free will and intention.

Speaking of politics, now more than ever we need to become aware of the little thingy called an agenda. When it comes to our platforms, our leaders, and our media they ALL have them (agendas). We are living within this illusion of divided-ness. This is a lie. We are all connected. We are all part of the same life, the same planet, the same universe, and we are on the SAME team! When we quit buying what they are selling individually and collectively we are going to do amazing things together.

Have you ever stopped to consider what percentage of the population within our communities is living a life tapping into a high level of character and creativity? What does such a person look like? Perhaps we could agree on folks from the past such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, & Martin Luther King Jr. These may feel like unreachable marks to hit for role models, but are they not individuals who lived lives of integrity coupled with high levels of creativity? Okay, so maybe not each one of us has the IQ to be another Einstein, but rest assured, by tapping into these powerful principles we can be, we can LIVE lives so much more than we are at the present. Considering the possible difference we could make if we only were able to increase the creativity in say 25% of our communities is exponential.

Okay, so this is when I hear the grumbling starting. A common complaint that I hear is “Nobody will listen to me.” They are basically torn with inner turmoil asking, who am I to make change happen or to work with those difficult people there? This is at the point that we need to stop and remember our experiences are a reflection of our personal beliefs and personal energy. You are incredibly important in the process of progress and change within your community. Search within to understand deep seeded beliefs about your personal worth and relationships with others and heal. While healing do whatever you can. Let go of judgment for yourself and for others around you. Be open to new experiences. Be open to the now.

After we address that we are in fact invaluable in our communities and so, so needed sometimes, may times the apathy sets in. We experience ambivalence to change. We may ask what good is it really going to do any way? I am busy. My family is busy. I have a whole lifetime. We possess a litany of rationalizations. Only deep down within our hearts do we know the answer to the question of responsibility and stewardship. My point would be a lot more of us are than are letting on. Perhaps we do not know where to start. Perhaps we are living to capacity already. The question, “Is the health of our communities our personal responsibility?” If the answer within our soul is yes, we can be asking ourselves what is our next step.

Once we figure out our “next step,” we must get in motion. With the study of cell in human biology we learn that a catalyst will come along to start a process. When that process begins to happen it takes less energy to continue. This is the same in life. We sometimes need a catalyst to come along to move us to action. This may come to us in the form of an idea (creativity). Once we act on that idea and begin work we must endure by feeding the cycle of receiving more and more creativity. Our catalyst spurs us to action just as enzymes will within a cell function. Creativity can and should be continuously nurtured to remain pliable and active. It is like any other skill that can be strengthened through practice and habitual use. If you want to super charge your creativity use it in conjunction with a higher vision/purpose like community welfare. The energy for using our time, talents, and lives for the better good are powerful and sustaining.

We have come full circle. We are back to self-care. While doing all of these great things for the collective, it is not about losing our personal identity in the process. When we let go of taking care and nurturing ourselves, we surely will be the losers. The danger will be allowing the gaping needs to overtake and overwhelm you. It is about keeping perspective. Imagining yourself as part of a relay team is a good visualization to stay or become healthy. You do your part. You take a rest. Your part will come again. Do it again and rest again. Make it a point to find healthy outlets that you love that strengthen and relax you as a person. For some this may be crafting, art, gardening, running, walking, singing, journaling,etc. You find what feeds your soul and participate in it frequently.

In conclusion, our communities need the individual talents and strengths of each of its members. We are responsible. We will not find wellness within those structures through government agendas, but through our own pure motives for wholeness and unity. We have amazing and powerful untapped talent and creativity all around us and great things will happen when we begin to utilize the human potential many times lying dormant. Furthermore, it is time for all of us to look within and see what we could be doing differently and then go out and actually do it. All the while, we must continue in our personal quest of creativity. In that we will find joy and wellness. We will reach closer to living a life in a world were more of us our fulfilling our unique life contribution.

(Originally published early 2013 on Habitat Earth)

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Once again I am coming home too late to work on any art. I always feel a little sad when I have more than two days between writing, drawing, or painting. It has become a line of sanity for me (maybe I’m being a little dramatic. It is my favorite form of self-care. It is like extreme self-care.)

I had the most remarkable experience the other day that I put on the back burner (so to speak) to write about once I formed a complete thought about it. Tonight I believe the thought came together. It happened as I was telling my own daughter not to listen to her parents about everything. That each person must find their own path in this world, and that YES her mom and dad are flawed and working with the set of circumstances that we came into. She looks up to us both because she feels we have good, practical jobs. She overheard her dad telling her big brother that his college choice was not realistic and that he wouldn’t be able to support a family. My heart broke a little as I heard this. I told her emphatically that just because your parents are stuck in survival mode, you don’t have to be and won’t be happy (because yes, this young lady is a dreamer in the biggest way) unless developing her talents and discovering her passions. It really hit me that these kids can do things differently. I shared with her that she doesn’t need to wait to be almost 40 to pursue her art.

So, back to the remarkable experience. I had taken my daughters to the doctor and while one was waiting on labs etc, A young man in his early 20s complimented my Papaya tote from a beautiful Flora Bowley painting. This is pretty common because the bag is unique (I found it at my favorite home decor store and couldn’t pass it up). Once in a while when someone presses I will tell them more about her and how she is a Portland artist who teaches her intuitive painting process online. This man asked more questions and wanted to know more about her as an artist as well. He said that he is also an artist and shared his work that he shares on his personal Facebook profile. I let him know that I was also an artist and shared my artist page with him as well.

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We turned out to have quite a bit in common. For example, he was going to the same university that I graduated from my social work program from. He also had the “helpers” heart. He also deeply cared about the youth and felt that so many of his generation were lost and “robotic” as he put it. He said that art had literally saved his life. He had not had an easy high school experience due to losing friends to suicide. He had not even had a smooth childhood. Things had been pretty rough for him and he had struggled with his own depression. Which after telling me these very personal things, said again that he is resilient because of his love of art. He said that he works on it in every bit of free time he gets. He gives it to those he feels need a lift or to feel a part of things. I got the impression that he cares and he is sharing with an open heart. Our conversation went on for so long that my daughters started feeling restless and I could tell that they were ready to go.

It really isn’t every day that I get to talk with the up-and-coming generation outside of my own children, so after meeting this remarkable young man, my heart was lighter and my hope levels raised. People can say what they will about artists all day with their perceptions of us being to airy-fairy or whatever. Creativity is hope. It is what connects the artist to their higher source. It is what becomes a symbol of a lesson or a concept understood that the artist then shares with whoever sees that art. Take Flora’s painting. It being on a bag sparks curiosity in those who see it. They must stare at it. Even comment on it. Question it. This level of mystery is a teacher. Creativity is what makes the practical possible, but that is the subject of another day.

I’m also learning that those opportunities to touch peoples’ lives will present themselves even if I am not able to do as much art and writing as I’d like to right now. The universe has its own agenda. I will watch for that.

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.

Mindfulness and Creativity

It is hard for me to believe that I am coming up 2 years as being page owner to Mused. There have been many ups and downs and I asked myself what kept me going when the going got tough. There were so many days that I did not feel adequate for the job. Days when typos and mistakes were the rule, days when I lacked energy and inspiration, and days when I wondered if anyone was following or would even notice if the page disappeared. 

What I have learned is that the page is like any other living work. It seems to have a personality and a will of its own. On the days that I felt like disappearing other page owners shared and kept it in the news-feed. On the days I lacked inspiration, I shared old posts. Most of the time, I just kept showing up and doing the work with a love for the audience and subject and things worked themselves out.

As I created my latest art journal page, I contemplated how hard we as creatives psych ourselves out. Considering the mind and how powerful negative and destructive thoughts have in our lives, it is also important to see the flip side of that. When we become aware of this, we can choose for ourselves which thoughts we will allow to shape our destiny. A simple way to clear the negativity out is through mindfulness and meditation–it is now a favorite practice in my life. The more things that I have going, the more I feel I have riding on keeping things organic, simply, and pure. This is in part due to all of the issues that rear their ugly heads when failure/success looms. 

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I need to be making my art.. running my pages… writing for the sake of the creativity/art itself. It is all too easy to get caught up in whether people “like” it or love it. Each post, each chunk of writing, each painting and journal page is a little piece of me–a documentation of an experience and/or thought in that moment of time. It may not have touched millions of people, but it expressed something that needed expressing at that very moment and acted as a catalyst to move me forward. Perhaps a painting wasn’t brilliant, but so what! It was the learning experience that was needed at that very point of time. 

As much as we love the practice of art/writing/creativity… we need to show ourselves that very love. Can we truly practice self-compassion? Why or why not? It is time to do the work on ourselves and develop insight and practices that treat our bodies/hearts/minds/spirits with gentility. It is survival. It is fuel to carry on. 

Forgiveness, Relationships, & Love

Lifebook – Week 34; Radical Forgiveness by Willowing’s Tamara Laporte

This week’s mixed media journaling exercise had several parts. The first part was to watch Byron Katie on Racism & Prejudice video clip, next to explore and process an instance where you haven’t completely forgiven someone in your own life, and then to make peace with the incident by given the other person radical compassion through empathy of the need that the person had which caused them to engage in the behavior they did which caused you pain. Tamara recommended not to use an incident with deep pain, instead use one that could be easily identified and explored.

As I mentioned in earlier blog posts, I have been working on forgiveness and have had quite a bit of help from the Universe in bringing past hurts forward into my present consciousness. Last week, I took a live streamed painting class by Artist Shiloh Sophia titled The Honey Jar: Wet, Wild and Wise. This course was to explore your experience with your own sexuality and romantic relationships. I did not quite catch the theme of the class before taking it or I probably would have steered clear just because I don’t always agree with all of the “freedom” that people place on sexuality these days. I must say that I did enjoy the class overall and love the painting and conclusions that I came to throughout the process. I am bringing up this class because I believe that both of my latest pieces of art tie together.

The symbolism in the painting has to do with my personal connection with my femininity and my expression of being a creative being on this planet. The orange colors in the painting have to do with the sacral chakra and wholeness and healthy energy that region of the body. Sexuality is something that I consider sacred and only shared within confines of safety & love. I used white roses in this painting because they symbolize sexual purity and it has been my experience that sexuality is a beautiful thing when explored at the right time as part of mature love. It saddens me to see children being directed to explore sexuality by their peers or adults too early when they should still be children an caught up in the world of magic and imagination. The sunshine symbolizes wisdom in sexuality–sharing that part of yourself in ways that lead to health and wholeness in life. The blessings of the class that I received were love, safety, sweetness, passion, and adventure. These words were varnished in.

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Now, to skip back to the Radical Forgiveness exercise. These days, it seems I only have but little incidents which arise in my romantic relationship. I am blessed. With that said, right before I was getting ready to do this journaling exercise, my husband coincidentally slightly hurt my feelings, and I used this process to understand where he was coming from in order to release my sadness completely. The little hurts are kind of like bee stings, but as I am the powerful bear, those stings are only minor irritations and I must remember that I am holding the honey. The love and life sustaining substance for the bees. It is what they spend their time, effort, and passion making. The barren tree symbolizes the old way of viewing the hurt. The words describe the blessing or positive energy you are sending to the person who has caused you the pain. Hopefully, these blessings are in the form of the filling the exact need that other person has (especially the energy behind their motivation in getting their need met). In this exercise, I blessed my husband with his need for strength, compassion, understanding, empathy and love.

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Honey Bear Forgiveness