Sunday, August 22, 2021

It's ALL Art

Dick came across this quote and said he wanted to use it in his end-of-August blog post over at his painting blog, Painter of Southwest Visions (click on the link to see some of his work - painting is his art form). When he read the quote to me, I cried, "That's PERFECT for my next blog post too!"



From the beginning of our journey in the Live Your Creative Life class series, we've reinforced this idea that "art" and "creativity" can relate to any aspect of life. And that expressing ourselves creatively takes courage. It's risky to show our real selves, especially in this time of social media, where cruelty can hide in anonymity. Even the judgement of friends who just don't have the same taste as we do, or don't "get" what we are going for (or who are jealous because we are honoring our creativity and they aren't - YES, this is a real, and very human thing!), can dampen our joy and make us not want to share ourselves so openly. 

But we must have courage, because it's's absolutely necessary. As Godin says, art is in our souls. We must not let other voices get in the way. We must speak clearly and confidently with our own voices. When someone doesn't appreciate what we've done, we don't have to feel bad! We can just say, "It's okay, you do you, and I'll do me!" 

As we end the class series, we look ahead to maintaining our stamina, courage, and commitment to living our creative lives, in every way that speaks to us. How we dress, wear our hair, decorate our homes, plan our gardens, care for our loved ones; how we paint, write, sculpt, sew, arrange the pillows, sing, play. 

Here's a photo of me as I continue playing with the illustrations for my children's poems. This has been more FUN than I ever imagined - I find myself smiling at the idea of it, while doing it, and at the perfectly imperfect results. 


                                 


After this, I plan on posting monthly rather than weekly, though I will post in between if there is something I really need to share! Thank you for joining me on this journey, and I look forward to seeing your souls shine through whatever art you create!

Much love,
Melissa




Sunday, August 15, 2021

Train Your Heart to Listen

"Each time I write a book, every time I face that yellow pad, the challenge is so great. I have written eleven books, but each time I think, "Uh oh, they're going to find me out now. I've run a game on everybody and they're going to find me out."   ~Maya Angelou                                              

MAYA ANGELOU! Wow! If she felt that way, no wonder the rest of us often feel inadequate to act on our creative impulses! 

Continuing to follow our theme of overcoming the obstacles and barriers that arise as we undertake our creative journeys, I'm taking inspiration this week from Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance - a book that  changed my life when it came out 25 years ago and has been my dear friend and constant companion ever since. 


In her August 13th entry, Breathnach writes:

"Many of us have unconsciously erected seemingly insurmountable barriers to protect ourselves from failing or succeeding. We may think we're protecting ourselves by ignoring or denying our creative impulses, but really all we're doing is burying our authentic selves alive."

She goes on to say that we must learn to "remove the rubble of the opinions and judgements of others," including our our internal censors, and tune in to a higher harmonic, a greater universe of creative inspiration that will immediately come to our aid and boost our efforts.

I particularly like this passage: 

"Spirit speaks to you constantly throughout the day. You may experience a hunch, perk up at the suggestion of a friend, or follow an urge to try something new on a whim. Train your heart to listen. Today, adjust your spiritual satellite. Tune in to the higher harmonic frequency for help as you continue your authentic, artistic pilgrimage to wholeness." 

This week, I switched my creative efforts from illustrating my children's poems to preparing to teach a chant class. It's interesting how we tend to assign the label "creative" to certain activities - writing, painting, sculpting, decorating, acting are all "obviously creative." But we tend not to assign the creative label to things we do for our jobs - that's "work" and we tend not to think of our work as creative! 

But for me, every class I teach is a creative effort. Every class is different, unique, and my hope is always to share my experience and what I've learned in ways that will  be meaningful to students. So, though I was excited to share this practice with students, it still brought up anxiety for me for several reasons: 

  • I have not taught a class with this particular focus before and didn't have any previously tested approaches to fall back on - I had to develop it from scratch
  • I had a vision in mind for the experience that I wanted to come through in the practice
  • Having been the one my family described as "not being able to carry a tune in a bucket," any time I put myself in the position of having my musical voice heard, I have to overcome those old (no longer valid) judgements.

But, just as Breathnach described, the moment I took the leap, a cascade of ideas and an intuitive sense of how to put them together presented themselves. I listened, played around with it, let it evolve, practiced it, and landed on something that I loved and which felt good to me. Then, I crossed my fingers, toes, and eyes, and hoped - no, trusted - that it would also work for the participants. 

Let's end with this quote from Joseph Murphy:

"Infinite riches are all around you if you will open your mental eyes and behold the treasure house of infinity within you. There is a gold mine within you from which you can extract everything you need to live life gloriously, joyously, and abundantly."

Open the door of your heart and train it to listen - everything you need is already there, waiting for you. 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Do Something That Doesn't Matter

 "Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You cannot get there by bus, only by hard work, risking and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you will discover will be wonderful: Yourself." 

                                                                    ~ Alan Alda

In the context of this little blog and the summer creativity series I'm leading, Alda's words really resonate. It takes courage to be creative, because it means putting our true selves on display in the world, and that, of course, opens us to being judged. Even if it's only about the new haircut you decided to try, or changing up the way you dress, or the new drapes in your dining room, (which I'm still not sure about!) showing our real selves to the world is a courageous step. 

Last week's post encouraged us to set goals. A day later, I got a small stye in my eye, which is always a sign that I am tired. I felt tired even though I didn't think I had any reason to be,  but the stye was physical confirmation of my intuition. 

Having encouraged us all to set goals for August, I then wondered how I could live up to them, given my sore eye and general feeling of lethargy. I reflected on this for a while, and decided that I would conserve energy by putting myself on a sort of creative retreat, in which the ONLY thing I did was work on one of my goals - one that didn't really matter.

Now I need to explain what I mean by not mattering, because why would you work on something if it doesn't matter

I have a few different creative projects - a novel I've been working on for five years, developing a collection of my poems, and illustrating some children's poems I wrote a long time ago.  

The book carries a lot of weight in terms of my creative goals. I've been working on it longer than any of my previous books. It has a personal connection and there's a good story that I want to tell. I'm well invested in it, 31 chapters in. I want to finish it and then figure out how to get it into the world. I have dreams and desired outcomes for this book.


My developing poetry collection carries less weight - I finetune my work, scribble new thoughts as they come, occasionally submit to competitions. There's no timeline - you can't rush poetry.

Illustrating my children's poems is simply something that started with our creativity class - a way to be creative outside my comfort zone. This project really doesn't matter, because I haven't invested in any particular outcomes from it, and look at it as playing.

I've spent all week at my dining room table with paper, watercolor pencils and brushes, having the loveliest time. I didn't think too much about what to do, I just starting sketching and then painting. I lost myself for hours in the joy of doing something we did as kids. It was simply FUN. I had no idea if what I was doing would look good or be totally embarrassing, but I took comfort in the idea that even the incomparable Alan Alda sometimes didn't know what he was doing!



And...I really love what I came up with! The scenes are fun, whimsical, and perfectly imperfect. Who knows if anyone else will ever see them? It doesn't matter!

(The drapes that I'm still not sure about can be seen here - the ones anchoring the window. Also, no one will be eating at the dining room table any time soon!)

So what does it mean to be creatively brave?

  • Listening to your own intuitive voice
  • Ignoring all other voices - whether they be critical or filled with praise
  • Giving something a try
  • Doing your best without expectation of any particular outcome
  • Expressing the unique, perfectly imperfect you that you are
This coming week, just listen to your own voice and do what YOU want - at least some of the time! Preferably, something that doesn't really matter!