I remember seeing a question on line recently about creativity; wondering whether we are born creative or if it is something that can be learned and honed. I tend to think that it is a bit of both. Since we ARE creations ourselves, it would stand to reason that we are capable of creating. Think about a child who plays with his or her food, or makes mudpies or finger paints. All exquisitely messy and fun endeavors. There may be no conscious intention to make anything in particular from the ingredients, just being led by guidance. One of my favorite authors, Richard Bach, describes it beautifully: “You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self. Don’t turn away from possible futures before you’re certain you don’t have anything to learn from them.”
What does your inner learning creature look like? Mine is a cross between a kool-aid hair-colored punk rocker (minus the tattoos and multiple body piercings:) who looks a bit like Cindy Lauper, sings like Annie Lennox, paints like Georgia O’Keefe, dances like Gabrielle Roth and writes like Nora Ephron. A composite creative soul, indeed. Creativity is in my blood, since as a child, I loved making up stories about things I would see around me. I would create faerie villages in a wooded area in a nearby park, I would color, paint, sing and dig in the dirt, imagining that I was tunneling to China and once, hitting a water pipe a few feet down in the garden near the strawberries my father had planted, really thought I had arrived! My imagination was encouraged by the adults around me. I think that is one way we become thriving (instead of starving) artists. Unlike many stories I have heard, I don’t ever recall being discouraged from following the beckoning of the Muse. She has become a close companion and lover, accompanying me 24/7, in my waking and sleeping dreams.
Sometimes she calls in night images that aren’t particularly pretty, but they serve a valuable purpose that stirs up and spurs on even greater depths of creative wisdom. In the past few nights, I have immersed in visions about tyrannical storm troopers who kill family members who visit a man who is encased in a cyber-suit that he has traded for relieving horrific headaches. His deal with whoever offered him that option is that he never see loved ones again, lest they be vaporized. Another included offering aid and shelter to a woman who was fleeing an abusive marriage and a third was about witnessing chains around the heads of three generations of a family also caught up in violence and destruction. What the heck is going on in the psyche’ of this self proclaimed pacifist? When this has happened in the past, it has been a wake up call for me to take a look at areas in my life where I am terrorizing, vaporizing and otherwise abusing myself. Where am I obliterating my creative flow even as it is being called forth even more vibrantly? Taking a deep, cleansing, letting go breath as I am typing these words.
I love being around creative people and among my friends are musicians, dancers, actors, writers, directors, producers, radio show hosts, photographers, graphic artists and designers. Like attracts like and each of these folks are what I call works of he(art) who put their hearts and souls into their work in the world. In their presence, I am inspired.
Last week I taught a class on creativity for professionals who work with folks that have mental health diagnoses. One of my favorite exercises that I led them through, was designing a Creativity Tree on whose branches, they would hang words and images that represented their own playful inner learning creature. Each person (with one exception) used crayons and markers on vividly colored paper to draw their picture. One woman ‘ordered off the menu’ and cut out a tree and pasted leaves on it and wrote words that expressed her own creative genius. I hope that they all took them home and made them ‘frigerator art that they proudly displayed.
Everything that has ever manifested in physical form was once an idea in someone’s mind. Take time each day to envision at least one thing, experience or person you want to call into your life.
You have the capacity to derive immense enjoyment from the challenge of creating in form what you have pictured in your imagination. –Martha Beck, Enjoyment in the waiting…Insight from Martha
www.youtube.com/watch?v=dipFMJckZOM Vincent by Don MacLean
Music has the power to transform, to entertain, to delight, to comfort and heal. Some songs just blow me away. I heard one that would fit that category on my way home from a township meeting that addressed the killing of the son/grandson of friends of mine, by a police officer. He was unarmed, handcuffed and yet the situation got out of control and a young and promising life was snuffed out senselessly. Although I had never met him, I have known his parents and grandmother for the past 15-20 years. I can only imagine what this might be like for them, since no one expects to bury their child or grandchild. Together they have a strong and eclectic spiritual practice and are part of my interfaith community. I sense that is what is getting them through this unthinkable situation. The room was filled to capacity and there were others in the hallway. A few of us addressed the town council and I sense that they heard us. I looked into each of their eyes as I spoke, reminding them that the line between mental health and mental illness is remarkably thin and that anyone could cross it. I told them that I imagined that they each knew someone with a psychiatric diagnosis and any of these folks could have been in this young man’s situation. I added that I’m certain that the officer who shot him had not woken up that morning with the thought that he was going to kill some kid and he must be going through his own private hell as well.
What also crossed my mind was the family and friends of a friend of my sister Jan who were mourning her passing yesterday. Her name was Leah Stevens and her faith got her through many months of treatment for the cancer that eventually led her to her next life. I didn’t know her personally, but from reading the multitude of postings on facebook as she took her journey from diagnosis to death, I felt as if I did. How loved she was, what a gift she was to those who crossed her path. She clearly had a sense of humor. When she went to see Bruce Springsteen in concert and met him backstage, he signed her bald little head(:
Another friend is facing a major shift in a close relationship and still another is dealing with the impact on her family of her father in-law’s dementia.
My heart is also with the families of those killed in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and a movie theater in Colorado and everyone whose names we may never read or hear and whose faces we may never see who daily encounter violence. As I am calmly and safely in my home, writing these words, I am humbled and grateful that my needs are taken care of and my ‘problems’ are more inconveniences than anything else. I have seen my way through what might be labeled ‘tragedy’, including the deaths of my husband and parents, as well as the loss of a home and business to a hurricane. Like everyone reading this, I have survived everything that has ever happened to me, because I am here to tell about it.
As I was driving through winding country roads, I witnessed an exquisite sunset, with cotton candy pink clouds sprawling across a baby blue blanket sky. The aforementioned song called Isn’t This World Enough? is performed by Scottish indie music perfomers Admiral Fallow was the perfect soundscape to accompany my visual skyscape. Like most songs that I hear for the first time, it found a home on my favorite radio station WXPN out of the University of Pennsylvania.
Isn’t this world enough?
You’re searching for answers in clouds and under rocks
Isn’t this world enough?
So love this vessel while you’re aboard
Isn’t this world enough?
Isn’t this world enough?
What used to be ‘Twilight Zone-esque’ experiences are now “of course” (but not taken for granted) events. This day brought yet another. I was in line at the bank and a smiling woman approached me asking me and the customer behind me if we wanted 100 grand as she held out the treat in mini-version. I told her I would love both (the chocolate and the monetary kind) and hugged her in thanks. I introduced myself to her and her face lit up. Not sure how the conversation meandered in this direction, but I told her that I am a speaker and writer and offered her a copy of my Bliss Mistress book, thinking it was a fair trade for my drug of choice. I walked into her office as she invited me to sit and chat with her. She said “I believe in signs and I have a story to tell you.” She proceeded to relate what I can only call a Divine Intervention tale. She was born February 4th, her father came along February 5th and her grandmother on February 6th. Both of them have since passed and she shared that she hears from her dad often, but never from her grandmother. Last week, in heart/soul conversation with her father, she asked “Why has Nana not contacted me?” He assured her that she would be hearing from her. She looked at me and told me that she knew I was the message from her grandmother. Guess what her Nana’s real name was? Edith, but everyone called her Edie! According to Trish, her grandmother loved purple and I came strolling in, wearing purple yoga wrap around pants . The feather that I placed in the book that I gave her, was purple. She assured me that there was a reason we had connected, even if she wasn’t totally sure why. I am eager to discover the reason, even if was nothing more than to remind me that miracles and wonder occur every day, all the time and beckon our attention and sometimes come bearing chocolate and feathers.
http://youtu.be/zq0i_zIG0KY The Chocolate Song by buddy wasisname and the other fellers
Last week I was faciliating a group for clients and the subject turned to the ways in which we begin our day. My contention is that our initial thoughts contribute to the overall tone and if they are of a “life sucks” nature, then those are the wheels on which our ‘vehicle’ will carry us through the next 24 hours. If, on the other hand, they either begin more positively or can be re-framed, then our audacious auto will take us where we most want to go. I asked what they see when they first look in the mirror upon awakening. One young woman commented that her face looks “mean and angry.” I asked if she is able to change that. She said that she sometimes massages her face back in place. Great idea!
It occurred to me that I wake up smiling most mornings, even if sleep has not surrounded me all night long, as was the case last night when the clock read 3 something and it took another 20 minutes or so to get lured back to dreamland. On the rare occasions, when a plaguing thought has greeted me as I greet the day, I am able to replace it with something that tickles my soul. It could be anything from being aware of the comfort of the blankets and pillows, to considering what delights I will be experiencing that day (and there’s always something joyful to contemplate), to the people I will be seeing, like my friend Ruthanne with whom I am shooting a video this morning in Peace Valley Park, to enjoying banana and yogurt with mint ice tea for breakfast, to anticipating all of the wondrous folks who I’ve not yet met…..and the list goes on. I am remembering my mother waking me up sometimes with her own version of Reveille “Ya gotta get up, ya gotta get up, ya gotta get up in the morning….”
What are your favorite thoughts that put a smile on your face as you enter this fresh new day? There are an infinite number if things to feel blissed and blessed about(:
http://youtu.be/d-diB65scQU Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin