Creative Call + Deep Longing = Overcoming Resistance
All sorts of subterranean dynamics ranging from messages we received in early childhood to our concentration hijacked habitually by fixations with media and the refrigerator are stealing our time and rendering us creatively pissed. I either have to abide to my creative calling or be cranky. It's a law.
Creative call + do something to answer it = content, generous, kind, energetic, cordial, witty, insightful (at times, grandiose)
Creative call + ignore/avoid/resist it = cranky
Kahlil Gibran said: There is a space between man’s imagination and
mans attainment that may only be traversed by his longing.
- Evidently longing is important for traversing big spaces.
- How's your longing doing?
- Does it need to be longer, deeper, more nourished?
- Take a moment now, (I'll wait), and recall why you were drawn to the whatever endeavor you may not be getting to as much as you'd like. What was the allure in the first place?
- Write it down, obsess about it, think about it constantly. (For the next several decades)
- This question works in marriage counseling -- creativity is like a relationship:
What drew you and your creativity together in the first place?
- Remember what it feels like when you're in that timeless, ageless flow with your creative passion. You can do this while showering, walking, feeding the cat, or shaving.
- Or other activities work as well.
- This exercise ramps up your longing.
- Evidently longing is important for traversing.
- Simply ask: What would it feel like to render distractions useless by ramping up my longing?
- You may need to tweak your focus, your approach, your technique just a tad so it best matches up with what would spark a more passionate devotion.
- Remember what has worked in the past- it has treasures, strength, and proven successes handy for application to the present.
Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching
How Tolerance is Essential to Perserverance
“Take the first step in faith.
You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
On this day that honors a man who taught tolerance, I'd like to propose another kind of tolerance that will make your creative life easier if you buy into it. If you don't, good luck.
Once I decided creativity was going to be my life, I knew I had to either develop a "tolerance muscle" or be among the 85% that gives up on their dreams because they have an unrealistic expectation of accomplishing things quickly, easily, and the way they look in their minds.
(hahahaha snort haha).
Creativity has another plan for us. She says, this isn't about getting your way immediately, it's about searching the depths of your soul to muster up devotion to a process who's rewards go far beyond your acrylic landscape or chapter four in your book. Perhaps the world never showed any faith in you.... do you have the strength to show faith in yourself by showing-up for your creative call? Can you show-up if not for the product, for the process of being true to yourself? Don't worry about showing-up perfectly - do it as inconsistently as possible if you must.
To stay on the path of my passion I got to tolerate my ineptness, blunders, inadvertently published typos, and the fact that my painting and writing didn't look like other people stuff that I liked a lot. I got to tolerate projects taking three and four times as long as I planned, hitting walls, looking foolish and coming face to face with my ugly shadows. I got to tolerate my habits of procrastination and continually starting something new without completing anything. I got to tolerate people not liking me, thinking I'm strange, unsubscribing from my newsletter, not "getting" my art. I got to tolerate proposals getting rejected and once, I got to tolerate ripping up my favorite painting because I was looking at the wrong side. If you're a warrior, you've tolerated these things too. And changing the language from "I had to tolerate ..." to "I got to ...." makes it clear that it was an honor to do that for myself.
Self-love is required to stay the course and in that love you discover an unmatched contentment which is a light for the contentment of others. I like being strange.
Creativity reassures you that when you passionately persevere through the tumult of detractors, the reward is far beyond the painting and the piece of writing. Creativity awards you with a strength, self-respect, and confidence that applies to every area of your life, breaking limitations, presenting a new perception that widens your existence beyond what you formerly knew what was possible. There's a faith that you can get through anything, have the company of, and share with the world, your brilliance.
Along those same lines, here's my interview last year with the illustrious Nikol Peterson- The Unstoppable Artist:
Creativity, Politics, and Digestive Problems
I have digestive problems. I’m one of those creative people some call an empath, others consider highly sensitive, and my family deemed, “Oh, why do you have to be so sensitive?”
Nevertheless my creativity runs on sensitivity so despite its inconvenience, despite it being a pain in the ass when my feelings get easily hurt and I get irritable from the noise other people tolerate, I’m grateful for my sensitivity.
Sensitivity not only gives me profound spiritual experiences in nature, helps me design creative work for my audience, it also feeds the intuition that wakes up when it senses an overheard conversation could be the first line of a poem or when an image wants to be painted in my whimsical style.
The highly sensitive nature of being creative finds that clouds are more than dry air mixed with water drops. Joni Mitchell recalls that they are angel air and ice cream castles, Paul Simon’s thoughts are cloudy -- “They echo and they swell from Tolstoy to Tinker Bell”, and they’re in Carly Simon’s coffee.
So why do I have digestive problems? One of my theories is that what is happening in the world, our country – our sweet land of liberty – is disturbing and hard to digest. It’s worse than a bad burrito.
When you’re a sensitive creative person you may find yourself experiencing metaphors literally. You may have a hard time digesting the news therefore your turkey club sandwich just sits in your belly and fatigues you. You may have a leaky gut because you have a hard time setting boundaries with yourself and the world's consternation.
Creativity is also my go-to for almost all my maladies because I’ve immersed myself in writing and art for many years and the resourcefulness, tenacity, and flexibility required to endure the ebb and flow of the creative process are also available for confronting what life throws at me. It throws a lot.
On Facebook today I posted one of those feel-good posts about our need to love everyone not just the people that love us. A friend asked this:
"Nice sentiment. How do you love the neighbors and countrymen who elected Donald Trump for their leader and the congress who is dismantling every progressive, cultural, financial, gender based, environmental, and educational achievements we've made in the last few decades? I’m trying but it’s hard to keep an open heart. Pointers appreciated from anyone out there. It hurts to be a hater."
As a recovering perfectionist, I know I can’t go from disgust to love. But I know now that unlike a perfectionist’s thinking, the world is not either black or white. It’s not either disgust or love. There are others ways to process love. Being in disgust all the time is not loving myself, it gave me have an allergy to rice, night shades and waffles.
Expectations can psych us out. We simply avoid, dismiss, or give-up when expecting ourselves to love a president we feel is destroying our country. I will probably never love President Trump and those who refuse to save us from his infantile bullying and narcissism. I have some empathy for the lost and discouraged who believe in him, but not the government officials who know he’s not good for our country and do nothing. But if I continually condemn him in my mind because I can’t fathom how he got in office or why he is still there, I’m in a world of condemnation and can’t eat anything but a blended spinach, blueberry, and collagen powder shake.
Everything we think and say affects the way we feel. If you’re highly sensitive, how you feel affects your health. We are wandering around in disgust and getting sick. Curiosity not only feels better, it also opens our centers of creativity for EVERYTHING.
Questions move me from toxic thoughts and feelings to curious ones. Creative thoughts and feelings not only are healing, they are either neutral or enjoyable. The questions don’t even need answers. The simple asking of them shift your internal landscape.
Which one of these questions are you willing to use to replace your disgust?
- What would it feel like to be kinder to my body right now by choosing kinder thoughts?
- What would it feel like to love people who do things I don't like?
You don't have to love them, just wonder about the question.
At the very least asking these questions feel better and do more for my health than the things my smaller mind obsesses about when I'm not able to digest the weirdness happening.
If if that doesn't work, I seek the healing sphere of painting clouds in bowls or writing words about imaginary worlds.
Join me in a Journey of Creative Spirituality this January 2018.
Finding Uber Bliss: A Wildly Creative Journey to the Present Moment
Don't Fall in the Fountain
“Unlike a fountain that circulates the same water in an enclosed, perpetually
recycling system, a human being circulates thoughts in an unlimited
reservoir of self. Don't limit yourself to being a mere fountain when you contain an ocean.”
Don't fall in the fountain.
Originally developed by Abraham Maslow in 1964, "peak experiences" are described as
"rare, exciting, oceanic, <(really?!), deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effect upon the experimenter."
I've been swimming a mile at La Jolla cove at sunrise a couple times a week for the past couple of years. I'm accompanied by sea lions, Garibaldi fish, pelicans, occasionally my friend Reba, and sometimes, off in the distance, I can see dolphins and whales romping . One day, Jonathan Livingston seagull floated by and said "Baaach!" I think he meant Richard Bach.
The activity feels like a peak experience; Maslow is nodding. In fact I actually say to myself, THIS is a peak experience as I watch the sun emerge from the clouds, feel the waves' perpetual cycling and relish the water suspending me. I'm not sure if announcing that to myself counts but despite the current way of the world and the daily dribble of my life, when I'm swimming at dawn, there's nothing there but the ocean and a space for creative ideas to float by my consciousness. Bliss.
I'm present with this sea because my focus on the creative process has prepared me for it. Focusing on the creative process is practice with being present with every aspect of being alive, not just my art and writing. And in a world where focus is constantly hijacked by the myriad of shiny and chocolate covered things, that's a blessing.
Creativity requires a love affair with the present moment –it is the pinnacle of mindfulness because in the creative process we are lost IN the moment. And it is here where our spirit is alive with expression and we are experiencing a freedom like nothing else.
What if we were so present with THIS moment, the one we're in right NOW, that we would be able to write about it two months from now? You don't have to do that, but what if you played with the possibility? What feelings, sensations, visuals, realizations are in this moment for you? What do you notice about your mind when you do that? Is there more space? Let's go for oceanic.
What love affair is all about being present for you?
Quotes like the one with the mermaid at the top are inspiring … but how do you put it into
operation? How indeed, do you begin to experience yourself as an ocean of consciousness versus a fountain circulating the same thoughts over and over?
Habits drive us, are familiar and comfortable, and when life isn’t as comfortable as we’d like, they take over more than ever.
Finding the Ocean :
- Remind myself that there may be more possibilities than what’s currently circulating. I ask small questions: What tiny way can I look at my world differently? How can I approach my creativity differently? Withe curious expectation? Childlike fascination? Mischievous irreverence? Chocolate coated? What new thinking can I expand into? Just asking is enough but if you do this, be ready to write things down should they bubble up from the depths of your uniqueness.
- Expose myself to something inspiring and ask the small question: How does this inspire my own version of creativity?
- Set the stage for expansion. When I’m feeling resistant toward starting, sometimes simply doing something mechanical to get me out of my habitual zombie avoidant strategies makes it easier for the creative work to happen. Opening a file, reading a passage, listening to a podcast, going for a walk or a drive, reading a quote. None of those bring up resistance, all of them set the stage for the next small expansive step.
I have to remember to routinely reset my thinking settings from "fountain" to "OCEAN." Less pigeons that way.
David Crosby as a Modern Day Muse
From a recent NPR interview about his creative process, David Crosby shows he a disciple of the Modern Day Muse, Albert:
“’If you want to talk about something you can't go straight at it,’ he says. ‘It doesn't work that way. If you want to write about the Eiffel Tower you don't say, 'It's big and it's tall and it's made out of iron!' You don't. You look at the Eiffel Tower through somebody's eyes who's watching it in the mist over their lover's head. In Paris. On a quiet night. And then, you see the Eiffel Tower.’”
When the Muses were upgraded to the Nine Modern Day Muses, Albert, the Muse of Thinking Differently became part of the pack, (named after Albert Einstein, one of our most innovative rule breakers).
Albert teaches that thinking differently is easier when contemplating what everyone else sees but using a different perspective, trigger or trick to sacrifice the obvious in the name of the novel. Free associating, modifying what's in existence, deviating from the directions, defying the predictable, combining two unrelated concepts... this is the art of discovering a "different" often brilliant idea.
Test-driving the Powers of the Modern Day Muse, Albert
- What's one way you can think differently about your next creative move?
- Write about your creative project as if you were looking at it through someone else’s eyes: A child’s, an intellectual, a down-to-earth hippie, someone greatly in need of whatever it is you are doing.