The Pleasantly Plump Lady and the See-Saw: Or Sensitivity is a Pain in the Ass
"Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun." ~ George Scialabba
I like to get the most out of the accessories I was endowed with as a human. Such as my imagination. The things our imagination can do for us is limited only by, well, our imagination.
One of the things I do, when needed is get rid of painful obsessions with imaginary scenarios.
If you're creative, chances are you're also sensitive. High sensitivity is a gift in the creative process. Intense feelings are amazing triggers for poetry, painting, music, plays, writing, and large portraits of our moms riding Harleys.
Sensitivity is also a pain in the ass.
The unpleasantries of life can be amplified when you're a deep feeler. Experiences some people just brush off like lint can be experienced by the sensitive creative person like a haunted house where the same unnerving thought is lurking behind every corner, jumping out at you from under the sofa, and ruining a day that could be filled with reverie, laughter, and papaya.
Ever have one of those awful thoughts that won't leave you alone? Or your blood pressure gets out of whack because you're rehearsing a squabble in your head with THAT-THAT person?
Or sometimes you let your self-criticism buzz around your brain like a killer mosquito circulating your ears in the middle of a restless night? If you answered yes, read more.
If you answered no, you're done here.
So I'm going to share with you kindred creative-sensitives about how my slightly eccentric imagination saves me from life's cruel and merciless moments (which is a creative person's melodramatic way of saying, "life's stuff that happens because we're alive.")
So take a thought that bugs or terrorizes you. If you don't have one right now, apply this at the appropriate occasion: family? people who push your buttons? unfair politicians?
First, neutralize the thought by making friends with it. We're human and we sometimes get caught up in treacherous mind storms, replaying things over in our minds, and then coming down on ourselves for what we think we ought to have said, or we blame, resent , or engage in other garden variety self-flagellation at its very best.
Acknowledge that you are human and know that as a human, self-torment is kinda normal. Welcome to the species.
Now that you're aware of it, try something creative instead. Here's where imagination is activated and logic is suspended. Something Albert Einstein endorses.
Imagine that you could put the thought in a little tiny box with shiny silver wrapping paper, (perhaps with a hologramatic sheen), tie a multicolor ribbon around it (I prefer satin). Attach a little card that says, "Okay then, bye, bye. "
Place the little gift box with the treacherous, (now neutralized), thought on the down end of a seesaw (Remember those? Popular before injury lawsuits applied to playground equipment) … and stand back.
Look up, out of the white fluffy cloud-shaped clouds is a pleasantly rotund woman wearing a tutu, holding an umbrella, laughing wildly and I mean raucously guffawing and falling at just the right speed down to the upside of that seesaw. Boing!!!
The little gift box with the treacherous, (now neutralized) thought goes flying through the air to the nearest ocean which is conveniently located within your sight (because in the creative process things are NOT linear, they are free to be where we need them).
The gift is flying through the air, (as I said earlier but I have a short attention span so am repeating it again just in case you do too) and some sea gulls are batting it back and forth until they get bored with the little gift box with the treacherous... (you know) and it falls into the ocean where dolphins nab it and tag team it around in circles for awhile before they TOO get bored with the little gift box with the now, rather pureed thought and it falls to the bottom of the ocean and is eaten by a large sea turtle named Cecil because this happens to be on his diet this week.
(Sea turtles have a very hardy composition and annoying thoughts are filled with calcium which a growing turtle needs for good shell maintenance), and because it IS in fact delicious. Cecil breaks out in a huge smile so wide that his eyes narrow into two little happy slits. By this time the thought, because of this elaborately absurd (and yet delightfully entertaining — at least to the author) story, has completely lost all of its negative charge. If it hasn't and it comes back, I just think of Cecil's happy eyes.
And that's how the imagination acts as something that can salve ("save" with an added "l" for love) the highly sensitive creative person's obsessive thinking.
Other short cuts:
- Brush the thought off as if it is lint.
- Swat it like it's a mosquito.
- Replace the thought with an image of you flying over a field of radically majestic beauty.
- Do a yoga balancing pose like Tree. (Yoga muses wipe self-torment clean with a spiritual cleansing fluid unavailable in any store.)
- Imagine the thought in a cartoon bubble over your head, a seagull comes by and eats it, and then watch as the seagull flies over the horizon.
- Give your cat a bath. •
“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” ~George Bernard
One of the phases we traverse in the mindfulness creative program called Finding Uber Bliss is to see things differently; it's called Head Tilt.
I love how this painting humorously captures a tilt. Humor is a necessary medicine for me. It helped me survive a difficult childhood - it gives me the relief I need when I see the news, and shows me absurdity in a way that liberates my disillusions.
This concept may pertain to our politics now, but if you're not in that place, it can be directed to any aspect of life's challenging kicks in the ass. Here's to a tilt that might help you.
For me, creativity is not only the process of writing and making art. It's resilience, freedom, and empowerment. It's fuel to our spirit and sustenance to our soul. Art and freely expression continues to be vital to our sanity.
Trust Your Instincts
I just ran across the photo I took of this ^painting and was sad. I painted it a few years ago and then painted over the wild spontaneous city because I doubted my initial feeling of absolutely loving it. My partner at the time, told me I should stick to watercolors and I allowed his opinion to influence my feelings toward it. When I saw the photo, I loved it again, but alas, now it's a a kid holding a balloon. [drats]
Art preference is so subjective. What one person rejects, another may adore.
Trusting Our Instincts Comes into Play Two Ways in the Creative Process:
1. If You Like What You've Done... That's Enough!
If you're not sure if you like what you've created, put it away for a week ... or a year and then decide. Often we've forgotten our unreasonable standards and the random opinions of others. and end up appreciating what transpired in the moment.
More than once I've loved something I created and met up with people who didn't. When I stood beside the writing, performance, or art in question because I instinctively thought it was good, I got a huge pay-off because it was not typical, modified, or homogenized; it was distinctive, made others feel something different, and freed people to take risks too.
New approaches are often rejected. The more unique the idea, the more rejection we are likely to receive until the right audience embraces it. Then it is considered ingenious.
2. Go with Your Gut!
In the process, allow your instincts to speak louder than your fears or instructions you've heard from others. Think of the reward in possessing a high degree of spontaneity, where you regularly 'go with your gut feeling' regardless of what others may say or think. It serves you beyond the task at hand, it effects your whole approach to living. Our "gut" is our most wise accessory, it's our intuition.
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. –Carl Jung
Your instinct is the source of your creative genius, your gateway to innovative and inventive ideas, not someone else's rules.
When I painted this, I let go into the wild abandon in the moment. It was cathartic freedom, a process of joyful discovery, better than a ride at the fair.
Thank goodness I snapped a photo of my wild pink city with the quiet white sun before I painted it into extinction. I'm happy we have the technology to capture and savor various stages of our creative process ... and of our wisdom.
"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks,
breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun." --Mary Lou Cook
Typos, vermillion, and jazz violin - we are art itself.
Virginia Woolf said, “… the whole world is a work of art; … we are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.”
In the dark hours, I am pretty sure I am a typo. But when I accept the call of creative passion, I am a bold stroke of vermillion, a renegade hyperbole, or the wild fury of jazz violin. The world is a canvas to explore, a blank page to fill, and an arpeggio of waiting experiences. This moving masterpiece called “life” becomes intoxicating when it’s lived as if it were art.
What I discovered is that if I’m not awake to the inspiration that is present in every corner of my existence, or if I’m not engaged in my creative process the way I want to be, it’s because of what I’m saying to myself.
The mercilessly critical self-conversations we have are responsible for the resistance, procrastination, perfectionism, and feelings of overwhelm that make our creative expression difficult to access.
The only way I will not sentence myself to a life of frustration and regret is to change what I say to myself. Even if high-pressured self-bullying is resulting in impressive productivity, if the enjoyment of these ventures is dampened by harsh judgment, what’s the point?
The "Muse" in Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching refers to a relationship we can have with ourselves if we decide to be artists of being alive. There are nine "muses" or voices of creativity. They aren't there to replace our judgment, they are there to speak louder.
As a celebration of the end of 2016 (for me a year filled with a LOT of typos but equal amounts of VERMILLION), and the beginning of 2017, I'd like to bring you some messages from each of the nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard).
We will begin with the Muse I called Aha-phrodite, the Muse of Paying Attention and Passion. This muse speaks to you when you awaken to moments of inspiration, filled with the passion to take action.
I'm working with Carol, a woman who is passionate about an idea she's had for over a decade. She hired me to coach her because carrying out the project feels overwhelming. She took the first steps and came up with a name for a website and then went into fear about the enormity of what she needed to do next. She was immobilized. She's not alone. This is a common response to starting something big.
Fear is a normal part of the creative process. Trying to eliminate it just makes us captive to it. Paying attention to fear encourages it but is understandable because we seem to be human and humans get weirded out by fear. Advertising moguls and the news-media depend on it. If we just let it be there and then pay attention to what we love about our idea, the energy of passion will move us along even if fear continues to mumble.
We can become the passion of art, then love rises to the occasion with exhilaration and determination.
Then the "Kaizen" comes in and when we feel resistance, we break the enormity of a project down to steps so small, fear feels like participating is a waste of time. We fool fear. Or we take a break and trust the steps we just took need to percolate. I like to say to fear, "Thank you for sharing, but I'm passionate about this idea so step aside, I have a minuscule step to take." Wearing a cape helps as well.
Here are some things we can say to ourselves from "Aha-phrodite's" desire for us to pay attention with passion:
- What do I love about what I'm wanting to do?
- What have I already done?
- What do I get to do next?
- What works to get me to show-up?
“The Sun will rise and set regardless. What we choose to do with the light while it's here is up to us. Journey wisely.” ~Alexandra Elle
Come be the art in Florida or Taos.
The Inner Tyrant
Writing in my journal what the inner tyrant voice slings at me, heightens my awareness of its deviousness and gives me the power to do something other than passively believe it.
What about you? Any of these tyrant-generated statements sound familiar?
- You never finish anything.
- You quit too easily.
- Someone else is doing that idea... better than you.
- What if you're wasting your time and your idea goes nowhere?
- This is too hard, too much, too perpendicular, too ecru. I have no time.
- You have mustard on the corner of your mouth and never-ending clutter on the corner of your existence.
If you hear these or any other messages that don't feel supportive, you're not alone. Tyrannical voices in the creative process are universal - most of us have them, and those who don't have them, really shouldn't have had that lobotomy. It was a cop-out.
The difference between creative people who crumble when these voices spout off and those who succeed despite them, is how they are answered or ignored.
This week practice your best defiant inner-brat and say "SO?"
Or for a more drawn-out version: "So what?"
And for the premium super-deluxe back-talk to the inner tyrant: "So What, I'm going to do it anyway."
Also, "Thanks for sharing but you're standing on my foot, could you back up three miles and take a bus to Get-Outa-Here?" has worked for me on certain Tuesday afternoons.
The strength of your ability to stay on creative course depends on the strength of your reply to your inner critic. You may have to practice. It doesn't have to be perfect.
Take a page in your visual journal, (if you have one), and depict a giant "SO?" in it with all the most powerful creative media and drawing tools that you own (borrow some if necessary) and all the defiance you can muster (which is different from the mustard on the corner of your mouth).
Hold up your journal with the page opened to "SO?" or if you don't visually journal, get a megaphone and hold it up to your mouth and say “SO!” when the inner tyrant tries to run over you. (Mileage may vary).
Decide on and have ready voices that trigger the power you need to STAY with your creative call. Staying with your creative call is part of staying happy, or becoming happy. Don't give up unless your intuition says “I’m done with this, next!” You’ll know when it’s your intuition and not your fear – it’s a gut feeling..
Contrary to some unhappy peoples’ opinions, it is the wise and kind voices that know best and remind us of this divinely installed ability that we ALL have - to be creative.