Inspiration: As Far As You Can Carry It

Artists know that inspiration comes in waves; sometimes in the gentle, steady rhythm of a lake waking up to the sunrise, and other times overwhelming, crashing into you like the Pacific coast tide.

The thing about inspiration is it’s only as good as how far you can carry it. After all, we can only balance so much. The mundane tasks of everydayness often take up both hands.

In her book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talked about inspiration as a living thing, that moved on if it wasn’t nurtured in our care.  What she had to say as a professional writer resonated with me, and made me feel a bit better. Careless with inspiration, but at least not the only one.

As a full-time working, single mom, my second novel kind of bit the dust. But I’m nothing if not resourcesful, and optimistic too. Instead of trying to twist it into some kind of tome, I’m going to use what I have and craft a short story. I’m also hoping that by doing this, the inspiration my be wooed back, and stick around for the long haul required of a novel. I know if that does happen, that the success or failure of the project will depend on me; on my dedication, devotion and prioritizing.

Either way it will be fine. The inspiration will be freed; to move on, or to take up residence in the pages of my creation.

Inspiration comes my darling friends, but how long it stays with us depends entirely upon how long we are able to carry it.

One in a while we have to reassess what’s weighing us down in favour of what lifts us up.

Blowing Out the Candles

candlesOn the eve of my 4o-plus-somethingish birthday, I cannot help but reflect upon the lessons I have learned this year. In theory I’m an expert.  In practice, however, that’s another story.

I do believe that the difference between theory and practice is the key to successful living though darlings, because bridging that gap is the difference between annoying should-sayers, and the people who shine brightly and inspire the rest of us.

Grace has been a concept I’ve wanted to put into practice  throughout the past few years. There are  times I have failed miserably; my birthday breakdown at a bar while trying to sort out my mother issues; my insecurity as a partner, my ability to maintain a positive attitude in light of the every day demands of living. Yah, I’ve failed a few times.

But I have learned a few things from all of that bluster, and I’m old enough to take the liberty of sharing them with you;

  1. I have spent way too much time on my hair.
  2. We allow ourselves to be led by a false economy and fabricated news. Does it feel right? Do it. Does it feel wrong? Don’t. The world would be a better place if we all followed the golden rule.
  3.  If you love your body, it will love back. At a certain point you realize your body feels better when you eat this and not that; when you do this and not that.  It loves water and apples and decadent butter cream chocolate from your favourite Chocolaterie. It does not like to listen to people incessantly rambling about fad diets or extreme routines. Love your body, let it gently communicate to you, and it will love you back.
  4. Kindred spirits aren’t terribly hard to find, but it’s terribly hard to be vulnerable enough to get to know one.
  5. Create things. Anything. Creativity is your human spirit making itself present in the world. Let it sing, paint, write, carve, stitch, bake….whatever! Let your mind wander and your spirit reveal itself.
  6. Do not let bitchy people ruin your day. Attitude is contagious – be sure to protect yourself.
  7. Nobody’s watching. Seriously. Just relax.
  8. Change is scary, but constant. If you can be excited through the fear, you have life licked.
  9. You need friends of all ages; older ones and younger ones, and people who transcend age. You need nurturing and affection and the awesome healing power of human touch.
  10. Flannel jammies, hot tea and a good hobby to keep you occupied are three simple things that are highly under-rated.
  11. Always, always, always buy the shoes.

CPR: Creativity Promise Reboot

domoreOh my gawd!!!

Sometimes pithy little sayings are the eyeroll that I need. Yes, I hate to admit it, but it’s true.

This morning I read something about how many people succeed at what they dream of doing and how many don’t. Basically the gist of it was most people won’t do the hard work so they fail.

 

 

 

I prefer something a little more gentle;

successandfailure

 

I have yet to self-publish my thousand-year-old novel, and I have a head full of characters clawing at my brain to communicate with my fingertips to get it all down on paper. It’s time to get this second book out of my mind and onto the page.

…and so it is time to breath some life into my creativity. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.

It’s time.

A little reminder to every creative artist out there; just breathe.

Artist’s Spiritual Revival

creative mindsWith a machine gun pointed at me, I suddenly realized that my idea of art was akin to the local authority’s idea of a great place to smuggle cocaine. And so ended my love affair with foreign sculpture as souvenir

I switched to anything on paper or canvas that I could roll into a small cardboard tube and carry in my suitcase.

Art is the expression of the human spirit, so I try to support that. The more oppressed the person, the more vibrant the art; or at least that’s the way it seems to me.

Admittedly I haven’t even joined the ranks of amateur visual artists. Unless you count how creative I can get with lingerie and feathers.

I’ve tried my hand at watercolour, acrylic, and yes, even coffee stains. I stitch, I write poetry and novels and essays. Music mystifies me, but I am going to get my hands on a ukulele as soon as humanly possible. After all, how sad can you be strumming away on one of those little creatures? Creativity has always seeped through my pores and when I don’t have time for it, it tangles up my patience and wrings out  frustration.

Thus I have invited the wonderful weirdos in my life to a night of creative sharing meant to ignite that spark of brilliant madness we poo-poo as fodder for preschoolers and the institutionalized insane.

I will be working on a piece about storytelling. After all, I have always believed that we exist as the stories we tell ourselves.

wildthingLately I have been wrestling with the dark side, for no apparent reason other than everything is ok. Seriously. I have a healthy kiddo, a stable job, a roof over my head, and a man just as sweet and sexy as they come. He could use a lesson in romance, shiny things and dirty talk, but over all, he’s more than wonderful.

The only thing that doesn’t add up is the time that I need to write, to paint, to walk around half cut on champagne listening to Janis or Willie or Bob or Leonard, wearing nothing but a kurta and smile.Perhaps I feel my creative side stifled as my friends and I age; tempered by life,  less willing to play and be playful. My creative friends are as close to the silliness that I crave in relationship as possible

My only hope right now is  sunshine, someone to do all of the menial shit that I get caught up in, and an endless supply of Fruli.

Later this month I will be spending an evening with the wild, gentle and secret parts of the souls of my creative mentors. This, I hope, will help inspire me to let the laundry and the cooking sink further into hell and let my creative pursuits rise. Let there be lightness, let there be dark, let there be an artist’s spiritual revival.

Well Hello There Anger, You Curious Beast

rozSubtlety has never been one of my shining qualities, nor do I wish it to be. It makes for hearty discussions that can be uncomfortable yet rich. Being with people who can admit that they are afraid of the dark,  yet have the courage to explore it are the best kind of people.

I’m a fiery gal. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. I am not for the faint of heart or the timid.

But I’m also soft-hearted to a fault, and love nothing more than to take people in, feed them, make sure they’re safe, and take care of them.

For many years, like many women, anger was not my friend. It’s ugly, and doesn’t accessorize well. It chewed me up from the inside out, and boy oh boy, did I suffer for ignoring it. Once my practice matured, I was able to let it in, give it room to breathe it’s fire, and finally burn off the dangerous edges.

This post was inspired by my incorrect perception. Some might even say, I was wrong. But let’s not get carried away now my sweet little peaches. Being wrong is such a bitch and entirely not sexy.

The human smorgasbord of emotion is fascinating, with a little of this and a dash of that sprinkled through the entire menu. What I’ve discovered, and I believe to be true, is that the  plethora of negative emotions are all rooted in the muck of fear. To be fearless about exploring those negative emotions, well, that my darlings, is interesting stuff.

I will be the first to admit that relationships scare the hell out of me. Commitment is a word I actually had an issue saying ( it made me stutter).  Yet, I’m a devoted, loyal, stick-with-you-to-the-end friend and colleague. What gives?

Well, after years of learning and practicing, I came to understand just how healthy it is not to deny myself all of the ugly-step-sister emotions; anger, jealousy, shame. They are all rooted in fear, and we, as human beings all experience fear and the offshoots of fear every day.

After a thoughtful discussion with my sweetie last night about anger, communication, and perception, I came back to an article by Jules Shuzen Harris, Sensei; Uprooting the Seeds of Anger, (Tricycle, Summer 2012 p44-47);

We’re going to keep getting angry. It’s going to come up. It has come up in our lives before, and it will come up again. This practice is about becoming more mindful, becoming aware of how we are getting stuck. With care and work, we find ways to get unstuck. But we also know that the moment we get unstuck, we’re going to get stuck again. That’s why it is called a practice – we never arrive. So when you find yourself upset or angry, use the moment as apart of your practice, as an opportunity to notice and uproot the seeds of anger and move into the heart of genuine compassion.

This passage speaks to me of impermanence, the Five Skandhas, and the importance of self-compassion as we practice mindful living/self-awareness.

When I first sought out meditation practice and the wisdom of the monastic teachings at a local monastery, what I really was doing, was running away from fear. I thought that I was doing something wrong, and that being happy all of the time was what being a spiritual being was all about. But, surprise, surprise, the Goddess-of-Everything-Delightful was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Ick.

Denying oneself the full-spectrum of emotion is like plastering concealer over a nasty pimple. Eventually it wears off, and it just makes the problem worse.

Our daily practice consists in running away…We are afraid of the suffering that is inside us, afraid of war and conflits…But we do not want this fear to manifest, because it hurts, and so we repress it.  We try to repress our suffering and we invite other energies into our ‘lving room’ to fill it up so that the negative energies will not be able to make their appearance there…We should not adopt this boycott policy. On the contrary we should open our door so that our suffering can come out.  (Thich Nhat Hanh, True Love)

I have committed to my practice, and I feel it slip when fear enters uninvited, tracking mud through my heart. But I won’t pretend it’s not there. I will not kick it out, or wash away the dirty footprints without taking a good look at how it got in, and what I might do lovingly acknowledge it.

 

 

 

Advent Challenge: The Life-Changing Power of Small-Talk

AP_starbucks_shift_tips_jef_130626_16x9_992

What better place to start a conversation than in a long Christmas-shopping-season line-up?

The season of Advent is upon us. A season of darkness and stillness, awaiting the mystery to unfold.

 

Hell, if that’s what it’s about, I think perhaps I’ve been living a lifetime of Advent!

It’s strange and wonderful how conversation and communication work.

I remember being a little girl and hanging off my grandmother’s shirttails, head thrown back, eyes lolling at a great and dangerous sarcastic angle, whining, “Come oooooo-ooooon! Mom!”, while she jabbered away to someone.

When I was younger I used to think that long, winding conversations were pointless.  Much like advent, impromptu conversations can be ever so revealing about our own hopes and dreams.

Exposing your ideas and dreams to concrete language can be the first step to creating a new reality for yourself.

Once upon a time a poet-mentor of mine asked if he could read some of my poetry aloud to me. I felt reserved and shy at first. He knew that hearing my own words spoken would be a very powerful experience. And it was.

More than once I’ve had a conversation with someone I don’t know so well and then ask myself where the heck that came from. Engaging in conversation with a diverse cross section of ages, genders and intellect is a wonderful way to get to know yourself.

For instance, tonight I had an unexpected and rather lengthy conversation with a gentleman who worked with my mumster (he thinks she’s the cat’s meow). We discussed his career, the professional acquaintances we have in common, his semi-retirement and subsequent move. That lead to a review of my C.V., and some of my dreams for the future.

As only perspective from someone older, more experienced and wiser can do, the conversation really shed some new light on what my future might hold. If only I have the courage to pursue it.

One thing that I’ve learned in my lifetime is that you have to ‘put it out there’. In other words, whatever it is that you want, that you crave, that gets you excited to get out of bed in the morning; you need to talk about it with everyone and anyone who will listen.

It’s not what you know darlings, it’s who you know. The person next to you in line at the coffee shop may know someone who knows something about what you’re dreaming of.

Put it out there. Give a friendly hello, and start with the dreaded small talk. Just talk to people.

Wake up with intention and do something about it. Research. Ask Questions. Go do it.

This Advent season, let the mystery of what’s holding you back from the life you desire, unfold in your every-day interactions with the people around you.

Not Giving a Damn – Radical Self-Care for Givers

giveadamThe love of my life who abandoned me told me that me being a  ‘giver’ was what most attracted him to me. Ha!

That should have had me running the other way. The only people attracted to givers are takers, and quite frankly, it’s boring.

The reality is though, that I am a giver. A giver of my heart in everything that I do. I tend my friendships, bring my best professional self to work, and hope to leave the world a better place than I found it at the end of every day.

I’ve realized over time that that looks a little differently than I used to think it should.

Example; today it was strongly (passively aggressively) suggested that I should abandon my work and go home to tend to a minor sore throat and common cold. In the past, I would have toughed it out, lived on liver-damaging-over-the-counter-pharmacandy and felt better in a month. Smiling all the while of course.

But not today. Nope.

You see, I’m learning to take some of my own advice. Givers tend to utter such sincere statements as, It’s ok sweetie, don’t be so hard on yourself, and one of my personal favourites, don’t worry about it I’ll take care of it.

Years ago I gave up the need to be a ‘giver’. After a really bad, treacherously drawn-out relationship,  I finally learned that I don’t need to be there for people who are only there for me when they need something.

The second two quarters of this year have been a colossal gong-show of loss, heartbreak, being taken advantage of, and frankly my darling buttercups, I’ve had efuckingnough. That’s French for; I’m done.

lucilleballI do not need to be anyone’s savior, free therapist, or emotional punching bag. I could use a wicked massage, night of hot sweaty sex, and a romantic dinner.But that’s in the works as I type this my sweet little peaches…after all, a lady makes sure that her needs are met in order not to settle for second-best.

So, today, at the suggestion that I was too ill to work, I packed up my beautiful black and red leather bag and headed out the door.

After a quick stop to pick up new shoes, and a hair-colour pick-me-up, I spent the afternoon finally taking the advice of a good art-therapist friend of mine.  I used the last of my instant, vanilla-flavoured coffee that’s been in the cupboard since David slew Goliath, and spattered the hell out of some watercolour paper. I scrawled my pastels and turned up my Rachmaninoff  extra-freaking loud.

I sipped tea. I wore tights and a baggy sweater, and I opened wide all of the windows to let the fresh autumn air breeze through our little home.

Photo from a Vogue Photoshoot

Photo from a Vogue Photoshoot

When I was done with that, I spent 90 minutes with Charlie Hunnam on my couch and watched him take his shirt off and stare back at me with his wild blue eyes. Men like that give me faith in my libido and all that it’s done for me over the years. Thank you Charlie.

What I did not do was listen for my phone, respond to energy-sucking messages, or feel that I owed anyone anything. After all, a gal has to take care of herself every once in a while, ’cause there ain’t nobody out there who’s going to do it for her.

What I’ve learned is that when you do it all, all of the time, no one comes to your rescue. It used to upset me, make me feel abandoned, alone, sad and even angry.

The truth is, I don’t need to be saved. No one does.

I just need to let go of the message that our western world sinisterly implies; keep busy, want more stuff, don’t think, just keep going.

Busy is over-rated. Stuff just kills the planet and clutters our space. Rest, introspection and silence seem to go against everything society shoves so beautifully down our  throat. Today I wasn’t swallowing though. Today I pulled the blankie of don’t-bother-me up around my ears and turned my face to the wall.

Today I did not give one single damn. I took care of me, my son, and my mental health. I let my broken heart loose and loved it just as it was; whole, hurting, imperfect and yet, still hopeful. Damn I’m one hell of a dame…

I strongly suggest you don’t give a damn too. Every once in a while, it’s just the medicine you need.  After all, who are you trying to prove yourself to, really?