Being Real

I’ve been struggling the last couple weeks, trying to get back into the swing of things after the holidays. Grief has pulled me by the ankles into the Underworld. Regret circles like a dark fin in the water of my subconscious.

Moon at night over the sea

I know, to some degree, what is going on. I’m grieving the loss of my mother. I’m feeling regret about some decisions that changed the trajectory of my life. And I can feel an insight being born.

Whether I simply bring this insight into my life, or make art from it, the process that I’m going through is the mystery at the core of being human.

It’s hard to write, when I’m in this place.

I’ve started three different blog posts, only to set them aside. I can’t make sense of anything. Whatever insight wants to come into the light is still forming on the edge of my periphery.

I often struggle with this part of the creative process, and try to control it. I don’t want to feel the grief and regret, but there’s nothing I can do to think or analyze my way out of it. There’s no shortcut; I have to surrender, feel what I feel, and be honest about it.

I just have to be real. I also have to be patient, and let go of my desire to control the result, to wrap it up with a nice, neat bow.

Because I know—from going through this process countless times in my life—that when it looks like all is lost, if I stay present, I will be able to bring a piece of treasure back from my journey to the Underworld.

An insight, in a piece of writing.

A wordless response, in color and form.

A reconnection with my own ballast, centering me in an uncertain world.

New Year’s Wishes

Colorful flowers

I took these photos at a flower shop in Zurich last fall.

Flower shop in Zurich

I love flower shops, because they’re changing works of art. Each morning, the florist looks at colors, shapes, and composition, and arranges what she has.

I want my life to be like that. I want to take what I have, and make of it something beautiful.

I know this is the first week of the new year. And I understand that this is the time when all the “shoulds” in your life come raining down upon your head.

I’m not going to add to them. Instead, here are my new year’s wishes for you:

That you truly appreciate yourself—your friends and family do.

That you slow down to catch glimpses of beauty in your world.

That you, little by little, day by day, create of your life, whatever you want it to be.

Blessings and love to you; your life is full of possibility!

Warrior Princess

I don't want my life to imitate art, I want my life to be art. - Carrie Fisher

Yesterday, we lost a quirky, witty, talented, intelligent, brave artist.

Carrie Fisher was hysterically funny. She was wild and lovable. She was authentic.

She was a delightful role model for the weird kid in all of us—the thinker with a different point of view.

She was a warrior princess, who struggled with bipolar disorder and addiction, while living life on her terms.

I wish I could have had a conversation with her. She appeared to be someone anyone could be real with; what an amazing gift to give to other people.

Rest in peace, Carrie. The night sky is brighter with the spark of your spirit soaring through it.

Your Truth

If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people. - Virginia Woolf

Writing is a discovery process. It shows you what you really believe.

I’ve surprised myself countless times, when I’ve read what I thought I believed, only to realize that my ideas were only partly developed.

Writing forces me to go deeper—clarify, differentiate, and evaluate—to weigh the truth of my ideas. Then I can connect those ideas to express my thoughts, within a whole perspective that is is true to my beliefs.

Virginia Woolf was right. Self-awareness and honesty give our voices the authenticity—and authority—to communicate our ideas.

3 Tips to Enrich Your Creativity

Flower pattern fabric

I usually post my blog every Tuesday. But yesterday I was just uninspired.

I didn’t want to write my blog.

Whenever I find myself resisting and rebelling, it usually means I’ve neglected some part of myself that wants and needs expression.

When I’m blocked, I write—by hand—about how I’m feeling. There’s something about putting pen to paper that re-starts the flow for me. (Especially if I’m using a favorite fountain pen, with beautiful teal ink!)

This morning, I surprised myself: I wrote that I wanted more time for my creativity to gestate.

Just as a field needs to lie fallow for the soil to be restored, creativity needs that time, too. I don’t know if it’s the time of year—fall is approaching—but I’m aware of the need to stop doing so much, to let my deeper work develop.

If the change in light, the cooler nights, or simply your own inner season is telling you to slow down, here are three tips to support yourself while you’re enriching your creativity.

1. Let Go of Expectations

When you’re in a creative gestation, you need to let go of your expectations of yourself. Life and creativity aren’t about being productive 24/7. They both require rest and play.

If you ignore that need, and demand of yourself that you constantly produce—and that it’s always “perfect”—you’re abusing your creativity. You’ll burn out, just like soil leeched of nutrients.

Forcing yourself to be productive is fruitless. Let go.

2. Listen to Your Whispering Voice

You know what to do; you just have to give yourself the time and space to hear yourself clearly.

Turn off the TV, put away your phone, and unplug the computer. Get outside and take a walk by yourself. Notice things. Stop and look up at the leaves on the trees. Pay attention to the ground beneath your feet. Take in the scents around you. What do you hear?

Journal with no end in mind: just see what flows from your fingertips, and follow your inner wisdom.

3. Seek Out What Inspires You

Go to a play, a concert, a reading, an exhibition. Read literature. Go to a great, old book store and browse. Sit in a chair and sample a book or two. Read a poem.

Resist the tyranny of a clean house. Regardless of whether dust lies on the table, time is passing. Inspire your spirit first.

Let other kindred spirits, who have tapped into their own wells, help you tap into yours. Replenish your creative soil—and your soul.

And remember—be kind to yourself!