Letter to a Wild, Sensitive, Creative Soul

Blue cornflowers on white paper

To you who sees beauty, both within—and hidden behind—this world.

Tree under cloudy sky

… who is moved by leaves quivering in the wind before a storm.

… who feels what is real versus pretense in another, when they walk into a room—and who loves their realness, even when it is masked.

… who stops to help a lost dog find her way home, and who loves more deeply than she can express.

To you, whose alignment with her inner compass is strong and true.

Monarch butterfly in flight

… whose creativity flutters like the wings of butterflies, with too many ideas to catch in the net of her mind.

… whose focus on an object, or an idea, makes her lose all sense of time, as she captures her vision—in words, in paint, in clay—in her chosen art form.

I know that a fierce love fuels your particular genius.

I know that when you are fully present and engaged, your calling to create is a kind of prayer.

I know that you create from a deep place, tapped into the mysteries and potentials of the unseen world.

I know that your need—to express how you experience the world—allows us to see through the lens of your unique spirit.

To the wild, sensitive, creative soul reading these words:   Thank you!

Violin sitting on table

Your sensitivity is like a finely-tuned violin; what touches those strings brings forth a song that only you can sing for us.

You were born to do this—to share your voice, your mind, and your passion!

The world needs your gifts.

Gratitude is the Attitude

Woman in gratitude

There are days when life feels like more of a struggle. When I’m tired and stressed, or sick, or an event has shaken me, my path seems more difficult.

At those times, it’s very tempting to compare my circumstances with other people’s. When I do that, my inner dragon—that negative inner voice—looks for a way that I (or someone close to me) have fallen short.

Woman standing on large map

I should be there by now!

The theme of my inner dragon is that I “should be” further along—in my writing, in my business, in my painting, in my life.

It’s a painful distraction from what I’m afraid might be even more painful: deeper inner assessment, and facing the action I need to take next.

Thankfully, sometimes my inner guide—that wise inner voice—injects compassion. Ironically, it’s empathy that allows me to look dispassionately at the harder stuff, and it’s usually not as bad as I was afraid it would be.

Self-compassion allows me to see that the “shoulds”—real or imagined—are in the past. Now, they’re simply knowledge that helps me take the next step. If I need to do something differently, I re-prioritize and get back to my creative practice.

When outer circumstances hinder my progress, self-compassion allows me to acknowledge that I don’t have control, so I can let go of the struggle. I know I will get back to my practice when I’m able.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

But what do you do when it’s not easy?

What do you do when your inner guide is on vacation?

Woman writing on pad of paper

I should have done…

When my inner guide is under a beach umbrella reading a good book, my inner dragon goes through a list of things that I “should” have done differently. To make it worse, I usually mingle that list with things that I think other people “should” have done differently.

Ugh! It’s kind of like an obsessive tape (record, DVD, MP3) playing in my mind.

When my fire-breathing inner dragon is scorching my soul, I try to remember to stop, drop, and roll.

Stop Obsessing

Stop the negative tape! If you keep going over the same thoughts again and again, you won’t get anywhere.

Needless struggle—focusing on the negative and worrying about the future—is a waste of your spirit. It ties up your energy in what you don’t want to happen. And it keeps you from discovering deeper insight into the situation.

Life is not about being “better” (or “worse”) than someone else; it’s about being who you are. It’s about accepting that life is a journey, that spiritual growth involves trying and failing, over and over, until you succeed.

And then you start the process all over again with something else.

Drop the Drama

Drama—unnecessary guilt or blame—does nothing to help the situation. You may have no outward control, but you are always free to choose your inner response.

Energy is the currency of the spirit. It allows us to create in this world. You are creating all the time, whether you realize it or not. Whatever result you want in the outer world needs to happen inwardly first.

If you focus your energy on struggle, or worry, or how things are not going your way, what are you creating? What do you want  to create?

Just as the energy of the sun helps bring forth a tree from an acorn, your energy helps you create an outcome, through the focus of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Your values and beliefs are the energy behind your efforts. Listen to your deeper values.

Roll with It

Let go of your attachment to the immediate outcome. Of course, you care, but worrying about it keeps you stuck. It ties up your energy and focus.

Stay open and curious. Consider that there are bigger forces at work.

When you step back to look at the larger picture, it helps you see the context. Sometimes, there’s a difference between what you want  to happen, and what needs  to happen for your growth.

You are on a journey, with lots of twists and turns. Some events seem like setbacks at first, but in retrospect, you realize they were essential.

Practice Gratitude

When all else fails, call your inner guide—and your compassion—home by practicing gratitude.

You have real blessings in your life. When you take the time to notice and appreciate them, your heart softens. And when your heart is less constricted, your mind is free to see what’s possible.

Woman grateful

When you’re feeling sorry for yourself, gratitude is the attitude to set you free.

What are you grateful for?

A Thread of Thought

Seed hanging in spider web

Virginia Woolf’s premise—that a woman needs money and a room of her own to write—is certainly true for anyone who creates. Having enough money and your own space gives you precious, uninterrupted time—and a place to focus.

Stretches of time are essential to my writing, if I’m going to go deep enough. The more “little” things that interrupt my day, the harder it is for me to tap into my creativity.

I started today feeling creative. On my morning walk with my dog, I thought about what I might write about in this blog post. Then I had a routine health appointment, and after that, a grocery store trip. And then, I navigated traffic to get home, and made lunch.

Now, here I am, trying to get back to where I was hours ago. If I imagine my mental space to write as its own landscape with a map, can I get back to where I was?

Backtracking sometimes works. Taking another walk would probably do it. But it’s 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside. So instead, I’m sitting at my desk in an office of my own, enjoying the rotating fan that helps me weather my hot flashes!

When you can’t backtrack, take another path.

Yesterday, as I sweltered in the hot, humid yoga studio, the teacher said that heat is transformative. Her comment stayed with me, because when I’m experiencing intense change and growth, I often think of myself as “being cooked.” When I’m completely submerged in it, I call it “being in the soup.”

Following my thread of thought, from uninterrupted time and space to the heat of transformation, what do I find there?

A single bead of sweat, clinging to the end of the thread, like a jewel.

View of shoreline through water drop

When I look through that clear sphere of water, I see shapes distorted. I am reminded of a snow globe, with a tiny world inside, curving inward.

So if my mind is a map, and it curves back on itself, I realize that even when I think I’ve lost an idea, or a description, it’s still there, cooking, breaking down, re-forming, and blooming in warm, rich soil.

In the end, if I stay with it long enough, something emerges.

If you don’t have uninterrupted time, and a place to create your art, it’s up to you to make that happen. And when life interrupts, wander the paths of your own mind. Root around in the soil.

Keep going!

Something will turn up, I promise you.

Water drop over ripple

The Creative Heroine’s Journey

Woman walking down road into sunset

While writing my novel, I’ve been thinking a lot about Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey.” By studying many cultures, Campbell identified recurring themes in stories, and distilled them into a universal pattern of human growth.

As a creative woman in midlife, I am on a journey to find new meaning in my life. Finding my voice and sharing my vision is part of that journey. And I find myself wondering, what is the “Heroine’s Journey,” especially for creative women in their middle years?

Although there is a general order in the journey, growth isn’t linear, and you might revisit each phase along the way. This is what I’ve learned so far.

Phase One—The Default Life

Woman with dirty dishes in kitchen

Whether your current situation is good, bad, or indifferent, you know it’s time for a change.

Maybe you came to your “default life” through a plan that led to exactly where you wanted to be. Or perhaps, life derailed your plans, leading you to where you didn’t want to be.

Regardless, you know you need to grow and stretch beyond your current life.

How do you know? You get a wake-up call.

Phase Two—The Wake-Up Call

Telephone receiver on clock

Your wake-up call might come as a subtle whisper, or a jarring scream.

It can be a rejection of something you don’t want: NOT THIS!

It can be a calling for something you do want: YES, THIS!

For me, it was a combination of both.

I did not want to work in a business that put numbers first and people last. But more importantly, I needed to express myself creatively. To not create was not an option, because creating is my calling.

The wake-up call can be especially poignant at midlife, because along the way, you’ve experienced real losses and narrowed choices, and the clock is ticking. You have a sense of urgency.

How do you discover and follow your calling? You simply start doing what matters to you. You take the first steps.

Phase Three—First Steps

Footprints in sand on beach

This is where you get to explore and discover. You get to play and make mistakes. I love this phase because it’s full of curiosity and wonder!

You follow clues and have insights. You try on many hats until you find the one that not only fits, but looks like you.

It’s exciting! You’re full of energy and enthusiasm. You’re having fun.

The world is full of possibilities… until it isn’t.

Here come the dragons. Here come the doubts and regrets, the confusion, the loss and grief. “Welcome” to phase four.

Phase Four—Lost and Found

Dark forest with fog

You know you’ve entered this phase when you feel alternately lost and found, hopeless and hopeful.

You might experience a roller coaster of ups and downs, marinate in a stagnant soup, or twirl in a whirlpool.

Round and round you go, until you find your own still center, at the heart of the moving wheel that is your life.

Here’s the key to this phase: Letting go of what is passed allows your life to expand again. It’s not easy. This phase is difficult, but essential. (See When Hope Evaporates for an example.)

This phase cooks away everything extraneous. It leaves you with the core of yourself, stronger and wiser.

Phase Five—Committing


There comes a point on your journey where there is no going back. This is where you make it real in a way that you haven’t before.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Begin it now.

— William Hutchison Murray

Commitment has been especially challenging for me. All sorts of fears come up, but foremost is the fear of not having enough. It jumps right into my path and demands that I deal with its taunts, that I won’t have enough money, enough food, enough help. Enough (already)!

To borrow from Campbell, this is where I have to face my inner dragon and make friends with it, because each time I try to “slay” it, it returns. It is teaching me something, painfully at times, that I need to understand.

There is truth in what the dragon says; it’s just a matter of degree. Facing the dragon diffuses the drama. It turns the raging beast into a little lizard. It’s still there, but it’s not going to destroy my dreams.

There are no guarantees, except that one day, this life will end. It matters immensely how I choose to live the life that I have left on this beautiful earth. I choose to create.

Phase Six—Finding Your Voice

Woman singing into microphone

As you take your first steps, find and lose your way over and over, but commit to your journey anyway, your unique creative genius emerges.

No one sees the world exactly like you do. No one else looks through your eyes, no one else shares your mind, your soul, your experiences that make you who you are.

Sometimes, I start to talk myself out of doing something, because “someone else has already done it.” Of course someone else has already done it! That’s not the point.

The point is, no one else can do what you do, the way that you do it. Sing loud and strong!

Phase Seven—Sharing Your Vision

Woman looking through fingers

When you develop and share your gifts, you are giving in a powerful way. You touch people beyond your circle of family and friends. This is profound.

Creative women who are also caretakers, often think they’re being “selfish” when they take care of their own needs—let alone follow their calling. They must face the “Selfish Dragon.”

If you’re struggling with this, let me offer you a new perspective: When you follow your calling—when you write your novel, paint your masterpiece, sing your soul—and share it with the world, we all benefit.

That is what I mean when I say, “The world wants your gifts!”

My life, your life, everyone’s life is a journey of discovery. We’re all exploring some facet of the universe, using the gifts we bring to this world. When we share these gifts, we enable others to look through the lens that we see through. It expands our lives. And that is thrilling!

Don’t hoard your treasure. Don’t waste your gifts. Share them with us!

Writers Are Conscious Dreamers

The writer is by nature a dreamer - a conscious dreamer. - Carson McCullers

I love this quote because it describes the experience of writing so well!

Composing a story or a poem is dreaming with your eyes wide open. Images and textures, thoughts and words, sounds and smells, and feelings float in from the ether.

You catch some of them in your net—and bring them into the waking world with ink and paper. You build of them something new, an arrangement of words only you could make.

When you’re finished, you’ve created something whole and shining, like a crisp red apple in the the palm of your hand.

Share your conscious dreams with us. We want to know what you see.