The Well Intentioned Plagiarist

I am a recovering well intentioned plagiarist. There, I said it. Considering all the teenagers who have sat in my class on Literary Analysis, this is a difficult admission for me. On opening day of class, I would stand in front of those wide eyed, nervous ninth graders and tell them together we would learn how to write. I encouraged each of them that no matter their current level of writing, they would improve and grow. But, and I emphasized the but, in order to succeed, each of them must agree not to plagiarize the thoughts and ideas of another writer. I was emphatic. A few students tested me in this area, but through tender conversations and a few tears they turned from the act before it became a practice.

For the record, I never plagiarized in this sense of the word, ever in my life. The fear of being carted off to Literary Prison for stealing someone’s words was instilled in my life early on, I think by Mrs. McCoy in sixth grade. But the truth be told, a combination of good catholic guilt and a healthy fear of being caught kept me honest in this area.

Actually, my crime of plagiarism began innocently enough. I felt clueless on how to live my story and had the misconception that a perfectly scripted life was out there for me to follow.  I looked to those close to me to figure out the structure of a good story. I saw things I loved from my sister’s life. She was fashionable, popular, even modeled a bit, so I tried to emulate pieces of her life, miserably I might add. My best friend growing up was fiercely independent, outgoing, and strong. She had the funniest laugh I’d ever heard. In the elementary years, I actually remember laying in my bed trying to copy it. Sad, I know. Before I knew it, I was stealing pieces of other people’s story, trying to make them my own.

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I carried on the practice well into my adult years, watching marriages, studying parents, reading books. I made so many decisions based on this mythical perfect story.

Well, I am in recovery. And the first step to recovery, people say, is knowing you have a problem. I have a problem and here it is – I believe my story has to be perfect. Every time I fail or don’t have the intended outcome, I feel like I have gone off script. And that is a miserable way to live. And frankly, it’s not living.

I’m allowed to learn from others and grow as a person, but first, I need to allow myself to be the person I am. I am artistic, anal, funny, a flawed perfectionist, loving, nurturing, smothering, aging, creative, scared, scarred, happy, nervous, and so much more. I am learning more about myself all the time. This journey of self discovery is a relatively new one for me, and I don’t always like what I see but much of the time I do. Actually, I think it is scaring the bajeebees out of some and annoying the heck out of others. Being authentic is not always popular, but at least it’s true. And it’s freeing.

I love watching the stories being told around me. I see them unfold in my adult children, in my sweet husband, and in the uniquely wonderful friends I have collected along the way. But you know what? I am starting to enjoy my story. It may be messy, but at least it’s mine.

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The Artist’s Way: Being a Froot Loop

The worse part of a trip for me are the last two days. I start to think about the adventure ending and a sadness mixed with slight panic sweeps over me. When I inventory all the things I still want to do and see, I wonder how on earth I can possibly make them happen. And then my mind wanders to the routine of life that awaits me when I return home.

The final evening of The Artist’s Way felt much the same way for me. We were asked to bring a final creative project to share and some light hors d’oeuvres. Professor Profound brought a lovely red blend wine – called Creative Block of all things – which he found on one of his recent trips. He shared it with pride and generosity, a true reflection of his heart. Hard on Herself Virtuoso (now a sweet friend of mine) brought a big pot of vegan chili (the adventures never stop for me) which was surprisingly good even with the foreign matter she referred to as vegetable protein. Sadly, the group was incomplete. Pet Healer was missing, but as it turns out she needed healing herself at home. Somehow though she still felt present.

We sat around that familiar rectangular table which had strangely become our temporary shelter of sorts. With each class, the accommodations became more and more comfortable, more homey as the inhabitants added pieces of themselves to the space. It had become a safe harbor from the storms of perfectionism and the thunder of criticism.

In the middle of the banter, the Silver Desiderata handed each of us a handwritten note expressing her love and gratitude for not only who we were but also for the unique creative expressions we brought to the class. Her words were a sweet addition to the warmth and love already present. Between taking pictures and engaging in snatches of conversation, I sat back to watch the scene unfold, to soak in the laughter, to take in the love and color radiating from their faces.

The lovely Lady of the Box invited us to join her in the living room and indeed it was a living room . The walls were covered with oil painting her father had created; plants and candles tastefully dotted the space. Every inch felt alive and inviting.  She was the first to share. The woman who had given us so much over the past twelve weeks, was giving us yet another gift – our own personal collection of photographs of the symbols she used at the start of every class. Our snapshots were enclosed in a black box wrapped with a red ribbon. Like a flight recorder found on every commercial airplane, our black boxes contained images, reminders of what happen during our flight, our journey on The Artist’s Way. My heart was full.

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Color Lover shared a journal she had been working on, every page filled with vibrant images and rich hues. The girl who came to us in black and white was now full of color much like the collages she had created in her book. Super Hero Zombie Girl was next. She showed us bold and textured canvases of comic book superheroes she had painted. She explained how when she was unable to sleep she would create these pictures, pictures of her friends. What an image – a super hero painting her super heroes.

And then it was time for The Quiet Man to speak. He read us poetry whose source came from the deep well within him. As he read, tears puddled in my eyes making him a blur, and yet we all could see him more clearly that night than any other we had spent with him. One by one, our members shared their creativity. They were generous. They were vulnerable. They were alive. We were a tribe, a tribe of artists.

Finally, it was time to share my offering. What else would a want-to-be illustrator share but an illustration representing my experience of the last twelve weeks. It was simple, a watercolor study of a bowl of Froot Loops. I had decided if I was going to be authentic with this group, I needed to share my initial impressions from the first night of class. I explained how I felt like a Bran Bud in a bowl of Froot Loops. Many laughed but some didn’t. Perhaps they were recovering from the sting of being labeled a Froot Loop. I further explained as the weeks passed, I started to wonder if it really was a noble thing to be a Bran Bud. After all, people only eats Bran Buds because it’s a have to of life, but for a child, eating Froot Loops is a definite want to.

I continued as each of them handled my offering, reading the little notes I had written throughout. I expressed how over time their creativity and love seeped into that room like the color of Froot Loops bleeding into the milk they float in. Over our journey, we shared, we mingled, we realized we were all in the same bowl. We were a bowl of artists who struggle, who create, who sink at times yet float to the surface again and again.

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And I concluded with my big reveal…I AM NOW A BIG ROUND FROSTED PINK FROOT LOOP! A metamorphosis of sorts had taken place in me on this journey. And now I get to create in beautiful, messy, imperfection and hopefully help color the world with my artistic expressions.

Thank you, Froot Loops and The Lady of the Box. I have been forever changed along the way – The Artist’s Way.

The Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Today is my mom’s birthday. I had a memory of her today that grew into a gift. This is so like my mom, giving gifts on her special day.

I remember two little girls and their mommy eating out for dinner, a lovely distraction from some of the difficulty we were going through. We were three girls making memories, dreaming dreams, asking questions in the midst of pain and loss.

We scooted into a booth and immediately turned to the individual jukebox mounted on the wall. Mommy gave Kathy four quarters to put into the slot. We were each allowed to pick out four songs and she would select the remaining two. I only remember one of the songs I picked, I Would Give Everything I Own by Bread. It’s so funny I would remember that detail.

After we settled in and gave our orders to the waitress, I remember asking my mom, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” She gave me a sweet smile. She wasn’t offended in the least and if she thought the question was ridiculous, she never let on. She answered me as though it was a perfectly legitimate question for a daughter to ask her mom.

“Well, Susie, when I grow up, I am going to be a hippie. “

I thought for a couple of seconds and asked, “Mommy, what’s a hippie?”

She replied, “A hippie is someone who wears tattered bell bottom jeans, doesn’t take baths, and never cuts her hair but always wears flowers in it.”

I remember tears falling down my cheeks, and my mom asking me what was wrong. I looked into her beautiful blue eyes and pleaded, “Please don’t be a hippie, Mommy.”

She made her way around the table and gave me a two arm hug, assuring me that she was only playing. There was no need, she said, for me to worry. No matter what she did when she “grew up”, she would always be my mommy. Her words seemed to assuage my fears of having a dirty, tattered mom.

Our meal came. We ate our fries first and nibbled on our pork sandwiches. We talked about school and friends. Suddenly, in the middle of our conversation, Mommy blurts out, “Girls, when I die, I want this song played at my funeral.” Her comment seemed so random, but that’s the way my mom is. When she has a thought, it bursts out like hiccup.

She told us to listen. One of her songs was playing on the jukebox. It was Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkle. All three of us sat perfectly still for three minutes or so, until the song was finished. At that moment for me, the words and music were overshadowed by the prospect of my mom one day being gone. I felt really sad. I think Kathy asked her what she liked about the song. I love that about Kathy. She was in the moment with Mommy. She actually heard the words and was interested in what Mommy liked about it. I don’t recall what her answer was, but curious Kat seemed to be satisfied.

The meal continued and my memory ends there.

Once the memory faded, I decided to look up the lyrics of the song – one I am familiar with but had never really examined.

I was blown away. I understand now, decades later, why my mom loved this song. It is her anthem, her heart song. As a young mom, this was her hope, her dream of what she wanted to be when she grew up. She wanted to be a bridge over troubled waters for her three girls (she gave us one more sister when we were teenagers and I’m so grateful for that). She wanted to leave a legacy of I Lay Me Down. And, she did. She didn’t do it perfectly but she did it fiercely. She sacrificed so much so that we could grow into the people we are today.

When I read the final words of the song, I felt like she has been singing this over me my entire life.

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Thank you, Mommy, for being that bridge. Thank you for wanting me to shine. Thank you for teaching me to dream and to sail through this life, even over troubled waters. Knowing that you are right behind gives me strength.

Happy birthday and before I forget, thank you for the gift. I love you.

The Artist’s Way: Nurturing Dreams

I was intrigued by the wooden box sitting on the table off to the side. It didn’t have a place of prominence in the room, but it was there, high enough to capture my attention. There’s something about a box that piques my interest.- a gift box, a  wooden jewelry box, a brightly painted toy box, round hat boxes, even boxes in my garage.  I want to know what’s inside. I want to unearth the hidden treasures buried in a drawer, a closet, the garage.

So as the leader spoke, my gaze periodically turned to this wooden box. I listen as she spoke about the journey were all on and the need for our class to be a safe place for our dreams to be shared and nurtured. But, if I were to be honest here, I was a bit distracted by that darn box.

Finally, she opened it and carefully pulled out a bird’s nest complete with feathers and even a piece of twine woven into it by it’s feathered builder. It was masterfully crafted and it’s current owner not only handled it with care but saw it’s tremendous value. Week after week, The Lady of the Box would open the lid revealing a symbol for the week’s lesson – a seashell for safety, a kite for possibility, headphones for connection, and so on.

Week nine of The Artist’s Way, our assignment was to bring a totem or symbol to class. I wasn’t sure about a totem, but a symbol worked for me. Symbols can be concise and powerful reminders when words are abundant. We were asked to bring a totem/symbol to class representing one of our dreams fulfilled. When I considered the dreams I have, I realized many are in the gestation stage. Growth is happening, but they are not necessarily ready for the world.

My symbol, as it turns out, ended up being a nest – the first item our leader took from the box. I went on Pinterest and saw a small nest pendant made from wire and beads. Instead of purchasing it, I decided to try my hand at jewelry making, a feeble attempt, I might add. Jewelry design is not in my wheelhouse of creativity. My bird’s nest would contain three small beads, each representing the dreams that are still growing inside of me. I threaded my bright blue dreams onto the 20 gauge wire, weaving, twisting, bending the silver to create their shelter.

This is what I wrote in my morning pages after I had finished my symbol.

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Dreams are fragile

Dreams take time

Dreams grow on the inside even when there’s nothing to see on the outside

Dreams must be birthed

Dreams must leave the nest so they can soar

I made a nest for myself and one for The Lady of the Box as a gesture to thank her for being part of the nurturing process. She handled my dreams and the dreams of the other Artist Wayers as carefully as she held that nest on the first night of class.

As it turns out, this group was a very safe place for dreams whether they were still being incubated or standing on the edge of the nest poised to soar.

The Artist’s Way: Monsterpiece or Masterpiece

MONSTERPIECE. This word struck me, hit something inside. Our homework, after all, was to cut out words from a magazine that jumped out at you, and this one did, like a bug on a windshield, unexpected, and not coming off without some effort. Not knowing what these words would be used for, I just went with it. Sometimes being unclear about the purpose is just what we need.

In class we were asked to take out our words and glue each one onto an index card. Then we were to randomly pull out one word at a time and each word or series of words would become lines of our poem. The words could be altered, making a verb into a noun, for example, but nothing else could be added. What beauty could come from words that together look more like a ransom note than a work of prose.

IMG_3753I grouped my words together, making the necessary adjustments…

Transparency

Butterfly glows

Courageous creativity

Scooping, volumizing, loosening

Forever doing

MONSTERPIECE

We were to repeat the process two more times, each time shuffling the words…

Creative volume

Scoopable

Do!!!

MONSTERPIECE?

Butterfly

Transparent courage loosened

Forever Glow

And again…

Volumized creativity forever

COURAGE!!!!

MONSTERPIECING

Do glow

Transparent butterflies loosened, scooped

That word, no matter where it was place or how it was adjusted, wouldn’t blend in. It stuck out. It just wouldn’t cooperate with the plan I had for this work of poetic art. It wasn’t until weeks later, when I went to my morning pages that the word MONSTERPIECE found its place in my world, in my understanding…

All morning, I had space to create, to make art, but the unbounded time intimidated me. If I have time to create, I better make something wonderful, something great – a MASTERPIECE. Every pencil stroke was made lightly, drawn, erased, redrawn. Instead of letting the ideas run free like a stallion roaming the hillside, I was muzzling their every move like you would an ox.

I turned to my morning pages in frustration, pouring out my heart about the tight grip perfectionism had on me and then, at that moment, I understood. I was sitting at my creative space wanting to create a masterpiece but my perfectionism, my expectation that this had to be flawless, was now turning it into a MONSTERPIECE. I was attached to an outcome here – IT HAD TO BE PERFECT.

What a ridiculous expectation! Julia Cameron so captures the heart of a perfectionist in chapter 7 of her book, The Artist’s Way, “For the perfectionist, there are no first drafts, rough sketches, warm-up exercises. Every draft is meant to be final, perfect, set in stone.”  She’s talking about me!

I was muzzling the gift, not allowing it to roam the vast creative spaces I had before me. Regardless of whether the product turned out to be a masterpiece or not, it was an opportunity to let it be the Master’s piece, not just mine. Together, God and I, could create, imagine, dream, explore.

Something quite amazing happened at that moment. I let go. I was filled with the Master’s peace. I was no longer attached to the outcome. What’s more, I understood why I was so drawn to that glossy word in the magazine.

If I could add to the poem I started with, I would add this…

Transparency

Butterfly glows

courageous creativity

scooping, volumizing, loosening

Forever doing

Not a Monsterpiece

But the Master’s piece

Ah, finally, the Master’s peace

The Artist’s Way: A Bran Bud in a Bowl of Froot Loops

What on earth am I doing here? In an effort to find out who I am, what I love, and how to express that, I have been on a quest of sorts. My role for 25 years was pretty clear – wife, mother, volunteer, worshiper, leader, caretaker, teacher, tutor, etc. But now, I am in that transitional place. Some call it empty nest and others, midlife, but regardless of the title you want to give it, I am determined to find out more about myself apart from the roles I have had most of my adult life.

And this led me to The Artist Way. At the close of the writing group I was a part of last year, I heard about an opportunity to join a group of people going through Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. This book came highly recommended by many of my creative friends, so I purchased it two years ago in hopes it held the key to unlock more creativity in my life. Well, nothing would be unlocked as long as the book sat on my shelf gathering dust, so the decision seemed obvious.

The evening of the first class finally arrived. I walked nervously into the house and seated myself with the people perched around a dining room table, eight quiet souls waiting for the class to begin. The leader, The Lady of the Box I will call her, graciously welcomed us all. She shared how Julia Cameron views an Artist’s Way group as a Tribe. So in keeping with that idea, she lit a candle welcoming the spirit of acceptance and creativity. I got to tell you, it felt weird. The people I hang with don’t light candles for the tribe. We light them to make our house smell good. I kept telling myself, This is fine. These people are fine. We are all fine.

Then we each went around the circle sharing our name, a little about ourselves, and one of the dreams we have regarding creativity. My secret dream – to be an illustrator and writer. One by one, each person shared their desires. I discovered I was in a room filled with writers, poets, visual artists, all hoping to be changed, inspired, and emboldened through this class. I felt my shoulders descend and the pace of my heart slow. This is good. These people are good. These people are artists, just like you.

The evening continued. I really wasn’t sure what to think of the whole thing. I was uncomfortable. I felt vulnerable. I felt out of place. And yet, I had a strange excitement that maybe being out of my ordinary was exactly what this artist needed.

When I arrived home, my oldest daughter asked me, “So, how did it go?”

My response, “I felt like a Bran Bud in a bowl full of Froot Loops.”

“Mom, maybe you’ll discover that you are more like a Froot Loop than you think.”

The funny thing is, when I said that out loud, I actually thought being a Bran Bud was a good thing. Now, looking back on this 13 week journey, I’m not so sure anymore.

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For the next couple of posts, I hope to share some snapshots I took along the way, The Artist’s Way to be exact. It was a trip I will never forget. After all, a transformation from a Bran Bud to a Froot Loop is worth sharing. I hope you’ll join me.

Hanging Onto Every Word

We didn’t plan it. Actually it started as solution I came up with to help my husband gain some strength in his voice. More and more he was speaking at conferences on Technology and Ethics and almost every time, his voice would strain near the end his presentation. Being the fixer I suggested reading aloud might help. I grabbed a book I had on my shelf, and the metamorphosis began. I call it this because what started as a potential remedy to a problem actually grew into a lovely weekend activity that my husband and I have enjoyed together ever since.

We sat at the table with freshly brewed coffee and a copy of Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning. Kevin began reading the foreward, “When our children were young I would sometimes rise early on a Saturday morning and fix them pancakes for breakfast. It was great fun – the broken eggs, the spilt milk, the batter and the chatter.” The words cascaded from his mouth, gently, fluidly, all in his beautiful South African accent. I so love that accent. When he would call me when we were dating, I felt my knees go weak when I heard his voice on the other end. He continued to read, page after page, until the words were interrupted by the clearing of his throat, a sign of strain. He eventually passed it to me to carry on for a bit, and I gladly accepted. Back and forth, we handed the book to one another, taking turns reading. I don’t know where the time went. Two hours passed like it was a quick 15. Such a lovely morning it was.

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Sunday we decided to do the same, except this time our coffee would be accompanied by scrambled eggs with sauteed peppers and onions, sliced avocado, and toasted English muffins topped with real butter and locally farmed honey. After breakfast, Kevin took the lead, and I listened, sipping my coffee, hanging onto his every word. Something he read evoked a memory from my childhood, so he paused as I shared an experience from my adolescence, a painful memory that I hadn’t thought about in years. He listened intently to the details.

Then I read a bit, and he stopped me to discuss an idea presented by the author he had never thought of before. And this is how it went for the next 2 hours, the back and forth, memories, discussions, laughter, tears.

In those 4 short hours we spent reading that weekend, we discovered things about one another we had never known. We discussed topics that weren’t part of our regular dialogue. We were walking into uncharted territory and loved it.

Many months have passed and several books have been consumed and enjoyed by us both. I cherish our time. I love the unhurried tempo of our weekend mornings. I love that after spending over half my life with this man, I am still learning new things about him and myself as well.

But what I love even more is that I am still being read to in this season of my life. I find I am enjoying it every bit as much as I did as a child, maybe even more. I hope I never get too old for this.

Moving into My Creative Space

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I feel like I am moving more into my life, into my art today , and as a symbolic step, I am temporarily making my daughter’s room into an art studio. As she has her year long adventure in South Africa, I will be having my creative adventure at her desk. I think participating in this 31 Day Challenge has played a big part in pushing me into making this move.

But I also think it has been the inspiration of all those people who have bravely moved into their creative spaces long before I ever thought of doing so. Here are a few of the artists in my life…

My little sister who combined her love of people with her excitement for cooking and started Soup Sunday, a weekly conversational meal with her neighbors.

The Cuban Martha Stewart who shares her love and expertise in creating beautiful spaces with her friends, helping them to have their own lovely spaces.

The Promoter who has a gift of helping advance others instead of herself, even helping our Decorating Diva get a spot on a HGTV show.

My Partner in Crime who sees the value in people and invests her time, talents, and energies into helping them to put  their dreams into motion, especially mine.

The Connector who sees people who need community and connection and makes sure to link them together.

The Potter who shares her gift of making others feel important and loved in countless ways, demonstrating this to all she knows.

My other Potter friend who has heard stories of my sweet Irish mom and came up with a line of pots called the Sally Series – she prays for my mom with every shamrock she paints.

The Mentor, whose out-of-the-box gift of teaching has transformed my understanding of myself, others, and God.

My Irish Twin who set up this blog site because she saw that I had something to say and who has patiently listened to me my whole life.

My Mom whose beautiful art was expressed through being a mother and who told her girls that dreams are essential, risks are worth taking, and gifts, by nature, were meant to be shared.

My oldest son and my daughter-in-love who use their gifts of singing, playing and writing with everything they have and still manage to support themselves financially.

My other son who discovered his love of learning and continues to learn, sharing his discoveries with us all.

My oldest daughter who has a special gift of being a friend and lavishly invests in those she loves and cares about, and who knows how to make someone she just meets feel like a friend too.

My youngest who is living bravely, using her the gifts and talents God has given her  in whatever part of the world she finds herself.

And My Love who shares his humor, his understanding and his love, making the world a better place, especially mine.

 

The list goes on and on. These people live creatively and are generous with their art, their life. I am grateful to the example they have been to me. They have moved in, and it has been beautiful to watch. If I could leave any parting words, it would be this. Your life is art and its expression  is unique because it comes from a one of a kind original, you. Be you! Be generous with who you are. It’s a beautiful thing to see a person being fully who they were created to be. Live the art you were made to create.

 

 

 

 

Hang the Pictures on the Wall

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God can use anything to speak to us – a conversation with a friend, a thought from book, a lyric of a song, an image from nature. I am open to hear Him in anyway He chooses to speak. Oddly enough, He often speaks to me through movies, and I like that.

I remember such a time when I was watching Mr. Holland’s Opus. It wasn’t a particular scene or line of dialogue but a series of images that spoke straight to my heart. Glenn and Iris Holland are a young couple full of dreams for their futures, his to write a musical opus and hers to be a photographer. The unexpected news of soon becoming parents seemingly puts their grand plans on the back burner. They buy a little house and fill it with the sparse furnishings a young struggling couple can afford. Over time, life happens – Iris is busy raising their teenage son and Glenn is still teaching high school music, a gig that lasts much longer than he had hoped. The camera pans their home. It is filled with family images Iris has taken through the years, mounted on walls and sitting framed on sides tables, and off to the side stands Glenn’s piano with musical notes scratched onto pages leaning against his piano. It was at that moment, I felt the Divine nudge.  Susan, hang the pictures of your life on the wall. Now is your life. Live it.

You see, as a teenager, I was literally afraid to hang pictures up in my room for fear that I would change my mind about the placement or make a mistake in the hanging process. I had one framed image which sat on my dresser resting  against the wall. This was a metaphor for my life, always being afraid of making a mistake, thinking there would be a better time or better way to live my life.  Even now, no pictures are in my childhood room, not even the leaning one.

I realized at that moment, I was postponing my life for fear that I would make a mistake. But my life was going on right in front of me and whether I liked it or not, it was happening. I had a choice to settle in and make it my home or always wait for the perfect moment. I had a choice to be present in my own life.

A line from a John Lennon song, Beautiful Boy, played a significant part in the movie – Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. He might as well have been singing about me. The process was slow, or perhaps it was my cooperation in the process that was slow, but I think I started hanging up the pictures of my life sometime after seeing this movie. I starting moving into my own story, but I the movement was glacial, I have to admit.

And now, almost twenty years later, I feel the challenge to move into my life creatively, not postponing it until I get better or have more time. I am creative, made in the image of my Dad, Father God, and together we make beautiful things, not perfect things, but beautiful ones.

Creativity is a present activity. We can wait to be present or we can be present now. Make your art and hang it up on the wall. Art could be happening in you but you’re too busy doing other things.

Generosity of HeArt

31 Days The Create Experience 2

I think one of the reasons I return to Asheville every year to be refreshed, encouraged and inspired is because of the generosity of the artists here. Many of the creatives have working studios with their doors wide open. If you peek in you will often hear, “Welcome. If you have any questions, please let me know.” These are not receptionists but actual artists who look up from what they are doing to make eye contact. That touches me.

Two artists have started to feel more like old friend instead of mere artists to me. They don’t remember me but I remember them. Every time I see them they stop what they are doing to have a conversation with me.  They talk about their craft and generously explain the medium they use. They light up as they speak about their work and the evolution of their artistic journey. They love what they do and that inspires me.

And when they discover I am an artist, they are even more generous. They discover this about me because my husband is my biggest fan wherever we go, especially in an art community. Anyway, this year I felt like they were speaking right to my heart. Their advice was a tremendous encouragement. Here are just a few thoughts they shared with me

  • Morning Pages are invaluable to the process
  • Trust your instincts and let go
  • Mixing mediums creates texture and interest
  • Do 10 of the same piece and in the journey you will start to see what works for you
  • 90% of success is showing up – Woody Allen
  • Keep creating and don’t give up
  • Don’t despise small beginnings
  • Do it because you love it
  • Don’t lose your soul by catering only to the buyer
  • Make a space to create

When I got into my car to leave, I felt full. I felt encouraged. I felt excited. My well was full again.

I want to be a generous artist. I want to encourage people to create, to be fully who they were created to be. I want to share how I do my craft liberally instead of holding it back afraid of being copied. I have to remember there are not enough artists in the world to express the wonder of what is around. None of us sees the world the same.  Let’s be artists. Let’s be generous.