The authentic creative journey does not always turn out the way we think it should but it always takes us where we need to go. What our practical personality self wants may not always be what our creative soul needs for its deepest development. The Creative Muse may guide us in ways that we do not expect.
Connecting With Your Creative Vision
Upon deepest reflection we will always find a personally particular creative vision that we are invited to live into. We each have inklings that pressure us from the inside that can be lived, breathed and created into this world that are not always related to our practical daily duties. We each have an inner code that wants to unfold and create something in this world, whether it be the love of our family, doing a job with ingenuity, a passionate hobby, a service, or creating something new. Micheal Meade speaks of our purpose in life as being our "Opus" meaning our life's work.
The challenge in living into our deepest soul urging (destiny) is the seeming incongruity of our daily, practical life (fate). Meade writes, "If a person doesn't face their fate, they may never find their deep resources and natural gifts. If a person doesn't risk their destiny, they'll never know who they are intended to be. Fate and destiny are the two agreements the soul must make and are the core issues we struggle with throughout our lives."
Facing our fate involves understanding and growing through the practical limitations and challenges within the family and society we were raised in. Our creative life work is part of our destiny, and it may be simple or grand. Our destiny is what we want to learn the most about, and it reflects the best self we were intended to be. Our Life Opus is what we feel intensely curious about, what we most want to study in life, and what we are passionate about becoming good at. Our destiny is what Creation wants to create though our individuality, which may involve taking action in our life that the people around us do not support or understand.
Our creative visions provide us something to live into and look forward to each day as we attend to our practical requirements. Life shows us clues as to what our passions are, and although our creative visions may not always lead to fame and fortune, and may not be the main source of our income, our soulful visions imbue us with a life force and a vitality that keeps us engaged and passionate in our daily human life. Our creative visions help us to overcome our shortcomings and struggles. Our visions underpin our practical life with daily inspiration. Our higher inklings offer us a window into the Divine that is behind the veil of our ordinary life.
A Creative Vision Takes Time
It almost goes without saying that our lifework takes a lifetime. Living into our Life Opus takes a great deal patience and often involves many slow, faltering steps, especially if there is no outer mirror reflecting back our most sacred qualities. We can spend the free pockets of time in of our life creating what wants to be created even if it is not always practical. Living into our unique creativity provides a daily window into the extraordinary qualities of our soul.
Living into our Opus guides us to develop into what we are meant to become despite our outer circumstances. In the process of living into our creative visions, we must chisel away all of our conditioned resistance and emotional heaviness to bring our opus forward into life to heal ourselves, and to encourage others to live in a more meaningful way that is beyond the practical requirements of daily life.
"What is right for one soul may not be right for another. It may mean having to stand on your own and do something strange in the eyes of others."
~ Eileen Caddy
It is helpful to look back on your life for little clues as to what sparked the particular curiosities of your life. Most often our inner inklings are quite humble and we make the mistake of not giving the subtle clues the proper attention. Our outer consensus life can easily drown out the mystical. It is easy to look around and see no outer match for what we feel uniquely inside.
For myself, from a young age I felt a need to understand art and creativity. The first clue that I loved creativity came when I was three years old, and an artist named Steve came to rent the room in my grandmother's basement while he was in art school. He baby-sat me, called me Shella Bella, and drew quick, poignant sketches of my great-grandfather when he came upstairs for tea.
When I was five years old I decided to be an artist and to produce drawings in volumes. I then began selling my drawings for ten cents around my neighborhood. Early I wanted to live inside the process of creativity. It inspired me even though I had little context about what it might mean to be an artist. Wanting to learn about creativity was my opus. I did not come here as a ready-made artist. But without societal or familial context I had to grow into the idea that I was creative.
As I grew up I understood that I needed to be creative in some way but I did not get a great deal of attention for my early artistic efforts. I did not have typical artistic talent. I did not get accolades my elementary school teachers that spoke to my having any sort of easy talent in the arts. I became besotted with my grade two teacher Mrs. Hall who saw that I was creative. She recognized something deeper in me and gave me extra creative challenges in class. I was so grateful to Mrs. Hall for recognizing me, without her knowing, I stayed after school and cleaned all of her cupboards in my little girl haphazard way. I became a devoted student, writing and illustrating far more extra stories than was required for my grade two curriculum!
I remember as a child of eight years old struggling to draw realistically. I was dogged and curious. My only fumbling indication of my creative opus was the vague understanding that creative people knew how to draw. So I put myself on a rigorous drawing program. I remember drawing my grandmother's porcelain figurines - struggling to get the proportions right. I was terribly bored. My paper was worn thin from erasing and correcting but I kept at it for hours.
My realistic drawings never really flowed with much expression or ease. They always looked stiff and forced. With no outside examples or mentorship other than my early contact with Steve the artist in my grandmother's basement, drawing was the only step towards creatively I knew how to take.
It was not until I became pregnant with my daughter and became a mom in my thirties that I found a way of drawing that worked for me. When I was going through a difficult time in my life, I finally found a way to allow my emotional life to connect to my intuition. I conceded that I did not enjoy drawing realistically. I just wanted to express my truth through drawing. My intuitive drawings expressed what I felt on the inside. They started out as simple doodles, and they became more expressive with time and practice.
In my forties, I began facilitating an art therapy program for the elderly at an affluent care home. I learned how to draw from life in an expressive way from an elderly client named Tru. Tru was wealthy, a world class sculptor. She never had to work a day in her life. She drew like Van Gough and imbued each of her drawings with passionate vitality. When she was finished she would forget what she had just done and say, "I drew that?" I was deeply inspired by her ease and freedom.
Destiny and Making a Living
Our personal destiny does not always translate into "what the market will bear." Sometimes what we are called to create does not have an accepted context in the world just yet. Our purpose may simply be to call attention to what most passionately interests us and bring it more succinctly to the world's attention.
Starting small and simply is often the way to bring something truthful to life. There is always a way to include something fulfilling around the edges of our practical life. When I first started teaching expressive art, I taught at a dining room table in a group home for clients with acquired brain injuries for only a few hours a week. It was not the fanciest job but I was inspired to see how my creative ideas could tangibly connect to real life and not just live within my visionary thoughts, my studio contemplations, and my personal journals.
Many women write me to ask for my opinion as to whether it is practically viable or financially secure to embark on a career in art therapy. I am not an art therapist in my formal training. I chose to become registered as a counsellor because it felt more practical to me - as in Canada there are very few ready-made jobs for art therapists. But I always encourage, if the urge to be an art therapist is coming from inside of the heart, to start moving towards it a little bit every day. I think it is possible to take care of practical survival needs in other ways, and to gradually live into an art therapy practice that will build over time.
My personal experience is that creativity and art for healing is not commonly understood, or widely embraced by our mainstream culture yet. This does not mean that we should not begin bringing art therapy into the world. There is always some place in the world that needs vision, healing, and creative contribution. As creators we awaken and enliven a weary world with color, music, connection, love and faith in something more than just surviving, paying the bills and marching through each day with a sense of practical duty.
In the past few years I have had the chance to meet many people who are living into their creative visions - into their own creative aliveness and curiosity - even while working full-time at a practical job. Being creatively alive focuses our extra time and efforts in meaningful ways. Even if we are at the baby stage of growing into a creative vision and are not making money at it, there can be a continuous building process of connecting and living into something fresh and intriguing that is needed to wake up the world.
There is spiritual support for the poignant harmony that longs to be created on the inside and that begs to be translated on the outside. When I meet people taking action on their creative visions it fills me with inspiration to see such aliveness in innovation that stands apart from what we normally see in our conventional culture. Daring to implement a creative vision in the practical world brings change, encouragement and Spirit into everyday life.
I have brought my creative visions into the world, not by grand gestures, but by taking small intuitive steps each day. Sometimes the insights that I get are just plain and ordinary, but I do take each practical step everyday towards my creative vision.
Sometimes I simply get the direction to spend some time living into a new idea and it may look like I am doing nothing on the outside. This might involve sitting or walking in silence and listening for what wants to come through, or gathering materials or doing research.
Often I will mentally and very excitedly set a creative schedule for myself and sometimes the creative muse will have a different idea. Sometimes if I try to push forward too hard the Muse will let me know that I need to stop take a nap, meditate or have some fun. After I do, I feel more connected to something larger, and the creative work pours through with much more vibrancy and strength.
The creative soul reveals itself when it is relaxed. We have to find places in our life to allow our soul relax so that creative ideas can imbue our daily living. Getting to know what our soul feels like when it is creatively inspired is a state we can learn to court and invite to become more fully embodied in our lives.
We can spend years learning about ourselves psychologically, and understanding every aspect of our personality. But our psychological thought structure is not the whole of ourselves. Birthing something new into life is a co-creative process between our soulful self and our personal, practical life. The experience of soul creativity involves a readying and a feathering of our practical daily nest so that creative insight can come through.
Creative Links to Explore: