My Personal Creative Vision
Five years ago I wrote a twelve week e-course that detailed my personal creative journey through expressive art journaling. This course has been recently revised and republished on the Daily Om website.
I deeply love this course. It is my personal story of finding my creative vision. What astounded me about revisiting this course is the realization of how a deeper truth runs under all of our lives. We just have to learn how to see it.
The authentic creative journey does not always turn out the way we think we want it to, but it always takes us where we need to go. What our personality self wants, may not always be what our creative soul needs for it's finest development and growth. My story is about allowing the Creative Muse to guide me in ways that I did not expect.
Connecting With Your Creative Vision
We all have a higher creative vision to live into. We all have inklings that pressure us from the inside, to be lived, and breathed, and created into this world. We all have an inner code that wants to unfold and create something in this world. Micheal Meade speaks of our purpose in life as being our "Opus" or our life work.
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 limitations and challenges within the family and cultures we were raised in. Our life's creative work is part of our destiny. It is what we want to learn the most about, and is indeed who we were intended to be. Our Life Opus or Life Purpose is what we feel intensely curious about, what we most want to study in life, and what we are passionate about being good at. Our Life Purpose is what Creator wants to create though us.
Life shows us clues as to what our passions are, and although our creative visions may not always lead to fame and fortune, or may not even be the main source of income, our visions imbue us with a life force and a vitality that keeps us engaged and passionate on a daily basis. Our creative visions provide us something to live into each day, as we attend to the practical requirements of our daily life. Our creative inspirations help us to overcome our shortcomings and struggles. Our visions offer us a window into the Divine.
A Creative Vision Takes Time
Living into our Life Opus takes a great deal patience, and involves many slow, faltering steps. Our life work takes a lifetime. In living into our life work we become what we are meant to become. We create what wants to be created through us. In the process of living into our creative visions, we must chisel away all of our conditioned resistance, and human heaviness to bring our Opus forward into life to heal ourselves, and to help others.
It is helpful to look back on your life for little clues as to what sparked your curiosity. For myself, from a young age I felt a need to understand art and creativity. My first clue came when I was 4 years old, and an artist came to rent the room in my grandmother's basement while he was in art school. He called me Shella Bella, and he drew quick, poignant sketches of my great grandfather when he came upstairs for tea.
After I met the artist in my grandmother's basement, I started to produce drawings in volumes, and I began selling my drawings for 10 cents around my neighborhood. I wanted to live into the process of creativity. I wanted to understand creativity from the inside out. You could say that wanting to learn about creativity was my Opus. I did not come here as a ready made artist. 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 encouragement or attention for my early artistic efforts. I did not get accolades from most of my elementary school teachers, that spoke to my having any sort of easy talent in the arts. But I was besotted with my grade two teacher who saw that I was creative. She recognized something deeper in me, and gave me extra creative challenges in class. With her, I became a devoted student, writing and illustrating far more, extra stories than was required for the curriculum.
I remember as a child of 8 years old struggling to draw realistically. I was not considered "talented" as an artist but I was dogged and curious. My only fumbling, grasping idea of my Inner Opus was the vague understanding that creative people understood how to draw. So I put myself on a rigorous drawing program. I remember drawing my grandmother's porcelain figurines, and struggling to get the proportions right. My paper was worn thin from erasing, but I kept at it for hours.
My realistic drawings never really flowed with expression or ease. They always looked a bit stiff and forced, but something inside of me wanted to understand creativity. And with no outside examples other than my early contact with the artist in my grandmother's basement, drawing was the only step I knew how to take.
It was not until I became pregnant with my daughter that I found a way of drawing that worked for me. I found a way to allow my connection to a Larger Creative Force to come through me. I finally understood that I did not like to draw realistically. I just wanted to express my truth through drawing. And so I began my intuitive way of drawing. My intuitive drawings expressed what I felt on the inside. They started out as simple doodles, and they became more sophisticated and expressive with time and practice. (See above left)
Later on when I took over an art therapy program to facilitate art for the elderly, I learned how to draw from life in an expressive way, from an elderly client. She was a world class sculptor who was wealthy, and never had to work a day in her life. She drew like Van Gough and she imbued each of her drawings with vitality, and then when she was done, she would say, "I drew that?" I was deeply inspired by her.
Making a Living as Art Therapist
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. But I say if the urge to be an art therapist is coming from the inside of you, start moving towards it a little bit every day. I think it is possible to take care of your practical needs, and live into an art therapy practice, slowly over time.
My personal experience is that art for healing is not commonly understood, or widely embraced by our mainstream culture yet. This does not mean that we should not begin living into our creative visions. When I started teaching expressive art, I worked on a dining room table, in a group home for clients with brain injuries. It was not the fanciest digs, but I was surprisingly inspired to see how my creative ideas could connect to real life, and not just live in my head and in my journals. There is always some place in the world that needs our vision, our voice, and our 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, and into their own creative aliveness and curiosity. Being creatively alive is always a good way to focus your time and efforts. Even if you are still growing into your vision, and are not yet making good full-time money doing it, you are building, connecting, living into, and embodying your vision in the world. You are in harmony with what wants to be created inside and outside of you. When I meet people living into their creativity, it fills me with inspiration to see such aliveness, such engagement in life, and such vision being implemented into the practical world. For it is the visionaries and the people willing to live into their creativity, that bring change, connection, and the Divine to the culture.
The truth is that everyone is creative in some way, and the world needs to see more people expressing themselves in health care, in government, and in private business and non-profit organizations. Creativity warms, inspires, draws forth, ignites, and unites. Working in health care, I have had care and housekeeping staff coming up to me from all walks of life to tell me they are creative, that they knit, paint, sew, weave, draw at home in their spare time. When they come to my art table, they are intrigued that there is more to life. To brings something from your rich inner world into practical life brings joy. It heartens and encourages the world. Your creativity is needed in the workaday life that most people exist in.
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 ordinary, but I do take some steps each and everyday towards my creative vision, even if it is just adding a sentence to my website, or making a small change in an article I am writing.
Sometimes I just get the direction to spend some time living into a new idea, whether it be sitting in silence, and listening for what wants to come through, or gathering materials or doing research. Often I will mentally set a creative schedule for myself, and my Muse will have a different idea. My Muse will know that I need to take a nap, meditate or walk in the woods. 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 let our soul relax, so that our creative ideas can imbue our daily living. Getting to know what our soul feels like when it is creatively inspired, is a feeling state we can learn to court, and invite it to become more fully embodied in our lives.
We can spend years learning about ourselves psychologically, and understanding every aspect of our ego system. But this psychological thought structure is not the whole of ourselves. Birthing something creatively through our souls is a co-creative process between the Creative Muse and our personal lives. My experience of soul creativity is sort of like a readying, or a feathering of my nest so that creative insight can come through.
How do you invite the Muse or the Creative Spirit into your life? How do you tend to your creativity? Do you invite your creativity to express Itself on a daily basis. What name would your give to your Larger Creative Spirit? Recently one of the radiant, creative elders that I work with in the art studio called me his "Art Mother."
I loved the name "Art Mother" profoundly, and was grateful for his naming of my Opus in the world. It seemed especially poignant as my 17 year old daughter ventures out into the world to find out who she is. As I contemplate this change from a one-on-one mother, to the larger nurturing of an Art Mother in the world, I feel profoundly moved to the core of myself. I am reminded of how I have become the essence of my grade two teacher who saw where and how I was creative. I am touched at how she nurtured my deeper creativity, and how I now offer this same heartfelt service to others.
What part of the Larger Process of your creativity needs to be birthed and expressed in the world? What would you call your place in the Whole of Life?
I leave with you with this fantastic talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love. She talks eloquently about the Creative Muse/Genius as being larger than what we are in our small human selves, and how if we let it come through, we, along with the world is transformed. You can watch it here.