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Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category

journal at wayne

“To heal is to make whole: to unify what was separate, broken in pieces.  For many women, the journal offers one place in their lives where, literally and symbolically, all the pieces of themselves finally come together and they can be whole.” 

Marlene A. Schiwy, “A Voice of Her Own”

Last night someone wrote to me about a post I’d written at my former blog,  Psychotherapy, Creativity, Spirituality and Healing .  I’d forgotten about that blog and my  late night visit brought back so many sweet memories, forgotten or neglected wisdom, and old heartaches now viewed with a different, generally clearer lens.  Spending time among words that I’d shared so long ago reminded me once again of how important writing can be for providing continuity and perspective, and has prompted me to begin adding many of those old posts to this blog (to join pieces of my past with my present).  It also renewed my commitment to make time start to start writing here again.  I’m hoping too that I can encourage you to do your own writing, and so I plan on sharing writing prompts with you from time to time.  I imagine that you’re busier than you might want to be already and will very likely struggle to find time to sit and reflect, or to indulge your creative side, but I hope that you do.  I know that it will be worth it even if you’re not convinced yet.

“Hello old friend.  Sure is nice to see you once again… “

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view from my bedroom window by Kristen Fowles
Please forgive me for not writing in some time, this has been a period of deep reflection, soul searching, and exploration for me.

In his book, “The House of Belonging,” Poet David Whyte wrote the following:

“Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.”

I have been daring the dark and as I’ve travelled further into the deep, into and beyond the confinement of my own aloneness, the dark has truly served me. And out of its depths I have emerged stronger, wiser, and more alive than ever before.

And I am here right now to lovingly and gently reassure that when you find yourself in darkness, don’t be afraid . The dark promises a new beginning — allow it to nurture and to stretch you. Say “yes” to it’s invitation for you to grow beyond the safety of your current boundaries. Say “yes” as you step courageously over the threshold.

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As a therapist who walks beside others who struggle with depression, and as a woman who has endured its devastating blows myself,  I’m all too aware of what overcoming it demands of us.  We are required to hold on even as our grasp weakens,  overwhelmed by dread and hopelessness.  The pull of life  insists that we get up and face the day when all we really want to do is cover up our heads and refuse to come out.  And we are called during our long dark nights to recognize that those voices (all too often the loudest and the most convincing) that repeatedly remind us of all the ways that we have been wounded and taunts us with our failures, disappointments, and of the vast array of dangers that surround us, can not and  must  not be trusted.  And when almost every fiber of our being seems to be shutting down, we are challenged to acknowledge that the gaping wound inside of us is also an opening – one that is capable of ushering in as much possibility as it does pain.

Dancer and wisdom keeper, Gabrielle Roth,  who died from lung cancer this past October, just one month before my mother lost her own battle with lung cancer, wrote that in many shamanic cultures when someone sought a medicine person because he or she was disheartened or depressed, it was common for the sufferer  to be asked one of the following four questions:

“When did you stop dancing?

When did you stop singing?

When did you stop being enchanted by stories?

When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?”

As I sat yesterday in the gloaming, mellowed by the sweet territory of silence, I asked myself those questions.  And as I waited for answers, memories of my mother floated in and out of my consciousness.   As a child she  created entire universes within the magic and mystery of her own imagination, enchanted her husband as a young woman by belting out country songs about cheating hearts and lovin eyes, and captivated her eldest daughter with tales of  an abused and abandoned little girl and her faithful dog, buddy.   My mother taught me so much with her stories, and it was both the bitter and the sweet of her own life that offered up multiple lessons regarding how to live, what’s important, what needs to be let go of,  and what’s essential to remember.

And at this moment I am remembering one of my favorite stories of my mother as a child.  She was five years old and it was her first  day of kindergarten.  My grandmother was helping her get ready for school and she was both excited and terribly anxious.  As her mother combed her fine brown hair, she peppered her with the following questions.

“Can I come home if I miss you too much?” she asked.

“No.  You need to stay until the school day is over,” her mom replied.

“Can you come and visit me?” she bargained.

“No.  School is for children, not for mothers,” answered her mother.

“Can I sing in school?” my 5 year old mother asked hopefully.

“No Brenda.  You have to be quiet and listen to your teacher.”

“Can I play?”  she asked tremulously.

“Only at recess.  You go to school to learn,” my grandmother explained.

“Well, can I dance?”

“No Brenda.  You have to sit in your seat,”  her mother responded firmly.

“Well,” the tiny child sighed,  holding her skinny little arms over her head as she started to twirl round and around, “then, I’d better dance now.”

And I see her in my minds eye still, almost fifty years from the time that  I first heard this story, and feel my soul reaching out to the child that I came to cherish almost as dearly as I loved the mother that she would grow up to be,  and I am smiling and I am weeping now as I imagine her yet again, swirling around the kitchen, pig tails flying, dancing.

Both Gabrielle Roth and Brenda Byram are with us no longer but their legacy lives on – dance.  Dance even as your heart breaks, dance even as your body bends from the terrible gravity of grief, dance even though your stomach aches and your heart trembles.  Dance.  Dance while you can….

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“Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual”
Arthur Koestler

Dan Montgomery, author of “How to Survive Practically Anything” draws often on his clients’ creativity to help facilitate their journeys of self discovery. One technique he uses for this purpose is called, “the art box.”

If you’d like to try this technique, first, select a box of any size or shape that can serve to represent your whole self (body/mind/spirit/soul.) Next, collect any pictures, lyrics, poems, photos, drawings, objects, etc. that symbolize the various aspects of your life. Decorate the outside of the box with objects that represents those parts of yourself that the whole world sees. Place in the interior of the box those symbols and objects that represent your inner life.

Just as we’re always in process, the boxes as well are never truly completed as the expectation is that you’ll periodically modify your box to reflect change and growth. The potential for self discovery and catharsis when we engage in these kinds of creative activities is really quite remarkable. Go ahead and try it. Open yourself up to the wise spirit of your own creativity.

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I believe in morning rituals although I fail all too often these days to engage in them. Still, I can’t stress enough how important they are, how effective they can be in getting me ready to greet my day feeling steadied and grounded, readied (at least for the moment) to really see the beauty before me and committed to greet those I meet with an open heart.

I’ve found both poetry and music to be particularly helpful when initiating one of my first deliberate and conscious acts of the day. I thought I’d share one with you that was written by the late poet, John O’ Donahue entitled, “For the Artist at the Start of the Day.”

“May morning be astir with the harvest of night;
Your mind quickening to the eros of a new question,
Your eyes seduced by some unintended glimpse
That cut right through the surface to a source.

May this be a morning of innocent beginning,
When the gift within you slips clear
Of the sticky web of the personal
With its hurt and its hauntings,
And fixed fortress corners,

A Morning when you become a pure vessel
For what wants to ascend from silence,

May your imagination know
The grace of perfect danger,

To reach beyond imitation,
And the wheel of repetition,

Deep into the call of all
The unfinished and unsolved

Until the veil of the unknown yields
And something original begins
To stir toward your senses
And grow stronger in your heart

In order to come to birth
In a clean line of form,
That claims from time
A rhythm not yet heard,
That calls space to
A different shape.

May it be its own force field
And dwell uniquely
Between the heart and the light

To surprise the hungry eye
By how deftly it fits
About its secret loss.”

~ John O’Donohue ~

O’Donohue reminds me here that every life is a work of art and that att some level we are reborn again and again with each brand new ordinary/extraordinary day….

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I’m a major fan of Yes! Magazine , of Margaret Mead, and of the power of music to both inspire and instruct. Whle purusing Yes!’s archives, I came across a wonderful music video by Kathryn Mostow inspired by Mead’s famous quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I invite you to watch the video, and allow yourself to fully absorb the beauty and the hope…

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Everything is Holy Now…

http://www.youtube.com/v/CaGnQc5Vmhs&hl=en&fs=1&

“There is no greater joy than the feeling of oneself creator. The triumph of life is expressed by creation.”

Henri Bergson

Theologian and author Matthew Fox describes lifestyle as an art form and urges us to create life styles of “spiritual substance.” Fox also observes in his book Creativity that:

“Creativity, when all is said and done, may be the best thing our species has going for it. It is also the most dangerous… When we consider creativity, we are considering the most elemental and innermost and deeply spiritual aspects of our beings. The great thirteenth century mystic Meister Eckhart asks: ‘what is it that remains?’ And his answer is, ‘That which is inborn in me remains. That which we give birth to from our depths is that which lives on after us. That which is inborn in us constitutes our most intimate moments – intimate with self, intimate with God the Creative Spirit, and intimate with others. To speak of creativity is to speak of profound intimacy. It is also to speak of our connecting to the Divine in us and of our bringing the Divine back to the community.”

When I reflect upon the life styles that I’ve unconsciously adopted in my past, I’m struck by the opportunities for joy, growth, peace, beauty and so many other sacred gifts that I have squandered. Michael Brownfield defined life as, “that which creates.” Thus, according to Brownfield, if you’re alive, then you’re most definitely a creator. From my perspective, it makes enormous sense that we each take responsibility for that which we’re creating.

And so, I’ve decided to see myself as an artist now, one who’s in charge of creating as much beauty and meaning as possible on the canvass that’s before me. I want to be sure to add learning, beauty, compassion, love, sunshine, fresh air, and other gifts to the holy canvass of each and every day. We were created, and now, we are creators. What will you choose to compose from the vast array of materials before you? How will you manifest the Divine that dwells within you?

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