Saturday, 4 July 2009

Week 1 ~ What We Ache For

"This book is about learning to focus your intent and engage your will in order to create while simultaneously learning to let go, to surrender the process to something largers so that it can carry you deeper into yourself, your creative work, and the world"

I spent much of this week in contemplation,
and these words rang particularly true.
When I started my art journal,
on one day I would find myself creating effortlessly,
producing something I found not only cathartic,
but also something (usually surprisingly) aesthetically pleasing.

Yet on others,
I all but failed at trying to convey the expressions in my minds eye.
Seemingly creating nothing but a mess,
I have had to consciously remind myself to bring focus back to the process,
to surrender to it and,
rescuing it from the mantle of failure,
putting it into a box marked:
"new learning experiences"
after all,
isn't that how we grow?

I have also spent a lot of time thinking about how my sprituality, sexuality and creativity is currently served.
It's generated big questions,
illuminated obvious gaps,
and exposed layers I never even knew existed...
And this is only the introduction! :)

When I journal I feel free...
When I journal I see through my spirits eye...
When I journal I discover who I am...
I ache for belonging...

What about you?


  1. "When we cultivate and refuse to separate those essential expressions of a human soul - our spirituality, sexuality, and creativity - we fee the fire of our being, we find that place where the soul and the sensuous meet, we unfold. Welling to do our creative work and refusing to separate it from our sexuality or our spirituality, we add a life-sustaining breath to the world."

    To me sexuality and spirituality are very separate things.. and creativity doesn't mix well with either of them. Spirituality and creativity together in my work produces something cloying and plastic while sexuality and creativity produces something creepy. The few things I have written that involved sexuality made me feel awful. Awful enough to cause me to erase all evidence that I had ever written them, but they still hang around my brain hauntingly. Within the first few paragraphs Oriah Mountain Dreamer has backed me into a corner and I feel defeated. How can I possibly "cultivate and refuse to separate those essential expressions of a human soul" when I have spent my whole life compartmentalizing those elements? Her further explanations of her understanding of spirituality and sexuality did little to reassure me. While my analytical brain is reading her words there is an anxious voice whispering that I can't do this, I should stop reading now and just accept that this isn't the book for me. Then I find that little voice on the page in front of me...

    "Creative work saves us from the smaller self, the self that looks at the world with a tight-lipped, narrow-eyed determination, the self that turns away from softness and life-sustaining idleness, from the silence and stillness where stories and music and images, where necessary wisdom and unearned blessings, find us."

    ... and I realize that I am fighting the ideas before me in order to protect that smaller self, the self that decided long ago that I would not give in to emotions that threatened to overrun me. The smaller self that hid behind a large armor constructed of logic and practicality, and a sword sharpened with duty. The armor keeps me safe from the dark but also keeps the light out. I do not grow, or create, or feel when I am hiding in my armor.

    I write about trivialities, day to day events, and safe subjects, but when something major happens in my life, like my husband's car accident last fall, I find myself unable to write more than a sketchy outline of the details. My mind rebels at the attempt to surrender to the emotions and allow fear, grief, or even joy... to create with passion. In the rare case that I write something risky and real I generally end up burying it within days, if not hours, of writing it.

    I don't know where this is going. I have an overwhelming urge to delete it all. I can't even post it on my own blog.. so I will leave it here and hope it helps the conversation.

    I ache for... passion

  2. Gina, I feel very much the same as you. At times, reading this chapter made me want to run a mile from doing any work, not because I disagreed with it, but because the idea of pouring myself into my writing that entirely is terrifying. I also find it very hard to write about any subject not completely safe. On occasion I can begin, but then I freeze. I'll tell myself that I just need to continue it at another point when I'm more into the subject, that gives me permission to run away.. and never look back.

    I've been aware of this for a while now, and I've been trying to deal with it. I bought a notebook recently with the intention of using it to fill with everything that I refuse to write. If that makes sense. Every time I think about writing something and then freeze and say, "Oh... no. I can't write about that." Then I have to write about it, at least to some extent, in there.. A safe place for me to ease into writing about unsafe things.

    I liked this chapter, once I got over the idea of having to write unsafely. I fell encouraged to write, and to write from the heart rather than the head.

    I ache for... the courage to write without seeking permission and validation from the people around me.

  3. Evie, Your notebook idea is a good one. In some ways that is what my blog was meant to be.. because I have trouble writing about what is actually happening to me at the time it is happening I decided to blog about it. The public aspect keeps me writing but it also makes me very nervous.

  4. gina, wow.
    powerful comment,
    and thank you SO much for sharing it.
    like evie, i can relate to much of what you've written.
    for me, oriah's reference to sexuality did not sit well.
    in fact much of the time i internally changed the reference to 'sensual' as opposed to 'sexual' which seemed to work for me... that aside however,
    as i touched upon in my post,
    it made me explore the immediate reluctance and hesitance i seemed to have.
    like you gina and evie, i realised it was challenging my comfort zone.
    what i 'knew' and trusted.
    what was safe
    (even if i thought i was being daring,
    it was in the realm of safely daring ;)
    i don't have the answers, and i still feel like i am searching in the dark;
    but i am slowly stepping forward...
    i don't know where it will lead,
    or if i will even like the journey or destination...
    i guess i just know i need to move forward...
    this is where i find the art journal helping.
    it is making me embrace the imperfections as part of the process.
    maybe then i can start seeing myself in the same way...
    thanks for much for opening this up and sharing your thoughts and ideas, guys.
    so happy to be sharing this with you :)

  5. I wasn't sure about this book at first but then as I got to reading it, I thought, this is good stuff...when Oriah talks about how one must approach creative work each and every time with with a "beginner's mind." this is something that I constantly need reminding of. It is natural for a person to assume that the more they do something the better they get. It's logical and not egotistical, but not with creative don't get better at writing, painting, singing, etc. You don't get better at the doing part, but get better the let doing part. Which in Taoism is called "surrendering to the way." Some call it trusting the process. Lots of actors call it getting out of your own way. Ohso calls it "doing nothing." When you stand a side, and allow the creativity to flow through you-not by you. There needs to be complete surrendering and trust. You have to be willing to accept whatever unknown-good, bad or ugly that comes your way. That's not always so easy and very scary.

    I remember the Greek myth about narcissistic about how he fell in love with the image with himself. I think creativity is an incredibly narcissistic activity- a necessary one I might add but nevertheless, narcissistic. Creativity is also reflection of us. So if we don't accept our creative work then I think it's a clue that there are parts of ourselves that we won't accept whether it be physical, emotional, etc. Creativity is often the best mirror of ourselves. Whatever issues we have in our personal life we take it to our writing, painting, etc. So if we are perfectionist with our selves, friends, relationship; you can bet we are that way with our creative work. Calling it crap and pathetic. But isn't really our work that we're calling crap and pathetic or are we really calling ourselves crap and pathetic?

    Ya, Oriah hit it right on, don't expect to get good at it because you been working on that novel, painting, etc. for 5 years. What you do get good at is standing aside, allowing the character to tell the story without your help, allowing the painting brush to paint almost without you. When it happens-I am told anyway-it is the most freeing experience a person can feel. Like a bird flying in the sky....what I want the most is not to write a best selling novel or write well but to accept whatever it is that I write, regardless. To be able to see the good, bad and ugly in what I do AND be okay with it. No shame, no embarrassment. This is my wish.