Posts Tagged art

Breathing Deeply…

 © 2013 Carolyn Moore

© 2013 Carolyn Moore

It’s obvious I’m a Northerner. I crave the sun. The shutters are wide open, inviting the uplifting light to warm the house as well as my soul. My mind envisions sunbathing and my body longs to go running. I don’t want to miss a second of gorgeous daylight. It’s about 20 degrees too cold for the casual walker to be out. For me, anything above thirty at this point in winter is welcome respite. I’m a Jersey girl at heart though, through and through, enduring the winters, loving the spring-summer-fall transitions, needing the city-country connection. Florida humidity just isn’t my cup of tea. Yet.

I’m so happy to experience this much sun and warmth in March! I don’t mind that bursting outdoors will have to wait till I am fully spent creatively. My butt is firmly planted. Mornings are my creative time but I do have to discipline myself daily not to succumb to distraction. I struggle with maintaining a steady output of words because I love research, brainstorming, reading, and encouraging others. I could spend all day just discovering and posting encouraging quotes and articles from others to stir up my friends.

But that wouldn’t serve the words I want to share and after a several decades of life, I do realize what I have to share matters and is worth something. We all do. Our stories are important; evidence that as humans we have so much more in common than we ever could imagine. Each unique personality paints a compelling masterpiece illustrating that we are not alone in our fears, our successes and failures, and our tragedies and triumphs. People connect through story. They heal; they grow bolder; they reach out to others who need stirring up.

All we have to do is show up. Be vulnerable. Try transparency. Risk everything. Serve your calling to create. Look past the possibilities of embarrassment, failure, ridicule. Sure, all that will probably happen occasionally, but those experiences serve the greater purpose – for growth and to serve others. If you’re not committed to a set creative time each day, make a decision to do it without self-imposing restrictions that hinder – just do it (oh, so Nike, but so true!) Creativity is not about being perfect – make a leap!

What stops you from a daily creative practice? Stir up others and share!

For a little extra inspiration, try a dose of Eric Maisel, creativity expert and author of Creative Recovery. An excellent online course at en*theos Academy – Your Best Life in the Arts course, also by Maisel.

Create joyfully today!

– Carol

© 2013 Carolyn Moore

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Riding the Wave of Uncertainty

It dismays me every time I see that I’ve let so much time pass since my last post. No, it doesn’t bother me to admit that because just like everyone else, my forehead is emblazoned with the words “work in progress.” Here’s what has been on my mind (and plate) lately. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the idea of uncertainty and creativity for dual reasons – I’m giving my first seminar on creativity at the end of the month and I’ve been rereading Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields.

I do a lot of encouraging or coaching (as is might be termed by some) and I’ve noticed that handling uncertainty is an ability that a lot of artists do not possess. When faced with doubts or fears, I’ve seen artists push themselves forward to success, or self-sabotage, or choose a path that will ensure them the least amount of pain during the process of creation. In recovery, I’ve learned that this is training we should have had as children – to deal with the uncertainty of outcomes in a healthy manner. Not that I’m suggesting that all artists or writers are recovering from some ‘ism,’ but that’s always a healthy avenue to investigate if you find yourself constantly short-changing your creative process to stop the pain.

What’s this pain; this uncertainty about? Fields asserts (and I agree) that the double nature of uncertainty is the fear of what the outcome will be and how the outcome will be perceived (judged.) Like most artists, I realize the fear signals the foothold of what could be a fantastic idea – an idea worth exploring or an opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up because the experience will be invaluable. It’s what we choose to do as the pain creeps into our psyche that will determine the depth of the creative process.

Fields details an experiment where subjects were asked to choose a ball from one of two urns. Urn #1 is filled with 100 balls – 50 black and 50 white. Urn #2 also contains 100 balls but the percentage of which is black or white is unknown. The subjects had to bet $100 on a color of their choice. Then they had to choose which urn to pick from. Can you guess which most people chose? Even though neither configuration had a mathematical or logical advantage, the majority of the subjects choose the first urn.

Because pain is uncomfortable and our fight or flight instinct usually prompts us to flight, most people will choose the path of ‘constraint.’ They stop exploring, close off options and create rules, look for systems and processes to justify their choices because of their aversion to the unknown and to being judged. At that point the adapting, testing, and experimenting and evolving is over. Continuing in the uncertainty, on the other hand, can lead to heightened creativity and a level of creative options that would otherwise not have been seen.

Sounds logical, right? But as I constantly ask my therapist – what do I do with all these feelings? (now that I’m not stuffing them, eating them, and denying them.) He says – just feel them. As crappy as uncertainty, fear, and anxiety feels – feel them and keep on creating. It’s okay not to know or be able to predict exactly how things will turn out. It’s very uncomfortable at first but it’s a worthwhile pursuit because what we live out in our creative processes, we also live out in our personal lives. What benefits one will benefit the other. Push through, work through the pain, and be amazed at what you produce.

How have you dealt with uncertainty in your life and your creative process lately?

©2012 Carolyn Moore

Food for thought: Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields
& Deciding to Push by Carolyn Moore.

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Day Two

I’m going for consistency here so I’m at the keyboard once again though I’m not sure what it is I’m going to share. Today was not as stellar a writing day as Monday was, but I’m starting to get a little more perspective on the reality of what procrastination is all about. I have always believed that procrastination is fear.  Along that vein, I have identified some fears I let prevent me from writing, but this hasn’t been an entirely successful strategy. Awareness of what stops you from doing something you love does not automatically set you on the track to pursuing your passion wholeheartedly.

Among the dozen or so books that I am in the process of reading is Heather Sellers’ Page after Page – Discovering the Confidence & Passion You Need to Start Writing and Keep Writing (No Matter What!) She points out the common resistance we have to beginning anything new.  Instead of focusing on the reality that we will spend much time alone just writing and writing, we resist the very thing we want to do by deciding that the whole experience is ‘not what we expected it to be’ or by saying ‘this was not what I wanted.’

Pen, paper, and desire is all you need to write. Not the right space or time or materials. Just sit down and do it and don’t stop. Realize that you are going to be alone – a lot. This is a tough spot for me. I like people. I am drawn to people. I’m not incredibly outgoing, but I enjoy people even if it’s simply via Facebook, Twitter, or email. I crave connection. Ironically, I feel the same way about my words. I want to be with them, to know them intimately, create ideas and place with them and that’s difficult to do with the distraction of people.

Sellers suggests that the writer’s life should be filled with other writers (I’ve only gotten involved in a writing group about a year ago), multitudes of books (got that one covered!), discussions of books (working on that one), and an obsessive desire to carve out a portion of time each day to release the words we have locked inside us. This, of course is the hardest part – making time to write. I’m a very deadline-driven person, but also an excellent procrastinator who has always believed that I do my best work right before it is due. Granted I can produce writing quickly, but I’m old enough now to know that writing needs time to be created, simmered, and revised to be worthwhile.

Acknowledging that your writing is valuable enough to make time for is the first issue particularly if writing is not your main profession. How can I say that I didn’t have a chance to grade homework, do laundry, or make dinner if my priority is supposed to be home schooling and taking care of the house? Raising the status of your art above ‘hobby’ level is as much about self-esteem as it is about respecting your work itself.

So now, whether I’m writing a press release or a chapter of my latest manuscript, I try to give my creativity the time it deserves instead of shoving the task into my schedule when I can grab a few minutes.  My writing matters now regardless of whether I’m making a living at it yet. If you can’t reach this point as a writer when it’s a part-time thing, how will your art be important as a full-time venture? I’m thinking I would still be surviving on that last-minute attack-the-project mode letting the busy-ness of life give false meaning to my day rather than filling my day with my passion.

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