My Writing Super Powers

1.'Containers for the Soul'--Cat Fink
‘Containers For The Soul’

I joined lovely, crazy, inspiring Nanowrimo last week. (See the end of this post if you don’t know what that is.)

On day two I discovered I have super powers. Two of them. Talk about excellent timing, when two super powers show up on the second day of a write-a-50,000-words-novel-in-thirty-days challenge.

These are not your usual super hero powers, like flying or invisibility or endless strength. No. My two super powers are common to regular human beings like me.

My first super power? ‘Don’t tell me I can’t do this.’

I’ve had this awesome super power since I was one year old. I know that ‘don’t tell me I can’t do this’ is a disguise for focus, clarity, and strong determination.

Most people I know have this super power. The thing is, they do not recognize it for what it is. They call it by other names, mostly not polite and mostly negative. Stubborn. Not listening. Argumentative. Bitchy. Throwing a tantrum. Crazy. Acting like a child.

I’ve heard those not-nice names thrown at my super power. Here is something else I know. I see a path to a goal. You are not seeing the same path. Your path is different than mine. That’s all. So do not tell me this thing, whatever it may be, is not possible. I know where I am going.

Then there is my second excellent super power—‘failure is not an option.’

Once my first super power has kicked in, my second moves into action.

Like the first, my second super power has other names. Success-oriented. Finding a way through. Using all possibilities. Never a quitter.

Of course, some people may look at me and say blind fool, stupid, willfully ignorant, wasting her time, can’t see the obvious, ignoring the sure outcome.

Again, they are not seeing what I see. That is okay. If we all saw the exact same thing and the exact same path, there would not be this rich world of possibilities around us.

Words have power. How I choose to name something is important. Names point me in a particular direction and a specific way of thinking about that something. And that points me to a specific way of using that something.

Now I am curious. What other super powers within me do I not recognize? What other powers am I calling by the wrong name, and wasting their possibilities?

________________________

In this post:

Nanowrimo is National Novel Writing Month.  Find the details at https://nanowrimo.org/  This year is my fifth time at Nanowrimo. The first time, my super powers did not kick in. I quit halfway through the second week at barely 7,000 words, feeling horribly overwhelmed. Every time since then, my powers have kicked in and I’ve completed my 50,000 words by the end of November. Yay me!

 

Ranting About Should’s

Angels In A Small Crowd detail top
‘Angels In A Small Crowd’ detail

I’m doing my morning pages. I write ‘Thursday, blog day.’ Immediately I hear my mind comment, I feel tired. Then my body chimes in, yes, tired.

Uh huh. I’ve heard this before. I do not believe it. It’s a scam to stop me from writing.

I keep writing.

I write about Dr. Amit Goswami and his mantra. Do. Be. Do. Be.

And then I put together the I-feel-tired with the do-be-do-be, and I get it.

I am tired of Doing. I am tired of Should’s.

There are more than enough Should’s in my life. Something in me is trying to make my writing a Should. That’s a really bad idea.

Should’s are have-to’s. I should eat vegetables and not candy. I should exercise daily. I should cook dinner and wash the dishes. I should be kind and share what I have.

There is something in me that rebels at Should, that feels pushed into doing something and right away pushes back. Even when I know the Should helps me, makes my life easier, offers a kindness to another, lets me feel better, I sometimes have this instinct to shove back and say no, not doing it. My inner two-year-old in action.

Except, sometimes the urge to rebel is telling me to pay attention. The Should doesn’t fit my life, I need to choose differently. The Should doesn’t belong to me, it’s someone else’s expectation or need.

Today, I realize, I am pushing at all the Should’s in my life.

‘All’ is a big clue.

I’ve been doing a lot of doing. Too much. Time to stop doing.

It’s time to be.

Being means slowing down. Breathing deep and letting my shoulders drop to relaxation level. Feeling the chair underneath me. Feeling my feet resting on the wood floor. Hearing the clock humming, and the clicking of my solar-powered Japanese Lucky Cat as she waves her white plastic paw at me. Feeling the noon sun on my chest, my arms, my hands.

Breathing deep again.

I am here, present in my life at this moment. Open hearted. Words falling through to the page. Imagining. Creating.

Yes, here it is. My ultimate way to be. Daydreaming. Imagining. Curious. Following ideas like Alice after the white rabbit. Writing. Drawing. Creating.

This is play, pleasure, joy and love and sheer delight. This is me.

Doctor Goswami got it right. When I move my life between doing and being, I have balance. I feel settled. There is no push back at the Should’s because I spend equal time in the midst of being. The joy and play of being carries me through the Should’s of my day.

It’s Thursday, blog day. This gives me joy. And I already know the joy will continue to hum in the background of doing dinner, dishes, a grocery list for tomorrow’s shopping. Nothing in me is rebelling or pushing. I am too busy being.

________________________________

In the post:

This is one of the ways I use Doctor Goswami’s do-be-do-be-do. You can read his discussion of alternating action and relaxed incubation on page 97 of his book Quantum Creativity, Hay House, 2014.

 

 

The Idea I Am Looking For

Cat Fink 'What Gives Me Joy Nov 17 2016 (maps)'
What Gives Me Joy Nov 17 2016 (maps)

Last night I have a brilliant idea for today’s post.

It is the middle of the night when the idea shows up. I am cozy and warm in bed. I do not get up and write it down. (You know where this is going, right?)

This morning I look but—poof—the idea is nowhere to be found.

This is why I keep lists, a sketchbook, two cork boards, and pads of sticky notes. Life is a busy place and ideas show up any time. If I catch and write them down, I have them for later use. If I don’t, they vanish.

I have this theory the vanished ideas move on to another, more immediately receptive, creative heart.

Ideas want to share. They are, of course, looking for a home and a partner who will love them and help them grow into something interesting and maybe even beautiful.

When I write an idea down, take notes, sketch a picture or plan, the idea knows it has come to the right place. There is connection, curiosity, the energy of anticipation. There is a spark that, given time and attention, becomes full passionate creation.

I have loads of ideas in my sketchbook. More than that, I have entries about other creators’ books, songs, movies, and artwork. Quotes that interest me. Questions I am wondering about. All of which have me curious. Something in each is the seed of other ideas, a jumping-off place to something new.

Sketchbooks are the pathway of my creative heart. Turn the pages of my sketchbooks, and you see the pattern of my days. Here is my cabinet of curiosities, collected over years of drawing and writing.

I used to worry about ideas disappearing, my heart forgetting even though I’d made my notes.

No worries any more. I have discovered the ideas I’ve recorded, then left behind, show up again. Expressed differently perhaps, or linked to another idea. No matter. Here they are again, ready to play.

I am always delighted to see them. We greet each other as old friends. We have things to share, experiences and wisdom that did not exist in our connection the first time we met. I trust life, that now is the right time to move these ideas into creation. Now we are old enough to begin.

Last night’s brilliant idea will show up again. I know it. Sooner or later, there it will be. If not in my creative heart, then in the heart of another. There’s always lots of ideas to go around, and lots of hearts to share them. And that gives me joy.

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In this post:

I tried keeping a note pad and pen by the bed, to catch the middle-of-the-night inspirations. No use. Results of writing in the pitch black are illegible. And my husband protests a lamp turned on at two in the morning.

Any Excuse To Write

1.'Laid to Rest 80,000...Spirits (east)'--Cat Fink
Laid To Rest 80,000 Obstructing Spirits (east)

It is near 3:30 pm and I am finally writing my blog post.

The word ‘finally’ tells the story. My determination to write is hiding.

There are days when I back away from writing, and this is one of them. I could blame a so-so night’s sleep and the leading edge of a cold for weakening my determination.

These are only invented excuses, looking for something to blame.  I know this because this morning, instead of writing, I spend several hours doing other things, and not once do these excuses show up to stop me.

Eventually, I exhaust the list of ‘other things’. I go eat lunch. I read. I look at the kitchen clock a few times. I feel this creeping sense of disappointment that I have not spent the past hours writing, that I have not opened the way into something I love.

I feel a need to analyze why I did not write this morning as planned, but I know that kind of exercise should be filed under excuses to not write.  That’s not where I want to be right now.

Love invites me to invent any excuse for writing. Here’s one. Create a list titled ‘any excuse to write’.

My list starts with three words–I love writing. I love playing with words. I love taking an idea or a question, turning it around and upside down and inside out, feeling what it feels like, then turning feeling into words.

I love reading. I love being inspired by other writers’ words. I love finding words in reply to the inspiration they’ve offered me. I love being inspired by writers who never stop writing because they know writing is as necessary as breathing.

I have as many excuses to write as there are words in the dictionary. I have as many excuses as there are new words being invented and thrown into language just to see what happens.

I have a million million excuses to write. My excuse for writing today is to squash that creeping disappointment that I did not write.

Yes. Works for me.

The First Time I Started Art School

'Coyote's Apples'
Coyote’s Apples

Picture me.

Here I am. Just barely eighteen. It’s Wednesday in the first week of September. I am walking into my first university art class. A first year Bachelor of Fine Arts student. Totally scared, and determined not to show it.

I know two things. I know I want to be an Artist. I know when I draw, time and the world go away. There is pencil, paper, my hand moving, marks on the paper, breath moving in and out of my body, and nothing else.

What I know is not enough to carry me. At the end of the year I transfer to Business Administration.

Here is what I did not know the first time I started Art School.

No one names me. I name myself. I claim Artist for me.

My professors don’t know everything.  But if I am lucky, they are generous and share their experience in creating art.

I am not an empty vessel waiting to be filled. I have knowledge, experience, passion, inspiration, belief, heart, hands, and head.

I know what feels right to me, and what is right for me.

There are as many creative processes and paths as there are creators. What is right and true for me may not be right and true for another.

I create from my heart, from passion and love rather than fear (although fear is information I can use).

My feelings are information and sign posts. Use them.

Use everything, whatever shows up. My entire life is inspiration for creation, if I choose to see it that way.

I have choice. Everything is a choice. Not choosing is a choice. Stuck is a choice. Accepting, or not, anyone’s view of my art is a choice.

Picture me.

Here I am. Thirty-eight years old. It’s Wednesday in the first week of September. I am walking into Art School for the second time. Nervous, and it doesn’t matter who sees it. I know who I am. I know what I don’t know, and what I do know. I know what I need and want. I am Artist. Let the learning begin.

_________________________________

In this post:

What I believe: The list of what I needed to know and didn’t, touches everyone, whether we are Artists or not. The learning never stops. The wanting to know never stops. And we are all Creators.

 

Calling On Dorothy Alice Anne

Cat Fink 'What Gives Me Joy (Anne)'.small
‘What Gives Me Joy (Anne)’

I remember.

It is late afternoon, Saturday, the end of September. I am twelve years old. Starting Grade Seven.

I’m halfway across our property, deep in the woods, being Robin Hood.

Mom is calling us for supper. “Cathy Carrie Paul!” One long name, as though my sister, brother, and I are a single child.

Half the years of my growing up, I answer to Cathy Carrie Paul. Who I really, secretly, am (besides occasionally Robin Hood) is Dorothy Alice Anne. Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz. Alice of Wonderland and the Looking Glass. Anne of Green Gables. My heroes.

Dorothy Alice Anne have adventures. Things happen, not necessarily what they want. They do not sit around and wait to be rescued. Dorothy Alice Anne get up, find allies, create friends and solutions. If the first solution does not work, they figure out a second, or third, or fourth, and get where they need to get.

In the ongoing saga of writing my first book, I am channeling Dorothy Alice Anne and their get-allies-and-get-it-done attitude.

I am not sitting around waiting to be saved. I am off my butt (again, again, and again), and doing the work (again).

I have my allies and friends, artists and writers and readers like me. We are meeting weekly. We started yesterday. Each of us has a project, a big one, big enough to be both amazing and scary. Big enough to need allies.

We have done this before. We have walked each other through getting stories written and published, and solo art exhibits proposed, created, and shown. We are doing this again, starting now.

I am playing with the fourth solution to the structure of my book, and this one feels like a keeper. My allies, both fiction and real, helped me get here to something workable.

Yay, Team!

Here is the thank you, my friends and allies in creating, for opening your hearts and minds to my creation. For opening your courage to share your creations with me.

And thank you, Lucy Maud, Lewis, and Frank, for imaging Anne, Alice, and Dorothy. For sharing your words with kids like me and my friends. For inspiring us to create our own adventures, find solutions, and save ourselves.

_________________________

In this post:

Heroes, allies, and friends are everywhere. Here is where I first found Dorothy, Alice, and Anne.

Dorothy – The Wizard of Oz, the 1939 movie by Metro Goldwin Mayer, based on L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz which I finally read last year.

Alice – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865, and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, 1871, both books by Lewis Carroll aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. The editions I read were a boxed set published in 1946 by Random House.

Anne – Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The edition I repeatedly borrowed from the library was published in 1967 by Ryerson Press.

Words From My Silly Putty Heart

Drawing For AnnaThere is a pastel drawing on the wall in my Dad’s room at the seniors’ home. Three tall yellow roses standing amid coloured stones, and a backdrop of words repeated over and over. A mantra. ‘I need a shatterproof heart.’

The yellow roses are my Nana, my Mom, and me. The title is ‘Drawing For Anna’. The drawing is fifteen years old.

I wake this morning, thinking exactly that mantra.

I convince myself to write morning pages. What comes in my pages—I need a heart made of silly putty. Bendable, squishable, stretchable. Break silly putty apart and it always smooshes back together again.

Yes, I say in my pages. I need a silly putty heart.

It is late afternoon now, as I write this blog post, and I decide I already have a silly putty heart. All this summer, my heart has been squashed and broken into every shape of every emotion between joy and grief. And every time, somehow, my heart moves back into the shape of love.

A silly putty heart in love shape, I decide, is two hands cupped together, large enough to hold with care all that shows up.

Right now my silly putty cupped heart is holding a lot.

There are today’s naked feelings around my parents’ aging and illness. There is the wanting of a good life and graceful leaving for them, and the feeling this is not terribly possible despite the best we do.

There is the knowledge of being parent to my parents, making difficult decisions, not something I expected.

There is the desperate need of doing something, anything, creative. My heart knows drawing and writing hold me together.

And in this moment, in my silly putty heart, here is the mid-September sun warm on my bare feet, the breeze that smells of the ocean, the rocking of the porch swing as I sit and move my pen across the papers in my lap.

My heart offers me words that soothe and settle the naked, painful feelings. Offers me this moment of beauty. Sun and breeze and the porch swing.  The loud cricket choir that begins singing in just this moment.

I wonder, in my morning pages, what to call this mess of feelings that touch all places between joy and grief.

I have my answer.

It’s called life.

Full Frontal Creativity

notetomyself.enteringhope
Note To Myself: Entering Hope

I’m sitting outside on our new porch swing. One foot anchored on the ground, because as I write, the swing moves.

This swing is perfectly balanced, moves gently and easily. It is a joy.

It is a joy to sit here and write. There is a breeze pushing through the maple trees and the grove of cedars that I love. The shade these trees provide is essential here in August. I can tell this day will have heat. Best to sit here now while the side of the house is shady.

I’ve had a phrase running through my mind lately. Full frontal creativity.

It makes me laugh every time I think of it.

I’ve been deciding what it means.

‘Naked creating’ is what I keep hearing when I think on it.

I don’t mean physically naked, although you could do that too. It’s warm enough right now.

I mean naked emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Not hiding from what shows up in my life. Not hiding or skipping over what shows up in my writing and drawing. Letting it all fall into the work. Being brave. Being true and honest to who I am, where I am in life, and what I create. Holding courage.

That feels like a tall order.

It is.

Full frontal creativity is about balance. My creativity is exactly like the porch swing. Everything in life affects the balance of my creating. Pushing and pulling me, gently and not so gently.

If I keep at least one foot on the ground, I temper the effect life has on me, and on my writing and drawing. I keep my balance. I keep creating through the push and pull and contrast of experiences and emotions.

Keeping one foot, or both, on the ground means letting myself be naked and present to what is happening. When I do this, my heart is open. I am connected to life. My best creating shows up when I am present, open, and connected.

This is not always easy. I have to work at it, keep reminding myself. Catch myself when I try to hide from how I feel, or try to hide from or push away what is happening. Hiding from pain or fear or grief.

I have to remind myself. Hiding doesn’t push things away or stop them from happening. When I try to hide, I end up holding onto the thing I am afraid of rather than letting it move through me and away. I hold inside me the pain, the fear, the grief.

I am trying to not feel, but emotions and experiences are are meant to be sensed and felt. When I hold these things from moving through, they turn into anger. I hurt myself. I hurt others around me. I hurt my creativity and stop up my heart. I throw myself off balance.

These past few weeks, when I realize I am in anger, it is easy to know why. I am hiding from the grief I feel over the wildfires at my northern home, the illness of both my parents, the loss of our beloved family cat. Too much pain all at once. No wonder I am trying to hide, but hiding only stops things up and increases the hurt. I know this. I feel this.

So here I am, sitting in the shade on our new porch swing. Practicing full frontal creativity. Feeling both pain and joy. Writing with a naked, open heart. Keeping one foot on the ground. Keeping my balance while life flows through me.