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.

 

Inspired by Anne of Green Gables

anne-of-green-gablesI’m in the midst of creating a mixed media drawing for the local gallery’s summer show.  Their theme is the story Anne of Green Gables.

The entire gallery, upstairs and down, will be filled with mannequins and miniatures by artist and costumer Korene Kidd of Prince George, BC.  The walls will be hung with artwork by local artists.

I read Anne of Green Gables four times, probably more, as a child and teenager.  Anne was my kind of hero.  She had red hair which I longed for.  Funny, that I had the raven hair she wished was hers.  I grew my hair long just so I could have braids and pretend they were red.

Although I didn’t get into Anne’s kind of scrapes, I did have the same imagination, loud and busy.  Beauty would stop me in my tracks, literally, as it did her.  Cherry blossoms against a blue blue sky.  A thrush deep in its morning song.  The stream that moved through the dark of the trees beyond our house.  Wonder and joy.

I’ve been reading bits of Anne’s story as I make my drawing.  I’ve discovered something.

When I read Anne years ago, I focused on the actions and thoughts of the characters.

When I read Anne now, I am pulled in by the emotions expressed in the story and mine arising in response.

Anne lives her life wide open to the world.  Her heart feels joy and sorrow, love and pain in ferocious, instant, equal measure.

As a child I read the words but did not understand.  I was cautious with my heart.  I kept my feelings private.  There were emotions I didn’t know what to do with.  They were either too huge or too terrifying to set free.  Love.  Joy.  Anger.  Grief.

I am no longer that child.  My heart lies open to my life, as Anne’s does in her story.

I learned to be open.  I began with feeling love and joy, and now I also know what to do with anger and grief.  Emotions no longer mystify me.  Well, most of the time.

This, I am sure, is why I am reading Anne in a different way.  I am reading with an open heart.

It’s the same story, same words.  It is me that is different.

Anne was written with an open heart.  I get to feel that now with every word I read.  What perfect joy to have discovered this piece of Anne’s story that had previously passed me by.  A gift.

My Anne drawing is titled ‘What Gives Me Joy (Anne of Green Gables)’.  It holds a list of joy that begins with ‘blazing red hair’.

My drawing ends with what I’ve learned from Anne, what has nestled in my heart.

Notice beauty.  Notice joy.  Cradle anger and grief, for they too need to be loved.  Find people and places and things to love in your life.

Thank you Anne and Marilla and Matthew and all.  Thank you Lucy Maud Montgomery, for letting Anne into your imagination and out to the world.

_____________________

In this post

L. M. Montgomery, 1874 – 1942. Book Anne of Green Gables, Running Press, 1993.  ‘I wrote it for love…’ page 286.   http://www.lmmontgomery.ca/

The Station House Gallery, Williams Lake, BC.  https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/

 

 

The View From the Cheap Seats

cat-fink-creative-life-600ppi
Cat’s Instructions for a Creative Life

I am reading Neil Gaiman’s book The View From the Cheap Seats, a collection of his nonfiction writing.  Magazine pieces, book introductions, speeches, musings, more.  I am being inspired, delighted, learning, and made curious.

The making-me-curious bit is fun.  I have a Curiosity List going as I read this book.  Writers, books, comics, artists, articles, web stuff.  All new to me, and I have to check them out, now that Neil has made me curious.  I am nearly two-thirds of the way through his book, and my list is getting long.  This is a good thing.

One of the things I love about those of us working in the arts is how so many of us share what we are discovering, what is delighting us, what we are learning and doing.  Neil’s book is delighting me, not only because of his writing, but because of his sharing who and what inspires him.  Sharing one of the paths through his universe.

Thank you, Neil.

________________________

In this post, and other thoughts:

Neil Gaiman, book The View From the Cheap Seats, 2016, WM Morrow.  http://www.neilgaiman.com/

The image at the top of this post is what I have been creating the last two days.  It is going onto a postcard I’ll be handing out at my interactive art show ‘The Joy Diary’ in November.  (I was going to add the link here for the Station House Gallery in Williams Lake, BC, but according to Google just now, their site may be hacked.  Yes, the weird and wonderful world of the internet.)

Creating Stuff With Friends

kevintheminionandfriends
Making Stuff With Friends

The past two weeks I’ve been experiencing one of the things on my list for living a creative life—Find friends who love to create too, and inspire each other.

Drawing and writing give me great joy.  I mostly create alone, and this works for me.  I hear my heart, mind, and Source clearly.  There is peace in this, and an awareness that holds both energy and ease.

Lately I have been visiting with my artist and writer friends.  Meeting for lunch.  Going for walks.  Sharing what we are each creating.  Asking for and giving advice and points of view.  Laughing a lot.  Appreciating.  Being inspired.  Making notes of books to read and websites to view.  New resources to play with.

We talk about creativity and life.  For us, these are threads that wind round each other.  Impossible to separate.  I know I wouldn’t want to.

Thursday I sat across from a friend, at her round wooden table.  The table was high, and I am short.  I put an extra pillow on the seat of my chair.  We had pens and paper.  We wrote.

There was peace in this space, and the quiet act of creating in the presence of another.  My friend and I know intimately the feel of writing alone.  This day we chose to write together.  There was joy in this.  I feel it again as I tell you.

There is power, too, in creating with a friend.  Familiarity, love, and acceptance of the creative process.  Friendship, love, and acceptance of the person across the table.  This power is ease, and it let my words flow.  I looked up and saw my friend moving her pen across the paper, her words taking the shape of a new story.

Grace was given both of us in this time and place.  Grace, joy, friendship, and writing.  A perfect afternoon.

_______________________

In this post:

July 10th post, List For Living My Creative Life, https://catfinkknowtrustchoosecreate.com/2016/07/10/list-for-living-my-creative-life/

List for Living My Creative Life

Old Coyote Trick (standing out)pinkdetail2
Old Coyote Trick-standing out (detail)

Begin where I am.

Open my heart and feel all my feelings.  They tell me where I am and where I need to go.

Daydream.

Be a child and do what I love.  Imagine.  Play.  No rules, no expectations, no schedule.

Be curious.  Experiment.  Explore.

Ask questions.  Be okay with not knowing.  It gives me a big space in which to be.

Be okay with the new and different.  Be okay with change and transformation.  That’s what creativity is all about.

Let go of control.  Let go of judging.  Let go of using other’s truths, and find my own.

Be okay with not being perfect.

Use everything, including mistakes (they lead somewhere different).  Allow and accept.  Trust what shows up.

Be in my body.  Notice what my senses notice, right here, right now.

Move between creation and rest.  Do.  Be.  Do.  Be.

Laugh.  Enjoy.  Let happy happen.  Even better, choose happy.

Be with those I love who love me back.

Find friends who love to create too, and inspire each other.

Love my creativity.  Let creativity love me back.

Love my life.  Let life love me back.

Let my life be a playground, a petting zoo, a test kitchen.

What I am saying here in every line—Choose Love.

_______________________

In this post:

‘Do.  Be.  Do.  Be.  Do.’  This comes from Amit Goswami, in his book Quantum Creativity.  http://www.amitgoswami.org/

Taking Down My Fence (Believing Mirror Part 2)

Cat Fink--'Old Coyote Trick (sticks and stones)'
Old Coyote Trick (sticks and stones) — Cat Fink

I’ve been reading about vulnerability in Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly.  Her words have me feeling and remembering.

Growing up, no one told me that strength included vulnerability.  If they did, I didn’t hear them.  Maybe the people around me did not know this either.

Growing up, I was taught that being strong meant holding back my feelings from public view.  Show a calm, controlled front.  Always pretend everything is okay.  I became so good at this, even I didn’t know what I was feeling sometimes.

I kept pushing my feelings away.  I thought I was getting rid of them.  Truth is I was storing them behind a fence of ‘okay’.

This is not the way to live.  I knew it, but did not know how to be different.

Things changed when I was twenty-one.  I began the relationship with my future husband.  He saw my heart behind the fence, and he loved it, and he wouldn’t let go.

Something in me knew it was time to build a gate.  A skinny gate at first, but enough to let me say out loud for the first time in my life, to someone, I love you.

I was terrified saying it.  This was laying myself open, a direct path to hurt me and reject what I offered.  Despite all of the loving actions and words Lyle had given me, I did not trust I was truly worthy of love.  I didn’t much love myself, so how could someone else love me?

I could not say ‘I love you’ to Lyle as a statement.  I said it like a question needing the right answer.

He said it.  He said I love you.  He answered.  To me.

Love made the gate in my fence.  Love and the courage to love.  I don’t know where the courage came from, and the ability to hear the voice that whispered inside me, ‘do this’.

I knew this was a choice, to stay with fear or to step forward to love.  I knew Lyle saw me differently than I saw myself.  He saw a world that did not require fear, and he saw me in this world braver than I saw myself.  Maybe this is how my courage appeared.  His vision sparked my belief, and my belief sparked courage to arise, be seen, and claim out loud my ability to love.

Lyle showed up for me when I needed someone to help open a way through the fence I had built around myself.

Lyle told me how he felt and what he saw in me.  But louder than the words were his actions.  He treated me as a person of great value, who had gifts to be seen and shared.

He believed in me.

This is what we do for each other.  We see the best in the person standing before us, even and especially when they can’t see it themselves.  We believe in them.  We say ‘let’s do this together’.

We all have the gift and possibility of being a Believing Mirror for the person standing before us.  We just have to choose to see that in ourselves, and be vulnerable enough to offer it to someone else.

‘I believe in you.’  Words as precious and important and life-changing as ‘I love you’.

Lyle and I have been together thirty-seven years.  We have a son to be proud of.  My fence?  It shows up sometimes as a ghost of itself.  Old habits, old patterns of thinking and reacting, reminding me where I was, and showing me where I am now.  I pat it kindly, and thank it for keeping me safe at a time when I thought I needed protection.  Then I walk around it.

Lyle, I love you.  Happy Father’s Day.

_______________________

In this post:

Brene Brown, book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Avery, 2012.  http://brenebrown.com/

https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en

‘Believing Mirror’, page 47 in It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, Julia Cameron, TarcherPerigree, 2016.  http://juliacameronlive.com/

 

Believing Mirror

'7 Crows, A Secret Never To Be Told' detail--Cat Fink
7 Crows, A Secret Never to be Told (detail) — Cat Fink

Thursday I had my last session with my coach.  Yes, I am a creativity coach-artist-writer-blogger who has a coach.  I should say, had a coach.

For this past year we have been talking, every two weeks.  Sometimes emailing in between the talking.

I’ll tell you how I feel right now.  Sad.  I am going to miss our biweekly conversations.  I am also elated, excited, pleased with myself.  I keep hearing ‘I did it!’ popping into my thoughts.  I am grounded and balanced within myself and my life.  I feel like I just graduated from a Master’s Degree program.  I feel like I just ran a whole marathon.

So what did I do that has me celebrating?

Last April I got very honest with myself.  I looked at my nineteen years as a professional artist.  Looked at my writing and my blogging.  At my book with the half-completed second draft.  At the creativity workshops and coaching I was doing.

I loved all I was doing and creating, loved the connections and community I was building.  But I had no focus.  It all felt very random, with no clear path ahead.  My usual way of working was feeling chaotic rather than organic.

This is where I am, I said to myself.  Where do I want to go?  How do these pieces of my creativity fit together?

I am the kid who always says ‘I can do it myself’, and does.  Not this time.  I need help, I said to myself, and Source heard my request.

Enter Linda.

Linda is a Master Coach.  Yes, the capital letters are deliberate and appropriate.  She coaches CEO’s and entrepreneurs.

Linda listened to me with her heart and her head.

I have a bad attitude around business, I said.  Business and art don’t belong in the same sentence.

We can do this, she said.

Over twelve months we shifted me, my life, and my creativity into focus.  We talked about the nuts and bolts of what I was doing, the energy and feel of what I was creating.  About where I was and where I wanted to be.  We used our heads and our hearts.  Feeling and knowing what was right for me, and what was not.

Two (of the thousand) things I learned from Linda:

Feel and think.  My heart carries my dreams and inspiration and path.  My head carries the organizing and details, the process, the nuts and bolts of building.  When I connect all of this, the whole of me, I see clearly the next step in front of me.  I feel the energy of the people I am connecting with, and what they are asking for.  I see how this matches my inspiration, the workshops and coaching, the words and drawings I will create in response.

Use everything.  Instead of pushing away what I don’t like, I get curious about it.  What does this feel like?  What is it telling me?  Why is it showing up?  How can I use it?  I am fascinated at how there is always a way to turn something around and let it inspire me.

Linda has been my Believing Mirror.  She met me exactly where I was, and saw the future me as I wanted to be.  Step by step she walked with me into that place.  Transformation.

What is best?  I am now my own Believing Mirror.  I see where I am, and I see where I am going to be.  That vision of where I will be pulls me forward.  It creates the space for me to walk into, and the steps to get there.

Thank you, Linda, Master Coach, Believing Mirror.

_______________________

In this post:

‘Believing Mirror’, page 47 in It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, Julia Cameron, TarcherPerigree, 2016, http://juliacameronlive.com/

Linda Caducoy,  Executive Coach,  https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindacaducoy

Today Is A Writing Day

chantel.fixed.large
I dreamed the wind and danced its edges. (Chantel)

This gives me joy—today is a writing day.

Five words.  A declaration and an intention.  A pen with dark pink ink and a stack of loose leaf paper.  An open heart and a hungry mind.  This is all it takes to give me joy.

I can write anywhere.  My joy is portable.  How cool is that?  It is easily called and easily, instantly created.

I could make this difficult, make my writing feel like work.  Be all serious and ‘this has to be good, this has to be perfect, this has to be outstanding, a twenty out of ten on the Writing Scale.’  Putting my focus on the product, the outcome, how my writing will be received.

Ick.  No.  That is the job of my internal critic, who is sleeping right now.  There is no need to call her.  She is grouchy when woken up.  Truth, she is grouchy all the time.  No.  I don’t need her here, being bossy.

I am putting my focus on creating.  Being in action.  This is play.  Writing my blog post is play.  Jumping into words like they are the biggest ball room at the playground, and I get to wiggle into the middle of all these words and find the ones I love best today.  Try this one or this one.  String together these ones.  Nope, not this one.  Choose the one over here instead.

Joy.  This is joy.  Imagining.  Being curious.  Experimenting and finally choosing which words I want.

This is how I played as a child.  No expectation.  Just diving into the ball room of my imagination and letting myself go wherever I wanted, for as long as I wanted.

Pablo Picasso said every child is an artist.

He is right.

I am a child today.  I am playing with words and pen and paper and my imagination.  I am in joy.

Today is a writing day.  There is nothing better.

________________________

Mentioned in this post:

Pablo Picasso, artist, 1881 – 1973,  http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/pablo_picasso.html