Happily Creative: 5 Steps to Freeing the Artist Within

Of course, it’s not really 5 steps, hop over a gap beneath which rage gnashing monsters intent on keeping you from creating, and then home free forever, never to have to take that leap again.
It’s more like, I’ve figured out how to put into words the nebulous and personal process we call creativity, put numbers in front of the biggest points, and if you find them useful you have to actually do them again and again, until it becomes a rhythm that your life pulses to. So, a dance. A spiral dance.
But it is a blueprint, and it is a start. And starting is where lots and lots of people get hung up. Either they’re standing at the precipice looking down at the the raging, gnashing monsters and decide to simply set up camp there, or they make the leap and set up camp there, just on the other side, thinking they’ve begun, but actually they are perpectually beginning.
You see, there’s a whole road beyond. You know this, of course. And that’s what scares you. It scares me too. That’s why I focus on beginning, on foundational skills that, once mastered, take you down the road while holding your creativity, sensitive creature that it is, where it should be: away from all that.
Now, you as a person, you need to go down that road. You need to create, share, experience, communicate, ponder, digest, create some more and share some more.
The system I’ve developed does both. It keeps your creativity new and fresh and safe, while deepening it, so that your daily practice becomes an intelligent field of energy through which you connect with a deeper wisdom, via the well-worn pathway of your own creative channels, guided from a deeper more delighted place.
My system also carries you, the person, deeper into becoming the person you were meant to be, deepening you and broadening your experience, now guided by a heart and soul that you have access to. 
Wait, what happened to self-doubt, criticism, being good enough? What happened to sales and marketing, making a living, getting training and all that other stuff that absolutely cements us to the place where we are currently setting up camp and calling it living?
The short answer is, not yet. We don’t have to know any of that in order to begin. But there are some things that help put all that into proper perspective, so that we can begin. And that’s what I would like to share with you in this webinar. Whether you want to write a book, get back to painting, or take your creative dreams out into the world, this webinar is an excellent place to start.
I’ve made it truly affordable, and I would love to see you there. If you click the little widget below, you’ll get to the Eventbrite page, and there you can register. Meanwhile, feel free to contact me with any questions: phyllis@phylliscapanna.com. Text/phone me: (207) 558-5830.

Inspiration Mindset Part 2. Tuning the Receiver: New, Vivid Experiences

new vivid experiences

I often write a few lines of poetry at bedtime.  My mind is less able to maintain its strict linear-ness and all of life seems just a bit dreamier, as if part of me is already making that long descent into sleep.

But eventually my well of impressions starts to dry out if all I’ve been doing during my days is the same old routines, day after day. Even days on end of creating can begin to feel dull in their sameness.

So, yes, write poetry; also, give yourself new vivid experiences. Here’s an excerpt from Love Yourself Forward, which is coming out in my lifetime, as soon as it stops morphing, thank you, on the subject of “I have nothing to write about.”

Write Poetry

It’s not as hard you might think. Write snippets, descriptions, incomplete sentences, incomplete thoughts, tones, and observations. Write feelings, drop hints. Describe, luxuriate in, and adore your subject. Eavesdrop. Chop up the lines any way that pleases you.

Write a poem about your day today. Write it just for you. Make yourself happy with your poem.

Your first objection: But nothing happened today! It’s boring. What did I do? 

I’ll give you that. And I have two answers: One, write it anyway.

And two, give yourself some new, vivid experiences.

Here’s a story of how I did that, from about 2 winters ago.

Last night at 10:30 my partner happened to see a Facebook message from a friend, saying she was out of kerosene for her heater. My partner began pacing. This means she is thinking of doing something. She knew there was a gas station open all night that sells kerosene.

“But it means going all the way out to her place, picking up her containers, driving all the way over to get the kerosene, then back out to her place.”

“I’ll go with you!” I said.

“Really?”

Yes. I needed to. I’d been on my butt all day writing and doing web stuff. My head felt like little electrodes and cotton balls stuffed into a tired pumpkin needing sleep. But I wasn’t sleepy.

We bundled up and drove out into the night together in her pick-up. Our friend’s three little dogs came barking and twirling out her front door to greet us. The full moon shone in her yard like a hazy, white spotlight. She asked us to buy her some water, too. We picked up her containers and drove back to town, thinking and talking about no heat, no running water.

At the gas station a car pulled in blaring rap music. The guys who got out weren’t wearing coats. It was 17 degrees out. They had New York plates. After them came two local guys on a cigarette run. We got out a screwdriver and pliers and pulled the safety rings off the kerosene jugs, so our friend could open them with her crazy, zigzagged arthritic fingers. We filled them and strapped them into the back of the truck with a bungee.

We stopped back home and filled four gallon jugs with water. The cats had already settled in for the night. We drove back out to our friend’s place, checking out the new business in town, wondering about the five-car “traffic” on Route 11 going the other way, marveling at the moon. Our truck was warmer than our friend’s little house.

We got home an hour and a half later, ready for bed.

The dark streets and night life on our foray live inside me, feeding me images, feelings and moods I can add to my palette.

I’ll say it again. Feed yourself new, vivid experiences. This may seem like a trick. How will you know if it’s going to be vivid? You won’t, until you do it. And it won’t be, unless you are paying attention. Any experience can be new and vivid, but it we tend to pay attention more when it is a novel one.

This is one of the reasons we take vacations. Our minds and bodies love a change of pace. This strategy is about changing things up regularly, way before you’re flattened with monotony and definitely more than once a year. Similarly, if you normally flit and have tons of new experiences on a regular basis, give yourself some time to sift through those experiences.

Just writing a list of impressions and random memories can be a great way to see everything you’ve taken in, in a new way.

Inspiration Mindset is really a set of behaviors and attitudes that sharpen you as a receiver, appreciater and lover of this one, amazing life. You may not think of your art as your love letter to life, but at least make your living that.

You may not think of your art as your love letter to life, but at least make your living that. Click To Tweet

Who Do You Want to Bring to This Moment?

A quick post to talk for a sec about inspiration.

There are a lot of things said about inspiration. Here are my thoughts: The better we tune ourselves to aliveness, the more Inspiration we can “catch.” Second, the word is about breathing. And spirit. Third, having an Inspiration Mindset is about living this question. “Who do you want to bring to this amazing moment?

It’s a moment by moment choice. I chose just a little while ago when my partner was talking to me while I was catching up on my Facebook feed. I missed the first few words she said and wanted to be all pissy and annoyed because her talking was like a buzzing in my brain that I just wanted to swat so I could keep spacing out on social media. I looked up at her face. She was trying to live her life. That’s all she was doing. I softened my face. I asked a pertinent question. (Not, “What?!”) I listened. I responded. She was no longer distracting me from my distractions. She was a real person. Whom I love. That’s who I want to bring to this moment. That’s what I want to be: Love.

How about you?

Do You Know These Secrets of Creative Alchemy?

magic formula or magic trick?

We Earthbound Creatives often feel the enormous gulf between the magical alignment with our creative flow that we long for and where we are now on our creative path. Getting to alignment doesn’t take sleight of hand so much as it takes knowing some of the manifesting secrets that creatives have used through time. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it does touch on the major points: claim your truth, have a daily practice, create a magical space, and, beware the Devil’s bargain. Instead, strike a good bargain with the loving Universe, which is totally on your side.

 1. Ritual = Regular Intervals(time+place+purpose).

Each moment is an intersection of time + place + purpose. What makes it a ritual is you repeat it, keeping time (when and for how long), place and purpose the same. I’ve often written here about the power of daily writing, but only seldom have I spoken of the magic of my writing space. Now, before you imagine that I have your idea of the perfect writing space, let me tell you that half the room is filled with cartons and piles, and the corners are stacked with stuff. It was designed to be a bedroom and has an entire wall of closets. The closets are filled with winter coats and boxes of photographs and my supplies for mailing and packaging, art supplies, musical instruments and my five 25-quart plastic bins full of notebooks. So it’s not a pristine, distraction-free oasis.

But my little writing space within the room seems to magnetize me to the chair the moment I enter. To be specific, it’s the objects on my writing table that pull me in so powerfully.

2. Visual cues+placement = magnetic.

Creativity Ritual Visual Magnetic

My writing table. It’s not a table I sit at to write. It’s next to the chair where I write. To my left is a large desk that holds current projects, notebooks and pens. My writing table is a short, round, carved side table to my right that holds treasures plus an electric gadget that keeps my coffee warm. On my table is a collection of meaningless, seemingly useless objects that are nonetheless mysterious and beautiful. They’re not refuse or afterthoughts. They’re placed there on purpose.

The stones, shells and shards have more intrinsic mystery than any meaning I might assign to them. Even the items that have meaning to me–my father’s dog tags from the Army, the candle of St. Bridget from a drum circle, the strips of fabric from a fire ceremony–have new things to reveal. I have to be present each time I sit. I can’t come to the same conclusions about them, nor should I assign a static meaning to my objects, for that is anti-creative, anti-this moment, and closes off other possibilities. If they can grow and transform, then so can I.

Something so physically static can be an invitation to open up and approach the precipice. This transmission of possibility and potential, of mystery and transformation, this invitation to lean over and fall, happens in a second. As I’m situating myself on my writing chair, pushing up on its arms to raise my body so I can fold my legs under me, I put a pillow on my lap and pick up my pen and notebook. I glance at the objects and begin covering paper with squiggles.

The objects then become witness to my process. The safest witness. The kind that sees all and judges nothing and doesn’t move, but remains present. The kind that reveals and reveals and reveals the more I reveal. My process becomes as trustworthy as their presence. I write my way to the truth that my objects embody. We are all pieces of a whole.

3. Illusion+Truth = Truth

I made a deal with the Universe today. I don’t usually make deals with the Universe. I don’t usually have a thing that I’m willing to give or get, a clear trade, a win-win intention, but today it was clear as clear: “Universe, if I write, will you keep sending me paying gigs?” By that I meant, if I write first thing, in ernest, as if that’s who I am and what I do, if I am that, if I give everything to it, will you respond with love as you always do? And in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to get to the writing, right then and stay there, where I belong. I knew it. I said it. It is so.

This is the complete opposite of a devil’s bargain. Opposite in every way. First, it’s not the devil, it’s God. Let’s say, in case you’re a holist like me, it’s the good side of God. This is important, because the Force is the Force. You can summon up Its power to destroy or create. What do you long to create? What are you willing to destroy in order to create that? In my case, in that moment, my wisdom spoke to me of destroying the illusion that there is something else I have to do first, that there is some more urgent way to spend my time, some way to make money, some way to take care of every last thing before I can sit down to it.

But the illusion was easy to destroy. It fell right over and became a nothing, because illusions cannot stand up to truth. And truth is something you can speak at any time. You have to keep speaking it until you drill down into its core, getting closer and closer to its essence each time. The only way to fail at this is to stop speaking the truth. Because when you get there, it won’t matter how much time it took and how many false truths you slept with. Because time is collapsible, and because the Universe is kind. And because truth is power.

4. Truth+Action = Efficiency

This is not a devil’s bargain because rather than selling my soul I’m claiming it. Because I didn’t ask for ideas of ways to make money, or promise to do anything as long as there’s enough money, or any of the other ways I could tell the Universe, “I’ll be what you want me to be as long as you give me money.” I also didn’t tell the Universe, “I’m willing to wait to be alive and to fulfill my god-given dreams, as long as you give me money.” I also didn’t say, “You know, I love all this stuff you’ve given me, so I’m okay doing without the one thing I love and desire the most.”

Why would the Universe agree to such a thing?

Instead I finally heard and felt the urgency and spoke urgently, acknowledging what the Universe has been trying to tell me all along: You can avoid this, you can skirt it, you can set up elaborate systems and trade this for that, you can keep making sand castles with different colored buckets, but I will always be there, ready to help you, as soon as you decide to trust yourself. As soon as you are able to say the words, “I must write”–and for you, dear reader, what is it that you must do?–I will help you make the best deal possible. Because the Universe is efficient.

5. Desire+Inaction = Exhaustion

Keeping a Devil’s bargain usually entails a lot of wasted effort. The effort of avoiding, resisting, ignoring and pretending is enormous. We are never fully at rest, and never fully invested in what we are doing. We are forever searching outside ourselves for the magic formula and the answer to our neverending need. We are constantly mourning for a self yet-to-be while fertively checking that the flame of our desire hasn’t gone out. We are more identified with wanting than with our dream. We know more about being scared than getting through a difficult pass.

We have no idea that opening the door takes only an instant. We’d rather sacrifice our very soul than anger anyone or otherwise upset the apple cart of our daily lives, the very things we need to do in order to render the bargain we’ve already made null and void.

6. Discipline = Freedom

So, yes, the writing table, and yes, the daily writing. Yes, the walking to the precipice and the falling. Yes, yes, yes, to all of that. But also, this: It’s taken me all of a gorgeous, sunny July day in Maine to write this article. We don’t get that many gorgeous, sunny days. Not this year. I should be out on the lake or gardening. Visiting with summer friends, taking a walk and hunting for wild raspberries.

But I’m writing by an open window, and I’m dreaming of ice cream. I’m writing because I gave my word this morning and because it matters to me. There are people out there turning 70 and 80 who are too scared of failing to let themselves express and create what’s in their hearts. And that’s the funny thing about these bargains we make. There is no guarantee that our dream will “come true” should we strike that bargain with the Universe and say, “I’m in! Send angels.”

But, my dearest readers, there is a guarantee if you strike the other bargain. And if you have, you are living it now, and what kind of certaintly would you be willing to trade for a day of creative alchemy?

Notice I said, alchemy, not fulfillment, or goals met, or accollades or anything like that. There are no guarantees. This is important to know. So that you begin with the right intentions and don’t fool yourself about an end goal that will make it all worthwhile. The stones on my table are not hoping to become boulders. The sun is setting. I have nothing to show for myself. The efforts of today will be published online and maybe 100 people will read my words.

When you decide that creating is essential to you, you will get rewards and blessings you cannot imagine from your present vantage point. Instead of navigating yet another cul-de-sac or wrong turn on the path of hoping to not get too hurt, this is where your feet are on the path, pounding their way inexorably home. You might even be whistling. Unless you’re having ice cream.

7. Heart’s Desire+Universe Sending Angels = ?

This is one only you can complete, dear reader. Here’s your chance to forge the bargain of your dreams:

Universe, If I (your heart’s desire)_________________, will you (your equivalent of sending angels)_________________________ ?

After you’ve made your bargain, download my free ebook, 30 Day Creativity Breakthrough. It’s a practical guide to getting started.

finding your way home to create

Is Your Creativity Suffering for Lack of Fun?

Fun Can be Tiny and Dear

Today in my Facebook Live, I addressed the issue of inspiration stagnation and suggested as a first remedy ditching the creative assignments and going out and having some fun.

I’m realizing this may have come off somewhat glib. But fun is a serious–in fact, essential–ingredient in any creative’s toolkit. When we’re blocked, we’re scared. We double down on finding great ideas and original approaches. If we checked, we’d find our jaw clenched, our breathing shallow, and our thinking pinpoint. Think: fight or flight.

This is the exact opposite of where we want to be and how we need to be in order to have the great ideas and find the original approaches. We need to be fluid, expansive, welcoming, curious, light. We need to feel the world is our safe playground as we experiment with pouring sand through our fingers and watching it collect into a miniature mountain range. We need to feel we have all the time in the world.

Remember those golden times when you first discovered your creative gift? Time stood still, didn’t it?

This is why it’s so essential to learn to cultivate that feeling intentionally. I’ll share something with you that most people don’t know about me. I’m very intentional. I could be lying back with a straw hat over my face in a hammock, but unless I’m actually on vacation, there’s a purpose in what I’m doing. I may be hanging out schmoozing with the guests at our summer place, chatting with a co-worker, arranging my colored pencils or staring off into space while idly drumming my fingers on the arm of the Adirondack chair. But I’m not doing nothing.

And that’s not what fun is, either. It’s not doing nothing. It’s very intentionally engaging in an activity that takes you out of your regular mind, takes your body out of its regular habits, and shifts your entire being into expansive, welcoming, benevolent joy.

Now, don’t get hung up on the word joy. It doesn’t have to be neon-colored and long-lasting. It can be simple contentment, amusement, peace, and heart-centered melting. There may be a tear in your eye. You may feel like hugging someone. Even yourself. Most of all you’ll feel possibility again. You’ll see that what was locked was your mind, not the world.

So, here’s your challenge. Reacquaint yourself with fun. You can start with what used to be fun, but that may not cut it anymore. You may have to…get creative! Listen to your heart, your inner child and your inner imp. Check in with what you’re longing for, what’s calling to you that you haven’t allowed yourself to have because it’s too frivolous. Think guilty pleasures and stolen delights. People Magazine, black and white soft serve, country music, gospel choirs, blues sax, action adventure flicks, getting your nails painted pink and black, the art museum, a walk by the ocean, a psychic reading–I could go on, but you get the idea.

The harder this feels, the blanker your mind, the scarier and more impossible this is, the more you need it! If you’re really stuck, ask a friend who knows how to have fun to tutor you, or, as a last resort Google it. But then get off the computer and off your butt. This is an action step.

With a nod to a now defunct band comprised of friends of mine from the Boston days, Serious Fun is your assignment. Creative freedom is within reach.

Creating Through the Dark Times in Your Life

I like to think artists are all about making beauty, but they aren’t really. They’re about seeing. Creating through the dark times requires a willingness to face what you see and to give voice and shape to it. This flies in the face of being likable, popular and inspiring, although capturing felt experience so your audience feels it and relates to it as if their own is its own kind of beauty. And closing the distance between you and your audience, creating intimacy with your work, being vulnerable and fearless–These are inspiring acts.

Therefore, it would do us well to embrace the dark times.

Embracing the dark times brings to bear all the discipline, fortitude, trust and courage we’ve honed in our daily practice of creating something every day, no matter what. The sheer stubbornness that’s carried us through times of no time and no space and no ideas and cardboard-flat experience shows up as the commitment we need to face the empty page, canvas, room or camera and tell it like it is, now.

It pays to hone the skill of being the last one standing, or the one to whom it all comes down, the keeper of the stopped buck, passed from hand to hand of well-mean-ers and not-quite-readies. And to then plant that thing right in the ground, knowing it will bear fruit. Willing it to bear fruit, even as we surrender to the timing, the form and all the particulars.

There is a word for the intersection of discipline, fortitude, trust and courage: Grit. Sandpaper has grit. Its roughness makes it king to anything it rubs against, except, perhaps, steel or air. We become masters of the dark times and show our audience the way through by being the grit that rubs the darkness smooth.

One way I stay on the creativity train is by writing something down just before I turn out the light at night. It’s often a poem or a prayer. It’s my last-ditch effort to connect with what’s in my heart before surrendering to sleep, the place where the alchemy of dreams can have its chance at healing my anguish. There’s something about that moment before sleep when I always have the impulse to tell it like it is in a way that I might not in mid-afternoon or first thing in the morning. It’s as if I’m writing to a wiser part of myself and saying, “Yes, I’m aware of this, I can finally own it. Let’s see what you can do with this.” And with just a hint of, “Please.”

Here is a poem that I wrote before bed while still reeling from the shock of a close friend’s diagnosis.

Slapped

I am waiting for mortality
To shear me of my denial
And lead me to an edge
I have been dancing toward
But have not seen,
To startle me with candor
As cold as finality and
As hot as shame at having been
Complacent and in denial.
I am petitioning mortality
To take from me everything fake
And true, so that I can
Finally be here, unashamed 
And bare, blazing with a passion
Of which I am sure.
I am waiting for mortality to bring
Me certainty before it’s too late,
Because I feel mortality’s slap, 
My whole being a reddened cheek
That hopes to fade before
Someone sees, yet desperately
Feels this may be the one chance
To face the refiner’s fire, 
And be forged into something 
Lasting and strong.
I am waiting for mortality
To shear me of my denial
And wondering why
I can’t offer it up
As a matter of course, 
A daily practice,
Until mortality takes me.
And I wonder if we aren’t still infinite beings,
But that we need mortality
To take us that last leg of our becoming
Or we might be tempted to
Remain unfinished,
To avoid the acute discomfort
Of having left behind 
Every tiny familiar thing
We carefully crafted to confirm
And celebrate our misguided story
Of who we are.

Another creative act in dark personal times is to faithfully record our dreams. This means being faithful to things we avoid in waking life: illogic, loose ends, irrational alliances, walking around naked and pooping in public, being in dark places, flying.

Dream

I am thinking if I were in the army I’d keep my partial plate at the barracks so it wouldn’t get broken in combat.

I am walking along thinking this and around a bend I am on a familiar grey shore where long dark oblongs bob in the water. Ebony whales, logs, piano keys bob in grey water, while the tan cliffs rise up before me, and circling a little closer with each hesitation, black panther-like, uneasy animals pace underneath the cliff head. 

I have climbed up before but now I can’t get a foothold and you have shimmied up before me, you and another, and I want to call for you to come back and stick your hand down for me, but I don’t want the circling, sniffing beasts to see I am stranded down below with them.

It crosses my mind they might be friendly. I wake with a start.

3:37 a.m. Your side of the bed is empty. Some time later I heave myself out of bed and slip on my crocs and head to the guest room to make sure you are there.

The door is closed. I’m sure you are sleeping. I go back to bed and shoulder my way tensely back into sleep.

At 7:30 it’s daylight. I have a dream to tell.

When we create fearlessly and simply from what we are witness to, perhaps the most powerful thing we model is not knowing. Presenting the truth without tying it up in a neat package, drawing handy conclusions and useful how-to’s takes courage, but also gives courage. Our audience knows when we are full of it and needs us to be the ones to not flinch when the darkness comes to be written down, danced, or sung.

Finally, I leave you with a song, the darkest love song I’ve ever written. I can’t tell you what it’s about, really, except it was my truth at the time. And the lyrics kept running in my head the whole time I was working on today’s edition. It’s not a studio recording, but it will do. I wrote it back in 1996 and recorded it today, head cold and all. I hope you enjoy it.

Greeting Things (poem)

leo-fosdal-114217 photograph roadside

 

Rolling the 300-plus miles south from Arlington, Massachusetts
To Franklinville, New Jersey, I noticed more than anything
The places beside the road that were green or greening
And wondered about the roadside weeds, imagined collecting samples
To identify later, then remembered a quote that said
That until our scientists stop trying to learn about things
By killing them, we will not understand life. And I remembered
A time when there were too many stars in the night sky to possibly
Identify constellations, and how, lying on my back on the gently rolling
Dock at the end of the ramp where we tied our motor boat
In the ocean, I understood that naming things is not the
Power I thought it was and started reaching out in greeting
Instead. I stopped calling in the directions by telling them
Their names. I greet them as you would anyone
and thank them for creating the circle of our physicality,
Then tell them my intention and ask for their help. And
Now I see I can do that with the weeds and the stars,
Join with them, their myriads, and feel at once my own
Multiplicity as each cell in my body and all the force
Of consciousness I possess begin to dance in recognition
And communion with my brothers, the many, the choruses,
The infinite beings of life. And I see there is nothing to be known
But only to be experienced, and as much as I can
Hold it, to be alive with each of these, and in each moment to be alive.
My intention is to know you. Please help me be alive.

olivier-guillard-176814

aaron-burden-88770 dandelion

What’s Your Why

Artist Talismans

I’ll admit that for the past few weeks, I’ve been binge-watching Kyle Cease. I go through these things where I latch onto a wise person, a transformational leader of some sort, and I consume everything they’ve put out there. So, it’s Kyle now.

In one of the clips, Cease says that when you’re in the “how” of something–How do I get the word out? How do I do this? How do I show people how valuable this is? How do I develop a program? How do I create what’s in my head to create?–it’s one obstacle after another, because the answer is always…“I don’t know.”

Otherwise, we wouldn’t be asking how.

But when you switch and get into your “why,” –your purpose, what your heart is urging you to do, then all of the hows show up. A million different ways reveal themselves.

Taking a deep breath and trusting Kyle on this, I dropped that pebble of a question –What is my Big Why? – and followed it down, down, down, in search of the answer to something I was  been stuck on while crafting a portion of my program, Reclaim Your Creative Soul.  Since I was totally stuck in “how” and not getting any stellar insights or movement on this, I knew I had nothing to lose.

The whys came in layers. The first layer contained all the usual suspects in answer to the question, Why help stuck creatives connect with their creativity?

  1. It’s fun.
  2. I love seeing people happy and self confident and powerful.
  3. I’m curious to see what people are going to invent when they’re empowered.
  4. I love art.
  5. I love beauty.
  6. I believe the answers to life lie within each of us, and the answers for humanity depend on many, many people accessing their inner answers.
  7. God made it so we have everything we need, and if part of what we need is locked inside us in the broken places where we can’t reach, people like me come along and help other people reach those pieces so they can have access to everything they need. Once enough of us have access to everything we need, we can stop hurting collectively and start healing. In fact, we already are. I want to be part of healing.
  8. I want to be famous and have people like me.

I was delighted when that last one came up, because that has been my motivation for doing so many things–To prove I can do it, to get respect from people, to redeem myself, to be something.

Then came the deeper layer of why.

Why help creative people connect with their creativity?

  1. When you’re a creative artist yearning to express yourself there’s almost nothing as painful and debilitating to the spirit as not making your art.
  2. And a spirit in pain is not whole and is not able to soar.
  3. And a spirit that can’t soar is not fulfilling its purpose.
  4. And what is more noble and worthy than helping someone else find their big why so their spirit can soar and they can fulfill their purpose?

And that’s when I realized that finding my Big Why was essential to leading my people to connecting with their own creative purpose.

When I started thinking in terms of why, I noticed I’d been playing in the space of How do I make this work and strategizing to find the right and clever answer and developing the best, most foolproof set of exercises. I’d been playing at the level of  “What’s the least damage I can do?” instead of “How much can I give to the world from my heart right this minute?” I’d been coming more from How can I make myself worth the trust my people have placed in me than the space of “I have to do this, it’s what’s inside me, it’s who I am, and there’s no other thing I’d rather be doing.”

“How” is a much smaller game than “why.”  So why do we get stuck there?

I found myself daydreaming about my struggle with performance. On the one hand I believe I should want to perform my music for people. But on the other hand, I don’t really want to. I don’t enjoy being on stage with lights in my eyes, having a weird auditory experience just when I should be able to hear really well, and being super self-conscious. Not a fun time for me.  But back to the first hand, what if I’m stopping myself from doing something that would complete the circle, and people would enjoy it? In fact, I already know that they do, because I used to perform. Until, back to the other hand, I realized I hated it and gave myself permission to stop making myself do it.

And that’s where my pebble stopped dropping. I was back in “how.” I knew I that whole conflict was a “how” conflict, because of its polarity and circularity. That kind of bone is irresistable for our dog-minds. We can’t leave it alone. It’s what our minds were made for.

And that was a good-enough understanding for a night’s work. Because it was time to go to bed, I did. (I’m really good with going to bed, unlike how I was as a kid, but that’s a different story….)

The next morning, I’m driving to work, and I realized all at once that the reason I create is because I love. Life. And that’s how I express it. I love singing, I love words, I love concepts, I love creating a mood and a feeling, and it’s love. Creating is my love letter to life. All I have to do is keep expressing my love.  My expression is mine. All mine.

And all I want for my people is that they get to the place where their creativity is theirs, and it’s their expression of love to the world. It’s so natural to create from that place. Because who doesn’t want to make love in a way that’s easy and natural? In a way that you don’t have to think about what you’re doing, you don’t have to think about technique, you don’t have to think Is it okay, am I saying it right? You just do it. Because it’s what’s in your heart.

Ultimately the love is bigger than all of the other concerns. It’s bigger than the inner struggle.–I want to create, but I can’t and I don’t know how, and I don’t have time, and I don’t have space, and I should get gigs, but I don’t want to, and nobody will hire me, blah, blah, blah–The love, when you feel it and connect with it, is bigger than all of that.

And that’s what art does. It helps you get into the bigger place, the place that contains the struggle. And from there, the struggle loses its power. Because who cares about the struggle with so much beauty and reality-altering art around?

What to do from here? Heck, I think I’ll just hang out here for a while. It’s so big and spacious. And I think I’ll invite my people into here, too, and invite them to step into the love that fuels their Big Why. And invite them to consider what they want to create from there.

My big why is love. Love of my people, love of expression, love of expressions of love, love of love letters, love of life, and love of the beauty-making, sensitive people who are daring and crazy enough to want to make art, because they have to.

Till next time, go make something!

Love,

 

p.s. You can preorder Kyle Cease’s new book, “I Hope I Screw This Up” here.

To Nurture Your Creativity, Stop Focusing On Output

Focusing solely on creative output leads to burnout. You will run out of ideas as your flow becomes stagnant. Your inner gremlins will gain a foothold, and it will be difficult to push them back. Worse, you will forget who you are and instead run on who you used to be, and then wonder why it all seems so repetitive and uninspiring.

If this is you, it’s time to focus instead on feeding, nurturing and rediscovering your creative soul. You can think about this in terms of diet. What are you feeding your creative self? Do you even know what inspires and nurtures that part of yourself? Sometimes it’s a throwback or a constant and other times, it’ll be something brand new and surprising.

Continue reading To Nurture Your Creativity, Stop Focusing On Output