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Thoughts on Creativity — Newsletter #35
A'musings #4


by The Creative Edge Board of Directors:
  • Marlie Avant
  • Donald Mathews
  • Kyla McCollam
  • Barbara Rose Shuler
  • Patty Waldin
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    Marlie Avant:

    SURRENDER TO CHAOS—In Search of grace full passages

    There are seasons in one's life and often the entry from one into the other feels a bit chaotic and overwhelming. It is during such times that I always call upon my creativity and artistic nature for guidance. I realize that in my creative state I am able to step back from my "little self" and become witness to the "dance of consciousness" that emerges from deeper waters. I am reminded not to take things personally, for it is a cosmic dance, a very organized, loving, spiral dance if we surrender to it.

    Recently my husband and I have sold our home of 21 years and done a tremendous amount of letting go. We moved into a much larger home on 3 1/2 acres some 25 minutes from our former lives. We are in the country now. Our neighbors are goats, sheep, chickens, peacocks, emus, horses and cows. What wonderful neighbors they are. I feel as though I am apprenticing under them and the land. There is so much I have forgotten that I am beginning to remember again. They speak to me on the wind and as I breathe in the scents of nature I am taken back to my roots... my heritage.

    My parents (who are in their mid eighties) and my granddaughter (who just turned five) are living with us now. And this summer, my niece (who is twenty-one) is also staying with us. Because my husband is fifteen years older than me, we literally have five generations living together under one roof. It is blessed and it is challenging to say the least! There is nothing like family to push every button that needs to be pushed. And yet, I am learning that there is absolute divine order in button pushing IF we look inward, honoring the button pusher for holding up the mirror that allows us the opportunity to dive into our own mysterious waters, as if on a quest for revelation. I am finding that if I can simply hold my outer re-action, inwardly cradled in the heartland's, the dark, sometimes turbulent waters gently quiet themselves and I am gifted a reflecting pool that reveals a deeper truth.

    And so I stand at the center of my family circle, literally in the middle. I am watching my own life at all of its stages... through all the drama and chaos and humanity. I am watching how love and compassion elevate the circle into a spiral. The spiral dips just before it rises... a dip soulward... sometimes into chaos... but love and the clarity of intention lift it. The insights I gather in the reflecting pool always elevate my awareness and deepen my faith and compassion.

    And so I stand at the center of the circle for now, full of gratitude and humbled by the tides of change that lovingly carry me... when I surrender to them.

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    Donald Mathews:

    In a recent dream, I find myself welcoming a couple of soldiers dressed in traditional WWII German uniforms. I am aware they are arriving to occupy our territory and others living with me are fearful of the situation. But I feel differently. As I approach them with outstretched hand in friendship, I discover one is really big—perhaps nine feet tall! I express how I understand and appreciate his difficulty dealing with the job at hand and then his expression softens. He reaches out his hand to me with a smile on his face as I wake up.

    I puzzled over this dream for several days. My thoughts about the creative life went to fear and how fears can imprison us and restrict access to our creative abilities like occupying troops. Thinking about my life, I realized how fears of one kind or another often restricted my actions. Usually from an unconscious place, they limited my creative potential and helped maintain a certain level of defensiveness. As my outlook and relationships with them changed I began letting go of old ways and habits and reaching out with full imagination for the possibilities in new situations.

    It came to me the soldiers coming to occupy my life in my dream represented my fears—they brought me face to face with a new situation and all its dangers. Fears over the years have become huge, much larger than life. And now, I am at that time where physical changes also present new challenges. (I recently have been gifted with new sight after successful cataract surgery on both eyes. Thank goodness for modern medicine!)

    There is a choice! Instead of being restricted and slave to fears and challenges, I can face and befriend them. There are parts of me that are still fearful or apprehensive, but I now have the conscious resources to meet them and change how they occupy my life. In the last five or ten years my ability to shift attitude from fear to curiosity—to befriend all the things that come my way has opened my life and changed my attitude!

    Clearly there is work to be done to achieve this. It is often the difficult work of letting go of old ways and situations and welcoming what is actually coming in—to be present. Creative Edge attempts to provide a safe environment where all can begin to express their unique gifts. My dream tells me this way has become my natural way and it works! Shifting attitude and befriending what we fear is an important part of the way of the arts!

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    Kyla McCollam:

    Since February I have been suffering from shoulder pain and loss of range of movement of my left arm. As a sore and out-of-sorts seeker, I first concentrated on finding someone to fix me, and fast. This impulse landed me in even more pain. Then I had a dream that a woman was working on me. Four women practitioners helped me past the worst pain. Slowly, I became involved in solving this predicament by gathering information and trusting the process. And I became the woman of my dream working on myself.

    When summer vacation brought the realization that I couldn't travel back home to visit my mother, this marked the understanding that I truly yearned to stay in my own home. A simple existence centered around a routine of appointments supporting my healing process. Taking daily walks, I could see my shadow as I walked and it showed me the stiffness in my posture. On these walks, I saw how much this shadow looked like the silhouette of my aging mother, and my aging self. As I accepted these basic revelations, I started to accept the healing journey.

    Then it started to register that besides managing the pain and learning to relax, I needed to become stronger. I followed a lead to a physical therapist who started me on some exercises. Progressing from wobbling weakness and even difficulty counting out the sets and holds showed me the frustrations inherent in any new practice. My creativity came into play when I figured out a way to spell out each number's first three letters to get a hold for three counts. I found my own way to grip the stretch band to keep my wrist stable. This active involvement brought a newfound stability along with a balance of relaxed receptivity.

    Seeing progress, however slight, was encouraging. Now as I walk, my shoulder has some swing, the pain is on the wane, and range of motion is returning. Following the creative threads of my pain, it dawned on me how important meditation can be. At first, the hot and cold packs twice a day, before and after my school day, seemed a big bite of my time. I made peace with this and started to enjoy the time—just me and those packs on my shoulders, breathing, receiving air and letting it go. The walks became a moving meditation. And the exercises have become a strengthening and focusing meditation.

    When a wise woman pointed out that the left side is the receptive one, I felt an emotional shift which made it right to be more receptive. Out of necessity, I accepted that my pointing hand showed my needs and connected in a full circle to my receiving hand. My compensating behaviors are dissolving, restoring a healing balance to my life.

    Certain sights and imagery have been helpful during this recuperation time. A small piece of driftwood shaped like a dove showed me my wooden nature along with my sense of flight. An earlier painting and poem which were inspired by a dream of a woman coming out of a wave in a ward-off position (left shoulder emerging first) and taking flight as a hawk showed a precognition of coming out of this experience with a new sense of the polarities between my stiff and supple sides.

    I am thankful for my progress, and I am developing a deepening empathy for others in pain. I hope that this experience in weathering one of the storms of my life will help me when I become overburdened, exhausted, frustrated, or exasperated.

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    Barbara Rose Shuler:

    There's a saying, "If you want to keep your confidence in laws and sausages, don't watch how they are made." This could also be said of certain kinds of creating.

    For years now, my colleague, Marilyn, and I have collaborated in covering the venerable Carmel Bach Festival for various media. This means a big push the first week of the festival, critiquing recitals and concerts—and some years, master classes, lectures, and parties—for editors who expect a speedy turnaround of intelligent, interesting reviews for their readers.

    Just attending the rich array of offerings can wear a person out. Having to write about them on top of that each day brings on a peculiar mind-body overload unmatched by any other experience I have known. It's seven very long days of listening, listening some more, analyzing, and writing.

    Each morning, the writing blitz starts. Searching for the lead sentence, we discuss the music and events of the day before, how we feel and think about the music, the performances, soloists, conductor and so forth. With one eye on the word count and another on the clock, I usually do the actual writing. Marilyn sits nearby, nodding in with her insights and expertise, and takes over for the final edit. We never have enough time; the deadline is always hurtling down on us like an inexorable calamity.

    This summer, we got to stay in a gracious, spacious household, with other people around watching us work. Being observed helped me realize that we may fit into the sausages and laws category.

    Do we quietly and studiously fashion our commentaries, methodically delivering a publishable essay to the editors day after day? Nope, we don't. Our high-tension creative process is liberally punctuated by irreverent comments, off-the-wall ideas and peals of laughter. Marilyn plays solitaire on her laptop, lobbing in comments and asides. I often jump up and do things mid-sentence—toss the dog a ball, wash my hands, make a cup of coffee, fan the ends of a scarf draped around my shoulders.

    Sometimes we go through amazing verbal gyrations looking for the perfect phrase to describe a simple mood or musical gesture, like a viola da gambia passage or an aria in one of Bach's Cantatas. Occasionally, we do get very serious, unsnarling thoughts about a troubling performance. But mostly, there is laughter and fun and a sense of satisfaction, in spite of the ever-present pressures.

    We have evolved this peculiar collaborative style over the years, and it suits us. Though we've been assured that it looks like a form of benign madness from the outside, the process works—and it's fun, besides.

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    Patty Waldin:

    CREATIVE INTENT: Ego-Driven or Spirit-Led?

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could consistently launch ourselves into our creative projects with the joyous innocence of children? — Would it be even nicer if we could always be free of our ego's demand that our products be polished to a level of which IT can be proud?

    I don't know about you, but my ego/shadow-self can spring out of its nowhere-land and cast dark clouds of scorn and doubt upon most any of my fragile moments of creative indecision.

    But, whenever I've been able to shake mySelf awake during that moment of indecision... and re-establish my heart's intent to be Spirit-led, rather than ego-driven, the lessons that have unfolded through my subsequent grope and blunder have provided sublimely transitional shifts in consciousness.

    Easier said than done, but when I do choose to seize one of those fragile moments, I have to linger in a kind of balancing act upon the Creative Edge.

    For starters: reliance on art-school-conventions and quick-fix "know-hows" must be disengaged; and ego's attempts to conceive and compel predetermined outcomes must be temporarily disconnected.

    Then there are the subtleties—and herein lies the real adventure of turning customary tendencies upside down. Those accidentals and distortions which ego would hasten to "correct," become respected, viewed as potential breakthroughs, and can be verified—or rejected—as authentic insights. Much like dreamtime, they can become a veritable lens for viewing sacred mystery elements, any one of which may provide a focal length through which I can glimpse a larger portion of the Truth.

    Probing for whatever lives beneath our multi-sensory reflections is to invite the revelation of an essence that lies well beyond our ego’s limitations. It is this essence, spreading from the rim of the creative edge, that is the Soul's native land.

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