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Thoughts on Creativity — Newsletter #37
A'musings #6

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

    [Marlie Avant]

    At last writing, I had few words, leaving a large blank space that curiously felt very comforting. Since then, I have been spending a good deal of time in such inner spaciousness, content simply to "be".

    I came across a quote in my journal, (unfortunately author unknown)

    "A great silence comes over me and I wonder why I ever thought to use language."

    I have been feeling my way through my inner life—without the spoken word which can often polarize or trap me in reactionary patterns of behavior. I have befriended the sea waves that cast up rythmic forces; a blending of staccato and legato. They have allowed me to remember what it truly means to be alive as I become one with the passionate, artistry moving through me. And then of course there is the absolute stillness that is utterly exquisite and all consuming.

    Rumi called it "the unsayable jeweled inner life". It is, ah YES, it is!

    Perhaps the highest art is simply life unfolding life... in all its mystery, its revery, its fierceness and power. And, perhaps my greatest artistry is surrender.

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    Shanja Kirstann:

    [Shanja Kirstann]

    When I reflect back on this half year, it is filled with a rich landscape of travel, teaching and trainings. While all of these events have been wonderful, they blur in this moment when musing on the heart of my deeper spiritual and creative Journey.

    I have a spiritual practice that helps me stay on track. It is a journal process that reflects back on the day or a certain period of my life and looks for captured moments when I was touched by life itself—when the mystery has broken through and invited me into the present moment. The questions I ask are: "Where was I touched or inspired? What was my true fulfillment today?" Asking these questions over time has revealed my truest fulfillments and helps me making choices that honor these callings.

    One image floods me. The endless hours of sitting in the garden, listening to the gurgling water fountain, watching the hummingbirds dart through the rosy blossoms of pineapple sage, feeling the warmth of the spring sun caress my mid-life body, tasting the sweetness of Silence. There is little impulse to write, to paint, to sing in these moments, for I am captured by the Silence... and find this to be Home. I find that these moments come from a quality of listening with the whole body and I become a open ear drinking in the epiphanies of Silence.

    I have grown to trust Silence as my touchstone. Trusting the rhythm of the body to live at its own pace. Giving permission to not know anything... and to letting the moment lead where it will... I have learned to bring this quality of listening presence to others and find the miracle of being deeply seen and heard to be miraculous. I find the gifts of compassionate aromatic touch with essential oils to be heavenly. I find sitting in circles, listening to voices that speak from the heart and the belly through dreams, journal writing, poetry, and story to be meeting a deep hunger for connectedness at a soul level.

    Where don't I find fulfillment? Whenever I have "too much" of anything— words, phone calls, e-mails, people, bills, meetings, plans,... the constant test to confront the cultural trance of endless doing and to say to myself and the world, "No thank you. I love you and no thank you..."

    To meet everything and everyone through stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer the universe. —Eckhardt Tolle

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    Donald Mathews:

    [Donald Mathews]

    Last night I dreamt I was tree trimming by my house! A large Oak had several sections of dead wood. So, I began trimming. The first cut surprised me as it was such a large section—almost half the tree fell away. Other cuts were smaller and very easily accomplished. There was then a great open feeling surrounding me. Later, I am inside looking at entrance stair steps thinking some repair was needed. However, everything was fine as it was!

    Well, here we go again with the same theme I have been sharing for the last couple of years. Clearly I am trimming away aspects of my life that no longer carry my vital energy—the heart's blood. However, it is not easy to know where or what to cut away so I can hit the "open road" I've talked about.

    When you receive this newsletter, the Creative Edge Board will have met and made some important organizational changes to create more space in my life. With the Labyrinth project too, a new leader has taken over. With these two "Oaks" in my garden trimmed, new vital growth should sprout! The entrance to my personal space seems solid and in good order too!

    I am discovering the enjoyment of a simpler life as I continue to find more and more pleasure in the little moment by moment experiences that always unfold containing both good and bad news. And as a bonus, I seem less reactive to my double Virgo perfectionist expectations. Also with my physical process, I finally captured an elusive event with my heart monitor while in Naples, Italy this spring and now have a new pacemaker implanted. They tell me it was a mysterious electrical process that sometimes happens to people with excellent hearts like mine. I am in strong physical and emotional shape ready for new growth wondering about the synchronicity of it all.

    Each day as I walk, I stop to visit my 91 year old aunt in a near by long term care facility (I am her guardian). I see how she has made another transition to simple living in a much smaller outer world. Without worries of past or future, she enjoys meals, naps, and seems content visiting with deceased love ones who come often in her inner world. Her life was naturally trimmed as it was appropriate. Could this be a lesson for all of us!

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    Kyla McCollam:

    [Kyla McCollam]

    It is the middle of the night on Halloween's Eve—just a light, my black cat Willy, a felt tip pen, pad of paper, adjustable bed, and the opportunity to write. First I go to a dream image/idea to get the sparks flying for this essay. It is "a focus of light that when reflected creates a reality." Ray informs me that this is a hologram.

    And now my mind visits the print created by Don Mathews called "Another Reality"—I realize and wonder at the same time—what is its story and why was I initially drawn to this image of a cartoonish dragon? Its title is particularly relevant now, as I am in the process of creating yet another reality in my life.

    About ten years ago, Ray and I started to forge a life together—well, sort of a parallel play of two teachers who make love, make conversation, make plans, make dinner and delight, make friends, make fun and trouble. "Make" is a simple word for create. When I look at the word and associate a message within it—I find "Ma" and "Key"—the mother key! Well, rhymes with "another key." And with the purchase of a second home in southwestern Utah, another reality and another key is certainly true.

    Recently, we spent our first three days there. Our most precious time together was spent drinking tea and finding images in the shadows of our view of Red Mountain. As the light changed, we used our meditation and imagination to find faces, cats, a Native American dancer who later in the day became a scout for new territory. These signs tell us of a new dancing, hunting, gathering in a circle widening and narrowing. We will be enjoying new scenery and still holding on to the ledge near the churning sea—yet venturing beyond to a newer, warmer, colder spot which has captured our attention, our imagination. Our hearts leap together at the sight of red cliffs or radiant rocks in a swirling sea. Full or lean, the circle is clean, clear and dear. Ah... another reality—my heart fills with gratitude for imagination and its link with creation.

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    Barbara Rose Shuler:

    [Barbara Rose Shuler]

    Pull up a chair next to the precipice and I'll tell you a story.

    A friend today told me she found a scrap of paper etched with these words just as she left a safe harbor for a new life. It was the last little bit of cleaning to pick up this final scrap in her room.

    Pull up a chair next to the precipice and I'll tell you a story.

    My friend found the words reassuring. Like the image on the card of the Fool walking off the cliff without a care, she looks toward the heights and steps into the unknown. Moreover, she's smiling, just like the Fool. I find that reassuring.

    Here at Creative Edge we are often pulling up our chairs next to the precipice and telling each other stories. We are storytellers at the cliff's edge. This is a joy and a wonder and very reassuring.

    I must go hear the Monterey Symphony play now. A young prodigy violinist will play music of Bruch and Beethoven. The precipice of performance for him. Then I must write about him with speed for an editor who will edit even faster so the words can swiftly be published in the daily paper. Writing. There's a precipice too.

    At this moment, I feel immensely grateful for my friends at the Creative Edge, for the work and the play and the realizations that happen when we sit in a circle with one another. I wonder if gratitude is a precipice too. Then I shall step off, like the Fool, like my friend, without a care into the glistening unknown.

    The music awaits.

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    Illia Thompson:

    [Illia Thompson]

    Out of the Ashes, Arises New Growth.

    A few weeks ago, as I end a journal entry with the above words, I have no idea that my home will shortly resemble the aftermath of a fire, as the old roof is replaced. Soot and dirt seep through spaces in the redwood ceilings. Some gaps make room for stones and tar, more falling matter.The writing mentioned above, created to conclude a piece of writing about the need to simplify, prophetic. I had envisioned a slow meticulous clearing of space, with sufficient time to weigh what would stay. Now all storage areas taste the dust of demolition. This inconvenience for a roof that will put an end to putting down stainless steel bowls in the middle of the night and listening to the repetitive pings as droplets meet others to form puddles in motion.

    With unprecedented resolve, I toss papers, journals printouts, gathered in boxes, take them from rest, their presence no longer needed. Much like any parting, a tinge of regret colors the newly found space. I promise myself, and keep it, not to reexamine items designated for discard.The wedding of a friend's daughter encourages me to present a set of extra dishes to the young couple. The recent Morgan Hill fire an opportunity to donate clothing. Books whisper farewell as I ready their donation to a library. Some happily stay, as we are joyously reacquainted and they wait patiently for my hands to hold them again.

    This new mantra, "Out of the Ashes Arises New Growth," becomes a sword that slices through clutter and minds not that possible treasures may be sent away. Sifting through this writing, fine tuning, distilling, paying attention, I find a poem waiting. Already, a new gift arises.


    Roof replacement
    invites falling matter.
    Soot, tar, gravel
    and dust of demolition.

    Repair promises
    the end of rain drops
    forming contained puddles
    in stainless steel bowls.

    Chaos invites clearing.
    Old papers, journals, magazines
    tossed with a tinge of regret,
    much like any parting.

    Once begun, the flow
    gathers momentum.
    Dishes to a young bride,
    clothing to fire victims.

    Some book pages whisper
    farewell on way to
    becoming library donations.
    Others wait to again be held by me.

    The sword of action
    slices through clutter:
    a surgeonŐs knife
    encouraging healing.

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    Patty Waldin:

    [Patty Waldin]

    Though terms like synchronicity and deja-vu have found their way into our social vocabulary, "if you refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV—the Bible of the American Psychiatric Association—you will find that psychic is still being equated with psychosis... nor will you find references to such metaphysical concepts as Intuition, Sacred and Soul."* Dr. Judith Orloff, M.D. Psychiatrist, states further, "Unfortunately, the overall sentiment among most mainstream physicians is that the psychic is nonexistent, a sham, or a disease..."

    Apparently our professional healers still restrict themselves with a split between those who speak the scientifically objective language of the Clinical Sciences, and those whose healing practices include the semantic subjectivity of the Arts and Humanities. Fortunately, art therapy courses and internships continue to reference the psychic as an unquantifiable yet valued tool in respected universities throughout the country.

    Despite professing a naivete in the arts—many art therapy patients, students and clients, when encouraged to express their dreams and relationships symbolically, surprise themselves by experiencing and demonstrating a kind of innate, holistic access to a wealth of visual imagery. Through such spontaneous forms of authentic self-expression, healing progress can be made toward an emotional clarity.

    As professional painters we face multi-dimensional technical decisions when attempting to render the mystery of an unfolding content. Our hands would falter if merely directed by logical sequential thinking.

    We can choose to set aside our learned, rational disciplines. Self-selected modes of psychic attunement—sacred music, prayerful dedication, sounds of nature— enable us to thin the veils of perception and realign with the Sacred. Such a simple act as reaching for a broader brush, becomes a door to accidentals. Lapses, thus transmuted, become opportunities for rendering visions in partnership with the inspirational forces of our unfettered Soul-self. Once accessed, connection with Inner Knowing provides a wellspring capable of energizing wordless processes that flow in rhythmic strokes of color and texture—together with a mystery of numinous implications—through us, directly onto the canvas. In essence what we are doing is rationally merging with the psychic—healing the split.

    *SECOND SIGHT by Judith Orloff, M.D.;
    1996; Warner Books, Inc.; New York, NY,
    p. 286.

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