Sunday, September 25, 2016

Self-Compassion and Creativity


Woman In Bath - Degas

 
Dreams, visions, intuition and compassion all are part and parcel of our inner world of creativity and provide us with guidance and insight and are all important to pay close attention to, when struggling with life problems, personal growth, and self-discovery.

Self-Compassion is probably one of the most difficult things to give for ourselves. There are many reasons for this, more than I can decipher. But sociology-psychological factors come in to play I'm certain, and how we are culturally conditioned within society and families.


Many of us can easily be compassionate toward others without giving any thought of affording the same kindnesses and concern for ourselves. Eventually this will often leave us nothing but feelings of resentment and burnout, because we have over extended our energy and have nothing left to give anyone, not even ourselves.We may even end up feeling used, because we have been unable to say no.

Speaking as a woman, it has been my experience both personally and professionally, time and time again I've seen many women, myself included. who are single women, mothers, wives or both, in the helping professions who just can't say no, even if they so desperately want to.

Many woman feel validated and affirmed in the helping role and it's reinforced in many cultures. There is also an unspoken assumption that  women should be the care taker, the one who is always emotionally be strong, self-sacrificing and all things, to all people, at all times.

I recall a friend who worked in a profession where she was constantly expected to go above and beyond the responsibilities of her job. During our talks, she shared with me she'd reached the end of her rope, and could no longer continue trying conform and measure up to these unrealistic responsibilities and expectations.

She told me about an experience when she was at a point of exhaustion and was laying back in the bathtub with a facecloth over her eyes. She had kind of drifted off, was in that state between sleep and consciousness. She had a powerful vision that helped her make a decision to finally take care of herself.

The vision was of vultures, who had been picking at her body. After they had picked her bones completely clean, they then began fighting over her bones. My friend quit her job shortly after having this vision.

We do need to have compassion toward others, but we absolutely must extend the same kindness and self-compassion toward ourselves. Self-compassion is essential to a joyful, happy, self-caring and fully creative life.

Our inner world of creativity, is facilitated especially when we are self-compassionate and not self-judging toward ourselves.

"Have compassion for everyone you meet … You do not know what wars are going on down there, where the spirit meets the bone."
                                                - Lucinda Williams

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Why We Write - Jennifer Egan





I write. Everyday I journal, blog and read books that hopefully help me to write better. Why do I do this? Firstly I think from a young age I would write my thoughts on pieces of paper or in my teenage angst filled dairies and then as an young adult I began to write in journals.

I couldn't articulate why I did this then, but I knew somehow it made me feel better. It was therapeutic and a way of being more objective about what I was experiencing in life. Writing was a kind of philosophical or spiritual kind of self-care. Much of my writing took the form of prayers to the God of my understanding. I'd write down quotes from books and writers that I admired, with words of wisdom that helped comfort me and gave me strength.

I wasn't trying to be a writer, or to even write well. I certainly didn't consider myself to be a writer. This was for my eyes only. Most of it wasn't good writing but regardless I persevered, until eventually my writing improved.

"You can only write regularly if you're willing to write badly...Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well "

                                                                               - Jennifer Egan, Why We Write

In the early 90s I got more serious and committed to writing regularly on a daily basis after meeting an art therapist who'd introduced me to The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Everything in this book affirmed what I had already thought about creativity, but had never been told to me while attending art school. The principles were spiritual and made the direct connection between creativity and the Creator.


Journaling long hand or what some might call slow-journaling, everyday after a lengthy period of time, I realized if I stopped journaling for a week, I didn't feel right. I found myself physiologically down and out of touch with myself. My state of mind felt dark, detached, and feelings of negativity surfaced and were becoming apparent to me. I needed to get myself together and so I'd get back to my regular writing routine. I was afraid if I stop longer than a week, it would be much harder to get back into the habit, but I didn't ever think I would stop permanently. I didn't want to do that, because I had been writing long enough to know how good it was for me.
                                                     -
Finding this article today from Brain Pickings,  again affirmed just why I write.
 Jennifer Egan who wrote the book Why We Write, put into words, what couldn't be expressed more accurately and succinctly.


"When I’m not writing I feel an awareness that something’s missing. If I go a long time, it becomes worse. I become depressed. There’s something vital that’s not happening. A certain slow damage starts to occur. I can coast along awhile without it, but then my limbs go numb. Something bad is happening to me, and I know it. The longer I wait, the harder it is to start again"
When I’m writing, especially if it’s going well, I’m living in two different dimensions: this life I’m living now, which I enjoy very much, and this completely other world I’m inhabiting that no one else knows about.
                                                                        - Jennifer Egan, Why We Write



Writing About Your Art Work



Today I have a theme going about writing. It's just the way it happened. I love when synchronicity happens. I have become more acutely aware of this because I think my many years of journaling has helped me to fine tune my intuition. My experience is that the more you use your intuition, the more it works.

On my other blog Apple River Tarot Readings I wrote about communication and had a comment left on this post and she mentioned the term slow-journaling where you write very slowing your entry each word in neat cursive writing, thinking about what you are writing, and having a mindfulness in your journaling. I am familiar with what slow-communication is but had never heard of slow-journaling. I am certainly going to do this and I'm certain it will improve my writing.

After I finished this post in my Tarot blog I got and email from the site Curator entitled Smart Words. Interestingly, there was a great post on writing about your art work. A very important topic for artists that often goes under looked I believe. Below I have left my comment in response to this article.

" A great article and obviously very pertinent and essential to every artist.
As an artist who attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design way back in the 70s and again to complete my degree in 2012 at Mount Allison University in Sackville New Brunswick, I had the great opportunity to see first handed how art schools have changed for the art student. In the 70s we were given next to no information about marketing ourselves. Thankfully it is very much improved, and there is more focus on learning how to market ourselves.

Many artist’s are uncomfortable writing or explaining the work they create, much to their detriment.
In the 70s many students in University had very poor writing skills. Contemporary art students seem to have even less. The majority of the writing is composed online and there is next to no cursive writing even taught is secondary school. You don’t even have to look at a dictionary with auto correct. Eliminating cursive writing, is a huge mistake within the educational system, as I don’t think it can be replaced by online communication.
There needs to be a foundation to build on. It’s like learning to paint before understanding how to draw. Bringing back writing skills could enable artists to have the skills to know how to write about their work and feel more comfortable in doing so.
Thank you for this article I love your site! "

Friday, September 16, 2016

Changing Woman

Navajo Sand Painting - Mother Earth - Artist,  Marie Akee



Following up on my last post Creative Restoration leads me today to share what I've been reading, studying and writing about this past month or so that is causing a big shift in my life. I have been re-reading and studying this book everyday because it is one of those books that profoundly speaks to the very core of me,  and I can't stop writing, reading or talking about it!

The Heroine's Journey was given to me by an artist friend last year. I had read Maureen Murdock's book Father's Daughters years ago. But I remember nothing about it for some reason. It wasn't due to the book itself or how it was written, but I think perhaps because I wasn't ready to absorb the topic of the book. I was trying to sort through all the issues surrounding my own Father/Daughter relationship in light of having an absentee father.

There are so many poignant statements made in The Heroine's Journey that it's difficult for me to decide which one has struck me the most.


Here are a few that I find so insightful about the creative feminine.

  • "The soul of a culture cannot evolve if the body is not reclaimed and honoured.Many men and women are dreaming about the Goddess; she is a projection of the feminine principle that needs restoration in our culture. She takes many forms often embodied in the rich symbols of a person's heritage."

  • " In Navajo mythology, Changing Woman is the creatix. She is earth and sky, the Lady of the Plants, and of the Sea. She goes beyond the bearer aspect of the mother; she is the feminine creator. Her cosmic cyclic movements-aging each Winter and becoming a young beautiful maiden each Spring-make Her the essence of death and rebirth signature of the continual restoration and rejuvenation of Life. It is said "where masculine creativity tends to move away forward, feminine creativity tends to turn round on itself," not circularly so much as spirally. It's constantly changing."

  • " This ability to move with the creative impulse without trying to force it is an aspect of the feminine. There is a quality of the feminine that allows things to happen in the natural cycle of things. People who work at deep levels of the unconscious in therapy and in the creative process know that there are phases of both quietude and renewal, and these must be respected, protected and given time. One can't force birth. Trusting the mystery of manifestation is one of the deep teachings of the feminine journey.

  • "The heroic quest is not about power over, about conquest and domination; it is a quest to bring balance into our lives through the marriage of both feminine and masculine aspects of our nature. The modern-day heroine has to confront her fear about reclaiming her feminine nature, her personal power, her ability to feel, heal, create, change social structures and shape her future. She brings us wisdom about the interconnectedness of all species; she teaches us how to live together in this global vessel and helps us to reclaim the feminine in our lives."

Eyland's Acre -  Water Colour - Artist www.judithjosephstudio.com


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Creative Restoration


Tidnish Shore - Nova Scotia - Photo, Catherine Meyers 2016


This past weekend I spent time with a dear life long friend, my soul sister, at her cottage by the Nova Scotia ocean. We communed with nature and with one another the whole weekend. It was one of the very best things we could do for our creative feminine souls. However conscious or perhaps even unconsciously, all of our senses were engaged, leaving us feeling mentally restored, in the same way food and water restores the body.

The weather was spectacular and on Saturday we traveled to a very rural part of Nova Scotia to tour a beautiful vineyard. I think it was beyond our expectations and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in every way. Beautiful vistas, grand food and drink, music, good company, and who could ask for more?

Most of us find ourselves increasingly connected and attached to the screens of our tech devices and are disconnected and almost detached completely from our bodies, without engaging most of our senses. We are living in our heads and dragging our bodies around much of the time. This is no way to live healthfully.

Being in a beautiful, natural environment where all of our senses are engaged, directly affects what's happening in our brain and in turn, this affects all aspects of how and what we learn, increasing our cognitive function. For me this is a big part of the spirituality of creativity. It's how I get in touch with who I am as a creative woman and my connection with the earth.

Communing with nature enables us to become more insightful, our problem solving abilities and creative reasoning is improved. Energy increases, depression decreases, our analytical ability and ideas are replenished. Our ability to focus improves through a reflective introspection, that happens naturally when we are outside surrounded by nature's beauty.

It stands to reason that the further away human beings are from nature that their health worsens.

I have developed a habit of sitting outside first thing in the early morning to write, read and enjoy my morning coffee. It's a great way to give my brain a boost first thing, and to get focused for the rest of my day.

Malagash - Jost Vineyard - Photo, Catherine Meyers 2016

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"The Horse is a Catalyst for a Woman's Creativity"


Robert Painter's Barb Horse -  Feugo - 2005, Catherine Meyers



I'm sure like most little girls, when I was once one, I longed to have a horse, deep in my bones. Not a pony, but a horse.
When I could easily see that this was not going to happen any time soon, regardless, I still hung on to that dream of having a horse, that I still have today.

During my teens I lived vicariously through those friends who had horses. It seemed and became apparent that I couldn't stop thinking about horses and longing to have them. It's something that takes hold of you rather like an addiction I think, which people often refer to, as being horse crazy.  I believe it's a kind of spiritual connection the exists deep within the spirit of a woman.

Later in my adult life when I was 40 I left my secure job as a Youth Care Worker. I had the opportunity when all the stars were aligned to go riding horses and live on a working horse farm were I learned as much as I possibly could about stable management, horse health and everything related to equestrian matters. I lived , breathed and smelled horses, almost 24/7. It was real hard work, but I fulfilled my dream come true.

In the book She Flies Without Wings, written by horse woman Mary Midkiff she writes this poignant quote.

"The horse is a catalyst for a woman's creativity because it carries us through the doors that stand between the familiar and the unfamiliar, limitations and freedom; and introduces us to experiences we might otherwise miss."

This quote deeply resonates with me and expresses in words what I unconsciously always knew.

During my time living with and learning about horses, and all the different horse breeds it was very exciting to me. I found I was especially drawn to ancient breeds like the Barb horse an ancient Iberian horse as old as the Arabian. Andalusians, Percheron, Frisians, Lipizzaner,  and the Morgan were all the breeds that left me enamoured with horses more than ever. The powerful necks and those long wavy manes were intoxicating to me.

 Then one day I found out about the Canadian Heritage Horse and it all began to make sense why I was so drawn to these ancient breeds I've mentioned. The Canadian Horse came from this special kind of lineage and contributed to many other breeds in North America. In particular the Morgan, one of my very favourites.


I still don't have my horse(s). You need more than one, because they are very social creatures! But I still have my dream of owning one and more. I'll never let that dream go.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Being Is Not a Luxury






"Being is not a luxury, it is a discipline".
 I read this today, and it really made an impression on me.

Most of us are caught up in doing, more, faster, better, and acquisition of position. This is what our culture supports.

I am grateful to be an artist because I think we tend to be introspective and we can have a sense of being in the moment. Our creative process can be meditative and methodical and slow. Being in a hurry doesn't always lend itself to the creative process, and sometimes less is more when it comes to creating art., and I'm not certain being a prolific artist necessarily makes us a better artist or a better human being.

As a women I have made a conscious effort not to be defined by what it is a do, and have taken steps to be in my own body, mind and soul to be a creative human being.

My freedom and my discipline doesn't depend on something or someone outside myself. In the past I didn't comprehended  or make a connection between these two words, or see that were directly related proportionally to my daily maintenance of my own discipline. I could have ever imagined that within discipline I would find freedom, not did I believe that real freedom meant the ability to be disciplined. Art and life taught me this lesson.

Defined by the historical male model and male defined patriarchal work world, that is production orientated, power-over and dominating, reinforces the myth that if we are not busy doing important work accordingly, society perceives those who are not "doing" that something, are individuals often seen as not measuring up, not outwardly validated and valueless. Feminine values of caring and relationship took second place to achievement of goals, but this model doesn't work well for women.

Perhaps it is thought that these individuals are just hangin' around doing nothing; being families, mothers, fathers, being poor, unemployed, marginalized, uneducated, being addicted, and being mentally and/or physically ill. I say this because I see how many women and people are undervalued for what they do. Monetarily they are not remunerated with equal pay, for work of equal value. Instead, they are discriminated against simply for being who they are. Those who are stigmatized and marginalized are not given nearly enough help, with a woeful lack of support and assistance within our institutions and services that are supposed to be available to help, by extending a hand up.

Learning to be, truly is not a luxury, but a discipline.