The Creative Epiphany – Is Your Rorschach Stuck?

seachange
We see films where the patient is being asked to tell the therapist what he sees as a series of Rorschach images are flashed before him. Ambiguous ink splats are seen as images that consistently reveal the patient’s view of life in general – revealing how he interprets life and what he thinks constantly about. Typically his proclamations for the subject matter of each image are slanted in the direction of violence, witches, sadness, loneliness, sex, butterflies, sex, flowers, or bugs having sex. Results can be funny to watch…or sad.

And so I ask myself sometimes if my Rorschach is stuck. It is a fine question to ask yourself. I certainly don’t want to see things in a consistently stereotypical way. Creatively speaking, as an artist and writer, it is a common problem to get stuck in a rut. You become comfortable. Life is hard so you crawl into your studio seeking refuge and a quiet place to hide. You escape into your world where you see things the way you prefer to see them. You do what you have always done because perhaps it brings you accolades and sales and peace of mind and quick therapy and an easy way to express your creativity, and an escape… You use the same tired techniques; you construct your subject matter, or your abstractions using consistently predictable methods that bring you to the quite similar results of the day before. Your artistic destination seldom changes. Your journey of creativity has dropped off imagination, experimentation and innovation somewhere along the bumpy road.

We all see things through the lens that is uniquely our own – we observe and gather inspiration, either externally or internally, in order to decide what to create and we attach our own moods, prejudices, preferences and peculiarities to those observations. It seems logical that if you are in a creative rut it might be the result of a narrow lens through which you are observing the world out there and the world in there. They say that you ARE that which you think constantly about. So if your days are spent in constant review of the past or the unsatisfying history of your life and how you have always seen things and how you have always done things then I believe you will get what you have always gotten, speaking creatively.

People who live their lives creatively are my favorite kind of people. They don’t have to be artists of course! In the words of Jack Kerouac:
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”
That is a bit extreme and difficult to find all in one person (and sometimes you will find those kind of people in prison) but occasionally I find glimmers of it all in a person roaming the world freely and doing great things, and those are the people I am drawn to.

This is why travel and culture and broadening your horizons can never be a bad thing. This is why film and theater and concerts and reading are essential to staying alert and stimulated creatively. We all meet people, and I mean all kinds of people in all walks of life, not just artists, who never pick up a book, don’t travel, can’t get into films, don’t even cook much, seldom read the news…and can’t even decide what their favorite color is. When that happens to me I take it as a pretty big clue that sooner or later I will run out of things to talk about with that person. And if we don’t know by now that creative muscles need to stay toned for best results, then we lose out. Creativity requires exercise – use it or lose it. You cannot be aware of and appreciate alternatives to your tried and true predictable (and sort of pathetic) creative efforts if you close yourself off and see only what you have always seen up there on your personal Rorschach screen.
Title of Mixed Media Collage – SEA CHANGE

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The Creative Epiphany – What is a creative epiphany?

80834_coverI was so fascinated with the creative gene and the creative process and the intuitive realizations that sometimes accompany them that I wrote a book. I was not only interested in the personal creative process, I wanted to know what types of enlightenment and inspiration and guidance creative people experience while trying to find their particular paths within their creativity. Creativity often tugs people in multiple directions and they find it difficult at times to know which area to concentrate on, or how to be successful at a selection of things without diluting it all into nothing of special significance. I invited dozens of people of high creativity who had actually experienced what I define as a life-changing  “creative epiphany” to contribute chapters. I interviewed dozens of people at great length, sometimes across states just by phone, who I either knew personally or who had been recommended to me as having particularly fascinating stories to tell.  My theory was that if they could tell me, in their own simple conversational vocabulary, without being preachy and arrogant, about a startling life-changing personal experience where they felt that a light bulb had been turned on in a previously dark corner of their minds that shed its light and inspiration, revealing a solution or a path to be followed or a missing piece to the puzzle of their creativity, then I would ask them to write a chapter for the book.

And it worked. Nineteen writers including myself wrote chapters for my second book titled “The Creative Epiphany – Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations” available on www.Amazon.com and through various other distributors. One story from a gifted southwestern painter, Randy Pijoan, who had a near-death experience followed by a major epiphany during his recovery and was forever changed not only in the way he painted but in realizing he was brought back to do something meaningful, tells how he proceeded to found a non-profit organization called VENTERO OPEN PRESS. Google that and you will see what he accomplished, and read about how it really happened in my book. Or a college graduate of CU in Boulder, Regan Rosburg, who was an extraordinary fine art major but had not the confidence or self-esteem to pursue that avenue, choosing instead to become a stripper in the Denver area. A great stripper! A legendary stripper. But still not an artist of the kind she wanted to be. Through an epiphany  – a sharp and instantaneous one awarded to her one evening – she realized she had to paint and would no longer compromise her gift. Google her and you will see just how far her epiphany has taken her.

The book is not just about artists because I believe that creativity is often manifested in simply an extraordinary life well lived, or in discovering how to creatively twist adversity into a life-long calling that will change other lives. There is a chapter written by a lovely and accomplished gentleman, now deceased, which explains a simpler way to read music. I edited the chapters myself because I did not want to call in an editor who had no personal knowledge of the writers and who might be inclined to edit the living daylights out of them, losing the personal conversational style and unique vocabulary of the people who wrote them. The men and women are from many fields of life all woven together with a common thread of gratitude for their creative gift and their desire and passion to consistently and enthusiastically accept the gift as they go through life. They are a fun and rowdy bunch.

Epiphanies can arrive with a whisper or a shout and all points in between. You see, some epiphanies need time to reveal themselves. They percolate up from the deep recesses of your mind through layers of your consciousness and gradually begin to arrive to the area of your brain where one fine day they are “suddenly” so very apparent. You wonder how you could have been so blind, but that is because you needed time to “know”. Other epiphanies happen like an earthquake – the sharp, loud ones that rattle your brain. They grab you, stop you cold in your tracks and shake you like an 8.5 on the Richter scale – they fill your mind with instant illumination as if a light bulb was just turned on, accompanied by a call to action. You have been struck with a brand new way of seeing things. Your blind spot is gone and you know you have just received a message from somewhere deep within your soul. And your authentic soul voice will never give you the wrong message – it has only your best and truest interests at heart. That’s why you need to keep those paths of communication open to your soul, and that is accomplished by paying attention and living in the NOW. By being aware. Be being open and at times quite vulnerable – but present. You must be present to win, as the saying goes. Life’s prizes go to those who are full participants. Showing up is half the battle.

To quote from the book, “A creative epiphany brings discovery, illuminaton or new understanding to your creative endeavors. It often provides a tidbit of vital information or an intuitive realization, delivered with a high degree of life-changing  power and strength that enables you to more clearly define and utilize your special gifts of creatiivty.”

In my Introduction to the book I talk at length about creativity – defining it as I see it, playfully personifying it, comparing it to other gene-gifts, and talking frankly about its positive characteristics and downsides. Yes it does have those downsides. But if you are a creative person who chooses to acknowledge your creativity – because everyone is born creative in some way – acknowledging that gene and acting upon the positive components of that gift is the part that takes courage and an adventurous, risk-taking kind of mind. It is not always easy to embark on a life-long gamble with creativity, but the rewards are well worth the risks. This book takes the time to ask about the process and inquire about the rewards. A Creative Epiphany will reassure you that in discovering your life’s purpose you will reach fulfillment and understanding; knowing without a doubt what your unique creative contributions must be in your brief lifetime here on earth.

Epiphany.

Read about them.

Recognize them.

Listen…

Have one.

The Creative Epiphany – My Wish for You

tree2012The holiday season brings wish lists and hopes and dreams in the minds of young and old alike.

Wishing almost becomes a pastime – who wants what, who has already purchased what for whom, which person needs this or that, where what can be found.

I hardly know you – the great YOU who are out there and have responded most kindly to my new blog. And yet I have wishes for you – wishes for everyone. Things I hope for you and gifts I wish you already have and must keep or wishes you might receive. Here they are:

I wish that you all have good people in your lives – a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, mother or father, son or daughter, grandmother and grandfather who love you and tells you so; and a husband, wife, lover or friend who loves and values you and who you value in return.

I wish that you have a special place on earth that you can go sometimes for fun and/or peaceful retreat from the harshness of the world. I happen to believe the world is a wondrous place, but sometimes the noise of it becomes too much. We all need a safe place to hide – a room, a destination, a walking path through the woods….

A pleasurable way to pass your bits of free time – a hobby you love or a service you offer to others or a skill that you can drown yourself in when you need to become consumed by something creative and meditative. Some type of endeavor that takes you away.

I wish for you an understanding of what life is all about; and that you learn the ability to sort things out and keep what is honest, true and beautiful in your life.

I wish that you have the insight and courage to know what you will no longer tolerate in your life and that you can manage to separate yourself and make a distance from any unwanted negativity, if not permanently then just for brief and welcome relief.

Perhaps most of all I wish for you love – love and acceptance of self, love for family, friends and special people in your life and love of humankind in general. We are all fellow captives here on the big blue marble, swarming around together. There is no more water now than there has ever been, no more land, no more sky and no more air. We are all using the same resources – the same gifts – that have been here since before recorded time. I wish that we could all learn sharing, caring, toleration and kindness, peace and love. There really is enough to go around. I wish that we would all see that the gifts are distributed more fairly.

The Creative Epiphany – Pioneer Woman

surf muirbeachsurf wavesMany years ago I saw a woman who was a reputable psychic – so amazingly in tune with the universe and correct in her readings, and so instantaneously able to pick up the info about total strangers by phone that she had a Denver radio show and she also took private appointments. She could tell you about your past lives and she could predict your future as well. She knew nothing about me of course, and I was both open-minded and skeptical at the same time upon arrival at her private office. She was sort of a flamboyant person, likable, talkative, laughing a lot – but she seemed so normal, so down to earth. I asked myself how such a normal person could see things and know things no longer of this world? I guess I thought to myself that I would have had more faith in her if she had been a little more wierd.

She erased my skepticism within five minutes.

She described my aura as unusually vivid, with pinks and purples and brightness all around. She said I was full of life and joy. She knew I was a painter. She knew I sold my art. But she knew nothing about menot even my nameand she knew nothing of my family situation. And yet she actually knew everything. She began to tell me what she knew had gone before. She described three past lives to me. In one I was living in Europe, the wife of a German professor; a large bear of a man, highly educated and well respected, and I was of an artistic nature and had many creative hobbies. My husband was devoted to his wife and children; she said that he and I had adored eachother.

In the second life she saw me as a young girl in Ireland, sickly and frail, loved by my devoted and worried mother. I died in my early teens. She said that I decided I would not choose to be born again unless I could live a long and healthy life.

In the next life I was  pioneer woman in the northwest area of the US territories, once again artistic and crafty, married to a ruggedly handsome and physically fit man who was a carpenter by trade. He made beautiful furniture and other wood items including our home, and we had two little girls together. We were very happy.

Then she turned to my current life. She knew I had two children. She told me that my handsome son was a fine boy of high intelligence who would proceed to climb peaks in his life both intellectually and physically, always questioning things about himself and others while competing with his own high standards, choosing sports where he could better his own records. Within five years or so of her declaration, and with no prior indication of his talent,  my son was suddenly fascinated with rock climbing, learning it well, and then rapidly excelling at it as he began progressing to mountain climbing resulting in achievements in climbing around the globe and continuing to this day. He has also written a book, is now writing a second, and is the kind of person you would want to call immediately if you needed historical or political advice about a destination you were going to visit. He is a fine embassador of life who will always champion the plight of the poor and an author who writes with great intellect, insight and humor.

She told me that my daughter would dance, just as she had done in the womb 24/7, and she would dance her way through life as well as on the stage. She said that my daughter was an old soul, wise as she was beautiful,  kind of heart, artistic like her mother and intelligent. She, like my son, would travel the world and spread her love of life. And so it came to be – within a couple more years (and no prior hint of dancing) my daughter would find that she was drawn to the dance – and she would eventually perform in The Nutcracker on a prestigous Denver stage. She would also choose to become a graphic artist, award winning, and proceed to travel the world visiting many people and places that time forgot. With so much talent and such enlightenment she has gained the respect of people wherever she goes. She is a fine embassador for joy, as evidenced in her colorful Blog about her travels.

All the predictions from the “normal psychic” about my own life proved true – I later made the decision to divorce as she said I would. Once again I was a pioneer woman in my life, in new ways other than those mentioned above from previous lives – I think of it often – how much there has been in my life, and probably yours, to pioneer for and around. On another level with the vast changes of the past few centuries and into the now, all of us continue to forge our individual paths as pioneers in a strange and wonderful new world of astounding technology and fast-paced progress. Whether or not you believe in psychic readings you must agree that my experience was fascinating. Kinda makes you want to find a good “normal psychic”, doesn’t it? Undoubtedly he or she will tell you that there is a great unknown.

The Creative Epiphany – Nature’s Holiday Offering

path lichen sunone treemoss water suntwo fernsIt has been a week since I last posted and I am here to tell you that there is good reason. I have an excellent explanation wrapped around a thoroughly entrancing story, all true, which will remain undocumented in this Blog. It is a story well worth telling, but in another space and time. It is the kind of a story that marks a pivotal change; a “sea change” in my life – a story that will forever hold a bookmark as one of my favorite chapters.

I believe a theme runs through everything, and if there is a theme revealed in this untold tale it is that for everything there is a season, and a reason, and that timing is everything. However, SOMEDAY is not a day of the week. Don’t be putting stuff off for that future some day. Be alert and don’t be skittish – when opportunities brush quietly against you, notice that. Sometimes a softer touch delivers a more monumental impression that a wallop. Live in the now and sieze the magical moments that life offers you.

These photos were taken in Muir Woods – a northern California treasure near the Pacific coast just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The rains had come down in sheets for two solid days – walls of water – with serrated, biting teeth – leaving open wounds on trees, shrubbery – maiming things – tearing the last of the fall colors limb from limb. But then when it stopped, it stopped.

I found myself in Muir Woods, a glistening cathedral of giant redwood trees dripping irridescent liquid from every branch as if in holiday regalia. The filtered sun added golden sparkle to the silver, and the tumultuous creek became the hallelujah chorus. Mounds of newly washed moss appeared deeper green on tree trunks, rocks and entrances to the same hollowed logs you see in the pictures of fairy tales books. Rocks displayed new colors wet with rain, ferns uncurled their feathery fronds to lap up drippings.

The respect paid by fellow visitors to nature’s display was apparent and  walking the woods became a prayer.