The Creative Epiphany – Loose Cannons & Wing-nuts

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Part of the reason the internet is such a magnet for our attention is that it can deliver us juicey news items well before the TV and radio broadcasts are able to do so, and of course we Americans are news junkies of the highest order. We have the attention span of gnats and we like our news fast and furious. Each breaking news item must be more intriguing than the previous one and if it is not we become impatient. We tremble with withdrawal and shake with news hunger. We need lots of info, arriving 24/7! Even with a globe the size of earth, on any given day, there might not be quite enough stuff happening to satisfy our appetite for rapid-fire news excitement. So therefore we have assembled our own entourage of loose cannons and wing-nut freaks that we can fall back on to supply us with ongoing sad sagas, shocking quotes, substance abuse spectacles and train wreck disasters. They are our side-shows, positioned adjacent to the main event three ring circus world that is already crazy enough for Pete’s sake. They parade themselves in front of our eyes performing one outrageous, twisted act after another and we eat it up like M&M’s.

You know who they are – the spoiled substance abuser “Lindsey Lohan” poor little beautiful but brainless types and the Justin Bieber “baby brat” types who want so desperately to drop their pants and reveal their bottoms to the world. The “loud-mouth” types like pouty lipped Donald Trump and his counter-part angry as hell Rosy O’Donnell. Then you have the political blow-hards who announce that authentic rape is not really an act that can result in actual pregnancy and the wanna-be-dictator-son-of-the-big-daddy-dictator who threatens to send his nukes our way if Dennis Rodman does not have the leader of the free world call him “maybe” on the phone, as the pop song lyric goes. There are many varieties of these dysfunctional news dominators, and most of them are having babies and making more just like them.

WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? How come they get so much PRESS when other far more uplifting and informative stories go unnoticed? The fruit loops of the world get the attention because we love watching insanity play itself out up on the big screen, day by day so we can see every sweaty pore up close and personal, as we wait for the final meltdown. We love us some meltdowns, now don’t we? We are fascinated to see that bad behavior really does get rewarded by getting most of the attention. The squeaky wheels DO get the grease, don’t they? If you asked each of the people mentioned above what their contribution has been to the world – what non-material “good” they have accomplished – I doubt if they could offer any convincing answer. They are the examples not to be followed and what a distinction that is.

I really like the new Pope, although I am not Catholic. He seems like a nice man who knows what a powerful message his pure humility delivers to the world. He seems to be walking the walk that he talks and I would like to hear more about him. You do not have to be a Mother Teresa or a Pope, however, to deliver a life message of simple gratitude and love that says you are indeed truly, joyfully alive and feel profoundly blessed to be living here on the beautiful big blue marble we call earth. There is plenty of room on the humankind yardstick between the Lindsey Lohans on the far left and his divine Holiness, the Pope at the far far right. The rest of us can all just jump in there somewhere, hopefully far to the right of center, and begin to do the right things with our lives, making breaking news for all the best reasons even though it might not ever be reported. I can never understand how someone can squander their life – waste a precious life – spending valuable time on negativity, violence and self-destructive behavior. There are no excuses for that, whatever our circumstances. All we have to do is to gather our courage, rise above our circumstances, and live our lives the best, most positive ways we can, touching other people’s lives in such a way that we leave a positive and memorable mark where we passed.

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The Creative Epiphany – Moving Back To The Future

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Living creatively means always keeping your options open. It was Yogi Berra who said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”  See more of his “yogi-isms” at www.yogiberra.com/yogi-isms.html  After realizing he was often being quoted, he also said, “I didn’t really say everything I said.” Well I agree – neither did I.

As many of you have heard me say, I live in a very active 55+ community in Lincoln, California. This is an idyllic place, situated at the western fringe of the Sierras in northern California. We enjoy rolling hills and delicious scenery that feeds our souls and fills us up. San Francisco is just over an hour to the south and west and Tahoe is equal distance to the north and east. We have the best of both worlds and everything in between. Wine country and Yosemite are our neighbors.  The people here are intelligent, delightful, supportive, and for the most part enlightened about life and how it works. Many high-powered careers have settled down here. Wisdom comes with years and we live around a wealth of wisdom and insight. When my husband died two and a half years ago I could not have hoped for a better place to be to lick my wounds and recover.

But now I am planning a move. HUH? What? Why? AND WHERE? But you see I have a history of never choosing the easy, predictable path. Call me crazy, but do call me. I am “all in” this thing called life. 100%. Let’s get goin on the next part.

I am moving back to Denver, not where I was born but where I was born again when I arrived as a young woman to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder. For me, an Ohioan, the west was wide and free and full of promise, so I never looked back and proceeded to settle right in.  My mother, brother and sister eventually joined me. That  was the pivotal decision of my early adulthood. I have never regretted it and I am more at home in the Denver and Boulder area than I have ever been in any of the other five or six states across the country where I have moved for marriage and career.  The Rocky Mtns. are my comfort zone. My art career took hold there and provided me with the second most pivotal decision in my life, to pursue lifelong careers in various fields related to the arts.

So. I have decided to move “off the reservation” as we affectionately call our community consisting of 6,783 homes here in Lincoln. We also refer to ourselves as a campus, because living here does fit all the required criteria of a campus. We have many amenities, many avenues for continued education and pursuit of hobbies, umpteen  social events and sports available, trips to the city and local entertainment right here as well.  We gather, we learn, we socialize and we party. Life is full. Life is precious. Every single day counts.  We value time. Most of us would trade our most valued possessions for more quality time. We take nothing for granted,  because we see it all and we know that time is not to be wasted.

And as with any community we have our lovable eccentrics, our local celebrities, our tragedies, our celebrations, circumstances and stories. Have you ever been cornered by an enthusiastic “Viagra-ed up” 75 year old man who is determined to have you go home with him under the pretense of seeing his backyard waterfall? I will grant you that things move a bit slower here and yet they do still move – the same wild-eyed infatuations that you see in the eyes of testosterone driven sixteen year olds are evident everywhere – just a bit weathered over time. And you know you can out-run them if you want to. Conversely there are amazing specimens of physical fitness who defy the odds and continue to be all that they can be. We offer the full spectrum of human beings – don’t discount us because we are 55+.

Perfect strangers here will strike up a conversation with you in the check-out line at Safeway over any number of different personal subjects and ailments, offering lessons learned and warnings and pointers – how to prevent this and that and what to do for what, when some wierd new “thing” happens to you practically overnight, as things do when you are over 55. Everyone is eager to be helpful.

And then you notice in the check-out lane next to you that some elderly gentleman is handing out dog biscuits to anyone who will take one, announcing proudly and loudly that he has some great dog biscuits, pulling an endless supply out of his bulging pockets, nibbling each one as he extends his handfuls to virtually no takers. You just have to shake your head and realize that this could probably happen anywhere – it perhaps has nothing at all to do with Safeway being located in a 55+ community, does it?

I could go on – but I will just say that I am returning to Denver once again not for a love of my life but for the simple love of life itself. For me. I would like to live off-campus now. I would like to live among all age groups. I would like to not constantly be asked how old I am. I would like to blend in and make age a little bit more irrelevant. Instead of being a teacher of art, I would like to once again be a student of art. I have a lot I want to learn.

Instead of no one showing up at my door on Halloween, next fall I would like a couple dozen trick or treaters, because I usually have great candy to offer – no dog biscuits at my house.

And here are my marbles – I haven’t lost them.

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The Creative Epiphany – The Zone

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You creative geniuses out there know that there is a phenomenon that only occasionally shows up in the creative process, where you find yourself in a rare and scintillating zone of “I can do no wrong!”. You are on fire with the flames of creativity and you are unstoppable. You are vibrating with new ideas that flow from some unconscious place within you and manifest their brilliance in whatever you touch.

Maybe you are writing, painting, photographing, designing, inventing a new dish, building a thingamajig, composing a song or even just looking for a solution to a creative dilemma – and then things begin to flow in such a smooth and effortless stream of one great action after another that you are not sure where the genius is coming from. Certainly not from you, you say to yourself. You know it is your hand, your arm, your mind, but still it seems that you are channeling this golden path of creativity that is leading you and perfectly  answering your unuttered questions about what to do next.  Every decision you make is the right one, you are tingling with adrenaline and you can’t seem to work fast enough. In a  relatively brief moment in time – far less time than it usually takes – the “on fire” you completes the task at hand with effortless inspiration.

I remember one of the times it happened to me. Colorado. Summer day, windows open. Barefoot and painting in my upstairs studio. I had been able to sleep – sleep really well – the night before. I was alone. There was not a sound except the slight rustling of leaves outside. Then it happened like a breezy gust that suddenly kicks up for no apparent reason – but it was not wind. It was a kind of energy that visited me. The frenzy lasted a couple hours. When it stopped and my painting was complete I knew that I had been under some kind of creative spell – some un-nameable thing had visited me. The painting was one of my best ever.  I wish I had it to show you but it is long gone.

Through the years this unusual energy has taken hold of me a handful of times. I cannot summon it. It arrives unpredictably of its own power. I welcome it – I smile at its arrival – and I wring out every last drop of it while I can. Once in a while it lasts a day or more. I don’t require its arrival to do a good painting, but on the occasions when it arrives I do a spectacular painting. I still wonder “What just happened?” as I look at my creation. Who did that?

I believe you must know what I am talking about – because this energy, this zone, this goddess of  creativity is remarkably well traveled, and she is always scouting around for busy, preoccupied people to visit. She will arrive when you least expect her, obtain your undivided attention, leave her mark with you and then she’ll be gone as if nothing happened – but everything happened. I guarantee you will have profound evidence of her visit.

The Creative Epiphany – Be Careful What You Wish For

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They – whoever they are – say that our lives are shaped more by the prayers that are not answered than the ones that are. When I say “prayer” I use that term loosely – because I think of the word “prayer” as a visualization, a power of positive thinking, a goal strongly sought after, a long-term dream you have chased. But indeed it is a focused request to yourself, or to your higher power, and/or the universe or your soul for something you greatly desire. Well that is kind of a scary thought. Makes you start going back over all of your unanswered prayers, trying to remember what happened or did not happen after you realized that one particular prayer and probably others were never answered. I would guess that in some cases what came instead was a far better thing, and perhaps in other cases it was just a void. Nothing much seemed to take place. But at the time you had no perspective. You were so far under the mountain that you could not see the view.

But let’s just say that, lucky you, your dream sort of comes true. Maybe it isn’t the total 100% super duperest extra special perfect version of your spectacular technicolor  dream, but it is this —- close —- to the dream you always had. What are you inclined to do with that? Did you believe you deserved the absolute perfect answer to your prayers? Are you that entitled and that lazy in your requests to the universe? You must have the best, the very best, or nothing at all? You don’t return a gorgeous and rare rose because it has one split petal. Or maybe you do. Are you going to snub your nose at this gift and curse the imperfection? Or are you going to feel blessed that it came, even in a less than ideal form, inviting you to expend a bit of elbow grease and effort to mold it into the almost impossible version you wanted? Maybe it’s a test – because life does send us tests – to see how badly you really wanted what said you wanted.

By the time you are in the second half of your life, that life that has blessed you with many gifts and unexpected delights, you really ought to be able to look back and see the larger picture. It should be  obvious that if all of your wild-eyed, crazy-ass, howling at the moon prayers had been answered the results would not have been as blissful as you imagined. You thought you wanted this and then that. You wanted what you wanted and you wanted it now. The clock was ticking – you got impatient. When Where and How were your dreams going to come true? You asked for a person or a thing or a time or a place or a cure or a circumstance or a winning ticket. And you didn’t get it. What happened instead? If you made wise decisions based upon what you knew you could realistically have, rather than what you perceived as all the ways the universe had slighted you, I would be willing to bet the results were spectacular and satisfying. The weavings of time may seem enigmatic, but in time you see the threads are carefully woven for the quality of the entire tapestry.

The Creative Epiphany – Life’s Texture

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Life is long, if you are fortunate, deep if you are a thinker, wide if you are an adventurer, lofty if you have dreams and greatly, intricately textured if you are given a gift such as the gift of creativity. Everyone is given a gift of course – it is your mission to discover what it was that was awarded to you free at birth and nurture it and employ it well. I claim, most humbly, to have a life that encompasses all of those above mentioned dimensions. My life is never dull; always rich with fascinating people and wealthy in experiences. The days are not long enough, the nights are dark but stunningly visual. Although I am certainly not wealthy, by all other criteria I like to think I have it all – I do have it all – and I feel fortunate and lucky and rich in the details of life.

As I write this on March 1, 2013 I have had a supremely rotten day. One for the books. At one point I was able to remove myself from the action and watch it unfold right before my eyes as if it were happening to someone else, and I was mildly, oddly entertained. In a “dark comedy” kind of way. What was happening was so ironic – so perfect in its awfulness given the circumstances and perfectly badly timed – so poetically pathetic and so much like a film. I wondered what she would do – that woman I was watching who speaks so eloquently about attitude and motivation and life-changing epiphanies. Was she going to be brought to her knees? Was she going to crumble? Could she walk the walk of the talk? Would she cry? Would she have a molten meltdown?

The day is not over and so I don’t know. She seems ok right now but there is still the night – the 3am wake up when everything looks darker than pitch and seems hopeless. Oh yes there are others who have it much worse – she is well aware of where her puny problems rank in the hierarchy of human sufferings. Yet still they are HER problems, and she is the one dealing with them. She can’t hire anyone to take over – it is her life. She can’t be anyone else because they are all taken, as the saying goes.

As does everyone else, I look to myself for answers, and that is a full time job. As dawn breaks I will probably gain confidence that I will be fine. The complicated nature of life and the simplicity of the answers will strike me, and I will figure it all out. As always I will find comfort in people or creativity or mundane tasks. That’s what we do. That is what she and I do – the me, myself and her. We go about our day and let things un-complicate all by themselves, which is what often happens. As the ball of yarn spins out of control and unravels in crazy, loopy textural tangles all across the floor of our life we are already considering that it cannot be left that way, and we know we’ll have to wind it up again.