The Creative Epiphany – Sustaining Creativity, Part 2

vangogh Van Gogh – a creative talent sustained over a lifetime, in spite of vast misfortune and little reward.

In the previous post I touched upon the subject of Creativity – personifying her as I see her – exposing her fickle nature. Her tendency to use us at her will, wringing every last imaginative drop out of us  and then abusing us and abandoning us  when she grows weary of us. Leaving us with the impression that we are unworthy of her faithful and consistent attention and her inventive charms.

It is a common complaint and a valid observation from artists, musicians, writers – all of you creative ones – that creative inspiration comes fleetingly at times and is difficult to sustain for the long haul. There are those who say that it need only visit you once to make its mark and give you a “15 minutes of fame” distinction. As in the case of the song writer who writes the song that everyone on the planet is humming  which sells a million or more CD’s. Or the author of a New York Times best selling book who then finds that he/she does not have a second best selling book in his/her lifetime – that happens a lot. But hey, maybe you should be thrilled  being a one-hit wonder, because it is better than no hit at all. It puts you on the map. People respect that and it takes you a long way in the game of life.

But still, the thing is, creativity is such a flaky wench. She is never dependable. How can you make the most of her visits and keep her engaged and happy so that she moves right in and stays a long while? Perhaps for a lifetime?

Let us consider the importance of the inner voice. The strength of an inner voice can be tapped into, guiding the creative ones, the artist for example, past enormous earthly noise. This ability to follow an illuminating inner compass allows the genius soul of the artist to triumph over distraction, focus and live on forever through work that is aligned perfectly with the purpose of that artist and his universe during his particularly shining, rarified point in history. His lifetime.

If you, whatever type of creative being that you are, can maintain a consistent level of fine creativity over a long period of time then perhaps you have had the experience of feeling uncomfortable accepting all the credit and praise for your own fine achievements. Creativity seems a separate entity; apart from you; she is the shining one, the genius. Quite honestly, you might feel you were a mere vehicle for the expression of your greatest creative ideas – you were just the means for giving them life. They happened to you rather than by you. You feel that some of your finest work and your most original ideas were effortless and not entirely of your own mind – so “involuntarily” accomplished that they seemed to flow through you from somewhere above you as if your actions were being orchestrated by some far more gifted conductor – the beautiful, illusive, divine Creativity God. You felt like a puppet channeling gifts from beyond, strings attached, arms flying in all the right directions, but totally under the control of another entity.

If you are an artist who can tap into this “flow” of creativity it is more a surprise to you than anyone else that your best work is born through the strokes of your own paintbrush or pen. In fact, it is difficult for you to remember how the process unfolded, as you painted or wrote or composed a song, because initially this “flow” experience was beyond common understanding and unlike anything that had ever happened to you, the creative person, when it first occurred. It was of course your work, it was your style, it was your time and effort; it was your paint and your canvas and it was done in your studio space, but the inspiration was so obviously not of this world and the result so much better than your own mere earthly thoughts could have planned to achieve. When this happens, as the work is progressing, the hours fly by, energy does not wane, the steps taken toward completion are automatic and effortless; this level of inspired work is achieved in far less time than other paintings labored over for weeks. And yet it results in your most inspired work; it is the work of your soul in sync with the universe. Creativity was there in the room, but you were more aware, more present, more inspired than ever, receiving messages from your soul.

Ken Robinson, in his brilliant book about creativity titled Out Of Our Minds, Learning To Be Creative, says on page 154:

“Creative processes draw from all areas of human consciousness. They are not strictly logical nor are they wholly emotional. The reason why creativity often proceeds by intuitive leaps is precisely that it draws from areas of mind and consciousness that are not wholly regulated by rational thought.”

On page 155 he continues:

“The term ‘flow’ has been used to describe peak performances. These are times when we are immersed in something that completely engages our creative capabilities and draws equally from our knowledge, feelings and intuitive powers. These peak performances typically occur when someone is working in their element at the peak of their performance. In this respect, creativity involves particular attitudes and being able to access deep personal resources. There is a further factor, which is difficult to describe. Perhaps the best word for this is passion.”

This magic happens in other creative endeavors besides art – musicians such as Sting speak about having no remembrance of how a particularly brilliant song was written or truly understanding the profound meaning of his own lyrics until years later… Inventors suddenly know what must be adjusted for the efficiency of their revolutionary new whiz-bang idea. Or for another creatively inspired one, a great solution comes by way of a dream. In any case, you had an epiphany – a realization.

A creative epiphany can arrive in a sudden shudder of realization, or a slow unfolding of obscure information that forms a finished puzzle as it reveals itself in your mind. It can arrive via an inner voice from your soul that is most assuredly audible in your mind’s ear as it offers you instant advice or a fast solution to a problem just when you need it. Something seemingly unrelated, unsophisticated and of humble origin might trigger the breakthrough of epiphany required for your missing solution to be heard. Epiphanies come in many costumes. They are not proud; whatever type of energy carries them along is just fine for their purposes. Because whether they arrive in elegant style with pomp and circumstance or in the most common of events, they always bring discovery and illumination, as if a light bulb was suddenly turned on, clearing the shadows of our mind. Epiphany is always offering a previously over-looked solution or a startling jolt of new information or a missing ingredient essential to your creative process thereby clarifying your understanding about something you urgently needed to know. Epiphany always knows what information to bring to you if you will listen. Just listen.

I believe this alignment with the universe, when a brilliant message of creative realization is received and then executed by an aware mind, is a CREATIVE EPIPHANY. 

Epiphany will always be Creativity’s best friend, her illumination, her guardian angel, her candle in the darkness. Epiphany always brings news. Creativity must keep an open mind for Epiphany’s message – so she lives in the now, receptive and eager for that special visitor. She listens for her, she watches for her, she can feel the vibration of her impending arrival whether by a thunderous, earthquake shifting of thought or as subtle information, delivered like the slightest flutter of a butterfly’s wing, discernible amid worldly chaos. When Epiphany arrives, you know it. She has no substitute – she is never mistaken for anyone but herself. All the other crazy voices in your head step aside to facilitate her entrance. She brings full body chills to Creativity.

Creativity dwells in our soul and travels through our hearts and our minds. She enters from the open door of the universe carrying free samples of Inspiration. She gets you out of bed in the morning; she calls for your attention. She sings the music of ideas. She chants mantras of encouragement. She meditates while performing humble rituals. She is the reason for wondering. She challenges you to do more – to continue at your work, your hobby, your garden, your learning, your love of life – and to discover your authentic calling. Creativity is actually always there – she never leaves – but you must be aware and open to her song of epiphany.

Portions of this blog were excerpted from Jo’s book, THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY – Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations available on Amazon.com

link to book www.epiphanysfriends.com

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The Creative Epiphany – When Creativity Messes With You, Part 1

createstones    80834_cover

You know that feeling – you are drained of ideas, you are parched of imagination, desperate for inspiration – you are wondering if you will ever have another burst of brilliance in your lifetime. You try to force it, using your “last resort” tactics to entice the lovely vixen, CREATIVITY, back into your control. She is nowhere to be found – she took the last train for the coast. She always does this when you need her the most; she is fickle and she cheats on you with other guys. You are feeling powerless without her. You have been robbed of your favorite distinction – you feel so ordinary – so without your edge – so blank – so nowhere.

What to do, what to do…  Music? Food? Shopping? Sex?  Dancing? Running to nowhere? Mingling randomly with your fellow human beings? You wonder how long this vacancy will last. This exile from productivity. This emptiness.

The following is excerpted from my Introduction of my book, “THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY – Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations”:

“Creativity does have a down-side. After all, she is only human, isn’t she? She has ongoing relationship issues with Loneliness, Self-Doubt and Criticism. You have heard the expression, “There goes an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.” Bingo. She does not always play well with others. She has problems fitting in. In spite of her flamboyant, life-of-the-party behavior, she can be quite shy. She sometimes leads a solitary life, fleeting in and out of thought incessantly at odd hours of the day and night and then disappearing for months at a time, completely off the radar. Creativity finds it painful to be taken for granted and does not ever come when she is sternly summoned. Even being labeled “creative” is a heavy load to carry through life. People expect a lot of Creativity. And she tires easily. Sometimes she burns herself up in a colorful flame-out. Then there is Depression…circling around Creativity’s camp like a hyena waiting for pieces of flesh, steadfastly marking his territory. Creativity is sometimes deeply fearful. She is plagued with insecurity. She has foot-stomping anger management issues. She hates criticism and feels tricked when it is called “creative criticism.” She is easily offended. But after a dry spell she appears again, rested and giving, ready for some fresh endeavor because she says, smiling, that she was missing you. To make up for her absence and undependability, Creativity takes you on serendipitous journeys you had never dreamed of taking. She shows you the world in one blink of her exotic eye.”

When Creativity finally decides to return, riding on a grand epiphany, lucky be you.

The next blog entry will explain what to look for and how you can facilitate that experience.

In the meantime, go have some fun, put it out of your mind – and relax!

Link to book –  www.epiphanysfriends.com

The Creative Epiphany – The Historic Denver Perrenoud Building, Where Africa Came Alive for Me

   photo courtesy of  historichomesofDenver.com

        photos courtesy of uptownonthehill.com

Little did I know back in 2003-2004 that this remarkable historic private residence, built in 1810, would play such a pivotal role in my life and my art career. The Perrenoud Building, originally designed and built as a family home at 836 E. 17th Avenue, Denver, Colorado for prominent Denver pioneer John Perrenoud and his wife and three daughters, showcases an eclectic mix of classical elements over an enormous span of six separate family apartments  on four levels. The only fully functioning brass and wrought iron birdcage elevator in Denver still transports residents between floors – and originally there were individual dumb waiters ( small elevators in each private kitchen) which delivered piping hot  meals to all residents from the main kitchen located in the basement. Maids quarters were located in the top attic, and a newly restored ballroom is found in the basement, where originally a speakeasy was hidden away, with blacked out windows and ample room to dance and drink forbidden adult beverages.The main floor atrium lobby rotunda with Italian marble floors and fireplace, is a rare gem of an entry foyer – a towering ceiling, open railings and stairways to all four floors and topped by a spectacular, original stained glass window in blues, depicting angels sitting on a cloud. Can you imagine the fascinating history of this place? Do you get visual images of carriages arriving, parties in the ballroom and the grand life?

Today this glorious residence is divided into luxurious condos, each offering old world living with exotic woods and carvings and a European flare right in the heart of downtown Denver, just a short stroll away from the Capitol Building. One condo was purchased by my dear friend Christine-Mahree Fowler. I had worked for Chris, as I call her, for several years as the director of her art gallery. She told me about her experiences in traveling to South Africa – she listened to me talk about how I had inexplicably loved anything African from a very early age. I clipped photos from Nat Geo and I must have watched BORN FREE a hundred times. I knew all about the Big Five before age five. The friendship took off and we became “partners in crime”, planners of ambitious undertakings, dreamers of dreams. We began to make things happen based upon Chris’s many travels to South Africa, my love of the continent and artistic leanings, and both of our knowledges of marketing, sales and event planning.

Within a short time we had partnered in an import business we named UNBUNTU and Chris was going back and forth to South Africa importing art & artifacts from several reputable sources she already had there; I was painting with an ethnic African theme as if I were indeed channeling visions of people and places I had actually never seen, and we were hosting “invitation only” gallery shows of our collection in her circa 1810, 4th floor condo in The Perrenoud. We were a great success for several key years, attracting local African experts and others who were eager to soak up the culture and learn…. The moral of this story is that things can get done if you are creative, persistent and alive with passion for a plan.

Years have gone by and our respective business careers  have evolved, yet stayed intertwined, into new completely different things yet  they are basically, logically and appropriately the result of those earlier seeds! Chris is now working as a consultant for Africa Adventure Consultants, Inc. assisting people with custom safaris.   visit www.adventuresinafrica.com  She is also writing a blog on that very subject here with WordPress – visit www.africantraveltales by CM Fowler that I highly recommend for its content and elegant style in reporting raw news direct from the bush as well as sophisticated Cape Town, its fine art galleries and shopping, wine country and the scenic South African coastal regions..

I am of course still painting, talking to Chris nearly every day and brainstorming with her on our common cause – saving the culture, animals and people of South Africa. The thrust of our creativity is now placed in the direction of making a difference in South Africa – a continent we both feel passionately about – a cause we feel equipped to lend our energy and devotion. I will be going on my first Safari in 2014, accompanied by art students I have taught and friends I have made through the years. Chris will lead us – having carefully arranged the itinerary and chosen sights and experiences that we have particularly requested. We have both decided that importing African art and artifacts should come to an end – Africa should keep and hold those indigenous treasures dear to its heart and its people. What we will continue to do is to learn, enlighten, participate and assist those people who feel as we do – that Africa’s future is at risk and there is much to be done so that much is not lost…and forgotten.

If you have an interest in accompanying us on safari – any variation of custom safari you might imagine – contact Chris, known by most as Mahree  (a South  African name) and ask for some information. You will find no one better suited to listening to your dream and making it happen for you and your traveling companions.

Mahree Fowler

Safari Account Executive

Africa Adventure Consultants

Tel: 720-612-0802  • Fax: 303-778-0633 • Toll free: 866-778-1089 • Emergency: 720 836-6531

Email: mahree@adventuresinafrica.com Blog:http://www.africantraveltales.com

Website: http://www.adventuresinafrica.com  Find us on: Facebook

 

The Creative Epiphany – Apple Crisp and Singapore

applecrisp

I know….sounds a little crazy…..but that’s what’s on my mind today, first and foremost. The weather here is very coolish – there were 3 inches of new snow at my house this week! The mountains had more of course. So when the weather turns on a dime and we are no longer having 75 degree days, I start  thinking of pumpkin bread, apple crisp, a fire in the fireplace and winter blankets on the bed.

Except I am going to SINGAPORE this month!! With a side-trip to Thailand!! Heat and humidity are in my future!! There was a mad dash around this week looking for sale items that would be suitable when the sweat is dripping down the entire length of your body underneath your clothes, puddling here and there along the way. Even the summer clothes as we know them just don’t cut it in Singapore – you need flimsier garments that float around your body rather than sitting right on your skin. Dressing one’s self there is a challenge. Think gauzy. Think filmy. Think two showers a day.

I have family in Singapore – my daughter and her husband. They will be living there for several years, adding that locale to a long and growing list of places they have traveled to and lived in for a time. They love it, not just for Singapore itself but for all the other enticing places you can see in just an easy weekend jaunt. This fabulous trip will be another addition to my quite small but growing trip-of-a-lifetime list. Do you know the New York Times best selling book “1,000 PLACES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE  – A Traveler’s Life List” by Patricia Schultz?? It is in its second printing, with 200 more places added now and although it is a paperback book it is nearly 2 inches thick. You will get lost in this book so have post-it note paper handy. It will take you away to places you had no idea existed as well as reassuring you that your must-do places, like Rome for instance, will never not be a place to see before you die. You need a copy of this book  – you need several to have around when you need a great gift for delighting seasoned travelers or opening the eyes of others who want to broaden their horizons. And NO I am not making any money by plugging it.

Of my entire core family of two grown children and a former husband, I am the least well traveled. My son filled up his first passport and is on his second; he travels the world with his job, sometimes calling me on a satellite phone while standing isolated and alone out in the field of a place I have to find on a map after I hang up, and I do know my geography. I don’t really get around much, except in my robust imagination, and in that regard you might say I have been around the world several times. I have spent all of my life painting and writing and with other creative pursuits. I have, actually, been to a handful of great places including some across the pond, but I have never traveled farther west than to Japan and  Hawaii.  Singapore will be something very different for me. I do have reasons – valid reasons, for my modest travel schedule – and although it would be virtually impossible in the time I have left to catch up with the others, I am setting my priorities and intent upon crossing some of my dream trips off my bucket list. Oh I have always had a bucket list, don’t get me wrong, but my practical life got in the way of it. You know how it goes. I have had a big full life of many transitions, changes and challenges, much joy and great sadness and all that lies between. I would be just fine if I could not ever travel anywhere again – but I am fortunate enough to finally have the will and the way both at the same time.

Through the eyes of my nomadic children I have gained a great deal of knowledge, acceptance and pleasure for exotic places I have actually never seen myself. My kids are great ambassadors for the United States, through their genuine curiosity and respect for people everywhere and their consistent, unspoiled good nature and polite manners. I know that was first taught at home,  but is it not true that in many ways we learn more from our kids that we ever taught them? I have a fresh appreciation for the Buddhist way of life, for instance, and am now aware as never before, living in the now, and practicing a higher degree of tolerance after seeing their countless photos of temples  and shrines in Bhutan, Burma and other countries in that area of the world and choosing to read books that back up that visual experience with substance.  I have become a more well rounded person as a result of their travels. I am more enlightened and in tune with the universal plan.

These days, the world is our backyard. I am glad that my children and yours are finding it easier to navigate the globe than we ever did at their ages – it is true that in traveling we gain greater understanding and acceptance of eachother, and we could all use more of that. With travel, life becomes deeper in meaning; our purpose here clearer. As a favorite t-shirt says, “Life’s big questions. What is the meaning of life? Why am I here? …and where are the cookies?”

So I am making apple crisp today, secure in the happiness that a grand trip awaits me. I am ready and eager to learn about places I have never been, and perhaps I will gain the answers to life’s big questions. NAMASTE.