The Creative Epiphany – HAPPY NEW YEAR, WORLD!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE USA!

Photo courtesy of santabanta.com

Here we are – the year had to end somewhere and today is the day. Are you ready for a NEW ONE? Up to the challenges ahead of us?

We will all be in it together, cringing at the ridiculous, saddened by the tragic, laughing at the humor of life, being disgusted by the actions of some, proud of others, and taking in the joy when something actually goes right. Those of us who are champions of humanitarianism and innocent with eternal optimism want to end world hunger, save the whales, cure cancer, clean up the planet, end terrorism once and for all, bring about peace, educate all children, and care for the homeless and those who are suffering as we love one another. That is a tall order, but we continue to do whatever we can. And that is driven by eternal HOPE.

I have no resolutions for the NEW YEAR other than to continue what I have been doing – laugh more, be grateful for every day, practice random acts of kindness, tell the people that you love how you feel about them and if there is any good that can be done, then by all means do it.

My thanks go out to all of you for caring enough to follow this humble blog, allowing me to spout off about whatever spontaneous observations cross my mind. What an honor and a privilege that is. I am fortunate to live in a country where speaking out is encouraged – and I wish the same for you. I know who you are – those of you who do not enjoy that same freedom of speech. I agonize for your loss of freedom. I wish for you a better condition.

The best to all of you! Let’s hope the New Year brings about positive change for all.

bliss

mixed media painting by Jo Ann Brown-Scott copyright 2013

Advertisements

The Creative Epiphany – January 6th, The Day of Epiphany

photo 5 (3) photo 4 (3) mantwo manone

Photos courtesy of my recent trip to Singapore and Bangkok, October 2013

This blog was originally written as a broader continuation of my second book, The Creative Epiphany – Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations available on Amazon.com, by Jo Ann Brown-Scott. Since the book was published in 2008 we have had what I am going to say is great success for a first time author and a book that was published through Amazon’s self-publishing division. As I frequently say, the GIFT OF CREATIVITY is AWARDED FREE AT BIRTH –  everyone gets some. Your lifelong challenge is to accept it, locate its best vehicle and venue, then define how you can most effectively use it for yourself and the greater good. Remember that part about “the greater good”  because we do not include clever, creative criminals in the greater good category.

After you read my Introduction, in which you will come to know the lovely, personified creativity as I see her and defines just what a creative epiphany is, then offers suggestions for how you might be able to tap into a life-changing epiphany for yourself as well, you will see that the book is a compilation of personal experiences from 19 creative people including myself, who all had life-changing epiphanies involving their personal gifts of creativity. I selected people for the book based upon recommendations from friends, my own circle of eccentric acquaintances, family members and experts I knew. I interviewed the prospects by phone and in person, the theory being that if that person had an amazing life-altering story and could tell it beautifully in a normal conversation, holding my attention for hours, then that person could write it down and with my editing then release it for the world to read, thus changing lives. I was right – the stories are all told in a conversational style that I was careful to edit without stomping out the character and personality of the teller thus altering the book into a collection of boring, homogenized junk. It is not a perfect, polished example of literature – it is a real, down and dirty book from people living out in the trenches of a creative life, and that is not an easy life. They tell it like it is.

I have heard from many “strangers” who read the book, enjoyed it and gained something from it, including a psychologist who says he uses it as therapy, a highly devout woman doing work in a Buddhist monastery, a person walking down the streets of London who happened to see that the person coming toward her was also carrying a copy of this book. With Amazon you reach the world – with blogs you reach the world. For me, sitting here at my computer or painting in my studio, that is an intoxicating phenomenon. I have so much to say, and thank you profoundly for listening.

(Oh and as a side note – They say the sincerest form of flattery is to copy – and we have had that experience with our book in a publication that did not just borrow our idea but was bold enough to use my exact phrasing from the back cover of the book. If you check the dates of publication it is obvious who is copying who…and so was I flattered? Not so much. Not in the least. Was I angry? Much. What is that old quote? The one that says, “Be Yourself – everyone else is already taken.” Well hell yes, of course.)

The Day of Epiphany, January 6th. approaches I wanted to honor it with this blog. According to Wikipedia, the Day of Epiphany is defined this way:

  • Epiphany (feeling), an experience of sudden and striking realization
  • Epiphany (religion), the appearance of a deity to a human, known as theophany
  • Hierophany, an epiphany or manifestation of the sacred more broadly defined than a theophany
  • Darśana, Hindu term commonly used for “visions of the divine”

I prefer to reference the modern definition of epiphany when I write about it – the “light bulb” effect when a piece of life-changing inspiration or information comes to you in a moment of grand realization. You have had that happen – I know you have. It is both shocking and welcomed – sometimes the “knowing” percolates up through your consciousness over a period of time and gently but powerfully gains your attention – at other times the message might strike you instantaneously like a bolt of lightening. The common thread is that an epiphany brings information – an enlightening message of some variety – that you did not have before. A missing piece in your plans. And you needed it to move forward. It is of great help to you and utmost importance that you pay attention to it.

There are some keys to accommodating the arrival of the coveted epiphany – the best one is to remain open and present, living in the now, aware and alert to all possibilities. Keep a receptive mind, engaged and involved in life. Be hopeful. Have faith.

The creative epiphany – read about it. Listen. Have one.

www.epiphanysfriends.com

The Creative Epiphany – My Film Review for “American Hustle”

 Photo courtesy of getwhatsbuzzing.com

“American Hustle” is a film I really wanted to see so I took myself out last night about dinner time in the bitter cold, since the hype has been enormous and quite frankly, I am a sucker for hype if it is well done. I liked the posters and the previews. I like the people in it. You can do your own research for more details about it on FANDANGO.

This is one of those “loosely” based-upon-truth flicks, as is stated in text at the beginning in a catchy sort of way, about the Abscam financial scandal of the 70’s and the legendary con artist – played by Christian Bale and his hilarious and pathetic hair comb-over – who perpetrated the scheme. I do think it is pretty loosely based, but in a TV interview I heard one of the stars of the film say that it is the most unbelievable crazy incidents in the film that are actually the true parts.  And it is funny. it is one of those convoluted plots that keeps you thinking…keeps you going…keeps you engaged and yet is confusing to follow at times. And of course in the end all becomes crystal clear and you are supposed to be amazed.
I was not amazed, but I was entertained after we got past its slow-ish start, during which my mind wandered a bit (what am I going to have for dinner after this is over, did I remember to do that thing in my Christmas preparations, uh-oh I’m getting sleepy…).
When it picked up speed, the show was consistently stolen by the boobs of Amy Adams who plays the female lead – not because they are huge, bulbous and fake, but because they are oh so real, perky and right there in practically every scene via deep plunging necklines that go to the waist with no bra. I wondered if that part – those parts – and her clothing choices were some of the “true” scenes in the movie or not. Who dresses like that in real life? The girlfriends of con artists I guess, so now we know what to look for. She happens to be a good actress too, as a bonus. But your mind is wondering if somewhere along the way one of those boobs is going to be set free out of its proper place. And the other babe in the film is played by Jennifer Lawrence – she was brilliant too, as were most of the guys. I love gangster characters, and those guys were so deliciously authentic looking. Oh and by the way, there is another hair thing going on with Bradley Cooper, who plays an FBI agent, and if you are old enough it will remind you of the 70’s. That hair was a true phenom back in the day. You cannot do the 70’s without the hair.
The movie, much anticipated, did not blow me away – I’d give it a B. It is clever and the characters are fascinating. I say go to a movie and maybe see this one when you are in the right mood. Its plot is, well, outrageously and unbelievably true-ish.
For Your Viewing Pleasure,
JABS

The Creative Epiphany – Creativity is Kept Alive With a Youthful Heart

 Photo courtesy of funstuffblogandreviews.wordpress.com

This time of year is especially appropriate for allowing your inner child to surface – all you have to do is to dig deep and remember the wonder of Christmas Eve. The excitement, the anticipation, the joy of that time in your childhood comes rushing back as if it were yesterday, and if you have children or grandchildren or even little friends who are going to experience that precious time then you are fortunate indeed to see it again through those innocent eyes. Seek that out, cherish it and use it to fuel your creativity.

What separates the older “grumps” from the older but still “young-at-hearts” among us lies in our ability to recollect, imagine and live again as if “for the first time”  the meaningful and memorable windows in time when we were the most engaged, inspired and  impressed. Lucky be you if you have some of those special moments in time to recall; I know there are those out there who do not. And If you do not, your job is to find special moments now…that is your mission…make up for lost time…live milestone moments again the way you want them to be. Get it right and hang on to it while you can. Be young at heart.

I have always believed that as creative people our BFF – best friend forever – is imagination. I have written about imagination before in these blog posts, clarifying her relationship with creativity. Those two beautiful qualities do go hand in hand. And so if your imagination is running on empty, if you have gotten a little rusty in the day-dreaming department, or if you have allowed the stark reality of things to get its icy grip on you, you are probably missing the creativity also. Pessimism is your worst enemy when your creativity is taking a leave of absence. Creativity will not feel welcome when you are bleak with pessimism. Kids are seldom pessimistic. The hopes, the dreams, the fascination with the smallest details, the amazement at each unfolding day is what children manifest for us. How long has it been since you talked to a 5 year old? Spend 10 minutes at that and you are made of stone if you are not smiling and engaged and wanting more of that magical stuff.

When I paint with my adorable, 5 year old, curly-haired niece, we mix colors – red and blue make purple, her favorite, and her eyes widen in surprise. Yellow and blue make green – astonishing! MAGIC! Several weeks later she asks me, “How can we make white? I am all out of white.”

She asks us all, gathered around the table for Thanksgiving, when the pilgrims are going to join us for the feast. Good question. I wonder where they are. They are late. Wonder if they’ll be here in time for the pumpkin pie.

Without this in my life I would shrivel and die a little,  bit by bit. It is one of the reasons I moved back to Denver – I missed the  children in my family, having lived in a 55 and older community for about 3 years. No Halloween. No Easter egg hunts and no Christmas Eve spent tracking Santa and putting the cookies and milk out on the hearth. Some of this needs to rub off on us if we are to remain truly alive and engaged in all the stages of life. For every thing there is a season and a reason.

This quote was recently brought to my attention by a dear friend and fellow artist:
Science fiction author Ursula Le Guin wrote, “The creative adult is the child who has survived.” Wise artists practice daily with their inner youngster, and the task doesn’t lighten with success. Your child may slip into the shadows when more pressing professional concerns take hold.  Excerpted from the online newsletter of Canadian Artist Robert Genn.  Visit his website at http://www.robertgenn.com

Pablo Picasso had something to say on the subject as well: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”Pablo Picasso (Spanish cubist painter, 1881-1973)

I encourage you to live in the NOW of this joyful season. Don’t be the rain on anyone’s parade! Whether or not the Christmas season coincides with your personal beliefs, choose the “good tidings of great joy” section of the celebrations and ride along on that. Find your innocent and wondrous inner child and use it for the greater good, because you can’t go wrong with that, and your creativity will thank you for it….BELIEVE.

The Creative Epiphany – Santa, Am I Being Punished?

santa1

This is a very stressful and patience-testing time of year. So much to remember to do, so little time and money and endurance with which to do it. Everybody has their way of coping, and those who do not find one single coping mechanism that works are going to be nuts by January 1st. I am on my way to the loony bin.

The season started off with bitter freezing weather here in Colorado and I got a split in the skin on the tip of my thumb that looks like a bloody crevasse. How can something that small hurt so much? I would rather have childbirth with no painkiller than this thumb wound. I have used Vaseline, Neosporin, Chap Stick and Aveeno dry skin ream – tried each one of those remedies overnight with a Band-Aid over it and woke up all mended, but by the middle of the next afternoon it has split open again. It is now December 16th and it is still re-opening nearly every afternoon about 3 pm no matter what I am doing. I could even be motionless and it will flop open… Super Glue? This aggravation does cause crankiness – by the third week of it I was snarling and wishing bad things upon other people – hoping Miley Cyprus would not be able to think of another single attention getting stunt ever again because her creativity would dry up like a crack in the desert soil, and like my thumb. I was also wishing hard that Justin Bieber would lose his driver’s license –  really, is that a mean thought? It might potentially save dozens of lives. He is so young – he’d get over it with no harm done. He needs to have a toy other than a speeding careening car. This is now almost the 4th week of the split thumb and I want to punch something.

I bought a huge sack of white styrofoam peanuts ( we used to call it ghost poop when the kids were growing up) because I had to pack a big fragile thing for shipping. Temporarily I sat it up on the shelf in the walk-in closet, only to find the next morning that it had somehow popped open and had vomited those cheeto-like things all over the place –  even behind stuff that I never even move. It practically filled up the entire closet. How could it do that? The bag that I had safely brought home from the shipping store had emptied itself out! I live by myself! Is it really ghost poop, I had to wonder? Do I have a ghost?

Putting away a large spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner with vinegar, on the high shelf above the washer & dryer, I missed my mark and dropped it, and heard it fall down behind the washer – which might as well be all the way to China, because I can’t move the washer and my arm is not long enough to get down behind it. I decide to wait until my son comes home for Christmas to retrieve it for me. In the meantime, the next morning, I do a load of laundry wondering vaguely, in the recesses of my cob-webby busy mind, why the laundry detergent smells different. After the load is done I pull clothes out of the washer, including a badly mangled spray bottle, in amazement that it landed THERE inside the washer rather than behind the washer, and find that the entire bottle of cleaning solution with vinegar has lost its contents on a load full of blacks. I could have sworn it went down behind, not inside. I am beginning to think I am crazy. The clothes smelled horrible and I had to wash them 3 more times.

I worked myself into a slow simmer when I heard on TV that a young punk kid, barely old enough to drive, who killed 4 people when he was driving a car at 3 times the acceptable limit for alcohol was given probation by a judge who said he was a victim of AFFLUENZA – and therefor not responsible for his actions – because he is from an affluent wealthy wealthy wealthy family who never taught him right from wrong and had him living in a mansion all by himself with no supervision whatsoever. So he was let off the hook. For 4 lives. Have we all gone insane? Where are the parents? Why are they not interviewing those people? Why can’t they be tried if the kid gets off?

I am out doing errands in the car, starting with the gas station. The guy in front of me is having a hard time with his credit card or something and so I decide to change lanes and  back up to go to another pump. I look over my shoulder before I put it in reverse, I check the other side – all clear – I go backwards and instantly feel and hear a crunch as I hit the fender of a car. WHAT? HUH??? I jump out and run over to her and I say, “I am soooo sorry! I looked behind me but I didn’t see any car!!” She answers, very calmly, “Well I was just pulling in – I saw you moving toward me but I pulled in anyway!” HUH??? Who does that? Can you not wait for 3 more seconds when a car is moving toward you to avoid a collision? You can’t? What is the matter with you?

Home from my errands, I file an accidental fender bender report on the computer…instead of waiting to make myself a healthy dinner after I’m done with that, I grab a handful of “you can’t take just one” carmel and nut popcorn. I get a piece caught in my last molar on the left side, I reach in to loosen it with my finger, and a hunk of my tooth comes out with it. When I touch it with my tongue it feels like the Grand Canyon, and I see $$$ signs. Exactly the same amount of $$$ signs that my son’s Christmas gift will cost…am I being tested? Of course he will get his new ski helmet no matter what, I growl to no one in particular.

Have I uttered an expletive throughout all of these mishaps? NO. I have not, Santa.

It was not until the next afternoon when I went to a movie to see the film “12 Years A Slave”, thinking I could chill out a little bit and give myself a treat – but noooooo –  I truly hit the tipping point and lost it. As I got up to the window to buy my ticket they informed me that they were having problems with correct movie listings on FANDANGO, which I had checked for times on my Iphone, and they were no longer offering “12 Years A Slave”. Dozens of people were waiting to see that film. The theater had posted no sign. no apology, no explanation – but instead just decided to inform dozens of waiting people, one by one as they got up to the window, that the film would not show at all anymore. Why don’t people think?

I backed slowly away from the counter, smiling that insane kind of smile that people are afraid to see on a person in a public place. The others cleared a path for me, gave me a wide berth, looked at me with caution and I walked quickly to my car, stepped inside, shut the door and screamed F**K at the top of my lungs about 15 times. It was not just the film – it was an accumulation of rotten stuff.

Am I being punished? Tested? Messed with? All of the above I am sure.

But I can endure – and so can you. Just figure out a way to register your anger with the universe and let it fly in a non-violent expression of some kind. Then get over it and start fresh in time for the 25th. You can do it – I know you can.

The Creative Epiphany – The Epiphany in Nelson Mandela

thQ0OY6LUZ photo courtesy of heavywordstoliveby.blogspot/2012/7/nelsonmandela

When I began writing this blog over a year ago my intention was to present definitions and examples of epiphany in its many incarnations and to encourage people to be aware, listen to your inner voice and allow the messages of illumination to be heard, especially in regard to the gifts of creativity that you have been given. Your creative gifts are awarded to you free at birth – what you choose to do with them is your choice. That is still my purpose, but I would like to emphasize that I believe every day brings epiphanies, and messages from your inner self, your soul, often repeat themselves in an ever-increasing frequency and urgency. Many times I will write about my experiences, my crazy observations about life, my concerns, etc – all of which are epiphanies to me. In my previous post about the bitter cold here in Colorado, seemingly a casual commentary on the weather, an epiphany is buried. I will allow you to find it for yourself if you care enough to go deep.

Life is rich with layers of discovery, both inside your mind, heart and soul and from the world outside your self. So much to be learned in so short a lifetime. I learn something every single day, whether it be earthshaking or subtle. Today I have re-learned something – I have been re-visited by a piece of wisdom that is so monumental that it might seem obvious, and yet we forget. With the death of Nelson Mandela I have once again been confronted with true greatness and reminded that the authentic heroes of our time or any time in history are people who have cast aside bitterness, hatred and revenge to take the high road, because they know that the most effective way to spread their message is to forgive but keep speaking the words of truth. You can be a highly enlightened person, as was Mandela, and have feelings of bitterness in your heart, and he did admit to having bitterness, but the key is to moderate those feelings, control them and channel them in a positive direction for the greater good. That is no small accomplishment – many people allow the bitterness of the wrongs they have experienced to consume them in a fiery blaze that burns burns burns for as long as they live, destroying everything good in its path. Twenty-seven years in prison could easily do that to a man, but Mandela kept his dignity intact and walked away from his cell a better man determined to seek not revenge but monumental change for both the blacks and the whites in South Africa.

Mandela was a normal human being, first and foremost, capable of both love and lust and violence in defense of what he believed, who found himself in the right place and the right time to do the right thing, and his actions were heroic. He is a hero in all of that word’s definitions to me, and to many other people. The very definition of personal strength. But he had a wicked-good sense of humor, he called a man who was a jerk a jerk, he made friends with his captors during the 27 years he was imprisoned and he invited them to sit in the front row when he was made president. This man was as real as anyone can be.

The epiphany of his reality as a human being has re-hit me strongly today and the knowledge of that is both encouraging and enlightening. I am also, once again, struck with the belief that after death a person of this magnitude does as much or more good work than he was physically able to do in life. Life is confining, finite, and as we grow older we become weak of body – but the spirit soars in death and becomes a larger, more encompassing force than any one frail body can ever be. There is epiphany in all of that.

The Creative Epiphany – It’s 15 Below Zero in Colorado Tonight…don’t be like the bull

th[3] photo courtesy of nation.time.com/2013/12/4/snowy-day-expected

This Colorado weather and its record low temperatures takes some practice and I have not gotten the hang of it yet after moving back here from living in northern California for the past six or seven years. My internal California thermostat re-set itself at a higher comfort level while I was out there. I was happiest at 70 degrees. I had forgotten that in Colorado most people wear layers all winter long and setting one’s indoor household thermostat at 67 for daytime and 65 for night is common. Coloradans are a hardy bunch, and energy conscious too. So now my first authentically cold winter in years has arrived with a blast –  and the first day or so of it I am so stunned and intimidated that if at all possible I decide not to go outside for even one little minute. Then there is another night of bitter cold at 15 below followed by today that brings a high of 7 above and I begin to realize that life must go on. I cannot shrink like a spring violet under the winter cold – it is only December and there is a long way to go. So I gathered my best version of how I used to be when I was a Colorado girl and I ventured out. I was out doing errands, sort of, within a small perimeter of my house. That is progress. Everybody else was out there too. Looking just fine I might add. I was dressed and layered as if I were on that Antarctic expedition with Prince Harry.

I dare not walk for my usual daily mile and a half because I can’t manage to get a deep breath of air in this deep freeze, so I went to the neighborhood gym. That requires practice as well, since I dislike exercising within a swarm of sweating specimens, all riding or propelling humming machines yet going nowhere. I prefer to actually go somewhere when I make the motions of walking.

My friend called yesterday and said she had slept with her PJ bottoms tucked into the tops of big wool socks so that the legs would not ride up during the night. Don’t you hate that? You turn over just once and your legs are bare up past the knee. The bed is damn cold in the parts that are not under you, and so it is a shock to reposition a leg or an arm if they are not totally shrouded in pajamas. This is what they call a 3-dog night because you need 3 huge dogs in bed with you to keep you warm. No wonder the people in the middle ages slept in the same room as all their livestock, but talk about sweating, smelly specimens – yuk.

And another thing. Can you imagine sitting down on a toilet seat in the night in this weather? Of course it is inside the house, but it is like an ice cube even so. We are supposed to open all the cabinet doors under all the sinks so that the pipes have full access to the heat within our homes and theoretically they will not freeze. Have you ever had frozen pipes? Ever heard the creaks and groans that plumbing makes at night when it’s this cold? That keeps you on alert. Ever heard a pipe pop open and spew water like a hydrant as it warms up and thaws? When we lived in the mountains of Evergreen, CO. as the kids were growing up, frozen pipes were almost a yearly thing. And when the electricity went off during storms, our well water was inaccessible. We had a wood stove for back-up and used it several times  to cook a sort of dinner. Wood had to be chopped for the fireplace as well as the stove. We chose to live in the country with all the fun and inconveniences of that lovely lifestyle…oh the kids could tell you some wild stories.

Mr. D. our neighbor in Evergreen had cattle who were lucky enough to pasture at 8300 feet amid Aspens and pines, grazing on fresh grass in bucolic meadows surrounded by mountains. One late fall a freakish blizzard blew in and it snowed big hunky flakes that accumulated at an inch every hour and by morning of the next day we had over two feet. Mr. D’s cattle had not made it back to the barn and had been huddled against the wind and the snowfall all night in the leaf-less  Aspen grove, just about a hundred yards from the road. The next morning as we drove by in the car we saw quite a spectacle for the eyes of my two young children. Mr. D. and his ranch hands were cutting up the bull of the herd and sliding out  huge chunks of blood-red meat on tarps across the snow. The crimson splattered snow was unmistakably  the scene of a killing. But why?

Did the coyotes kill the bull? Or a bear? I called Mr. D. and got the full story from him so that we’d all rest easier knowing the truth. When a bull’s testicles freeze, he must be shot or he will die a slow agonizing death from gangrene. A bull’s testicles hang pretty low, and in two or more feet of snow it becomes impossible for him to escape his fate. Right then and there he was shot and cut into edible pieces to be frozen and eaten later in many a meal. The scraps were left under the trees for the coyotes and we could hear them howling all night with their good fortune.

The local news here has coverage of the livestock and how the farmers care for their animals. People are foolish enough to leave dogs and cats outside…what are they thinking? It is cruel and inhuman.

This story and others come to mind as I experience a grand weather event such as this. If you follow this blog you remember that last fall we had a five-hundred year flood event here, all along the front range of the Rocky Mountains. We were underwater! They said that if it had been snow instead of rain we’d be digging out for days. Now the snowy weather has begun and  unusually cold temps are here. I think it’s going to be a doozy of a winter! And I am pretty excited about it.

PS – I know the picture above is not a BULL but it is the best I could do.