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30 November 2008

It was there all the time...

"I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time."
~ Anna Freud


I have been challenging myself to a few moments of creativity each day in keeping with my favorite mug from PaperSource which says..."do something creative everyday." I have been having fun with several writing sites...like http://oneminutewriter.blogspot.com and http://whatcoulditmean-d.blogspot.com. But the one that has really got my creativity riled up is http://picturespoetryprose.blogspot.com/. And I was just honored with the "Exceptional Writer" award for my November 22nd post from the author of this blog, Laura Jayne. I have written about her blog before, but this truly was an unexpected thrill.

My poem was written in the five minute time frame (you would be surprised how much you can write and edit in that short amount of time!) and was inspired by the picture and prompt She was searching for...


it was there all the time

she gazed across the sea of green
to the place where she had come
where was she going?
what did she think she was doing?
there were no answers for her on this side
but what she didn't know was what she had been
seeking

was all around her
within her
she only needed to open
her heart
to see
go off the beaten path he said
go beyond your wildest dreams he said
what he didn't say was
that this would be the
hardest journey of her life
she would not have a map
she would not have a guide
she would be alone with only her wits and her
strength

what she didn't know was that
she loved this
she knew just where she was going
she didn't need anyone to tell her what to
do

she just did it
by her wits and her strength
and then she realized that the
true journey
was not on that path
nor across that bridge
but the journey was within
for all that she was seeking
it was there all the time

Honestly, I came up with this poem before finding this quote, but it is eerie how similar the sentiment is. Since these words tumbled right out of me they must have come straight from my soul. I told Laura Jayne that perhaps my soul was speaking and, since I have no one better to guide me, I might as well listen. So... what am I seeking? What path am I on? Where do I think I am going?

This journey that I am on started with a recognition of a need to create. To positively impact other people's lives. To make beautiful things. And I know that I am on that path and that I have the strength and wit to make it. Even if that means on my own. It is sometimes a difficult path, but I am amazed when I open my heart...so much good comes back to me. I have found some new cyber-friends and for that I am grateful. I am seeking a connectedness. I am encouraged that we can be linked by the act of writing across miles and continents and time zones. That is really what it is all about for me.

Even if I never sold another piece of jewelry, or if no one ever read this journal, I would continue on this journey because I have a compelling need to be a positive light in this world.

So that is where I am going, what I am seeking....what is that you seek?

Check It Out:: http://modish.typepad.com
{Do you like the possibility of winning free stuff? Especially free stuff that is hand made by wonderful indie artists? Then check it out above and at http://www.modishblog.com/modish/2008/11/the-november--1.html. Hurry! Time is running out on this great giveaway. And while you are at it, you should read some of the awesome articles and check out the incredible artists featured there!}
Enjoy the day!

26 November 2008

Creativity That Makes Your Heart Sing

"Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen." ~Robert Bresson

Laura Jayne at http://picturespoetryprose.blogspot.com/ has the most wonderful posts. Her site exists to share your inspiration in the form of words with the world. I have been attempting her posts each day as an exercise in doing something creative every day, and today's was so inspiring to me that I had to share my post!

The prompt today was My heart dreams of... and included some beautiful art to inspire.

Now, I don't claim to be the best writer, and I rarely ever rhyme a poem because to me it just seems too contrived and difficult to make any sense. I sort of feel a bit like Dr. Suess when I try to rhyme, just making up words that work in that wonky world. But for some reason it just happened to flow out of me this way without worrying about it and without stopping to edit myself. And even within the suggested 5-minute time constraint. So here is my poem, raw and quick, but I think it shows the power that creativity can have if you let go and just create. If it weren't for Laura Jayne's creative prompt, you may never have seen these words, this poem. I actually like it. I hope you do, too.

-----------------------------------------
heart song

the words are written
where no one can see
your song is about you
calling you to be

the best that you can
there is no other way
get up and get going
today is the day

no one can tell you
that your song isn’t right
no one can see
‘cause it’s hidden from sight

only you, only one
has the right combination
to unlock what’s hidden
just takes imagination

full of color and light
full of movement and song
there’s a whole world in there
and it’s where you belong

so open your heart
let it sing, let it dance
your whole life is waiting
just give it a chance

------------------------------------------
And if you are so inspired, get yourself over to Pictures, Poetry & Prose and join the fun. And if you are looking for something else that is fun...(and I happened to win the bragging rights of the day for the "wurd" ballycle....) To find out what I am talking about, you will just have to...

Check it Out::http://whatcoulditmean-d.blogspot.com/

Enjoy the day!

24 November 2008

Culture of Creativity

"Inside you there's an artist you don't know about. He's not interested in how things look different in moonlight." ~ Rumi

Where do you go to find inspiration?

My favorite place in the world (okay, my own little corner of the world) is called Art Village. I wandered in there one day a few years ago because it looked like a fun place. It was located in this old building on the downtown square with cool old moldings and exposed brick walls. It was filled with shelves of paint-your-own pottery and colorful tables and chairs. It was inhabited by sunny people who made me believe that I, too, could create art. I was hooked. So I signed up for a class.

That year for Mother's Day I gave my mom a handmade certificate for a "Mother-Daughter Summer Art Series." My hope was to do one art-inspired event per month through the summer. What else do you give the woman who gave you life and who has everything she needs? I thought that this gift of time and talent would be just what we needed to bond and express ourselves. After all, my mom had been an art major in college so she would appreciate this, right?

Part of the "MDSAS" was to take a day-long fused glass class at the local university. That was fun. And then we took a trip to Door County, WI for a little R&R and to see the musical Caberet at the outstanding Peninsula Players outdoor theater. So taking this one little class at Art Village seemed to be an awesome idea. Except it was titled "Oil Painting the Masters." I had never painted anything other than a wall and certainly not with oils. How hard could it be?

So we signed up for the six-week night class. We drove 40 minutes to the nearest Michael's to buy all the paints, palettes, brushes and other acoutrements necessary to embark on this Masters' journey. We came to the first night of class with great expectations. We set up our canvas on the easel, just like all those Master artists had done throughout time. Our teacher, Rainy Day Worzella, instructed us to look through the books provided to find a Master painter's art that inspired us. I chose a work by Van Gogh. Then she told us to paint it.

What?!?!

I suppose it should not have come as a surprise given the name of the class, but for someone who had never painted with less than a fuzzy yellow roller, truthfully, it was a bit daunting. Wouldn't it be easier if Rainy handed us a "paint by numbers" kit of Picasso or Monet or Renoir?

I stared at that blank white canvas. I didn't know where to begin. I watched as other painters around me just dove right in with abandon. Rainy was very kind to me and so very encouraging. Her philosophy is that art saves lives and that everyone is an artist. I did not believe. But I had paid for the class, and all the materials, so I was going to paint.

I squirted little blobs of oil paint on my palette. I started mixing the colors to mimic Van Gogh's palette. I loaded my brush with the acrid smelling paint. And then I just stood there. I was paralyzed with fear.

Did Vincent ever have this sort of hesitation? Did he ever not know what to paint or what color to mix or where to start on his canvas? Did he ever sketch his subjects, erasing where the lines weren't just so and second guessing his decisions? Umm...my guess is no. He just jumped in and let his brushes swirl and tap and stroke. He stopped thinking with his left brain and let the colors dance and play on his palette and then leap to the canvas. He painted with abandon. That is what I wanted.

So I closed my eyes and boldly swished the brush against the canvas.

I broke the spell of that blank white space, and you know what? It was a freeing moment for me. There was nothing that I could do to make that canvas any less, and more that I could do to make it even better. So I painted that scene and imagined myself in a French countryside as Van Gogh would have been. I found that it was fun to paint and make art and even to try to emulate someone as wonderful as a Master painter.

Rainy has always encouraged me and told me that I am an artist. I would respond by saying, no, I am merely someone who sees with an artistic eye, but I am not an artist. But Rainy wouldn't quit telling me that, and slowly, over time, I came to believe her. My chosen art may not be oil painting, but I am a better artist for having tried that medium. Today I am more willing than ever to explore other artful avenues when the opportunity arises. My newest passion is to create artist trading cards (ATCs). Rainy and I have a plan to share those with others as well and start our own ATC swaps right at Art Village. Stay tuned for more on that as it develops...

This past weekend I took my kids to Art Village to attend another class by Rainy. They have come to love playing at Art Village almost as much as I have. With Rainy's guidance, we studied the work of Master painter Georges Rouault. Then we got busy and attacked those paints with abandon and made our own portaits in his style. That day was special. All around us were artists of all ages and persuasion...young and old, men and women, boys and girls, potters and painters...an excited buzz surrounded all our busy-bee activities like a perfect beehive of artists. It was so cool to be surrounded by so much art and light and happiness.

Art Village is my favorite place to be. My little haven in a crazy world. My reminder that we are each artists in whatever makes our heart sing. And my own little reminder that I shouldn't hesitate, that I should just jump in and swish that brush on that blank canvas. I couldn't make it any worse, and I could always make it better.

Where do you find your culture of creativity? Is it a physical or metaphorical place? Are you alone or are you with others who share your passion? Do tell...I would love to hear all about it.

And while you're at it...Check It Out:: http://www.artvillageusa.com/

Enjoy the day!

18 November 2008

Creatively Courageous

"Courage is not a lack of fear, but the ability to act while facing fear."
~ Anonymous


How do you exercise creativity in the face of great fear?

Last week I chose to attend a renewal event at my church that featured a presentation by Father Michael Joncas. If you are not Catholic, you may be interested to know that Fr. Joncas is an accomplished liturgist, composer and theologian who teaches at University of St Thomas. If you are Catholic, you will recognize Fr. Joncas prolific body of work in the songs that are sung at church on a regular basis…such beloved tunes as “On Eagles Wings” and the “Canticle of Mary” and “Take and Eat."

Father Joncas’ extensive body of work represents a lifetime of creativity and working with his God-given talents and gifts to bring uplifting joy to so many. But his story is one of courage in the face of extreme health risks and an ability to transcend the fear that would certainly cripple the spirit of the best of us.

During Holy Week of 2003, Father Joncas was struck with a severe case of a rare syndrome called Guillain-Barre. This debilitating illness affects the nervous system which leads from weakness to paralysis. He had been stricken quite suddenly and was paralyzed everywhere except for one eyelid that he was able to blink. He couldn’t walk, talk, breath, eat or move. All he had were his thoughts. This condition renders the body useless, but leaves the mind whole, which must certainly be the depths of fear. Father Joncas was placed on a ventilator and his friends and family were given a grim prognosis that while he might recover he would likely never be without a wheelchair. But when I saw Father Joncas last week, he not only was walking and talking, but singing and playing the piano.

It took over a year, but he was able to regain the life he once had, albeit changed in body, mind and spirit. And his creativity has flourished in the face of such uncertainty.

Father Joncas shared a special treat with us that night…a newly published, not-yet-released song that we were invited to sing in celebration with him that night. Beautiful words and music.

I cannot imagine the horror of finding yourself in such a dire, life-threatening predicament. I cannot imagine the pain that he must have suffered. I cannot imagine the doubting of a mind trapped inside a body that refused to work. But I can understand the courage that it takes to persevere in the face of great uncertainty to fulfill your creative dreams. I may never have to overcome the obstacles that Father Joncas did in order to exercise my creativity, but his story gives me reason to believe that God wants us to share our talents with others...to uplift and inspire all those we touch.

And it reminds me that I have an obligation to share my creativity with everyone I meet, that I should not wait another day to do that which makes my heart sing.

I am so glad that Father Joncas was able to make it through the worst to share his experiences with us all and to continue to let his creative light shine. His story is an inspiration to me that even when all around you seems dark, that your creativity can take wing and rise above the fear. Or in the case of Father Joncas, make that eagle’s wings…

"Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself." ~Alan Alda

{Remember that the Check it Out:: is a regular feature. I won't tell you why I am inpsired, but invite you to check it out, and find your own inspiration. And please comment both to me and to the author of the posted site on what treasures you have found there!}

Check it out:: http://picturespoetryprose.blogspot.com/

Enjoy the day!

13 November 2008

Choose to be creative

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
~ J.K. Rowling

People frequently tell me that I am so very creative, and in the next breath say that they are not. But I always disagree. They are talented and creative...they just don't choose to believe it.

So...why are some people viewed as more creative than others?

Is it because they were born into families with more creative blood running in their veins?

Is it because they were surrounded by color and movement and music and light as children?

Is it because they had powerful mentors believing in them and nurturing their creative talents?

Is it purely a natural God-given ability? or is it something that can be learned?

...I believe that there are no un-creative people, only the uninspired.
...I believe that we are, each of us, infinitely talented, but that we sometimes forget in what.
...I believe that while the surroundings we live in can either foster or discourage our creative tendencies, I believe just as strongly that if you let it, it will come out of you no matter what your environment is, and sometimes in spite of it.
...I believe that it is both a natural talent to be creative which we each possess, but that it can certainly be learned, and encouraged to grow even greater.
...I believe that whatever you are passionate about, there is your art.

In short, I believe that every person is born as a creative individual and the true joy is to recognize this and encourage that part of you to grow which makes your heart sing. We each have a choice to believe in and nurture our creative selves. That is all that the Divine asks of us.

But then, why do people argue with me all the time that they are not creative?

Perhaps they are not as talented as I am at jewelry. I will agree that I have a certain calling to working with beads, but with a few simple tools, some widely available supplies and a little imagination (and a good deal of patience), I believe that anyone should be able to make beautiful jewelry. And I teach classes in simple techniques to jumpstart that creative outlet.

My daughter is 7 years old. She has always been fascinated by the beads in my stash. They are pretty to look at, feel fun in your hands and make the cutest little plink when they hit the floor and go rolling all over the studio. Since I was always in my studio, she wanted to be, too. So I set up a little beading station for her. Granted, it was simply an overturned laundry basket, a small rocking chair and a cookie sheet, but it was her space to create. I found some shiny, color-filled beads and showed her how to string them. She cranked out all sorts of bracelets and necklaces. She certainly had the passion, and the right tools, and the guidance of an expert mentor. After a dozen necklaces or so I thought she was ready for a greater challenge, using a bead board to plan her works of wearable art.

I explained the markings on the board and the idea of using a focal point to center her work, and to branch out with a pattern. She now understands that the most precious time spent is in planning, that the actual stringing portion takes little time at all if you have laid the right foundation. Now she makes the most incredible necklaces full of pattern and light and life. Creations that others outside of our family have been proud to own and wear. So I guess you could say that I taught her how to be creative.

But actually it was there all along.

She makes the choice about when and where and how to let that creative light shine. I am just there to reflect it back to her and help her be dazzled by her own creative brilliance.

What is harder, I suppose, is to admit that we are each creative...that there are as many ways to be creative as there are people in the universe. Your chosen medium may not be jewelry, but that doesn't make you un-creative. Whatever makes your heart sing is what makes you creative.

So when people tell me that I am more creative than they are, I just tell them that I have chosen to be creative.

Of my two Life Resolutions, the first is most important...To live life creatively. To seek out people who are also creative in their own passions...whether that is making candy, caring for plants, working with Quicken or crafting altered art. To seek out creative endeavors and challenge myself to try something new...like oil painting in a master painter's style, or trying new recipes, or even balancing my checkbook (as my friend Sarah says...accountants are the only ones who are not encouraged to be "creative" with their chosen passion!). To surround myself with those things that inspire me to be better than I am...pictures of my children indulging their passions for dance and sports, special quotes that speak to my soul and artwork created by a favorite local artist.

I choose to let my creative side out to play because it makes my heart sing.
I hope you might come out to play, too!

Check It Out:: http://oneminutewriter.blogspot.com/
(Be sure to check out this blog to see what inspires me...do share what you think!)

Enjoy the day!

11 November 2008

Something Good in Every Day

"Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day."
~ Anonymous


Aside from being my favorite author, Ann Nonymous is a woman of sage advice(!). This quote is at the finale of every email message that I send and so I felt that it was a fitting place to start my first post.

So...what is good about today?

Today, I recognize my own need for connectedness, not only to foster my own path of creativity and inspiration, but to inspire the same in others. But how to begin?

I have thought long and hard about jumping in to this medium, this blogging, so true to form, I have done a ton of research. I set out on a quest...for one inspirational blog or website each day from which to glean ideas related to voice, topic, structure, purpose, and even how imaginative the headers and titles can be. I have tagged a lot of them and posted on many others just to get a sense of the sort of community that already exists. I have ignored those that seem to be all about the minutia of a singular person's life in favor of those that sought community and inspiration. I read articles and consulted oracles...from the wisdom of those in the web industry to friends old and new who are regular or even reluctant readers of blogs of all sorts. I have seen all manner of posts...from the short and sweet to the ridiculously rambling, from the sublimely beautiful to the infuriatingly inane. [I have learned that the word "blog" sounds so ugly...perhaps we can find a better term for it, but that is a subject for another day...]



Ultimately, I determined that I wanted to start this journal as a means of self-expression, a way to capture my creative process and a tool for connecting me with other like-minded individuals.

I hope you will join me.

I do not intend for this blog to be about

...what I had for lunch, or

...100 things you didn't know about me, or

...who I think is the better candidate for whatever election is imminent (I just care that you exercise your right to vote),

...nor do I intend for this to be solely about my jewelry, although that will certainly be a side-bar, since that is how my creativity is manifested.

This is what I believe this online journal should be about...

...I believe wholeheartedly that anytime we can create community in the "global village" and maintain a connectedness through personal meaning that we are fostering growth and good in the world.

...I firmly intend to challenge myself to see everyday things from a different perspective and attempt to be more creative in the process.

...I have only just begun this online journal in order to provide a creative outlet for myself with a potential by-product of inspiring creativity in others.

It may not resonate with all readers, but I do believe that there is a community waiting to be discovered and I invite you to stay awhile if you, too, are of the same mind. Send me a shout-out. Post a comment. Challenge yourself to tap into a creative community, no matter where that takes you.

And as with most things, I am hopeful.

The Autumn 2008 issue of Artful Blogging http://www.stampington.com/html/artful_blogging.html was a fine resource to consult. I learned that as good a place to start as any is the name. After all, this is how people will connect with me and share in the journey. This was actually quite easy for me. My company name is Tesori Trovati which is Italian for treasures found. So Treasures Found it is. My sub-title Inspiration is Everywhere defines what this place is about.

Whether your calling is...cooking, singing, dancing, or designing...or maybe your profession...installing duct work, crunching numbers, landscaping or selling chocolates...we are each artists in whatever we choose to put our soul into, whatever makes our heart sing. My wish is to tell the story of those inspirations and perhaps hear a bit of what inspires you.

I will try to end each post with my Check It Out for the day...one blog/journal/website that I found inspirational. I will not tell you much about why I found inspiration there...you have to you discover for yourself.

If you do check it out, let me (and the author of said blog) know what you think!

Check It Out:: http://afancifultwist.typepad.com/

Enjoy the day!

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