Control

What if Imagination and Intuition were Blocking your Creativity?

Painted in FLora Bowley's Bloom True Workshop

A thought struck me last night. I’m not sure where it came from. I was thinking about imagination and Intuition, my relationship to my own and their relationship to creativity. 

I’m going to admit it, I don't have much of an imagination.

Of course, I have one.. but it’s not necessarily my friend. My imagination is like a 4 year old having spent an afternoon with it’s head in the sweet press. It’s wicked. It’s wild and it makes me sick.

My imagination stresses me out. There, I said it.

Now, let me also say, it does have it’s uses. Like, I would make an EXCELLENT underwriter for insurance companies. You want to assess risk? I’m your woman.

But if I were to rely on my imagination to create, I would never create a thing. I would imagine all the fantastic art I WANT to create only to dive in, gung-ho and be confronted with where I’m actually at.  Cue dissonance and with it, on the horse of the almighty critic, all the reasons why I CAN’T, why I’m not good enough, why I’m just fooling myself.

Then I have to call in the rational mind to mediate and go through an entire process of counterargument and debate. And of course, no debate is complete without the astute professor, to deliver an  analysis of ‘why’ I think like that, where it stems from and next thing you know, it’s bedtime, we’ve all missed dinner, I’m exhausted and anxious, demoralised and depressed and now I need my heart nurse to give me lavender to stop the palpitations.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Is your imagination perhaps your worst enemy?

Alice in Wonderland art journal

Although my mind can be a total clown, funny and entertaining, I don't always have fun in there.. My mind is a predator. It eats me alive. Don’t ask me why… It’s just the way it is, habit I suppose. My imagination, for the most part is a maniac and I just have to deal with that. And before you go suggesting mindfulness to me as a solution… I studied this shit for 4 years. Sometimes the best you’re gonna do with the mental monkey, is at least be aware of and understand it. Work with what you have and what you know, at least for now... but keep learning, keep moving.

Some of us just don't have useful minds, they are too hyper vigilant for us to get beyond anything but fear. So… that’s all I have to say about that.

(Imagine I just left it there….Mwahahahah)

So what else did I think about?

Impulse!

I used to think THIS was my enemy, that it was my impulses that got me into trouble (and when it comes to chocolate, it usually is) but, impulse has a bad rep. You know what I have discovered through my creative practice? I have more fun and I am more ‘me’ when I create out of pure impulse.

But wait Amanda! Dont you mean intuition?

Thank you for asking, but… NO. I don’t. I’m not there yet… although I do have it, intuition and me are still very much in our infancy because, when I’m ‘tuning in to intuition’, I still go upstairs. The monkey gets involved, because I’m consciously ‘trying’ too hard.

But hey...I know how to be impulsive, that’s so well rehearsed I don’t have to try, so I can just let it happen. And guess what else? It is a better way in to intuition than ‘trying’ will ever be!

Am I making sense?

Intuition, art journalling

My understanding of intuition is that it is operating from a place of balance. I am going to throw my cards down here right now and tell you this, the only success I have with balance, is that I can stand up without falling over. That’s pretty much it. BASIC.

Intuition is the channel through which you access your own creative truth, it is what ‘feels right’ in front of the canvas. You show up, let it speak, trust it. It is a guide. There’s a sense of experiential wisdom and maturity about it. 

Impulse, on the other hand is not so refined. But I see it as intuition’s understudy, it’s kinda on the same wavelength, just not as seasoned a pro.

I’m not giving myself much credit here however, I am due SOME. I have at least evolved from my prior conditioning where my impulses were purely subconscious and automatic. I only ever stepped into the frame when remorse kicked in. Now, I’ve learned how to step in a little sooner. I have developed awareness and insight and all that good stuff, but I’m not even close to mastery of my intuitive apparatus. This too, is a practice and I have a long way to go.

So what I have rested on for the moment is that I don’t have to feel bad that I’m not on the intuitive creative train, yet. I kinda feel like I’m on the impulsive ‘PAINT! SCRIBBLE! SPLASH!’ wagon and it's not so bad! I feel an impulse and go for it, it’s not as balanced and wise, it doesn’t always see me right or lead to magic, but it’s something, it’s primal and it works for me.

Paint Drips

I believe impulse will mature into it’s greater role eventually, but for now…. I’m working with the understudy.

Always, Amanda xoxo

Fisherwoman's Blues

2015-08-25 21.11.05

it’s the bitterest experience

that fact

that no matter how you try

to outwit

or outrun

that in you, you wish to escape

follows

every time

    *

it’s depressing

uprooting

landing softly on the promise

that here things will be different

I will be different

only to find over and over

that no, you won’t

*

So, the boat goes out

again

and she casts her tatty net

again

farther

and deeper

and every passing day

will tear the net away

until there's nothing left

with which to feed her

From my art journal 8/25

Always, Amanda xoxo

What makes a person get out of bed?

Is it purpose? Some promise that thrusts them ahead?

Lust for life? Usefullness?

Uncomfortable bed?

Maybe it’s hope and love or a wife

Chemistry? Energy? Beautiful life?

*

Is it a case of not mattering dread

or of not seeking answers

in books by their bed?

*

Or are they awakened, absent of fear

and shameful existing that threatens to sear

through every thread, that fabrics their being

And today they can trust in themselves to be seen

wpid-2015-08-20-10.10.26.jpg.jpeg

Just something I was wondering ;)

Always, Amanda xoxo

Creativity as a Holding Area

When you get into the habit of personal exploration, you develop a greater awareness. The greater the awareness, the less filtering you have access to. What does that mean?

It means that denial of hard to digest information about yourself, becomes harder. Especially when what comes up is a truth you would rather wasn't there.

The more I engage with my creativity as a means of self expression, the more I understand my process and myself. I wish I could say that I also understand better how to 'fix' the things that come up. Sometimes what comes up just feels unfixable.

Have you ever been confronted with the degree to which you disappoint yourself? 

Take for example the likes of the reality show Biggest Loser. That show can be hard to watch! Because you're seeing people, with nowhere to hide, face up to shit that just IS. NOT. EASY. Not only for them to own, but to change. In the Biggest Loser house, contestants are put through an intense process, confronted with truths that until now, they have always run away from. These are people who all have one thing in common, they are REALLY GOOD at self disappointment.

***

Expressing in Part What Can't be Expressed Whole..

All this week I've been struggling to put a blog post together, to nail down something to write about. I don't pre schedule my posts, because my process is to express here and now experiencing. I like when what is going on is the working through of something, unburdening, resolution. When my higher self is front and centre.

Then, I'm writing about things I have figured out, experiences I have transformed. I'm sharing from a place of strength, showcasing neatly packaged stories of how "I got this".

Not this week.

I know that when content or whatever I'm creating feels forced, it's because it is...and I'm trying to express something that isn't 'the thing' in need of expression.

So with this awareness, I look for what is... what is most accessible to me now? Sometimes the answer is disappointing. Something I wouldn't be proud to share, because it comes from a place of weakness, it's raw. This week, I'm stuck with such an answer.

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Messy Truths

So what do I do? I have a messy truth here, one that feels threatening. So much so that, should it be expressed straight out, would leave me feeling very vulnerable. Because I haven't figured it out yet. I don't have a tidy package of hope for you.

That's the kind of truth I've been confronted with this week.

I'll always be honest here but some truths are easier to own than others and until I find a way to figure it out, until I feel like I have owned it, it will remain orphaned.

You Can't Un-Ring a Bell

With a commitment to honest expression, comes a sense of responsibility. I've gotten to the point where I can't circumnavigate actual experience for preferred experience. When I've mapped out how to get from point A to B, I get in my vehicle, I drive and confidently take you on the journey. Like a chirpy tour guide, I'd point out the landmarks along the way and fill you in on the history. But when I'm lost and don't know where I'm going, it's tempting to drop you off somewhere else instead. Had I have written anything else today, that's what I'd be doing. I'd be dropping you off until I feel in control again.

Over the years I have found ways to stay present whether I'm moving or not. I can admit to needing to pull over because I don't know the terrain.

So I'm showing you my holding area.

I'm showing you, as best I can right now, how a particular experience, yet to come full circle, can be expressed without having to wait for it to come from a place of resolution and therefore, strength.

For now, this is where I stand.

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Orphan Girl

*

The girl on the wagon

The girl on the wall

The girl full of might

The girl you would call

*

The girl on the stage

Who sings like a bird

The girls who forever

Will never be her

*

AG 8/15

Always, Amanda xoxo

Poem ~ Thoughts at a Wishing Well

20150719_115845~2

what if I were to let you go

would that mean you have won?

what if instead of keeping score

i put to bed what's done

*

if I stop waiting for regard

for you to honor me

what then would remain at all?

nothing, probably.

 

8/15

 

Always, Amanda xoxo

How to Release a Burden

11828827_10204873893071288_5122863487519998168_n When I was 17, I had a boyfriend. It didn't work out as a romance but it developed into a close friendship. 

At 18, I moved to America. It was 1994. Long before Facebook, even before everyone had mobile phones like we do now, David and I kept in touch. The thread on which we tugged at each other came in the form of long distance phone calls and letters. My letters to him were messy, wild, over punctuated, dramatic accounts of my new life in America. I loved it, I hated it...I'm coming home, I'm staying.  

David would call me from a telephone fixed to the wall. He would sit on the floor, ask about America and fill me in on the gossip from back home. He would tease me over things I had written, I would tease him over his Billy Connelly impressions, telling him he needed to update his jokes. We would talk and write about anything and everything and for hours on end.

For years, I kept David's letters in a box in my room. One day, while packing for another move, I decided I had too much stuff. I threw out notebooks, diaries, scrapbooks, posters... I threw out the box of letters from David. At the time, I thought nothing of it.  

Until he died.

The last time I saw David, I was in a hurry and I rushed our time together. To my dying day, I will regret that.

At his funeral, David's sisters presented me with the bandana he wore and a large, brown paper envelope. In it, were all the letters and cards I had written him over the years. I can't even begin to describe to you the emotional weight of that envelope.

I carried it around for 10 years.

 

11822603_10204878024454570_7794123893607867567_n - Version 2

How long is long enough to carry a burden?  

The death of any relationship where you showed yourself, warts and all to another person is hard. I have found that the same applies, even if a person with whom a relationship dies, is still living. The overriding emotions (for me)  stem from how it ended.

Do relationships ever end well? NO. Because if someone is gone, vanished from your life permanently, then it's because something terminal happened and you're all out of chances.

And the most maddening thing of all to be left with, is regret.

What is letting go? 

It's a decision.

It's when you drop the scoreboard. It's when you stop trying to redeem yourself. It's when you stop the persecution of yourself and/or the other. It's when you stop trying to right what haunts you as having been wrong.

 

How do you know you're ready? 

You become aware. It becomes heavy... you just all of a sudden feel the weight and something emerges that you never sensed before. A desire to be free.

 

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How to release a burden  

My haunting regrets after David were disguised as guilt, it was huge.

One day, I simply decided it was time. Something in me knew it was ok to let go. It also knew how..

I held a private little ceremony. I took the letters outside, I burned them to ashes, let them blow away and that was that. I released the burden. I cried then and I cry now as I think about it, but I no longer feel the guilt. That is what it feels like to have let go. I can be sad and not guilty. I'm glad I know.

 

My Journals 2009 - 2011

 

For every ending, there's a new beginning...

In a cupboard in my hall is a stack of diaries. They contain the pre and postmortem of a relationship, the regrets from which I've been hoarding for some time.

I've felt a new and confusing weight recently. I didn't know what it was until I sensed again, the emerging of a desire to be free and with it, a knowing that the source of this weight is in those pages. Only now is that clear. 

I wasn't expecting this, so it's a pleasant surprise. I'm wondering what will my life be like without these stories?

I've carried them long enough.

It's time to let them go..

Always, Amanda xoxo

(p.s. I still have the bandana)

Trading Dread for Gratitude

Something in me changed last year. I can't explain it. For someone practiced in the habit of pushing the boat out, I did something very out of character. Readiness

I'm a bit of a control freak, a fixer... a need to always feel on top of, if not ahead of where I'm at.

As if readiness suddenly arrives, announcing with total confidence that a journey may begin.

It's a well rehearsed worry, based in the belief that I'm not ready, not good enough...yet'.

Then almost a year ago, I kind of threw myself out the door only half dressed. It was a fit of inspiration and I've been running around like a half naked women trying to dress herself in motion ever since. (Might explain the dreams)

So, what I realise now is that the not ready...not enough, has to be part of the journey. You can't wait for that to expire first, before beginning something.

You have to start somewhere. Although it's a hard habit to break, what I also realise is that when inspiration strikes, you get infected by something more powerful than worry. When truly, deeply inspired, the driving seat is reclaimed.

I'll be honest. I'm easily overwhelmed. It doesn't take much to stress me out.

Yesterday, as I traveled between 3 meetings, covering over 300 miles, I absorbed a huge amount of information, support, guidance and assistance. My mind, although stuffed, also (as usual) found room for question and doubt.

I spent my day with 3 people, non of whom question my readiness or ability. Each took time out of their day to help me navigate the next steps on this path, they only see my potential. This has been the case not just yesterday but over the past few months. I have had nothing but believers, encouragers and teachers show up for me!

"Oh my god, what have I done!" I confided in one, who is a friend I've know a long time. "well, you can't give up" was her response. Simple. That was NOT an option.

You know how they say sometimes we can't see the wood for the trees? Well, my friend saw me struggling in the thickets, she grabbed a strimmers and she hacked.

Taking out her phone, she googled something I had been 'unable' to find through my 'I can't' filter, made a call and within minutes, we had a plan.

As I was driving home, my heart still racing, my throat tight and the knotted ball in my belly, I got so sick of myself and this reaction to challenge. Stress and overwhelm... it's exhausting and it does me no favours.

So I had a re-frame. I asked myself "why am I the only one worried about my ability?". "Why am I driving home from a day filled with guidance, inspiration and challenge with a feeling of dread?"

"Why don't I reach for gratitude instead?" And so I did. And suddenly, everything felt better, it all felt right.

I only have where I'm at, now, today. Where I'm headed is dictated entirely by me embracing that. I have to stop worrying about the lack of a woods because there 'aren't enough' trees. There will be, in time but only by planting them, one by one, by one.

One tree at a time... that's my plan.

I want to follow this up with a practice, so that I don't just arrive at it via anxiety anymore. I want to cultivate Gratitude, make it my go-to. I've spent too many years cultivating dread... I'm done.

If you have any suggestions on cultivating gratitude please let me know! I love music and audiobooks, so suggestions are welcome :)

 

Oh...to be a wise 'ol bird!

DSC_0064 - Version 2 Ok, I'm gonna chew my own head off.... Emotional armageddon has descended.

It's just chaos... nothing short. Maybe that's a bit dramatic... But lemme tell ya, there's no other word... Chaos will have to do, ok?

Chaos is PMS speak for can't cope. Can't cope with what? Oh.. things like..

not being able to get my arm through my cardi's sleeve hole on first attempt... not being able to find 'that' pair of socks ... the cat looking crooked at me.

These are the kinds of things that get placed on the can't cope with list during a PMS attack. 

(I know, the drama.... but girls, I know ya feel me)

During this time of hormonal flooding... rationality packs it's bag for a day trip to Mars, patience is just the name of a Guns n Roses song and perspective is set to 'nope... every way you look at this, it's a disaster'.

How I haven't bitten my own tongue off at this stage is beyond me. Welcome to my Monday March 2nd, an 'I'm 'bout to chew the hair off my own head if it gets in my way one more time' kinda day.

Why does this hijack me every month? Why don't I see it coming... why does it leave me hyperventilating at the threshold of needing to be sedated? And...Is it Ironic that I painted owls while dealing most unwisely with this condition?

Anyway... this explains last night's art session to me now. Usually when I'm making art, I am chilled, relaxed..in the flow and enjoying the adventure. Last night I was painting as if I was up against a clock and must have a completed painting in the next five minutes or all art privileges will be taken away from me for life!

At one point I actually questioned had I ingested a barrel of coffee unknown to myself, that's how not relaxed I was.

This morning I was going to take photos of what I did last night so I could post them here...but I was afraid to touch the good camera for fear I would drop it (btw, that's pms code for 'throw it against a wall')...

Anyway... I took a very shaky shot with my ('stupid') iPhone instead.  It's not a great photo but I'm sharing it anyway... my new birdies...owls!

Yesterday evening I heard, for the first time in the surrounding forest, an OWL!! I have been waiting for that sound now since November! Finally! Welcome Mr Owl! Needless to say, when I sat down to paint last night, I had to try my hand at the wise 'ol owl.

In a relaxed state, I enjoy the process of creating, I take my time. These poor guys were dragged forth as if all life depended on having them manifest in one session. I put so much pressure on myself and totally kicked my own ass in the process.

Does anyone else do this when painting under PM stress? Maybe I should have done some art journalling or something. I kinda think it would have been more fitting for me to scribble with a bunch of crayons given the state I was (and still am) in.

So, my jury is out on this, most likely because I white knuckled it and didn't allow myself the space and time to create...I was pursuing the production of something. As if the time spent creating 'had to count'.

Anyhoooo! (Whooo!) Here they are! Maybe I can ask them for some of that wisdom they're known for... so next time I'll be a little wiser when hormonal armageddon comes to town! DSC_0064

Always, Amanda xoxo