Perfection

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

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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

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Just something I was wondering ;)

Always, Amanda xoxo

The Cost of Creative Self Exile

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All my life I’ve been drawn to creative people. In my experience, there are two basic types.

The Little miss (and Mr) Sunshines 

The openly expressive creatives. Ah, these boys and girls are fun. You feel good in their company. They are interesting and inspiring. They make you think, they make you smile. They’re curious about you, themselves, the world. They’re interested, engaged, connected. They have intriguing practices. They thrive on abundance. They own who they are and rock it. They’re passionate, they know how to LOVE but they’re not ashamed or shy about hating what they can't love.

Little Miss Sunshine. Photo courtesy of Tumblr

I’ve never left an openly creative persons company not having felt inspired.

The Gollums

Have you ever hung out with a repressed creative person? Welcome to shitty town! Not fun.

They seethe in their paralysis. They scathe in their scarcity. Stagnant, resentful, they are consumed with self loathing. So much so, should one dare to see in them, anything other than the pathetic creature they believe themselves to be, then they will loathe you too. They channel all their energy away from appreciation and into cynical critisicm. You leave their company feeling like someone just put a wet blanket over your fire. Because they did.

They are the wet blanket.

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Which creative type would you rather be around? Which would you rather be?

I’ve been both.

Facebook has this app. If you sign up, it offers you your memories on the anniversary of the years they happened.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been confronted with all the memories leading up to this day in 2010.

2010 was the year I’d rather forget. It also happens to be the year I began the process of recovering my creative self.

Here are some of the photo memories FB reminded me of from around that time.

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You know what I see when I look at these photos? A vessel… a hollow girl, who was completely worn out in her mission to contain herself. I was a Gollum.

To look at these photos still hurts. Because I remember her. I remember being her. It was hell to be her and it was hell to be around her.

It’s also still quite emotional, I’ve been trying for 2 days now to figure out how to write about it…every time I tap into what I remember about this version of me, tears roll down my face.

Why? Because I know now who was inside that vessel. My little miss, without her sunshine. An abandoned girl, her fire smothered by the wet blanket of a person she was horrified to have become.

That’s what the tears are about. I cry because at that time, I thought the part of me who is sitting here typing this right now, my creative self, was dead.

It’s the strangest thing, to remember such grief and now to experience such gratitude for having been wrong.

Within days of these photos being taken, I called truce on a long standing war with my self. For the first time in my life, I declared a definite. I was done.

That decision came from my bones, it was a commitment.

This was my mantra… and to this day, I find it to be true.

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That moment marked the leaving behind of emptiness and the beginning of a journey in which each step has been about filling the void with love and passion and joy and….. ME!

So how did I do it?

I began a couple of practices, which I will share in the coming weeks, one of which was noticing what makes me feel alive and seeking out those experiences.

What those experiences had in common was true self expression.

Lemme tell you… I expressed the shit out of myself! It was amazing and I highly recommend it.

I found myself once again in the company of openly creative people. The ones who own it. I was encouraged, I was inspired. I was reminded of the me I wanted to be.

It was the fuel that fed and the path that led back to my creative fire…and oh my god, this time, I let it burn.

What gallant people are the openly creative. I want to be like them.

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So, what burns your creative fire?

Always, Amanda xoxo

For Every Bird, a Nest

For Every Bird, a Nest I've been restless in my creativity lately. Actually, I think that's always the case. I have this thing with moving forward, progressing, wanting to develop my art in directions beyond my current ability. I'm constantly wresting with where I am and where I want to be. And although I know

there is only now, still, this is what I do.

I feel like I'm a better artist in my head than I am on paper... Always trying to catch up with myself.

I'm always expirimenting, jumping from one thing to the next, inspired by experience, ideas and the works of other artists. Now I'm painting nests, again inspired by paintings I've seen. Also I love the idea of nests, I've always called myself a nester.

I'm practicing and exploring as I go... There's more paint being used... more freedom being sought and more courage being required.

I am not a trained artist. I'm almost 40. I'm just beginning, just learning and though I carry inside me the critics fear that it's 'too late', that 'I'm not good enough', 'not ready to go out into the creative world calling myself an artist', I do it anyway. I have to.

My beginnings are humble, my learning is happening before your eyes... what you're seeing is my efforts... my attempts, my sometimes clumsy, sometimes clueless, always authentic honouring of this fascinated THING inside me.

So, I think this line from Ms Dickinsons poem 'For Every Bird a Nest" is fitting for me... I will not let myself hide or feel ashamed because of my beginner status. I'm building my modest nest out here, before you, on the ground.

Thank you for supporting me

Always, Amanda xoxo

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

Turning the Forbidden Key; A Deeper Self Knowing.

The brothers are coming I'm a big fan of Clarissa Pinkola Estes, an American poet, psychoanalyst and post-trauma specialist, who uses her poems throughout her writings, spoken word audiobooks and stage performances as expressive therapy for others.

In one of her audio series, Clarissa tells the story of Bluebeard...

'Marrying' illusion...

The story illustrates the powerful forces at play in our psyches, the plot is that Bluebeard selects and marries the youngest and most innocent of three sisters, in spite of the suspicions of the elder sisters and who goes to live with him in the grandeur of his castle.

One day an occasion presents itself where Bluebeard is called away and before he goes, he gives his wife the keys to the castle but informs her of a forbidden room, the key to which is also given to her, with the instruction that she may enter any room, but this.

The youngest sister in the story represents the curious and creative spirit who soon becomes bored in the big castle and wants to explore the forbidden room. 

This spirit is within us all, but if not afforded it's natural expression, is nothing more than a servant to the predator, also within.  The price of marrying illusion, is feeling of obligation that you must 'be happy with your lot' and not want the 'something more', like the freedom to explore, which is represented by the entering of this room. To obey the predator, is to sneak your life.

There is a way out of this, we must dare to unlock the forbidden door... but the risk we take is that doing do may shatter all illusions, not just those of the oppressor, but our own too. The ideal life we signed up for may not be all it's cracked up to be, especially if what you long for, is for it to instead, be real.

Change is risky... people don't like it... to change yourself is no different.

But what do you want? To live as if all is well, let a predator control your castle, uphold illusions... or to explore, discover all your authentic glory, self government and expression?

If you chose to turn the key... you risk angering your inner (and sometimes outer) Bluebeard.. the one who didn't want you to go there and you're going to have to identify and recruit the parts of you that are strong, that know how to protect, stand up for and fight for you until the predator is no longer in control.

This is how it is... this is how the battle is lost or won.

I made this spread in my journal yesterday, to represent and celebrate my favourite imagined scene from that story. The one in which the brothers are summoned and arrive to rescue the sister from her fate, now that she has challenged Bluebeard's power, his hold over the castle.

The brothers

These brothers represent the self supporting inner forces available to us, the decision and capability to rescue ourselves, they are commitment and providence. They are strength and action, the forces through which we emancipate and empower ourselves.

If you're curious about the telling of and unpacking of this story as told by Clarissa, I highly recommend her audio performance of Theatre of the Imagination.

I'm so grateful for my brothers and that I had the courage to call upon them <3

Always

Amanda xoxo

The Inner Peace Parade. Marching together, alone

Peace Parade I'm not sure what I originally set out to do here in my art journal. I know it was definitely 'something else' anyway!

If I'm honest, I was trying to re-create another piece that has been admired, because it's pretty, visually appealing....and so I wanted more, more 'lovely'.

But then I found myself in this story instead and realised that experience wants to be the one doing the telling. That this is about something it wishes me to know and... gulp...accept.

It is this:

That I can't just have or re-create the pretty, the pleasing. I can't expect the pretty or the pleasing from life, or from others either. I have to accept what is.

That inner peace is a process, a journey and a personal thing. No matter where you are on (or not) the path and no matter who is also on (or not) that path, we're all carrying our own baggage, stories, banners and stakes and the only way to get 'there' is to keep moving ... Carrying our own 'stuff' and allowing others carry theirs. We all march together, alone.

Although it transcends explanation, I 'get' this... in theory. The practice is another thing. I am in practice.

It's hard though, especially when the ones we love seem to be struggling so hard to find their path. Sometimes even appearing to be on another one, a scary one, the one that walks them straight through hell. There's always the temptation to intervene and try to steer them right. But that's where we go wrong, or at least I do. I have to walk mine and you have to walk yours.

I suppose this piece was that experience coming through, this is about as tangible as I can make it.

Love to you.. From my path to yours. May you find peace, celebration, parade.

Always, Amanda <3