Shame

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

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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

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.

 

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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)

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

Processing Inner Drama. An empowering process through Art Journalling

“Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.

I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and follow where they lead.”

~ Louisa May Alcott

January is kicking my ass. I always struggle with the new year, it takes ages for us to come to terms with each other. What I KNOW, is that we always do, that this too, is temporary. I will not be stuck here.

I posted last week about resolutions, how every new year I find myself in the battleground of inner conflict, in a war that is not actually a war, but a process; I just keep forgetting that!

So here is a process that worked for me in getting unstuck most recently.

  • I kept a written journal.
  • I allowed myself to vent and to not feel like I had to control or force myself into a better mood
  • I’d had a sense of my particular conflict for a while before I ‘went in’.

I have found that our issues are always getting flagged, but when we’re not ready, we push ‘em back down. That’s ok. When you’re ready, you’ll know, because when it’s meant to be, there will be a curiosity about ‘going there’.

  • I sensed my curiosity and stayed close to that and non-judgement
  • I repeatedly told myself what I know. That every little thing is gonna be alright.

After venting enough into my written journal for a couple of nights, I managed to create a little distance between me and the ‘drama’, I let it sit for a while and waited for the urge to art it out further.

After a couple of days I felt called to my art journal.

It was during a particularly scathing train of self criticism, so I just opened a clean page and scribbled in pencil, the words of the critic.

Inner critic

They were angry, venomous words. I just scribbled them out onto the page, uncensored. It was unpleasant, but I didn't stay with the thoughts, I dumped the words out and then I walked away. Just to note, I wasn't home alone when I did this. Once I did the scribbling I dropped the pencil, left the room (I knew my journal would not be read) and returned to the company of my love. It's important to feel safe and supported if you're going to entertain the critic. 

The next day, I began with a measure of detachment. I couldn’t read the words without being triggered so working fast and without thought or reaction, I put a light layer of medium diluted gesso over the words and a thicker layer over the particularly cruel ones.

I added a few layers of paint and stamps and then scribbled some positive counter thoughts over the new layers.

Layers

At this point I had no idea what I was going to do with this page. I took a break, dunked my head into a nourishing bowl of MY FAV veggie broth and listened to an inspiring audiobook by my favourite author.  TIP: MAJOR Self care all the way!

Before long, I got the urge to go back to my journal and start with a heart. (FYI, Whatever ‘urge’ pops into your head, don't think, just go with it)

The heart represents my greater self, my capacity to be loving, compassionate and kind. I outlined the heart with black gesso and over that again with  a charcoal stick, blending it in to add some depth. I outlined two more, smaller hearts for balance and because I LOVE hearts!!

I’m sorry I didn’t take photos from this point as the process unfolded…I was immersed & it never occurred to me. Guilty face

I drew three birds, two inside the heart, painted with black gesso and outlined with white tip marker and the third larger bird, which I just outlined over the paint layer with black gesso.

I then painted loose and fast with dry-ish brushes around the drawn images with combinations of medium, black and white gesso, mauve and crimson red (LOVE that colour). This made central features of my outlined images, the exposed layers of paint giving an effect I couldn’t achieve if I ‘tried’.

I had drawn the three birds before I realised there are three inner parts to this conflict! I love how the subconscious plays out when art journalling. I included the words ‘All parts are welcome’ as a message to the conflicted parts (and the critic) from true (greater) self. This is the central principle of Self Therapy, an approach to healing I find extremely compassionate, user friendly and effective.

Self therapy, all parts are welcome

I finished by doodling some random lines with black and white gel pens and shading around the images with pitt artist ink pens.

Self care

This process was very worthwhile and therapeutic for me. It has helped me detach more from each of the characters of this inner drama, to step back (into self) and not over identify with any one, or becoming overwhelmed by it’s perspective, fears, demands, opinions.

Getting into self is the primary step in the self therapy approach to addressing inner conflict. As I write this now, realising the process that unfolded, facilitated by some (always magic) time spent art journalling, I feel relieved, empowered and strengthened. I understand now. Now I have something far less threatening to work with.

There is more to do, but for now… breeeeeathe.

Always, Amanda xoxo