Because sometimes a song says it all…

It’s my first time in a very long time sharing clips of my singing. I’m very out of practice from where I once was, but still…

Singing = Flying to me… it’s as natural as breathing.

So, here it is… Never Enough from The Greatest Showman in 2 Parts:

In silence there is presence

of deep wisdom,

and abundant resources;

Those most intimate

with the whispers of the Universe

are best fitted to receive.

For all things,

good and noble,

are borne when

Universe and mind

are aligned.

✌ Peace Out, Fear & Doubt

Today I was painting and there was this moment of hesitation before I put down the starkly contrasting color and I knew it wasn’t what I meant to do. Instead of discarding the paper, I decided to keep going, embrace the ugly, and turn it into a message to my self – Fear and Doubt have no place at the core of conscious mind of the creative.

Let’s acknowledge the feelings of fear and doubt and diligently guard the gate to our conscious and subconscious minds so we can safeguard our power and energy. To that end, silence is proving golden.

The Universal cannot express through you as long as you are busy with your plans, your own purpose; quiet the senses, seek inspiration, focus the mental activity on the within, dwell in the consciousness of your unity with Omnipotence. .”Still water runs deep.” Contemplate the multitudinous opportunities to which you have spiritual access by the Omnipresence of power.”  –Master Key System

And when fear got out of the way, I was able to paint this:

A Million Dreams…

For my Artist Date, I went to go see The Greatest Showman. The movie was a delight for the eyes and ears, and my inner artist was very inspired. The song, A Million Dreams has been stuck in my head – I’ve been playing it on repeat since this morning, downloaded the chords online, printed out the lyrics, dug out my guitar, and needless to say, my fingers and voice are tired from playing and singing the song every chance I had today. What a joy it’s been! I haven’t learned a song with such gusto since my days of performing as a singer-songwriter.

It felt SO GOOD 🙂

As humans, I believe we are multifaceted and in possession of a million dreams and they are all meaningful in their respective ways. We certainly can’t pursue all of our interests with the same degree of accomplishment, and it is not my point that we should try to be all things. My point is that we need to stop thinking about ourselves in singular terms – job titles, roles, and boxes – especially as creatives.

We would be remiss to neglect any part of our creative self – it’s the unique blend of experiences and inspirations that makes us who we are. The different facets of our creativity need to be fed and in turn they nurture the overall health of our inner creative. Ever feel stumped by some project or challenge? Try something different – pick up a different medium, have fun, get immersed. I am realizing that the singer-songwriter in me is just as zealous as a decade ago when pursuing a career as a singer was the dream of my heart and I must nurture that part of me still, if I would truly be my authentic creative self cause…

🎶 “Every night I lie in bed/ The brightest colors fill my head/ A Million dreams are keeping me awake/ I think of what the world could be/ A vision of the one I see/ A million dreams is all it’s gonna take/ A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.” 🎶

What is your IKIGAI?

Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) (ee-kee-gah-ee) is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” While there is no direct English translation, ikigai is thought to combine the Japanese words ikiru, meaning “to live”, and kai, meaning “the realization of what one hopes for”. In addition to giving one a deeper satisfaction and perspective in life, it can also be an attributing factor to longer and healthier life.  [Source: WEF article]

As creatives, we are no strangers to our calling in life. Being a creative is such a deliberate choice that without knowing it, we embrace this notion of ikigai. And yet, we have a hard time concisely vocalizing exactly what our purpose is. Defining our ikigai as artists can be very helpful in combating our daily doubts and fears, because ikigai is grounded in practicality and truth. Ikigai lies at the heart of What we love, What we are good at, What the world needs, and What we can be paid for.

What is your ikigai? Can you state your ikigai as a concise artist mission statement that answers these four criteria? I’ll be working on my artist mission this week and I put the challenge to you as well. The Venn diagram is helpful in visualizing ikigai and the surrounding conditions, so I am borrowing and sharing it with you here. 🙂

Collect inspiration.

I love Austin Kleon’s perspective in Stealing Like An Artist.  Nothing is original and “all creative work builds on what came before.” The good artists embraces influences but not indiscriminately – she carefully chooses to consume the work of those predecessors that resonate with her soul. The good artist is selective about what she consumes with eyes, ears, mind and heart because she will consciously and unconsciously leverage those influences as inspiration for her own art and personal style. It is the unique collection and manifestation of each individual’s life experiences, tastes, interests, influences, and inspirations that gives each artist the opportunity to be “original.”

Let’s stop obsessing about originality and invest in the cultivation of our individual tastes. Let’s feed our eyes, ears, minds, and souls with the things that inspire us.

What art needs from us…

I’m reflecting on the pages I read from Art & Fear today and gleaning some thoughts on what art needs from us, the creatives.

The thought that art needs something from us assigns living qualities to our art. With the first stroke of the brush that we boldly lay down, we breathe the life of our imagination into a once inanimate sheet of paper. Every subsequent contribution forms and feeds this infant art. When it’s at its infancy, our art requires us to build it up, but at some point, the art starts to tell us, the artist, what it needs, and where it wants to go and our job is to listen. Making art is a fluid conversation of sorts between our self, the medium of our choice, and the art as it comes into being, not a monologue.

Art needs us to start with a broad concept and permit it the flexibility to become what it needs to become.

Art needs us to be vulnerable, to embrace mistakes and uncertainty and to let go of the need to control the process and the result.

Art needs us to consider our role in the work as the uncovering of the potential in our medium – whether it is ink, paint, clay, or fabric.

Excerpts from Art & Fear:

“In making art you need to give yourself room to respond authentically, both to your subject matter and to your materials. Art happens between you and some thing – a subject, an idea, a technique – and both you and that something need to be free to move.”

“What’s really needed [to make art] is nothing more than a broad sense of what you are looking for, some strategy for how to find it, and an overriding willingness to embrace mistakes and surprises along the way.”

” Uncertainty is the essential, inevitable and all-pervasive companion to your desire to make art.”

[Sharing two mini watercolors from a couple mornings ago – I didn’t know I was in the mood to paint florals, but that’s kinda what they make me think of. I used a variety of round foam brushes and they were so much fun to make.]


CreativeMornings: ANXIETY

I think of anxiety and fear as conjoined twins borne of our primal instincts to survive predatory threats that no longer exist today. Prolonged and chronic experiences of anxiety are known to induce stress related health complications – mental and physical. But, more insidiously, the fear of failure and humiliation fuels our anxiety and paralyze us so that we remain in the “safety” our comfort zone. As Creatives, we must daily battle and defy our anxiety and fear, but how?

January’s CreativeMornings global theme was Anxiety and this morning, we hosted our Boston chapter event with guest speaker, Jenni Stuart,  who gave a candid talk about her experience overcoming anxiety and fear. Instead of trying to get rid of her anxiety, she acknowledges its existence, personifies it, reasons it down, and occasionally calls her anxiety a b–tch, but ultimately comes out on top. She is enjoying the success of a thriving business doing what she’s passionate about – making hand crafted fine jewelry – but admits that anxiety is never gone, just managed.

Sharing is caring, so here it is: check out the FB Live Stream of today’s talk with Jenni Stuart. It certainly can’t hurt to have another tool in our belt in battle against anxiety and fear. I created a board for our attendees to write down their anxieties… What are yours? Write them down and break them down!

[CreativeMornings is a free monthly breakfast lecture series for the creative community and there are 180 chapters worldwide – there is likely one near you. Check it out and get involved.]

‘The Crossroads of Should and Must’ by Elle Luna

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna is the kind of book you can read cover to cover in a couple days, but definitely one you will find yourself going back to often to glean more inspiration on the journey to find your ‘must.’ It is simply written, beautifully illustrated, and the anecdotes are so on point. But, more importantly, there are tangible steps outlined to help you uncover and define your ‘must’ and overcome your ‘should.’ There are prompts and actions you can take, whether you are a fledgling creative or a thriving artist. There are ever growing and ever changing demands on your time and energy and sorting out the sheep from the goats is a constant struggle so if you have not read it, do!

P.S. I would recommend getting a hard copy of the book, it’s just so pretty and colorful and pleasant to hold. A Kindle reader just wouldn’t do it justice.

Elle Luna gave an amazing talk at CreativeMornings /San Francisco for the global theme INK in 2015 [Watch Video].

Pay attention to the ordinary things…

In a podcast with Tim Ferris, Lessons from Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci, and Ben Franklin, Walter Isaacson said that to foster greater creativity we must “be interested in everything” and that we must “push ourselves to be more observant… to pause and be curious about what makes the sky blue.” He goes on to say that we must “notice the most ordinary things in life and marvel at them.”

Writing of her grandmother’s beautiful letters detailing the seemingly insignificant miracles around her like the tiger lilies or a quick lizard scooting under a river rock, Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way says, “The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention…. more than anything else, attention is an act of connection

Takeaways: Feed creativity with curiosity and the power of observation; Connect with, and marvel at the surrounding universe and draw inspiration from the experiences of delight over the ordinary things. 

The lesson the universe is teaching:  No one is exactly like you. No one ever will be. It follows then that, no one will see the world exactly as you do, if you would only take the time to observe it closely. When creativity is inspired by this deep and personal observation, the expression of it can be no less original than its creator.