I have been thinking a lot about creativity lately. Partly, this is because I’ve begun writing a new book –a non-fiction book on the craft of writing for spiritual growth (journaling and memoir). In consideration of how I want to structure the material, I’ve given a great deal of thought to creativity and how it manifests in a person’s life. When I teach journaling I often recommend the book The Artist’s Way and ever since reading this deeply inspirational text, I’ve seen every single person on this earth as an artist. The joy I found in embracing my own creativity without guilt has gently shifted my vision for Heartwood too, so we are doing more and more to introduce spiritual crafts and art as a means of personal growth here as an extension of our yoga programs. I think one of the surest paths to spiritual awareness and finding one’s center is through artistic expression – and there are endless possibilities for creativity.
For years, I lived with an artist who unintentionally yet undeniably made me feel as if artistry was some kind of competition – and if I wasn’t going to be the best, I should just leave that game to the super players. The general consensus was that I was a great dancer and choreographer, and a pretty good writer, but since I was only expert in those subjects, all other art was better left to experts in those fields. I would dabble in crafts, such as fiber arts, cooking or sewing, but I was careful to voice a disclaimer to make sure no one thought I dared think I was actually GOOD at this stuff. It was as if only the most talented of people were allowed into the secret club of the gifted in each field. Thankfully, my entire world opened up the day I let that foolishness go and embraced my artistry as a non-denominational, all-inclusive, member of the human race endeavor. Now, it feels like my entire life is a work of art – everything from my writing and gardening to the way I run my business, dress or clean my house. Yes, when you see life as a blank canvas begging for color, everything you do begins to feel like an act of creativity.
David and I recently took a full day’s writing workshop with a renowned writing teacher who teaches Chilmark workshops at Kripalu , Omega, a few colleges, and many other places – Nancy Slonim Aronie. She is author of Writing from the Heart, a book more about the origin of creativity, how to unearth your voice and the right to write than she is about teaching the actual craft of writing. David and I had a lovely day, both in the workshop and on the break when we strolled downtown and stopped for an intimate, artsy lunch in a little bistro downtown. But though I enjoyed the program, much of the day I felt my mind waning from the course and rolling around how my version of teaching writing differs from what we were experiencing and whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. I’m not implying my writing courses are better or worse, but definitely different, and since I want to be both inspirational and informative, I had to give thought to whether my choices were effective for my students. A few of my writing students were in the workshop, and it was a fascination to me to watch them interact differently due to the different energy of the room. They too remarked on how different my class was from this one, and they thanked me for what I offer, without in any way judging either of our classes (which I thought was lovely). Having taken so many kinds of writing classes – everything from romance writing workshops to my literary MFA, I realize that every experience offers a different perspective and understanding of writing and writers. And they are all good. Teachers must employ creative ways to teach the love of writing too, which means there are many ways to get where you are going – all valid.
David and I have taken to signing up for some art adventures as our date of choice lately. Recently we have been taking art journaling classes at creative cove. We’ve had a ball painting, collaging and exploring art on the page as a precursor to adding poetry or other writing to a journal. I’ve enjoyed this so much I arranged a private lesson for us when my daughter came to visit, and she and I spent hours the following day art journaling on our own. My art journal is expanding, as I get more adventurous with paint and paper mediums.
So, as the walls of self-consciousness come down and I see that every effort to create helps a person connect to something deeply personal and often spiritual. I no longer see the art being created, but the act of creation as the ultimate point. And this is where I will begin my new book – not on how to write, but why.
Below a few pictures of David and I in class, and a few pages of his journal and mine as we explore the fun of expressing individual selves . . . together.