The Call to CREATE

It was obvious very early on that I had quite the imagination! At the age of five, I used my little tape recorder to produce my own rendition of The Gong Show (a family favourite talent contest), complete with emphatic gongs when the talent wasn’t up to snuff! As host and entertainer, I amused myself for hours.

I also loved to paint and colour (outside of the lines) and use whatever I could find around the house for my creations. I traced the floral designs on the paper towel with markers and sewed napkins together to make pillows. I longed to create masterpieces in the bathtub with washable crayons (too bad mom didn’t feel the same) and marveled at anything that shone or sparkled.

Since then, I’ve often felt the call to create, dabbling momentarily in a variety of activities; scrapbooking, card making, stamping, pottery. It was fun, but I didn’t experience much “success” according to cultural norms. I’ve even had a few teachers say my projects weren’t good enough (ouch) or that I wasn’t trying hard enough (double ouch!) Mistaking a lack of artistic ability for a lack of ability to create, I gave up trying to express myself this way. Napkins became simply napkins and I learned colouring outside the lines meant that you weren’t good enough.

Last year when I abruptly found myself without a job, home, or relationship, I set out to do anything and everything to restore and repair my aching soul. One Saturday evening I found myself in a mermaid painting class. The teacher told us she would give us ideas and guidance, but would not be telling us how to do it. “We are all artists”, she said. What?! She even made up a chant the group had to recite if anyone was caught muttering something negative about themselves or their painting. The inner critic was silenced and I painted, free to create however I chose, supported and entrusted to allow my creation emerge in my own way.

And emerge she did! She was so lovely and I adored how I felt creating her. That was the first time I received the message that what I had inside of me was worthy of letting out.

I embraced that truth and danced away with it, attending other events that provided an abundance of ways to express myself by being creative. A visioning workshop where I mapped out how I wanted to feel and what I would do to feel that way, a Tribal Markings circle (a grown up version of bath tub crayons!) and Acro Yoga with complete strangers at Wanderlust. It was JOYFUL. It was HEALING. It was a total fucking surprise!

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When I write, paint, arrange, assemble, I feel alive. Inspired. Exhilarated. When I share what I create; a salad, a blog post, a workshop, the feeling magnifies and trickles over into moments long after. Everyone has creative energy. I encourage you to tune in and unleash it!

Now when I hear the call to create I listen.

 

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Creating a Life Based on Values

There is such power in living your values. Who knew?

I recently had a discussion with a young friend who is trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life; which program she should attend next year, which direction is right for her, etc. I suggested she think about her values and let those guide her decision. She looked at me with a blank look on her face and said, “I don’t have any idea what those even are!” I laughed because a few years ago my response would have been the same.

Since returning to Halifax almost five years ago and having a breakdown, er, “Spiritual Awakening”, as Brene Brown likes to call it, I’ve been doing a lot of work on discovering what is most is meaningful to me, what makes me feel whole and what I need in my life in order to be well. Sounds pretty simple right? Well, it can be, but it can also be a challenge to sift through old beliefs about what we think is ok for us to want, or what we are “supposed to” be doing according to expectations of our family, partner or society.

Letting go of old ideas (man I can be so stubborn and determined!) has been and continues to be the biggest challenge for me. Some beliefs seem to be etched on my very soul and although they do not serve me well at all, even harm me at times; I am still reluctant to loosen my grip. Getting clear on what is important to me and identifying how I want to feel has improved my life exponentially! When I’m mindful of my values and set up my day, week, month in line with them, my mood improves and I feel more resilient when the inevitable difficulties of life arise.

The last couple of months I have been struggling with a low mood, a resurfacing of mild anxiety and a general dissatisfaction in my day to day being. Eating more and withdrawing from the world and things I enjoy, taking refuge in the safety of my room. My confidence level was plummeting; I was even beginning to dredge up old worries and stresses, allowing them to move to the forefront again. Thankfully, I have a well-stocked tool box and new pathways in my brain that no longer allow me to put the blankets over my head and retreat indefinitely. Joking with a friend I said, “I can’t even be depressed in peace anymore!”

It’s true. That’s what sorting out your shit and clarifying your values does. On Friday those tools led me to the group that supports my growth and helps to guide my journey. I was reminded of my values (I had been putting them aside) and renewed my commitment to myself to live authentically in line with what is most meaningful to me. That led me to being stuck in Friday rush hour traffic for 40 minutes to help a friend and then to a dreaded Paint Night for a birthday celebration. Leaning in to the unpleasant feelings that preceded the activities enabled me to fulfill my value of accepting where I am and doing the actual activities filled me with JOY. I arrived home that night feeling Alive and Inspired, empowered to continue aligning myself with what gives my life purpose and meaning. Living a value based life is not a magic solution to all that ails us, but it is one integral piece to the puzzle.

Breathe in…

I have been wanting to start a new blog now for such a long time. I had a lot of excuses as to why I couldn’t, I don’t have time, I’m not inspired, I don’t have anything to say (er, as if!) I can’t figure out the technicalities. Ok, that is totally true!  Well here it is. An expression of where I am in my journey. Breathe in with me…