Endless Source

Do you feel like your creative juices have dried up?

Do you feel tapped out and have no energy for new ideas?

I get it!

There is so much that is needed to be a successful today, and with the industry having less and less gatekeepers, then a lot more of the work lands on us as the drivers for our content.

There’s
social media
Blogs
Promotion
Booking
Networking…

It can be so exhausting!  I imagine you would really love some SPACE and TIME right now, so you could just relax and connect back with your muse.

You’ve probably noticed that when you are super stressed out and not getting a lot of sleep, she disappears.

So, how do you keep up with the demand of your audience, keep up with creating new and exciting work that allows you to stand out AND take care of yourself?

Because it’s not about burning the candle at both ends. But in the moment, it can feel like there’s no other option.
So, how do successful Creatives do it?

Twice a year. in my Zen community, we enter into Ango.

Ango means peaceful dwelling, and is a 90 day intensification of Zen practice.  During these 90 days, you make commitments to increasing your practice, participating in retreats, and taking up study around a theme.

Something that really resonated with me when I found Zen, was an integral part of the process is Art Practice.

And for this Ango, the Art Practice is the Illuminated Journal.

A poem from Zen master, Eihei Dogen
Seeing Form with the Whole Body and Mind
Hearing Sounds with the Whole Body and Mind
One Understands Them Intimately

My amazing teacher, Hojin, wrote to all the participants with these beautiful words of instruction and inspiration:

This is not a journal in the sense of a personal, reflective diary, but live recordings of what we notice. It is an invitation to a journey of intimacy into the world.  It is seeing, hearing, expressing with the whole body-mind as we experience our lives.

You will need a blank book of some kind.  Bring it with you everywhere.  Any moment can be ripe.  You can notice fruits, vegetables, mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, buildings, plants, lamps, the moon, bugs, your children, friends and strangers and the weather.  You can notice the wonders of textures, colors, and patterns.  How do we keep meeting and discovering what is right in front of us that we may never noticed?  Come closer.  Come closer still.

Your illuminated journal can join words, poems, delightful descriptions with images, collage cut outs, swatches of pure color.

The illuminated journal form is very immediate – there is no time to analyze, consider or second guess.  Let your life dash through the pages and leave mysterious tracks behind!

I was so excited when I got this assignment for Ango, and right away went to my journals and found this beautiful blank one given to me by my client and brilliant photographer, Caitlin Cannon.

On the front?
Some kind of wonderful

I gathered all my colored pencils, and placed them in a basket and put the journal in my office, and then just took each day and began to translate.

Not only are the pages filling, but I enter my day differently.

Do I still have many things I need to do for my business?
Yes.
Do they still get done AND I write in the illuminated journal?
Yes.

For years, I didn’t participate in Ango because I always felt like I didn’t have the time. It felt overwhelming with growing my business and seeking my life partner.

Then, this Spring, I participated for the first time and found it actually didn’t take up nearly as much time as I thought.  And the most important part I noticed, was how differently I felt BECAUSE I participated.

I felt more grounded.
I felt more at peace.
I felt more connected to my life.

And I never lack for new ideas.

Even though my Fall schedule is very full, there was no question as to whether I would participate again.

It can be so easy in the fast paced life to think that our time with the muse has to be hours, or has to be sacrificed.

But, what if it’s not about long lengths of time?
What if it’s just a practice and a way of being for each day?

Today is a new day.
One you have never lived before.

What do you see?
What do you hear?

Life is happening all around you.

Where is your attention?
Are you spending all your time in the future worrying about what might happen?
Are you spending all your time in the past beating yourself up for past mistakes?

Your point of power is the present moment, and there is inspiration all around.

You don’t have to go far, all you need is to just come present to what is right in front of you.

And see what trails it takes you to.

May be a new story
A picture
A new song
A new dance
A new work.

Even as I write this and look out the window, there is a whole world alive outside.
The curve of a leaf.
The intricacy of the stones in my patio.
The breeze through the trees.

When we tap into what is right in front of us, we are actually tapping into something way larger.  In fact, we are tapping into an endless source.

What a relief!

So, come alive and open your eyes.
The muse never left. She’s been in front of you all along.

Illuminate.
You have everything you need.

End The Fighting

Do your feel like your emotions and strong feelings get in the way of your success and career?

One day you may be flying high, so excited for something going well, only to find yourself the next day overwrought with anxiety because everything turned?

You sell your artwork, but then it gets lost in the mail to the new customer.
You get a yes from an agent, only to have them send back your manuscript dripping with edits and changes.
You get the venue you want for your event, only to hear crickets when you start promoting.
You finally get the band together only to be dealing with constant scheduling issues and conflict among the members.

Ups and down, ups and down…..

It can feel so chaotic!  Like waves crashing on the shore.

You came into your work because you love it, but I imagine it’s exhausting to deal with the disappointment, anxiety, sadness, and heavy-heartedness that is so common in our industry.

I imagine you may wish you could just shut these emotions off, because when they arise, it can feel overwhelming and next thing you know you have either said something you regret, binge watched Netflix, or found yourself at the end of the day with nothing done.

It’s a vicious cycle.

So, what can you do?
How can you do the work you love without dealing with all the craziness?

Is it possible to find peace in the storm?

Early 2013 was absolute chaos for me.  I was in divorce mediation, putting my home on the market, and living at several friend’s places because being in my own place was literally making me sick.  My whole life was falling apart, and the waves of shock came over me 15-20 times a day.  It was a constant stress on my system, that moment of,
Everything is changing, NOW.

I was losing so much I held dear and every day was struggling.  At this time, I wasn’t auditioning because I was in such despair, and was doing a lot of temping.

For the first time in my life I was asking for help, and was receiving beautiful support from teachers, my therapist, and devouring books recommended to me.

I was introduced to Tara Brach’s work with her powerful book,
Radical Acceptance

And she spoke of something radical, indeed for me.  It was something I had never tried before, which was to say “yes” to what I was feeling.

I had become pretty good at either making myself wrong for whatever strong emotion I was feeling, or taking my anger and throwing it other people around me, especially those closest to me. 

But making it ok?  Actually feeling it?  This was new.

My inner perfectionist had a running tape for years that anger that not acceptable, that I needed to have it all together, that if I showed vulnerability I would be rejected.

Does this sound familiar to you?

I remember when I was working at this one office, I would get waves of shock throughout the day, and tears would just start to flow.  In my best efforts to get though my day, I would take “bathroom breaks”.  I would close the stall, and let the tears flow.

My heart would feel like a tight ball, and physically hurt in my chest, and then I would practice saying to myself what Tara taught,
This too.

And as soon as I was accepting what was arising, and allow, the tight ball loosened.  It was a miracle.  I had thought nothing would stop the pain, and yet, actually allowing not only physically changed the sensation in my body, but began to grow something far more powerful,
Self trust

At a time when I was losing so much and dealing with the strongest emotions I had ever felt, here was a tool that was showing me I actually COULD feel them and be ok.

I was ok.

And if I allowed the feeling to MOVE and flow THROUGH me, instead of fighting it or attaching on to it, it changed.  The strong emotion would change.

Much like water.  Sometimes it’s a wave, and other times, it’s calm.  There is nothing to control here. Water is water, not good or bad, but just water.

Much like your feelings.

And as time went on, and I began to rebuild my life, the phrase changed a little to,
Even though I feel scared, I deeply love and accept myself.

Love and self acceptance.

Maybe I could feel my feelings and not beat myself up about them….maybe my feelings were leading me to cultivating something far more powerful in my life,
Compassion.

It wasn’t more fighting I needed to find my confidence…it was compassion.

Radical indeed.

After reading Tara Brach’s book, I found myself drawn to the powerful poetry of the 13th century poet, Rumi.  I would ride the NYC subway and lose myself in his beautiful words, dog-earring the poems that spoke most to my heart.

This one, not only was read several times to me, but has read to me by many yoga teachers, and just last week by one of my most inspiring Zen teachers, Hojin Kimmel.

Now, today, I offer it to you;

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-Rumi

As teacher Coleman Banks says,The poem’s core message is to be with whatever life brings to us. Whether it comes in the form of a a joy or a great difficulty Rumi encourages us to open ourselves to whatever life brings us – internally or externally.But whatever life throws at us, our attitude and commitment to greet it without fear or loathing, and with whatever subtle faith we can muster, allows us to become wiser, kind and more compassionate to self and others.

Allow.

When compassion comes forth, you can weather any storm, and stand in the waves, clear and strong.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography