Intuition and Finding Your Inner Penguin

penguins-429128_1920The Emperor Penguins of Antarctica group up in the thousands during the breeding season.  Once their chicks are juveniles, the adult penguins depart for open water to feed and bring home nutrition.  They have this knack, when they’ve returned from their foraging expeditions, of locating their young among a throng of look-alikes, solely by recognizing their chick’s call in a cacophony of penguin noise.  Parent penguins have a knack for listening.

As I’ve aged and my other physical faculties are weakening, my inner voice- my intuition is growing much stronger.  Like the parent penguins, I’ve learned to recognize it from the din of voices that surround me in my external and internal worlds.

It’s a skill anyone can develop but in our left-brained, modern culture, it’s not valued nor spoken about much.  It requires quiet, stillness, and patience.  Intuition is an inner voice easily drowned out by messages we receive on a daily basis- live your life like this, look like this, buy this, buy that, your intuitive messages often running counter to them.

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Between Endings and Beginnings

Three weeks ago I finished a three piece commission that I labored over for over 2 months.  They are three 12 X12 acrylic paintings of the two dogs and one cat of my late Father’s wife, my dear “Ma Penny.”  I was pleased with them and so was she.

Completion is a good thing.  You’ve put in the time and effort and then you find yourself done!  After the initial feeling of euphoria and accomplishment, however, there you are.  What now?  It can all be a bit disorienting.  There is a favorite John Lennon saying I have “It’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive.” What next?  Where was I with my own personal trajectory?

Luckily I’ve been in this spot all too many times before.  Here is my recipe when you wind up in a “grey zone.”

  1. Don’t panic. Be still.
  2. Write in your journal
  3. img_0705-2.jpgDo some cleaning/tidying in the studio.
  4. Look for inspiration from the work of others.  Pinterest is my favorite source of visual inspiration.
  5. Do some warm-up exercises- no expectations. Scribble, splash, write lists of words that fascinate. Dedicate them to the gallery of the recycle bin or the collage box.

Eventually, the creative fairies take the bait.  Like seagulls when you throw a piece of food to one, another will come until you have a flock of them around you.

I finally came up with the following work (after cleaning out my paper files & filling up my garbage can full of warm-ups…….)

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Elizabeth Gilbert on Writing and the Creative Life

elizabeth-gilbert2I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Gilbert.  She became instantly famous with her novel, Eat, Pray, Love but many readers don’t realize that she was a writer way before that and has published other noteworthy books.  She writes a lot about creativity.  If you haven’t read her book “Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear” it’s a great read on the subject.  Also, she has a riveting TED Talk that is well worth a watch.

A friend forwarded this essay of hers on writing.  I enjoyed this so much and thought I’d share.  You could substitute the words creative, artist, or musician for the word writer and it would still apply.

Thoughts on Writing

(https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/thoughts-on-writing/)

Sometimes people ask me for help or suggestions about how to write, or how to get published. Keeping in mind that this is all very ephemeral and personal, I will try to explain here everything that I believe about writing. I hope it is useful. It’s all I know.

I believe that – if you are serious about a life of writing, or indeed about any creative form of expression – that you should take on this work like a holy calling. I became a writer the way other people become monks or nuns. I made a vow to writing, very young. I became Bride-of-Writing. I was writing’s most devotional handmaiden. I built my entire life around writing. I didn’t know how else to do this. I didn’t know anyone who had ever become a writer. I had no, as they say, connections. I had no clues. I just began.

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Persist

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“Face to face With the Second Step” by Richard Stein

I have these two well-worn images tacked up on the way to my studio to remind myself not to get discouraged. Walk away, regroup, keep going one step at a time. They are also applicable to life in general……

 

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Image courtesy Austin Kleon

Making Your Mark

Handprint on the UniverseI think it’s important to use one’s gifts and talents to the best of one’s ability in a lifetime.  (If you are still not quite sure what they are, go back to what you loved doing when you were five or six years old and go from there.)

Handprint on the Universe

 

Put your handprint on the universe

Run through the cosmos

Hopping from asteroid to asteroid

Leaving your mark

Write your poems &

Draw your pictures on planets

Let your creations loose

Among the constellations

As your voice echoes in the galaxies

Proving to others

You were here

Alive

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Creativity by the Hour

stop-watch-396862_1920I’m a master of avoidance.  Once I’m in my studio I”m ready to roll but getting there past all the distractions and excuses can be tricky business.  Really, does laundry need to be folded and put away first? The “Thing” that needs to be manifested from your psyche in words, paint, ink, or whatever medium you work in is the priority.  Here is a system that works well for me…

  1. Make an appointment for an assigned studio time. The earlier in the day, the better. Your cell phone is not invited.
  2. Enter studio, close door set timer and say to yourself “for one hour I will focus on nothing else but THIS.”
  3. Do not answer the phone, check email, or do anything not essential to your project on your computer- NO EXCEPTIONS!
  4. Work, work, work for one hour and then STOP. Continuing for more than this often leads to overworked material.
  5. Take a break for at least a half an hour and do something mindless like weeding or doing the dishes.  Stretch and get outside for a breath of fresh air.  This acts as a reset for the creative part of the brain that’s been working hard.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 if needed

Most of the time I can get an amazing and satisfying amount of work done in a focused 60 minutes and I’m good for the day. If I have more to do, I find that by taking a break I come back to work reenergized with “fresh eyes”.  I also use the timer method for unpleasant tasks around the house in 15 minutes increments (ex. cleaning out the fridge- ugh).  You can accomplish great things in a small measured amount of time!

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Home is Where My Art is

When I am being creative I feel I am in my place in the world.  Be it writing a poem, printmaking, painting, or creating something out of clay that’s when I feel the most “in my skin” no matter where I am at.  This is my upstairs studio in my farmhouse in rural Oregon.IMG_0524.jpg

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Place in the World