Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news: “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
These are dark times-, especially in the U.S.A. If you listen to the news enough you would think that there are no more good people left on planet Earth. I refuse to believe that- even though the media showcases all the crooked politicians and sex offenders of the world at the expense of everyone else. Sensational sells.
I only have so much real estate in my brain for the negative. In order to function and remain positive, I have made a conscious choice to monitor what feeds into my psyche on a regular basis. Rather than start my morning with the news I turn on upbeat Irish music and then switch to podcasts that showcase people making a difference- the “helpers”. My favorites are “The Good Life Project” and “On Being with Krista Tippett”. (Then the Moth Radio Hour provides me with plenty of inspiration.) If you are new to podcasts, give them a try. I don’t even use earbuds when listening. The speaker on my smartphone is adequate.
It is important to me that my art expresses beauty or brings a smile. There is no way I can achieve that when a dark cloud is spewing from my radio as I work. Trust me, I remain informed but not at the expense of hope. Like Mr. Roger’s mother said, I will continue to “look for the helpers” and give them my attention rather than further empower those that would rather have us discouraged.
Everyone should have a special place that brings a sense of belonging and rejuvenation, where you can leave the cares of the world behind and just focus on nature, relaxation and creative pursuits. I just returned from one of my special places, Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center in Northern New Mexico where I attended a pit firing workshop. Being there is like stepping into a Georgia O’keefe painting. She lived and worked on this very property.
Here I am with a tribe of other creative and like-minded people. We are hikers, writers,
singers, welders, quilters painters, printmakers, and ceramic artists. The ideas and energy we share in our individual workshops and at communal mealtimes is infectious. This is important to me as an artist for I work alone and need an inflow of new inspiration to keep my own creative fires burning. There is a camaraderie that is quickly built in a brief week here.
I’m always staying tuned for ideas (see my post “Where my Ideas Come From” ) but sometimes they pursue me- relentlessly. Think about wild birds flapping in your head endlessly or like someone tugging on your apron strings constantly. Yes, the ruckus will go away eventually, but not entirely. The inspiration will just go to someone else to be manifested and then pretty soon your muse will give up on you all together and you will be very lonely.
During a little informal open studio I had last weekend at my home I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable with the accolades some wonderful friends were heaping upon me. “You’re so creative!” “I could never do that”. or “I’m not creative at all.” There was no large boulder I could crawl under so I found myself getting increasingly self-deprecating to deflect the praise. Granted, it’s lovely to be recognized, but this is just what I do. Everyone is creative. You just need to pay attention to your muse. Here is my advice to the self-described “non-artist”…
No matter what rut you’re in, creative or otherwise, the only way to escape is by momentum. Whether it be a running start with or without an external assist (think tow truck) as in a class. Here is a free tow truck- watch the Mel Robbins’ Ted Talk. She is a good motivator.
After a bit of a dry spell this summer (literally and figuratively), I decided to take the sage wisdom of other creatives and just SHOW-UP. Anything is better than being miserable. So I have been just showing up to my studio with no great inspiration, choosing to do whatever caught my fancy. “Junk collage” started me off, then I joined an informal mosaic group on Monday mornings that a friend of mine started. Then there is nothing like SIGNING UP. I have a couple of holiday shows now I need to create for. Deadlines are a great motivator. I bought a new bag of clay and I’m ready to go.
Creative dry spells are no fun. There is a certain desperation and despair about these times. But just like being physically out of shape, the only way to get in creative shape is to start moving. It’s uncomfortable at first and discouraging to begin again. Creative muscles get sore too. That means baby steps. Show up 10 minutes a day if that’s all you have in you and work up to more.
I’m not making masterpieces here, but I am making, and making is when I’m happiest.
No matter how much the terrorists, the despots, (& our president) try to steal the show, nature wins hands down. What a magnificent sight it was to gaze up at the sky & witness such a celestial event among friends. It was a great morning in Oregon!
The sun & the moon
met each other in the freshness of an August morning
Just when you thought the world couldn’t get nuttier, the next day brings even more crazy- especially here in the USA. Being the sensitive type, I have had to develop strategies to keep a healthy level of sanity & stay creative. It’s still there- the good, the beauty, the hope. One just has to turn off the noise of all the negativity and reach for happy……