Monday, August 22, 2011

Creative Being


Jeanne Raffer Beck, Fluttering Pages 5: Memory, 2011, 18” x 18”, acrylic paint, gold leaf on synthetic fabric, screen-printed, mounted on fiberglass screening.

I woke this morning and started free-writing my creative manifesto. It’s a work in progress, like my art and my life, but I wanted to share it with you so you can start your own creative day with these thoughts. Please add to it if you like.

I am a creative being and my life is good.

My days are rich, full and filled with purpose as I engage in creating. My practice is my true north, my touchstone, my homecoming.

Every time I select and nurture an idea to completion, I enrich and expand both myself and the entire universe. My deepest satisfaction comes from knowing that I am bringing ideas into the truest expression that I can at each point in time.

What I create is not about outcomes, although I love the fruits of my labor and intentions. My creating is about learning to trust – in my vision and in my voice and my creative spirit.

Each day I practice creating and living with an open heart, one that marvels in and appreciates life. Everything around me is engaged in creating, in growing, in expanding -- and I am part of it all.

I savor and appreciate that connectedness.

I am open to the joys and experience that a creative life brings. I allow each day to surprise me and carry me off on an adventure.

I am never disappointed. It always does.

I appreciate the wisdom of my years that I bring to my creating and the vibrant, healthy body that I inhabit. I am blessed with humor and wit. I have a generous, compassionate heart that attracts other creative minds and fertile experiences.

Each day I practice being as kind to myself as I am to others.

I am blessed as well with compassion that allows me to see everyone and everything around me as interconnected and ever-evolving.

Whenever I feel alone, all I need to do is open my heart to feel the love of all creation surround and fill me. I am part of a great power that is continuously evolving and manifesting just like I am, each and every day.

My wholeness awaits me to affirm it with the beginning of each new day. My good fortune awaits my acknowledgement that it bubbles over into every aspect of my life.

I sleep deeply and well each evening knowing that I have given my best in my creative efforts. I wake fully refreshed in the morning to a new day filled with possibilities for more satisfying expression, more pleasure, more evolving and refining.

I am a creative being and my life is good.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ikigai and Art Making: A Sense of Purpose


Dan Beuttner discusses the cultures and lifestyles that seem to contribute to health and longevity in this Ted talk. He touches on two ideas above and beyond diet and activity levels, which we all basically are already aware of, that strike a strong chord with me as an artist.

The first is a concept the Japanese call “ikigai”, for which there is no exact word in the English language. It translates as “ a reason to wake up in the morning.” Beuttner references research that suggests longevity is linked with having a sense of purpose in life.

My own life as an artist, which began 20 years ago in my early 40’s, fills me with great energy and enthusiasm for living. Being a maker, a person who engages in a creative process because it provides deep satisfaction as well as continual challenge, is a choice that fills my life with purpose. Whether I live to be a centenarian is far less significant to me than being able to focus my attention on creating the joy in living and expressing that refreshes and revitalizes us all on every level -- physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The second concept Buettner discusses in this talk also emerged from interviews with Japanese centenarians who live on the islands of Okinawa. Each person born in this isolated area becomes part of a group of five or six other people throughout their lives who form a social network of support. The presence of this number of people to  encourage, comfort and share with adds so much to their quality of life that these close groups have become recognized as a factor in healthy aging and longevity.

Most of us are not Okinawans. We have lived in numerous locations, had countless friendships, work associations and even intimate relationships over the course of our lives. Often this means we do not share a lifelong history with others around us, nor have the comfort and continued support that these long-term affiliations offer.

While many contemporary artists seize on this disconnectedness and alienation as their subject matter, I find myself moving towards the potential and promise of being human. I see creating and making as ways to infuse life-affirming, uplifting energy into the world. Our culture is barraged by images and words based on fear and violence; should our art mirror the ills of our culture or offer focal points that slow our whirling brains and give us a pause to reflect on the meaning and potential of our own – and all human -- existence?

I hope you will find Mr. Buettner’s research and images as intriguing and thought-provoking as I did. As a person who chooses to live to my fullest potential, it seems that perhaps the secrets to a long and happy life and a quiet, peaceful death are quite simple indeed. I hope that I am headed in that direction.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Bringing Forth a Thousand Joys


If you are reading this, then welcome back to my blog, which has been quiet for the past month or so, while I’ve given myself a well-earned period of time to relax and refresh.

This morning I found this quote from James Allen, 1864-1912, a British philosophical writer who penned the classic As a Man Thinketh, which, by following this link, you can actually read online (oh how I love the age of the internet!):

Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,

And Man is mind, and evermore he takes

The tool of Thought, and shaping what he wills,

Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: --

He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:

Environment is but his looking – glass.”

Which stirs up a delicious idea. What if I were to commit myself to bringing forth a thousand joys in my artistic life, starting this very moment?

Earlier today, after reading this quote, I picked up my composition notebook and headed outside, engulfed by the dazzling sun, observing and writing every sensation, sound and scene unfolding around me… the warmth on my freshly-washed skin, the buzz of cicadas, birds launching into choruses from surrounding trees as the breezes played with the leaves. Then I walked out to the garden and slowly picked the first few ripe tomatoes, the tangy scent of them lingering on my hands after I twisted them off their stems.

What leads us away from this daily bounty of glorious sensations? And conversely, what can bring us back to them?

I’ve been away from my studio for the greater part of the past month. I’ve not blogged. I’ve been mostly spending time at our cottage, where I tether my floating raft to the dock and paddle around on it.

But creativity is s bit like yeast. Add a little warm water, a pinch of sugar and it begins to bubble. It is time to return to shaping and molding, first in thought and feeling – and then with my heart and hands.

So today I am declaring this my task: to acknowledge a thousand joys, shaping my experience and my life by my thoughts. 

Joy #1 –  It is a pleasure and honor to share authentically as an artist, maker and creative spirit with words and images on this blog -- and sometimes strike a responsive chord in others. Through blogging,  I can reflect, ponder, inspect, consider, celebrate and share my unique way of perceiving and responding to this incredibly rich and inspiring world.

Joy #2 – What hilarity to receive not just one but TWO wonderfully supportive comments on previous posts today.... just as I was debating whether to continue blogging anymore.

Would you like to acknowledge your own one thousand joys with me? Imagine the possibilities of THAT “going viral”!!