When I was a little girl, we were very poor. I never had art supplies. My mom had been a very gifted artist and before she eloped at seventeen years old, she had been in fashion design school at the Art Institute. She had my brother not long after and stopped doing art completely. I would see her renderings hidden in a scrap book in the basement. I would sneak down in the darkness and look at these spectacular designs over and over. They were amazing. Like something a star would wear at the academy awards. As a child I didn’t feel I could draw or paint or ever compete with her talent, so I set visual arts aside and concentrated on creative writing and acting. But truly, I longed to be a visual artist, as well. It would take years before I could find my various unique mediums and set myself free from those limiting beliefs about myself and my creativity.
My grandmother had bought me a Barbie and a Midge doll. I didn’t like that they had only one outfit so I would make clothes for them out of Kleenex and ribbons. Sometimes I would find scraps of cloth and tie them up in innovative ways to change their costumes. Creativity was wanting to burst forth out of me, but it was tempered by my access to supplies and feeling I just didn’t have the talent to make visual art.
Years later, after I had graduated from college and began my spiritual journey, I found that if I made art from a sacred intuitive place within me, intentional and explorational, instead of “product” driven, that beautiful and meaningful pieces could be made from nature objects, from stuff I found in the alley and repainted, from old junky jewelry and discarded magazines. I found my inner child could heal herself intuitively with joyful self-expression, and that magical art flowed from the crevices of my soul. My life grew richer and more expansive when I made intentional process art, setting aside my dragon of judgment and tendency to compare and then despair. Making art became my temple, my sacred sanctuary, my outlet for transformation.
Soon I learned how to collage. I collaged my front door on both sides, like a giant vision board, intentionally putting words and imagery of good stuff that I wanted to flow into my home (on outside of the door) and what I wanted to gift to the world from myself (on the inside of the door). I collaged my old beat-up bathroom vanity. I have collaged my appointment books for twenty years, dropping into a meditation around the things I wanted to manifest in the year ahead. Then I followed an inspiration to give a new skin to mannequins, just as snakes shed their old skin and replace it with a new layer of its growing self, I would make each mannequin speak to my personal growth. For my mom’s 80th birthday I had her fashion designs color copied and collaged a special mannequin to pay homage to the artistry she had long ago buried in the basement. Each collage I do takes me through a process of personal transformation.
Then I started making talking sticks which I give to couples as their wedding gift after I officiate at their ceremony. And I make jewelry with specific gemstones that speak to the healing that is needed for a client or loved one. And I take gourds and feather them up to make a family of gooselike creatures out of pure whimsy, just to nourish my playful inner child.
And finally, I pay tribute to my little Ruthie who only had a few toys, by creating intention dolls out of yarn, and fabric and dismissed jewelry and buttons. Each year I create an intention and write it out and put it inside my doll with ways I hope to grow myself. I have been doing this ritual for at least twenty years. I have all the dolls I could possibly want, and still each year I make another. My art is an extension of my heart and soul and it is for me, first and foremost.
“The Creative Force brings about movement, manifestation, and some destruction, that ultimately makes room for reconstruction. She is birth and death and birth. She digs away at the unseen. I know so many people who say with conviction, “I am just not creative.” That is like saying, “I am alive, but I do not breathe.”
Creativity can be capricious, fleeting, and sometimes hard to tame. It arrives, like a windstorm, when it wants to. I must open myself and wait patiently, intentionally, for its next visit, like a faithful lover. I must turn myself toward it. No amount of discipline can command its presence, or control how long it stays. But when it comes through the door, its dance is so delicious, so entertaining, that time stands still. I am not young or old, infirmed or healthy. I am all that is—at one with the words, or the colors, the textures, the light and the dark, the ugly and the beautiful. There is no preference, just the movement of the wind through my soul.
The Creative Force is the Mother of Intuition, or at least her older sister. Intuition is the download of a “Yes! Move toward this! Follow this! Be Inspired!.” Then the Creative Force hops onboard, manifests, and expresses what Intuition has pointed me toward. They work in Partnership. They alert all of us where the juice is, and then allow us to be the conduit of their bidding. Intuition may come as an idea, and the Creative Force moves that idea into form. They can surely write a book together, design a garden, enter a conversation and create harmony together, cook a meal, or make a sculpture. Together they lift my experience of the mundane into magnificence. Together they breathe life into stuck places, and flat living.
When I walk through a garden, a field, a forest, even down the street, I try to have awareness about what grabs my attention. This is how I practice spotting Intuition. Whatever I see I always ask it if it is willing to be my companion and teacher for a time. It may be a particular tree, or an animal that shows up. What have you come to tell me? If it is a plant that is still growing, and I am called to pick it and put it in a vase, to stay with me awhile, it is interesting to me whether it releases itself with ease or difficulty. I always ask it politely to honor me with its energy. If it resists my invitation, I know it is saying “no” to me. This almost never happens because it is my experience that Nature very much wants to assist me in my awareness and healing, as long as I respect, honor, and appreciate her. Maybe it is a piece of garbage I spot. Or someone’s lost earring. Or perhaps, a penny. On a rare occasion, when the stone I picked up has dropped clumsily out of my hand, or I have been pricked by a thorn on the flower, or a leaf is holding on for dear life, I realize there is another more poignant message awaiting me and so I move on. Very shortly I will find the right teacher for this moment in time with a distinct and specific message for me. What gentle wisdom this object or Nature being has to share with me from its own life story, and if I get very quiet, and listen very deeply, it will share with me exactly what it was I needed to hear. This is living from Intuition and Creativity, acknowledging and perceiving that we are all part of expressing the Creative Force. We are connected with what is around us and inside of us, always ready to feed us with discovery and support.” From bestselling book Beyond the Bookclub: We are the Books we Must Read-by Me.