Finding Serenity

French writer, poet, and pioneering aviator, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, is popping up all over the place in my life right now. Recently I read The Little Prince (again) and loved the sweet, sad, and hopeful story. The author’s humble illustrations also remind me that when you draw from the heart, your images are true, and can last the test of time.

Just now, while ordering gifts online, this quote in a literary catalog, jumped out.

“It is always in the midst, in the epicenter, of your troubles that you find serenity.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I remember some of my past experiences when that statement was spot-on, accurate, and true. I think Santa just gave me my Christmas gift to last the whole year through.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Allow your heart to show you where to find peace.

The Between Place

It’s that time of year, when I see winter’s harsh reality on bare branches one day and dogwood blossoms plumping out the next. Lime green leaves poke at odd angles from dry, yellow spindly stalks of hydrangea.

I’m reminded of human nature too. Until today I forgot the beauty of the between place, that point when the old still exits, the new not yet formed. So often we focus on completion, now nature reminds me to be steady with the process.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Claim patience, let yourself grow and evolve at a natural rate.

Letting Light In

In this process we call life, not everyday is rosy. Sometimes, like today for me, you just have to slog through and do the best you can. This quote by Frederick Buechner so poignantly names the feeling I am having today.

“The room is quiet. You’re not feeling tired enough to sleep or energetic enough to go out. For the moment there is nowhere else you would rather go, no one else you’d rather be. You feel at home in your body. You feel at peace in your mind. For no particular reason you close your eyes. Sometimes it is only when you happen to taste a crumb of it that you dimly realize what it is that you’re so hungry for you can hardly bear it.”

Creativity and wellness message for today: Name the feeling you are having, it’s important to not shy away from it. Sometimes naming comes from a poem or quote and the feeling cracks open and light comes in.

The Happiness Factor

Recently I lost a contest. Mind you, I’ve been submitting to contests for years. You’d think I had thick skin by now. However, I am human. Rejection still stings. By not placing in the afore-mentioned writing competition I felt a few moments of woe, but soon realized how generally happy I am writing. I wrote about the aftermath of rejection in the Fairfield Writer’s Blog but I’d like to put a different spin on it here.

When I think of tending a flower or vegetable garden my heart expands. I connect to Nature. The natural world is full of promise and patience. Seeds hidden under the soil sprout. Food for the family table is plucked at perfect ripeness to be enjoyed by all. My writing is like this. The act of writing, the art of writing, and the publishing of writing make me happy. Just like a farmer who wins a prize at a state fair for their robust chile peppers, I’m happy to be a writer and happy to write.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Take pleasure in what makes you happy, even if the world does not give you a prize for it.

Sharpening the Senses

In my last blog “New Thoughts on Self-Promotion” I used a metaphor of the great heron, who waits patiently for its meal to swim by. The stately white bird stands seemingly immobile at low tide, then at just the right moment snatches up breakfast. Have you wondered how it knows exactly when and where to strike?

As a bird living in the wild, the heron naturally is keenly aware. It uses its body to guide its actions, not necessarily its brain. I believe the heron uses all of its senses — sight, sound, smell, touch, taste as well as instinct. Many humans have lost their internal navigation system.

Like a baby, the heron uses its senses to explore, discover and master the world around it. Sadly it is our sensory perceptions that are systematically trained out of us by family, schooling and society, as we mature.

To reclaim this power for yourself, take a moment, right now to sharpen your senses. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, then:

1. Be fully aware of how your body feels, notice the temperature of the air on your skin.

2. If the air had a taste, what would it taste like?

3. Feel your breathing, is it shallow or deep? No judgement, just observation. Is your heart fluttering or calm?

4. What do you hear? Can you stretch your hearing to receive the farthest most sound?

5. Smell the odors around you, an animal’s sense of smell can save its life.

6. What do you feel like doing at this very minute? Will you give yourself permission to do it?

7. Over the next week, invite yourself to simply observe a situation in your life, with all your senses. Then let your observations help you intrinsically know when to act (or not). Let your body, not your mind, direct you.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Learn how to be body smart, reconnect with your senses. Then just like the heron, trust your instincts.

New Thoughts on Self-Promotion

Today I’m thinking about the regal white heron. If you live near the water you have witnessed the majestic and stately grace of the heron waiting patiently at low tide, watching in the stillness for its breakfast to swim by. No ripple appears around the heron’s legs, it seems immobile. When the right fish ventures too close the heron rapidly thrusts its beak into the shallow water without hesitation and immediately snatches up its meal.

In today’s world of power marketing and social media we are bombarded with what I call the “all about me” mentality. I’m shifting my focus and learning from the great white heron. It draws no attention to itself, as it stands, stock still keenly observing. Its sustenance comes to it, not the other way around.

As an artist and writer I am guilty of the “See Me!” method of promoting my work for the return of dinner on my family’s table. Currently I heed the great white heron’s wise counsel. I am standing still.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be patient, silently observe, then strike with precision at just the right moment.

A Different View

I headed out for my walk this morning wearing a pale yellow sweatshirt, frayed and loose around the neck, with one shoulder partially exposed, Flashdance style. My skin was cool and the air was quiet when I left my house. I felt footloose and fancy free. Taking a route different from my normal routine, I trekked up one hill then down another to reach the water. As I approached Long Island Sound the wind whipped up and I saw tiny white caps.

My morning of life/work balance was already pleasantly euphoric. My sneakers beat a steady rhythm on the asphalt and I thought back to art school. A college professor taught all the students in my Design class to turn every artwork around, to view it from all sides. This way the artist can see and change the composition from every angle. What I learned is that when I changed something from one perspective, it changed the whole piece. The finished artwork was completed by drawing a line or changing a shape that I never would have considered if I had not viewed it upside down or backwards.

Today, the surprise of seeing white caps on a day that started out calm and simultaneously feeling exhilarated by the increasing winds put me in a place of deeper gratitude.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Look at your moment from a different view, break out of your routine and be delighted at how the change affects the whole.

Starting Again

Hello everyone, I’m back to writing my creativity and wellness blog, after enjoying a break from it this summer. If you are a regular subscriber to this blog, welcome back! If you are reading it for the first time, I hope you find something you like and visit again. In once-a-weekish short essays I’ll share inspiring quotes, messages, and revelations geared to enrich your thinking and sometimes soothe your soul.

After having a busy summer, filled with deadline-oriented professional responsibilities and a truckload of personal ones, I’m getting my feet planted in this new season. I was reminded over the weekend how easy it is to slip back into old habits, ones that aren’t good for me. My vulnerability is going into an emotional place that I call the wounded victim. It’s that place in which I consider my glass half empty instead of half full. It’s an old familiar place of discomfort and I see that I have more work to do digging myself out of my own pit. Writing this blog entry actually helped me clarify my thoughts and in turn my spirit lifted.

If you find yourself in an old habit that doesn’t serve you, use the metaphor of going back to school as your guide. Start again changing your frame of mind or commit to applying paint brush to canvas, or hands to wet clay. Pick up your unfinished manuscript and start where you left off.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Just like an artist with a sketch pad full of empty pages, let yourself create a new sketch.