Connection, Mindfulness, Authenticity, Power, Voice: Kicking Off A Creative Inspiration Series

More than three and a half years ago, while exploring my reawakened interest in creating art journals, altered books, and other paper-based collage-esque art forms, I bought some books online. Among them, because of Amazon's "Customers who bought this item also bought..." devil practice to get all my money possible, was Patti Digh's Life Is a Verb: 37 Days To Wake Up, Be Mindful, And Live Intentionally. Although I have yet to finish the entire book, (1) I've read parts, and keep it handy for intermittent, delighted delving and reference.

Last night, backstage at Greensboro's first Living Arts bodypainting competition, I chatted with an artist couple who had spent the day turning the body of their model into a gloriously colorful work of art. Ren Allen and Keith Dixon and model Vina Jane were among "my babies" and at the front of the numbered line, as I volunteered to help out friends Scott Fray and Madelyn Greco. Scott and Madelyn are 5-time Bodypainting World Champions, who work tirelessly to bring visibility to this growing art form, and who spearheaded this event in our town. My primary duties were to help coordinate and guide 8 teams of artists and models through the maze of people, cameras and stairwells. From the competition hall, through the official photographer stations, on to judging, the VIP event, and finally, backstage to the seemingly-endless wait for the fashion show where they would each present their work on the runway for rapt ticket holders, we became a temporary little family. And so in these short hours, I grew to enjoy and even care about many of these participants as I heard snippets of insight into their day-to-day lives, aspirations with the art form, inspirations, and varying degrees of confidence and nervousness as they awaited their time in the spotlight.

I no longer remember how it came into the conversation. Whisper-chatting with Ren, we entered "creative entrepreneur topics" arena and, not-super-surprising, though delightfully and most-welcome, she said the name "Patti Digh" and immediately I envisioned my book, stacked at home, on top of a copy of Danielle LaPorte's Fire Starter Sessions. I declared, "I own Life is a Verb!" Ren almost squealed. And then: "Patti is a friend of ours!" Keith joined in again and we all marveled at what a small world it is. And we talked on...

Last week, I began drafting the first of what I plan to be a series of blog posts about some of the creative inspirations in my life. Musicians, painters, multi-talented artists to whom a clear label cannot be attached: I want to peek into and share their stories here with you. It is a unique gift that my life brings me into contact with so many incredibly talented individuals pursuing unconventional, passion-driven lives. Writing about some of them seems an ideal way to once more kickstart my faltering, once-steady blogging practice. I wasn't even thinking of bodypainting when I began writing, and I certainly didn't anticipate making new friends backstage at such a unique event.

Still, reflecting on this conversation and the desire to be more mindful and authentic to my creative voice, it makes perfect sense that I would have connected with new like-minded creatives exploring their own relationship to creativity and mindfulness.

I'm not sure I've yet learned to wake up, be mindful, OR live intentionally.

Sure, I do it in spurts, but success in this endeavor seems to elude me. And other multi-interest creatives, as my friend Mariela Perez-Simons and I have been discussing lately. We're carving out time to watch and discuss Kristoffer Carter's "Timebending" webinar in the coming weeks. He's also big on following your unique path and living mindfully.

The Quasi-Footnote Section

  1. Not finishing wonderful books that inspire me is a long-refined tradition(2) of mine.
  2. Random observation: the piece about The Artist's Way, referenced above, was written less than 2 weeks before I bought Patti Digh's book. I know this because it seems everything you've ever done online really is still hanging around, a record in someone else's database. It was disconcertingly easy for me to track down my purchase date.
  3. Sabrina Ward Harrison is where that entire search started. Years and years before, I'd gifted a dear friend, also artist and free-spirit, with her book, Spilling Open. I was riveted by that book when I "accidentally" stumbled across it in the bookstore. Still am. Occasionally I take a peek at the artist's website to see what fascinating creative things she's involved in now. She does workshops that should probably make it onto my bucket list one day.

One of my favorite snippets from our time together was when Keith said, in context of our lamenting that Ren and I both manage things for our professional projects much better than we handle our personal needs: "You should treat yourself at least as well as you do your favorite client." Now there's an insightful man.

I've been involved in more than one conversation lately that touches on the topics of confidence and maintaining the authenticity of our unique voices. I, like others I know, admit that through life's stream of ebbs and flows, I sometimes discover that my voice has grown more quiet than I prefer. Autonomy and creative power are among the topics that weave through the artistic labyrinths of my adulthood seeking. Today while reflecting on last night and anticipating the explorations of these others' creative stories so I can share them here with you, I ponder how these inquiries will help reclaim the power of my own voice. As with most quests, I cannot know now. But it's good to recognize the curiosities and welcome the beginning of the path. I hope you'll enjoy joining me, and sharing your own creative reflections in the comment section below. Part 1 will be up soon; hopefully within the week.