Creative Gifts: Respond to What’s Inside You

drumming manEnjoying Japanese food and a glass of Chardonnay last night with a friend, I listened as she told me about joining a local artist’s collective. She is renting studio space, outside of her home. My friend was so happy to be back in the nest of like-minded creative souls. I was so lucky to be able to rejoice with her.

She said, “I haven’t painted, I mean really painted in 20 years.” I nodded, “I understand.”

Her longing, that she turned into bliss, reminds me of a quote from Joy Harjo’s book Crazy Brave.

“If you do not answer the noise and urgency of your gifts, they will turn on you, or drag you down with their immense sadness at being abandoned.”

Creativity and wellness message: Start today by listening to your inner drum beat. Respond to the calling of your gifts.

Feeling Depleted? Reach for a Quote

quotation-marksOn this crisp Autumn morning, I yearn to take it easy. However, I’m up before dawn, not to milk the cows, but to make breakfast and lunch boxes for my family, and support them getting out the door for work and school. Then I’m upstairs to write something before my writing critique group meets in an hour. After that I’m off to work. No wonder I seem to be running on empty these days. The local coffee shop would recommend I run in and grab a cuppa Joe. Instead I reach for something deeper.

While in college I started keeping quotes. The first one I ever kept was by the choreographer Martha Graham. She advised to use your gift, because it is yours to give. There is only one unique you. My collection of quotes has grown over the years. Whenever I read something that pulls at my heart or makes me gasp, I jot it down and store it in a folder. Mine are currently in two places, tangible and at-the-ready. One is in my cobalt blue three-ring binder that holds ideas for this blog. The other is in a threadbare moss-green file folder in a drawer of my white Formica desk.

Allowing for serendipity plays a part in this enrichment practice. Today, the blue binder won out. This was on top:

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
– William Wordsworth

Creativity and wellness message for today: When your energy is low, reach for something bigger than yourself.


During my recent trip to the land of injury, surgery, and recovery, I’m reminded of how important it is to receive.

It’s taken me decades to learn how to ask for help, no wonder, considering my past. My dad was a WWll veteran. He was a P.O.W. and returned to his rural roots in the hollows of Kentucky with a Purple Heart pinned to his chest, but missing his right foot. As a decorated, amputated veteran he went on to ski the most beautiful slopes of New England, and to camp and hike along the Appalachian Trail. His chosen profession was of a minister. His business was marrying, burying, and baptizing, all done while standing on his feet. I have no recollection of him ever complaining.

My mother was from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virgina. Her blue eyes light up when she tells the story of growing up on the farm. “We didn’t see a doctor for 19 years,” she proclaims with a lilting voice.

Sadly, this resilience came at a cost. On one hand it fostered courage and fortitude, and it inspired good problem-solving skills. However when I was a child and sought assistance, when it didn’t come I learned to fend for myself. This became a lifetime habit.

This brings me to my recent situation. I’ve discovered the power of surrender and how humbling that can be. First I had to tell people what was happening. That was the hardest part, but I did it either in person, by phone or in a clear, upbeat email sent to a group of friends. I learned that asking for help not only helped me, the receiver, but as one friend told me, it nourished the giver too. The abundance of generosity residing within my circles of connections astounded me.

The result of my revealing vulnerabilities in a non-judgemental manner linked me to the rest of humanity, and when I asked for support, it came. I am grateful for it all — from delicious homemade soups to rides to physical therapy, from flowers to unselfish and humorous acts of kindness.

As with any new skill, learning to ask for help takes trial, error, and practice. Here’s my list of hints and tips:
1. Tell people ahead of time what happened and what your future needs may be. This way when you contact them you don’t have to tell the story of how you got here.
2. Make a list of people who you realistically think could help.
3. Have back-ups, so that one person doesn’t feel the brunt of all the requests.
4. Be specific in communicating your needs.
5. Think of who you are asking to do what. Is this something they can provide? If not, go down your list until you notice someone who fits the bill.
6. Ask with an open hand, if they say no, thank them and move on. No hard feelings.
7. Pay attention to the friend who is helping you. Ask them about their day or inquire about more details on something in their life that you know is important to them. They have already shown up to help you, don’t regale them with all your gory details.
8. Say thank you.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Receiving is an art and asking for help can be learned.

Rise Up, Break Out, Be Original

“Creativity is the greatest rebellion in existence.”

I’m so struck by this quote. It reminds me how profoundly powerful it is to stimulate the imagination, and express an inventive thought.

Often we think of rebellion in hordes of advancing Scottish Highlanders, or one country rising up against an oppressor, but today I’m bringing it down to an individual level, and feeling how potent that is.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be rebellious.