Drawing On Creative Inspiration

There is a time of the day when I am filled with creative possibility.  It's usually at night, after dinner, having the last cup of tea for the day. I have so many ideas and worry I am running out of time and I am low on talent to create them all. But inspiration is a wonderful thing and I love mooching about the internet finding new things that people have created.

Of course, I wish to do things that are beyond my skill set, such a create notebooks like José Naranja, whose work is exquisite.

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Or I wish to draw like Lily Mae Martin, who can pretty much draw anything. Her work is both pensive and optimistic, as though she sees the world as it really is but pushes on anyway.

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Or create a home filled with the scent of coffee and copal, fairy lights, plants and magic, where you can borrow books and take a spell for something that's troubling you.

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Perhaps I could create collages like this one by Rocio Montonya.

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Maybe write a poem like Mary Oliver.

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Amidst the pain and sorrow in the world, there is also so much brilliance in the world. While I doubt I will ever draw or create like Lily Mae Martin or Jose Naranja, or write poetry as well as Mary Oliver, I can appreciate their talent and in the meantime, I can create a beautiful home, a magical garden and write a novel, so that's a good thing. We all have something beautifil to share inside us.

Happy weekend to all the creative bugs out there. xx

 

 

Living a creative life

When I say be creative, I don’t mean you should all go and
become great painters and great poets. I simply mean let
your life be a painting, let your life be a poem.
—Osho

This quote resonated with me when I read it. I have lost count of how many people tell me they want to be more creative, but they often assume it's in the form of modality. So what if you made your life the creative act?

In this vein, I have listed ways to be creative without having to pick up a paintbrush or start  to write a book.

  • Wear clashing colours
  • Put art into your garden
  • Have full bookshelves
  • Eat breakfast for dinner 
  • Cook things from scratch
  • Have fresh flowers in your house
  • Eat from the saucepan
  • Take photographs when you walk
  • Move your furniture around
  • Create a playlist for different moments in your daily life, breakfast, travelling to work, etc.
  • Always have a book in your bag
  • Write lists of things you want to do
  • Plant a garden in pots or in the ground, no rules
  • Place flowering plants with your edible plants
  • Move the art around in your space
  • Say 'yes' more often
  • Create a creative corner of books and a rug and candles and a table for your tea
  • Have a dinner party where everyone has to bring a course
  • Help someone
  • Sing whenever possible
  • Ask your friends to recommend a book to read, and then read it
  • Ask your friends what their favourite song to sing to is and then listen to it
  • Travel whenever possible, even to a new cafe, or library or stores. Stretch the boundaries to allow yourself to see more.

 

Happy Friday. xx

On The Mammoth Loneliness Of Being Creative

A long time ago, when woolly mammoths were a big thing, loneliness was an important feeling that existed to remind us that it isn't safe to be away from the tribe. It beat at our chests and heads, warning us that pain is out there, a loss is out there, even death, perhaps from one of those pesky and clumsy woolly mammoths or some other dangerous mega-fauna.

But as we have evolved, we still have that sense of loneliness, even though the threat of death by mammoth is now slim to none. 

Loneliness is at epidemic proportions, with studies now saying it's worse for you than smoking or drinking, raising your stress levels and causing inflammation in the body, which in turn manifests into all sorts of serious illness, even death. 

So now the fear of the woolly mammoth is the actual feeling of loneliness. What was once a warning sign of danger, is now the danger in and of itself.

I don't think there is a greater loneliness than that of the creative person. You can spend days not speaking to anyone. You can miss phone calls or put out stern messages that you will not be available to sup or dance with until you meet your deadline. No exceptions! All these self-imposed rules exist so we can meet our desire to create and obey the muse that stalks within us. We self-punish to please what yearns to be let out of our minds and fingers, and this is for the term of our natural life. 

Then, just like a dream, you then wake and realise everyone has gone dancing without you, and you are alone with the woolly mammoth of loneliness as your only company. 

But not everyone is afraid of, or even dislikes their mammoth. Writers often make friends with it, tucking the feelings it evokes away in their mental notebook to be repurposed at a later date. Artists paint it, musicians score it, and poets plait it into a verse that stabs at the earliest parts of our awakening and DNA.

We head out into mysterious lands of the imagination without a compass, the place that no one else but us will charter and map. We face demons of our own making, we face grief, and loss, and fire and drownings and death and guilt and that is only up to Chapter 3. 

We take the photos and draw the shapes and paint in a way that makes others cry, just like you do when you hear that special piece of music that seems to have been written just for you, just for this moment.

We write and paint and compose and more, all of it for those who choose to stay in the village, far away from where the mammoth roams. We aren't resentful, we need them there, as not everyone can tame the mammoth, and we want them to be there for us when we return. We will share our stories, and they will sup with us, and tell us about the news in town and keep us up to date with the area, so we will be safe again.

They read the stories we write and dance to the music that is composed for them. They weep over the poems that remind them of a time before they were alive, and they hang the art that cheers them, even though they don't understand why. They are present and real and aware of the dangers of the mammoth and sometimes they drag us out of our caves, or back from the badlands, and pull us into the moment.

And when we come back to ourselves again and reconnect with the world by drinking and laughing with friends, our bodies and minds relax, the good chemicals are released. Yes, we are better for the loneliness, it forced us to be brave and rely on ourselves, to tame the mammoth, but coming back to each other again reminds us that we need companionship to feel safe again. 

We must remind other creatives they are not alone. We must support other creatives when the mammoth threatens to stomp them into extinction. We must call out the names of our fellow creatives, so they know that they exist and matter and their work matter. That they will always be missed from events, even if the mammoth says they aren't, that no one remembers them or their work (mammoths say things like that, mammoths also lie, a lot).

We must rely on each other to keep the loneliness in check. These relationships give us meaning and desire. These relationships are what fuels our work. Without them, who are we creating for? We want to be read, to be heard, to be collected, to be noticed.

These social connections fire up our dopamine levels and dopamine pushes us to find what we desire. We need the social relationships to help us realise our creative desires, just as we need the solitary block to realise them into some form of art. 

So, my beloved creative people who are reading this, don't deny yourself company and connection. It's all lived experience, and it's all important, for, in the end, to live well, you must live fully, mammoth and all.


 

On The Art Of Mothering

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In some ways I think I should never have been a mother. I am entirely too selfish in some ways, and too unreliable in others. I believe in living a creative life so absolutely, that I encourage my children to explore their creativity and remind them daily that they are unique. They have gifts unlike any other and that they should try and be actors, writers, musicians, artists, poets, and dancers if they feel they should.

Even though a creative life is a tough road, and it pays beans, I still think it's worth a shot and they should find a way to tell their story in an artistic form.

I am also the mother who swears. A lot. We had the "at home" language and "at school" language. Why? Because I was too fucking lazy to edit myself at home.

If my kid wants to wear black to their cousins confirmation when she was ten, then so be it, even though a relative told me she looked like she was a goth. Good, I thought. She's a goth, and a heathen.

If you wanted to eat leftover fried rice for breakfast, then be it in your digestion system. I don't really care, I'm writing anyway.

"If you take drugs, then tell me so I know what to tell the hospital, otherwise, don't buy drugs from a bikie and remember we have ambulance cover, so get someone to call them if you're frothing at the mouth. The hospitals can't report, they just treat. Don't take ice. I mean this one. Don't. It's a dirty bogan drug and it shrinks your brain." I then show them pictures of MRI's of brains after three weeks of ice use that the Good Doctor sent me and this scares them a little.  I say the other stuff about drugs  because do you think anything you say as a parent is really going to stop your kid from doing stuff? Did it stop you? No. Get real. Tell them how to be safe instead.

"Don't worry about maths. Really. It's not your thing. I'm not going to get all caught up in tutors and stressing about your grades over a subject you hate. And no, Mr Teacher, I really don't care about maths either. He's exceptional at English and History. Let's play to our strengths, yes? I can't be arsed arguing with you about this. I don't care if he's not good at maths."

I didn't work on my kids times tables, instead I worked on their emotional vocabulary. Twenty words for happy, twenty words for angry. Go. If you can do it, then you're emotionally intelligent and probably agree with most of this drivel.

I was lazy when I didn't attend any school concerts for five years, except her last one, because I couldn't be arsed and she told me that I killed her vibe with her friends. I didn't see her performance in a play in Year Nine because she had one line, and she told me it was boring as fuck and I might want to punch myself in the face with fire hydrant to stay awake.

I did go to the primary school talent night and laughed until I got asthma at the kid who rap danced, and then turned his back to the crowd, and he pulled his wedgie out in front of the crowd. That was worth going to.

I only went to one performance of any of her plays because I was too tight to pay for extra nights, and honestly I could not have sat through another night of  kids acting and singing. There's only so much, you know?

I believe in my creativity so unsurpassedly that I put it ahead of them. "Make your own way there, be safe, home by six," is my cry from my desk.

I don't believe my life exists for them. When people's children grow up, some parents struggle at the thought of being without a purpose. If your only purpose is to parent, then you're a better man than I, Gunga Din.

I had children because my arms ached with the need for a baby. I then grew up with them. I was twenty-five when I had my first one, with no career and no idea. I made it up as I went along. She came out okay. The second one came before I was thirty. I grew up again with him.

And then I came into myself. Having children forced me to be present, capable, resourceful. It also reminded me to play. I played a lot with my kids. Creating involved games using our imaginations. It was as much fun for me as it was for them.

I'm lazy because I say to them,"Don't be a dickhead," and leave it at that.' I can't be arsed telling them why and when they're dickheads. They know. Self-awareness lesson 101.

But then I think maybe this selfishness is what makes me a decent mother. My children are amazing. I'm pretty shocked at how great they turned out. Maybe they needed nurturing but not suffocating? Maybe seeing myself as an individual allowed them to be themselves from day dot.

Or...maybe they just lucked out and are who who they are regardless of their parents.

* The Lazy Arsed Guide to Selfish Mothering with Bonus Creative Activities, will be out later in the millennium, published by Sloth Books. Available for download, because those who want to read it are too lazy to go to an actual bookstore.