Thursday, August 23, 2012

How To Stay Creative in Tough Times

I've been in education for the past 15 years...and it's no secret that times are tough for the arts in education. Recently, that issue has struck much closer to home and I'm in the process of trying to figure it out. So many questions immediately came to my mind: how am I going to stay creative, what happens now,  and more importantly, how do I make sense of this experience - give it meaning?  I think we all  struggle with what happens in difficult times - economic or otherwise.  Here's a few things that I'm trying, which hopefully will help you stay creative through the curve balls life throws us.

The first one, oddly enough, has been gratitude. I feel grateful for everything I've gotten in the past, but I also feel grateful for the sense of connection I have to everyone around me. I'm not the only person that this is happening to . . . in many ways it's sort of the human condition. Filling yourself with a sense of gratitude tends to create a sense of solidness, which is what I find I really need right now.

Next, what to do with the feelings?  Well maybe try not avoiding them. The weird thing about creativity is that, while I don't think it's a fragile flower,  I do think it's a muscle and it's somehow connected to a sense of openness and a willingness to stay aware. So, not avoiding the feelings -  experiencing them, is part of staying present.  I'm realizing that it's okay. . . it's okay to feel not okay.

Finally, finding a way to make the experience meaningful has led me to ask, can I make art about the experience? That's my next goal for my growth as an artist - to find a way to be more personal about the stories I'm telling. It seems to me that telling a story about finding one's way in a difficult world is something that we all need.

I thought I'd finish up with some thoughtful and encouraging quotes - Winston Churchill was a real fighter, and in tough times that's what we I'm starting with him:

"If you're going through hell...keep going."

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
Winston Churchill

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any."

"Don't wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you've got to make yourself."
Alice Walker

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."
Anatole France

"If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living."
Gail Sheehy

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

"To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom."
Bertrand Russell

"March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life's path."
Khalil Gibran

"We are always in transition. If you can just relax with that, you'll have no problem."
Trungpa Rinpoche

"Nothing and no one is fixed. Whether the reality of change is a source of freedom for us or a source of horrific anxiety makes a significant difference."
Pema Chodron

I chose this week's image because The Blue Bird of Happiness was one of my favorite books as a kid.  Blue Bird flour is a prime ingredient in Navajo fry bread (which always makes me happy). Here's an article about it. 

1 comment:

  1. Well, I'm grateful I tripped over your work. I'm truly inspired. You should check out the Tao Te Jing, if you haven't already.