How many times do you need to be told or hear the same thing before it registers? Are you attuned to the clues that step-in front of you on a daily basis? When I was in college I toyed with the idea of being an English teacher. I registered for the class Foundations of Education with Mr. Sacca. One of the things he shared were his secrets for being a student and trying to figure out what would be on the exam. Mr. Sacca shared that if something in the lecture was repeated it would most likely be on the exam. His mantra in the class was “repetition for emphasis.”
I’ve been out of college for over thirty years and this mantra sticks with me. Every day I try and pay attention to what enters my consciousness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect. It may take numerous encounters with an idea, a person, or an experience before its purpose registers.
Spending time in the “echo chamber” is living in the cross-hairs of important components of our lives. As creative beings, our ability to convert the same idea, color, tone, meter can be developed to look, sound, and feel different every time. It’s this variety that helps us punctuate our message. Repeating a theme increases the volume of our creative voice.
If you think you don’t have anything to add to the conversation in the Universe you’re wrong. What I’ve learned over the years as an artist is that we can all want to share similar messages, but it’s our unique energy and point-of-view that makes it accessible to a specific audience. We all have an audience waiting to hear what we have to say, so say it!
Don’t’ be surprised if you have to share your message over and over before it’s received. We can’t expect others to get it and assimilate it any faster than we did. Don’t give up because persistence shows the power of your message. When you take a stand, you’ll be surprised how like the Pied Piper, others will stop, listen, and eventually follow.
Now more than ever we need your creative voice. Your creative energy will be a catalyst for change in the world!
I read a lot of medical journals and research statistics about what the world will be like, medically, in the coming years. Lots of people I know are posting about the health and illness of family and friends and that gets me thinking about the future. The statistics in the United States regarding dementia are staggering with no cure arriving in the immediate future. I remember sitting in the movie theater watching Julianne Moore in Still Alice and astonished at the course of her illness.
There is a lot written about the impact the arts can have on those with memory deficiencies. A song can trigger a memory. When someone smells a scent from their childhood they reflect on those memories and stories giving their loved ones a glimpse of the individual’s world and allowing the family an opportunity to recapture a moment in time of their loved one.
I decided to follow my own advice and go to my studio to capture a moment. One of my favorite experiences, in my life, was a trip to Japan back in 1990. I spent ten days visiting Kyoto, Nara, and Mt. Koya. It was a magical trip and drew me in deeper to my love of Asian culture. It shouldn’t be a surprise given that information that I went to my studio and pulled out a drawer of fabric filled with Asian inspired fabric.
Since that inspirational trip, I’ve developed an ongoing love of the Japanese people, their food, and their culture. One of the most memorable experiences I had was visiting the Zen rock gardens across the country. I’ve created a body of work where I the quilting follows the Zen rock garden designs. They are meditative pieces and I often use them in presentations because participants can do a finger meditation directly on the work.
I went to the studio today with the idea of capturing another memory that I can use as catalyst of the mental file folder I have of Japan. Every time I look at this piece it will take me back to an earlier time. It honors a culture that has taught me many valuable lessons. The work was a meditative experience in and of itself, providing me with studio time to be reflective emotionally and spiritually.
What moments do you want to capture? Is there a song, a poem, a photograph that sparks a memory? How do you use your creative energy to share your life stories? Remember, every creative venture leaves a legacy!
It’s easy to get into a rut. We’re creatures of habit and leading us to a life of uncomfortable predictability. I love to cook and I watch a lot of cooking competitions like Chopped and Top Chef. It’s not uncommon for the judges to describe the contestants dish as being “one note”. The judges are referring to the lack of complexity in the dish. It’s flat and doesn’t give the diner anything diverse in their experience.
When creating what does that mean to you? I had taken a quilter’s color class over a decade ago, and the first piece we created was monochromatic, a work all in one color. One color doesn’t mean boring. It pushes us as creators to think beyond one color, one note, one set of words or meter. How are we able expand our resources? This applies not only to art, but to business, finances, even politics.
I guess what I’m wondering is “Have we been trained to settle?” Are we inclined to stay safe because we’ve been conditioned to avoid “less than perfect?” As I explore creativity and its impact on our well-being, I want us to explore what would happen if we changed or modified one thing. I don’t want to through the baby out with the bath water, but I’m wondering what we can add to the bath to make it more enjoyable and more expressive of your identity.
One note in creativity is similar to believing there’s only one treatment for illness, one diet to lose weight, one way to save money. When we go beyond one note we explore options. We’re encouraged and rewarded for our efforts. We learn things about ourselves boosting our self-esteem.
We’re complex beings and living lives that are “one note” compromises our uniqueness and our magnificence. Go beyond the one note…use a new color, change the words you use most often expanding your vocabulary and enriching your work, use a new spice when cooking a favorite recipe giving a new twist in your diet and enjoyment of your food. We’re creative beings. If we weren’t we would have gone the way of the dinosaurs…let’s use that gift!
A new year, a new you…of that’s what you desire. The one thing I know about creativity is its incredible ability to transform our lives. It allows us to tell our story creating the pieces to the human quilt. Creative energy provides us with the momentum we need to create a life that evolves and can be crafted with deeper understanding and meaning.
I’ve been fortunate to enroll in a graduate certificate program in Health Humanities and Bioethics. The class is a mix of health and allied health professionals all focused on one goal; how to incorporate the humanities in medicine. I’ve been a huge proponent of art and medicine for years. I’ve utilized my own artistic practices to reflect my own health challenges and the stories of those I’ve interviewed.
The professor for the class I just finished allowed us to do something creative for our final project. I created four new art pieces and combined that with eight pieces in my personal collection and paired those twelve pieces with poetry reflecting the sentiments of the art. I curated the show in a round room so classmates could stand in the center of the work and absorb the gravity of the subjects I tackled in the art.
The experience was overwhelming. The work had an even greater impact than I expected. As health professionals, each class member related stories from their own professional lives punctuating the exhibition. If that weren’t enough, one of my classmates wrote a song for her final project. The song debuted while everyone was standing in the middle of my art. The synergy of our two projects was spectacular.
When we combine our creative energies, we can build upon each other’s stories. The songwriter approached me after the presentation about doing a collaboration in the future. The idea of combining visual art, poetry, and music speaks to the impact art can have in healthcare.
My hope this year is to take you on a journey giving you the opportunity to explore your creative side and meaning making. Our creative storytelling can deepen our connection to one another easing tensions inter-personally and in society. Let’s take this journey together and see how we can transform the world.