Weekend ~ 3/7/14 ~ Building Masterpieces Out of Sand Castles

AKA Joining Heaven and Earth


Yesterday and today David Nichtern’s class Creativity, Spirituality and Making a Buck is the soundtrack to my workday. This beats the crap out of Reuters and MSNBC if you ask me. I know! It’s an odd response for someone whose day job is in finance.

And though I love the relationships I’ve developed with my clients and firmly believe in the necessity of financial wellbeing this is not where my passion lives. As witnessed daily on my blog, my creative canvas voiced.The calling of my siren’s song rising; my intuitive mind longing for self-expression.

Last October I participated in David’s meditation workshop on CreativeLive (my favorite guilty pleasure). I’ve meditated for 15 plus years. Honoring my consciousness is a regular part of my daily routine and foundational spiritual practice. David describes Shamatha or mindfulness meditation as “an organic practice…based on noticing the moment when our awareness connects with our present situation, and actually deliberately cultivating that kind of simple awareness. The benefit is we become more synchronized in body and mind and begin to relate to our world in a less distracted and more wakeful way.”

Now David himself is inspiring. His laugh is joyously infectious. He invites me to yearn for more, to dream bigger in fact then I dared to myself. Seems kismet being this week’s Dungeon Writing Prompt is Dreaming Big. Something I’ve been hesitant to do as of late. A dear friend expressed her surprise at my reticence to jump without a safety net. I seem paralyzed, so contrary to the fire she sees inside my soul’s expression. I’ve noticed this too lately.

But here is a class combining my passions- meditation, spirituality and creativity. ”how we cultivate and integrate our creative energy, our sense of personal strength and well-being, and actually manifest our vision in the world.” David tells us the drive to create is personal- the part of you seeking expression. The trick is balancing Heaven and Earth- Our vision to current reality. 

Creativity is my pulse. It is my susurrus soul yearning to be birthed into the world. It is the part of me that knows its “connection with everything around us and particularly with the magic, sparkly quality of imagination”. It is my beloved and sometimes dreaded muse, my hallow heart.

Inside creativity, connection, and community I have the honor to reflect self with another and receive beauty in return. And to think my roommate doesn’t believe you can be an introvert and a people person. Oh Contraire! I am indeed both.

As I said I have a strong meditation practice. And recently through my illness have come to know further the depths of my own inner strength. I am tapped into my spirituality and creativity. But now, what to do with them?

This is where David pushes further. He asks is your art a hobby or a profession? Right now it is my hobby. One I want to bloom into a profession. But for an idea to become a business we must have a vision statement, a strategic overview and an operating plan. It must make sense on paper. As David reminds us “paper is a great mirror” (perhaps why I love writing as much as I do).

Do the numbers add up? For me the idea of making a buck from my art, the Offering is where I get challenged. My Oy to the Vey!

Our offering requires we serve a market or audience. As artists we must be aware of the needs of others. What do you want to design and project to the world? He asks.

I was reminded today that my name is a Pali term meaning spontaneous generosity of the heart. It is the offering/donation made to teachers. Perhaps I should focus on that when determining my worth, making the ask.

I recently told a friend “what do I have to write that is worth telling, that people haven’t heard a million times already, that a thousand better artists haven’t already expressed?” I thought she was going to lop my head off. This insidious thought runs along with what will my legacy be? What can I give towards the betterment of humanity? These deeper questions accompany cancer (at least it did mine).

I am not alone in knowing what it feels like to simply survive. Life’s challenges thrust us into a process undeniably bound for growth. It serves as the base of who we have become, a faint shadow of our past self, and the essence of our new being. Our transformation is not visible on the outside it is internal….eternal.

The Kabbalah states that not only can man transform, but he must in order to fulfill the purpose of creation. The butterfly must fight its way out of the cocoon. Break its way into the light, come to find its own strength or it will never be able to fly.

Over coffee with a friend he confessed his desire to have his midlife crisis crowd funded. The second half of his life spent creating and expressing his voice, his platform, raging against the dying of the light. My Punk Rock Pornstar Activist friend has a legacy far more established then mine that he wishes to imprint on the world. Not sure the world is ready for it, but that intense passion is glorious to behold.

I imagined a collective of artists. Like a giant creative think tank living on the beach in California spending days on end or nights as would be my case in the pursuit of creative genius, the freedom of self-expression. Oh that I were a millionaire to fund such a glorious endeavor. We would edit one another’s works, collaborate on lyrics for musical notes, create dialogue over dinner, shoot movies, and inspiration for art and dance. Are there any art collectives that incorporate meditation and spiritual practice encouraging collaboration and community? I think that would be the big dream for me.

David’s teacher told him “the first thought is the best thought”. Well my first project was my magnetic croquis drawing tool, croquis book and iPad drawing app. But David makes me want to be the muse. A creative coach perhaps! That friend who randomly reminds you to write, demands a love letter, in calligraphy of course, and stokes your creative fire. That pushes your whims to their edges, coaxing the caterpillar from its cocoon.

“Muse for Hire”. Collaborator. Co-conspirator. Confidante and Companion.


Blast from This Blogs Past


The Weekend Reading List


Something Extra

Stay the Night  ~ Zedd ft Hayley Williams

The Company You Keep


“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder


Gratitude is the cornerstone of a spiritual practice. And the oxytocin high of connection is my drug of choice (not that I’m condoning drug usage). But so it is that I find myself in awe of supportive friends. Surrounded am I by extraordinarily talented women. I feel blessed.

Seriously if you don’t have any in your life, go now and get some. (Yes, that too- for the dirty minded folk among us.) Who me? I resemble that remark.

Where was I? Right…the support of women in my life.

My problem (one of many) is I have a tough time writing longer pieces of fiction. I seem to be stuck in the 100 word count zone. Not to undervalue the skill necessary of communicating an idea with a beginning, middle and end in 100 words. It takes skill. But I’d like to know I’m capable of writing more. I have two pieces in particular I’d like deliver and raise into full fleshed works.

I managed to eek out a “rough” draft (thank you my beautiful Dilettante for tough loving me). Everyone needs friends not afraid to tell the truth, to be willing to give your work their critical eye. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this. I only wish I could give advice half as good as I get.

I also wish I’d followed Stephen King’s rule of thumb. 2nd draft=1st draft-10%, culled the riff raff before taking up the valuable time of others. Even I can see on read through much need be cut. But I’m grateful for the time they generously offer.

My co-worker (FYI- her Welleslian English Lit degree is one reason many of my poems are so tight) implored me to ask the big questions; broaden my view of the story. She said “you need to decide if you are a reliable narrator”. “Of course” I said without hesitation. “Hmmmmm”, I waned.

She pointed out my writing was too linear. My current stories protagonist is a precocious 12 year-old with an omniscient voice narrating over top. CW said “You’re writing is very JD Salinger”. Hello? As if! Other than echoing his personal life as a recluse I have a ways to go to achieve what NY Times writer Charles McGrath describes.

“Stories remarkable for their sharp social observation, their pitch-perfect dialogue (Mr. Salinger, who used italics almost as a form of musical notation, was a master not of literary speech but of speech as people actually spoke it) and the way they demolished whatever was left of the traditional architecture of the short story — the old structure of beginning, middle, end — for an architecture of emotion, in which a story could turn on a tiny alteration of mood or irony. Mr. Updike said he admired “that open-ended Zen quality they have, the way they don’t snap shut.”

But one can dream. And I think it’s incredible having friends’ way smarter than I am. Ones that hear what I was aiming to convey- a “sympathetic understanding of adolescence, the fierce if alienated sense of morality and distrust of the adult world.” Ones that know I yearn to write an irreverent journey of soul and the struggle to find self. Ones who know me well enough (out in the real world) to question the prominent role I gave the fictional parents when in real life mine are “bit players”.

“Can you make the reader come to your conclusions in retrospect without spoon feeding it to them?” Whoa! I wonder. Can I?

As Stephen King says “the object of fiction is…..make the reader welcome…make him forget, whenever possible, that he is reading a story at all.” He goes on to say “you must be able to describe it, and in a way that will cause your reader to prickle with recognition.” Can I tap into another’s autobiography in my writing? Project a deeper intimacy into my words, create ease.

Lastly she pointed out her favorite bits (in yellow highlighter) involving questions of faith, feeling alien and trying to know oneself. Could I draw this thread throughout the piece? Flesh them out. Play on the devil versus God inside us. The bigger questions, “Can you know anyone if you don’t know yourself?” kind of riff.    *mind blown*

 Can I?   I plan to try.    “There is no try grassphopper, only do” I hear a friend whisper.

This is the grace of having a support group of woman to push you along. Challenge you to reach for your edges and hopefully far beyond.  Albert Schweitzer wrote “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. “I have this circle. I am filled with the women that hold me up and rekindle my passion for life.