Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Secret 4: Surrendering to Creative Cycles

" Like a Phoenix Rising"

"...life is a series of cycles and was never meant to roll out on a straight line..."
--Gail McMeeken

Boy, ain't that the truth. And my life certainly has been a case in point.

This chapter of Twelve Secrets of Highly Creative Women explores the nature of cycles in our lives. It is natural to experience highs and lows. As artists there will be times when inspiration is everywhere we turn and other times when we feel void of all creative inspiration.

It is those periods of void that cause us to struggle. And yet the lesson is that we need to learn to embrace the void, to let go and see what may come to us in the darkness.

Easier said than done.

Reading this chapter took me back to a time in my life when I faced my greatest struggle with the void. When my kids were just 1 & 3, I left their father. My first marriage was filled with abuse...at first it was emotional abuse and then it escalated to physical abuse. Once that happened, I left.

But the damage had been done. My body was a shell. My soul and psyche were lost in a darkness so deep I could not see the light leading me out.

My first priority was maintaining the safety of me and my children...and that took considerable time and energy. Then once I knew we were truly safe, the healing began.

My first marriage had destroyed my creative self. I remember wondering if I would ever create art again. And I remember the joy I felt when I was finally able to open up a box of oil pastels and create a piece I titled "Rebirth".

During that dark time, I learned to embrace the void. It wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty. Life has never been harder. I was alone, raising 2 children on my own. In order to be safe, I had left my job and moved to a new city. I re-invented my life.

I believe making art is what saved me.

And while I would never want to re-live that time in my life, I can't imagine where my life would be without having gone through that cycle of death and rebirth. I discovered how strong and courageous a woman I am. I discovered that nothing, absolutely nothing or no one, could destroy the core of who I am...an artist.

Life has continued to be a journey of ups and downs. I raised my 2 kids as a single parent (they are now 22 and 24). I went back to work as a social worker...and a large part of that was about my desire to give back and help others.

Over the years I have continued to make art, some years more than others. Now at this point in my life, with my kids grown and a supportive husband by my side, I am making art more than ever.

Inspiration is often abundant, but there are still days when I search for motivation. On those days when I am searching, I am confident that I will work through it. And I have learned that I am creative in many different ways, from baking to painting.

When times have been tough I have reminded myself of this quote that was included in this chapter:

"When you come to the edge of
all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on,or you will be taught how to fly."

--Barbara Winter


Kathy said...

Wow, you are one strong woman. I am in awe of your writing as well, you should be so proud of all of your hard work, on you! Now I must go back and read your whole blog! lol
Oh, if only there was more time to sit at the old computer....

Kavindra said...

What an amazing person you are! And how touching and inspiring that you picked up those pastels and created your own rebirth. You must be proud of yourself on so many levels looking back at that time - and confident that you can handle anything that comes, ups and downs and in betweens.

ArtSnark said...

You are one smart & creative lady, Risa. It's great that you can help & express yourself through your art (& writing)


You are an inspiration to a lot of women who have had to face struggles in their lives....so wonderful of you to share your experiences.

Genie Sea said...

Right ON! Turning things around, making realizations, empowering yourself. How awesome are you? :)

Rose said...

Risa thank you for sharing your story. It is truly inspiring and full of wonderful lessons. And I agree your writing is wonderful.

Belle said...

This post is beautiful and so inspiring. You are a truly amazing person - I am so glad that I discovered your blog through participating in 12 Secrets. Today, I am finding such strength and encouragement in your words.

Shawn Borror said...

bravo to you...finding your strength when you thought you were weak. i'm glad you got your mojo back so to speak!

linda said...

risa, I am so happy I came by today to read this amazing post...and that quote is so true...your story epitomizes the human spirit and especially a woman's spirit...we are all stronger than we think, until we are tested as you have been...

it's an honor to have had the opportunity to read your words this day.

Lucy said...

An amazing story Risa, you are a strong woman and have come so far since those dark days. I do believe that we must know darkness before we can see light. How else would we truthfully appreciate what we do have? You should be proud of yourself for doing all that you have done for yourself and your kids. You truly did rise above!

Keep on creating!