is the enemy of creativity the culture of daily life?


The funny thing about being human is our flesh and blood packaging.

You can’t exactly take us out of the box.

We are subject to the quirks, delusions, eccentricities, desires and secret fantasies that make up the undertow of our lives, some of which we are aware of, most of which we are not.

We try to fit concepts like ‘creativity’, ‘passion’ and ‘story’ into such neat little boxes: the five-step formulas, the slots in your calendar.

But they draw from something much deeper within us: that mysterious, symbolic world known as the unconscious.

The preverbal voices of the unconscious were once the voices of your daimon, your genie, your muse. They are not of the everyday world: checkmarks on the daily to-do list.

They need to be invoked and received.

We can’t create them; we create the conditions that invite and attract them.

That requires a routine action of stepping off the beaten path. You need that room of your own, that magic circle, that man cave, or what Joseph Campbell called your bliss station. The din of the world fades away and you drop into the murmurings of your soul. You follow your obsessions and track the truth of your authentic self.

You slow down when the world tells you to go faster; you open up when you’ve been taught to hunker down.

You accept what wants to come through you without the judgment, self-shaming and fear that sent these parts of yourself so deeply underground in the first place.

Can you do that?

Do you want to do that?

Nov 5, 2015 · 5 Comments / ADD YOURS

darling, it is time to be powerful.


Power is a neutral value.

Love without power is anemic, as Martin Luther King Jr pointed out (and power without love is tyranny).

You cannot protect what you love if you do not have power.

You sure as hell can’t change the world.

We *cannot* fall into the trap of accepting a very narrow, top-down, command-and-control definition as the essential nature of ‘power’, to the point where we dismiss the subject altogether because it is distasteful to us.

The point is not to play the same old game, whether we’re buying into it or rebelling against it. Either way, you’re still letting the other person define the terms and set the rules

(which will *not* be in your favor).

The point is to keep your eye to the horizon, your ear to the ground, and channel the resources around you and the people on your side to discover a new game that embodies new values.

To claim — and to share, to spread, to enable, to inspire — the power to do that.

Aug 27, 2015 · 3 Comments / ADD YOURS

you are the power you don’t give away


Personal boundaries are the place where I AM transforms into I AM NOT.

People can knock on your doors all they want; you are under no obligation to let them in.

Your invitations are sacred.

If you never invite anyone inside your walls, you will die of loneliness. If you invite everyone, you will also die of loneliness – or exhaustion, or disease, or violence.

So there needs to be a velvet rope and a guest list.

The enemy will smash your art and rewrite your manifesto. They will hollow you out into a puppet who might wear cool outfits, but gets no respect.

A soul is not a static thing – it grows if you nurture it, and withers if you don’t. It glows with magic or disappears beneath layers of muck and graffiti and crusted blood. You can save your soul – but you must kick out the enemy. You must mark out a safety zone, so you can tend to the wounded, give your dead a proper burial, and rebirth your sense of self.

The stronger and more powerful your I AM becomes, the lower the walls need to be.

Yes is an invitation to merge. No is a declaration of self.

You are the power you don’t give away.

Aug 25, 2015 · 11 Comments / ADD YOURS

your second life starts when the world cracks you open


You learned
a certain story
about who you are.

But story truth is trickster truth.
It shows you one face
then reveals

a deeper
stranger one. click here

Jul 27, 2015 · 9 Comments / ADD YOURS

at some point you learn that your passion is not your bliss. or your bitch.


Passion isn’t nice.

We forget that.

We try to find “our passion” like it’s some cute and feisty pet.

At some point you learn that your passion is not your bliss. (Or your bitch.) It’s not anything so tame as what you might like or enjoy. It might bring no enjoyment at all — which doesn’t make it less compelling.

Passion is subversive.

It is your willingness to suffer for something (or someone), to risk the sacrifice: stability, peace of mind, happiness itself.

The color of passion is the color of blood. It marks the lovers and the rebels. It steps out of culture, jumps class, overturns tradition. It puts your house at risk.

It might lean in —

— to burn it down.

It strips you in winter. It picks at your scars and leaves you to shiver.

Passion won’t listen to reason. It transforms. It is hellbent.

It alienates you from those who no longer know who you think you are or where the hell you think you’re going.

(Do you know where you’re going?)

It knocks you off the path. (It was the wrong path.)

It makes you start again: the friendless city, the salary cut.

Passion has an edge of war. It points to what we want so much that we’re afraid to want it. The ambiguity of hope. The fear of not getting. The fear of getting.

It requires us to change when we’re so far from ready.

It returns you to your wounded place, the trauma you try to deny. It is the injustice that calls you to crusade. It is the loved one you lost, and now must save through saving others: from cancer or violence or addiction or corruption.

Passion lifts you high and drops you. It strands you on a rocky coastline, in a country whose name you can never pronounce.

It breaks up the stories you pretended weren’t broken.

It doesn’t care that you’re unprepared.

Passion stands behind you with a mirror. It wants to show you who you are.

All you need to do is turn around.

Apr 20, 2015 · 54 Comments / ADD YOURS

selfhood isn’t selfish


Sometimes the self-loving thing is to do what you fear. It is to make your own soul and pursue your own growth.

Growth is hard.

Growth is anxiety, mess, mistakes, discomfort and an edge. It is pain you must work through instead of shutting down or medicating away.

Self-love is about selfhood: identifying your gifts and cultivating your talents and learning to put them in service to the world, in response to a call of the time, in a way that lights you up instead of grinding you into despair. It’s the courage to show yourself to others, to be vulnerable, to create the authentic relationships so vital to well-being. It’s treating yourself with kindness and compassion while holding to a higher standard: getting to the appointment on time because you respect your time, going on a hike instead of to the movies because you respect your health, and your soul, and your need to feel yourself with nature.

We give ourselves away in all the wrong ways.

We don’t develop a self to sacrifice.

Self-love is to serve the world in a way that sustains you, to be compassionate, to make sacrifices for who and what we believe in enough to make sacred. It’s learning to be in the world and not just one room, with candles lit and Bach on the stereo. It’s mastering the art of healthy boundaries. It’s knowing when to throw open your doors, to let in the world, and the people you desire to be in your world.

Self-love is about love of your self, and that includes all of your self, all the time, everywhere you go, because there is never a moment when you are not yourself, even when pretending to be someone else.

Mar 15, 2015 · 11 Comments / ADD YOURS

sometimes happiness can only emerge from periods of unhappiness.


What we think we want: to be happy.

What we don’t know we want: to be whole.

We have turned the pursuit of happiness into big business. The irony is that striving to be happy often makes us unhappy, partly because we don’t know what to want. We miswant, which is the word psychologists use when we want things that we mistakenly think will make us happy (winning the lottery) or know will ultimately make us less happy (feeding an addiction).

The pursuit of happiness also keeps us focused on our own damn selves, which dovetails nicely with a culture fueled by hyperconsumerism and narcissism. It brings us temporary pleasures, but no real joy, and leaves us disconnected and miserable. Even spirituality can turn into “spiritual materialism” when it becomes what Chogyam Trungpa calls “an ego building and confusion creating endeavor” (the main purpose of which is to feel good and escape suffering).

How is this working out for us?

Healthline reports that depression rates rise by 20 percent every year. When you think about the things we do to feel better (eating, shopping, cruising the Internet, sex, gambling) the soaring rates of obesity, addiction and consumer debt underscore the fact that we are not a happy people, no matter how many blog posts we consume or seminars and workshops we attend.

What if we accepted the fact that we are not meant to be happy all the time? Or even that, sometimes, happiness must emerge from periods of unhappiness?

What if we recognized the dark times as a process of initiation into a deeper wisdom, that can serve to heal others as well as ourselves? click here

Nov 17, 2014 · 21 Comments / ADD YOURS

you are your own damn permission slip


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I saw part of an interview between Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert and Gilbert said a thing that still nags me:

“For some reason, and this just boggles my imagination, there are still just huge swaths of women who never got the memo that their lives belong to them.”

I know that feeling, as loathe as I am to admit it. I’ve struggled with self-esteem, and I’m increasingly aware of those places in my life where I “gave away my power” by looking outside myself for validation and authority. I have played small. I hide out.

As I get older it becomes more important for me to understand why – especially given my ambitious, competitive streak, or what my ex-husband always referred to as the fire in my soul: “You,” he once told me, “are no lamb.” click here

Oct 19, 2014 · 30 Comments / ADD YOURS

how to be a hero/heroine: the power of story + the quest for true self


When I was in my early twenties, I had a moment where I thought I was going to die, and the thoughts that would have been my final thoughts surprised me.

I was teaching ESL in Japan and I was on a date. It was a first date, which was traumatic enough. We were sitting in the back of a mostly-empty Korean restaurant in the middle of nowhere, when a piece of meat lodged in my throat and shut off my breathing. I jumped from the bench and started flapping my hands at my throat, like I was doing some weird variation on the chicken dance, and waited for my date to manfully rescue me with the kind of expert maneuver you see in the movies. Instead, he sat there and looked at me and said, in a you are so embarrassing me right now kind of voice, “What are you doing?”

You hear a lot about bad first dates, but dying seemed excessive.

And what came to mind was this: the books I had not written, and the regret I felt at losing my chance to write them. How can I die, I thought, with my books still inside me?

Then, like a miracle, I felt the meat fall down my throat. And I could breathe.

My friend Todd Henry is an entrepreneur and author and creativity guru and he urges people to Die Empty. That’s the title of his book, DIE EMPTY. It did not thrill his publisher. But what he means is, don’t risk dying with your songs trapped inside you, whatever they might be or form they might take. Get them out into the world. It’s not enough to ‘find’ your voice – you must give it shape and substance in the world. The world requires it. Your soul requires it, and it will push you and nag at you and at the end of your life, it will hold you accountable.

I’m a writer and a woman, and writers and women are always being urged to find our voice. I’m lucky, because I started writing when I was too young to know that I was supposed to have a voice, so I never worried about losing it. As I grew up I lost other things instead, like passports, and car keys, and cars. You should never let me borrow your car.

To me, voice is another way of referring to your particular and highly personal stamp of creative intelligence. Your soul’s intelligence. Your soulprint. We define creativity as a special kind of problem-solving, and we live in a culture that judges how creative we are by how productive we are. We forget that creativity is not just doing, but being. It’s a state of mind that takes in the world and transforms it, invests it with meaning.

Because creative intelligence is especially concerned with solving problems of value and meaning.

Human beings have a deep need for meaning. It is right up there with water and oxygen and milk chocolate and Keanu Reeves. It is our quest for meaning that compelled our ancestors to clamber down from the trees. It gave rise to symbolic intelligence and the evolution of language. It stimulated the growth of the human brain. There’s that famous line from a movie, What’s it all about, Alfie? What does it all mean? I never saw the movie, but I know that line.

When that need for meaning goes unmet, we are highly dissatisfied individuals. Our lives seem shallow and empty and – meaningless. That’s when we turn to bad choices, addictive behaviors. I myself would go shopping. I would look for meaning in all the wrong places, like Neiman Marcus, and expensive footwear. click here

Oct 2, 2014 · 13 Comments / ADD YOURS

Emma Watson + why the Artemis archetype makes for awesome heroines


Emma Watson gave a UN speech over the weekend in which she declared herself a feminist, called for women’s equality and a loosening of gender roles.

Emma represents an archetype emerging in this culture that – judging by the success of characters like Katniss Everdeen, Lisbeth Salander and Anastasia Steele – girls in particular are hungering for, a femininity with fire in its soul.

It was originally Jo from Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel LITTLE WOMEN: the unconventional sister in the March family who had a temper, a desire for adventure and independence, and a fierce determination to be a writer. Like Katniss, Lisbeth and Anastasia – or Arya Stark, Sarah Conner, Ripley, Buffy, Xena – Jo embodies the Artemis archetype, characterized most of all by an indomitable will.

An archetype is a recurring pattern of human behavior shared across cultures and mythologies. Jung believed that archetypes live within the collective unconscious: we know them and respond to them on a deep level. We project them onto others; we sense them activated within ourselves. In her book GODDESSES IN EVERYWOMAN, Jean Shinoda Bolen put forth the major Greek goddesses as female archetypes, each one representing a different way of being in the world.

Although one archetype tends to be prominent at any given time, different stages of our lives can call forth different archetypes.

Everywhere you look – on billboards, in magazines, on Victoria’s Secret runways – you see sexy Aphrodite. In a recent issue of Esquire, Tom Junod drew some online fire with his In Praise of 42 Year Old Women, which was actually in praise of 42 year old Aphrodite women.

You see the goddess Demeter in the so-called soccer moms: packing their kids into minivans, running errands in yoga pants. click here

Sep 24, 2014 · 13 Comments / ADD YOURS
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