Compassionate Witness

One of my favorite items is a small tooled leather notebook cover by Oberon Design*. It holds a tiny Moleskine book that has become a core part of my creative practice, moving it from the mundane to the spiritual, and augmenting the resilience I draw from it. I call it my “Witness Book”.

Within the body of practice known as Intentional Creativity, we commonly refer to the legend of the Red Thread, which says that we are connected from birth by an invisible red thread to all those whom we need to meet in our life on Earth. This thread can stretch and tangle, but it can never break. When we claim “our piece of the red thread”, we claim that work to we are connected at a soul level in this world.

So often, though, we feel responsible for the whole ball of yarn. Whether it’s unpredictable tragedy that strikes someone close to us, or unfathomable human cruelty an ocean away reported on the 5 o’clock news, our hearts tell us there must be something we can do. But often there isn’t, and it becomes unbearable.

When that happens, I use my Witness Book to write a simple note about the situation. Often, I will take pages or scraps of sketches from this book and collage them into my art journals or paintings, infusing them with sacred intention. This practice of witnessing, a sort of written prayer, helps me to reflect and know whether to act…or to release, knowing that this piece of the red thread will indeed be taken up by those who own it. 

I value this practice because it gives me the strength to witness pain and darkness without turning away, even when I don’t know what to do. And in the brightest moments, a new truth or opportunity is illuminated.

Then, I pick up that new piece of red thread and weave it into my days going forward.

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*Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate of Oberon. I just love this item!

Message from the Muse, 10/28/19

Today begins “Secret Friend Week” at work: a time to share a bit of inspiration or encouragement with a colleague daily. There was a time in my life when I thought stuff like this was rather silly – too forced to be taken seriously.

Now I know that play is serious business, and that when my Muse offers a message, I had better listen and share what she has to say.

Today, she wanted me to share this simple reminder:

Remember to slow down and savor each moment as it comes.

Smell the coffee. Taste the bread. Relish the lingering aftertaste while it lasts.

Release the moment as a good friend, with anticipation of the next time you will meet.

Tara Erin

Pillars of a Creative Life

Several years ago, when I first embarked on the Intentional Creativity journey as a member of the Red Madonna “Queen of the Cosmos” yearlong creative practice group, our teacher Shiloh Sophia asked us to contemplate what she called the “pillars” of our belief. Of the many inquiries we initiated that year, this one has had particular sticking power for me, perhaps because it was one of the first times I began to seriously consider my own inner knowing as a source of authority.

More recently, I’ve found myself revisiting the seven pillars I chose at that time and, much to my surprise, I find that as creativity has moved to the front and center of my approach to life, it has also become a common thread joining the other six qualities in a richly textured weave.

Creativity

To truly live, creativity is essential: everything else is just reading from someone else’s script…even if it was written by your past self.

Love

To live from love is a way of life, and in a world accustomed to operating from fear, creativity is essential to its expression.

Joy

Joy is a byproduct of love-based creativity and a sure sign that I am aligned with my highest path and purpose.

Presence

By being present to the people and situations around me, I open myself to the myriad creative possibilities inherent in every moment.

Intention

From these infinite possibilities, I choose what I want to create in my life, my community and my world with pure intent.

Community

Community exponentially expands individual creative potential. Just imagine a world community creating from love!

Abundance

Abundance is the inevitable result of creating joyfully in community with others, remaining grounded in the energy of loving presence and intent.

The way these principles work seem to me like warp threads through which I can weave the many fibers of thought, word and deed to create a tapestry of great strength and beauty.

Inquiry

Separate from your faith path, what are the values and principles that serve as the warp threads through which you weave your life? Is there one that stands out to you as central to all the others? If so, how?

 

Imagine 2019

With the exception of 2018 when I completed 5 major paintings for the Color of Woman training program, I have worked on a yearlong painting project each year since 2015. For 2019, my project is based on Shiloh Sophia’s Imagine curriculum. First taught in 2017, its goal is not the creation of an art masterpiece, but the use of creativity to cultivate resiliency and build capacity for thoughtful and creative response to the seemingly endless stream of personal and collective traumas of life.

In truth, these benefits have been evident in all the prior paintings as well, but in this year’s project it feels as if the layer of creating an image has been replaced by a willingness to surrender to the process without any objective other than to code my very experience in paint on canvas. Whatever that might look like.

When the student is ready the teacher will appear.

Variously attributed, but most credibly attributed to Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching
(https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1339572-when-the-student-is-ready-the-teacher-will-appear-when)

I began this year’s project a bit later than usual, and am continuing at a pace about a month behind the curriculum. The perfectionist in me might have had quite a lot to say about that in years past, but not so much any more. The more use my creative practice as a tool for personal growth and resilience, the more I realize that everything arrives in its proper time for me. I set the intention, but it progresses at the “pace of grace”. Whenever a lesson is delayed – whether it is a book I want to read, a painting I want to finish, or meeting with an old friend and mentor – I invariably find that when it finally is accomplished, it holds a lesson exactly perfect for that moment.

I invite you to join me here for my “Imagine” journey of 2019…whenever the time is right for you.

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