“I have come to realize . . .that the great divide is not between those who are artists and those who are not, but between those who understand they are creative and those who have become convinced that they are not. The great divide is between those who understand that their very nature is that of an artist and those who remain unaware or in denial of their artisan soul.”
–Ervin Raphael McManus, The Artisan Soul, Crafting Your Life Into a Work of Art
4 a.m., Sunday morning: I have just gleefully lifted the calendar page from February to March. I have pushed the refresh button on my life!
February was month of survival. My website crashed and was under reconstruction for three weeks (thank you web wonder Colin Bondi!) We had car trouble with both of our vehicles. And both my husband and I struggled through miserable cases of the flu accompanied by colds!
But yesterday we walked hand in hand down 5th Avenue in Portland, OR, our next-door-neighbor city. The sky was blue. Radiant sunlight bounced off the myriad windows of tall office buildings. The trees were shyly showing their tiny pink buds with the first blooms of spring.
I am ready for a spring-cleaning of my soul! I am ready to thrive versus just survive! And what that has come to mean over the past 24 hours is embracing my true creative nature. One of the most important aspects of creating a life we love is embracing our creative nature, for we are all creative. As we do, we begin living not from our lists, but from our souls.
This requires a re-commitment to caring for our souls.
“When soul is neglected, it doesn’t just go away; it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning.” writes Thomas Moore in one of my top ten favorite books, Care of the Soul, A guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life.
His book teaches us that it is only by “caring for the soul we can find relief from our distress and discover deep satisfaction and pleasure.”
Soul-care calls for creativity and creativity always calls us back to a sense of aliveness and a deep connection with the essence of who we truly are—creative beings. A move from surviving to thriving happens when we connect to that creative aspect of our natures.
Recently a dear friend of mine survived a stunning series of losses. Within just two years she suffered the deaths of several people close to her. Her sister/best friend, a vibrant, lively woman, died unexpectedly in the prime of her life! Over the next year, three other relatives also passed away.
She found herself in a cynical slump, not only devastated by the losses, but profoundly disappointed with the unfairness of life. She moved into emotional survival mode—which includes a failure to thrive. Over time and with some help she reconnected with what made life worth living for her. It called for a spring-cleaning of the soul. ‘Spring’ is the key word since it indicates a renewal of life, a rebirth. She grieved, she sorted out what it all meant to her and she made some important decisions about how to live on.
As she engaged in this soul cleanse she emerged reconnected to what brings her meaning and happiness in life. Her recovery came with courageous acts of creativity.
She is now starting an online business selling vintage items she has discovered in “treasure hunts” at garage sales, second hand stores, and even from relative’s who are ready to clean out. This connection to items from the past, which is a passionate hobby of hers, in turn connects her to her own soul. She is turning it into a way to thrive in her everyday life.
Spring’s arrival can be a time for us to bloom. We can clean out the cobwebs of creative laziness from our souls. We can embark on a quest to care for our souls by reconnecting to a passion for life.
Most quests start with an unanswered question. Ask yourself now: What speaks to my soul? What makes me feel alive? What would I try if I didn’t let fear get in the way?
My soul spring-cleaning is calling for more space to make my creativity an everyday experience. The areas in my life where I am creatively stuck (for example, allowing myself to draw more) are largely because of fear! It helps to remember that fear is just another way of talking about ‘false evidence appearing real.’ The false story I tell myself is that because my drawing isn’t good enough I shouldn’t draw or can’t draw. Can you see the irony of that? How can my drawing get better if I don’t draw? I simply have to allow myself to start where I am. That is one long cobweb to swab with the broom!
A delicious new book I am devouring (and writing in the margins of with multiple colors of ink) is The Artisan Soul, Crafting Your Life Into a Work of Art, by Ervin Raphael McManus. He declares, “Let us never relinquish our rights as creative and creators,” he writes, “a soul that is free and alive is a soul that creates.”