Category: Creativity

Creative Madness

Creative Madness

Anthony Crawford
Anthony Crawford

He was working twelve to fourteen hour days in a creative surge to build a recording studio. But not just any recording studio…one where Anthony and his wife Savana can create their dream.

As I stood listening to him share his vision, I felt myself resonating with the impulse that grabs hold of artists and pushes us forward in a rush of energy that helps manifest that which is in our hearts and minds. Time becomes irrelevant and we can work for hours without a break. Such is this mad creative process.

 “Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant–there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing,”         Georgia O’Keefe

Photograph by Simone Lipscomb
Photograph by Simone Lipscomb

When a person feels called to live a creative life it isn’t easy. The pressure to conform to the schedule and life others live is significant. If you dare live outside the box it can be a constant struggle to stay there as our society doesn’t deal well with those of us who dare to follow and dance to our own inner voice. Whether we photograph, paint, write books or songs or poetry, dance…life lead by creativity is challenging. And many times artists are seen as weird, outcast, strange because we bring forth new ideas and new ways of seeing things.

If creative efforts yield success in the world, it makes it a bit easier for the artist to continue in his or her efforts as the opinion is…time is well-spent. But for those of us whose work isn’t well-known, we keep at it, swimming at times against a current of negative opinion and judgment….’why doesn’t she get a real job?’….’why doesn’t he volunteer and make better use of his time?’……’how come she doesn’t do ________? Many times the negative messages come from within ourselves.

Self-portrait by Simone Lipscomb
Self-portrait by Simone Lipscomb

Accomplishments are constantly being measured externally, where forms are always read from the outside, where comfort and lifestyle are often mistaken for success, or even happiness. Don’t be fooled. Our ideas regarding success should be our own,”   Teresita Fernandez

Over a year ago my friend Jen and I talked about the dilemma and pressure of feeling called to create and not knowing where it will lead or what difference it will make in the world. Of having the resources to devote to the creative process, the inner desire to fully commit our lives to it and serving the greater good but feeling at a loss for how to get the work out into the world.

SimoneLipscomb (6)Several years ago an independent publishing company opted to publish a book I had been writing for years. Sharks On My Fin Tips: A Wild Woman’s Adventures With Nature* was born out of my desire….no, my passion…to help people connect with nature and care about our planet. It contains stories of my personal relationship with animals, oceans, rivers, lakes and how nature is a healing force in my life. After several years of writing and saving stories, the process of putting it all together and seeing it in a book was amazing…finally. 

Then followed two books, a book of photography, Place of Spirit, and a children’s book on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, The Gulf Oil Spill Story. And then a project of poetry and photography with my friend Thomas Rain Crowe, Crack Light. And another project with Thomas with his translations of Hafiz and my photographs, More Than All the Rich Man’s Gold.

Photograph by Simone Lipscomb
Photograph by Simone Lipscomb

But then came the reality of the publishing world: marketing is vital. And I’d rather just tap into inspiration and use my skills to create a work of beauty. Marketing? Really? Sales? Ugh.

And so it goes. The creative process is maddening. It’s wonderful. It drives many of us crazy. And we continue because we truly have no choice but to do so.

If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living….I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be,” Joseph Campbell

Photography by Simone Lipscomb
Photograph by Simone Lipscomb

The energy of building something from nothing inspires us and gives us life, helps us breathe completely, fully…it makes us feel at home in our skin even when people around us might criticize or ignore our work or us.

Savana Lee Crawford and Anthony Crawford...Sugarcane Jane. Photograph by Simone Lipscomb
Savana Lee Crawford and Anthony Crawford…Sugarcane Jane. Photograph by Simone Lipscomb

Anthony’s in the grip of a creative whirlwind. As we chatted in his evolving studio he expressed a desire to see his kids off to school, to have a family life and be able to do what he and his wife love to do–create music. Rather than give up family or music they are creating the life they want, building their dream.

Cover Rich Mans Gold
Thomas Rain Crowe’s translations of Hafiz and Simone Lipscomb’s photography.

Thomas said this to a class he was teaching: The difference between writers and someone who writes is that writers have to write. They cannot not write. And so it goes with those of us called by some mysterious, inner voice to create. We cannot ignore the urge to paint, write stories, photograph, write songs, draw, play music, write poetry, dance. We must surrender to this creative madness that calls us. There are no guarantees or promises that our efforts will pay off, make a difference or change the world for the better but we really have no choice. To ignore the inner voice, the creative spark that ignites us with inspiration is to die while breathing.

*Sharks On My Fin Tips, Grateful Steps Publishing House, 2008.

Check out Anthony and Savana Crawford’s wonderful music with their duo, Sugarcane Jane and with Willie Sugarcapps.

 

 

 

 

 

We Are Instruments

We Are Instruments

Will Kimbrough
Will Kimbrough

The guitar and musician were within a few feet of me. His hands gently and purposefully changing frets and playing notes captured my attention. I found myself in a kind of trance watching and listening. Hearing not only the music, I heard my inner voice clearly say: We are instruments. Just like the guitar can sit and be silent or allow the touch of Spirit to move through and create beautiful gifts for the world.

Will Kimbrough
Will Kimbrough

I allowed this mantra to flow throughout my being like a trickle of water from head to toe. I felt my body become hollow and filled with the essence of Spirit. It didn’t last that long because Will began singing lyrics again and so my attention was drawn back to his voice. And yet the idea expanded as I saw his hands as instruments, his voice and realized that each of us have the capacity to be instruments of Love…Life…the Creative Force.

Kerry Parks, glass artist creating one of her beautiful pieces of art
Kerry Parks, glass artist creating one of her beautiful pieces of art

We have freedom of choice. We can resist the Creative Impulsive that desires to fill us and flow through us or we can be open and receptive instruments.

Armondo owns a cave diving site in Akumal, Mexico and carves beautiful statues to honor the Earth. His energy is spent in this endeavor.
Armondo owns a cave diving site in Akumal, Mexico and carves beautiful statues to honor the Earth.

So what’s the secret to doing this? Perhaps its different for everyone but there are common threads of courage, determination, surrender, a playful spirit.

Anthony Crawford of Sugarcane Jane and Willie Sugarcapps
Anthony Crawford of Sugarcane Jane and Willie Sugarcapps

Have you ever watched someone in the process of creating? What do you notice? In others I am aware of them going into a sort of meditative state or zone where they allow their gifts to express freely without filtering or resisting. For my own creative endeavors its a complete surrender to being present in the moment and allowing inspiration to move me without judging or criticizing. The key is being in the flow.

simonelipscomb (23)There are endless ways we can be instruments of the Creative Flow (or whatever label you wish to call it). It can be as simple as interacting with others every day with an open heart. Or allowing Love to love through us to animals, friends, the Earth. There are no bounds or limits to Love flowing through us except those we impose.

Savana Lee Crawford of Sugarcane Jane and Willie Sugarcapps
Savana Lee Crawford of Sugarcane Jane and Willie Sugarcapps

Let it come through your voice….

Will and his mom at The Frog Pond
Will and his mom at The Frog Pond

Your hands…..

Your words….

sharksweb_med

Excerpt about a dive from, Sharks On My Fin Tips: “Everywhere I looked life was evident… As I moved, I absentmindedly started to hum a tune. From what depths did the song come? It seemed to come from my heart and was quite pleasant so I allowed it to find expression by humming through my scuba regulator. It was not easy to emit any sound because the mouthpiece occupied the majority of space in my mouth, but I made the effort to let the music come forth.

The more I droned, the stronger the emotion became until I felt a constriction in my throat. The sensation was so strong I had to stop humming and take a deep breath. When I halted I heard an answering refrain from somewhere outside myself. Without hesitation I knew it to be the song of the Ocean.

With the realization came a wave of joy so powerful that I sobbed into my regulator and tears flooded my mask. The presence I felt earlier in the dive grew larger in my awareness. It became tangible and very real to me. I felt it surround me like a warm blanket.

The consciousness of the Mother Ocean was reaching out to me, tapping my heart with Her liquid fingers. It was Her song I had been singing…I hung motionless in the water column, overcome with the sweetest love I had ever felt.”

Kit & Steve Schmeiser hosting a Mountain Wild gathering in Asheville, NC
Kit & Steve Schmeiser hosting a Mountain Wild gathering in Asheville, NC

Allow yourself to be open….a channel…an instrument for Love and see what magnificent wonders are born within you to gift to the world.

Virgin grove of trees in Tennessee...allow your hands to be instruments of Love...
Virgin grove of trees in Tennessee…allow your hands to be instruments of Love…

 

Mountains and Friends

Mountains and Friends

Abbey
Abbey

It has been over 19 months since I moved from the mountain in the Riceville Valley area near Asheville, North Carolina. Today I returned. The mountains snuck up on me as it was foggy and pouring rain as I wound my way up through the North Georgia Mountains. Rather than the usual distant view of the mountains, that always makes my heart light up and teases me with the majesty to come, I found myself suddenly surrounded by peaks and thrust into the beauty of mountain energy.

Living in Asheville was a wonderful experience and a dream come true for me. My creativity was unlocked here and connections with others boosted my work…my friend Jen and I used to take wild day trips to the Smoky Mountains and immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature while practicing our art of photography. I met her on the mountain.

sharkswebThe owner of the company that published my first book lived a couple houses down the mountain from me. She helped me learn about the business and taught me the art of editing. Other mountain neighbors became friends as we connected through this magical place that draws so many wonderful people.

As I got closer to Asheville this afternoon I became anxious. I wasn’t sure how to return gracefully to a place I deeply loved and left. How does a person love a place so fully and leave it? For me it was a call back to big water and coastal life that I had been away from for twenty years. So the move south was a good one but I was left with a heart full of love for the mountain and friends that became family.

The time spent in my new coastal home has been focused on healing my life. That opportunity came about due to a relationship that ended…the one I thought would be the forever one. Coming back to the mountain meant facing possible emotions of sadness and grief. I have worked so hard to heal my heart I was fearful that I’d slide back into the darkness from which I had freed myself. Nineteen months of deep, inner work were about to be tested.

photoAs I ate at Doc Chey’s, my favorite Asheville restaurant, I saw in my mind’s eye my former husband and I there but rather than sadness I simply observed and enjoyed the meal. Afterwards I walked to Mast General Store, another Asheville favorite, and walked around hearing the familiar clumping of people’s feet on the wooden floors. Downstairs I touched a shirt made of waffle-type thermal material, the kind that he used to wear, and my breath caught. A moment of sadness arose but was replaced with a sweetness as I remembered his strength and then I simply walked on…letting go even more and feeling the strong sense of wholeness within my being.

one of my friends on the deck of my former home here
one of my friends on the deck of my former home here

It continued to rain as I drove east toward my former neighborhood and as my car began the familiar climb up the mountain I felt like a horse being led to something she feared…balking a bit but then I was passing my former cedar home with the wall of windows overlooking the valley and I felt that I had truly moved on and my home wasn’t there any more. There were no ghosts of the past lurking about.

The familiar arms of my friend Phyliss embraced me. Actually it was my buddy Abbey that greeted me, wagging her tail and smiling with excitement. Then the Phyliss hug…and then Bob. These special friends welcomed me with such warmth. All anxiety of facing the past evaporated as I recognized the healing that has come to my life. I realized I had truly come home to myself.

Later this evening we drove back down the mountain and dined with other dear friends. Laleah and Bill provided a wonderful evening where the conversation was rich and varied with deep sharing and multiple explosions of laughter.

the winter that helped me decide to head back to the tropics....
the winter that helped me decide to head back to the tropics….

And the mountain…let me say how incredible it is to be on the mountain again. This place nurtured my soul and helped me open to the creative spirit. It was here that I felt my wings expand and carry me into the heavens where I learned that flight takes only surrender to the forces that are ready to lift us all to our potential.

As I reflect and write I sit snuggled under blankets as the wind howls in the rainy, cold night. The weather forecast calls for snow and with the excitement of a child I realize that I have come full circle in my life and am ready for the next flight on which these wings will carry me. What a blessing to be able to return to this family of friends and a mountain of magic and wonder. My heart is filled with gratitude as I count the many blessings that continue to fill my life from the coast to the mountains.

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A Sensitive Heart

A Sensitive Heart

simonelipscomb“I have sea foam in my veins, for I understand the language of waves.” Le Testament d’Orphee is a movie I’ve never seen but this quote from it touches me deeply. It was quoted in an article I read this morning during my hammock time with my ginger cat, Stanley. It was a piece about sensitive souls…the traits and behaviors…the feelings. As I read it a mirror to my soul seemed to open. FINALLY! There are others out there. (Deep sigh).

IMG_0002My first memory of my inner life being at odds with the outer world was when I was about eight years old. My father and I were watching a movie about an old man who saved up hard-earned money to purchase a pane of glass for the only window in his shack. He installed it and it had only been in place for a brief time when his mule kicked a bucket that went crashing into the window–which shattered. The man beat the mule. I cried and my father laughed at me for crying. He asked why I was crying. For the mule, for being beaten, of course. It was then that I begin to learn that my sensitive heart was in for a rough ride.

The article states, “You absorb sensation the way a paintbrush grasps each color it touches on a palette. The ethereal beauty of a dandelion, the shift of a season, the climax of a song, or the scent of a certain fragrance can sometimes move you to tears…Basically this means if you are sensitive, you have the ability to see colors and feel energy the way others hear jet planes.” Victoria Erickson, the writer, goes on to quote research that says sensitive souls make up about 20% of the population. People who are super-sensitive have nervous systems that respond easily to stimuli which can be overwhelming and exhausting. “Sometimes your sensitivity makes life extraordinarily painful and you want to shut down and hide your raw self from the loud chaos that accompanies this earth’s continual rotation.”

Victoria lists six ways to stay balanced….create, enjoy the company of animals, seek out water, recognize what is only your energy and emotion (its easy to absorb other’s energy), surround yourself with people that understand your nature and nurture that connection, retreat, replenish and rejuvenate. Her advice was so good that I saved the article to my desktop so I can review regularly.

After I finished reading I sat in the hammock chair with my cat buddy and pondered the eye-opening information. There have been many times I have been laughed at, made fun of, and generally put-down because I am sensitive. And I know there are others who have experienced this treatment. When this happens we close down, little-by-little. Our experience of the world narrows as we deny the very ability we have that feeds and nurtures us.

IMG_0010

When my daughter was born, I begin to reawaken to the part of myself I had closed off, lost even, through my childhood, adolescence and young adult life. Her arrival into my life was a catalyst that pushed me onto my spiritual path and steered me deeper into my heart. When she was born I suddenly knew what it was like to truly love someone.

Everything didn’t change overnight. It takes an immense amount of work to learn to stay open to the beauty around us and not close down when the rest of the world seems to not notice. There were many, many rocky years and times when the dichotomy, of what I knew to be my truth and what the world told me my truth was, was difficult to sort out. I carry many battle scars.

About eleven years ago I reached a very low point in my life when things literally fell apart around me. It was as if everything I cared for shattered and shifted and I was left feeling completely beaten down and also, oddly enough,  feeling incredibly open. At that time a man came into my life that helped nurture me so that I could put my life back together, in a more harmonious way. His was a sensitive heart, even though he didn’t like to admit it. The light he shined into my life helped me believe that I could be myself and live fully. At first he kidded me about talking to trees but before our relationship ended, I caught him talking to trees….although he would most likely deny that now.

I was blessed to have someone who believed in me, that stood beside me as I lifted myself out of the rubble of my life.

simonelipscomb (5)What does the world do to a sensitive heart? How do we survive the challenges, the fears, the chaos we encounter simply by living on this planet? This fragile beauty, this light within us can be so easily destroyed, snuffed out. The magnificence of a sensitive soul can be chased into hiding by the stresses of daily life. This, to me, is the greatest loss we all experience. When we lose our brothers and sisters whose sensitive hearts and souls bless this place, then truly we have lost great treasures. I know there are many whose light has been diminished or hidden by the stresses of life. May we reach out in understanding and love and stand with them as they work to find peace and wholeness.

When these lights go into hiding it’s not simply a personal loss, but a planetary loss. We need more people now than ever before who are in touch with their hearts and in communion with the beauty..and who are unafraid to show it. May we support each other always in finding and staying connected to our true selves.

 

In the Flow

In the Flow

800_2004My last morning on photography retreat was spent in my favorite place to work with water in the Smokies. It was so early, in fact, that I hardly saw anyone else…except a bear that scurried off as I drove by him. Standing beside or in flowing water made it difficult for me to hear snapping twigs if a big critter like a bear approached so I did a bit of singing hoping they would hear me and choose to wander elsewhere.800_0293Aside from that slight tingle of bear awareness it was the perfect ending to four days of connecting with nature through photography. Blissful quiet, hardly another human in sight and verdant beauty that seemed to reach into forever made me glad I had awakened before dawn and made the hour’s drive before the weekend crowd became active.

800_2054At one point I was braced against a large, gray rock with both feet wedged in between smaller rocks in the cold water while balancing with my tripod and camera taking long exposures. I checked the exposure on the screen and felt so grateful to be capturing such lush and endless beauty. My heart and mind merged with the flow of clear water and I felt a sense of purpose and direction that had eluded me for months.

Self-portrait...goofing off with my really dusty and happy car.
Self-portrait…goofing off with my really dusty and happy car.

Focused intention, open heart and profound love and appreciation for nature became interwoven elements that made for an excellent photography retreat. Being present with what I love doing in a place that I love kept me in the flow.