Category Archives: Abundance
An idea is salvation by imagination.
—Frank Lloyd Wright
Writers and other artists are often asked about the inspiration for their work. Some of us—myself included—can find it a difficult topic to address in any way that makes much sense. Some of us don’t even really put all that much stock in the notion, believing instead that it’s ‘perspiration not inspiration’ that carries the day, or at least, reliably fills the page or the canvas.
Nonetheless it’s a topic that continues to inspire inquiry and so I am going to be inviting those who are finding their own successful mix of effort and inspiration to share their unique perspective on the subject with The Shower Channel in the coming weeks. The purpose of these interviews is to dialogue either seriously or humorously about the mystery and magic of inspiration—and to offer any insights that would be useful to others trying to find or better employ their own muse or shift into a more productive creative space.
I’m including visual artists and musicians as well as writers in this invitation, so if you or anyone you know might be interested, please contact me at email@example.com and I will provide details. Each guest writer/artist/musician will also be invited to plug his or her published or pending work.
First up is my dear friend and creative partner, artist Cher Odum, whose beautifully inspired and playfully innocent images inspire me to co-create with her our exclusive, original line of greeting card art–and with whom I am currently creating an illustrated children’s book, a set of affirmations cards, and who knows what else!
TSC. How do you define ‘inspiration’ for yourself?
CO: Inspiration is an idea, a vision, a communication from my Higher Self or my spririt guides. Sometimes it comes to me after I’ve specifically asked. Other times it comes as if out of the blue, through a dream or during conversation with a friend. Inspiration is a thought that comes to mind, followed by an urgency to paint it. I know it’s inspired when I can flow with the idea, and there are no struggles to create.
TSC: What do you think first inspired you to become an artist? Can you identify a moment or experience or influence that turned you in that direction?
CO: I can’t remember a time I didn’t think of myself as an artist. When I was four years old I spent hours finger painting what I considered the most glorious creations. Of course, I was encouraged by my grandparents, who lead me to believe that they also thought my creations were glorious and worthy of gracing the walls of their home, and the front of the refridgerator. I felt that any blank surface should have been adorned with my colorful artwork, and I spent many hours doing chalk drawings on neighbors’ driveways and sidewalks, and with crayon on the lovely white walls in the home of my grandparents. I never understood why I needed to wash them away.
TSC: Describe the ‘inspired’ you. What does he/she look or feel like?
CO: My inspired self glows with joy and contentment. She feels alive and happy, and very content and complete. She dances and sings. She is as free as the wind.
TSC: What is your most ‘inspired’ work? Why?
CO: I’d have to say my most inspired work would be the illustrations for a children’s book Dan and I have spent the past year working on together. I’ve never attempted anything like it, and had no clue where to start or how I was going to bring Dan’s delightful characters to life. There were times I was a little overwhelmed by how I was going to create a certain character, and almost convinced myself I just couldn’t do it. Just as I was ready to throw in the towel an idea would just pop into my mind while I was driving, taking a shower or in a dream. When I followed through and painted the images I was given, it just so happened to be on the same line as what Dan was thinking of for that character.
TSC: Who or what or where is your muse? How do you invoke your muse? Rituals?
CO: I always call on my spirit guides or my Higher Self. I light candles, burn incense and ask my guides to assist me . . . to guide my hand as I paint. Other times an idea was offered to me in a dream and I head right to my art table and begin drawing first thing in the morning. Other times I go for a walk in the woods, or a drive to the coast. Some of my best ideas have come to me during a long drive through the countryside.
TSC What is your take on the notion that any creative work is more about perspiration than inspiration?
CO: I sometimes make things harder than they need to be, and put a lot of pressure on myself. When I’m not going with the flow of my inspired creativity, and trying too hard, I make a lot of work for myself, and end up throwing it away and starting over. I’ve learned it’s so much easier when I wait for the inspiration and not try to force anything. After a creative surge I always slip into a lull, which I often refer to as a ‘funk.’ I’ve learned that the funk is just a period of rest, to prepare me for the next inspired creative surge forward.
TSC What do you think is the most common—or problematic—myth or misconception about inspiration?
CO: That it’s easy to come by, or once inspired, always inspired. Some people don’t understand how you can be flowing with inspiration one minute, and wondering where it went the next. In fact, I sometimes wonder about that myself.
TSC What is the most ‘inspired’ work you’ve come across so far?
CO: The most ‘inspired’ work I’ve personally come across so far is the delightful children’s book Dan is writing. I have no doubt that when it’s published everyone who reads it will feel the inspired energy that went into the creation of all the colorful characters in the book, and the unfolding story of the main character.
TSC List a few tools or practices or methods that work reliably for you to get you in the mood to create. How do you shift into your ‘zone’?
CO: Dancing or Yoga, both to free my blocked energy. Playing with my grandchildren, and oberving the ease with which children creatively flow, and how easily they’re able to shift gears. I need to remind myself to not be so serious, but to be almost childlike in my creative process, and enjoy the flow with more feeling and less thinking, like children do.
TSC What are you currently feeling inspired to do?
CO: Currently I’m waiting to feel inspired again. I just finished a series of paintings and the illustrations for Dan’s children’s book, leaving me in that funkish state . . . or a lull, the rest period before the next inspired and creative surge forward. I’m hoping the inspiration isn’t long in coming!
Recently a friend contacted me with this inquiry for The Shower Team. He said, “After reading just about every book under the sun, I still have not been able to really adopt it into my life- there is a conflict here with me, I still feel that the life a “spiritual” life demands would not make me happy, so I do not have a full blown desire for it, yet another part of me wants to make a difference to the world in some way. Yet there is equally the part that wants to make money (even though am not that good at that)! , have a career, and for that matter “large” it in holiday towns and chase the opposite sex! All this goes round and round in my mind, and causes quite a bit of conflict.
I also have quite a strong desire for safety and security…… How do I deal with these contradictory desires, and feel more confident and at peace with the world around me, and WITHIN me. Is there something “wrong” with me- is there some sacrifice I should be making for the greater good for me and others…. What is the best service I could offer the world- and really enjoy my life more?”
We always encourage you to look to the phrasing of your question for important clues about the nature of your concern and the ways to address it. You use words like ‘conflict’ to describe an obvious push and pull between what you consider a ‘spiritual’ life and what you think of when you imagine the material successes or pleasures or enjoyment that appeals to you. You describe a kind of felt obligation or “demand” that you associate with being ‘spiritual’ and in the same breath express that you do not feel this image you hold of such a life would please you. You simultaneously criticize yourself for your own desires for material expansion and comfort and even, sheer fun or enjoyment of the pleasures that you have identified as being appealing to you.
What we would first point out to you is that you cannot be offering such a mixed bag of viewpoints—such a mixed vibration on these topics—and expect to receive anything but very mixed results or experiences relative to that point of attraction where you are holding yourself.
As long as you hold this conflicted, conflicting perspective about what sort of life you genuinely desire, you will continue to observe these mixed results and continue to feel that your desires are at odds with each other and that your life experiences are somewhat muddled in the way they present themselves to you.
What we would first encourage you to do is to ask yourself why you want any of the things you say that you want. What is the essence of any of those desires? When you imagine yourself leading this so called ‘spiritual’ life, what does it look like to you and what is its appeal to you? If the compulsion that you feel in that direction feels like anything but joy to you, then it is unlikely to hold much power to call you forward toward any result that you would truly desire.
Similarly, what do you envision or ‘feel’ when you allow yourself to imagine the more ‘materialistic’ pleasures or life experiences that you say catch your eye? You can always tell the extent to which you are aligned with your desires by the way it feels to consider them, to imagine them, to picture yourself in them, to allow yourself to fully feel what it would be like to have or do or be whatever it is you are thinking of having or doing or being.
We would suggest to you that you may have been reading way too many books and listening to way too many ‘experts’ or gurus or teachers and taking in—and taking on—way too many perspectives that are not your own. No one knows better than you what sort of life will truly light you up and make your heart sing. No one knows better than you how to create a reality that delights you . . . but it is all too easy for any of you to conclude that everyone knows better than you, that your own perspective, your own understanding and wisdom that flows from the very core of your own being, can’t possibly be all the ‘truth’ that you need in order to navigate your own experience.
You make comparisons and it gets you in trouble each and every time because no one else can live your experience any more than you can live theirs. And no one else’s experience is better or worse than yours, even though most of you insist on rating and ranking those experiences and judging them as good or bad, worthy or unworthy, ‘materialistic’ or ‘spiritual’ when in fact those labels, those distinctions have virtually no meaning from your broader, nonphysical perspective.
You are free to create your own reality. You wonder what that really means, and we keep saying to you, all it really means is that you have control over how you see things and how you choose to feel. You inevitably come to experience the sort of doubt or confusion that you’re expressing here now as the result of often external factors or influences, but we would say to you that it is always primarily a reflection of what you are choosing to focus upon and the way you are choosing to see yourself—and the gap between that point of view that you’re holding from your physical standpoint and the one held by Source or by your own Inner Being.
Your Inner Being—the part of you that is Source energy –never sees you as this or that, as worthy or unworthy, never sees some of your desires as good and some as bad, some as right and some as wrong. Source only sees the desires that bring joyful expansion to your being and ever calls you toward the realization of those desires.
You get to choose whether you want to lead some notion of a ‘spiritual’ life or whether you want to go to Vegas (or wherever) and chase girls—or both. You get to decide which of those or the unlimited other combination of options available to you brings you the most satisfaction and it is only YOUR judgment of the value of any of those choices that ultimately determines how you feel. The more you understand what it is about any of those things you think you want that makes you want them, the easier it becomes for you to receive them.
As long as you continue to tell the story of competing desires, as long as you continue to tell yourself that the things you want cannot coexist, cannot all be possible or worthy ambitions, cannot be combined in any way that works for you, then that is the reality you will continue to create for yourself.
But as soon as you begin to find a way to tell a different story, to consider different possibilities where ALL of the things you want are possible for you, and that the Universe is more than capable of delivering to you the perfect combination of those desires that will come to you at the perfect time in the perfect place . . . then you will begin to get the inspired ideas for actions that will take you in the direction of those desires . . . you will begin to notice that there is in fact, no competition, no either/or, no yes or no response to any of the things you truly want—once you understand more clearly why you want it and agree that you can have it. Once you begin to tell yourself and to believe that there is no wrong desire for you when that desire is a source of real joy, then you can get on with the process of allowing whatever it is you desire to come—and to enjoy every part of the experience of receiving it.
In a sense, you have provided the answer to your own question within the question. You ask, “What’s the best service I could offer the world—and really enjoy my life more?” And we would say to that, “Find ways to enjoy your life more, and you will be offering the best service you can offer the world.”
Nothing that you offer from a sense of duty or obligation will serve the world nearly as well as anything that you offer from a place of enjoyment and satisfaction and fulfillment. Find what fulfills you and give yourself fully to it, and the world can’t help but be a better place as a result, because you will be directly and powerfully contributing to the well being that keeps your world spinning.
One of the many things I love about the Team is that no matter who else asks the question, and no matter what the answer for them may be–they always manage to nail some issue of mine right between the eyes. It leaves me saying what so many others have often said to me, “Wow–that felt like it was written just for me!”