She Who Weeps* (Part 2 of 2)

15 09 2014

weeperConnecting, sharing our authentic selves are gifts we give the world. I’ve been trying to write about “the Process of Creativity” workshop I facilitated this summer, but have been unable to find the words. The creative journey sometimes takes longer than planned and leads us in unexpected directions. It was not until I burst into tears in front of the Rev. Deanna Vandiver that my lessons from this summer’s workshop became clear. You can click here to read Part 1 of this story.

* I’m a big crier and come from a family of criers. Someone once told me my Indian name was, “She Who Weeps”. This story contains tears of joy as well as tears of sadness.

My Creative Journey Continues

ripple

I often say that our actions are like tossing a stone into water. We don’t always know where the ripple will land. It is a gift from the universe when we learn of a ripple’s impact.

My workshop on the creative process was fun and interactive. My belief is that if you understand your strengths as well as your obstacles, then you can become better at achieving your goals. Creativity to me is problem solving.

I expanded my 2-hour workshop to an all day event. Two artist-writer educators joined me with hands-on activities. My session brought the intellect and their contributions brought the heart. It was a terrific marriage of right and left brain working together.

And just like my tearful moment with Rev. Vandiver, there were many moments of authentic connections when presenters and audience expose our vulnerable selves to each other.

In my own introduction I talk about dealing with my fears. I tell what my skydiving adventure meant to me. It helped me to move past the fears that were keeping me from my dreams. Here’s a link to that story, Taking the Leap

As one presenter introduced the next, another authentic and powerful story was told. Therese spoke of being desperately lost in a life that didn’t allow her creative spirit to blossom. As she felt her own spirit withering, she heard about a neighbor who was an artist. When she would see this artist walk down the street, Therese saw the life she longed for, yet seemed unobtainable. She saw this artist as a creative vision of possibility. She held on to that vision as she left her old life and began anew. Jacquie was the workshop’s next presenter and had been Therese’s neighbor years ago. Therese told her artist friend Jacquie that story for the first time that day in front of everyone. This was another holy moment that brought tears to my eyes.

Jacquie had no idea that she was someone’s beacon of hope. She was just living her life, but the authenticity that radiated from her allowed someone else to find their way back to their own creative spirit.

So how does this all connect?
After my cry in front of the Reverend (part 1 of this story), our conversation didn’t end. The Red Shoes is another organization that brought the speaker we were both waiting to hear and it is The Red Shoes that housed my Process of Creativity workshop. It was a natural segue to tell Rev. Vandiver about this great organization and that I had just put on a workshop on the creative process there and what a wonderful experience it had been.

She then asked me if I would be interested in coming to New Orleans to put on my workshop. Of course I said yes. Rev. Vandiver is community minister to three congregations and is the Executive Director of The Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal. It is at the Center where I’ll be on October, 4th facilitating my workshop.

It’s always a gift to see where the ripples of our actions land and to learn of our interconnectivity. It’s also important to remember that the ripples continue even if we don’t see the impact. When you are true to your authenticity and know that your actions come from love, know that you are impacting the world. May we all act out of love on our creative journey.

My Process of Creativity workshop would not have been possible with these fabulous women and organizations:

Wendy Hersham of the Red Shoes who shared her wisdom and opened the Red Shoes to my idea. The day would not have happened without you.

Teresa Knowles, a wonderful woman and artist who shared her art and wisdom. Your story of vulnerability still brings me to tears whenever I think of that special day.

Jacquie Parker, your gentle words and art are a beam of light that shines from your creative soul. It is a gift to know you.

 Robin McAndrew and the Community School at the Arts Council of GBR who believed and supported my vision from the beginning and allowed me to grow. You are a real friend and a blessing to my life.

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Taking the Leap

29 09 2012

I jumped out of an airplane and I jumped back into my life. It’s now been a few years since I stepped into thin air, it will always be a significant mile marker on my creative journey. I was recently divorced and my daughter was about to move out. (For all you about to be empty nesters—don’t get too excited—those little birds you push out of the nest have a way of flying back into that safe nest.) The offer to jump was a gift from a friend for big birthday I was about to have.

It started with a casual conversation with my friend saying, “You may think I’m crazy, but I’m thinking of skydiving.” I didn’t think it was crazy and I replied, “Cool, I could do that.” He was surprised by my answer and said that if I’d jump it would be a gift for my 50th birthday. So we set the date and of course started telling everyone we knew. What surprised me was while his friends were in disbelief and thought he’d back out, my friends weren’t surprised and had no doubt that I’d do it.

I was always surprised by how others view of me differed from my own. Internally I was emotionally beaten up from what had been a difficult marriage. I felt once a woman became a certain age, she often becomes invisible to society. But others saw that inner Connie light shining, even if I felt it had dimmed.

I remember watching Peter Pan on TV when I was a little girl. There’s a point in the story when Tinkerbelle starts to lose her power and Peter Pan turns to the TV audience and tells them to clap to let Tinkerbelle know you believed in her. I remember standing in front of that TV and clapping and clapping and watching the light of Tinkerbelle get stronger and stronger. That’s what my friends’ confidence in me did in this stretch of my life’s journey. It made my inner light stronger. I am now no longer invisible.

Keep Moving Forward

The day of the jump dawned into a beautiful, cool, crisp spring day. You have to jump in tandem with an experienced skydiver and there’s a simple training they put you through that takes about an hour. Those details have become a little fuzzy. But I remember every detail of the jump itself. I was excited and keenly aware of the symbolism of what this jump meant for me. I knew in my core that I would land safely. Symbolically and in reality I believe that if you take a leap, the universe will help you land where you are meant to be. I wanted to stay present in every moment of this adventure.

There was friendly talk as the plane climbed into the sky. One guy joked about when people asked him why would he jump out of a perfectly good plane, he would reply that the plane is really not really that good as he pointed to where it was duck taped together. But that didn’t scare me. The diver I was tethered to wasn’t much of a talker, which suited my excited, yet contemplative state of mind.

The time came to jump. I had total confidence in who I was tethered to, but that moment of stepping out of the plane…hanging on the wing, feeling the cold wind in my face and knowing that I had to let go…was a moment of pure terror. I put my foot on the tiny step outside of the plane and held tightly onto the wing. I was full of fear and at the point of no going back.

Then I Let Go

And I let go of the fear and I only felt the exhilaration of free fall. I could feel and hear the wind whistling past and I felt the power of the fall against my skin. I could see for miles. Because you don’t have anything grounding you, there is not a feeling of a fear of heights like when you look over the edge of a tall building. I just felt the energy and adrenaline pumping through my veins.

Then the parachute opens. And you enter the Zen of the jump. The world become silent, timeless and you are floating in air. This was the unexpected part for me…the silence…and the floating feeling. Floating in a pool is lovely, but you still feel the pull of gravity. Once that chute opens, you no longer feel the gravitational pull. The seconds turn into minutes and you know it will be over soon, but while you are in this quiet space, time stands still.

I had been told to keep my legs up and to slide on landing. Soon enough I felt the ground beneath me. This was the biggest adrenaline rush of my life. I felt the power of that rush and the reality of the total exhilaration of jumping into my life.

Be fearless and take the leap.