Nothing Wasted, Everything Gained

Nothing Wasted Everything GainedSpring is the season of creative renewal. After this abominable winter, the lively energy of spring sweetly stimulates the senses. The bright sun warms the garden and hardy perennials return with greenery and the first colorful blooms. Birds sing and mate. Breezes are fresh and fragrant. Earth awakens and it’s time to get busy creating and recreating.

Starting with home and personal items, spring signals annual cleaning and organizing projects. Out with the old and in with the new, and sometimes the old becomes new again. Rearranging, repainting, replacing, replanting, redesigning. Renewing our environment, personal and planetary, renews our attitude of gratitude for what we have and how we can cultivate our individual and collective resources for the good of all. It is fun to roll up our sleeves, dig through our stuff, contemplate its history and future use, and recycle it for a better purpose. Nothing wasted, everything gained.

Recycle, reuse and repurpose in ways that celebrate the Earth everyday. Earth Day is April 22nd, when we globally acknowledge humanity’s responsibility to green our shared planet with clean technologies and sustainable practices. Every country, corporation, organization, city, town, family, and person can help green the planet. Start today and feng shui your personal spaces, structures, and stuff. Individually and collectively, when we honor the Earth and create a harmonious environment it regenerates the spirit and inspires positive growth.

This April recycle your useable things for a good purpose and donate all the great stuff you clean out of those closets and cupboards. Take your donations to The Fabulous Find Thrift Shop, at 139 State Street in Kittery, Maine. This is truly a fabulous place to shop, and this month the retail proceeds will benefit three local non-profit organizations, including Art HOPE! Donate and shop! The grant will support the summer creativity workshops and retreats we offer for free in southern Maine. Nothing will be wasted and everything gained by our community.

 A shopping tip for stylish secondhand Roses: Lucky prom shoppers at The Fabulous Find this month will find my collection of vintage designer clothes and shoes that are still as gorgeous as ever. Great dresses for high glamour and there is a pair of Charles Jourdan stilettos with rhinestones that I danced in at Studio 54, and they would love to be recycled at a 21st century prom. Fashion wellness tip: Bring a pair of flats for the after prom.

Creative Affirmations for Living Well

Have HopeHave hope, spring approaches. Earth is beginning the regenerative cycle of spring and every living thing feels the native confidence to create. Snow squalls with rainbows, crocuses that dare to bloom, and the sounds of birds on a sunny morning signal the vernal change in Maine. The fresh white ground and ice beautifully catch the light, though we’ve all had about enough of northern winter and it’s time for a little cabin-fever reliever. Before the weather moderates, early March is a good time to plan and take a personal inventory of resources and needs for the growing season ahead. It is also a good time to retreat and reflect on our inner creative power, our strongest belief and greatest hope. March is celebrated as Spiritual Wellness Month, and like many sacred traditions, this is a time to affirm faith and commit to being our best.

Here is a positive way to express what affirms your creative spirit. Find some blank cards, index or art paper will do. Write and/or illustrate the vibrant ideas and emotions that strengthen and inspire you. These can be quotes, bits of ancient wisdom, lines of faith, poetry, healing phrases, things your mother said, or just pictures. Use words, symbols, imagery, and your favorite materials to make Creative Affirmations for Well-being. When we create a physical manifestation of what is important to us in life, it can be an artful reminder of what we hope to be and become.

With a wishful heart, leave your winter den to shift into meteorological spring and join volunteer artists at the Art HOPE Creative Affirmations for Living Well community event at the York Public Library on Tuesday, March 4th from 4:00 to 6:30 pm, located at 15 Longs Sands Road in York, Maine. Uplift yourself and others at the drop-in studio with art cards that affirm health and well-being. We are making the colorful wellness cards for cancer patients at York Hospital Oncology Care and the artworks will be showcased in the Art HOPE Gallery online. Participants can make, take or give art cards with the support of local student volunteers as part of the Art HOPE Youth Service in Healthcare Program sponsored by a grant from the Bingham Program, a Charitable Endowment of Tufts Medical Center. The wonderful art card “Have Hope” that brings this blog to life, was painted by a talented student volunteer. Our project is a work-in-progress with the goal of creating a series of printed cards that will be available at the cancer center and at York Hospital’s upcoming celebration for National Cancer Survivor’s Day on June 1st. This free expressive arts program is made possible by a grant from the York Hospital Breast Cancer Living Well Fund. Check out our event calendar for details and we hope to see you there.

Our faith in action gives us wings to fly and be our best creative self. Art is a beautiful way to celebrate spiritual wellness that affirms our strongest belief and greatest hope.

The Other Vitamin “C”

Creative Vitality

The vortex of winter need not get you down. Warm your bones and energize your vitality with a healthy dose of creativity. It is truly the other vitamin “C” because, just like the essential nutrient L-abscorbic acid, vitamin C-reativity helps build our immune system in ways that can prevent illness. A daily dose of creative activity is key to maintaining good health because of its ability to reduce stress. Minimizing stress and developing self-help strategies to manage negative aspects in our lives can be the best defense for disease prevention. Psychological factors and life circumstances effect health, for better or worse. Stress kills healthy cells and depresses the immune system. It also raises the risk of heart disease, contributes to depression and anxiety, interferes with sleep, impairs thinking, and is a factor in aging. Less stress = more health.

One of the most effective methods for reducing stress is everyday creativity. Whether art-making (experiencing creating), art-taking (experiencing what is created), or art-giving (sharing creative experience), the process can bring us into-the-moment by focusing our attention beyond stress and toward positive living. This can be achieved through jogging or yoga, spending time with an inspiring friend, solving crossword puzzles, planting flowers, tinkering with a home project, or a good laugh. The biology of creativity represents an emerging field of scientific research with broad evidence of positive effect on the human condition. Without need for a doctor prescription, these are the wellness benefits of everyday creativity.

  • reduces stress
  • boosts the immune system
  • supports good mental health
  • promotes relaxation or stimulation
  • facilitates healthy expression
  • teaches new skills
  • nurtures wonder, curiosity and play
  • creates community connections
  • inspires in-the-momentness

WOW! Creativity is a powerful vitamin, and when taken daily can be part of a healthful self-care routine by doing the everyday expressive things you love to do. Take your “C”reative vitamins!

Thanks to Chuck Feil for the beautiful and soulful painting of “Creative Vitality”.

Rainbow Wave of Change

...catch the wave

   …catch the wave

Happy new year of creative opportunity! May the rainbow wave of change move you to express yourself in 2014 with renewed energy. Like wave force, creativity needs a movement of energy to stimulate the flow. Creativity is energy moving in a positive, life-enhancing way. It often inspires the things we like to do and dream of doing. Relate your creative expression to the phenomenon of wave action. What moves you? What creatively inspires you to be yourself at your best? What makes you feel like you’re riding the wave?

Resolve to evolve this new year by making a creative goal that will enhance your health and well-being. This should be an expressive experience that helps you learn and grow as an individual, and makes you feel empowered by the process. Like the momentum of a wave building, put your energy in motion toward this goal. Make it a singular and reachable objective that can be a “peak experience”, a process that brings you into-the-moment with a heightened sense of personal well-being. Achieving this goal will require your participation, showing up and doing it, making a commitment to do one great creative thing that will give you enjoyment and vitality. Your creative peak experience for 2014 could be taking a desired trip, learning a new skill, joining a group, redesigning your space, listening to birds sing, getting the fudge right, reconnecting with a friend, or changing a habit. Getting to your personal peak means making more time for yourself to understand what is important in life and directing your energy towards positive purpose.

Here’s a little motivation for those needing “me time” to gather their creative thoughts after the holidays. For this exercise you’ll need a blank page of paper, a single sheet or in a journal, and your preferred writing or drawing materials. Find a quiet space to work, maybe have a cup of tea. Yes, that means put all things digital away. The tactile empowerment of brain-eye-hand activity on a blank paper as it receives our thoughts and images is a motivator for expression. Oh, the wonders of a blank page…and let’s not forget this is how the world’s greatest art, thoughts and inventions began in sketches, phrases and equations on paper. Now, using words, symbols, pictures and mind maps, express your desired creative peak experience for 2014. Use the entire page and make it an artwork with a plan for expressing the best creative you in the new year. Become like a rainbow wave of change as your energy moves on the page, transforming your ideas and emotions into a visual narrative and action plan for your personal creative evolution.

The Art HOPE Gallery is collecting works and welcomes your “creative peak experience” expressions, in whatever medium evolves from your blank page. Sharing your inspired works will inspire others as we build our arts and healing community.

It’s January in Maine and surfers in winter wetsuits are enjoying the Atlantic. I painted the watercolor of this wave inspired by how winter sun catches the light of an incoming wave, with rainbow effect just as it crests. Good tidings for an energized, creativity-filled year. Catch the wave…

A String of Lights

Love & Light

Love & Light

Plug in a string of lights and magic happens. Glowing reflections of color and light can brighten December’s short days and long nights. “Tis the season when homes and communities sparkle with ornaments and decorated trees that celebrate our cultural and spiritual traditions. A string of lights or candlelight creates an illuminated ambience that enlightens our shared occasions with friends and family, and brings us into-the-moment of creative reflection. The winter solstice on the 21st gives birth to the return of light after darkness, and is a time to cultivate the inner creative energy that shines brightly throughout every season.

Light has a significant effect on how we physically and creatively experience any environment. The human body responds to light with circadian rhythms that help us regenerate or rest, depending on the Earth’s cycle of seasons. We naturally want to slow down this time of year, eat a little comfort food and get some extra sleep. Busy modern life challenges our environmental body clock. Simply finding time to tap into biological frequencies is difficult with the responsibilities and distractions of daily living. Some people suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) when they cyclically experience depressive moods due to a natural light imbalance. Light and supplement therapies are generally the remedy, and I would recommend a festive string of lights.

There is creative renewal in annual making and gifting rituals that enlivens the senses with sights, smells, sounds and memories. With inner and outer lights shining, creativity is reflected in our individual and group expressions. During the holidays we gather with others to share common ground and be the best of who we are together, cooking, toasting, feasting, singing, dancing, giving and receiving. In our personal time, the refuge of early winter can nurture an inward focus that stokes our flame of expression through the art of gifting and gratitude, both to others and to Self. Among the cheer and quiet find a creative moment to turn on your light and reflect on what has been and is becoming.

An illuminated string of lights can create hope and magic. Our classic cartoon friend Charlie Brown was outspoken about “not letting commercialism ruin Christmas!”, and had faith in a little scrub pine that was transformed by love and creativity into a sparkling symbol of the season. Best wishes for peace and enjoying the light in your life!