I think I made a mistake, I said.
I was on the phone with someone who doesn't believe in mistakes, but she was wonderfully understanding and listened with sympathy.
“I shouldn't have called it Dear Artist. I love that name, but people think that if they aren't painters with actual paintbrushes and watercolors then Dear Artist is not for them. But that's the whole point... you don't have to paint or write or make hippie mugs out of clay to call yourself an artist. Your life is your art. That's what this is about!”
“Maybe you can write that?” my person said, and my heart sang the words lingering between the lips of this sold-out Urban Outfitter's mug that I WANT SO BAD but can't find anywhere, not even on Ebay:
I love everything about you.
It took years for me to call myself an artist. In my mind, to be an artist was to create gorgeous paintings and sketches and make life appear on canvas, and I could do none of those things. Instead I found great solace in claiming the title writer, which is making art with words.
And then I lost my words.
Picked-For-You on Pinterest suggested a meme to me which read, “Words cast spells. That's why it's called SPELLING. Words are energy; use them wisely.” But when you don't have words at all...? For a writer, few things create more panic than not having words. Isak Denison tells us that we “can endure just about anything for the sake of a story.” But to not have words to shape a story is something else entirely. On hard days, it's a thrashing game because words are what I know. They've killed me and brought me back to life. They've crushed me and woven me whole. Who am I without my words?
I may not always be able to manifest them with voluptuous abandon, but I consume words like a love-starved child gobbles kisses and bread. So when I found myself in the hallowed halls of a bookstore, my version of heaven, and into my hands leapt what described itself as a portable mentor: “The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women” by Gail McMeekin, I became ravenous.
Gail spills her magic—
“Experienced creative women know that their creativity moves in cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. Surrendering to the cycles instead of fighting them is the skill of the creative warrior...
...In the creative cycles of birth and death and rebirth, there are times when we are empty of ideas, adrift in a sea of ambiguity and nothingness. These times can be labeled the neutral zone, the void, a vacuum. No matter what they are called, they are part of the creative cycle, and wise women accept them and trust that when it's time their inspirations will percolate again.
This voice beckons like a doorway to transformation and new beginnings. Yet fear can be a fellow traveler on this path to who knows where. Surviving in the void demands a range of skills: being willing to let go, staying in the dark long enough, nurturing your visions and dreams, following the clues as they present themselves, remaining true to yourself, and having the belief that something will appear.
The void often feels like a test. It may be escorted in by job loss, illness, death, betrayal, burnout, disillusionment, or other life crises we didn't sign up for. While we long to restore the old, its time has passed, even if we wish otherwise. Such passages force us to redesign our internal selves and often produce surprising results. But they also involve loss, grief, and despair, as well as communion with our darker side. Change thrusts us into chaos, and it takes time to reorder things and find a new route. Courage is mandatory.”
—Gail McMeekin, The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women
Birth. Death. Rebirth. This is why I appreciate so dearly the cosmic rhythms of the moon.
While the Full Moon often steals the show, I feel most at home in the gleaming dark. The New Moon is the artist's moon. It is a natural portal for this kind of work, the staying in the dark long enough work, the nurturing your visions and dreams work. It is an invitation to turn inward, to reconnect to the voice of your own heart and soul. It is nature's invitation to root into what needs to be reordered, re-routed, and restored. For most of us, and I daresay secretly all of us, this includes an innate desire to express and embody the Self and the Soul and to make something meaningful and beautiful with our lives.
This is art. This is making our lives a luscious work of art.
In Anam Cara, John O'Donohue writes, “The world rests in the night. Trees, mountains, fields, and faces are released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. Each thing creeps back into its own nature within the shelter of the dark. Darkness is the ancient womb. Nighttime is womb-time. Our souls come out to play. The darkness absolves everything; the struggle for identity and impression falls away. We rest in the night.”
The New Moon is the Artist's moon. A dreaming moon. A moon for shelter, wishing, prayer. Allow your soul to come out to play. What are you invoking today?
Today, with compassion and mindfulness, gather a journal & pen, light some incense and sit with yourself in the dark for a bit. Allow the natural rhythm of the cosmos to bear witness to you and your interior journey. Here are a few soul prompts to help spark your reflection.
- What needs some attending? What seeds need to be pressed with love into the earth? Often the richest earth is black with lush nutrients and oxygen to nourish delicate roots. What tiny plants need to be moved to deeper, richer soil?
- When alone with yourself, what rises from your deepest, darkest waters to the surface of you? How can you harness the energy of the New Moon to rest your weary body or begin something electric and new?
- When your creativity lands on the “void” cycle, what does trust look like for you? With consciousness and a bit of devotion, how could you approach a new season of emptiness with expectancy & intention? What are ways you could make the most of the empty space a void creates? What does space allow for you? What does space invite you into?
- What kind of difference would it make for you to surrender to the cycles instead of spinning your wheels resisting them? What does surrender look like to you? How does it feel in your body?
- What have you been putting off for when you have time? How can you use a creative void to give you some precious time?
- When was the last time you did something nourishing for yourself? Nurture yourself & you will nurture your creativity, too.
How will you make your life a luscious work of art today?
Feel free to share a glimpse of your day with me on Instagram.
And if you are drawn to this new-moon-work of going deep into your life to bring forth all you are meant for, I have a program I made for you. It's called Dear Artist and whether you are an artist by trade or not, it's about making your life a luscious work of art. This class is self-guided, which means you can do it at home, in your own time, in your pajamas. It features rich creative assignments, resources, soulwork, and more designed to help you design the the life you long for most.