Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hello World...

I am so excited to be launching this blog!  Getting here has been in large part a testament to the power of friends and community support.  How so?  Let's see if I can tell  you a long story in just a few words.

Some years ago my health began failing.  It got so bad I had to leave an administrative job that I loved and go on a medical disability leave.  The days were long and empty and I felt so totally useless.  Scary and depressing stuff!  Friends encouraged me to pursue creative interests, as did one of the health professionals I work with.  As health allowed, I became reacquainted with my camera and reignited an old passion for photography.  It was very therapeutic to wander through local parks enjoying sunshine, fresh air and 'exercise' (I use the word 'exercise' loosely as a snail could have zipped along twice as fast as I could walk back then!).  While my health continued to be poor, my mind and soul gradually brightened and lightened - the beauty of nature and the tonic of creativity soothing the feelings of uselessness and despair.  I began using the photos on handmade cards sent to friends to celebrate all manner of life events and soon I was being encouraged to make cards for sale.  

One of my photo art cards with a message I use to encourage myself - a message that has resonated with others, too

It took a year to gather the courage and energy to produce some cards and all along the way my friends were there.  Some offered their professional assistance, like one friend with a background in graphic design.  Others cheered me on when my own enthusiasm failed, or when self doubt came crashing in and threatened to immobilize me.  All were invaluable to my progress.

Taking up photography again had shone a little sunlight on my creative roots and slowly over the course of many months they sprouted a desire to get back to the drawing and painting I had done in my teens and 20s - back before life got complicated and the creative part of me withered.  My creativity was slowly starting to grow and unfurl!!  Sadly, the complicated part of my life had also planted seeds right beside the roots of my creativity - seeds of fear and self doubt.  Soon fear and self doubt shot up like fast growing weeds and paralyzed the creative me.  But my friends never stopped cheering me on.  One friend connected me with a sales rep who agreed to market my photo art greeting cards.  That was a huge boost to my creativity and self esteem and a hit to the weeds of fear and self doubt.  Another friend offered to build a website for the photo art cards.  A second hit to the weeds!! Sadly, those darn weeds are awfully strong.

Another card with words drawn from my own personal experience

Then one day very recently I was browsing some blogs by creative people and stumbled across a link to an online course entitled, "Creative Courage" by Stephanie Levy.  "Wow", I thought... "I really need some of that!"  Enrolling in Stephanie's course is one of the best things I've done lately as it has not only exposed me to practical suggestions on marketing one's creative self, but has also introduced me to an incredible community of creative people who are unbelievably supportive of each other's talents and dreams.  And they really "get" the fear thing.  I'm blown away by how quick they are to give encouragement and support.  

After enrolling in Stephanie's course I decided to demonstrate creative courage also by signing up for a watercolour painting class with a local artist (Joanne Thomson) whose work I greatly admire.  It's been so exciting to see my painting skills re-emerge after all these years - a bit rusty in places, but still there! Yet another hit to the weeds of fear and self doubt.

One of my recent watercolour class paintings

It is from the nurturing environment of Stephanie's course and Joanne's class that I have beaten back the fear and self doubt enough for me to make the leap into blogging.  I'm no expert and won't have deep and profound things to share.  But I'd love to have your company as I celebrate the beauty we can sometimes overlook in our hectic lives, explore how art and creativity contributes to health (other people's experiences as well as my own), continue beating back those darn fears and doubts, and witness the unfurling of long suppressed creativity.  And won't it be great if my journey inspires you to explore the creativity in you, too!