For years after I read Georgia O’Keefe’s biography, I envied her early passion and life-long devotion to her art.
She was lucky to have had that one deep gift.
I was not.
That’s the sense I made of my yearning.
She became the symbol for the singular art form that never came my way.
In my late teens, studying literature, I envied writers who dedicated themselves to their craft.
I had no concept of the perseverance involved, no confidence in my talent, and fear of poverty sent me seeking stable jobs with regular pay checks.
We hold in high esteem those things that others possess and that we do not.
That’s the curse of misinterpreting what’s really going on, making ourselves wrong for being who we are, and labelling ourselves as less-than or not-enough.
It took many years to embrace and regard my whole life as art, rather than looking for the one and only form.
Of course, there had been many ways that creativity showed up in my life, but I did not recognize or interpret them as such.
Bringing friends together for impromptu dinners for rich conversations over thick soup and dense bread lit many winter nights.
Producing and selling a chanting tape to pay for a program I wanted to attend and couldn’t afford made that possible.
Listening to many a friend’s difficulties and brainstorming options called for ingenuity and care.
Saying yes to a year and a half of administering subcutaneous hydration to our ailing and beloved cat showed me the force of love that pushes us beyond our known self-concepts.
Creative acts. Stories to be told. Life as story.
When you look at only one way of expressing creativity, you short-change yourself.
You forget to see that there is a vast tapestry that is called your life.
Everything you do, all the friendships, the small acts, the daily work, the meals you prepare, the way you greet the clerk at your regular market, the home and hearth you set up, all are creative acts.
Designing and fabricating a forge press from beginning to end. Summarizing expansive research and presenting a succinct report.
If someone develops and leads workshops, fixes a motor, manages a project, solves the problem of the building’s leak, or develops a battery of templates to make a subject easier for clients, is that not creativity?
If you were to look at the common thread of fascination and curiosity that has captivated you over time, you would see the hunger, the drive, the values, the interests that have held your attention and moved you forward.
Whether a sense of humour, a love of nature, a desire for peace, a tendency for simplicity, a passion for complex problem-solving – the tapestry of your whole life could be considered your art form.
Some central interest, tone, texture and story unfold year by year. It may not be one thing. Plumbing. Quilting. Sports. Social work. Mathematics. Family. Animals. Spirituality. New people, new courses.
Whatever it is, it is one part of a whole.
Your life is already a work of art.
Notice what you have woven together.
Notice what else wants to be invented.
Without judgment, become aware of the themes, the way soul expresses in your life.
If you remove judgment from the mix, you will discern some clues.
Sorting through deeper issues are powerful creative acts to get to the heart of what’s true for you now and what is not.
What are you giving up for this new relationship?
Is this good for your soul?
How can you ask for what you want? What are you avoiding?
What do you love? What have you loved and set aside?
What calls you? What do you long for?
What would you like to fashion moving forward?
There is more yet to come and to take shape as you question what’s right for you, shine a stronger light on consciousness, and take the next small step.
Then, reclaiming your life as art, as distinctive as any O’Keefe painting, celebrate your unique colours, patterns and passions, grateful for these precious earthly moments.
What if you began to see your life as a work of art in just this way?
What if you could stop comparing yourself to artists and could see the body of work that is yours, in everything you do?
I would love to hear what that would mean to your life in the comments below.
P.S. Living from Our Souls, a new live on-line wisdom circle for women, is beginning again in May.
If you want to be first on the list to be notified, sign up on the form here.
And tell me where you are from and your time zone. I would love to include you.
First published in The Huffington Post on March 28, 2016