Tag Archives: spirituality

Express Yourself! How Creativity Can Get Your Super Soul Unstuck

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“Unused creativity is not benign, it metastasizes. It turns into grief, judgement, sorrow, and shame. We are divine beings and we are by nature creative.” -Brene Brown

Even though I’ve often denied it, hid it and spit on it, creativity has kinda saved my soul. On two occasions, in particular. Serendipitously, I started my freelance art biz at age twenty-three. It was fraught with self-doubt, crisis and renewal – all the awesome ear marks of a solid creative breakthrough. Ten years later, I had to give up the biz due to degenerative arthritis in my right shoulder (a condition that came with my SED dwarfism.) The sorry sitch shook me to my quivering core. 

After a year of depression, decline and a seriously stinkin’ pity-party, Dad suggested I learn computer graphics using my left hand. Hmm. Before I could even look at the graphics software, I got hooked on something far superior. Email. It unleashed my languishing creative soul. 

I never knew I could express myself as a writer. But frankly, our creative voice will take any ol’ outlet provided. My memoir, Nothing Short of Joy, came barreling to the surface. It was the most cathartic therapy EVER.  

The creative process dragged me out of my dwarfed little self. When the shift hit the fan, it brought relief, joy . . . and a lot of kicking and screaming.

Turns out, it can be quite an epic battle to recover our true self. It isn’t always pretty. But the alternative is WAY less appealing.

From an early age we’re taught to conform and stuff our individuality away. Gaining acceptance from the outer world becomes our mission impossible. But the never-ending hamster wheel can’t bring the treasures inside of us OUT. And the goodies have gotta come out! 

Of course, our societal training will scream for us to STOP. Resistance will storm in like gangstahs. 

But hang in there. 

You can learn to talk that chorus of inner critics off the cliff. They’re just trying to protect you. They’re terrified you’ll get hurt again. Just remember, though, the deepest darkest pain comes from allowing those secret fears (the beliefs, people or circumstances that say you’ll never be enough) to smother your light. 

Stephen King says, “If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.” 

Heh. The quote applies, not just to writers, but to everyone wanting to live more authentically. I’ve been way too concerned with what others thought of me or might think of me. It’s a gargantuan creativity crusher and suffocates our soul’s call. It leaves us feeling hollow. Like a fraud. A replica. Stuck living someone else’s vision of life.  

I once thought I had to *arrive* somewhere (to be an “expert”) before I could fully express myself and commit to the creative, spiritual path. I’ve since realized that sharing the journey AS IT UNFOLDS is the creative work. We support & inspire each other as we heal ourselves.

Our creative core, our soul, is an ongoing celebration of every curvy road we continue to wrangle. The things we’ve lost. And the soul-self we’ve won. They make up the whole picture – a beauty that emerges from brokenness. 

My free eBook, “Release the Blocks So Creativity Rocks! A Spiritual Pep Rally for Breaking Up with Your BS (Belief System,) Ditching Polly-Perfectionist & Energizing Ginormous Joy,” is available for download here at my web site.  It’s got 60 packed pages of inspiration, calligraphy, watercolors and oodles of reminders of the Love we were born to forget. I hope it’ll ignite your creative courage. Set-backs and sorrow can be transformed into spiritual springboards to greater self-expression.

Our heartaches & handicaps are creative curriculum. In sharing them we get to 1.) dump personal pain & brutal baggage 2.) realize it’s safe to be wholeheartedly ourselves and 3.) own our unique story and discover it’s actually a universal story. We’re no longer alone. Holy headtrip.

Your life’s work, your genius, is to reveal that singular, amazingly glorious YOU. Then go inspire others to set their own soul free. 

Expressing your truth is the highest & most important art form because you’re the only one who has dibs on it. In the history of the universe, there will only be one spectacular, complex, phenomenal you.

Giving our whole self to our life and our dreams is scary. I regularly try to dodge the job. There’a a lot of gunk to sort through as we get back to being who we really are. 

Being a true-blue you is the most personal & profound offering, prayer and gift you have to give. Don’t cheat yourself and the world by holding back your glory. Maybe you wish you’d started years ago. Today is as good a time as any. (Well that’s what I keep telling myself, and it helps…) 

The masterpiece of your life is to rally the real YOU, remember what’s right with what’s “wrong” and express your exuberant soul. It doesn’t matter the medium – a kickin’ canvas, bodacious blog, dirty dance floor or ingenious engineering – just that you unblock your beaming.

Give your imagination, dreams & creative soul some more airtime. The crusade will be worth it. While you’re taking steps toward positive changes in your life, I’m with ya. I’ll be doing my best to follow my heart, (while fingernail-biting) and face my greatest fears, too. You deserve the real-deal me on deck and we deserve the full-out you. C’mon.

Give us all you got. 

With lotsa love and ginormous joy,
Julie

How to Usher in Your Dreams: The Universe is Listening

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FB fire rainbow a

Driving down the Garden State Parkway, I’m on my way to my first solo vacay in New Jersey (no snickering.) I’ve got five days at my friend’s glorious house while she’s in Italy. Since my oldest son’s birth twelve years ago, I’ve not been all alone for more than a day. I’m way over due.

That’s when I spot it. A rainbow. Wait . . . blue sky, no rain. WHAT?! Obviously the other drivers haven’t noticed the humdinger because they are NOT swerving and squealing like a nut-ball. I scramble for my camera like an electrified orangutan.

I pull over and whip out my camera so fast I nearly throw it across the dash. As I start shooting, the colors are faint but grow brighter before my wide-eyes. They trail along the clouds in glory. Mama Mia.

My car and I are drunk in delight, windswept & jostled by the other high-speeders zooming past me and the miracle. I’m still giggling and chatting out loud thanking the angels for the prism show. My breath is caught inside the glee. I’m not alone. Roy G. Biv has got every color on deck. For me.

After twenty minutes, I continue on my drive, dazzled. I spend five delirious days writing. Painting. Breathing in the green of the yard. The stillness of flowers. The pool’s turquoise purr. Outside the rush of my daily life, I really like my own company. Maybe, after all these years, I actually love me. Whoa. The rainbow knew.

When I return home from my retreat, I feel alive. Free. I tell my family about the “fire rainbow” (I’d googled it.) My son says he wishes he saw it, too. The Universe is listening.

At his birthday party the following week, guess who arrives. Yup. I’d never seen a fire rainbow until a week earlier. Hovering above us, is another. NO. WAY. I start yelling to my son and pointing up like a crazed Chicken Little. Rainbows are falling around us.

a fire6 copy

A month later, we’re at the Jersey shore. Yet another appears. Google informs me this one is a “sun dog.” Whatever. It’s still color streaking across my freakin blue skies. My dad tells me that when I was too young to write, I signed a guest book at a relative’s house . . . with a rainbow. They’ve been on my radar awhile.

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As a kid, I’d thought that rainbows would be even more awesome if there was a blue sky behind them instead of grey clouds. I’m not making this up. Then I saw it on Facebook – a photo of a colorful ribbon shimmering across a wicked azure sky.

I figured I would have to be in Hawaii or Bali to see such grandeur.

Mais no.

They now follow me in Joisey. Several months ago, I step outside Barnes and Noble (a gospel belt) and glaring right at me is a huge glowing sun dog. I’m agog again. My eyes dart around the parking lot for someone to celebrate the sky with me. Three folks slip into their cars, engines roar away. I call out to one last woman, but she can’t hear the happiness. Her head is bowed as she leaves, untouched by the hot diggity-dog before us.

Are you expecting your job to be stressful? No free time? Your partner to disappoint you? Your health to decline? Murphy’s Law to win? Well when you look at it THAT way, your wishes are the universe’s command.

There’s an area of our brain called the reticular activating system (RAS) whose job is to filter through the endless data that bombards us daily. The RAS only allows into our conscious mind what we are focused on, interested in, or what we believe. It edits out anything that doesn’t confirm our belief system (BS,) which we may have been carrying around since childhood. Our mind is a neutral search engine, looking to prove us right about our expectations.

Ever bought a car you’d rarely seen, in a color you were sure was unique. Then you get out on the road and that exact car is everywhere. Turns out, that car had always been around you, but your RAS never picked up on it until it was a priority.

This isn’t woo-woo. This is science.

Einstein said, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.” If we stay focused on what’s wrong, the RAS is blind to anything right. What do you expect from the world and what do you offer? Give your dreams more airtime today. Your thoughts and feelings are so powerful that your life is created by their rally cry. Redemption is within your reach.

Just last month, I was rather stuck in the ‘not enoughness.’ Not enough wishes coming true. Not enough Money. Talent. Time. Courage. My life is FULL of great things but I was busy focusing on what I feared was missing. So I rewrote my affirmations. I recommitted to reading them every day. Focus. Breathe. Believe. Receive. 

Yesterday, driving to the shore, my family and I see a massive sun halo (a rainbow circle clear around the sun.) There’s a small pastel fire rainbow at it’s feet. Sweet Jesus. What promise lies about us. What mystery. I want to reaffirm my life with greater faith than ever. Do I face life’s challenges like they are obstacles or opportunities? Sometimes I forget it’s my choice. The skies remember. I got it all on camera.

There are fire rainbows afoot. Keep looking up! 

with love and ginormous joy,
Julie

 

Mama Maples – Finding Peace Amidst the Fast Pace

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Three gentle giants wait for me in the backyard. Eighty feet tall or so, my magical maples watch over our home, guard our dreams. They stand in a curved row, committed back-up singers, ready to harmonize with those who’ll listen.

Daily, I feel them calling me away from the computer, out of the rush, past my worries. Humming, encouraging, being. They know when I’ve forgotten to breathe again. Meditation has fallen away this week, as I push for more book promotion, more people to contact, more life to live. I’ve been captured by the pulse of perfectionism.

I search for what’s missing in my post-its, my emails, on my to-do list. I’ve forgotten that joy and gratitude are productive companions. The kids call, the laundry moans, and the phone screams my name. I plug my ears. I can’t hear myself over all the questions. So I answer the maples.

I step out the backdoor and we sigh in unison. They are the quietest of teachers and it is their peace I seek. “There you are,” they whisper sweetly. “Come sit down with the dandelions.” The lawn chair scoops me up and I rest in it’s arms. I stare at the maples, waiting.

In the front yard, someone is crying. Drat. I get up, unlatch the gate and walk away from my sanctuary, knowing I may never return today. Down our drive, I spot the two five-year-old friends facing each other. I check my son Kyler’s face, but the hurt isn’t his. I switch to our neighbor, Jeremiah. His mouth is wide and wailing. Both boys are sitting on the sidewalk, scooters flung to the side.

Just as I’m about to call to them, I see Kyler raise his finger and gently, lovingly, touch Jeremiah’s nose. I catch my breath. A tiny giggle spurts out of Jeremiah, defying his tears. Ky blesses his friend’s nose again, light as tinker bell. They both giggle more. I back away quickly, not wanting to disturb the vision, the sweet sharing, the love being passed on. I walk back to my place in the sun with a heart open wider.

As I sit back among the maples, I remember an email I must return. My busy train chugs out of the station when I hear a firm and penetrating, shhhhhhhhhhhhhh. My body freezes. My mind dumps it’s contents. Did anyone hear that? But no one is there. The maples are definitely addressing me. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Whoa, there it is again. They are swaying inside their own message. They are perfect in their tone and their lullaby. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh they coo, as their leaves wave and laugh. The sky is rocked clean in their easy, soft spell. My smile sails across the yard.

I hear the clank of the gate unlatching and I turn to tell the intruder that I need time alone. But before I can, Ky asks brightly, “Mommy, wanna a piece a gum?” My smile surprises me. “Sure,” I answer. “Jeremiah had to go home,” he reports, as he hands me a soft piece of Bubble Yum. We unwrap the pink puff and eat our gum together, in silence. Kyler rests so naturally, cross legged in his chair. His breathing is free, his spirit, whole. The maples say shhhhhhhhhhh one more time and I remember what I’ve forgotten. I close my eyes. The magic sits before me, within me, like a wide-eyed child. My son, and the mama maples, have settled the breezes inside me, again.

Lessons in Letting Go: a Lost Brother and a Missing Caravaggio

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It’s been eighteen years since I last saw my big brother. Although we’d been growing apart for awhile, it was when I wrote him the news, that the door really shut. 

I had been thrilled to be moving in with my boyfriend, a divorced Catholic, but I knew that my brother Dan, a devout Catholic, would be scandalized. Dan had replied that if Bill and I ever married, he would not acknowledge it and not attend. His children would never be allowed to see us. Holy guacamole. It was an electrifying shock. 

Bill and I got married in 1997 and Dan kept his word. Over the years I’ve tried to forgive and forge ahead. But recently I woke up thinking about a Christmas at Mom and Dad’s, back in the days when Dan and I were so close. Eight years my senior, he was my sun and moon. 

That holiday, Dan had found one of my old paintings in the basement and pulled Her from the pack with wide appreciative eyes. 

“Jule, this one is amazing!” Dan crowed. “Man! When did you do it?”

“Oh wow. That was…um…my senior year at Hamilton,” I said, surprised to see Her, my old canvas-friend from college. “We were supposed to copy a portion of an oil painting from one of the Masters.” I babbled on about the details, including the offbeat art teacher who’d believed in me. 

I’d rarely had much confidence in my art; it was never good enough and always needed more effort, more talent, more blah blah blah. A sad self assessment. My dwarfism had left me drowning in perfectionism, the killer of creativity.

But now I was feeling something quite unexpected. It was…(gasp)…admiration.  

“Are you doing anything with it?” Dan said, breaking my reverie. “Do you think I could have it? I mean, look at all these paintings stored away doing nothing.” 

I looked back at Her, biting my lip. I actually….liked this one. Oh dear. I didn’t want to let Her go, even for the love of my brother. 

Dan could feel my hesitation. “How about this? Since you’re not using it, would you mind if I hang it at my house and when you want it back, I’ll whisk it right to you. I promise.” My eyes lowered at the feet of my hero.

“Sure, okay, you can have it.” 

“Thanks Jule!” he exclaimed, with a hug and a love that left me breathless. 

Little did I know, that religion was about to trump our time. There would be no meeting at the crossroads. No hand-off of the canvas. Dan would never dance at my wedding. Our children would be strangers. 

Time passed. Life deepened and flourished. A year after I’d written my memoir, Nothing Short of Joy, the busy-ness and bustle became too much. I decided I had to decompress. De-clutter. Delete.

Out of no where, I feel that painting calling. I swear. I’ve no idea why, but I need to see Her. I remember there was an angel and an old dude. Who was the artist again? 

Two weeks pass as the painting raps at my heals. Was it Rembrandt? Vermeer? My memory is mush. I google French, Italian and Angelic Masters. No sign of Her. Gone. Stolen. Damn it. I feel the resentment burn. Why did Dan have to leave me? 

Meanwhile, emails are busting out my inbox, and I hastily decide to unsubscribe from every newsletter. I scroll down my first victim, whizzing to the bitter end of one I never read and… BAM! My breath shudders. There. She. Is! Oh my glory! NO WAY. The man. The angel. The deep darkness. The feathery light. I am in awe! 

With my brain buzzing, fingers aflutter, I click on the photo and land at Amazon. She is a CD cover? I search for more clues. But there’s no name. No info. The treasure hunt intensifies. I lunge back at google. I shall find you! 

Zippo turns up.  

I run to tell Bill about the super synchronicity. As I reheat some leftovers for the boys, my beloved hubby disappears for awhile, then returns with a cheshire grin. He hands me a slip of paper that reads, “St. Matthew and the Angel, by Italian Master, Caravaggio.” What!? You FOUND HER! Oh thank you Hon! Feeling girlish and giddy, I run to the computer to read Her full history. I’m in a strange rapture. My husband and boys. My sweet lifetime. My healing angels. Something breaks open and I sob for the beautiful mystery of it all. 

What are the odds of me finding that photo? It was the first time I actually glanced at that newsletter, the one I’ve ALWAYS deleted. Even on overload, in confusion, our hands are somehow guided. Our spirits, safe. 

I smile at St. Matthew, perched at his desk, pen poised. He’s a writer. Holy crap. I painted this twenty years before I had an inkling that writing would heal my heart. No wonder I had chosen an author and an angel. But it was Dan who had needed Her too; they spoke the same foreign tongue, of saints and sermons that would separate us one day. I study the painting, the face of my past. I miss my brother. But even as the tears roll out once more, I feel the Love and connection that will never leave.

I take a deep breath as the bigger picture settles my soul. As for my brother and I, I don’t know the story’s end. But for now, my painting is at peace in me, and She is at home with him. 

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