Creativity Notebook 3, Elizabeth Gilbert Creativity Course,

Partial shot (photography © Smhj, 2016) from artist Alphonse Van Woerkom’s 2009 portrait of artist John Baldessari, charcoal pencil, pastel on paper, as seen at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC

What interests me; what I care about:

  • Spirituality vs Religion
  • Feminism and increasing awareness of the subconscious invasiveness of it in today’s world
  • Wellbeing and wholeness; nutrition and exercise
  • Aging and how to do it wholesomely
  • Fear vs curiosity path, and other tools for living into our realized selves
  • Education in the narrow sense of helping people live their most authentic lives and think for themselves
  • Teaching creativity and art to aspiring artists and non-artists who want to practice healing their lives through art and writing
  • Wisdom from life experience, sharing our stories
  • Legacy of a healthy future planet for generations to come
  • Animals, especially African animals, people, places
  • Nature and experiencing it
  • Drawing painting, writing, photography, creating images that tell stories
  • Singing and movement, expression and communication generally
  • My family and friends, my dogs
  • Children and women

Why I care:

I grew up the oldest in and family of 4 children on a West Texas ranch that my great grandparents established in 1903. My family still lives on the ranch today, and I have a house there and visit often. The conservative flavor of the area and a not so subtle beliefs such as “it’s a man’s world” and “a woman’s place is at home with a husband and kids” with no life of her own ran counter to my inner voices and I ran from these ideas. I lived in Los Angeles for 13 years and in Seattle, Washington for 17 years. I built a house on the ranch in Texas in 2013. Again I have experienced the conservative ideation prevalent here. I am perplexed by the Bible Belt mindset and the decisive individualism that excludes everything and everyone but ‘their own kind.’ The lack of an umbrella of kindness and compassion toward others in this xenophobic state is unique here. Their ability to disregard the values that undergird their Christian religiosity is nothing short of dumbfounding if clothed in Republican political garb. And don’t give me the back talk that they are forgiving — you may forgive the sinner but you don’t put him in the top office in the country for any other reason but greed and ‘my way or the highway’ egotism. (Strap your blindfold on tight Republicans — I predict you’re about to be Trumped.) I was born on Texas soil and have a Texas heritage I am proud of, but I have never been a Texan as most Texans define themselves. I remember being happy when Brown vs Board of Education was decided and the schools and other places began to be desegregated even though I was still very young. Those around me weren’t so happy. The town I grew up near had always been segregated and all black people lived south of the railroad tracks. Many still do even today. The two sons in my first family were treated differently than the two daughters. The sons were helped to have a way to make a living, the girls were expected to fend for themselves and the preferred route was to get married. I never remember my father or mother once mentioning or asking what I wanted or what I would do after I got out into the larger world. I don’t know that they ever even thought about it as something they should do. Life circumstances and my own curiosity lead me to eventually earn a degree in English and history, the later a JD degree from a law school. I worked in law offices and practiced law as a public defender for 30 years. What made people tick in law office and the courts was also hard for me to fathom. I have been trying for decades to understand humankind. I have found respite from the anxiety of a stressful life style in my creative pursuits, by entering the gentler world of nature, in self help books that rekindled hope and soulfulness. I have children and grandchildren, I am a caregiver to my 98 year old motherinlaw and to my 85 year old mother who has dementia after struggling with mental health issues all of her adult life. I raised my three children as a single parent because my choices were poor. I didn’t understand how hard it would be when I divorced my second husband and father of my last two children because of his alcoholism. As adults my children have experienced challenges with addiction and one has been to prison. I lost one of my sons when he was 22 years old. His death was ruled a suicide but he spent many years homeless and the circumstances of his death are still unclear to me. In hindsight I believe autism may have been at the root of his problems before that was a common diagnosis. Another of my sons ran away from home when he was 16 and I didn’t find him until 4 months later. That I survived the teen years of raising my sons is a miracle. Through all those hard years and experiences I learned to cope by turning to creative arts and methods. I have many talents and skills which I’ve discovered throughout my journeys through tough terrain.

How I want to serve:

I am interested in being compassionate and kind even in difficult circumstances. I want to use my skills and talents (writing, drawing, painting, photography and editing, teaching). I want to answer my calling to read, write, learn, draw, paint, create images with photography and editing, and learn the healing aspects of connecting with and exploring ourselves inwardly. I want to be an example by doing and being, by letting go of trying to control others and by teaching the things I find magically joyful to all those wanting to learn and waiting to benefit from them.

The World According To Stardog, Photography © Sean MH Johnson, 2016

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