Opening Reception with the Artist

I was the featured Artist at the Artitudes gallery in Havre, Montana.  My show was entitled “Out of the Box” and featured my collages and boxes.  The Opening Reception was Friday, October 9th, 2015.  I had a lot of fun talking to people about creativity, art in general, my artwork and sharing stories about the pieces.  The building that the gallery is in has many delightful shops and restaurants.  (The bookstore “Havre Book Exchange” has a good selection of new and used titles and has a section highlighting local authors.  The bakery “Grateful Bread” makes a wonderful chicken salad sandwich.)  The gallery is a cooperative showing the work of the artist/members.  The other artists welcomed me and shared their wonderful exhibition space.  There was a band (Thorns Among the Roses) playing lively music, good food to eat and wonderful conversation.  Yes, I am shamelessly promoting my artwork but I also have point to make.  Artists and Creators in every medium need to share their creative offerings or “show their work.”


One of the most challenging aspects of being an Artist/Creative is showing your work.   Artists generally work for long periods of time in isolation in order to “do the work.”  These periods of isolation followed by public self display can intensify feelings of rejection.  It is scary performing, showing and sharing your work.  It is not uncommon for an artist to be unable to talk about their work because of this fear of rejection.

While teaching creativity classes or doing creative coaching, one of the things that I often hear from blocked creatives’ is that they do not want to show their work……that they are making work for themselves.  Yes, the first and foremost reason to do the work is for yourself.  You have an idea, concept, vision, song, etc. that you want to explore, put on paper, capture with your camera, record, etc.  I understand.  I feel that creative compulsion myself.  But at some point, I also need to show/share my fabulous idea/vision with others.  From conversations with other creative individuals, I know that I am not alone in this.

Sometimes we just have to set that goal and then do the work to get to the goal.  Eric Maisel, an Author and Creativity Coach calls this Honoring the Process.  “Honoring the process means picturing your goal, understanding what gets you from here to it, and tackling those tasks.”  For me, the goal is to show my work.  So I apply for exhibitions and create artwork with the knowledge that the pieces will be exhibited.  If someone sees something that they want for their walls, and they are willing to exchange money for my creative labors, then that is even better.  A friend of mine is a musician.  The goal for him is to play “gigs.”  And if someone hears his music and buys his CD so they can listen to his songs again and again, then that is even better.

Yes, we do the creative work because we are compelled to do so.  Yes, it is scary to share that work.  By choosing the Creative Life, you have chosen to live, to risk, and to share.  As Stephen Pressfield says in his book “The War of Art,”

“It may help to think of it this way.  If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself.  You hurt your children.  You hurt me.  You hurt the planet.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor.  It’s a gift to the world and every being in it.  Don’t cheat us of your contribution.  Give us what you’ve got.”

Do the work!  Share your work!  Show your work!  I know that there is amazing work inside of you waiting to get out and be shared.  Give us what you’ve got!!!


“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” -Albert Camus

I know that the bright colors and falling of the leaves means that it is Autumn.  To me, Autumn is a time of year dedicated to the five senses.  The crispness of the air.  Hearing the sounds of geese talking to each other as they fly over head or the scrunching of leaves under foot as I go on a walk.  I am convinced that apples taste better in September, October, and November than any other time of year.  The smell of pumpkin pie baking and hot apple cider.  Seeing the riot of color as I drive around town.  Watching falling leaves dance in the wind.

For some autumn is all about the events and things that happen this time of year… racking leaves… visiting apple orchards… hot air balloon rides… creating a Halloween costume… picking out and carving a pumpkin… getting together with family and friends for Thanksgiving dinner… and so many other activities.


“Fall has always been my favorite season.  The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature has been saving up all year for the grand finale.” -Lauren DeStefano

I saw a quote on the internet that said something along the lines that we could learn a lot about letting go from trees in Autumn.  Hmmm….  There is truth in that statement.  It can be applied to things and feelings.

My mom is retired and my dad will be by the end of the year.  They are in the process of moving from one home in the town that they had worked in to a different home they purchased many years ago in a larger city.  My mom and dad keep saying that they have so much stuff.  Mom has been diligently going through things, giving them away to myself and my siblings, and charitable organizations while selling some pieces of furniture.  She has said that she feels good when she gets something cleaned out and that she doesn’t feel like she has to keep everything and carry all this stuff with her.

This got me thinking about the things that I have accumulated.  Other than my art supplies, do I really need all this stuff?  I too have started going through things and cleaning out what I no longer use or want.  It is a lightening experience.  One bookcase, two boxes and one dresser drawer done…  I will keep you posted as I complete the process.


As to letting go of feelings that one can be a little tougher.  Maybe you have heard the joke… Why won’t cannibals eat a divorced person?  They are too bitter.  No matter what the situation, when a person is hurt, they carry that pain.

For several years, I had worked for a non-profit organization that was struggling all the time: financially, not enough volunteers, not enough staff, building issues, micro-managing board of directors, etc.   I consistently worked seven days a week.  I had given up vacations and holidays with family and friends.  I worried about the organization and my job constantly.  I dealt with 18 board members with conflicting agendas.  No budget for a plumber, I snaked sinks and dealt with drainage problems.  The building had issues with spiders on multiple occasions.

When I left I was so exhausted and drained.  I had no idea that I was suffering from compassion fatigue.  What really hurt was how several board members treated me after I left.  One had the audacity to tell me that I hadn’t cared about the organization.  I had bruised feelings and carried that pain.

It took me awhile to realize that I had chosen to work seven days a week.  I gave up much needed times of rest.  I chose to worry about my job.  I didn’t stand up to the board, or set boundaries with them.  I didn’t let other more appropriate/professional people handle the plumbing or spiders.  Those were my decisions.  I let myself be drained until I had nothing left to give and then I left.  The board, who were not purposefully insensitive or bad people, had hired an individual who gave their all and worked constantly.  When I had had enough and left, they were upset, not with me personally but because they were loosing a valuable asset.

I realized that it was just a day job.  It wasn’t personal.  I had done the best work I could with the tools that I had at that time.  I also realized I should feel proud of what I had accomplished while I had worked there.  And that I needed to let go.  I also realized from that experience that I was letting my job define who I was instead of me defining who I am.  So I let the bruised feelings and pain go, just like the falling leaves from a tree in autumn.

Autumn is a wonderful season.  A time to experience life through the five senses, participate in joyful activities and be like the trees… letting go of things and feelings that no longer bless our lives.

Playing the Victim

In the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron there is a section in chapter/week 2 regarding the people we surround ourselves with and how they affect our creativity.  Julia does an excellent job of identifying behaviors that are toxic to the health and wellness of creative/artistic individuals.  Two that she describes in great detail are “poisonous playmates” and “crazymakers.”  I have personally noticed another type of behavior to watch out for.

The behavior that I have identified as being toxic to creativity is when someone plays the victim.  I am not talking about someone who has suffered a misfortune of one kind or another.  (Car accident, death of a family member, loss of a job because the company closes, going through a divorce, etc.)  I am talking about someone who whines and complains about a situation that they have created.  This person sees life as unfair.  I have often heard them say, “Why is this happening to me?”  Again, there are situations and events that cause things to happen out of one’s control.  The difference is this person was an active participant in the situation and event but wants your sympathy and for you to fix the situation they have created.  I find this behavior particularly troubling because of the lack of accountability by the individual.

Here is an example.  In my day job I am an assistant to an attorney.  There was a case involving a woman who was arrested on drug charges.  (I cannot tell you the exact charges because of confidentiality.)  When she would meet with the attorney that I work for, she would say things like “I do not have an addiction problem.”  “I was just holding the drugs for someone else.”  “The police pick on me.”  She accepted a plea agreement and the change of plea hearing was set for a specific date and time.  (For those of you not familiar with the criminal justice system, one is required to attend their change of plea hearing.)  She didn’t show up.  Her hearing was continued for one month.  The second change of plea hearing came and went without the client showing up.  At this point the Judge issued a warrant for her arrest.  She calls me several days after missing the hearing, crying and asked me why was this happening to her and couldn’t we “fix” this.  After months of dealing with this woman and her behavior, I said, “It is happening to you because you do not take responsibility for your actions and you don’t show up when you have to, to take care of the situation.”  She had wanted me to participate in her playing the victim.

When someone continually participates in unhealthy behavior and expect others to fix the mess they have created, they stop personal growth and creativity for themselves as well as obstruct others from their growth and creativity.  This behavior hurts everyone.

I feel like I am similar to most people in that I do want to help people.  I do not mind giving a helping hand to someone who asks and/or has a situation of need.  I do not, however, appreciate someone wasting my time and energy in a situation of their making because they don’t want to move forward.  Just as someone makes a choice to play the victim, I have a choice to participate in that behavior.  If they wish to continue wallowing in a mess of their own making, I do not need to enable their behavior nor do I have to participate in it either.  By enabling this type of behavior, I block my own creativity.  There are enough challenges in a creative life without allowing “poisonous playmates,” “crazymakers” and individuals playing the victim into one’s life.