Categories
A Creative Life Authentic Voice

Do it brave (like Bowie)

Such sweet outpouring of appreciation for the artist David Bowie.

(last night at Om Culture in Seattle our vocal troupe sang a mashup of his songs that had stirred our young blood, then we danced like teenagers to his music old and new).

We are in love with his bravery, to be who he is.
His willingness! to explore the far reaches of space in and out.
His courage! to express those wild realms in every color, shade and tone.
Come what may.

You too have access to that wide space.
Do you feel the prickles of ideas?

May you uncover your own brave heart (remember the child who ran barefoot?)

May you connect with the something that whispers ‘make this…’
and do that thing.

Do it brave (like Bowie)

but do it your own way.
Come what may.

 

Categories
A Creative Life Authentic Action Authentic Voice

How whining can refuel your creative Spark

Fall is a time of changes, leaves falling, blah blah blah. I hope you’ve been doing just GREAT with all that.

How to Make Friends with Fear and all its Sneaky, Freaky, Nicey, Spicy WaysWhile I’m excited about my upcoming workshop at Dayaalu Center in October, which you are absolutely invited to, I’ve also been whining. A little. 

While others here in the ‘Northwet’ region welcome the rain and its quieter settling-in time, my inner Summer Girl is all about joy, light and dancing. She gets very sad in the Fall. “It’s so damn cold this morning, I gotta wear a turtleneck. No more sundresses, eating outside, swimming… The chill and dark and rain are coming, and its only gonna get worse! Wah!”

Other inner voices chime in, like Wise One. She’s an old lady who loves to dig around in the dirt. “Yeah, well. Everything’s gotta die back, sweetie.”

Inner Queen, the one who holds it all together, whispers, “Yes, darlin’, I hear you. But if the earth still turns, the sun and warmth you love will return. It’s shining today.”

Artist grabs the phone to take a photo. “I’m loving all that orange and yellow and red up in the maples!”


Why do I share this embarrassing multiple personality scenario? Because understanding my inner peeps is a vital piece of Making Friends with Fear. So I can do my creative work, thankyouverymuch.

Allowing my inner voices to be expressed is a vital act of self-love. If I pretend they don’t exist (because I’m an adult, dammit, and should be over it by now) my inner ‘guardians’ can unwittingly squash my creative juice. Drag me down. Hold me back from my brilliance and from flourishing as a creator. Which all of us are.
[framed_box width=”580px” bgColor=”#FFF5BC” textColor=”#000000″]When I express all my ‘colors’ without shame, I come home to myself.
In that place, I feel joyful, courageous and confident. Ready to do my creative work.[/framed_box]
Part of my work is to encourage YOUR creative essence to flourish, so YOU can create what you most desire. 


Take a moment now to connect with some of your freaky sneaky inner world:

  1. Take a breath and let out a long sigh, ahhhh….
  2. Listen. What wants to be heard? (like the seven dwarves, whatever you got, Grumpy, Happy, Sneezy, or whatever, let ’em have their say.)
  3. Express out loud or silently to yourself. Have fun with this. Let it rip!
  4. How do you feel now?

It may be counterintuitive, but when you express the shizzle, it has a chance to relax. You’ll often feel lighter, smiling, more inspired to create whatever you’re ready for.

This post is part of #braveblogging challenge, in which we show our TRUE colors.

Feeling brave? Tell me about your most ‘colorful’ inner characters!

 

Categories
A Creative Life Authentic Action

On the Path of Ahhh

Bainbridge Ignite 3
Tonight, Ignite Bainbridge 3: “Just Say Ahhh: Tapping the Flow of Well-being.”

First, some easy Ahhs: Favorite beverage. Internet treats. The Big Win.
In-TheMoment Ahhh: Notice your energy. Say “Ahhh” and lean back into the present moment.
For me, the Ultimate Ahhh is when I follow my Heart’s Desire (like tonight, sharing my voice in community).

Following the path of your Heart’s Desire is like being on a Quest.
On the PathLike Frodo in Lord of the Rings, you may be hesitant to set out. Or perhaps you’re at one of these places:

  • At a fork in the road, looking at the possibilities
  • Meandering, arriving back at the same spot over and over
  • At a midpoint, exhausted, wondering if it’s worth it
  • On a steep climb to a significant milestone

If you’re like me, you often feel you should be farther along. No matter where you are on your path, it’s vital to pause and notice just how far you’ve come, and all you have accomplished.

Right now, take a breath. Say “ahhh.”
Celebrate the beauty of your experiences thus far. Acknowledge your courage. Appreciate the help and gifts you’ve received from others. Really breathe this in to your whole body. Ahhh!

If you’re ready to embody the next phase of your journey, please join us.

Clearing the Path to Your Heart’s Desire: Spring Training 
Sat. May 17, 1-6 pm. $60
Pond Road Retreat Center near Port Townsend, WA.
More Info and Register: http://christinecastigliano.com/clearingthepath/

 

Categories
A Creative Life Authentic Action Inspiration Everywhere

What we need most to change the world

I’m so grateful to spend last week with 80+ inspiring and influential change-makers, edge-walkers, & visionaries at the Hollyhock Summer Gathering. It’s a diverse group of social entrepreneurs, educators, writers, artists, thinkers and healers to explore social transformation. Amazing people who make a real impact.

All are driven to make a difference. To transform despair into positive action. To change the world. (yes, it was a tad intimidating!)

What’s the common denominator? What skills do visionaries use and teach, again and again? What do young people need in order to make a future they can fall in love with?

Creativity and collaboration.

All of us are inherently creative. We all yearn for connection and collaboration. But not all of us give our lives to a cause.

How can you help shape the future, even if you are not a born activist?

1. Follow your Spark. It’ll tell you what needs to come alive, for community, culture & the world to be re-made.

2. Give your time & energy to the young. One afternoon I made friends with the lovely girls in the photo above, and helped them finish their mermaid scupture. Here’s a few tips on working with teens and young adults:

    • Lighten up on all things agenda. Be willing to just hang out.
    • Ask about their ideas. Listen.
    • Be real & authentic, open & curious, wacky & playful.
    • Teach them what they want to know. Explore side-by-side. 
    • Learn from them. 

In July, I got to do all that with 6 beautiful young ladies at our first SummerSpark! Day Camp for Girls & Teens. < see photos & video we made.

We’re doing it again next week. Please pass this on or share our Facebook event. Thanks!

Categories
A Creative Life Authentic Action Lessons learned

How to move through a deep, dark forest of Questions

I love big, important questions: What’s it all about? Why am I here? What is the shape and color of what I’m supposed to be giving, sharing, doing? How shall I spend these precious moments?

Living in America in a time of vast cultural and economic wealth, there’s a downside of too many choices. Like 500 varieties of shampoo at the store, I sometimes face my options. And go numb.

As a multi-creative plate-spinner, I can be paralyzed by choice. A year ago I longed to find a ‘container’ that could carry the full range of what I love: spirit work, singing, writing, drawing, video, dance. I decided to teach what I’ve learned navigating the inner realm, and to serve the Spark within us all.

The many forms of communication and expression I’ve cultivated do serve in this way, to reach people on many different levels. However, a new teaching practice (business) requires vast amounts of energy. Creating, planning, scheduling, networking, teaching, marketing, speaking, etc.

Some days, it’s fine. Other days, I notice what I’ve given up: growing and tending my own creative children. And soon I’m in the Land of Exhausting Questions:

Why am I doing this, and not creating? Shouldn’t I just write real songs, collaborate, start a singing career, in midlife? Work on that multimedia graphic e-book I started last year? Finish Book II of my fantasy series, Twins of Tessar? What about that paranormal memoir, still in first draft? And that blog series combining episodes of my story with useful tools, a book done by the end of the year?

Questioning. Overwhelmed. Stuck.

It’s a familiar feeling. An addiction, perhaps. One that keeps me stalled, and safe.

[blockquote align=”center”]At the heart of it, is my adorable little ego’s desire to know the ‘Right’ answer. To not make mistakes. To avoid painful detours and back alleys. To be certain.[/blockquote]

But to be human, and creating, is not about certainty. It’s about remaining open, flexible, fluid, and MOVING. Even if you’re sitting still.

What can I do about this old pattern? I can notice it arriving like a familiar friend, and say, “Thank you. I hear you. But all these questions are simply not helpful. I’m listening to my Spark now.”

I can cultivate ways to stay in the Right Here Right Now. Breathe. Express what’s there, then shake it off. Allow my body and the moment and the calling of my deepest, most joyful desires, to lead me toward the next step.

Tell me: do you ever get lost in a deep dark forest of questions? What do you do when your options become overwhelming?

 

Categories
A Creative Life Lessons learned Listening Singing Spark Transitions & Transformations

Perfect no More.

I’m not perfect. Yay!

Why am I so friggin’ happy about this? Because I no longer need to try.

To celebrate, I am CREATING and RELEASING a new song nearly every day for a month. These songs aren’t perfect. They are handmade, on my iPad, with only my voice and the VoiceJam app. They speak directly from my heart, soul and guts. And they are gorgeous in their imperfect glory.

Here’s today’s song: Brand New
Brand New by christine-ah

The Story.

I lost a few things lately, including my 6-year-old dayjob as a web producer/ designer. I’d looked forward to this change, but didn’t count on misplacing my old identity, my contribution to society, my nerve, my equilibrium, blah blah blah.  Since I’m offering creative tools to navigate change, life gave me a perfectly imperfect opportunity to walk the walk.

Writing is one of the best creative tools for change. Not only do you uncover what’s going on inside (daily morning pages, journaling), but telling your story can open things up for others, too. So I’m firing up this weekly blog again.

Time to face up – and fess up – to my own demons. I had to name it, claim it, and tame it. A big self-sabotage patterns for women is a need to be Perfect.

You too? I see more than a few hands raised…

I have a character inside me I call Good Girl. She’s a helluva survivor. She’s pretty great at being perfect. So perfect that I would be loved. But she’s also a bit of a Bad Seed.

Good Girl has a problem with Weird. If I’m too weird in public – be myself, actually – she gets her panties in a twist.

But there’s a visionary and a storyteller and a performer in me, too. They get ideas and even execute and finish them: stories, songs, artwork (you may have a character in you that won’t let you even get that far. I feel your pain.)

But then Good Girl stops me from releasing. From performing. From sending it off to be published.

She only wants to help. Really. It might not be good enough. It might get rejected. People won’t like me. And that is intolerable to Good Girl.

Good Girl and I had a good long chat the other day. We made a deal. It’s ok for me to be weird, as long as it’s Good Weird.

So I’m making songs, to create a new GROOVE to replace the old pattern: Good AND weird.

I do hope you like my songs. But being liked isn’t the point. It’s releasing the songs – and not worrying too much about the liking part – that counts.

May you make peace with your own perfect little Good Girl. Tell me about it, with a perfectly imperfect comment.

 

Categories
A Creative Life Everyday Spark Inspiration Everywhere Lessons learned Listening Soulwork

Hold Up That Which Holds You Up

The other morning I woke slowly, lying happily in the place between dream and full consciousness. I asked my psyche to help come up with a fresh name and iconic image for a new workshop I’m offering this fall.

As I lay with eyes closed, I saw a quick flash of myself walking. An early morning walk around our property is usually part of my daily routine. Opening my mind/heart/gut while moving through changing scenery, walking or driving (road trips!), is a sure-fire way to let the insights flow.

Yet I’ve been so focused on getting the workshop ready, learning to launch it, getting all the details perfect, that I’ve neglected a daily walk and other rituals to keep the mojo happy: yoga/dance, dream journal, daily singing. Even writing this blog every week. All are an expression of gratitude for life. In my desire to make things happen, I forgot that vital piece.

Basically, I’ve not been feeding what feeds me. Or as African spiritual teacher Dr. Fu-Kiau Benseki, a gorgeous man whom I was lucky to spend a day with, calls Simba-Simbi: to Hold Up That Which Holds You Up.

I’ve not followed through on what I know to be true. And yet, following inner knowing is a large part of what I would share in the workshop. As they say in Pirates of the Caribbean: “That’s what you call ironic.”

The walking image was so clear. I followed. As I walked through the open meadow and the dark forest trails, I did not get instant answers to what I thought was the most pressing problem. Instead, I saw how old recurring patterns can get in the way of what moves through me.

Often when I take on something new, I allow it to overpower me. I can get very focused, nay, workaholic. This is the shape of my addictive nature now. It’s slightly more attractive than other addictions I’ve danced with (food, TV, sex, drugs, success, etc.).

While intense overwork feels productive and makes my gorgeous ego happy, the outcome is rarely awesome. Truly amazing requires good communication with the field, the source, God, whatevah you call it. Daily rituals – even just taking a pause to breathe deeply – helps me stay in touch with that mystery, the source that really powers the project.

And yet, when I forget, it’s really ok.

One of many brilliant changes at midlife is the ability to smile at my foibles. In the past I’d have given myself a good whipping for this. Now I course-correct much more gracefully. Lovingly.

I say, “Just remember this moment, my darling. The flow of awareness is always, ALWAYS available. Nothing has been wasted. I am so very proud of you, for growing, for learning, for being willing to look at this afresh.”

How do you stay in touch with that which fuels your creativity?
What do you do when you drop the line?
Your comments are like a fizzy vitamin drink, a boost of delight for this trail-dusty explorer.

Categories
A Creative Life Authentic Writing Inspiration Everywhere Soulwork

What makes you thrum inside?

I recently found an eloquent voice, a writer whose work completely thrums with my own world view. Discovering words that underscore and amplify your own thoughts is a form of magic. It’s like finding an oasis in a desert.

James Hollis, Jungian analyst and author of Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life and What Matters Most, writes in “Creating a Life: Finding Your Individual Path:”

[framed_box]”We are in the presence of the gods, e.g., transformative energies, when we experience resonance, depth and enlargement through encounter with the numinous.”
[/framed_box]

I like this definition of the gods. This is about noticing what makes our soul hum with joy. What in the outer world creates a harmonic vibration within? I call it ‘thrumming‘. I can feel it immediately in nature, in the amazing ‘chaos theory’ Romanesco cauliflower growing in my garden, in the presence of art or music or storytelling or dance, with children, the elderly.

Lately I’ve felt this in the presence of strangers, on a train, an airplane. I notice the individual beauty of the people sharing my space, with all their human imperfection, and I thrum inside.

It’s also the experience of knowing when something is right for us, when it rings true in our gut. Dr. Hollis’ passage about the principal of resonance makes me do a happy dance:

[framed_box]”Like summons like… when something is of us, it is for us. It sets off a tuning fork inside us. It resounds because it has always been there, archetypally. The resonance within cannot be willed. It happens. No amount of willing will make it happen. Resonance is the surest guide to finding our own right path…amid the imposing images of the outer world, and the constant traffic of the intrapsychic world. Resonance is the deep resounding of our truth. When we find it. Or it finds us.”

“To hear it, one must be attentive, faithful, and courageous enough to break from the power of the other cacophonous sounds and hear our souls intent. The temptation to live on the surface of life is clear enough. When we are called deeply into something, even love, it hurts us and opens us to great suffering. The willingness to go into the depths is the chief way to return purpose to life.”

[/framed_box]

So I ask you: are you courageous? Are you willing to listen deeply? What makes you thrum inside?

Your comments are like a tall, frosty beverage on a scorching hot day.

Categories
A Creative Life Authentic Writing Dreams & Visions Soulwork

Get Yourself a Gorgeous Ego

The Ego has a bad reputation: Leave your Ego at the door. Let go of your Ego. Don’t be an Egomaniac.

The spiritual goal of many traditions involves dissolving the ego. It’s too much thinking and action, not enough awareness and being. An ego is a trap. A mind game. And it makes you act like an ass.

Perhaps this is just semantics, but what is an ego but your Self, your sweet little consciousness in your own unique individual body? It’s your identity.

Call me unenlightened, but I question the desire to become selfless, to mush all our individual distinctions into the great sea of spirit.

I’ve struggled with the notion of being selfish my whole life. Somehow paying too much attention to my inner life, my needs, desires, and creative passions was narcissistic. Not caring enough about other people and their needs. Not doing enough for others.

In the past, putting others first was the gold standard for being female. Some women kick ass at caretaking. Some of us kick ass at other things. In my experience, caretaking can be just as egocentric as other activities designed to make people love us.

Getting over the striving, ravenous need to get love (that we believe we don’t deserve) is a big step toward creating a gorgeous, healthy ego. Because you begin to acknowledge that you do, in fact, DESERVE it. Without all the striving. Because you feel the love inside, the Big Love that is truly unconditional.

I am a creator. I have an ego. My ego grabs the messages and symbols from the dream world — the subconscious, the part of me that’s connected to everything — and makes stuff from that raw material. My ego works very hard to craft those messages. To write novels, make artwork, create songs and perform them. My ego is the ferry driver, the handyman, the translator, the connector. Without an ego, I couldn’t bring any of that stuff from there to here.

The human collective needs our creative diversity, our rampant blossoming. My ego likes to be seen for what she brings to the community. (She is so happy to be here, selfishly expressing, that she even put her own photo at the top of this post).

This is not only okay, it’s a frigging requirement of a healthy life. I’m here to shout it out, to add my voice to those who defend true, healthy, selfishness.

What does a gorgeous ego look like?

  • You are yourself. With ease.
  • You radiate. You shine. You shield your presence only when required.
  • You don’t have to prove how freaking awesome you are. You simply are.
  • You do not try to dominate or control others, consciously or unconsciously. You don’t need to.
  • You are aware of the greater world around you. You are compassionate.
  • You notice how your behavior affects others. You correct when necessary, apologize graciously.
  • You are attentive to others’ experience. You listen. You are curious about their lives. You love them, like crazy.
  • You share your self openly. You dance if you love to dance, hug if you love to hug, help others if that’s what you love.
  • You acknowledge feelings — pain, fear, joy, gratitude. You take full responsibility for them, like your own offspring, yet you know they are just feelings, and will change. You do not have to get hooked or let them control your behavior.
  • You express your emotions when it’s useful, when it will transform them, or help others understand you.
  • You do not have to have all the answers. You are ok with questions. In fact, you adore them.

So please don’t leave your gorgeous ego at the door. Work with it. Bring it.

And tell me: Do you worry that your ego is too much? Are you willing to be utterly yourself?

Your comments are a warm breeze blowing up my skirt.

Categories
A Creative Life Authentic Writing Soulwork

Love letter to the past & future

Yesterday I joined #Trust30, an “online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself.” It’s based on Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Since that is my fraggin’ manifesto, I was compelled (even though I’m late to the party, as usual).

Today’s prompt from Corbett Barr is “What would you say to the person you were five years ago? What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years?”

Dear Christine, 2006:

[image size=”small” align=”left” lightbox=”true”]http://christinecastigliano.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/barn_on_cribbing.jpg[/image]I am so proud of you. You are incredibly capable, yet you’ve taken on so much. Day job, moonlighting web design to pay for the 1927 farm, the gut rehab of house and barn, raising your daughter,  active community.

It’s so beautiful here: the land, the spring of fresh water, the canal and the snow high on the mountains beyond. You have chosen well. Still, the cost to you is high.

As you toil, lift your head. Notice the beauty of this life and the people that you share it with. Savor the potluck dinners, the gatherings out by the fire. Let this joy sink into your weary bones. Remember that big things take big time. Be patient. Please keep hold of the thread of what matters most. Don’t let go.

But you will let this go: the attention to your spirit, to your path as a woman of wisdom, a writer and creator. Later, tears will flow when you remember what you had, what you dreamed, and what you forgot. And this will be your remembering. It will come round again.

Dear Christine, 2016:

[image size=”small” align=”left” lightbox=”true”]http://christinecastigliano.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/2010-08-10_summer_0081.jpg[/image]I am so very proud of you. You created the most gorgeous, uniquely YOU way to be in the world & put food on the table. How glorious your mission:  singing, drawing & storytelling for those who crave depth & meaning in times of change.

It took longer than you imagined, but everything does. How valuable this place! For learning, gettin’ wild, growing healthy food, sharing the water.

You shifted from an invincible, do-it-all-alone, headstrong, solo artist into a small community of creative workers.  You move through the inevitable conflicts with humor and grace. You’re part of a true “we” – a stronger container, a boat to ride out the storms of change. The winds take so much from so many. So many look to you for guidance and inspiration. Although you have doubts, you help them ride the storm. You are needed, my dear. Please take time to repair and renew.

How beautifully you navigate the changes! Noticing both the suffering and the joy and yet holding the center. May you continue to deepen your attunement to me, the source of spark and wisdom inside you, and celebrate the myriad ways we are reflected in others and in the outer world.

What would you say to yourself in 2006? in 2016?

Drop yourself a line and post it here. I’d love to see it!