by Carol | Mar 1, 2023 | carol holland march, coaching, Creativity, Fiction, Nonfiction, writing
Do you have a story to tell?
An idea rumbling around in your mind? A character you see so clearly s/he seems real? An imaginary place you long to create for your character to roam?
Maybe your story is true. An experience from your earlier life. A lesson learned. Inspiration gleaned from succeeding against all odds. The joys of family life or the difficulty of adjusting to loss and sorrow.
We all have stories. We tell them to entertain, inspire, teach, and remember. From one perspective, our lives are stories. Elaborate plots with us serving as both the star of the play and its director.
This is good news, for if we are the director of our own play, we get to change the script. We can try on new roles, change our career, or where we live. We can make new friends and learn new skills. We can let go of what limited us in the past and forge a trail where creativity matters more than the rules we‘ve lived by in the past.
The drive to communicate is basic to being human. Children develop a sense of themselves by the words their parents used to describe them. Young adults strive for identity with educational achievements, jobs, and relationships.
As we get older, the tendency to look back and make sense of our experiences comes into play. We want to tell about who we are, what decisions we made, how life unfolded, and what we learned. At midlife and beyond, many decide to change direction. Start a business, move to a farm and grow organic vegetables, write that book.
Even if no one reads your story, you gain tremendously from the writing. Learning about our younger selves leads to insight and compassion. How our ideas have changed teaches us about growth. Exploring how our personal myth developed over the years is exciting and satisfying.
As a writer, editor, and writing coach, I work with people exploring their creativity. Some are starting out, taking small, tentative steps with their Creative Self.
Others have decided to write a book, short story, or memoir. They need encouragement, resources, and information on how to write more effectively.
Others want help improving their first drafts, preparing for an agent, a publisher, or self-publishing.
We all long to be heard, and one of the greatest benefits of writing our stories—fictional or not—is that words are magic. With them, we create worlds. With them, we change our world. We discover patterns that remain elusive if we keep our ideas trapped in the realm of thought.
When we bring our words into the world, thoughts become real, imagination transmutes into artistic expression. That is the creative act that changes us. And the beautiful thing is we don’t need to write a best-seller, win awards, or find acclaim to reap the benefits of writing our story. All that’s required is to set it down and let the magic unfold.
It is my great honor to help writers tell their stories.
by Carol | Jan 25, 2023 | carol holland march, Creativity, When Spirit Whispers
“But I’m just not creative.”
Sad words, filled with regret, uttered as an apology, sometimes in a whisper. I hear them from people in my classes, from people in bookstores and art galleries who are mentally comparing themselves to the featured writers and artists.
It’s a common belief. Creativity is for THEM, not for ME.
The problem is, IT IS NOT TRUE.
Creativity is as natural as the desire to communicate, to be safe, to be part of a community, to learn, grow and love. It’s our nature, written into our genes.
Every day, we create:
- Our reactions to the events of life
- Ways to spend our time
- Where we live
- Our job or career
- How to spend our leisure time
- Ways of being of service
- How to have fun
With our intelligence and intuition, we are constantly choosing. This or that. Am I happy or sad about what just happened? Do I argue with my neighbor about his barking dog or try to understand his point of view?
We have more choices than we give ourselves credit for. Most of the time we create unconsciously, using patterns of thought and beliefs that are familiar. We learned them in the past and use them so often they become habits.
If your thought is, I don’t have time for creative work, then daily tasks will multiply. You’ll get so busy you’ll be grateful you didn’t start that painting, song, or story.
If you think, I can start my creative work even though I’m busy, you’ll notice how to change your schedule, what activities to scale back, and resources that can help.
By noticing our habitual patterns, we can change outmoded beliefs into new and positive ones that support health, happiness, and creativity.
First, comes the thought.
Do you have a thought or an image about a creative project you’d like to work on?
Thought is the first step in the creative process. Say YES to the thought.
Second, comes the act.
We take steps to transform the thought into physical reality.
Write, draw, design, sculpt, sing, dance, paint. All the physical acts of an artist are accomplished with human hands, voices, and bodies. We start small and learn as we go.
The creative drive is inborn. We learn how to make our visions physical.
All creative acts have one thing in common: the first attempt to bring alive a thought or vision will fall short. The finished product will not match the perfection of the imagination.
If that happens, congratulate yourself! Just like every other creator, you have made a start! Now you have something to work with. To shape, form, edit, and revise so each iteration comes closer to the image in your mind.
Creative Expression Feeds the Soul
Not everyone can write a best seller or paint a breathtaking landscape, but everyone—including you!—can express themselves. People who express themselves creatively are happier, healthier, and more satisfied. It doesn’t matter if their efforts bring financial success or recognition. Simply exercising the creative muscle makes the difference.
Taking a break from the hectic demands of daily life allows us to slow down and refresh ourselves. The imagination exists to be used, for our pleasure, and for the benefit of others. If you don’t have time for your creative pursuits, consider how you can gain some time.
Think about it for a moment.
The obstacles in your way are not immovable. Your Creative Self already knows how to improve your life. Why not take a few minutes and listen to what it has to say?
by Carol | Dec 29, 2022 | carol holland march, Creativity, Fiction, Journaling, Nonfiction, When Spirit Whispers, writing
It’s right there. Behind that tree. In the shadow of the curtain in the room where you sleep. In your dreams, glowing with golden light.
Since I learned to meditate, new information presents itself as a door to be opened. Or ignored. In the world of spirit, there is always choice.
I made my choice long ago, so I open every door that beckons. Sometimes after reflection. Sometimes with trepidation, for once opened, there is no going back.
Doors lead me forward—to repair a misunderstanding, to an old belief that needs releasing, or a different level of awareness. Some doors are an invitation to explore my relationship to the inner world from which all creativity springs. Behind others lurk the characters and worlds that populate my stories.
I needed to slow down my thoughts before I developed a habit of regularly producing creative work. That meant taking time to sit at my desk and tune into the frequency of my Creative Self. Some people can write a chapter of the novel on a commuter train or on their lunch hour. I applaud them. They must be very productive. But I need more space.
If you hear the call but can’t find the door, be patient. You may need to quiet your mind. Your body must partner with your mind and feelings for ideas and visions to be translated into words and brush strokes. This takes practice. Sit in silence. Spend time in nature. Watch the grass grow. Listen to the leaves of cottonwood trees chattering to each other. The inner world works on a slower time cycle than our ordinary outer world. Rhythms need to be respected. Telling it to hurry doesn’t work.
Some doors are shy but they want to be discovered. Yours may hide behind a cluster of ivy. Or on the far side of a sagging wooden fence. An image flashes on the edge of your vision, so beautiful you turn, heart lifting, but when you do, it’s gone. Maybe you turned too quickly. Maybe it melted back behind the veil.
If you see it in the heat of the day as you trudge through a desert, your mind might dismiss it as a mirage, but in your heart, you know it’s real. You know it’s waiting. For the time to be right. For you to be ready.
It knows you well. It knows you may need to gather courage before you walk toward it. You may need to stop the noise of the outer world before you notice its shape, its color. To see that it pulses with excitement at your approach.
But, you may say, not yet. I’m busy with work, family, and the pressing tasks of daily living. How can I open a door that leads to who knows where? What if it takes me to places I’m not ready for? What if I get lost? What if walking through it changes me?
Stop and breathe.
You can turn away. The door understands. As you retreat, the rhythm of its pulsing may slow, but it will never stop. The door will never disappear and it will never fail to welcome you.
Even if you wait until you are old and tired and finally face the door because there’s nothing else left to do.
Even if you wait longer than that.
You know what to do.
You were born knowing. Rattle it gently. Give it a push. And when you see, with amazement and delight, what lies beyond, be still and listen for the voice that holds the treasure.
When Spirit Whispers
by Carol | Nov 27, 2022 | a writers heart, carol holland march, Classes, Creativity, editing, Healing, Journaling, When Spirit Whispers
It wants your attention. It wants to be free. Have you heard it whisper?
You know what it is. It dances through your dreams. It causes you to be late because you’re mesmerized by a cloud formation that looks exactly like the city in a story you want to write. In a rare moment of silence, it says, Come, follow me, I have a story only you can tell. An image only you can paint.
It offers impractical ideas, suggesting you compose a poem or a symphony. A ludicrous idea. After all, you’re a busy person. Who has the time for frivolities? Ridiculous. But, is it?
The call of the Creative Self is real. It means that something inside you wants to be born into the world of time and the light of day.
The seeds of inspiration reside within us. Often just beneath the level of awareness. It takes a receptive attitude to invite those seeds into our lives so we can shape them by creative acts into a poem, a story, a drawing, a clay pot.
Children have unfettered access to the messages of their Creative Self. They draw on walls, paint on their toes, and sing at the top of their small lungs, simply for the joy of it.
As we grow, we learn what pleases our parents, teachers, and friends. We want to fit in, to be loved and praised, so we learn to follow the rules. We don’t fingerpaint when we’re supposed to be studying. We don’t eat dessert before the meal. We don’t spend nearly as much time watching clouds drift by.
Even though we learn to ignore its subversive messages, the Creative Self does not disappear. It is always waiting.
When it makes itself known, it can burst out like thunder, impossible to ignore. Or it may whisper, faintly, its voice only discernible in the vague moments between sleep and waking. Don’t be fooled by volume. The faint voice may have more to say.
Humans create biologically. We also create the conditions of our lives, with our choices, our willingness to learn, observe, and investigate what lies beyond our immediate surroundings.
- Every explorer wonders what waits beyond the horizon.
- Every athlete imagines the heights of skill she can achieve.
- Every artist practices her art to faithfully reproduce the images of the imagination.
People who perform at the highest levels of their sport, art, craft, or profession have an inner drive urging them on. They might call it inspiration or ambition. The words don’t matter. The vision that urges us to keep us moving forward comes from the Creative Self.
You can do it, the Creative Self notes, because it knows you can.
No matter how loud or soft, how often it comes, or how clear its message, the voice of the Creative Self is what you are waiting for.
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
by Carol | Oct 30, 2022 | Uncategorized
Writing about the upcoming arts and crafts festival at UNM Continuing Education got me thinking. As much as a sense of unease rises in my chest at the sight of artificial Christmas trees for sale in October, I tell myself to stop being a curmudgeon. It’s the holidays! Get in the spirit!
Time is moving too fast, I protest. Can’t I enjoy fall leaves and carved pumpkins before trimming the tree and singing carols off-key?
In fact, No, the universe answers (with a smile).
Fall is winding down, even though summer flowers are still blooming on my front porch. It’s time for gloves and shorter days and a huge turkey dinner before we begin the great slide down the hill of this year toward Christmas/Hannukah/Winter Solstice. Celebrations that remind us of light and darkness, our ancient past, and how to push through winter until the weather turns again.
The winter holidays hold the promise of light renewed. If we have the capacity to express love for others—family and friends, our community, the people and animals of the earth—then perhaps there is hope for us too, even during the coldest winter night.
During the winter holidays, we are encouraged to express our love with gifts. If heartfelt, and offered without expectations, the most delightful of acts. To give freely, with no thought of what will return to us is a true expression of the concept of the high heart, which expresses authentically, without bartering.
The high heart offers compassion for self and others, appreciation, perception without judgment, and forgiveness. It works within healthy boundaries and does not take responsibility for the behavior and feelings of others. (As you might expect, living in our high hearts is related to feelings of calmness, peace, and more integration of our physical systems, which leads to less stress)
The low heart can be judgmental, fearful, clinging, sympathetic, and prone to attachments. It lacks boundaries and wants “credit” for its good deeds. It expects gifts received to be commensurate with gifts given.
So in this season of craft fairs, holiday sales, and lists of gifts to purchase, I hope to maintain an attitude of appreciation for what I have. I choose to be grateful for the years on this earth I have been gifted with, to forgive those who have injured others, and to send love to all beings, no matter how misguided and off-track they may seem.
The holidays are a perfect time to take stock, see where we’ve been, and decide if we want to change the story of our life for the coming year. I’m starting now. Not with goals or resolutions, but intentions.
- I will love more
- I will write without fear
- I will trust my Creative Self to guide me through challenges
- I will appreciate
- And I will live the story of my life as honestly as I can