…to boldly act on inspiration: The Challenge of Trusting Our Own Intuition

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I have forever been fascinated by unlimited potentiality being wrangled into a single thing by us humans.
I have a list of six values that I carry with me everywhere I go. One of them is:

“Creativity: to be creative, innovative, and to boldly act on inspiration.”

It’s easy for me to be creative. It comes naturally to me. And let’s face it, being innovative is in the same wheel-house as being creative.

But once I am inspired to create, I must brave up before I can actually create something. I have to “boldly act” on the inspiration I receive. If I create something, chances are it will find its way into the public eye. And what if people think my creation sucks and they criticize it? Or what if I’ve overestimated my skills and I really can’t create the piece I’ve imagined? For some of us there is always at least a slight level of trepidation present in the process of creating. One of two things can go wrong; either someone will judge my work as unworthy or I will fail in my attempt to create it.

I was talking with a friend the other day about the place where creativity comes from. A place where the spiritual part of ourselves meets our physical apparatus. Where idea meets execution. I have forever been fascinated by unlimited potentiality being wrangled into a single thing by us humans.

The word “inspire” comes from the Latin word, “inspirare” which means to breathe fire into; to inflame or excite. The “spir” portion of the word inspire means the same as the “spir” portion of the word spirit. So we must go to none other than the very spark of life to find inspiration.

While pondering these concepts, I began to see a parallel between inspiration and intuition. They both come from the same invisible realm… and I don’t always trust what I cannot see. I think this is why so many times we catch ourselves saying, “I had a feeling I should have {fill the blank}.” We find out we should have trusted our intuition after the fact. Once the situation plays itself out, we see our intuition was right on the money. But before the situation plays itself out, we’re not so sure. It seems like guess-work.

It is the same with our creations. After we have boldly acted on inspiration and see the fruits of our labor, we know we did the right thing. But before we see the result of our creative endeavor, we’re not so sure.

If this is the crux of the problem with trusting ourselves, and indeed I believe it is, what are we to do? How can we trust our intuition and boldly act on inspiration more often?

There was a Scottish mountain climber who summed it up nicely for me when he spoke about commitment. William Hutchison Murray (18 March 1913 – 19 March 1996) had this to say in his book: The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951):

“But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money—booked a sailing to Bombay.

This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

So I gather from all this pondering that a creative person needs only trust their intuition and commit to the act of creation regardless of any fear.  This is actually the definition of courage.

cour·age
/ˈkərij/
noun
The ability to do something that frightens one.

So a little boldness is required. And a commitment to our very Spirits.

We can do this. We can turn our backs on the nagging self-doubts about our abilities to perform, or the judgement of our works by others and boldly act on any inspiration that hits us. I say we do it! What say ye?

The Three Causes of Inspiration

The Three Causes of Inspiration:

  • Spirit
  • The Nature of a Thing
  • Heritage

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Inspiration, as fickle as some believe it is, can actually be ordered up like something on Amazon. This truth may shock you if you’ve bought into the farce about inspiration being elusive. For a long time now I’ve been trying to bust the inspiration hoax and show just how readily available inspiration truly is. People have been asking how. Give us an example, they say.

I’m assuming there are as many examples of how to get inspired as there are grains of sand on the world’s beaches, but I have ferreted out three of them which I personally admire and intend to use for years to come. Hopefully they will benefit you as well.

Before we get straight into the substance of my favorite three causes of inspiration, I’d like to point out one small caveat: Even with Amazon Prime membership you still end up waiting at least two days for your package to arrive. Being inspired is as easy as ordering something from Amazon, but it still takes a little time to “kick in”. So practice allowing for that as you test these theories.

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1. Spirit

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This inspiration comes directly to you. It is sometimes called an idea. It can come in many forms: through a dream, from a sudden thought in the shower, or an out and out vision.

Since this kind of inspiration is directly from Spirit, it is the purest and most sought-after form of inspiration. It therefore contains the most magic. Original creative ideas are authentic expressions of Spirit so they often become the cornerstone of creative movements.

But the key to using Spirit as a source for inspiration is simply to pay attention to it. Everybody has one—built-in, but few people lend their own spirit much credence. If you acknowledge your spirit and show the least bit of reverence for it, if you accept (at least to a small degree) your own shamanic powers, your spirit will reward you with inner knowing and intuition that you may not have noticed otherwise. So be kind and attentive to your spirit and you’ll experience more inspiration.

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2. The Nature of a Thing

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This inspiration is prevalent and often mistakenly regarded as the only source of inspiration. People will say that some thing inspired them.

Sometimes it is the texture of the thing, or the color, or even the smell. Sometimes it is the sound of a song or a wild animal or an industrial noise that inspires us. The noise they were inspired to use on the TV show LOST for the computer that had to be reset every 108 minutes was the beep a cash register makes when you scan an item.

This is far from the only source of inspiration, but it is one of the funnest sources to indulge in. Using your senses, you dwell upon the nature of a given item and if it appeals to you, there is often a degree of inspiration that comes along with it.

OPA is the acronym I’ve given Other People’s Artwork. OPA can be a powerful source of inspiration. You can be inspired by someone else’s creative endeavor and boldly act on that inspiration without copying it. Lord knows we should never condone plagiarism. But if you say to yourself, “I’d like to create something like that, only better.” then you are doing more than creating… you are becoming a positive cog in the wheel of evolution—you are advancing our civilization. And you are creating something brand new. So whatever you do, never shy away from being inspired by other art and other artists. Do your own thing based on the inspiration you feel from the nature of their art.

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3. Heritage

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This inspiration comes from your own personal heritage. But I do not mean your race or nationality, although those can also inspire. What I mean is the heritage that you have cultivated since you were born. Your own personal heritage that was formed by your preferences alone. These are all the things that have influenced you or warmed your heart in your lifetime.

I was raised in the mountains of Northern California and I was therefore exposed to all the lore of the 49’ers, the gold prospectors that traveled from back east in search of the Motherlode. So the old west was a big influence on me.

Natural surroundings gave me a great appreciation for the beauty of nature. After witnessing the clarity and purity of high-mountain streams, I fell in love with everything clear and transparent: water, bubbles, glass, crystals, etc. These are personal sources of enjoyment, adventure, and good feelings that I had growing up and they are a treasure trove of high-quality inspiration.

Heritage inspires through cultural significance. But again, I am not referring to the culture of the masses (although there is plenty of influence from those sources as well). I am referring to the culture of you, your own personal culture. In my family, whenever we went to the river for a swim or to go fishing or to pan for gold, we always roasted hot dogs on a stick. I remember the smell of the wood burning in the campfire and the anticipation it formed as we got closer to the camaraderie of sharing with and nourishing each other. That is an example of personal culture formed within my own lifetime.

The Hippie movement was alive and well in my teens and many of the their aspirations helped to form my own personal culture of sustainability and eco-friendly practices.

Heritage is a product, place, feeling, memory, etc., that evokes a nostalgic sense of tradition or history within your psyche. I grew up watching Indiana Jones movies and fell deeply in love with the adventure of that pseudo-archaeology. Treasure became a staple in my psyche because we searched for gold in the rivers of California and followed in the footsteps of those early gold miners.

You have a heritage that is uniquely your own. Through memory you can trace it. And it’s guaranteed, as you do, you will be inspired. God once asked me to make a list of everything I love (once I woke up from the dream I was having) and She told me to make sure it was only the stuff I love, not like. This is the best exercise to trace your heritage, because as you go back in your memory to find the things you love, you feel the feelings that all those things evoke. Those things and feelings are a part of who you are. Embrace your heritage and it will reward you with inspiration in spades.

What’s Killing the Indie Craft Fairs? Artisan Made vs. Component Assembled Jewelry

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Let me just drag my soapbox out here and shout from the mountain tops an opinion about the quality of fine craftsmanship that one might encounter at an indie craft show.

First let’s identify the problem:

When indie craft fairs first came on the scene it was an awesome opportunity for craft enthusiasts (those who love to buy handmade) because the shows were more funky, more quirky and more unique than the well-known craft fairs. The items for sale at indie craft shows were almost always guaranteed to be very different while maintaining high quality. Indie craft fairs originally took pride in the fact that there were no crocheted toilet paper covers or corny, kitschy, country signs. There were no crafts by hobbyists because many of the shows were juried and they were thus able to maintain a high standard of quality and selection.

In the town where I live there is a big craft show called the Craftsman’s Classic that comes to the fairgrounds two to four times a year. It too started out with some of the most unique finds in all the land, but over the years they have lowered their standards and the crocheted toilet paper covers and country signs are back in spades, mixed in, of course with all the artisan made, high-end, and fine crafts.

The problem is that the facilitators of indie craft shows are following suit and succumbing to the pop-jewelers, the component assemblers who buy store-bought beads and findings and assemble them with jump rings. The juries at these shows are falling for this quasi-craft and choosing it over the more unique and soulful artisan-made jewelry.

The three types of jewelry

There are three main types of handcrafted jewelry that appear at craft shows and I have a favorite which you will clearly discover as you read on.

Precious Jewelry

Precious jewelry is made using precious metals (gold and silver mainly) and precious stones such as diamonds, rubies, emeralds, etc. This jewelry is often well designed and very beautiful (although I have seen many soulless pieces in this category that match the production jewelry of retail stores… but this is a subject for a different post). There is only one downfall with this type of jewelry for the shopper and that is the price point. Beautiful? Yes. Unique? Sometimes. Affordable? No.

Artisan Jewelry

Artisan jewelry is made using base metals (copper and brass mainly) and semi-precious stones such as quartz crystals, turquoise, basalt, etc., and sometimes found or natural objects. This jewelry is often very well designed, very beautiful, but also very unique. Because it is artisan jewelry it is often one-of-a-kind and that means you’ll never see another person wearing the exact same piece. Beautiful? Yes. Unique? Yes. Affordable?  Yes.

Component Assembled Jewelry

Component assembled jewelry is a mixed bag. It is often made by hobbyists who do not rely on craftsman-like skills. If they can open and close a jump ring, they can hook just about anything together and call it jewelry.

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That is not to say that CAs (component assemblers) are without creativity. There are colors and shapes and materials to choose from and a certain degree of composition or arrangement required to make a piece of jewelry look good. And some of the CAs are masters at it. But all their materials are store-bought and the pieces can be duplicated. Nothing is made from scratch.
Beautiful? Sometimes. Unique? Not if it can be duplicated. Affordable? Yes.

Artisan jewelry is my favorite because it satisfies the one criteria I hold most dear to my heart; artisan jewelry is unique. I have been to many craft shows and consider myself a connoisseur of handmade items. Full disclosure: I am also a craftsman myself and, so far, prefer the wearable art that I make over the more expensive precious jewelry or the oft duplicated component assembly.

If the indie craft shows allow the crocheted toilet paper covers and country signs and component assembled jewelry into their shows, I predict the whole industry will die a needless and avoidable death. If Portland can keep itself weird, indie craft shows should be able to keep themselves unique.

Next time you find yourself at a craft show, try this experiment. Lift a piece of component assembled jewelry in your hands (you’ll know it’s by a CA if it is just strung store-bought beads) and feel the spirit of the piece. Then go find some artisan jewelry and do the same. If my opinion holds true, you should feel a notable difference. Those who make jewelry from scratch, especially artisan jewelry, will often imbue the piece with spirit as they are designing it.

It’s true that any of the three types of jewelry can be soulless, but artisan jewelry almost always contains the most spirit, has the fairest price point, and will be the most authentic and unique. All three of these attributes add up to the most satisfaction.

Jewelry is one of the most intimate things we wear. It is close to the body and it often tells the world something about us. Make sure you never wear anything without soul. It will go a long way to help assure our indie craft shows stay funky.

Do you have an opinion on this subject? Please comment and make your opinion known.

 

 

 

On inspiration…

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We say we want to be unlimited, yet we hold ourselves back like water behind a dam.

We have to be free. Without the knowledge, acceptance and total immersion in our own freedom, we cannot efficiently utilize inspiration. The fact that we are totally free, all the time with nothing constricting that freedom, nothing limiting it, nothing stopping, prohibiting, or denying it in any way is what opens the door to the Muse (the power of inspiration) and brings it into union with us.

Our own sense of freedom is tied to our ability to use inspiration in the way it was meant to be used because when we slam on the brakes for fear of danger of something (real or imagined), we halt forward progress… and inspiration is the embodiment of forward progress. It is the rabbit hole and is meant to be fallen headlong into rather than being avoided, restricted, or denied.

Recognize inspiration’s tie-ins to freedom and you begin to feel the onrush of unlimited potentiality and your ability to harness that intense power in the best of ways.

We are already free, we just don’t recognize it. All obligations are self-imposed. Every last one of them. They may spring from ethical behavior or they may just be programming from society’s indoctrination, but they are all chosen by us and not forced upon us at gunpoint. In order to experience true freedom and thereby have the greatest success with inspiration, we must wake up to this fact and take full responsibility for our own freedom.

Pull the cork from the dam. Better yet, blow the dam to smithereens, because the resulting flow is what we as creative people are after!

 

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What Does it Mean to Be Found & Altered?

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In the lyrics of the famous gospel hymn, Amazing Grace, there is a line that reads: “I once was lost, but now am found”. I can relate to that. And I can take it a step further to say I was also altered. I believe we’re all Found & Altered to an extent.

We find ourselves, our true, authentic selves. It is the self not subject to peer group pressure. It is the self whose freedom is paramount to public opinion.

We get altered, first by social indoctrination which teaches us herd mentality. But we are further altered through our intuition and insight by finding our way back out of the labrynth into the clear, diamond-sharp light of our best, most genuine selves.

Now that we’re back, what do we do with our capricious, headstrong, rebellious selves?

We get to witness the fun and great magic of the world thru the act of creation. We get to join the Found & Altered School of Craft for Wayward Adults!

Why Someone Had to Invent the Found & Altered School of Craft for Wayward Adults

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We currently don’t have air-conditioning. There are still holes in our ceiling from a Hickory tree that fell on the roof earlier this summer. Neither my wife nor I have sufficient income to pay our bills and it scares us at a deep level. We’ve shared our plight with the world thru facebook and GoFundMe and people have stepped up to help in big ways. We are grateful and we are faithful.

While the sacred space of our home is in disrepair, those are merely setbacks. Everyone has them, and ours really can’t hold a candle to some.

The hardest lesson in my life has been how to bounce back after a disaster. You know, be resilient and carry on living life. Now at age 58, I am discovering that learning how to bounce back is not going to help me if I don’t practice what I’ve learned. So now I am practicing.

I want to give adults the permission to be like kids again and to feel the exuberance and nirvana of creation.

My calling in life has always been creation. I love creating things. Don’t we all? I just happen to love it “in spades” (more than anything). And from the first time a kid on the playground gave me half his m&ms, I have believed that sharing is the ultimate thing a person can do. A way to create and share the act of creation with others has been sprouting and growing in me for decades.

But Dad told me NOT to become an artist because they starve. And society told me that only one in ten-thousand artists ever succeed at making a decent living. So I struggled (unnecessarily) because I bought into those beliefs without testing them.

Can I make a decent living by creating and sharing how to create? Will I really starve?

I’m ready to test those beliefs now and practice my calling. I’m ready to share the enthusiasm, the inspiration, and the tips and tricks of the trade. I want to teach people how to make things.
I want to give adults the permission to be like kids again and to feel the exuberance and nirvana of creation. I want to give affordable workshops that actually lift a person’s spirit and give them an awesome adventure! I want to explore the opportunity for us to join together and experience the great magic of the world through the act of creation. It is time for the wondrous plant of this idea to finally burst out in full bloom!

Such are just a few of the elements that brought into being the Found & Altered School of Craft for Wayward Adults. Come and learn how to be like a kid again! Bring your lost self to a workshop and see how you get found (and altered). And while you’re here, let’s talk about your calling.

Congratulations!

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A creative project is a baby…

It is first conceived by a loving relationship with the source of ideas. The idea wants to be born and thru a process of gestation, where the idea remains in the womb for a time so that it grows and gathers strength, it will be nurtured and tended to almost without your conscious attention.

There will come a time when the idea gains the amount of strength it needs to come out into the world. Sometimes there are complications, but everything is done to painstakingly make sure the idea survives the birthing process.

Eventually the idea comes to fruition and exists in our midst. We admire it and protect it and nurture it further so that it will one day leave our company and go out into the world on its own.

You are a creator, pregnant with ideas you’ve not yet discovered. They will come thru you your entire life. There is no menopause for ideas or creative projects. But if you recognize your sacred role in bringing them about and revel in their arrival, you will enjoy the process beyond your wildest dreams again and again.

Congratulations!