Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Honouring the Heart's Call

excerpt from the Artist's Creed by Jan Philips, Marry Your Muse

I believe that the time I spend creating my art is as precious as the time I spend giving to others.
I am worth the time to create whatever I am called to create.

These messages about self-worth and creativity are very timely. While working with the Visual Journaling workbook, I chose to write about an inner conflict, and the one that came up for me was the conflict between serving and writing (whether non-fiction, stories or poems). It's very easy for me to respond to a call for help, or get involved in a project that is worthy, giving my time to others, or "othering" as I have started to call it. It's like mothering. I respond in a flash to my kid's needs, especially if they're sick or unwell. Partly for selfish reasons, I think, because it feeds my "good girl" image of myself. It makes me feel good to do good deeds. There's nothing wrong with that. However, when it becomes an obsessive-compulsive reflex, to always respond to calls from others and never make time for my own work, that is a problem.

The problem is also that my 'work' doesn't always pay. I may send out a story or poem and get paid in copies of a magazine, or get paid $50, or more if I am lucky, for a book review. I have chosen to work in the creative side, not the journalistic side of writing, and there is no immediate reward. This makes it justifiable in my sub-conscious, anyway, to put it off. The other volunteer jobs I am doing are not paying me either, to be coordinator of my chorus' management team, to be teaching writing classes at the Cancer Wellness Center, to find speakers for my women's circle, even writing this blog, but they do give back in terms of a feeling of fulfillment, or community giving.

Having been brought up enamoured of the Christian ideal of serving others first, plus living in a community environment where service was highly prioritized for most of my twenties, has made this my built in default mode. How to retrain my thinking and value my own creative work, even if I am not paid for it? Even if the book deal is far off, and the draft has been sitting on my computer for two years....waiting for me to give it my attention, waiting for me to value my own work. I've been running after workshops and retreats to try and jump start my commitment to a project outside of me, but I'm beginning to think the problem is on the inside of me.

That is why I am loving reading this book, Marry Your Muse. I recommend it to all you creatives who are torn between doing your paid job, your housework, your caretaking work, your volunteer work and your heart's passion. Consider this: you will be at peace with yourself when you respond to the voice of your own heart. We can better respond to all things from that awareness, whether it be the call to serve or the call to write.

Entering my own quiet place, in the silence, I listen and learn what is next for me, where my path is leading, and how I can be of service while remaining true to the work to which I am called.

Maybe my being creative and writing is the greatest service I am being called to perform. How will I know if I never give myself the time to find out? to practice listening.

Making time to create is like making time for prayer.....


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