Category: Fall 2012

Finding My Creative Flow on a Rainy Day

It was a Friday and I had just picked up Carlie from the groomer. She was perfectly clean, soft hair, well-groomed, and ready for action. I, on the other hand, was enjoying her clean and ‘groomed’ look and wanted to keep her that way for a few hours.

I realize that creative flow and our creative power to manifest our ‘art’ rarely keeps things looking like they are ‘fresh off the shelf.’ That may be the end result that others admire, but the process and the journey to the end results of creativity are rarely without ‘mud and mess’. For Carlie there is bliss in the mud and mess as well as in the beauty of the “finished product”.

An invigorating walk was necessary though so we got in the car and headed to a local park. I told Carlie that the fields will have to wait for another day when it isn’t raining. Carlie was taking delight in her ‘beauty’ too so we stayed on the path. I told her that I need a story. She told me she has lots of stories about being creative – I just need to listen to my heart and she will share it with me there.

As we were walking, bundled up against the wind, I suddenly realized how my attitude had shifted and I was now in a really happy space, just being with someone who makes me happy. I began to smile and laugh with her as she cheerfully trotted alongside me, sniffing here, looking at me there, just telling me what a wonderful moment it is. After a bit she started to circle me in ways that communicate, ‘let’s play ‘tricky ball’.  It’s a ball with many angles, so the trajectory of each bounce is unpredictable and requires great wit and agility to capture it.

Suddenly, the inspiration I needed appeared. What juices up the creative flow within us?  Here’s what Carlie told me in her playing, sniffing, trotting and walking and connecting with me:

  1. Let God/dess ‘touch’ your heart every day. It doesn’t have to be big and fancy; just open yourself to this ‘soul touching’. One way I open to this gift is through my Reiki meditations and healing twice a day. When I feel in deep connection with the Divine, I feel love flow. I feel the kiss of Divine Joy in my heart and a thought or story descends upon me. Or today, Carlie’s eyes dance and kiss my heart with her delight.
  2. Play and have fun. It’s hard to open to creativity when our attitude is grumpy or negative. One look at Carlie and I can immediately find my playful heart.
  3. Be present. If you are out of touch with your feelings and what really is stirring within you in the here and now, then how can you be aware of the creative flow or ideas?
  4. Step into Nature and let her take you on a journey.
  5. Move your body, move your energy, find your flow. Let the activity of positive movement uncover your creative spirit.
  6. Remove the limitations, the blocks, the old and worn out – do the work so your creative spirit has a place to shine, to express, to expand.
  7. Show up to creativity. If all your time is spent doing ‘this and that’, answering emails or being busy with endless tasks, then the creative flow will pass you by (and you won’t even know it). Stick with it.
  8. Be grateful. A grateful heart just sees so many more creative potentials and can connect with our creative power.
  9. Let it flow. We can’t force creative ideas into existence. If the ideas and flow aren’t there, get up and engage in one of the first 6 opportunities.
  10. Celebrate when it flows and you accomplished the creative endeavour. Our creative spirit seeks the ‘lightness’ of gratitude and celebration. A nap served me well!

Those are just a few steps that got my creative juices flowing. What works for you?

Letting Go to Creativity

Just last week a wonderfully gorgeous day surprised us in Waterloo. Hurricane Sandy had passed (though the effects still deeply linger), the US Presidential elections were over (yes, these events do impact us Canadians!) and the 27 days of rain in October gave way to a beautifully sunny day with the most crisp and clean air. Carlie and I savoured the joy of walking the back field with the frost licking our feet (well, my boots!) and breathing in deeply the purity of the early morning air. What a gift! My chest naturally expanded to take in this pure morning air as my body seemed to know it was the best of the best in great air.

I noticed that most of the leaves had fallen to the ground and that Nature was entering dormancy. Moreover, there was no stress about the transition from summer growth and harvest and to the late fall of letting go. Nature is drawing into Herself to rest and replenish. This time of replenishment is vital in the natural world – for the trees to create the stunning surprises of colour and birth of spring; for the plants and flowers to paint the landscape of our gardens and fields with vibrancy and new hope that always comes with spring. 

We too need time to retreat, to gather inward, to contemplate, to relax. Creativity is only spectacular when we honour its cycle and rhythm within us. We lose the sacredness of our creativity if we create and create and create, dismissing the season of late fall, of letting go of what we no longer need (even if it was good)!  We simply can’t hold onto everything.

As we walked across the frosty field, I gathered my grandmothers, my teachers who inspired me to be creative in my self-expression and I asked them what I need to stop holding onto and simply let fall away. Carlie romped joyfully with a big stick in her mouth. She was letting go with ease. And for me….well, I heard, ‘let go of the summer sun.’  It took a moment before a breath of acceptance reached into my belly.

Now, that wisdom may have unique meaning to each of us. What connects us to a common wisdom, however, is that if we can’t let go of the ‘summer sun’, our creativity will eventually become overgrown and smother itself. Declutter something this week. Let something go. Stop holding onto something so hard and relax into a breath of replenishment.

Saturday Afternoons that Inspired my Creative Being

For a number of years after my father died, a lovely and beautifully spirited woman from our church would invite me to her house to spend the afternoons. She wore beautiful jewelry and dressed impeccably. I loved going to her house. We would have drink and cookies on special plates (good china I know it to be now!) and talk about things I liked that I somehow couldn’t talk about in other circles of my life. She was an artist – a ceramic artist and painter. She must have noticed something about me because she would offer me beautiful ceramic pieces to paint. She once gave me this wonderful life-size Persian ceramic cat to paint. Here I took my time and didn’t rush to get done. I learned to paint with gentle and soft strokes. She would quietly and attentively listen to my stories and what ‘wisdom’ I knew. I loved taking these art pieces home and I took care of them for years, making sure they were dusted and never broken. Thankfully, she never met my school teachers!

Years later, she still would invite me to lunch – the presentation of the food was always colourful and delightful to the eye. She made me feel so special. She noticed my creativity in the gift of speaking and honoured it. Because of her generosity and love of authentic creative expression, I learned to express my heart. I found a piece of my creativity. Looking back, she was one of my grandmothers, beautiful and generous and sensitively warm. Somehow I knew instinctively she was someone NEVER to disrespect – all the children seemed to know it.

This grandmother taught me that creativity is nurtured within relationships of generosity, attentiveness and mutual respect. She was generous with affirmation, generous with her gift of teaching and sharing resources (ceramic pieces, kiln, etc) and generous with her respect for me as a child. She treated and engaged with me like I really mattered to her.

Though she has passed many years already, I still hear her whisper, ‘tell your stories. I like listening to them.’ And whenever I doubt the power of my creative spirit to help facilitate transformation, I hear my grandmothers lovingly remind me, “tell your stories Shirley Lynn, they will listen.”

Who is the grandparent figure in your life that mentored, or witnessed, or encouraged your creative thinking and dreaming beyond what others saw? Last week I invited your 7yr old to write to your ‘grandparent self’ about what your heart desires to create. This week invite your grandparent self (yes you can imagine that! Be creative!) to write back to your 7r old self.  It’s a wonderful gift that surprises and heals.

Colouring Outside the Lines: The Myth of Creative Incompetence

When I was a small girl, I used to enjoy colouring. I love colours (hence ‘Rainbows’ as part of my business name). Colours awaken joy and creativity in me. I also liked activity. Reading for any length of time triggered a sense of boredom (unless a story totally captivated me). Surely there was something more active going on outdoors and with our pets, wasn’t there?

So I would sit with my cousin and colour the pages in our colouring books. Or I would sit with my sister and best friend and read a book…until I was bored. Then I would start to colour more quickly to finish. The precision and smoothness of the strokes lost their artfulness and my mind started to focus on the activity of the story being created in my mind. I wanted to tell the story and live the story.

I would often hear that my work wasn’t as good as my cousin’s; wasn’t as neat or as artistic – so therefore I wasn’t as creative. My art teachers could never see the ‘story’ I was depicting. My mom’s best strategy was, ‘tell me about your picture Shirley’, so she didn’t have to guess what couldn’t be discerned on my page!

So I did not learn to believe that I was creative or had any gifts of real worth or value. What I didn’t see and apparently, neither did most of my teachers, was how and where my creative expression did emerge. In math, didn’t 2 + 2 equal harmony? In grammer class, didn’t my completely autonomous risk to vote different from every other student in the class about which sentence was grammatically correct (which I was embarrassedly right about) suggest ‘divergent thinking’ to anyone?

Neuroscience now understands that creativity is more than a right-brained phenomenon. Thank Goddess! And I finally have given myself permission to own my creative capacity. I’ll never come close to the beautiful expressions of the arts that have been traditionally connected to the ‘creative people’. Am I creative? Yup. I colour outside the lines…its called transformation. And I love guiding people through transformation.

So here’s an invitation for your own creative spirit – have your seven year-old child self write a letter to your ‘grandmother/grandfather’ self about what makes your heart want to happily create.

Commitment to Change (4): Questions that Guide

 “Just for today I really love myself”,I repeated to myself before I put my feet on the ground first thing in the morning.

I’ve finished my 30 days and what has changed? Lots. And the best is that it was simple. Nothing that required breaking my back or pushing myself to do something I really hated doing. For me, it really came down to this one simple question as I went through my day: “Am I really loving myself right here, right now?” If I was, I offered gratitude to myself and to Spirit. If I wasn’t, I paused and listened for what in me I was ignoring or invalidating.

When the awareness of an unfilled need surfaced to which I was negatively reacting, my next question became “What can be better than this?” Invariably, an inner response came forward that brought greater clarity. My heart seems to have a sense of humour … “loving myself would be better”. So then my next question was “What does really loving myself look like right now?” Sometimes, an answer would come and other times I had to wait a bit before the answer appeared.

Simple questions. Simple focus. Incredible answers and Divine activity.

Sometimes, I simply walk the question or live the inquiry, ‘what can be more loving than this?’ and allow Spirit to manifest answers that delight my heart. Asking a simple and yet expansive question invites us to deeper reflections and significant reframes of perspective. New and more life-affirming perspectives lead to more life-affirming behaviour. Life-affirming behaviour leads us to success of goal fulfillment. In my case, it led to vocational decisions, positive social connections and healing of old hurts that no longer served me. And lots more inner peace and joy!!

And that was the goal … what can better than that?

Commitment to Change (3): Facing the Opportunity of the Unknown

Transformation – becoming someone new, someone so different you can’t return to your former self.

My ‘conscious commitment’ to love myself has been forefront for the past 30 days. As I mentioned last week, this commitment was a surprise to me. But since it was such a surprise, I also knew it must be what I must do!

I barely had a plan for the 30 day period. How could I? This commitment was taking me beyond who I was and into someone new – a more true me. Change that leads to transformative calls us out of our present constructs and into a new reality of true self. This process cleanses us of the habit pathways that take us back to the old self.

The first step was to affirm “Just for today I really love myself”. I told myself to break it down and take baby steps. Baby steps create momentum and rhythm. Baby steps also allow me to easily retrace my steps to the point of success before moving forward again.

On a daily basis, this simple and conscious commitment challenged my routines, my beliefs about what is possible for me, and chipped away at any obscurity of my goals to make them crystal clear and more true to who I am becoming – a person filled with deep love for me.

Has my inner peace increased? Yes, measurably so. And you? Just for today …

Feathers, Rainbows & Roses is again offering a two-day workshop Cultivating a Joyful Life: Health & Vital Self Care. This is a perfect opportunity to explore, develop and solidify your own commitment to change. Love yourself. Pass your love along to someone else too – refer this workshop to soemone else and if they attend, you will receive a 10% discount on your next session with Shirley Lynn.

Saturdays October 27th & November 10th, 2012, 9am – 5pm

For additional information and to register for the Cultivating a Joyful Life: Health & Vital Self Care workshop, please contact Shirley Lynn Martin today!


Commitment to Change (2): Investing in Love

Recently a colleague and I held a Peace Circle to honour and celebrate International Peace Day. At the conclusion of our evening, we each made a conscious commitment to ourselves to take action for the next 30 days that increased, cultivated or deepened our experience and state of inner peace. We placed these commitments in the centre of our circle – the place of purpose, intention and light. As I paused awaiting the inner guidance to voice my ‘conscious commitment’ for the next 30 days, I heard “I will love myself”.

I stopped in silence. It was not a commitment I was expecting to hear. I had invited others to make their commitment mindfully, to only make the commitment they knew they would follow through on. To make a conscious commitment to act toward inner peace and then break this agreement is to break their flow and their spiritual connection with the Great Peace.

In hearing my own soul commitment come forward, I suddenly was confronted with the awareness of the consequences when breaking ‘conscious commitments’. It’s not that forgiveness, compassion and grace won’t be extended to me if I don’t follow through. Rather, I was consciously choosing to make a commitment to myself, this Peace Circle, and to Great Peace. For reasons of integrity I would need to follow through on truly loving myself for the next 30 days. It became a MUST. I thought to myself, “strange. Don’t I already love myself?” Yet I instantly knew my next 30 days would take me outside my comfort zone and into new territory. My habits would need to change and I would be transformed again. What an investment to inner peace and joy!

And what about your ‘conscious commitment’?


Feathers, Rainbows & Roses is again offering a two-day workshop Cultivating a Joyful Life: Health & Vital Self Care. This is a perfect opportunity to explore, develop and solidify your own commitment to change. Invest in yourself. Invest in someone else too – bring someone along to this workshop and receive a 10% discount on your registration.

Saturdays October 27th & November 10th, 2012, 9am – 5pm

For additional information and to register for the Cultivating a Joyful Life: Health & Vital Self Care workshop, please contact Shirley Lynn Martin today!

Next week’s post: Commitment to Change (3): Facing the Opportunity of hte Unknown

A Ten Year Old’s Commitment to a Dream (Part One)

On a recent drive I was tuned in to Tempo on CBC radio. The program featured stories from listeners about classical music that really ‘rocked’ their world. One story that stood out for me was about a woman who at the age of 10 watched the movie The Secret Garden and was utterly captivated by the music. She sat in front of the TV with her old tape recorder and recorded the music. Then she took the tape to her piano teacher and told her she wanted to learn to play this music. Fortunately, her teacher could identify the piece and even had the sheet music. It was Chopin’s Nocturne #19.

The teacher initially told this 10 yr old girl that she was not yet ready to learn such a piece and will need to come back to it in a few years. Tenacious about her dream, the student insisted on learning this piece and in her 10 yr old way made it clear she was going to learn it. Her teacher wisely caught her vision and her passion for this music as well as her desire and commitment to learn it. The teacher began to break the piece down into smaller pieces and skills to learn. She said it took her 5 years to learn this elegant piece of music. Five YEARS and a spirit transformed!!

What a powerful story of accomplishment. What I found so powerful about this story is that this child had a vision of something that made her happy, uplifted and powerful. She didn’t know how to get there, but she had the commitment. Without commitment our most important desires and higher life goals will never be accomplished. Important desires and higher life goals are there to summon our courage, to teach us discipline and inner strength of spirit and character. They are designed to teach us humility and gratitude, patience and wisdom, among other virtues.

Without commitment we can accomplish nothing of true meaning, purpose and longevity. How would you rate your own level and practice of commitment?

Shared Adventure and Treasure

Recently, Carlie and I were out in the neighbouring fields, enjoying the beautiful day and the little moments of delight within our morning adventure – a sniff here, a frolic there. I learned from both Marzie (my previous companion) and Carlie that the ‘best walks’ always include the intention of joyful adventure. Who knows what you will discover and experience?

On this morning, like many before, a hawk joins us for a portion of our walk, calling out a message or simply taking delight in the moment with us. The beauty of an adventure-walk is that all kinds of teaching opportunities present themselves. No less on this adventure. I notice Carlie ‘catch wind’ of something and run towards the smell pleasing her senses. Then I see her ‘drop and roll’. I run towards her and with as much enthusiasm as I can muster I ask, “what did you find Carlie?”

She looks at me, then back down at this ‘thing’ and I can see her quick mind discerning what to do. Does she run off with this thing or stay there and share her prize with me? I repeat myself with calm enthusiasm, “oh boy Carlie, what did you find? Show me.” I want her to engage with me and trust me with her prize.

She decides to trust me with her prize and when I get to her I am disgusted to find a dead rat! In my mind, I’m thinking ‘yuk!’ However, I realize that we have two entirely different perspectives to this dead rat. Her prize is my disgust. If I impose my repulsion upon her and yank her away from this prize, I know next time she will run away with the dead carcass – maybe even eat it!

So we take a moment and together we are curious and observant about what happened, why it’s there and what we should do about it. Then I suggest to Carlie, “how about we leave it for the hawk. Maybe the hawk needs breakfast.” I give her several perfectly scrumptious liver treats in exchange while we walk away together. I propose a game of ‘tricky ball’ and she eagerly agrees, happy to leave what she had found. It no longer had ‘keep away or eat away’ value. Mission (human) accomplished!

I think to myself how ‘teenager’ this behaviour is… seeking independence, testing out new things and discovering one’s own way to create their lives. How often as parents do the prizes and perspectives of our teens trigger reactions within us which all too quickly create power struggles? Had I acted out my immediate reaction of repugnance, how quickly my ‘teenager’ would have asserted her desires – snatch her dead rat and run away to do with it what I didn’t want her to do. And she knows just what that is, just like teens do!

Leaning into Carlie’s enthusiasm and turning toward curiosity about what she found changed the outcome completely. However, she still had a smelly spot from the ‘drop and roll’ that needed shampooing – a fragrant reminder of what else could have been. I’m grateful for our shared vision of companionship and the steadfastness and patience I’m building to see it through, even though it may take years. And today, I suspect so is the hawk.

Natural Power: the Colorado Medicine (2)

As I mentioned last week, the scene I was encountering was almost haunting in its spirit’s natural empty wildness. Nor was it a place where the power of this ‘spirit’ would tolerate being tamed by human ego, greed or superiority. Its “I Am-ness” collided into my assumptions and views about life and stripped away any illusions of being insulated from the power of Nature. It takes a different strength of character and faith to be a farmer/rancher and member of this ‘community’. Here, it seems the ‘environmental presence’ determines the self rather than the self acting on this land without regard for its essence.

I thought about my home area and how our region seeks to build expansive manufacturing and IT businesses, etc, followed by communities that house and service the people who work these jobs. The community leaders deem this ‘growth’ necessary to ‘sustain’ the prosperity of our community. Yet, we are building upon some of the most fertile agricultural land in the country. We can yield more bushels per acre than most farms out west and beyond because of the depth and richness of our soil composition. It is now being covered with concrete. It’s as though we presume our superiority and ‘rightfulness’ to do as we please with the land. And such decisions, we are asked to believe, have long-term sustainability. We are doing good for our community we are told.

This road trip to Colorado helped me experience the boldness of the Land to speak its essence in powerful and inarguable fashion. ‘Sustainability’ offers a whole new dialogue with one’s soul in these natural places where power still lies in the heart of the land. I am curious what dialogue and decisions would change if we really had to live life similar to eastern Colorado? Would our yes’s and no’s change with our water or our development plans if Nature acted upon us in the same way we have been manipulating it?

Last time I asked you, what does any of this have to do with improving your health, your happiness and your quest for harmony in your relationships? What does this have to do with the way you and I work together in your quest for healing and living a fulfilled and purposeful life?

Those of you who have invited me to journey with you know that encountering your soul, living your life’s transformation will mean surrendering to the power and depth of the sacred in all of life and your environment. Those of you who work with me know and feel ‘called’ to help build a world of sustainability through healing relationships, not only with ourselves, our community and families, but just as importantly, with the environment (the land and water) that gives us life and health and the capacity to experience abundance and joy. Wisdom’s way to peace means we must truly encounter the ‘whereness’ of our lives. And where we live is in inter-connected relationship—with ourselves, with one another (and that includes animals) and with the ‘land’.

I invite you to reflect on which of your relationships are in need of healing.