Tag Archives: The Imaginarium

Meet Isabel Abbott…Writer, Activist, Speaker

 IsabelI am a writer and activist and speaker. A baker of pies and lover of learning. A feminist and a freedom seeker. An artist of salt water and maps, adaptation and liberation. I work with those crossing thresholds: sex and unlocked voices, birth and death, artists and seekers coming home to the body and holy human.  I am co-creator of In Her Skin and the founder of Writing Freedom Society.
I write for print publications and online and will be writing and studying as a presidential scholar fellowship recipient at Chicago Theological Seminary this year, exploring intersections of embodiment and ethics, gender and presence and cartography of faith.  Check out Isabel at: www.isabelabbott.com & www.listsandletters.com

Wildly Creative: Creativity is . . .

Isabel:  Both a way of being and of doing to me. It is life force, and the human movement toward creation, collecting and gathering from the shards and pieces, the moments and hints of illumination, and placing them together in a way that makes new sense, makes meaning, sometimes makes beauty, makes conversation and connection. It is about connection. And creativity is also about ways of seeing, the capacity and choice to look at a thing in a different way, or from a different angle and perspective, and imagine what before that moment had never existed in exactly that constellation. It is also pure joy. The surrender to the fire and the grief of the ashes and the joy in our own evolution.

Wildly Creative:  What is your advice that you would offer to anyone wishing to design their own creative life?

Isabel: Don’t think so hard, or try so hard. Creativity, a creative life, is not about doing this thing over here, or that over there. It is not a diagram or a chart or a path with neatly defined steps. And so maybe we don’t have to give so much effort to working at having a creative life, and we could just be here fully alive in the ins and outs of things. So I suppose I would say, make a royal effing mess, and then let it burn, and go make another one. Be open to not knowing, to the unknown, to the liminal and the cracks of light that pierce through and how after that the room you always knew familiar, even in the dark, is now a mystery to you. Remain ruthlessly devoted to your own curiosity and compulsions, those threads that tug at you and stitch through all the pieces of your days and life and all these years later you are still wide awake at night, wondering the mechanics of a tractor or the texture of silk or why the women in the statues you saw as a child never had heads. Invite them in and follow where they lead. And then go do as you do, be as you be, and to hell with everything else.

Wildly Creative:  What is the advice you wish someone shared with you about pursuing your passions and feeding your creative self?

Isabel:  Though I’m not sure I would have listened (I don’t like being told what to do), I would say that I wish someone had pressed upon me the importance of having a room and money and body and life of my own. These things did not happen for me until later in my life, and they changed everything, and I would not go back to the other way again. I think for me it is about freedom. To pursue my passions and feed my own creative self is to have the freedom to truly follow where that leads, as opposed to what will be most “marketable” or what someone else thinks I should be creating or doing or birthing. Making my own money, feeding myself in every sense of the word, has allowed me the gift of knowing my creativity and my creations arise from my own Source, and my own heartbeats and my own vocation. I pay for my own space and I have my own space, and it is here where I can write and create and be alone, and for me, this is vital. I suppose the simplest way to say it is, I wish someone had told me that all these things are mine, belonging to me. Because to know this and live this, is to have the agency to be fully alive in my own creative expression.

Wildly Creative: Creatives are usually the ones breaking the rules and little bits of misfits. How are you making sure to hold true to breaking the rules?

Isabel:  Usually it feels more like choosing to just go within and do things my own way rather than follow the program or steps given, and in the process, this often means I’m breaking “rules” and walking on the outskirts or fringe, not fully fitting in with the stronger current of how things are done. I attend to this by choosing to step away for periods of time. To not read or take in any information “out there” so that I might be able to more clearly hear my own voice. When there are so many voices, so much noise, it can be hard to distinguish what is a voice and what is an echo. And I want to know and have a voice. For me this means being in the quiet sometimes. And from this place, when I do return to the wider world, whether I’m following rules or breaking them, it is still my choice, arising and originating in my own self, which is crucial to the integrity of my creative visions.

Meet Carline Gumbs…Accessory Artist & More!

Carline GumbsCarline Gumbs is a personal development facilitator, life skills coach, accessory artist and cool idea generator.   See more of Carline here: http://www.facebook.com/tiziktizik

Wildly Creative:  When did you start nurturing your creative life and why?

Carline:  I started nurturing my creative life from a young age (as far back as I can remember) by drawing, coloring, painting, taking things apart to put them together in a new way, being crafty. I did this partly because I think the gift is passed down in the genes-my mother is very creative; my dad is the math/science/fact guy but I didn’t get those genes from him, unfortunately.  My mother did a lot when we were younger to encourage and nurture that in me (and my sister).

Wildly Creative:  How do you define living a creative life? How important is that for you?

Carline: Living a creative life is liberating for me, not just in terms of expression but in terms of breaking all boundaries, categories, limitations. You are beyond definition, words, colour, shape. It is boundless and infinite. For me, it is also takes me to a spiritual space because I believe that when you create, what you create Is and there should be no judgment in that – It simply is the beautiful or not-so-beautiful thing that It Is (acceptance) and if you are not pleased with what you have done, you always have the idea to create a closer, better Idea or let it go (forgiveness).

Carline Gumbs Wildly Creative: What is the advice you wish someone shared with you about pursuing your passions and feeding your creative self?

Carline: Sometimes, often at the worst possible time, you will experience a wall (not unlike the Great Wall of China), a block (in your mind), or a barrier (in your heart), that will frustrate you to no end. Sometimes even the most patience, surrender or acceptance can’t begin to help you break through it. Sometimes you just have to keep creating, even if you are not happy with what you have created because whatever you have created will serve a purpose for some occasion, some time or some person. Wish I not only knew this earlier but that I remember it when it is most important.

Wildly Creative:  Creatives are usually the ones breaking the rules and little bits of misfits. How are you making sure to hold true to breaking the rules?

Carline:  What rules?…. To consider breaking the rules, you have to acknowledge that there are even rules in the first place. So don’t.

Wildly Creative:  Your favorite muse or inspiration is…

Carline: At this point in time, Nature and Sacred Geometry.

 

Meet Shoshanna Silverberg…Artist, Advocate, & Entrepreneur

Shoshanna Silverberg

Shoshanna is an artist, advocate and entrepreneur.  She attended Hampshire College (F’01) in Amherst, Massachusetts.  While there she combined her studies in political philosophy and dance.  Her “div iii” as it’s called at Hampshire, was an installation art/performance piece integrating theory from multiple disciplines.  She now holds a Master of Arts in Holistic Thinking from The Graduate Institute in Bethany, CT and will graduate in May ’15 with her J.D. from Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina.

 

Wildly Creative:  When did you start nurturing your creative life and why?

Shoshanna:  What a great question.  The key word of course being “nurturing”…  I have always been very creative, so creative that teachers often didn’t know what to do with me growing up.  They always thought I was “off-topic” or too talkative or daydreaming.  In response to that, when I was a teenager, I would rebel.  Or shut down.  And in the process, repress everything I had to offer.  Everything that, if I could find an outlet for, might make me really successful – success here being defined as happy…

What changed for me was being done with high school and seeking out educational opportunities that were off the beaten path.  Attending nontraditional university, having all kinds of jobs, working and living in intentional communities (aka retreat centers), anything that expanded my horizons and allowed me to explore who I was I moved towards.

Having alternative pedagogy around me, or alternative models for how people live, was super important.  It gave me the opportunity to live and learn in environments where what I brought personality wise and intellectually – aspects of consciousness that (if there is such a thing as an ‘I’) I could own.  And then I felt safe sharing.  This was the key to opening up my creative channels, and understanding that living in a way that is committed to being open, to feeling safe enough to share what dwells within, is part of my value system.  It’s what enables me to be me, which is a creative endeavor all of its own.  Then the practice – the real creativity – became that.  Figuring out how to live my values, ‘stay true’ as they say, every day.  But for me it started with feeling safe enough to share who I was and maybe even having to work a little bit in order to find that safety…  That has been my process of growing down, as the psychologist James Hillman puts it, as well as growing up!!

Wildly Creative:  What do you envision in regards to pursuing your creative passions?

Shoshanna:  I envision using my degrees – a bachelor’s, master’s and now J.D. —  in ways that people have never even thought of before.  I envision taking a creative approach to the study and practice of law so that all of the internal stuff that artists rely on to see their work through can be applied to a career in the field of law.

This may sound a little vague but that’s because it’s an organic process.  That’s not what the career services folks at my school want to hear and it’s certainly not what is drilled into us from an early age, but it’s what I’ve found makes sense whether I’m employed full-time as a yoga teacher (as I have been) or as a lobbyist (which I have also been).  And it’s how I’m moving forward in my life right now, at age 32.  There simply can’t be an arc of development that fits everyone equally.  We are all our own animals and if we forget that, our passions tend to languish.  So my advice is to allow for some organic flow – it’s the only way I’ve found to really keep the fountain of creativity bubbling and, at the same time, stay focused on my goals.

Wildly Creative:  What is the advice you wish someone shared with you about pursuing your passions and feeding your creative self?

I think it goes back to nurturing your creativity, which is really nurturing the aspects of consciousness that make you YOU.  For me this means being aware of my body from an holistic perspective.  This means “listening” to my body, being aware of my breath, noticing changes in my moods and honoring wherever it is that my feelings are coming from.  That requires setting out time and space for practicing mindfulness – for practicing yoga or meditating, rubbing my feet and being really quiet, giving attention to what I put into my body, and being really kind to the various “parts” that make up my whole.

Above all else, or in service to all of that, is finding a sense of kindness and compassion for myself.  Checking in to make sure that I’m giving as much respect and care to myself as I tend to give others.  I’m not saying I’m extremely successful at this all of the time, but being aware that this is what I need to do has really helped.  It’s boosted my creativity over the years like crazy.

 

Wildly Creative: Creatives are usually the ones breaking the rules and little bits of misfits.  How are you making sure to hold true to breaking the rules?

Shoshanna:  Well, as a final semester law school student, I can say that ‘rules’ occupy a painfully strong presence in my life.  But, we sign up for things, yes?  I chose law school, however unconventional my “legal” career will be.  And so I have to adapt to where I’m at, which means fitting into boxes and finding love and appreciation for rules…

Although I guess the truthful answer to this question is that I still break rules because it’s hard for me not to. I don’t even understand rules as others do.  I always see larger contexts for things that make holding fast to history and tradition a tough pill to swallow.  I always tend to have questions in my mind that buck whatever assumptions underlie a given rule.  So in that way it’s inevitable that I will ‘break’ rules just by being me.  At the least, I question rules and am very vocal about that, which is part of being me.

What I have learned though is that sometimes what feels like a straightjacket can teach you how to move in all kinds of creative ways.  It’s like a Merce Cunningham performance piece, for all you modern dancers out there.  You have a structure, maybe a whole choreographed piece has to happen on top of a tiny box and there are ten dancers who have to play a part on top of that one small box.  Or dancers’ ankles are bound together.  Or one is blindfolded.  There are challenges you have in life that feel like rules in the sense that they themselves cannot, or cannot easily, be changed.  So you have to adapt.  And in that adaptation, in which you are totally pushing the boundaries of a rule, you are breaking it.  But this happens as a result of you changing your relationship to a rule, not because the rule itself is actually changing.  And there is peace in that.  There is also power.  The destruction is actually re-construction.

When you live this way for awhile, you keep ‘breaking rules’ because that is in line with who you are.  But there’s a balance to be found in this paradigm, where the breaking actually allows you to live more fully.  And what’s more, your ‘rule-breaking’ actually empowers others to change their relationships to rules.  This is scary for many people – uh oh, anarchy! – but what that fear of changing relationships to rules is about is a fear of people being themselves.  They are afraid of who that is and of who everyone else is.  There is an assumption that we as humans can’t be trusted to really ‘be ourselves’ and/or define our relationship to rules.  Again, I challenge that assumption.  I believe creativity lights a path to another form of reasoning.

Because ultimately it’s like this – real creativity  — authenticity — is like love; its effects create more wholeness and less tearing down or apart.  And at the same time, it changes the way we live.  It allows us to reveal ourselves to one another.  And that’s its beauty.  That’s why it’s a gift.

Want to see more of Shoshanna?

Check out Shoshanna’s blog at http://holistictoolkit.com or find her on Twitter @holistictoolkit.  Especially if you’re down with the idea that the wellness of a community is related to the quality of and access to justice for everyone within a community.  If you’re just a fan of cutting edge takes on mindfulness and social change.  Or if you just love variety and appreciate yoga, meditation and conversations about creativity and authenticity.  And of course, if you’re a law student.

Wyatt Andrews

 

Wyatt Andrews

Wildly Creative: In your own words, what do you do Wyatt?

Wyatt: I play with things, I tinker. Music, food, crafts, like creating and building.

I just play with the world.

Wildly Creative: When did you start nurturing your creative life and why?

Wyatt: Always. I think all children are creative. It is something you have and do instinctually

Nurturing it is whether or not your have cool parents.

Wildly Creative: Fill in the blank, Creativity is…..

Wyatt: Seeing what is not there and making it so.

Wildly Creative: What is your first memory of connecting with your creative self?

Wyatt: I grew up in the middle of nowhere more or less by myself. When I was very young my best friends were the ghosts in the house and they were my playmates. To engage with them, I had to engage the creative part of my mind, create who they were, and I was creating a whole world and the games for us (me and these ghosts) to engage.

Wyatt Andrews

 

Wildly Creative: What was your world like with these ghosts?

Wyatt: We talked about the difference between being a ghost and being a person.

I remember pretending I was the ghost and that I was back playing with legos at the house when I was on my way to pre-school. We spent a lot of time in my backyard of my house.

My house was built in the 1700s and I spent a lot of time in these very old spaces. Interacting with all of this history that was there.

Wildly Creative: What is your advice that you would offer to anyone wishing to design their own creative life?

Wyatt: The turning point for me was realizing that you don’t have to be a great artist to be really creative. You can find ways to be creative in whatever you do. It is cliché but I stopped creating art or be creative for other people. I did it for my own enjoyment. When I started creating for myself it is when I have felt the most joy with it. I did not tell myself “no I can’t do that” nor did I tell myself “I am not good enough.” I just did it regardless of how much I sucked.

I just sucked at things and did not care and I did because it was fun and I wanted to do it.

Wildly Creative: Creatives are usually the ones breaking the rules and little bits of misfits. How are you making sure to hold true to breaking the rules?

Wyatt: First I learn the rules because it only counts if you now them to begin with. I stick with the ones that are going to work and I leave the rest or I change them. In regards to rules, this sums it up best: you gave me this thing and I don’t like what you have given me, so I decided to do something else

If a rule is not going to serve you then it is not worth following and there is a difference between rules and limitations. Knowing your limitations is useful. I am also aware there are repercussions for breaking the rules and I am ready for those consequences at any given time. But you have to know when breaking the rules is worth the on consequences.”