Friday, August 22, 2014

Say Yes

You could call it Flashback Friday, or depending on the day you read this, Memory Monday, Turnaround Tuesday, Wistful Wednesday, or Throwback Thursday. One year ago, I was shopping. Never has so much been yielded by retail therapy, but life has not been the same.

A simple online shopping venture at Etsy found me at a favorite online shop owned by Aimee Dolich of Artsyville. I had purchased some of her work before and found her colorful spirited prints both inspiring and visually appealing. A few clicks on the computer and I not only had a fresh purchase but received a copy of Aimee's newsletter, where she listed other creatives who offered online classes. I still do not know what made me read one class description, tucked into the lower right corner of that newsletter, but I did.

Before I could think twice, I had enrolled in Jennifer Belthoff's class Love Notes: Special Delivery, a writing course to encourage writing from the heart. I could not believe I hit the 'submit order' button before I talked myself out of it, like so many daring things I had wanted before. I had never taken a writing class before, much less an online class. My fingers said 'yes' before my mind could change their minds.

Within weeks, the course began with Jennifer guiding and inspiring the small group of virtual students to write from the heart. The class was not about critique or format, but was based in finding your voice -- however it may be -- and encouraging the release of words that were too shy to emerge on their own. Jennifer's class cracked me open like a coconut, and I still marvel at all the stuff inside I never knew before. My. Life. Cracked. Open.

I had to find another class. That one was so good for me. Back to Aimee's newsletter I go, where I selected Stephanie Levy's Creative Courage. The course purported to inspire exploration of whatever creative outlet lives inside you. Stephanie is a Tennessee gal -- like me -- who lives in Germany, where she lives her creative life everyday, not like so many who keep our creative side hidden at that dusty table in the basement only to visit when everything else in our life is given priority.

This is where I learned that creativity is not a hobby to be visited once in a while. Creativity should be in life everyday. If you can make a living at it, great, but more importantly, make a LIFE of it.

We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life! . . . of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be? 
-- Robin Williams, as John Keating, in Dead Poets Society

This is where the snowball began rolling quickly, gathering more inspiring people along each path I explored. These are some of the folks I have found in the last year who continually remind me to live a life with laughter, with courage, and with creativity. 

Elizabeth Duvivier, Director of Squam Art Workshops. I've taken a few of the online offerings from Squam and plan (fingers crossed) to attend one of the retreats next year.

Harriet Goodall, weaver. Holy wow! This woman takes what many would see as the cast offs of nature and creates beautiful art. 

Kristina Dubuque Ortega, photographer. We were in a class together, and she has a beautiful photographer's eye.

Candace N'Daiye, artist. Another fellow classmate, Candace is a talented painter, but also made a comment in our class that was more healing to me than any therapy. 

Kerry Lemon, artist. Her story of paving your own way in the world is worth knowing.

Nicola Taylor, photographer. Her photographs are ethereal, haunting, and simply beautiful. Her story of jumping from the corporate world to her artistic world is inspiration to anyone who has a dream.

Flora Bowley, artist. What a breathe of fresh air! Through her work, Flora shows people that fear can be overcome and mistakes can be made beautiful.

Danielle LaPorte, author. One visit to her website and you know she's will serve you up the truth, with a side of sass.

One year ago, I was shopping online and only knew about the shop owner, Aimee. A random glance out of my comfort zone and an uncontrolled 'yes' uncapped a spring that has brought unimaginable results. It was one moment where I didn't let fear get the best of me, and the list of amazing people I've found because of it makes the initial fear seem so small.

Say 'yes' once in a while. If fear tries to tell you differently, tell fear to go sit in the corner and be quiet. Sometimes, the whole world is held within 'yes.'

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