Self-expression. Finding the beauty and joy in life is part of the journey.

Finding the beauty and joy in life is part of the journey. Express yourself.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Without self-expression, life lacks spontaneity and joy. Without service to others, it lacks meaning and purpose. Laurence G. Boldt

The joy of self-expression is the true joy in life. It is when we express our thoughts, feelings, and ideas as beautifully as we can that we find true joy in life. When we feel, see and experience the expressions of nature and other people we feel a connection to others, the greater world and even to ourselves.

How great it is to go for a walk and see the first flowers of spring. The sunshine, the spring flowers, a blue sky with fluffy clouds, the first shoots of green grass, the chirping of the birds. Regardless of what is going on in our life this expression of new life, of a new season gives us a sense and feeling of joy.

When we express our self we explore who we are. We examine our thoughts, beliefs, goals, dreams, ideologies, fears. Through self-expression, we may find out what is most important to us, our purpose.

It doesn’t matter how we express ourselves, only that we do. Humming, singing to our self, doodling is all self-expression. It isn’t important if our self-expression is shared with the world. It is important that we do it.

We may hesitate to put our self forward as an artist, but when one looks at the works that are put forward there seems to be room for everyone. A painting may look like a mess but when we notice the title “Feelings” we realize they captured the subject perfectly.

We hear journaling, art, music, and dance is recommended as therapy because they are forms of self-expression. They help us get what we are feeling on the inside, outside of us.

Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is. Jackson Pollock

The first thing we all worry about is, are we doing it right, instead of worrying are we doing it at all. We judge and second guess our self, we are our worst critic.

We can get into trouble if we express ourselves in inappropriate ways. Just yesterday I was shown a video of a young woman expressing herself outside of her house with nothing on her bottom half, the police were called. She looked full of joy but obviously was having an episode of some kind.

They say the second regret of the dying is they wished they’d let themselves be happier. Even on a bad day, we have so much to be grateful for, so much to enjoy, yet we sometimes wallow in self-pity, misery, and despair. Even if life isn’t always what we make it, it is probably how we see it. We hear people in the depths of despair finding the positive in the life of their son or daughter no longer with them.

We can be happy, we were fortunate to have had someone in our life, even if they are no longer with us. Had they not been in our life, we wouldn’t have this hurt, but we wouldn’t have the joy they brought us either.

Often people who have been to the depths of despair have much to teach us. They have a depth and understanding of life that comes from facing the worst, rebuilding their life, going forward from the darkness into the light.

Many people find a way to express themselves after a tragedy, they find it healing. It doesn’t matter how we express ourselves, only that we do. There are many ways to express our unique self; they aren’t just singing, dancing, writing and art. Can we sing, dance, hum, doodle, paint, knit, quilt, play an instrument, write, do public speaking, photography, fashion, coding, plan a special event, build something, bake or cook, journal, make a comic book, write poetry, quizzes, create games or anything else we can think of? Just do it!  Can we express ourselves and make our self and the world better?

A labor of love is exalted because it provides joy and self-expression to those who perform it. Dennis Kimbro

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude and love.

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Painting Abstracts: Ideas, Projects and Techniques Paperback – Nov 1 2008


Set new goals, and dream new dreams. Explore your creative side.

Explore your creative side. Dream new dreams, and set new goals.

Your creative work will tell your story. Pamela Slim

Yesterday watching a makeover show a woman was talking about letting out her inner self. We can call it our inner diva, Goddess, artist, entrepreneur, poet, comedian, or spiritualist. Whatever part of our self has been put on hold or not yet developed while we did the important job of looking after home and hearth, husbands and children. We can be in the workforce and not have this hidden self-developed, maybe because we are in the workforce. He or she is longing to come forth, sometimes we don’t know what is missing in our life and this is what is missing, the part of our self that isn’t being expressed.

We think it is a simple thing to get a new hairdo and makeup. It might be best if we can do the two together but it is so easy now to get a new hairstyle and many makeup places will do full makeup for a reasonable cost.

When my daughter was getting married everyone encouraged me to get highlights. I was making do with a little box of hair color from the drug store and doing it myself. What he has done with my hair is so much better than what I was doing, so I’ve kept it up. When we find the right hair stylist they make us feel more like our self.

Men may decide to change their facial hair, grow a beard, mustache, or shave off the beard or mustache, or even shave their head. A new look isn’t only for women.

When a makeup artist shows us what a difference a little makeup can make and how to apply it, our life can change. We look at our self differently; we get a spring in our step. They highlight our best features and play down the ones we least like.

That little change can begin to show up in the rest of our life as well. We may realize it is time to bring something into our lives that didn’t fit in when our life was so full of child rearing.

What art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit. John Updike

We can take ourselves out for creative exploration dates. Visit art galleries, art shops, spoken word venues, comedy clubs, maybe a choir is looking for members, we could visit local churches to join a choir, or maybe a local band is looking for musicians or singers. Check out our local Toastmasters, the library book club, take a class in something that has always interested us, attend a seminar, come out to a local club, visitors are usually welcome. We can join the local arts group.

At the writer’s group, we are mostly people who built a life doing something else. Becoming a better public speaker increases our confidence, and gives us the courage to explore other areas of our lives. When we find our voice we find our self. That may be our singing voice, artistic voice, whatever avenue we explore changes us in some way. Taking a dance class, or Zumba at the local gym can change our body image. We get over being self-conscious as we gain confidence and love the way we feel when we move our body.

This is a journey no one can do for us. We have to take it for our self. We have to accept we will not be good at anything new in the beginning, once we silence our inner critic we can enjoy the process. It doesn’t matter where we start if something doesn’t seem like a fit we can look at something else. There are so many ways to be creative, so many ways to express our self.

It may be clichéd but shouldn’t we all be on a journey of self-discovery? This is our life. Can we find what feeds our soul? Find what is the contribution we are to make, the one that leaves everyone poorer, especially our self if we don’t make it.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, learn, experience, or understand? Is the time to do it now?

The world needs your art. Go forth, and create it. Brian Gardner

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Use your talents to make a better world.

Photo of pink roses by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there but those that sang best. Henry Van Dyke

Tomorrow is the first writer’s group meeting of 2019. If I’m lucky one of the members will have read my novel and give me his feedback. I got feedback from an accredited editor over Christmas. Wow, I didn’t think I had so many errors. Her feedback is helpful because she didn’t just say, “I like it, she gave me things to do to make it better. One of her suggestions is to reduce the number of characters.

Ouch! I know she’s right; it makes it hard to get into a story with too many characters. She even gave me a suggestion of how to do it by using a character map. I need to tighten up the beginning because she said it was hard to get into especially with so many characters to remember and to lengthen the ending. This is specific, actionable information I can use to make my novel better.

If we want to get better we need honest critiques and actionable suggestions. Someone to look at our work with new eyes.

I’d been putting off doing the next edit until I got the critique over Christmas. It’s time to quit procrastinating and move to the next level.

Eventually, I’m going to have to say this is as good as it gets. Editing and re-editing can be a way of putting off putting our work out there.

Emptiness is a symptom that you are not living creatively. You either have no goal that is important enough to you, or you are not using your talents and efforts in a striving toward an important goal. Maxwell Maltz

I was watching a musician on youtube the other day. He had a chance to do a music session and he didn’t feel like doing it. He had no money, he needed to use the bathroom, and he was hungry. He thought going to the session he’d get food and a bathroom, so he went. Later when he played the song for his mom and sister, they were dancing. Then he put it on YouTube and it went viral. The song he wasn’t going to make has made him famous.

If he didn’t make that song, maybe he would still have no money and be looking for a bathroom and food where he could find it. We worry what if our work isn’t good enough? What if what we hesitate to put out there is something someone wants to hear, see, read, or experience?

Sing your song, paint, write poems or novels, start that business, do the thing that calls to you. What opportunities do we miss because we’re scared? Are we scared of failure, scared of success, scared of other people’s opinions?

Why do we even care about other people’s opinions who aren’t trying to do what we want to do? I’ve heard people talk about one hit wonders in the music industry. I’ve always thought, where’s your hit?

Do we think we aren’t naturally talented enough? Talent is a small part of success in most endeavors. Hard work, perseverance, and dogged determination are more likely to determine someone’s success than mere talent.

Not using our talents is robbing others of enjoying what we would have created. Don’t we enjoy Edison’s light bulb every day, computers, music, television shows, and movies?

Gallup research shows people who use their strengths and talents every day have improved health and wellness. They experience less worry, stress, anger, sadness, and physical pain. Positive emotions are boosted. They have more energy to face the day. They have higher engagement levels on the task.

If we use the inspiration we have, more will come, if we don’t use it, it will disappear. We don’t know where what we haven’t done or put out into the world can take us. We’ll never know unless we do it. Are we hiding our light under a bushel? Do we have a talent we should be sharing with the world?

We have unique abilities. Our talents are like our fingerprints. Lots of people may have the same ability but how we use it will make our expression of it unique.

Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God. Leo Buscaglia

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We Inspire Me: Cultivate Your Creative Crew to Work, Play, and Make Hardcover – Oct 2 2018


 

Make something. The world belongs to the makers.

Make Something - Photo of pink flowers taken by Errol Thomas

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Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. Steve Jobs

That can’t be true. Don’t we always think almost everyone is smarter than us, doing greater things, leading more exciting lives? Our life is up to us, no one will give us permission to do something we want to do. We just have to do it.

No one asks you if we are smart enough to do something. If we want to do something then do it. Most things we touched today were made by someone. The art on the walls, the items in the stores, the cars on the road, the clothes everyone is wearing.

There isn’t anything special about the people who made these things. We don’t have to take a test to prove we are worthy of making something. We don’t need permission to create. We don’t need to be gifted, brilliant, or a genius. We just have to do it.

Thousands of people may read a book we write, view the photo we took, or experience the painting we painted. What if they hate it, what if they laugh, what if they judge us? If we let the fear of failure control our lives we will stay stuck. If we don’t do anything until we are assured of success, we won’t do anything. We will look at things someone else did and say, “we thought of that.”

There is no doubt that creativity is the most important resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns. Edward de Bono

When we take the chance to create something, we’ve already won because we didn’t let fear stop us. It isn’t about how great what we create is, it’s about creating, the journey, the accomplishment, and the growth.

Too many of us die with our ideas still inside us. What if no one bothered to make the washing machine, the sewing machine, the light bulb, the automobile, the airplane, the wheel?  We don’t know what we can create until it is finished.

If we have something we want to do, do it. If we think we are too old, where will we be in ten years if we don’t do it? Ten years older. Every one of us has something to share; some will share with ten, some with a hundred, some with the world.

We don’t know who we may touch with what we do, who we might encourage, or who we may help. Think of the inventions we use every day. What if the inventor didn’t bother?

The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. Alan Alda

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Ingenious: How Canadian Innovators Made the World Smarter, Smaller, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier, and Happier Hardcover – Mar 28 2017


 

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing our creativity to the world. Unlocking our hidden talent.

Photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas of Two Day Lilies

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How we choose what we do, and how we approach it…will determine whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art.
—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

We want to paint, draw, write, quilt, play an instrument, sing, Why aren’t we? Often we put road blocks in our way. We could do art, write etc but it is such a big deal. There is an add on TV where a woman’s “She Shed” is burning. She wants to know if it is covered by insurance, it is, she is reassured, she knows the importance of having a bit of space to call her own. We can be creative without our own space but it is more difficult and sometimes it’s too much trouble to set everything up and then take everything down and put it away. We huff and with a wistful glance move onto something else.

I have a den I use for writing and an art studio in the basement. I lived for years in this same house without carving out a space for writing or art. It’s easy to say I don’t have time, which is what I did. At some point in our lives we have to make a decision. Once the hard slogging of looking after children has lessened is I think the time for most of us to start doing something, or get back to doing something creative.

Berating ourselves in the early years of motherhood that we aren’t making our dreams come true isn’t helpful. Motherhood is a big job in the beginning, it gets smaller as the years go by. It is the most important job and if you err on not getting to a creative pursuit because you are putting all your time into being a great mother. I think you are doing the right thing. You can’t go back at sixteen and do with and for your children what you needed to do at six.

I may even enjoy my creative pursuits more now because I haven’t been pursuing them my whole life. Coming late to writing may be the best time to come to it. I always thought I would write after forty because by then I should have something to say.

I am reading about a woman who had cancer. She felt it was her time to receive but a voice inside told her to give more. She started giving a rose to a stranger every day. Offering the rose made her nervous. I received a rose from two lovely young strangers one day in a supermarket. They were doing it as a random act of kindness. I loved it.

Some people did not want the rose she offered.  Learning to accept and trust the rose was meant for someone else was part of the growth experience. She witnessed how creativity is contagious. People sent her pictures of paintings they did of the rose she gave them. A poet wrote a poem about the rose.

You never know where your creative acts will lead. She says our creativity has the power to delight, surprise, and even inspire people we don’t know and have never met. She kept up the practice of giving a rose away for a year. Some days she didn’t feel like doing it, but she did it anyway. Art, writing, singing, are creative disciplines and the more we practice the better it feels and the easier it flows. She says, “once you commit yourself, the universe comes to your aid.”

I believe writing every day makes it easier for me to write. The more I write, the more I have to say. When I take a break, I have to work at priming the pump to get words flowing again. It is the same with my painting.

Creative expression is one of the keys to living and working artfully. Imagination without action doesn’t make you creative; it only makes you imaginative. Action brings ideas to life. With imagination, observation, reflection and practice, you can transform the mundane into the artful. From Art for Work by Marjory Jacobson, HBR press, 1993

George Land’s creativity test. In 1968 George Land conducted a research study to test the creativity of 1600 children ranging in ages from three to five years old. He retested the children at ages 10 and 15 years of age.

Test results amongst 5 year olds: 98%
Test results amongst 10 year olds: 30%
Test results amongst 15 year olds: 12%
Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2%

“What we have concluded,” wrote Land, “is that non-creative behavior is learned.”
(Source: George Land and Beth Jarman, Breaking Point and Beyond. San Francisco: HarperBusiness, 1993)

Creativity is a skill that can be developed and a process that can be managed. Creativity begins with a foundation of knowledge, learning a discipline, and mastering a way of thinking. We learn to be creative by experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesizing information.

We have to be willing to not live up to our own expectations if we start on the creative path. Give up your notion that you can do something perfect, instead focus on doing it. You will surprise yourself by what you create. You won’t know where the inspiration came from. Living a creative life is finding creativity in everyday life, in learning new things, new ideas.

Creativity stimulates us to be in tune with our lives. When we are more fulfilled we need less from others to fulfill us, and we have more to share. We become lighter, humorous and fun. It opens us up to new possibilities. It lifts depression. You never create the same thing twice. Even that soup you are stirring isn’t the same as the last soup. We get out of our own head as we are consumed with creating. We become amazed at our intuition and find our self thinking, “where did that come from?”

The simple act of showing up builds self confidence and self respect. The more we do creative things the more we rejuvenate, strengthen and grow. The more we cultivate what we love, more love accumulates until we find ourselves with our cup running over with abundance, creativity, gratitude and joy. Who thought you could get this much out of pickup up a guitar, paint brush or writing utensil?

 

 

Creativity takes courage. Lies we tell our self: We are not creative. It’s not important to be creative. People will laugh at us.

The Power of Being Grateful - painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Creativity takes courage.

     We are all creative, but unless we make creativity part of our life it is an unused and unappreciated gift. When you watch little children play you know it’s true. They exuberantly play with paint, building blocks and any medium put before them. We give up our creativity at our peril. When we let creativity move through us we give life to things we didn’t know were in us. Perhaps they aren’t in us, but only come through us, if we are not the conduit through which life expresses itself does it find a more willing conduit?

     We tell our self it doesn’t matter if we broaden our self by using our gifts. We tell our self our gifts aren’t great enough. People will laugh at us if we try and present our gifts to the world. The joy that springs up within us as we express ourselves is a joy we get no other way. Putting a novel out into the world is not the payoff, writing is what feeds our soul. Joy is in the doing. Even if it never gets out into the world if you are a writer, write. If you are a painter, paint. If you are a singer, sing. Creativity is expressing life’s joy.

     When we learn to express our self through our gifts we find our self. We say through our art what calls to be said. We find the truth, expressing what we cannot express any other way. It thrills us to hear a song well sung, a painting well painted, a carving well carved. Viewing art expands us, invoking feelings we too long to express.

     It does matter if you use your gifts. It matters to you. We make ourselves small and insignificant when we don’t express ourselves. Self expression is a gift, use it, develop it, own it.