Knowing your aliveness

[This is a guest post from my main man, Fabeku Fatunmise]

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to get home and whoosh down to the basement.

All of my paints and pastels. The canvases and sketchbooks. All the piles of found junk that I’d nail and glue and cement into sculptures.

By fifth period, I was already thinking about it.

Anything my teachers said sounded a lot like that teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons.

Wah wah wah. Wah wah. Wah wah wah wah.

I had art on the brain, baby.

That’s why me — a kid who never ran — would run for the bus. Every single day.

Hurry up.

I had to get home. There was art to make.

And that was all that mattered.

I’d hit the door, drop my bag and run down those steps without stopping.

I’d throw in my favorite tuneage — The Smiths, the Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees — and I’d stay locked in that basement until Mom would drag me up for dinner and homework.

Eat. Eat. Fast. Fast. Scribble. Scribble. Hurry. Hurry.

Anything to eke out an extra hour of painting before bed.

The basement was my secret underground lair.

It’s where magic happened. And anything was possible. And everything made sense.

But by the time I was 20, I didn’t feel that urge to run anymore.

I had a job. And a car. And a life.

And that was all that mattered.

I mean, I’d sketch when I had time. Which was pretty much never.

But that fire that used to cause my legs to shake and my feet to run?

Somewhere along the line the blaze turned into beige.

Maybe it was because Dad died. Or my girlfriend split. Or I was homeless for a minute.

Or maybe it’s just because I was an adult. And there’s less time for pushing paints around when you’ve got bills to pay.

The truth is, I didn’t really care. Most days, I just felt numb.

But the thing about creativity is that it won’t give up on you. Even when you’ve given up on it.

We are fundamentally creative creatures. Just being alive is an exquisite act of creativity.

And that nudge you feel to create something somehow?

That’s life.

That’s what reminds you what aliveness tastes like.

The further away I got from my practice, the louder it sang. And then one day, I woke up, picked up a brush and came back to life.

That’s what creativity means to me.

Being alive. Knowing your aliveness. Life as one great big delicious creative act.

It’s funny.

Some things don’t change much. Even after you’ve been away forever.

My basement studio is still the place where magic happens. And anything is possible. And everything makes sense.

Now my paints and pastels and sketchbooks share the space with my drums and gongs and singing bowls.

And regardless of whether I’m parked in front of a palette full of a million paints or a mixer full of a million lights, I feel alive.

My legs shake. I want to run.

Every single day.

And I love that like crazy.

* * * * *

I’m Fabeku Fatunmise. (Hi!) And aside from having a name that’s a total mouthful, I’m a sound guy and a chocolate guy and an orange guy. I love punk rock, chai and red suede Doc Martens. I’ve been hanging around with sound stuff for twenty years and spend my days helping people to get unstuck through sound and music. Find me on Twitter (@fabeku) and say hey. I’d dig that.

[photo by Fabeku]

A generous dollop of creativity

[This is a guest post from the Queen of Twitter, Ms Amy Palko]

I love cookery books. I love those gorgeously shot photographs of fresh produce, melting cheeses, and steam rising from just-out-of-the-oven casseroles. I love the language of food: juicy, zest, flavour, aromatic, unctuous, drizzle. I have whole shelves of bookcases where recipe books jostle, tempting me with vegetarian curries, creamy risottos, lighter-than-air cupcakes, home-baked breads and extravagant seafood soups.

But, here’s my confession: I can’t follow a recipe to save my life.

I can spend hours pouring over the details of how to make the perfect Hungarian goulash, and then when I actually start the process of making it, the book might as well be back on the shelf wedged between Jamie and Nigella. My taste buds start to wonder what it would be like if I added red wine, smoked sea salt and maybe some cinnamon. And wouldn’t fresh chilies be nicer than powder or flakes? Oh, and I have that nice salami in the fridge… Some more wine perhaps?

I am, what some would term, an experimental cook. It works out more often than not. I’ve only really had a few disasters. Made-from-scratch gnocchi (soggy dough) and a barley souffle (solid tasteless brick) stand out as two of the worst. And I very rarely manage to recreate any dish in precisely the same way twice.

But I won’t ever change the way I cook, because this is one of the ways that I express my creativity on a daily basis. The chopping, the mixing, the stirring, the simmering… it all contributes to my creative expression. And it does so in a way that is absolutely embedded in my ordinary every day. I have to cook every day, or the family doesn’t get fed. So I may as well approach it in the same way that I approach taking photographs, drawing pictures in my journal, writing stories and knitting lacy scarves.

I think we get so conditioned into believing that creativity only comes in certain forms. That to be creative means that you have to be engaged in producing an artistic item: a painting, a poem, a photograph. But actually, when we invite creativity into our world, it doesn’t just find an outlet that society has specified as ‘artistic’; it pours out of your very being and shines out of your every action.

I suppose what I’m really saying is that, creativity isn’t something you ‘do’. Creativity is an expression of self that is intrinsically unlimited and which touches all parts of your life.

So, why is creativity so important in my life?

Because I wouldn’t be me without it. It is through my creativity that I get to share what is unique and special about me. Whether I’m writing a blog post or rearranging my workspace, making a collage or, indeed, cooking the dinner, my individuality, my own sense of self, is given free expression.

And, sure, sometimes I don’t always end up with the most successful results — the barley souffle a case in point! — but my world would be infinitely less sparkly, less bright, less tasty, without a generous dollop of creativity.

* * * * *

Amy Palko is a writer, photographer, academic, teacher, spiritual seeker, home-educating mother of 3.  She plays many roles in life, but the thread that runs through each is the sacred feminine. She is the creatrix behind Bloom by Moon and she tweets (prolifically) from @amypalko.

The Creative Licence

[This is a guest post from the very inspiring Jo Hanlon-Moores]

After a challenging year I chose the word ‘release’ to take into 2011. Let go, surrender, get out of my own way… all that good stuff.

I believe in ‘flow’, in being in your element and finding that The Right Path is smoother underfoot. Again and again I’ve found a path only to stumble. Land on your face enough times and you begin to doubt your own inner voice. I was in that place many times in 2010.

Last autumn, thanks to a gifted body worker, I had a sublime moment of clarity while she pressed her thumb into the sole of my right foot. I realised that I know nothing. Nothing. The ramifications of that are profound and sometimes too overwhelming to look in the eye but I’m trying.

When Susannah asked me what creativity means to me, sure enough, I didn’t know. Heh. Right now, I am being creative with my life, learning the basics again with teachers that are human, canine, feline and yes, some of them are chickens. Nature is my mentor. I am releasing a need to label what it is that I do, who it is that I am.

So I wrote a story.

The Shawl

In the cool shade of a tree, the baby slept. Down flew the jackdaw and chattered to her as he carefully wove a piece of paper into the shawl she dreamt on.

A child grown, she discovered the paper and wondered at the scritchy-scratchy patterns that covered it. It became art on her dolls’ house walls…the map that led to riches beyond imagining…a flag she planted on a distant planet.

Years passed and the paper survived. Layered lightly into collage…wrapped around flowers…folded to support her wobbly desk. Finally, almost unnoticed, it slipped between the pages of her journal.

Decades now. Deep in a daydream of yearnings and sorrow over lost time, the woman blew dust from a journal and opened it. The paper fell into her hand and this time the scritchy-scratchy was language. Words she could not read but words all the same.

That night, beneath a full moon, she took it on her journeying and showed it to her travelling companions, Wolf and Rook.

“Ah,” said Rook, “This is written in Corvid. Allow me to translate.”

And he read:

Creative Licence

The Bearer is entitled to:

Stories of her own weaving

A home of her own building

Freedom of her own defining

Beauty of her own finding

Dreams of her own realising

Journeys of her own taking

Mistakes of her own making

A life of her own creating.


Flipping it with his beak, he continued:

See also:

Wishes, hopes, art, love, dance, plans, gardens, music, science,

words, tribe, magic, paint, beauty.

This Creative Licence is granted from the vast heart of the Universe.

The woman took back the paper and carefully wove it into her shawl where is still sits, next to her heart.

This might be a true story.

* * * * *

Jo lives with her partner and their daughter, two dogs, an ancient cat and three chickens, in a cottage in the grounds of a Wiltshire manor. Home is the backdrop for inspiration in the shape of love, family, dogs, nature and creativity. She’s been a blogger since 2003, an energy healer since 1998 & an animal lover since birth. She’s putting Shapeshifter on her next passport.

Connect with Jo: Twitter :: Blog :: Website :: Etsy

[First photo by Sus, second photo by Jo]

The magical iPhone adventure

I thought it might be fun to have a few guest posts* on the blog while I’m neck-deep in book writing, so I’ve asked a few pals to tell us why creativity is so important in their lives. I’ll still be popping by for the occasional tiny hello (and photos, of course) and I also have a couple of fantastic Creative Life interviews up my sleeve too. I’m thinking of all of you as I write these chapters, thinking about what you’d want to know and what will be helpful. I’m being as honest as i can, and continually pushing myself to dig deeper, down into the guts of healing and creativity. There’s no map to where i’m headed so i’m making it up as i go along :)

Now, on with the show! My first guest poster is the indomitable and fabulous, Ms Sas Lockey…

* * * * *

The first time I took a photo of myself as an adult, was when I Unravelled. It was bloody terrifying. And it necessitated many minutes (okay, an hour) spent doing my hair and make-up. Because even though I spend every day wearing my face in the world, taking a photo felt (still feels sometimes) very different.

Like many people, my relationship with the camera has not been a happy one. I was so self-conscious as a child, so awkward and uncomfortable in my body, family photos of me show a dour and sunburnt child with a tangled ginger ‘fro from the New Zealand beach air. Images of teenage me painfully show the increasing awareness of how unattractive I felt. I look so miserable. And these were the vignettes my dear Gran chose to enlarge and frame for her wall (aka: Hallway of Shame). The whole business of taking photos became associated with feeling completely rotten about myself.

Since then about thirty years has gone past. And because of everything that has happened to me, I have managed to let go of so much fear and learn how to be my own best friend. And living this knowledge makes me feel a little bit like wonder woman; as though I have a glorious secret.

But even with my grown-up knowledge and confidence, it has taken me the longest time to be comfortable in front of and behind a camera. As a blogger, I have always used words to tell my story, it wasn’t until Unravelling that I even considered that pictures can do this too! When I upgraded my battered and scratched blackberry to an iPhone, a switch was flicked: it was so convenient to always have a zippy little camera in my pocket. I found I was noticing EVERYTHING.

Now I see photos all over the place: mundane everyday things like the contents of my breakfast bowl or a stack of books. I am so much more aware of detail: dappled light on a stone wall, trees dipping into the river, street signs. I have taken so many photos of our cats, Rex and Badger, they actually pose now. With props.

Apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic have made it so easy to experiment. I have a Posterous site that I post my photos to (this took minutes to set up, it’s really easy!), and now there is an extra thrill from sharing what I see.

When I first met Susannah, there were several occasions where I would find myself smiling reassuringly at strangers on the street, in case they thought I was Bonkers Talking-To-Herself Lady, when it was just that I had kept walking and talking and Sus had paused a minute earlier to polaroid a rusty abandoned van. I have always been so impressed (and a bit envious) that she sees beauty everywhere.

Now I completely understand that joy of creating something, just by pointing and clicking. And it has completely shifted my perspective of how I see my little corner of the universe.

* * * * *

Blogging at Sas’ Magical Mystery Tour and tweeting as @saslockey, Sas is a London-dwelling, ex-pat kiwi. By day she tackles government officials and tech-savvy geeks (usually wearing red pants). Off duty, Sas is an avid reader, driven by curiosity. She is fascinated by proper science, philosophy and the possibility of aliens. Sas is coulrophobic. She does not have an Etsy store.

[photos by Sas – portrait of Sas by me]

* all guest post slots have now been allocated. Thanks to everyone who’s enquired!