Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Blog Duet: How do we connect to and nurture our creative path?

Selena Wolff is a recent Blogging Buddy. Her site is Solitary Words: Finding Spirit Through Writing. It’s exactly what it says! Selena contributed a guest post to Riehl Life on “Finding Your Voice.”

From blog comments to emails to guest post to telephone conversation, gradually our connection grew stronger. Today we’re sharing our views on how do we find our creative path through following spirit? I coined the term Blog Duet for companion posts on sister blogs. Tune in to our conversation about finding the creative source and nurturing it. Here’s the archive for Riehl Life Blog Duets to read more of these.
Janet: Although you’re a new blogger, clearly you’ve been jamming! How have your new online relationships influenced you?

Selena: I have learned so much from these new friends. Technique, perspective, and new skills to be sure, but also how diversity and connections are so important to my own view of the world. By sharing with each other our thoughts and feelings on writing, I am able to take one step further toward finding the spirit of writing.

Janet: In our telephone conversation we spoke about our families. How do you feel your upbringing influenced your creativity as an adult? When we look at backgrounds of artists like Carol Burnett, we find that adversity often fosters humor and a creative life as an adult. How’s that been for you?

Selena: I feel that family/childhood adversities tend to force us into choosing what we do with how our lives are shaped. Being a rebel I came out swinging when I felt trapped in a place that didn’t nurture me. But it took years of questioning my own right to do that. Those years taught me that the creative drive is more than just the need to express joy. It is about connecting with my own beauty, which was buried by circumstances and fear.

Janet: Have you felt that the lack of formal studies has been a creative challenge—or, has it affected the way you look at yourself as a writer? I feel that I’m a “recovering English major.” My studies set a foundation for decades of my working life with the beginning of writing craft for instance. I found though that having learned all that, I then had to forget it. Tell us about your experience.

Selena: At one point I thought it was a challenge-not creative a creative challenge, but because I am such a hermit it was a challenge to learn on my own the ways of the writing world. I believe I have an innate skill, but it was untutored and wild. That’s not such a bad thing except when it comes time try to fit in somewhere. As I’ve grown I have come to realize that being untutored and wild has given me an advantage. I have a friend that just earned her MFA is creative writing and is struggling to find her way back to her true voice. That I don’t have to do. My muse is still untouched.

Janet: How do you nurture yourself and your creative spirit?

Selena: By doing what I love the most; being alone in nature, connecting with divinity, stopping to smell the roses. I spent a lot of years working at a job that sapped every bit of my focus and required a lot of my attention. After my children were grown, I came to realize that the art of living was so much more than money. So I began to do the things that allowed me to clear away the distractions. I gave up a well-paying job to work in a greenhouse, and learned to simplify all areas of my life. I began to say no to unnecessary demands on my time, and devoted that time to family, friends, and especially to my own writing.

Janet: Selena, your blog gives a precise statement of spirit and the creative life.

(From Solitary Words)

Webster defines Spirit as “the principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul.” Any act of creation, whether it is painting, writing or giving birth, opens up a pathway to a deeper connection to spirit, to that active principle of conscious life that brings forth into the light the beauty that is inherently ours.

Although Solitary Words focuses on the process of writing as a gateway to spirit, the principles are the same, no matter what form creativity takes. It is my heartfelt hope that you take away from these words a spark that will inflame you with a passion for your own journey.

Janet: So, let me ask you, how do you “make that connection that allows the creativity to flow?” Is this your muse?

Selena: For me it is about learning to listen. There is a place that everyone has within them that is like a star shining in the velvety night sky. A pinpoint of light that is pure and clear. Most times it is covered by the clouds of mundane life; worries about money, fear of loss, working at a job that you hate. This little gem hums with life and creativity and spirit. It is hope and joy and creativity. If we stop the madness for just a moment and quiet the chattering mind, we can catch that humming that calls to us with the desire to be heard.

I have meditated for years, seeking that source. But even if meditation or prayer is not for you, spending quality alone time with yourself and learning to trust your own instincts goes a long way toward parting those clouds, if only for a short time. Learning to listen to that sweet hum opens the floodgates for me.

Janet: And, once you’ve made that connection, how to you channel the flow?

Selena: By first accepting it. When I said that the concept is universal, what I meant was that listening to the still, small voice within affects every area of my life. By creative and artful living I become the source, the source becomes me.

And then by focusing it. By becoming familiar with what the creative energy feels like, I can use it however I want. But I must stress here that the channel is a two way street. The act of creative endeavors requires an exchange to remain healthy. For me, that exchange is sharing what I know, teaching others to make that connection, and opening my heart to all of nature, and that includes humanity. That’s what Solitary Words is all about. A big lesson for me, the solitary woman in the woods.

Janet, it’s been wonderful dueting with you. Thank you so much for the opportunity!

Selena, thanks so much for our blog duet. Our readers get a two for one deal! Scoot on over to Solitary Words to read more of our conversation.

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9 Responses »

  1. What a wonderful interview! Selena I can completely identify with being at the life stage that is fertile for creativity, expression and defying the rules with neither arrogance nor guilt. When I hear (read) you speak about life in the woods, I feel a moment of envy. There is a certain magic that is in the trees that is unlike anywhere else. Of course we know magic is everywhere and I suppose I have challenged myself and others to find it in the most unlikely the city, on public transportation, working with impoverished and homeless families. I've been blessed with so much wisdom and inspiration, but it's hard work, it takes a lot of energy and doesn't provide much energy in return. I've been contemplating taking a different path and returning to the country now that my kids are almost all grown...the very thought feels refreshing and hopeful.
    Thank you both for the wonderful work you do and the authentic inspiration you provide!
    Peace and Blessings,

  2. Jenny,

    As Selina says, "We can catch that humming that calls to us with the desire to be heard." The country is humming to you. I heard that hum when I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area (after a dozen years there) to a rural county--Lake County--in Northern California. There I devoted myself to cultivating and promoting culture in Lake County--in the visual, written, and theatrical arts. Each place we land has gifts for us, and we have gifts for it.

    Ah...I hear some humming right now!


  3. Thanks, Jenny. It is a challenge to find it unlikely places, but just as gratifying, if not more so. The exchange of energy is important in that two way street of a healthy life. But personal regeneration stokes the fires that make it all happen with grace. I wish you good luck on your 'country' life and I know that you will find even more generous ways to connect. As Janet said, 'Each place we land has gifts for us, and we have gifts for it."


  4. I have only practiced daily mindfulness meditation recently and I have a concern that I hope can be addressed or at least find people who have the same concern as I have. Commonly the concern that any beginner would have is that the mind keeps on wandering around. However, my concern is that there are times that I meditate then I find that I do not have thoughts to keep my focus on. I know that when the mind wanders, we go back to focusing on the breathing, does this work the same way? Thanks a lot.

  5. Dear Salinya,

    Your blog is beautiful! How did you find Riehlife? I'm listening now to the Ricard talk at TED. He was a long time disciple of the Great Tibetan Buddhist mast Dildo Khyentse Rinpoche. I saw a glimpse of him at Dilgo Khyentse's cremation in Bhutan in 1992,

    If I understand your question, you're wondering what to do when you have no thoughts to focus on? Good for you. Just release, relax, and bring your mind home. Focus on breath, sounds, a mantra...whatever helps you.

    Salina, do you have ideas for her?


  6. Salinya,

    I agree with Janet. Relax, focus on the breath. I meditate to music or the wind to help with my focus, and sometimes I find if I'm listening to something familiar, I don't "hear" it. So I change to a different piece of music. This requires more focus, and strengthens that ability.

    Another tool is to imagine an open window. Any concerns or distractions go right out the window, leaving peace.

    And your blog is beautiful! I love finding new blogs to read, and I'll definitely be checking in!

    Many Blessings!

  7. Thanks, Selena!

    Love the window imagery. I'll be trying that one.



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