Seven Waves of Cascading Creativity

Today marks my completion of Week 3 of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. When I first began the book, the end of twelve weeks seemed as distant as the top of Cannon Mountain from the base of the Flume Gorge.

Yet, with a hop, skip, and a slowly flowing pen, three weeks briskly washed over me and then buoyed me forward with multiple waves of creativity.

Wave 1

Sprang forth from my decision to blog every day so that I could get in the habit of writing daily. On most days, I discovered that I had at least one interesting story I wanted to share, typically about something I learned, or my writing goals.

Wave 2

Bubbled up  a renewed urge to create cards. I have made home-made greeting cards in the past, but not in a long time. I used Gimp to create images with photographs and phrases that I invented and then made the products available through Zazzle. I made a card and a mousepad. I ordered both and the production was excellent.

For my Artist Date this week, I visited a Paper Source store and bought card making supplies. I completed a birthday card for a friend’s birthday.

Wave 3

Sparkled a desire to make unique jewelry. Before we moved to NY, I purchased a lot of supplies from a bead store where I used to work part-time. After the move, I was low on energy and preoccupied with my father’s failing health.

Since January, I have made two pairs of threaded, beaded earrings, a pendant, a necklace with the pendant, and a matching pair of earrings.

Wave 4

Rapidly heaved up a memory of an old love: reading and writing poetry. I borrowed and read some poems by Audre Lorde that inspired me to write a poem that I shared on my blog. I returned the book, but I plan to read some of the poetry I have in my possession and to get more.

Wave 5

Floated up a desire to add the timed, sense-focused writing exercises from the Pat Pattison book called Songwriting Without Boundaries. A few days ago, I rescued the book from my bookcase and have included it in my writing warmups for the day immediately after my morning pages. The segue works well, and I am enjoyed the feel of mastering the artful pull of quickly recalling numerous descriptive, sense-bound qualities within a set period of time.

Wave 6

Cracked open a new idea rivulet: a Pinspiration board. Yesterday, I purchased a large cork board to replace the tempered glass shelf above the creativity area of my L-shaped desk. I plan to hang up my 2014 Life Goals list, a list of bodily senses to remind myself to stay focused when I am writing, pictures of family and friends, cards I have received, beloved poems, and uniquely outlined or framed (made by me) inspirational quotes.

Wave 7

Overcame by a wave of realization that, when I look back to all the ways creativity has sprang up in my life since January 5, 2014, I feel inspired and happy from the crest of my own accomplishments.

Having the perspective of (at least) three weeks helped me identify all the creative grooves that have been reawakened in me simply by going with the flow of what I desire, i.e. writing and making art, and a determination to make that happen.

Poem: I Am Spring

I am Spring

You brought me here
Under the pretext of rains
To nourish and protect my growth
Instead I died dry
In your desert of guidance

Now I am my own Spring again
My Equinox lifts me
From your everlasting winter’s rein

My flattened words grow greener
With their sunny meals
I cultivate myself with passion
I rain down on my fields
And drink in refreshment
As I run

Water soaks my ruched white summer dress
Laughter gallops forth from my lips
Sparrows sing as I swirl
Mini daffodils crown me
Lavender explodes under my feet

I stop to pick a daisy
And run my fingers along the prickly stem
I inhale their yellow scent
With my eyes closed I imagine

Running with you through my fields
Holding hands
Loving each other
Just as we are

© 2014 by Wendy Mastandrea

Ode to Robert Burns and Eddie Izzard

Happy 254th birthday to Scottish poet Robert Burns! Out of all the things I read in middle school, I still remember reading Robert Burns’ poems To A Mouse. Eddie Izzard, quite possibly my favorite comedian, about does a great little bit about this poem. This is a clip from Eddie’s 1996 Definite ArticleEnjoy!

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allen Poe!

Today is the 205th birthday of one of my favorite writers, Edgar Allen Poe. For today’s blog, I decided to revisit some of the stories written by Poe that I have loved for three decades.

I remember reading The Tell-Tale Hearta story whose protagonist goes insane thinking he hears the heartbeat of the man he murdered and stored under the floorboards. My heart thumped hard against my chest. I could experience criminal madness from the safety of my chair.  This is creepy, I thought, I love this! 

Please don’t misunderstand me: I am a chicken. I am often afraid to step outside of my comfort zone. I have no fantasies about actually being involved in a horror story. I do not romanticize the idea of having someone stalk me and plot my murder out of a hatred for my very existence. But to read an enthralling tale of horror like the kinds written by Edgar Allen Poe has been one of my favorite ways to pass the time.

Another of Poe’s tales involve madness and murder that I love is The Cask of Amontillado; a story where the protagonist lures the man who has wronged him, Fortunato (a bit of irony there, wouldn’t you say?), down to his wine chambers to be bricked up in a wall while offering opportunities to turn back, all of which are declined. The cold and calculating nature of the murderer ignited a fear deep in my stomach, the building suspense made me jitter in my seat, and fed my appetite for scary, thrilling stories.

In Poe’s poem The Bells, his word choice to describe the way the bells sound (tinkling, clanging, etc.) builds the sense of hearing bells get increasing loud in your head. I remember seeing my 12th grade advanced English teacher Mr. Frenzke walk back and forth in the front of the classroom, reading softly about tinkling bells to reading loudly about clanging ones. I wanted to hold my hands over my ears and yell, Make it stop!.

In The Raven, Poe’s word choices and repetition of Lenore and Nevermore lets the narrator build the sense of self-flagellation. Because the narrator knows the Raven will only answer in limited ways, it allows him to build a story of denial from the woman he loves in his mind until he is overwrought with emotional pain at his dilemma. After reading The Raven, I began to love black birds because they reminded me of the story and the author.

Reading Poe’s tales ignited a desire to read and write thrilling horror stories myself. I loved how his stories included elements of the mind (madness or murderous intent), the heart (emotional pain), and the body (physical suffering). 

My desire to write my own tales of horror, also stirred by reading books by Stephen King and stories by H.P. Lovecraft, faded long ago due to my lack of consistent writing and my struggles with finding my purpose in life.

Maybe I need to reread my favorite writers. Maybe I will rediscover my love for tales of horror and my imagination. Maybe I need to write my own tale of horror. Maybe… 

[Correction: I updated the anniversary date from 105 to 205 as Poe was born in 1813, not 1913.]

How Can I Forget You Now? (06-15-2007)

Believed that I was doin’ fine
‘Til thoughts of you crept in my mind
Like vines that choke the forest floor
They strangle my heart ’til I can’t take no more

How can I forget you now
That you’re buried somewhere deep inside?
How can I forget you now,
When thoughts of you are what keep me alive?

Whenever you’re near, I can hardly breathe
Your scent, your voice are all that I need
To make my heart race like winds stir up the ocean
I tremble with desires that only you set in motion

How can I forget you now?
I’m drowning cuz I’m in too deep
How can I forget you now?
I’m sinking, baby, with a pain that’s all too sweet

I keep dreamin’ I’ll tell you how I feel
Then you and me could make this hunger real
Even though I know you’ll never feel the same
My longing for you grows no matter what I do or say

How can I forget you now?
There’s gotta be a lesson that I can learn from this
How can I forget you now?
I’m on fire just thinking about your kiss

If there was a way I could even this score
I’d do it just to leave you with the wanting of more
Your brazen eyes get me all turned around
There’s just no way I can ever forget about you now

How can I forget you now,
When the thought of your touch leaves me like this?
How can I forget you now,
When I’m caught between Hell and eternal bliss?

rites of healing (12-16-2007)

I offer you this gift because it is all I can do in this time and space.  If I can give you this one thing, I will have given you all there is to give or possess in this world.

Imagine that I have led you into a secluded garden, hand in hand.  I sit you down on a stone bench facing a reflecting pool.  Evergreens surround us, filtering light and a summer’s breeze.  The scent of lavendar, sage and damp earth fill the air. I straddle the bench facing your left side. I place my left hand on your heart and my right hand on your back on the opposite side of your heart.  I ask you to close your eyes, breathe deeply and slowly, and open your heart, mind and body to me.

Imagine that a warming heat travels from my heart, down my arms, through my hands and into your body.  Inside your heart is a place that I fill with this heat.  From front and back, you feel warmth glowing as it penetrates your chest, your back and your heart.  This heat represents all the love that was ever gifted to you from your mother, your father, your teachers, your mentors, your brothers, your sisters, your friends and your lovers, those in the past and those yet to come; it is the love of strangers and of animals and the earth.

Imagine that, with each breath, the energy flows out of me into you until the love has carved itself an eternal home in your heart. This is where love renews itself.  You can withdraw the love you need to heal when it seems that you have been forsaken, when disappointment and despair overwhelm and when you are alone. Afterwards, love will refill itself, ready for you if you need it again.  Because you have received these memories of love, you will never again be alone or lonely.

Imagine that I slowly take my  hands away from your body and open my eyes.  You open your eyes and turn your head to meet my gaze.  Smiling, we hold hands, saying nothing.  We close our eyes again, listening to the sounds of the forest and the water and the birds and the crickets, as our hearts beat together inside our chests.