Nurturing the Seeds of Creation

This is a digital version of my current exhibition in Vence with Danette Quartey. The words are printed on transparencies and floated over shadowbox frames so they cast a nice shadow onto the photos. When I can photograph them without reflections, I’ll post them here.

The Seeds of Creation

Creation is life.
Life is creation.
From the seed to the flower to the fruit,
whether life or cosmos or chair,
everything comes into being through the creative process.

Within each of us lie the seeds of creation.
What do these seeds need to thrive?
Are you nurturing them with love and attention?
Does your environment support their formation?

When all the elements for growth are in place,
the seeds sprout,
the flowers bloom
and the fruit is born.

The Seed of Life welcomes you home.

Are You Living In The Culture Of Not Enoughness?

The words are rampant in the Western world.

Maybe you’ve even said them yourself. Surely you’ve thought them.

There is not enough.

I don’t have enough.

And the real kicker, I am not enough.

In societies that have more abundance and riches than in any other time in history, how is it possible that these words are so often, if not uttered, then at least thought or felt, several times a day?

Although men suffer from this syndrome as well, I’m going to focus the attention on women here because these words are the cultural battle cry underlying the majority of messages that come our way.

YOU ARE NOT DOING ENOUGH => YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH.

not enoughness

You can fill in your own personal blank.

You are not ______ enough.

Most of us have a self-image that is not beautiful enough, not thin enough, not sexy enough, not attractive enough.

We overwork to compensate for being not enough especially when we want both career and kids. We’re underpaid in most areas of the work world. We spend billions of dollars on products and cosmetic surgery to help us feel enough.

So what’s new? We have a pretty good picture of all this already, when we stop to think about it.

What I’m curious about is how much you think this personally affects your life?

When you do stop to think about it, how often does this insidious mantra pulse through your thoughts and your actions?

Do you overcompensate and over-give so that people will like you even though you feel like it’s never working?

Do you opt for the opposite, can’t be bothered putting in effort because it’ll never be good enough, but then don’t achieve the goals you have for yourself?

Do you strive to be perfect, often falling into overwhelm and exhaustion?

In my years of coaching and as an artist, I’ve noticed this primary belief lying at the base of some of the most talented, intelligent women I know. Whether it is unconsciously there or right up front in your face, these four words are the cause of more than their fair share of unhappiness and misery.

To give you an idea of how pervasive and deep this feeling of not-enoughness goes, I’ll share some thoughts from a must-read book for our times The Chrysalis Effect: The Metamorphosis of Global Culture.

chrysalis effect

Philip Slater describes two opposing systems that are currently engaged in an epic struggle. In his words:

The old system I call Control Culture. Its concern with mastery led to the creation of rigid mental and physical compartments, a static vision of the universe, a deep dependence on authoritarian rule, a conviction that order was something that had to be imposed, and a preoccupation with combat.

The new system I call Integrative Culture, because its guiding impulse is to dissolve mental walls and permeate artificial boundaries—to celebrate interdependence. It has a dynamic vision of the universe, a democratic ethos, and sees order as something that evolves, as it does in Nature, from spontaneous interaction.

Written well before the current presidential race in the U.S., this is another quote from the book:

Control Culture is obsessed with building walls.

Does that ring any bells?

More interestingly, do you know what the foundation of the entire Control Culture is based on?

The demotion of women.

You cannot have an authoritarian, war-like society unless women are devalued and oppressed.

Whaattttt????

I don’t know about you but the Control Culture is NOT a world I want to continue to live in. If you take a big picture, visionary look at the world right now, you can see how this control/integrator dynamic is playing out in many different areas of life.

The conflict is within every nation, every political party, every religious tradition, every institution, every individual.

My question to you is simple: which culture would you rather live in?

On a personal level, where are you fighting for control and where are you letting life evolve?

Visionary journaling fits exactly into the Integrative Culture.

In the creative process, knowing when to step in and when to let go is essential. This is what makes having a creative practice worthwhile. The focus is not on the product but on the experience; being present in the moment, flowing with the materials in a dance that is happening just for you.

Your journal is a safe place to practice this dance with absolutely no risk, no consequences, no judging from the outside world. There is only you and your page.

Willingness all you need.

And a few simple materials.

Through this process you will find self-kindness and self-love. This self-knowledge culminates in a woman who knows herself to be enough, who knows what she is doing and why, and is satisfied with the life she is creating.

I invite you to step through the portal of enoughness and take the journey of a lifetime. Through private 1-1 sessions with me, you will use visionary journaling to learn how to let go and trust, how to find enoughness, how to interpret what emerges from the page and apply it directly to your life. This is intimate creative work at its best.

If you feel the desire to finally get free from the culture of not-enoughness, click here for more details.

portal of enoughness

Could This Be Your Answer?

Looking for a document on my computer the other day, I came across a PowerPoint presentation for a talk I gave 3 years ago. Suddenly, all the thoughts and feelings I had about being center stage erupted in my memory.

The talk didn’t go well. To say the least.

It was an out-of-body experience that had me walking stiffly across the stage and forgetting a main point here and there. It was an unpleasant memory that I’d rather leave alone.

Panel One1st Panel ~ Visual Journal Pages ~ Linda Hough 2016

I quickly brought my thoughts back to the present and wondered whether I’d ever voluntarily decide to be on stage again.

What really got my attention though was looking over the content of the presentation entitled Live Your Biggest Vision.

As I scrolled the panels of the PowerPoint I found myself smiling.

Visions and visionaries have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. It occurred to me that occasionally life has a funny way of pulling all the scattered pieces together and showing you the big picture.

Reflecting back on my one and only speaking experience, I have learned that sharing my message is best done through the visual assemblage of images and words, and certainly not from the stage.

vision PosterPoster ~ Linda Hough 2016

What I see now is that everything I’ve spent my life learning is coming into play.

Coaching amplifies the importance of living true to ourselves and honoring our gifts and challenges.

Creating my own art, experiencing the freedom of self-expression, the deep healing and joy I’ve received from following this path.

And now visual journaling, a tool that is beyond measure for self-inquiry, creative practice and working out pretty much any difficulty.

Most importantly, I’ve learned to embrace life as a creative path traveling through beauty and bumps but always a journey of meaning and fulfillment.

At the end of last year, I came full circle back around to my origins.

Thinking my exhibition days were behind me, I was surprised and delighted when offered dates in December to exhibit some of my work in a local bio café.

Along with paintings, for the first time ever I displayed the three panels of visual journaling pages that you see here.

Panel Two2nd Panel ~ Visual Journal Pages ~ Linda Hough 2016

One of the most valuable experiences I’ve had with visual journaling is the practice of becoming comfortable with not-knowing.

For many people, maybe even you, not-knowing can be extremely uncomfortable.

Not knowing what you are doing next. Not knowing where you’re headed or with whom or how you are going to get there. Not knowing your big picture. Not knowing when you’ll know.

Extremely. Uncomfortable.

Yet, it is in this place of not-knowing that all answers exist.

Being comfortable not-knowing is the key to knowing.

But how do you become comfortable in this ever-so-uncomfortable place?

Like anything else you learn to do, you practice.

You practice entering into the unknown. And you practice being comfortable there.

Believe me, it does take practice.

It’s completely possible.

And the answers come.

Panel Three3rd Panel ~ Visual Journal Pages ~ Linda Hough 2016

What if all the elements of YOUR life are forming your own big picture, you just don’t know what it is yet?

Imagine gaining clarity where you most need it.

Imagine at the same time developing your creative abilities.

Then imagine being able to see into your future.

This is the process I’ve developed.

Click here if you’d like to know more.

This Would Have Seemed Impossible

It’s been almost a year since you last heard from me. And what a year it’s been: a year where discovery, learning and re-invention took center stage.

Eleven months ago, I took a leap into Lisa Sonora’s 9-month visual journaling facilitator program that became a roller coaster ride through my own creative journey.

I remember a time when this path would have seemed impossible for me.

creative journey facilitatorOfficial Graduate Creative Journey Facilitator Training 2015

I started out in life thinking I could never be an artist. Playing with paint and paper was for other people.

I wasn’t sure who those other people were but I was pretty sure they weren’t me.

But the desire to create was planted firmly in my heart. And it wouldn’t go away.

Even as I tried to fit myself into a normal life, pursuing a degree in communication, I lusted after those studio shots in magazines where one could barely catch a glimpse of the working surface for all the creative mess that lay on top.

And the tools!

Brushes and pens and markers, oh my!

Messy DeskArtist Studio

How I wanted to put myself smack in the middle of that very scenario. My heart races as I relive the memory.

What was it that separated me from my desires?

A wall of beliefs. I simply didn’t believe that life could be mine.

I slowly came to realize that desires live in our hearts for a reason.

Desires conjure up visions of what life could be like if only you’d listen. Yet so many of us deny or discount our desires.

What I personally discovered was that on some deep level, I didn’t feel I deserved to have what I wanted, to explore the world both behind and in front of my eyes through paint. Yes, for others. No, for me.

Until I saw a way through.

Spending time on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, I watched women sitting on the ground with their backstrap looms weaving fabric, one strand at a time.

An idea began to take form. This was something I could do.

On the way home from this trip, I had a dream in which an image appeared; a fully formed image of three figures each in their own panel. And I was the artist.

Great Spirit TriptychGallery 57 Show ~ Great Spirit Triptych ~ ©Linda Hough 1987

When I got home, I took the one step that led me to where I am today. I signed up for a weaving class. I eventually went on to weave the dream image. (above)

Now, today, I have a designated workspace with tools ~ lovely tools~ and a new desire. My feelings about what I want to do are no longer stuck inside but are leading the way in this brand new phase of life.

The facilitator training provided me the time and space to plunge to the depths of my creative soul. I returned with a renewed commitment not only to my personal artwork but also to supporting others in discovering the magic of the creative process.

I’ve come to understand at an even deeper level the value and importance of being creative, not only by doing a certain activity but also in the making of a life.

That artist studio image above? It’s another dream come true: my very own messy workspace.

An Incredible Lightness of BEing

play, peace, powerPeace, Play & Pleasure, Visual Journal Page, ©Linda Hough 2015

Today, as I sat on the couch with my morning cup of coffee, I noticed something different.

I have changed.

Instead of thinking about all the things I’m not doing, the food I’m not eating, the person I’m not becoming, I was thinking about the opposite.

And I was noticing that this change is not a momentary blip in an otherwise ordinary morning, but something deep down that has actually transformed.

Having a daily creative practice has lightened up my life. When I’m working in my visual journal, I am having a personal conversation with myself. Not the self that is enjoying this beautiful Sunday morning. But rather the deep Self that doesn’t often get a chance to speak.

When I’m sitting at the table, my journal in front of me, I never know where I’m going. The colors beckon, the images delight and suddenly one is chosen. There is paint involved, glue and often, colored pens and markers. I feel myself gently enter the flow, where nothing else matters but that which is before me. My whole BEing smiles.

Sometimes it is in the middle of the journey, or sometimes not till the very end, that I know or understand what it is I’m creating.

Sometimes the journey is rough, confusing and unclear, as nothing makes sense. Through persistence, through patience and sometimes a night’s rest, the next step always emerges.

Thus far, the journey has taken me on the ride of my life. Literally, I comb the depths of my soul for information that leads me to discover more of who I really am.

As this is happening, I realize I’m significantly more content with almost everything.

I no longer have the desire to numb myself with meaningless distractions. After years of struggling with food cravings, I find that I can easily sit next to my husband as he crunches on chips, or enjoys French bread and pastries. I’m not even tempted.

When I feel troubled or the desire to explore something, I know exactly where to go. I sit down and lose myself in my visual journaling, only to find the most precious of gifts.

I take the first steps into the unknowning and trust that the process will do as it always does, show me the way. I pour out my deepest emotions and receive the grace of understanding and wisdom.

The most amazing gift of all is that everything I experience in my journal, I can take into life. The creative process transfers directly to life, making life a whole lot more fun.

Simple color and interesting shapes make up stories that emerge out of nothing. As I look at my table even now, I know the joy will never end because there is always something new and different to discover. Always a mystery to unveil or a question to be answered.

Here, in the pages of my journal, I’ve found my sanctuary, my soul space, my heartbeat. And I’ve found this most incredible lightness of BEing.