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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Rainbow Way
Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood
By Lucy H. Pearce
John Hunt Publishing Ltd.Copyright © 2013 Lucy H. Pearce
All rights reserved.
The Rainbow Way
Show not what has been done, but what can be. How beautiful the world would be if there were a procedure for moving through labyrinths.
Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
For years the Rainbow Way was nameless to me. Always calling me, navigating my footsteps unseen. My creativity was an unconscious process, hit or miss. But motherhood, and the writing of this book required that I put into words the invisible, indescribable forces which steer the path of the creative mother.
So what, you may be wondering, is the Rainbow Way?
It is my attempt to express the unique creative journey of mothers, through women's experiences, language and symbology, to create for us a native map of the terrain. To make visible and viable that which has previously remained hidden and impossible.
The Rainbow Way ...
Stands in contrast to our culture's monochromatic vision of what is possible or desirable for women, and especially mothers.
Embraces the many different shades of creative mother. Each woman has her own path to travel, her own soul callings. It is not a "one size fits all" program, but one which provides structure, support and possibility for your own unique journey.
Shares a lost feminine archetype, the Creative Rainbow Mother, and helps those who identify with her to integrate this new understanding into every area of her life.
Integrates creative, personal and spiritual development.
Is a path of color, beauty and transformation, incorporating the sunshine and showers of life.
Honors a creative mother's dual soul yearnings in a practical way.
Offers a "road map" to creative motherhood which speaks to body, mind and soul.
But in order to seize this possibility for a more fulfilling life, we have to let go of our old map, which has been handed down to us by well-meaning career counselors, teachers, parents, partners and employers, that which is called "The Only Way" or "The Way Things Are". That is the way that our ancestors and communities have lived, unchanged and unquestioned for generations. When we decide to follow our souls on their creative journey whilst nurturing our mothering hearts, then we are ready to take the first step onto the Rainbow Way.
But it is not enough to just try to change our minds and try to think differently. The Rainbow Way is an embodied process. One which uses our innate creativity to help birth us more fully into our selves. Women's creativity – both artistic and biological – is embodied in our arms, legs, hands, hearts, breasts, wombs and vaginas, in our hormones and cycles of fertility. We cannot enter creativity with our rational brain, in order to enter it we must allow our body, its senses and intuition to lead the way.
A labyrinth is a symbolic journey ... but it is a map we can really walk on, blurring the difference between map and world.
Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust
The Rainbow Way takes the form of a labyrinth. A winding, circuitous path taking us into the center, and out again.
Labyrinths have been used for thousands of years around the world as symbols of the spiritual journey, as meditative tools, and for healing.
At first glance a labyrinth resembles a maze, as both are made of winding paths. But there is a vital difference. Mazes have dead ends, and wrong turns, whereas a labyrinth has just one path leading into the center and out again. Unlike the maze, which is there to trick us into going the wrong way, all the labyrinth requires of us is trust as we follow the path, step by step, following our intuition. Although walking a labyrinth might feel like we are going round in circles, getting nowhere, in fact, we are always moving on through: we cannot lose our way.
The labyrinth is the perfect symbol of, and guide to, our journey as creative mothers. Though it may be new to you now, it will become familiar over the course of the book. If it is already familiar I guarantee that you will gain new insight into it.
Labyrinths come in many shapes and forms, from the simplest spiral path, to a complex rose-shaped Chartres labyrinth. Though they can have different numbers of paths (circuits) and take different forms, the anatomy of the labyrinth is innately simple. They share the same unique features – one entrance, one path leading in and out, spiraling from the entrance to the center.
When I had finished the first draft of this book, having already named it The Rainbow Way, a dear friend who was reading it through asked me: "If you were to create a visual map of the creative journey, what would it look like?"
I puzzled about this all afternoon, desperately trying to logically figure out: what does the creative journey look like? And then as I was leaving my studio that evening, my eye fell upon the picture of a seven-circuit labyrinth that I had drawn some months earlier at a workshop I was teaching. Seven spiraling circuits colored red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. One for each of the body's energy chakras. There it was, staring me in the face: the Rainbow Way! Of course! It suddenly all fell into place. This was my map, which had been sitting quietly on my altar of inspiration, waiting to be discovered! This image which I had been drawn to for years. That I had been teaching for years. This symbol which represented the spiritual path. That I had used to teach women about the journey of birth. It had been there all along. Waiting for me!
I could not believe it had never occurred to me before. And later, during my final editing, it was waiting for me again as confirmation that this was indeed the right path. Reading Sue Monk Kidd's life-changing book, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, she discusses in great length the central role of the labyrinth and its myth in women's awakening to themselves.
Please remember ...
Whether you identify with the archetype of the Creative Rainbow Mother or not, whether you "get" labyrinths or not makes little difference. They are merely conceptual frameworks for explaining and exploring the intangible concepts of creativity and women's experiences. Please do not get hung up on them. If they work for you, as they have for me, and scores of other women, then I am delighted, if not, then allow your mind to scoot over the terms, rather than block your way. I would ask you to stay open to possibility, to the unknown. Stay curious and receptive to the unfamiliar. That, after all, is the royal road of creativity.
Walking the Way your way
Feel yourself being quietly drawn by the deeper pull of what you truly love.
This book echoes the creative process it talks about – spiraling in from my personal story, to those of other creative mothers, to those creative heroines, to the archetype of the Creative Rainbow Mother herself and back out again.
It is divided into two parts. The first gives voice to the experience and struggles of being a creative mother. The second focuses on the creative process itself and how you can integrate this into motherhood. Right at the center is a powerful initiation onto the Rainbow Way.
Each step along the way is explained, the voices of other women shared, and exercises – both reflective and creative – allow you to explore the topics and further integrate the lessons into your daily life and creative practice.
They will help you to identify your own blocks, passions, needs and priorities. They should also churn up lots of useful material for further personal creative projects and help you to start getting back into your creative zone, by offering guidelines for simple but meaningful creative projects, which are accessible to you whatever your skill level.
Each chapter should stand alone and give you guidance, inspiration, creative mother's voices and practical tools on the topic you need, when you need it. You can turn to a chapter on getting unstuck or creating with your children, and it can work for you that way.
If you already are an established creative person, I want it to help contribute to your understanding of your own creative process, to help to mesh your roles of mother and creative person more harmoniously, and to take you deeper into your own process.
If you want to learn "how to" be creative then I will teach you real skills in how to approach and access your creativity easily and practically, demystifying the process.
To get the most from its transformational potential, I recommend that you read it from cover to cover and work through the creative exercises and reflections, commit to it like a self-guided creativity course from the comfort of your own home.
Even more powerfully, work through it with a group of other creative mothers (using the chapter on Women Creating Together to help you in setting up a group if you need guidance). Share your responses and insights. You could meet in each other's homes once a week, or create a private group on Facebook. Do the creative activities together or as homework, and use the reflection questions as discussion starters (perhaps using the model of the speaking circle in Chapter 4 to guide you).
Recording your journey
I recommend that you to get yourself a journal or sketch book to use alongside this book. I will be asking you to write and draw a lot in response. Though your responses may turn into later great works, they are initially just for you, and writing and drawing are the two quickest, simplest ways of recording your thoughts, intuitions, memories and feelings.
If you do not consider yourself an artist or writer, please do not let this stop you. Celebrated psychologist James Pennebaker, spent ten years of clinical research studying the effects of writing on healing emotional trauma and has shown that 15 minutes of writing every day for four days, about traumatic or formative events, helps every area of an individual's life, from self-esteem, to productivity and employability. The verbal expression of previously withheld stories helps to reallocate energy from the subconscious to the conscious mind. Drawing helps us to access other parts of our awareness, to express thoughts and feelings which we might not have the words for.
Step one: Find, buy or make yourself a book. You could:
Use a spiral bound sketch book.
Staple a bunch of A4 printer paper together – or tie it with ribbon!
Buy a pretty journal.
Get a folder to keep loose leaves of paper in.
If you will be painting in it or art-journaling, then be sure to use thick paper (140gsm or higher).
Step two: Get some pens or pencils that you like and keep them with the journal. And keep in it a place that you will use it – or take it round with you during the day. Good places include: beside your bed, beside the toilet, in your handbag, on the kitchen counter ...
Step three: Fill in the first blank page! Do not be outsmarted by a white sheet of paper! Perhaps fill the first page with your name, a quote that speaks to your heart, an image you love – use a color you like, maybe two, add some doodles, a few stickers that you like, make it feel good.
Step four: If you're feeling really creative why not make a cover for it – choose some nice wrapping paper, perhaps print your own, make it feel like yours.
Congratulations! You've just started your creative journal. May it be a sacred place to rest, reflect, rant, to see yourself more clearly and celebrate your beauty, to work through ideas and birth beautiful dreams. Do not be a stranger to it!
At the end of most sections in this book there are questions for reflection. Be honest, be real, look deeply; answer instinctively as you respond to them. Make a promise not to second-guess yourself. This is a space where the first thing that comes to you is OK: this is the place for raw instinct.
Why not use it as a scrapbook for your creative endeavors? Stick in photographs, write down recipes or your feelings about what you've painted. Jot down ideas of things you'd like to write about, things you'd like to research more, images you love, articles which have caught your interest. Make this full and rich and messy, a real workbook full of you: your thoughts, ideas, reflections, achievements, plans, possible projects.
Let this be the map to your creative journey, an archaeological record of your soul. It will show you where you came from and document your creative development. This is also where you can capture your ideas, to work them up into bigger creations later.
You can take the Rainbow Way as far as you need to – whether you just want to get creatively unblocked or find practical ways of fitting creativity into your mothering journey. Or if, like me, you are open to letting the Way transform your whole life!
How have you used journaling in the past?
Do you have any blocks to getting a journal started? Where do these come from?
Are you excited about having a space of your own to reflect and dream? Or does this make you feel anxious?
How does it feel starting afresh, filling that first blank page?
Odd how the creative power at once brings the whole universe to order.
There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one you in all time, this expression is unique ... You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.
What is creativity?
What exactly do you mean by creativity, I hear you cry! Creativity is a broad term, intentionally so:
Creativity is the magic that happens when intention meets matter, the application of human skills on materials which shape it into something new, beautiful, useful or reflective. In grandiose terms it is transformational alchemy.
At its most basic level creativity is making stuff. Taking one substance, say wool, and turning it into another, in this case, a sweater. Taking flour, butter and sugar and turning it into cake. This takes concentrated effort, defined skills, some degree of imagination and the ability to follow – or create – a recipe or pattern.
But we can also create intangible things – such as events, workshops, or concepts: we take the germ of an idea and turn it into a reality.
Creativity is about stepping into the unknown: first with our minds, and then through our actions.
It also refers to a way of thinking and problem-solving, an imaginative approach to living, a way of "thinking outside the box" and finding innovative solutions.
Many forms of creativity require that we tap into our imagination, reflecting on and studying our inner or outer worlds in minute detail, translating our inner experience through color, words, sound, movement, touch ...
This imaginative communication can help us, or others, to find healing, joy, beauty or a deeper understanding of ourselves.
Creativity is all around us, all the time. Trees make leaves, flowers make fruits, spiders make webs, women's bodies grow babies. It is how the world works. We are doing it all the time, whether we think of ourselves as creative or not. Whether we are doing it consciously is a different matter.
When we become conscious creators, we take the time and intent to focus our energy on what we want to create, or how we want it to look. We are creating the world anew in our own image.
There is a juiciness to creativity, a succulence that comes up from within, a sensuality which both produces and is soothed by the act and product of creativity. Creativity is pleasing to us on a deep level. Be it the feel of clay in our hands, the colors that make us feel alive as we knit or sew, the meaning that we find in the words that we write, the energizing feel of movement as we dance and the music moves through our bodies.
Taking part in creativity helps us to be more fully alive on every level, it asks that we engage with life in a visceral, and interactive way. Paula, a home-schooling mother of four, puts it beautifully:
I think that the Holy Spirit that Christians talk of is something that is expressed or channeled through art and creativity – it is an energy that comes of being connected to life rather than hiding from it, although it is also connected to the secret self – there is a balance between the inner and outer world, a relationship, a movement or dance if you like, between the two. Both are needed for really creative magic to happen, for something to really have soul.
Are you creative?
I'm curious, what is your gut response to this question? If you're anything like the majority of women I spoke to in the writing of this book, you will have a hard time thinking of yourself as creative. Let alone calling yourself a Creative Mother.
There seems an innate nervousness to calling ourselves creative – though most of us are. Most of the women I spoke to struggled with defining themselves as creative, let alone "artists". And yet they painted pictures, wrote books, danced, sang or knitted, or sometimes all those things and more! One woman, who had made her living from writing for twenty-five years, wasn't sure if the term really applied to her! Another, who went to art college forty years ago and has sewed and painted almost every day since, shirked the label.
Excerpted from The Rainbow Way by Lucy H. Pearce. Copyright © 2013 Lucy H. Pearce. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword: Leonie Dawson 1
How do you do it? 8
My story 10
Part I 15
Chapter 1 The Rainbow Way 17
The labyrinth 18
Walking the Way your way 21
Recording your journey 22
Chapter 2 Creativity 25
What is creativity? 25
Are you creative? 27
Can anyone be creative? 29
How creativity shuts down 32
Why do we create? 36
How creative are you? 37
Eight stages of creativity 40
Chapter 3 Renaissance 43
Flights into sanity 45
The activated womb 46
Experiences of renaissance 48
I don't relate… 49
Chapter 4 Circle of Mothers 52
A virtual women's circle of creative mothers 54
Chapter 5 Heroines 65
The reality of mothers in the arts 66
Permission givers 68
Chapter 6 Discovering the Creative Rainbow Mother 74
A new maternal archetype 76
Understanding the energy of Creative Rainbow Women 79
She who lives between the worlds 82
Chapter 7 The Crazy Woman 87
Expressing the Crazy Woman 92
Chapter 8 Unblocking, Releasing, Letting Go 94
Embracing our legacy, releasing our negative inheritance 96
People like us 97
The fear of being a bad mother 104
A woman in her own power 109
Clearing exercises 111
Phoenix from the ashes 114
Chapter 9 Initiation 116
The labyrinth 120
Part II 125
Chapter 10 Creating Space 127
Clearing space 127
A room of one's own 128
Creating a workspace 131
Chapter 11 Creating Time 133
A day in the life 136
Work days 137
Fallow periods 139
Multi-tasking and uni-tasking 140
Chapter 12 Crossing Between the Worlds 145
Rituals for crossing the threshold 147
Chapter 13 Committing to the Creative Path 152
I don't know how to start 152
Under pressure! 155
You have permission 157
Exercises for getting started 159
Chapter 14 Your Creative Toolkit 163
Classic creative tools 163
Hi-tech creative tools 166
Chapter 15 Step by Step - Making Creative Habits 169
Chapter 16 Perfectionism 172
Chapter 17 Facing our Fears 176
The voices 178
Doubt and self-confidence 180
Deep vulnerability 182
The lesson of the gingerbread man 183
The need to be original 184
Overcoming the voices 185
The path of courage 187
Chapter 18 Creative Doulas 189
Know your allies 190
Finding a teacher 190
Knowing what you need 192
Choosing your bridge over troubled waters 194
Chapter 19 The Creative Process 196
Your roadmap to the creative journey 198
Entering the labyrinth 199
The turning point 202
The path out 203
Chapter 20 Nurturing and Supporting your Creative Self 207
Is your creative work draining you? 211
In your dreams 213
High sensitivity 216
Sugar, sugar 217
Sweets for your sweet 218
Chapter 21 The Spiritual Gifts of Creativity 221
A personal experience of the spiritual 222
Spiritual electricity 223
Finding flow 224
The muse 228
Catching creativity 231
Divine dictation 233
Chapter 22 The Womb - Crucible of Creativity 236
Our inner grail 236
Creativity and our cycles 240
Sexual energy and creativity 244
Maternal libido 248
Pregnancy and birth 249
Dark days 253
Chapter 23 Individuation 256
Finding your voice 257
Feminine archaeology 260
Discovering your own personal symbology 263
Chapter 24 Women Creating Together 265, Finding a group that fits 270
Chapter 25 Nurturing a Family Culture of Creativity 272
Creating together 272
What a mess! 277
What are we going to do? 280
Setting creativity free 280
The building blocks of creativity 282
Creating about - and for - our children 289
Chapter 26 It All Comes Together 292
About the Author 313