Art That Heals: A Manifesto

Art That Heals: A Manifesto

As artists, how do we respond to the crises in our world today?

In such dire times, how can what we create make a difference?

In this clarion call to artists, I offer a powerful, inspiring vision for how art can heal, matter, create new possibilities, change our world.

Without prescribing any style or form that art must take, I challenge the artist in each of us to step up to our potent role as way-showers, vision-keepers, change-makers.

If you are in the doldrums around making art or overwhelmed by the state of our world, I encourage you to read this manifesto and reconnect to your sacred purpose as a creator.

Download this 7-page, gorgeous manifesto for free.

No email address required. Just click the download button and enjoy!

This is my gift to you and to our world. Please share it with others in the spirit of generosity and love in which it was created. Let’s create a revolution of love through creativity.

May it inspire a wave of art, new visions and healing that we need so much in our world today.

Love, Maxima

2018 Year In Review

2018 Year In Review

This past year, I gave myself a huge gift. I cut back my teaching hours by half and poured myself into my writing life. Here’s what I learned, what I did and didn’t accomplish, and where I’m setting my sights now.
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Validate Yourself: Why Every Artist Needs to Learn This

Validate Yourself: Why Every Artist Needs to Learn This

“For writers and artists, the ability to self-reinforce is more important than talent.” – Steven Pressfield

Being able to validate yourself as an artist is so important to your ability to keep creating and enjoying it—and so up for me lately—that I just had to write about it when I read Steven Pressfield’s excellent post on the subject this past week. (https://stevenpressfield.com/2018/11/reinforcement-and-self-reinforcement/)

With Our Thoughts We Make the World

I have been watching my mind more closely lately, because my moods have been wavering too often between “the dumps” and “OK.”

And it’s largely because of what I think in my head.

Yes, there’s been really hard stuff happening in our world. From the rise of fascism in America to the fires ravaging California. There’s climate change and economic oppression, racism and greed run rampant in many parts of the world.

And then there’s my personal situation—the stress of ongoing economic uncertainty combined with the agonizingly slow path to recognition for my writing, despite all the hours and loving attention I pour into it.

This is hard!

But what makes it hard most of all is what I think about it.

The Point of Power Is Within

Man giving himself a thumbs up

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

This is very good news because it means we aren’t helpless. We aren’t victims.

The point of power is within us, in our thoughts and feelings. And we can change that.

So, I have been paying close attention to the tiny thoughts that slip by unheard but create a sinking feeling in my chest, as if all the air had gone out of the balloon.

I am noticing the stories I make up about the world’s future, my future. And the stories I make up about myself: that I’m not good enough, feeling like a failure, like I’m unloved and unwanted.

It’s the thoughts that determine my reality, because they dictate how I feel.

And, how we feel is the whole game!

Anything we desire for ourselves or our world, we desire for how we believe we will feel. Whether it’s world peace or a new home.

Your Feelings Are Like Magnets

Our thoughts and feelings create powerful filters for how we perceive reality and what we attract.

We filter out whatever contradicts our beliefs, even when those beliefs create the very things we don’t want.

When I dwell in negative thoughts, not only my mood takes a hit, my life does too.

When I am feeling bad about myself, my life and my world, I am not magnetic to my heart’s desires. I am not attractive to experiences that would counter these false beliefs. It doesn’t mean these experiences can’t happen, but when I feel bad, they are less likely to happen, and I’m less likely to notice them.

So, I’m watching closely. I’m noticing when my mood sinks and inquiring:  What is it I’m thinking? What am I telling myself? What am I believing?

Bring it to the Light

I’m making those thoughts conscious, because when we bring anything into the light of awareness, it dissolves in the Truth of who we are.

I am telling a new story about myself, my future prospects, even about where our world is headed.

I’m choosing a brighter future.

And I have to do it again and again. Because I have practiced so long these negative habits of thought and feeling. So it requires care and patience and reinforcement to pave new neural pathways, create new habits of thought, feeling and action.

But isn’t it worth it?

Isn’t it better to bring attention and loving care to the stories we are telling ourselves, even if we have to do it again and again, than to let those false beliefs and limiting views run our lives and our world?

It’s Time to Validate Yourself

As artists, most of us long for validation. For the praise, awards, sales, shows, applause that would tell us that what we are creating is good.

I long for this validation, and I have my whole life.

And it’s a deadly poison to depend on this.

It puts my value, my worth, my quality as an artist in the hands of others. And threatens to steal the joy, delight and innocence of the creative act.

Because I am sending my writings out for publication every week, I receive a lot of rejections. These can really dampen my spirits and discourage me. But only if I let it. Only if I make it mean something bad about me and my art.

This is where self-reinforcement, self-validation comes in. Why we must get very, very good at it, and practice it constantly.

Be Your Biggest Fan

You Are Worthy Of Love

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Tell yourself every little thing you’ve done well. Approve of your efforts wildly. Appreciate yourself and every positive action you take, every step towards your dreams, regardless of the results.

Be the most loving, encouraging friend you can be to yourself and your creativity.

Make this a habit throughout your day. Make it a habit in your life.

If you don’t love yourself and your creations, if you don’t take the time to appreciate yourself, how can you expect others to?

I write acknowledgments and celebrations daily in my journal (though I often neglect this practice too).

I make a list of weekly celebrations as part of Vision-Mapping my week, a practice of sacred time management that I teach.

But most important of all is what I think moment to moment, what I tell myself inside, how I encourage myself, as an artist and as a human being.

Pay attention to your thoughts. Pay attention to your feelings as indicators of your thoughts.

Make a new choice. Encourage yourself. Approve of yourself. Praise yourself. Validate yourself. You are worth it.

You are good. You are whole. You are valuable. You are needed here. Your gifts are unique. You are a blessing to our world.

Love, maxima

How To Discover Your Heart’s Desires

How To Discover Your Heart’s Desires

To follow your heart’s desires, you first have to know what they are.

This can be hard for many people.

Today I share some practices and questions (as well as pitfalls to watch for) to help you walk your heart path.

Open the Door

To discover our heart’s desires, we have to develop the ability to hear and trust our hearts. We need to quiet our anxious minds, tune out the distractions of daily life, silence the clamoring voices of others.

We have to make sacred space to listen to the longings, the callings, the singing of our hearts and souls. To open the door to believe in ourselves and our dreams. Begin to know ourselves deeply, trust ourselves. And trust life.

None of that comes easily for most of us.

Many of us have been taught to deny our hearts, our longings and feelings. We are encouraged to listen to our heads, to society and other people’s needs above our own heart wisdom and knowing.

I have been struggling with this lately, as the compulsion of the computer and busyness grabs me. And my fear wants to keep me from getting quiet or doing anything that doesn’t look directly like work.

Taking a walk, journaling, prayer and meditation, being in nature, dream journeying, guided meditations and/or guided inquiry can all help us to go within.

Some of these are part of my morning routine, but I’m finding I need more of them now to guide me through these tumultuous times.

Whether you are seeking guidance through a challenging transition, wanting more fulfillment, joy or connection, or to discover your life path, I encourage you to make time for practices that help you listen to your heart.

Some Questions to Help You Uncover Your Heart’s Desires

If you are unsure what your heart’s dreams are, try asking yourself one or more of the questions below. Choose the ones you are drawn to and/or the ones you are afraid of.

Be patient with the answers. Ask more than once. Ask on different days.

Write the answers in your journal.

I encourage you to use the practice of freewriting for this. Give yourself a time frame, perhaps 10 minutes per question. Keep the pen moving, allow any and all responses to come, even if they don’t make sense or seem untrue. Write whatever comes without pausing to think or edit.

Or ask the questions with a trusted friend, asking each other back and forth, repeating the same question over and over, allowing any and all answers. This is a powerful, deep practice.

See which answers have the most resonance and power for you, the most emotion. Let yourself be surprised. None of this is carved in stone. Take it lightly.

  1. What is my heart’s deepest desire?
  2. What’s missing or lacking in my life?
  3. What would make my heart sing to be, do or have?
  4. What do I secretly long to be, do or have?
  5. Wouldn’t it be nice/fabulous/amazing if _________?
  6. If I truly let myself dream, I would ________________.

What Gets In the Way of Dreaming

Often we don’t know what our dreams are because we have been discouraged from dreaming long ago. We were discouraged by our parents or other adults when we were young, by life circumstances or others close to us.

We have been ridiculed for our dreams, told to get our heads out of the clouds and our feet on the ground. We were told our dreams are impossible, absurd, unrealistic. Or that we should be content with what we’ve got. Or that we can’t have what we want.

We may have been crushed by disappointments in the past and don’t want to get our hopes up again. We’ve been hurt or scared by humiliations, by trials and tribulations.

We want to play safe. That’s understandable.

Building Your Dreaming Muscles

One way to deal with this is to start by dreaming small, yet still connected to your heart.

Choose something small that you really desire, that lights you up.

Commit to that dream. To plant a garden or take a day-long solo retreat or read a book a month or start learning kung fu.

As you allow yourself to desire and dream and to go for your dreams, you create small successes in your life. In this way, you build your dreaming muscles. You’ll develop courage, connection with your heart, and confidence.

Then you can begin to hear and follow larger dreams.

Identify the Dream Killers

5 Dream KillersThere are many ways we stop ourselves from dreaming, from hearing the desires of our hearts.

In my work helping others to live their dreams and helping myself to live mine, I have discovered five dream killers that often stop us from hearing, believing and living our dreams.

My students have found these to be illuminating, helping them to open the doors to new dreaming.

I’ve made a beautiful, little e-book of these that includes some encouragement, guidance and inspiration to find and follow your dreams. It is my gift to you.

Click here to download Five Tragically Common Ways We Kill Our Dreams.

5 Tragically Common Ways We Kill Our Dreams

5 Tragically Common Ways We Kill Our Dreams

What Do You Dream Of?

Do you dream of being an accomplished writer, dancer, healer, scientist? Of travelling the world or cultivating inner peace?

Do you long for a loving relationship, vibrant health, meaningful work, to make a difference in our world?

Each of these is a dream you carry in your heart.

Your Dreams Are Important

Your dreams matter. They point you towards a fulfilling, joyful, magical life. They point you towards your soul’s growth and your contribution to our world.

Yet so often we kill our dreams before they even get off the ground. And most of us don’t even realize it. So, we wonder why we lack passion, inspiration or fulfillment, why we feel frustrated, stuck or lost.

5 Dream KillersOver the years of guiding creative people to uncover and actualize their heart’s dreams, I have discovered five tragically common ways that we stop ourselves from dreaming and living the lives we long for.

The good news is: Once you know these Five Dream Killers, you can begin to make new choices. You can begin to hear your heart and live your dreams.

In this 10-page e-book, I outline the top 5 Dream Killers and what to do about them, so you don’t get stopped from following your heart’s true dreams.

Download your copy by filling in the form below. You’ll also receive our Creative Sparks newsletter about once a week or so.

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