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How do we find peace in the great chaos that is this creative life? And how do we better embrace those around us, even as we work to truly appreciate ourselves (for who we are)? Where do we find space and freedom within the bounds of this frenzied existence?

As I sat around a table surrounded by artists in Langtry, Texas last week at a creative retreat, listening to the various conversations, it occurred to me that we all run at top speed and hold ourselves to super-human standards.  Guess the 2015 meme got it right in saying, “If you ever wanna know what a creative person’s mind feels like, imagine a browser with 5827 tabs open.  All. The. Time.”

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Selfie with our make-up guru, http://www.revelrybeauty.com!

It’s true, these vague ideas play constantly, pushing us on toward the next big inspiration.  When the Eureka moment hits, we go into an even higher gear, collecting supplies, planning and pouring our souls into the work. There is nothing like the rush of fulfillment and purpose when your dream is becoming a reality.  Then suddenly, as if brakes are being applied, the flow stops and you step back and realize, “I’m finished.”

Hmm…Well, not quite what I had in my mind but maybe… A split second decides whether you fully embrace this new deviation and move forward.  If not, then the creeping thoughts of failure and skill judgment sweep over you and the hours of quiet obsessing begin.

But wait. It’s the process that feeds us, not the end result, right? Sure, it’s icing on the cake if others appreciate the product but even then we often inwardly disavow their praise.

Talk about living into the label of tortured artist.  I pondered this thought as I spent days hearing those around me as we hiked, picked up rocks, and maneuvered to photo shoots in canyons and on hilltops in full regalia.  The extra effort to get to the sets along with a lack of cell service distracted my inner-dialogue, forced me to look beyond myself and gave me a new perspective on the people in the group.  The cliché, “we’re all in this together,” took on a whole new meaning.

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The Photographer strikes again with his alluring and magical style. AzulOx.com

We were there to play, be open, create and enjoy ourselves.  The atmosphere of true artistic freedom along with imaginative costumes, breathtaking scenery and a stellar make-up and hair stylist made it easy to let go and lean into the inspiration of the moment without too much judgment.

I’d noticed a sweeping calm the moment we entered the ranch that first day, at least once I’d recovered from cell phone withdrawal, but my moment of deep personal peace and acceptance came as I stood in the Rio Grande one starry night.  The shadow of the hills on either side of the river loomed high and dark.  There, as the warm water rushed around my feet, making the hem of my evening gown lap my ankles, with the orders to hold a sword above my head and be still for thirty seconds, it struck me. We truly are one people, connected by our humanness, who all need the same things: to be loved, cared for, appreciated, recognized and artist or not, to feel the satisfaction that comes from sharing our talents with others.

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Rio Grande at Sunset

Don’t be afraid to follow your calling. Be open and reach out to others. Compliment your friends. Encourage the artists in your life even when they give you the cynical stare. And allow yourself moments to enjoy rest and the satisfaction that comes from using the gifts you’ve been given.

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