Today is Valentines Day, the day of love. Well at least romantic love. Valentines Day brings into sharp focus our sense of love, falling in love, being in love, crazy in love, not being in love, falling out of love, totally off love, whatever you feel about love, Valentines Day has become another date ‘to do’ in the expanding calendar of events in our lives.
Between all the romantic dinners, love songs, poems penned about undying or dying love, books, pop culture and art, love is a universal language, a concept from which all kinds of creative works come alive.
But I want to talk, not about romantic love, but about self–love. Not self-love as in pampering love, although that is pretty nice too but about self-love in terms of ‘I am love’ and about how creativity is a manifestation of self-love.
For you lovely peeps following along at home, during last year, much changed in my part of the world. I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, closed down my business and moved our family more than two hundred kilometres away to my home town, where I haven’t lived for more than twenty years. The catalyst for all this change was certainly the diagnosis, but it wasn’t the reason. The reason lies further, in the time I had to recover and what I did with that time.
During those months, every morning I spent time writing. I have kept a journal since I was a kid. With the exception of one long period in my early 20’s, I’ve written most days, it’s like brushing my teeth; it all gets a bit furry if I don’t. This daily ritual has been a constant. It’s the place where I figure stuff out, where I just write stuff, make up stuff, play around with stuff and process a whole bunch of wacky internal stuff that in the cold light of the day could potentially have me in many hours in therapy.
Just as the glorious Julia Cameron in ‘The Artist Way’ prescribes ‘Morning Pages’ as a way to be ‘simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid or too weird”.
I call my morning pages/ journal, ‘my writing pages’ because unlike morning pages, I refer back to them from time to time for ideas, things I have jotted down or to find some insight that is buried deep in the pages of long hand. Sometimes the writing is only in short bursts, but in the case of last year I had heaps of time to write, so I took advantage of that gift and pretty much wrote volumes. It was there in the pages of time that two things happened and changed the course of my history.
Firstly I discovered how much the pushing, striving, yearning, searching and making it happen came from a sense of lack. That feeling of not being enough, not doing enough, not having enough, not creative enough, not good enough and the big one for me, not loved enough.
This might come as a surprise to a lot of people who know me, but isn’t that always the case? From the outside all looks perfectly lovable, but the experience of who we are, in the depths of the dark night is often skewed.
Let me explain what I mean. I was a couple of months into recovery and a client I had worked with for a number of years asked if I could work with them again on a project, I agreed because I really like working with them, the money would be handy, I could do it all from home and they agreed to make it easy for me.
While I was working on the project I caught a little voice on repeat in my head, saying, “If I just do this bit more, or do it this way, then they will love me”. It completely stopped me in my tracks. I remember pushing myself away from my desk, and saying out loud, “Oh my God! That is what I have been doing all these years”? Doing more, giving more in an effort to be more, more creative, more loved. I can only liken it to perhaps being one of those moments some guru’s call ‘making the subconscious, conscious’. That moment shifted my state of being.
What I had running in the background of my life, bled into my creative work. The sense of depletion, resentment and non-fulfilment I experienced showed up as my shortcomings and a fear of being ‘found out’. I bet I’m telling a universal story here, on some level we all do this. It taints our creativity, shames us and potentially stops us from being our creative selves and connecting with our spirit. This led me to the second thing that happened.
As with any serious health issue, it comes with shock and uncertainty. People I knew and people I didn’t reached out to me with love, they prayed for me, kept me in their thoughts, and did acts of loving kindness. I cannot underestimate the deeply profound impact it had on me. I changed and I will forever live my life with gratitude and love because of it.
It was because of this I didn’t feel alone, I felt the powerful energy of gathered good vibes, it was personally very healing and replaced my sense of lack, it filled me up with so much love. It made me realise I am enough, in fact I was always enough, that I am love, as I breathe, I am love without resistance or trying, beyond time and space, it is just so and it is the same for us all.
What I came to know as truth is this; I am love, we are love. I am an expression of love, creativity is the manifestation of this love. Creativity is the outpouring of self-love, it shows up as acts of pure love through art, song, writing, ideas and in living a creative life whatever way that looks.
So today on Valentines Day, put aside any notions of romantic love and bring your awareness to your self. Practise an act of self-love, bring your creative spirit forth and write, draw, sing, dance, run, bake, make and create a happy, healthy creative life.
Just one more thing!
There is a little ironic twist to this tale of love. My name is Amanda, it means to be loved, lovable, worthy of love and I was born on Valentines Day.
With Much Love