The beauty and power of a poem

Creativity has so much to offer us as a way to process emtions and express what we feel. Many of us are experiencing a lot of enmotion in the aftermath of the election, and I urge you to do something creative with the energy connected to your emotions.

You may feel like pulling out paints or digging in your garden. You may feel like dancing to loud music or playing a musical instrument. I wrote a poem today.

I encourage you to try creating poetry. It's so basic and simple. All you need is a paper and pen, or a keyboard, and you can get started. A great approach is to write a 3-minute poem. Just set a timer and start expressing what you are feeling. Your poem needn't rhyme — just let your thoughts flow and see what happens.

If you like that, you can play with other forms and lengths of poetry writing. It is an enormously satisfying way to express yourself and to feel relief if you are struggling with challenging emotions.

I would love for us to share poems, so please add yours in the comments below. Let's start a bit of a creative movement to heal ourselves and heal the world.

Here is the poem I wrote today:

What my art — and making it — is teaching me

A SCULPTURE I RECENTLY   COMPLETED.

A SCULPTURE I RECENTLY  COMPLETED.

Having embarked on a new professional direction after selling my design firm 5 years ago, I dicovered that I loved Intuitive Painting (so much that I became an instructor in that proecess), but that engaging in other personal creative work was a challenge. In time I started writing poetry (as I have always loved words, and that was a comfortable way for me to express ideas and emotions). And, last year I enrolled in a class at Boston's MFA and began sculpting in clay. To my delight, I loved working with my hands and in three dimensions.

On my fall 2015 sabbatical, I took a new big step and enrolled in an abstract painting course at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. To say that it was life-changing is not an overstatement. I had a brilliant teacher and wonderful classmates who generously embraced me as a new student, and who all taught me more than I'd have imagined possible in a one-semester course.

Now, I am enrolled at the SMFA in Bosotn, with another brillient painting teacher and inspiring classmates. And, I have continued to study with my sculpting teacher.

All of this art-making takes a lot of time. I wondered, at first, if perhaps I was devoting too much time to this work, as my coaching practice and the programs I offer are so important to me and require so much time and attention. Now that we are four months into 2016, I am taking stock of the decisions I made, and how the balance is working for me.

MY MOST RECENT SCULPTURE, ASSEMBLED QUICKLY AND INTUITIVELY WITH FOUND OBJECTS.

MY MOST RECENT SCULPTURE, ASSEMBLED QUICKLY AND INTUITIVELY WITH FOUND OBJECTS.

What I have realized is that my creative work is richly rewarding — and it challenges me. In the best moments, I make what I feel tangible in my art. I sometimes find myself in such flow that I completely lose track of time. That is an amazing experience, and one that, happily, I often replicate when engaged in my coaching work.

Other times when I am in the studio, and more often this semester in my painting class, I find myself struggling to connect to my intution, unable to create with ease. I had decided at the start of the semester to deliberately use this painting class to experiment with a wide range of techniques, so that I my painting process can flow. I want to find a way to paint that feels like home for me. So, I am perservering and have started to find more freedom as I paint.

Strikingly, when I am at work outside of either the painting or sculpting studios, I realize that I more naturally look for opportunities to be responsive, intuitive, adaptable and, yes, creative — in recognizing unexpected and intriguing ideas, and in the decisions I make and the actions I take. This fluidity is striking to me, and is leading me in exciting directions. And, the happiness I feel with my work is ever increasing.

I am certain that my descion to devote time to personal creative exploration is paying dividends for me, and I am excited as I contemplate continuing my journey to develop as an artist.

More than flowers and candy

Prompted by all the talk of Valentine's Day, I sent out an email this afternoon with some of my thoughts about the power of love.

And then I considered my plans for the holiday, and how I wanted to express my love for the man who has been the warmest, brightest light in my life for so many years. Early on, we went with flowers, a nice dinner out, and cards to celebrate. And while it wasn't "original," it was always lovely. For the last decade we have taken a little trip to Vermont around this time each year. It's a precious gift we give ourselves. The time away is wonderful to anticipate, to enjoy while we're there, and to reflect on long after we return. 

Today I wrote poem to tuck into the card I'll bring along for my husband. And, I wanted to write a poem for you, too. I hope you enjoy this small personal creation. Perhaps you'll be inspired to write a poem — or make your own card, or create in some other special way — for those you love dearly. Sharing a special creation that comes from your heart is sure to make this year's celebration extra-special and memorable.

Wishing you a wonderful Valentine's Day!


the greatest gift

the gift most precious 
is the love in my heart

for those dearest to me
for all goodness 
for expressers of kindness
for the planet we inhabit
for all who cherish peace
for the generous
the creators
the healers
the teachers

this love has no limit

Forging new identity

If you did not hear or read about my opportunity to partner with painter ZsuZsanna Donnell in a gallery opening at First Friday in SoWa, you may not know that I have formally and publicly shared my poetry for the first time. In a show titled Powerful Pairings, ZsuZsanna’s breathtaking large paintings were all paired with my poems. As people entered the gallery, many asked who was the artist and who the poet. And so I found myself saying, “I am the poet.”

It was an amazing — and surprising — feeling to call myself a poet. This is an identity I never imagined for myself. But, as with many new things I have explored and made a focus in my life in the last few years, a new part of my creative spirit has emerged and taken shape.

I believe that most of us have hidden gifts that are waiting to emerge. I have always loved words, so it’s not really surprising that I started playing with words as a way to channel emotion and express ideas. What is surprising is that it took until this stage in my life to explore the possibility of writing poetry.

What do you love that could be a form of new creative expression — and maybe could become a new dimension of your identity? Whether you’ve always dreamed of writing a novel, keeping a sketchbook, writing song lyrics, becoming a dancer, playing an instrument, being an inventor, building furniture, teaching what you know and love, pursuing a sport, or anything else, I hope you’ll devote a little time for your heart and spirit to explore the possibilities.

And, if you have begun something new and exciting in your life, I’d love for you to share your story.

Oh, what a night!

Do you remember the old hit song by the Four Seasons? If so, you’ll get an idea of what a marvelous night I had on November 9. I made my debut as a poet on this First Friday at SoWa in Boston!

Poetry may sound funny in terms of First Fridays, as they are all about galleries and studios welcoming people to visit and view the latest art on exhibit. Let me explain.

A brilliant artist, ZsuZsanna Donnell, has attended two of my workshops. After both workshops, I emailed a poem to the people who’d attended — and both times, ZsuZsanna wrote back to me to say she’d done a painting with the same title as my poem. This was too much of a coincidence to ignore, and so we decided we’d collaborate. And, since ZsuZsanna had a gallery show scheduled in her SoWa studio for the November First Friday, we made that our focus.

Another great coincidence is that ZsuZsanna came to my first workshop seeking inspiration to continue her work making large-scale paintings. And, my work is all about teaching people to live big. So, “big” was a theme for both of us.

Having made our plan, ZsuZsanna sent me a photo of her magnificent painting titled, “Oh My”. It’s 6' wide and 7' tall, and even in jpeg form it took my breath away! The poem for that painting poured out onto my keyboard, and I couldn’t wait for her to send more images of her paintings and their titles. As they arrived, I wrote poems for each. Poems for “Continuum”, “Common Ground”, “More”, and “Zero to Infinity” soon followed.

I printed the poems out large, to hang next to the canvases. We spent a great day hanging the show. We also wanted the opening to be a time for people to get creative themselves, so I brought strips with phrases from my poems and ZsuZsanna brought color prints of lots of her art. We set up a worktable, provided scissors, glue sticks, tape and markers, and devoted one of the gallery walls for people post their collaged creations. 

Rochelle and ZsuZsanna.

Rochelle and ZsuZsanna.

"Zero to Infinity" on the left; "Common Ground" in the middle; "Oh My" on the right.

"Zero to Infinity" on the left; "Common Ground" in the middle; "Oh My" on the right.

ZsuZsanna in front of "Continuum".

ZsuZsanna in front of "Continuum".

Watching people enter the gallery, read the poems and ponder the paintings, then spend time creating with the words and images that touched them, was truly a thrill. ZsuZsanna and I had amazing conversations and delighted in the fantastic energy and enthusiasm all around us.

In particular, I loved that we enabled people to create, not just observe. Seeing the wall become a growing collage of words and colors was fantastic. But seeing the emotional dimension — in the content of the collaged pieces and the connections that people made as they assembled their pieces — was even more special.

You can read the poems that were written for ZsuZsanna's paintings, as well as others I had on hand for people to take home, on the new Poetry page I have added to the site.