Freedom in Discipline #30 Love Letter

Dear Ones,

I have been thinking a lot about how change happens. And about the changes we are going through as a people. As a country. As a national identity. Making personal changes can be so uncomfortable that we resist it for far too long. In my meditations on how change happens, I have been inspired by the all-lovely word: CHOICE. That we get to choose IS SO COMPLETELY AMAZING. We cannot choose everything – but we can can choose many things that we are not choosing. One of those things, that we can choose, is a word that not many are immediately fond of: discipline.But I am making friends with discipline. Getting comfortable with the sound of it in my mouth and the feel of it in my heart and the hope of it in my life, and the practice of it in my days.
I had the the thought the other day – and it is not original by any means, but for me, it brought the hope and even relief I was seeking:
freedom in discipline.
And it is from that thought that this letter was born.
Freedom In Discipline:  The Practice of Intentional Creativity

I want to know, what becomes possible when we put creativity in the service of living a chosen life? By ‘chosen life’ – I mean – that we no longer blame our circumstances on what happened before, and we consciously begin living from the place of what I am creating now?

Living here on earth, in these bodies, in this time, -with grace- requires navigational skills. WE….as a global community are being called to go beyond the standard responses in order to create a CHOSEN outcome. We are trying each in our own unique way to meet our challenges – sometimes it is working and sometimes it is not.  For those of us it is working for – we need to share our experiences and ideas with others. We can be in conversation about what is working and how to work together to not be people that things just happen to – but people who CHOOSE a path and work towards it all the time.

Creativity directed in the service of WHO we are is the most powerful tool I know.

What do I mean, Intentional Creativity?

What I mean is: being creative with a specific intention. That is it. The intention could be as simple as: To be peaceful. Or it could be more involved like:

I need to shed light on a decision. Or it could be to heal. To reveal. To self honor. To explore. To discover. To give to ourselves. To give to others. To create is to be GIVING all by ones self. Because it is generative. It is a -this moment forward- kind of action.

It is possible to add this practice to your life – even though right now it may seem impossible. It is not impossible.

Imagine with me…getting up in the wee hours (right now it is 4 am).
Imagine gathering your ingredients. (or…you could actually do it)

Ingredients for a Intentional Creative Practice for those who don’t have any time.

gentle alarm clock
book of your choice
half hour

advanced practitioners
coloring pens

Now. Find the most comfortable place you can to sit (I prefer the corner of the couch with bunches-oh-pillows surrounding me. Soft light – enough to see but not an overhead light. Sit with your chosen item – book, drawing pad, notebook, coloring book, computer and say a prayer about what it is you are doing here. Then put pen to paper and begin.
Ideas: Think softly while you go along…
I would like to experience peace right now.
I need more information about such and such decision.
I am struggling to overcome _________and what that might look like is __________.
Dear Creator, this time is dedicated to loving you. Show me what you want me to see.
What do I need to do to experience peace right now?

Or you could actually set an INTENTION.

I would like to experience peace right now.
I am experiencing peace right now.
I am peace right now.

Every single one of us is a creative being.

Every bone in your body is creative.

We all KNOW this on some level. We were conceived and born creative. Creator endowed each of us with unique gifts of creativity. It is never true when someone says:

‘I don’t have a creative bone in my body’. EVERY bone in your body is creative. What we need is the TIME to develop it. The commitment to do it. The desire to learn from it. We have what we need. That is my claim. It is right here at our finger tips and toe tips and tips of our consciousness. The very center of creativity lives in our heart. Both spiritual and physical. The place from which life is held. Nurtured. Generated. Designed.

We have an etheric creative heart through which we live our lives all the time. Everyone. No exception. It is the center of command for how we live our life.  We can chose to use our creativity for good, or for harm. It is a chosen life – we are choosing even and especially when we do not choose. We can fall into the bad things, traps laid by life or media or story or any odd assortment of happenings that are happening all the time, simultaneous with good things.

Do you remember the first time you REALIZED that good things and bad things were happening all at the same time?  Birth and Death. Goodness and Meanness. Growth and Enforced Ignorance. Education and the undoing of it.  At that moment we had a glimpse of a chosen life…we could not always choose WHAT happened around us, although some things we could. BUT we can almost always, with practice, CHOOSE how we relate and respond to the continuous happenings happening to us. Depending on how you think things occur, whether it is all on purpose or not, whether there are accidents or no accidents, whether God has it mapped out or it is random. NO matter what your VIEW on the collective happenings is, one thing does not change: OUR REACTIONS TO OUR CIRCUMSTANCES WILL DETERMINE OUR ABILITY TO MANAGE OUR LIVES IN A LOVING MANNER. Loving to us. Loving to others. Loving to the world. To anything.

We are living our reactions all the time.  When we create, we are not just responding to life and circumstance, we are moving in tandem, outside of linear time, with living a chosen, generative life. By generative I mean, – this moment forward -. I mean, creating with intention for wellness.  BEING GENERATIVE. Not taking from but adding to. Not just processing, but actually, proceeding. Not being reactive, but being proactive. Not being a victim of, but reaching out from story into legend.  Into a chosen life that you have something to do with designing. Co-creating with Creator through accessing your unique creative gifts in service to the unfolding of a life lived with power and intention.

A lot of the time, we want to know – what am I going to GET?

If I buy this car. Take this workshop. Read this book. Be friends with them. What am I going to get?

We are in a mode of what we can -get-. Because so much of life, it can feel like, is being “taken” so we have to make up for it by getting in order to balance the scale. I am guilty of this myself – and all the things in the note are here because it is my struggle too. When I am overworked I say things like: I have given my life to this business! and I say it in a victimy way. It makes me feel even worse. Instead, when I am refreshed I might say: I am living my life work no matter what! When I share things, clearly it is not because I have it all figured out! However, I am speaking from the place of LIVING a creative practice over a long period of time.

Creative practice is not all or nothing. It is all and everything. We JUST keep on making attempts towards discipline.  I remember I said to my Mom one day, I cannot remember to take my vitamins on a daily basis so I get behind and then I just stop. And she said: just take them when you do remember. That is more than if you don’t do it at all.  Mother’s wisdom. How simple is that? It is not about “getting it right” but about doing it in a way that our life is enriched.  That simple statement changed how I live my life. Really.  To do it as often as one remembers or thinks of it – IS a pattern. Can become a discipline. It is when we beat ourselves up and quit that it does not work.  Rumi says something like: if you cannot pray a real prayer, pray a dry mouthed prayer.  Yes, we can do what we can do!

That being said, this letter is not ultimately about doing what we can. It is about something else. It is about calling you to create. And about choosing, as many times as is needed, to return to creating. And through all of that – choosing to become disciplined about those things which can make the most difference, and a contribution to who you are becoming in this life. Not just who you are, but who you are becoming. It is not set. Destiny has not determined how it will unfold. You have free will. Chosen life. True that you cannot change what has already happened, although we know now we can change how we LIVE with what has happened.  We are dancers in this dance of life!

Recently in a note I wrote to some of the women on the amazing team I am blessed with – calling us together to design HOW and WHO we are going to be to make our businesses thrive. I asked them to consider the distinction in thinking between being a dancer and being a choreographer. (As a whole, life needs both the dancers and the choreographers. BUT thinking from the space of choreographer when one is the dancer can make the difference in our performance.) I am talking about the difference between being a worker bee and being the queen bee.  WITHIN THE CONTEXT of our own practice, not in relation to others. The difference between thinking like an employee and thinking like an entrepreneur. AGAIN, in personal being-ness. Coming from the place of being a bottom line thinker even if our job is to hold the middle line. We treat the middle line from a bottom line mentality – we don’t go do the actual bottom line which may be someone else’s job. We treat our own job as if each PART we touch and hold has to be done with the care as if IT were the bottom line. Because we know from experience that if the middle parts break down, the bottom line has to work harder to compensate.

What if we approached our creativity with the rigor and the discipline that says:

Creativity is essential to my well being.
What if it is? What if it is your missing ingredient?

I believe that creativity is the tool that Creator gave to us to access our internal information. The password to the internal information, is creativity. Through the being-ness of creation, not the doing-ness of busy-ness. The busier we are, the harder it is to THINK clearly. Notice that? Creativity clears space in our minds and hearts. OPENS us to new thinking. There is a gentleness for oneself that comes when we invite discipline. We can think about discipline – not from a teachers or parents view – but from our own internal compass – seeing that it is through personal discipline that real progress is made.

What that looks like is different for all of us. For me, taking time off is a discipline.
Discipline meanw showing up for ourselves.

The reason I am calling this Freedom in Discipline is because the REAL benefit – the lasting – true – profound – healing – transformational – liberating benefit actually comes when we create on a consistent basis. This does not mean all the time. Even once a month constitutes a “practice” in my book. Once a week is even better. Daily, well, we can hope for that and with that hope, 3 days would be outstanding.  We cannot wait for inspiration, or time. There is not often a “flow” in the getting started of creativity – the flow comes later. In the beginning we approach the hard work ahead with a hope of fruitfulness, the courage to proceed and willingness to do what it takes.

Fridah Kahlo tells us…“I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.”   (1953-04-27)

What if I told you that you had MORE information available from your brain and heart that you could gain access to RIGHT NOW through a half hour of not-so-hard work?
This is the promise only made by the most rigorous of disciplines. It is also the promise of creativity.  And you don’t have to do it for years on end for it to start working. You can get RIGHT into more INFORMATION as soon as you start, and set your intention on it.
For a while it may not be like a flash of light – it may seem just kind of fun and normal at first. But later in the day you notice how you are more creative at solving a problem. You don’t react because the waitress is being rude, you look her in her eyes and thank her for her service. You choose creative forms of kindness more consistently over time. BECAUSE? Not to chose creative forms of kindness becomes inconsistent with your practice and your practice WILL let you know about it.  So the practice part is not just about being consistent with the practice itself, but about practicing the behaviors that are consistently working towards being loving. The creative part is the GROUNDING agent which empowers you to continue to improve and refine how we are living in this life, in this body, in this creation.
Of course I am not saying this is easy. I am calling you to it today however.
Join me in the creativity revolution.
Enter into sacred arts movement – where what we create is created with the intention of healing – of beauty. It is not art for art sake – I don’t know about that.  It is art for our sake.
Some of you who come to my workshops tell me that it is the only time you DO paint or create.  And that your practice IS coming to workshops like the ones I make. So, by special request, I have planned a six month long mentorship which calls us into our own creative practice by getting together once a month, at least, to carve the pathway to our creative selves. We are going to work on a BIG painting, create a journal, pray and play and plan! YA!

We have to MAKE the space. We have to carve it out. Like Michelangelo with the Duccio block –  we have to take it on, though it may be damaged and gouged and long in need of tenderness, we approach it with the vigor that accepts the challenge to create.  From the Duccio Block, Michelangelo carved David – one of the greatest works ever made – and he did it with something that no one wanted – something abandoned for many years, something people said could not be done.
(Okay so this may be the only time when a naked man appears in one of my e-mails…Makes me think of all the controversy regarding Ms. Magazine putting Obama on their cover! )
Our own masterpiece is the life we are living right now. Not when it is better. More. Out of debt. Beyond that story. As soon as. It is right now. Despite the suffering and the loss. Despite the terrible reality of our world’s cruelty and how it weighs on our hearts. We can create. We do not create despite the hardship, we create from it. Through it. With it. Being informed by it.

This life is not about a systematic removal of hard things from our life, although our self litany seems to point towards such madness. This life is a tender integration of the challenges and the blessings into a journey we are proud to call our own.

As a Christian woman, creativity as a practice is a very integrated part of my faith walk.  Jesus and Mary brought creativity to me as my way of living here – or rather, I live through creativity. And part of my instructions were to share what they brought to me. I offer these writings and paintings up as my prayers, icons of love for you and for our world.  When I first started really painting and writing and drawing I had NO concept of how my work would unfold into this creative ministry. But I listened. I worked in my notebook. I continued faithfully to approach the altar of Creation. Through that diligence all of my books and businesses and workshops and paintings were born.  I give praise to Creator for the gift of this life!

To choose discipline for me, means I am liberated to do what I am here to do:
to minister. to serve. to teach. to bless. to invite. To provide an alternative approach.  To cause a creativity revolution. For me, sharing creativity is sharing love – it is my call to action. My heart.  My offering.
“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the servant of everyone else. ” Jesus, Mark 10
I am sitting at the Flying Goat Cafe in Healdsburg, California right now. We are in the middle of moving from the country into town. SEE how important creativity is, I am STOPPING everything and writing this note – for you – for me – for proof that life must STOP so that creativity can get across the road. That is how creativity gets across the road. We stop and realize the value of WHO WE ARE. Our ideas. Our diversity. Our unique offerings.
I will now be living a few blocks from the Cosmic Cowgirls Studio – and Electric Rose Gallery. This move, like most, has blessings and hardships inside of it. We are doing our fair share of getting things more simple, which complicates things at first (in case you hadn’t noticed…)
In the next issue, I will launch my new blog – Our Lady of the Red Thread which will feature the back issues of Love Letters, as well as new writings on my faith walk as a Christian woman who LOVES the Mother Mary. For years when I speak to people about this – they want to know more – how I can make that happen in my life – when it happened – what it is like – if it is Biblical to love Mary –  and they ask me to write about it and talk about it. I have been praying about the “appropriate” place to share my faith walk, and finally it is coming to fruition in the blog.  Any of you reading this who have every worked with me know how I almost always use the red thread in the opening circles at my events.  I have followed the story of the red thread throughout the world. So the blog theme is about following the red thread. I am very excited about it and part of it is inspired by new church community – which just happens to have an image of Mama Mary holding a red thread…imagine that! Tune into the next issue for the details…
May We All Live In Love,

Shiloh Sophia McCloud
Cosmic Cowgirls 1-800-515-6623 Contact: Mary MacDonald
Electric Rose Gallery 1-707-431-7827 Contact: Dori Etter
Wisdom House Gallery 1-888-385-6866 Contact: Jill Peden
Ok. Ok. I finally signed up. Thank you for all the requests all this time. I did it! I cannot figure out if I am catching up with technology or not –
it seems like such a on-going journey….
Footnotes on David: The marble David (1501-4) is the tallest statue ever made by Michelangelo. It was commissioned by the Florentine Republic following his success with the St. Peter’ Pietá (1497). The enormous marble block that Michelangelo’s David was carved out of was termed ‘Il Gigante’ by contemporaries and was originally acquired in 1464 for Agostino di Duccio, who conspicuously failed to produce the originally commissioned David. The giant marble block, who Vasari and Condivi say was considerably damaged by Agostino, remained unfinished for nearly forty years in the Office of Works of Florence Cathedral.[10] According to Vasari, the triumphant young Michelangelo, upon returning to Rome, offered to carve the mutilated block without adding extra pieces[11] and proclaimed of his audacious project, “David with his sling and I with my bow – Michelangelo.” The bow refers to the sculptor’s drill, and the verse shows that Michelangelo thought of himself as doing battle with the damaged block with nothing other than his own skill and courage, just as David overcame Goliath with just a sling and rock. Excerpted from–statue.html