Monday, November 9, 2009

The Muted Ones

Several years ago I was in a "dream tending" workshop with Dr. Stephen Aizenstat and wound up in a small group activity with some incredibly creative and talented women. What truly amazed me was their hesitancy and insecurity about their own wonderousness. I knew I was tiptoeing around my own creativity and rightfully so ... nothing in my history had even hinted that I had a creative atom in my body. The wonder of poetry had recently shown up in my life but I fluffed it off as a fluke and not a very good one at that. It made sense that I didn't value my creative spirit but why were these other women unable to see their own amazing light? As I grappled with this conundrum, the following poem appeared and gave me courage to take the next step toward my rightful inheritance ... the gift without limits that is given to each of us.

The Muted Ones

We are the muted ones:

Emily, dream painter with her sad-eyed wolf
... longing to run free and wild in the world.
Cynthia, mountain woman, survival woman,
... carrying our mothers into the next generation.
Sara, spirit guide, searching for her voice
... in the dusty bookshelves of our fathers.
Joyce, practical person, confused by the muse
... of poetry who keeps rapping on her shoulder.

Imposters! Showoffs. Upstarts all.
Who gave these women leave to speak?
Who granted them time on life’s creative stage?
Who blessed their art? Certified their words?

No one.

No one said they could speak.
No one told them they could paint.
No one made it ok to dance, to act,
To sing, to weave or to write.

Because the creative force does not ask permission.
The creative spirit does not beg for attention.
It simply shows up and demands its due.
Demands the nectar of courage … truth … action.

Or, it moves on.

Sometime later, I found Jan Phillips book Marry Your Muse and her amazing artist's creed which I think every person should read, perhaps daily, regardless of where their creative spirit leads them ... for creativity is truly part of the inheritance of each of us. We may express it differently ... some as "art", some as service, some as the very life they live but creativity is a gift given to everyone. It is the light within us. Here are Jan's words:

The Artist's Creed
I believe I am worth the time it takes to create whatever I feel called to create.
I believe that my work is worthy of its own space, which is worthy of the name Sacred.
I believe that, when I enter this space, I have the right to work in silence, uninterrupted, for as long as I choose.
I believe that the moment I open myself to the gifts of the Muse, I open myself to the Source of All Creation and become One with the Mother of Life Itself.
I believe that my work is joyful, useful, and constantly changing, flowing through me like a river with no beginning and no end.
I believe that what it is I am called to do will make itself known when I have made myself ready.
I believe that the time I spend creating my art is as precious as the time I spend giving to others.
I believe that what truly matters in the making of art is not what the final piece looks like or sounds like, not what it is worth or not worth, but what newness gets added to the universe in the process of the piece itself becoming.
I believe that I am not alone in my attempts to create, and that once I begin the work, settle into the strangeness, the words will take shape, the form find life, and the spirit take flight.
I believe that as the Muse gives to me, so does she deserve from me: faith, mindfulness and enduring commitment.
-- Jan Phillips, from "Marry Your Muse"


  1. Love, Love, LOVE this post, the photo, the poem, the Phillips quote. Have you seen her book "God is at Eye Level?" It's been my bible for years; I think I'm due for another re-reading. All us artists should post this creed before us... so perfect...


  2. Thanks, Diane, for the comment and book recommendation ... which, of course, I just bought ... and had to buy another one to get my free shipping. Oh, Drat! ;-)

  3. Haha Joyce -- I do the same thing to earn the free shipping. The stack of books I have to read keeps growing, and my soul feels lighter and lighter surrounded by something I love so much -- books.

    Like Diane -- I love, love LOVE this post.

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonder, and your creative spirit so generously.



  4. So dangerous reading the comments and blogs of three women whom I am proud to call me friends. . . I'm going to go broke buying books (don't tell my husband but books are my first love). I have to go back to Amazon, which just replenished my stack, and get these books, too!

    Wonderful post, Joyce. I thrilled at reading The Artist's Creed and would like to post it on my own blog with a kudos to you for bringing it to my attention.

  5. It's so nice to be among book friends ... even if it does stretch the budget! As for The Artist's Creed ... just be sure to mention Jan Phillips and her website ... I think the creed needs to be passed along and taken to heart.