Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Shift from Artwork to Soul Work

I had an epiphany today. You know how I like to have those.
But this one is grand and sacred. It feels way too big to write about right now. It feels too big to take on in the midst of purging and packing and preparing for a new job. But I promised myself I would try, because it is the last day of this epic year. And because I know that every breath I take from now on will be changed by this knowing.

I feel like my 2013 was divided into two even halves.
The artwork and the soul work. That was the realization I had today while doing my end-of-the-year reflection that led to the grand epiphany.

Of course there was spill-over on both sides, but the beginning of the year up until the culmination of my 365 Days of Creative project was marked by the intent to make something specific every day.  The second half of the year, starting almost immediately after my 365 celebration, there was a clear shift.

The need to go and do was replaced by a need for stillness and turning inward. There was less making and more being. But all the while making myself, you see.

Perhaps I was too busy planning and controlling outcomes to heed the call before, but when the work was done, when the one creative commitment was met, I embarked on another: soul work.
Soul work seeped into my efforts to reflect on my process more than it ever had before. 

It was not at all a deliberate. In fact, it went completely against my plans to make crazy amounts of art this past Summer, and totally derailed another massive project I had intended to start in the Fall. In the past, this would have gotten me down, but it's as if my soul knew this was the next phase of my learning. I decided to cooperate with my soul's yearnings. I got better at silencing my inner critic. I just accepted that it needed to happen. It was the ultimate practice in surrender and it unfolded perfectly. 

Soul work and spiritual discovery got my serious, undivided attention for the first time in my adult life.
I let my art tools collect dust so that I could go out into the open air and collect experiences and images that made my heart feel peaceful. I spent more time in nature moving my body, and the poetic reflections spilled out of me, one after another. I showed up on my yoga mat more than at my art desk. My daily blog musings turned into occasional check-ins as my soul spilled out more honestly than it ever had in my personal journal through both writing and visioning. I filled page after page, morning after morning with the whispers of my heart. I wrote notes to myself that seemed to come from someplace sacred and bigger than me. I was observant and noticed the signs that the Universe offered to affirm that I was on the right path. I met random strangers and made new friends who echoed it back to me, and I took the time to talk with them. Books fell into my hands with just the affirming words I needed to read and I allowed myself the time to read them.

I set aside my ambitions and trusted instead my intuition. I knew in my gut that I needed to step back from my going and doing. I didn't make art every day, but I made art of my everyday truths- whatever was important in the moment. I did not judge my creative acts. I let them come when they wanted, how they wanted. I breathed in my blessings and harvested my lessons learned. I committed and connected in an entirely new way.

I was true to myself.
I was patient.
I was a vessel for what needed to spill forth, and spill forth it did.
Creating became about getting to know myself better.

I found so much peace in the knowing that I don't have to have it all figured out, and that I don't have to try to get it all done right now. That I have divine help and I am on the perfect path at the perfect time.
It has been a very sacred time in my life.
A game changer. 

Why was this chapter written into my life? Why did it coincide so perfectly with the end of my 365?
I know now it's because I needed it. I needed it to help me continue on my journey. I love that it happened this way. I love that creativity was the impetus for such a beautiful, natural evolution of my spiritual life. I am so looking forward to continuing the journey in 2014, both the spiritual one and the creative one, and now I know that I can travel both simultaneously- and mindfully.

I will now travel with the knowledge that for myself as an artist, hands at heart center are just as necessary as hand on paint brush. 

And from all of this, as I sit in my bathrobe, today's to-do list a wash, but feeling like I found the day's meaning in another more powerful way, this epiphany comes into focus: 

The source of divine energy that I connect with when I give thanks for my blessings or seek answers to my life's questions is the same source of divine energy that fuels my creative fire. My creative practice and my spiritual practice have become one and the same.

I have a lump in my throat as I write this because I'm quite sure it's one of the most important realizations I have made as an artist, as a growing soul. It feels like remembering something that I knew a long long time ago. Maybe before I was born. It's the truth I came here with and I'm slowly learning to live that truth.

When you look back on your year, was there a distinct shift? A turning point? Can you follow the breadcrumbs of creative evidence to the evolution of your soul?


  1. Lovely, Mila! It's funny; I feel like I spent the last half of 2013 doing a lot of soul work, and that's what spurred me to start my 365 project. It may happen differently for all of us, but when we are our authentic selves, creativity and soul seem to combine naturally for us. I only hope that after eleven more months of my project, that I am as eloquent as you, my friend!

  2. You have such a great heart and soul. Thanks for sharing it with us all. Sending love and well wishes to you in this next chapter of your life.
    Melissa Bangco