Posts Tagged ‘IWWG; creativity’

When I began this Napkinwriter blog in late December last year, I promised to introduce you to some of the muses who have influenced the creative work I do and actually the life I live — for they are one and the same.

Meet Jan Phillips who walked into my life around 1995 at my first attendance at the IWWG (International Womens Writing Guild) summer conference at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.

It will come as a surprise to Jan, but unaccustomed, to the high energy of the week-long conference, I first heard about her in the chow-down, constant chatter of the lunch break room of 400 overly-charged, excited creative women.

They were saying something about Jan….Jan……Jan….. and being sure they left the lunchroom to be on time for her 1:00 pm Marrying Your Moose Workshop.

Now I had a hard time choosing which of the truly enticing creative workshops to attend, (for there were too many) but I could not reckon what marrying a moose had to do with creativity.

“No, Sue,” said one. “It’s Marry Your Muse.  You know, the creative partner that gives you your ideas.” 

Oh, that Muse.

So I went to her workshop to find out if I, indeed, wanted to marry my Muse. It turns out, it was love at first sight, and wouldn’t you know it, by the end of the week, I was “hitched up” right there in Jan’s classroom, with Jan doing the spiritual officiating.

It was a mass wedding ceremony, for I don’t think there was a single soul left waiting at the altar by their muse.

We all got to know and love our muse through Jan’s teaching and her Artist’s Creed.

We learned that it was:
                       worth the time it takes to create
                              whatever we are called to create;

We learned that:
                        our work was worthy of its own space
                                and worthy of the word, Sacred

We learned that:
                          we had a right to work uninterrupted

We learned to believe:
                          that what it is that we are called to do
                                   will make itself  known
                                       when we have made ourself

That thread of readiness is what I see and hear, almost twenty years later, in the work of Jan Phillips. Her unique expressions of artistry in her books, photographs, videos, and workshops reflect the joy she receives from the gifts of her muse and prompt us into a readiness to think about and offer our own gifts as co-creators who put forth good into our world.

One of the great things about the IWWG conference is that a woman “without a portfolio” is actually welcomed as a writer, artist, creator. We find out there how we frequently belittle or discount our claim, as in…..”Well, I haven’t actually published anything yet”….or “I’ve started several things but never seem to finish”. 

Jan, in her video, “I am a Woman who Writes” gave us loads of credibility as writer. “I am the woman who writes with fire…writes alone…struggles to believe I have anything to say…write letters to grandson so he knows what I loved along the way…write to find myself between the lines.” Words spoken between images from a young child with the joy of kite flying to the images of women in their 80s and 90s — we are “women who write.”

On her CD cover, “All the Way to Heaven“, Jan says that when she is asked “Why am I doing this?” the answer is always the same: because the joy is in the sharing.

She says that if she does this, she believes someone else will find the courange to do theirs. Because “this is what we do as creators — we shape our thoughts and experiences into forms that can be of use. But they are only useful when we put them out into the world.”

So her CD is a gathering of her prayers and thoughts and love songs, lessons she’s learned along the way, produced in 2001, but making use of words she had written over the previous fifteen years. This is so like many of us artists who have many treasures sitting amongst us that are not out in the light of day yet.

Ten years later, her work is all about sharing what she’s learned about how to be in this world as a creator artist, peace-leader, true companion and champion of  personal uniqueness. And yes, in her presence, you feel her as a cheerleader for each of us to find and express our own creation as a light which our world needs – and without us– will go without.

 For Jan, bushel baskets are for gathering apples at harvest, not hiding our light beneath.

Jan wrote that producing her CD back in 2001 was near the top of the leaps of faith she had made in her life to that point. So what is bigger than a leap? Because she’s been mega-leaping in her creative and spiritual life since that time. Her latest published book is evidence of that.

Do you want to be there when Rumi meets Teilhard? Catherine of Siena meets Dorothy Day? I do.

In “No Ordinary Time, The Rise of Spiritual Intelligence and Evolutionary Creativity”, Jan brings together a tapestry of threads from the arts, sciences, sacred texts, and her own mystical poetry. 

Gloria Steinem describes the book as a lifetime of Aha’s that suddenly give us clarity — about ourselves, about other selves and about our world.

It is a story of one woman’s journey from Catholicism to the new face of global community and co-creation. It is no surprise to me then that she compellingly creates a living illustration of 1)How spiritual practice 2) leads to heightened creativity and 3)expresses itself in inspired evolutionary action.

From the time I’ve known Jan, — from her Artist’s Creed, to I am a Woman Who Writes, through her Marrying the Muse workshop and book, to her stories, songs, and jokes springing forth from her workshops, from her human service mixed into her world travels and communications, to her most recent topics of Original Thinking and Spiritual Intelligence — her artistic expression reveals and calls her own thoughts and images into the world to blend into the sacredness of all. Then, she invites — no actually challenges and dares — others to add their contributions as well to art, thought, imagery, and leadership;  to not hold back; to banish excuses; to lose our littleness and step into the light of day with our own light.

Now those are two long sentences, most likely even grammatically incorrect, but I don’t want to break them up any more The thought is correct and it connects us all to Jan’s work.

Want to know what I think? Here it is:

The writing of this book, “No Ordinary Time”,  is a natural progression of the inspired and compassionate life Jan is living. The reading of this book will lead the readers to try on some new configurations in their own lives that are speaking to them from their own heart.

Find it and many of Jan’s creations at:

Also upcoming workshops in Jan’s Travels:

 April 8-10, 2011  Weber Center, Adrian, Michigan;
Creativity as Sacrament: The Mystery, Power and Grace of Self-Expression. Register by March 25, 2011 For info, http://weber.adriandominicans.org/
Taking registrations through Wed. April 6.

April 15-17 Evolutionary Creativity, Wisdom House, Litchfield, CT
register at jan@janphillips.com or 858-571-1417

 April 29-May 1- Siena Center, Racine, Wisconsin- The Image, the Word, the Story-Tools for Transformation; call Rita Lui, 262-639-4100; http://www.racinedominicans.org/retreats.cfm

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