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Posts Tagged ‘No Ordinary Time’

It’s time to hear from Jan Phillips again. It is hard to catch up with her these days. She has been on the road constantly with her creativity, message and love across the country.

I was looking for some seed ideas to pour forth into my current creative project and this is one of her phrases that took rest in my heart: …”Me falling into this featherbed of forgetfullness,…” from Jan.

So here is a short section of her poetry and prose I am offering from her latest, best-selling book,  No Ordinary Time, the Rise of Spiritual Intelligence and Evolutionary Creativity, pages 74-75.

“To create is to make something whole from the pieces of our lives, and in the process, to become more whole ourselves. It is a healing act, a leave-taking from the chaos as we move from the choppy surface toward the stillness of the center. What was the last thing you created? What pieces were you putting together? Was it healing?”

(Yes, for Sue, it was healing. For in my doing of this one small piece of creation, that very act simply let me know I had not forsaken the completion of the whole project that has had a long standing calling in my soul).

It would not become, as the lyrics of one of Anne Murray’s songs said: …. “before the children of my mind become the orphans of my soul.” This creative child work will be born whole at some future date.  

“Into your hands, I commend my failures,
my rash judgments, my criticisms,
my proneness for separation,
my harsh opinions.
Into the bowl of your cosmic lap
I heave my ten thousand undigested sorrows,
my tempests of thoughtlessness,
my ramblings of misery, chaos, lonliness.

Lies, lies all of them!

Me falling into this featherbed of forgetfullness:
Oh, what a sight!
Remove all mirrors when I flail like this,
when I become a lost one
wandering in the dark.

“Imagine that when we’re born, each one of us comes to earth with the radiance of, say a hundred watt bulb. That’s our natural state — 100 watts. As we go through life, our job is to maintain that brightness, and even improve it if we can. What dims it, we learn through experience, is negativity, anger, resentments, regrets. What brightens it is harmony, balance, joy.”  (Jan Phillips)

I fly on these words of Jan to the upstairs bedroom in the old Wisconsin farmhouse where, as a young grandchild, I enjoyed all the gifts a real featherbed had to give.

And reflecting on Jan’s words,  I think the image of a featherbed of forgetfullness is a great place for my negativity, anger, resentments, regrets to fall…..For my drama to be swallowed up… for my chaos to disappear…for my ramblings to be drown out…for my undigested sorrows to take flight and leave me….for my thoughtlessness to be converted by the softness of the feather quills…. for my lonliness to fall through the depths and width of the feather filling….and for my misery to vanish in the feathery, forgiving down that accepts and molds to my body’s form.

Be gone, all you lies and in the morning I will replace you with a new dawn of harmony, balance and joy.  Let me arise with true love for myself and for others as is the Will of the Divine. Let me think like the 100 watt bulb and experience the radiance of it. Let me speak the words of good I want fulfilled in my life and the good I want to see created in the world.

 I am lucky enough to know, in child-like fashion, the sensual loveliness the feather bed provides. What an open invitation it held for a child at night, weary from the day’s field-roaming adventures. What a playground, it was as though fluffy while Cumulus clouds were my playmates as I sprang about it.

It is nice to think of a feather bed wiping away all the ill-effects and results of forgetting who I truly am — the results of feeling lonely, critical, confused, judgmental, miserable and sorrowful — just as easily as it accepted and comforted me, the small child.

I can lay these defects of character down gently, or even with the celebration of a big leap, landing right in the middle of them, knowing that I can awaken  and remember — in any new moment —  the Truth of who I really am.

That’s putting the pieces together. That’s healing.

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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
                                                                      ready.

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:
http://www.janphillips.com/giftshop.html

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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