Since it’s Creativity Thursday, I thought I would share my news about speaking at the Second National Summit: Arts, Health and Well-Being Across the Military Continuum on April 10, at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I will serve as a panelist for the Discussion 2: Re-entry/Reintegration Military Treatment Facilities. My co-panelists are Linda O’Neil, a Smith Center artist, and Tara Tappert, Exhibitions Coordinator at Combat Paper Project and archives and American arts consultant. Ermyn F. King, Creative Arts Program Coordinator at Walter Reed, will serve as a the moderator. During the discussion, I will share my experience of working with wounded warriors, military personnel, and hospital staff as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts.
Every person is born with a spark of creativity that can awaken them to an amazing life. Throughout my life’s journey, I have witnessed my spark of creativity expand through the nurturing support of other artists. Today, I am remembering Tasko Bey, an amazing master artist I met while working as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts at Howard University Hospital. When I met Tasko, he was a patient living with cancer and a graduate student in Howard University’s Master of Fine Arts program. Prior to attending Howard, his work was exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Our first expressive arts sessions turned into a mini workshop where he served as a teacher and coach. He even gave me homework. For the next two years, he utilized our sessions as teaching moments. In 2005, he urged me to pick up a pencil and draw and use a paint brush to paint my first series of paintings. He showed me how to tap into my intuition for creative guidance and encouraged me to experiment with watercolor, gouache, and acrylic painting.
I fell in love with acrylic paints. As a result, I created a series of paintings that I later used to illustrate my book covers for Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One and That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetical Memoir of Self-Discovery. One of my favorite paintings from this series is “That Which Awakens Me: Kreative Grooviness.” See photo above. It hangs in my sunny yellow kitchen and reminds me of Tasko and his passionate love of art. Click here to watch a video about the painting (starts with an introduction to another painting and some of my collages) and my art studio. Enjoy!
Do you draw or paint?
Who or what inspired you to begin drawing or painting?
Today, I am celebrating the amazing wounded warriors, military families, and hospital staff I get to work with as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts each week at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
I’ve been working as a Smith Center artist since 2002. My work at Walter Reed began in 2010. Since then, I have grown to deeply appreciate the many sacrifices our military women, men, and families make on behalf of the United States of America. I have also been able to witness the fantastic creative expressions of military women, men, and their families. What a blessing!
Click here to see photos from my Walter Reed experiences. Enjoy!
When I am not working at Walter Reed, I am always on the look out for creative inspiration. I find it in books, films, magazines, music, social media (Pinterest), web sites, and yoga. This month, I am getting a lot of inspiration from Poets & Writers magazine.
What are your sources of creative inspiration?
PS: If you would like to read about my creative journey, check out my memoir That Which Awakens Me on Amazon.com. It is available on Kindle.
My debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One features a main character who works as a museum curator and art consultant in Washington, D.C. Click here to visit the Love’s Troubadours’ Pinterest board which contains some great information about the novel. You can purchase it on Amazon.com.
I hope you had a great weekend! How did you spend it? What were the highlights?
My weekend highlights included attending my Mastermind meditation group meeting, working at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as an artist-in-residence with a retired Army airman who told me some great stories as we created two collages with poems and six word memoirs, hanging out/dancing/sipping on cocktails with my cousin Sharon and her friends at a really cool lounge called Cities, running the Race for Hope DC 5K, spending time with my creative accountability sister Jess at Cafe Collage, writing, going to church, napping, taking some nice long walks, and seeing the Restless City movie at the West End (wonderful movie).
The one thing that really stayed with me was meeting people impacted by brain tumor cancer during the Race for Hope DC 5K race. The conversations I had were deep and at times caused my eyes to water up. When I crossed the finished line, I bowed my head in deep gratitude and dedicated my run to everyone living with brain tumor cancer. Click here to listen to my audio blog that includes some of my Race Day reflections.
So what’s your week looking like?
Mine is all about getting my rest, writing, decluttering, fitness training at the gym, running 3 miles 3x this week in preparation for June 5K, yoga/Reiki/meditation, and finishing my homework from my financial advisor.
It’s chilly and rainy in DC today. The photos (above and below) I took on Easter Sunday while taking a walk in my Dupont Circle neighborhood warmed me up. They also reminded me how much fun I’ve been having as I embrace my visual voice with photography on a weekly basis. Click here to see more photos expressing my visual voice.
My digital diet is coming along. Last week I did a better job of turning off my laptop and HTC EVO smartphone in the evening. I know my morning running and yoga practice are helping me stay centered.
This week I decided to use Monday and Wednesday as my primary social media days on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, and WordPress. Wish me luck!
Image #1 Wisdom from Yours Truly: Always open your hand to receive.
Image #2 Wisdom from poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes: “In the face of ‘too much’ we gradually become dry, our hearts get tired, our energies become spare, and a mysterious longing for – we almost never have a name for it other than ‘a something’ rises up in us more and more.”
Image #3 Wisdom from author Madeleine L’Engle: “Every so often I need OUT.”
These messages represented a Spring wake up call: Continue practicing awareness of what I need. They also invited me to return to the first page of my 2012 journal. Here’s what I wrote on January 1.
2012 must be different from 2011. I must return to the deep, juicy space of creativity that I discovered in 1992, the year I baptized myself in poetry, meditation, journal writing, self publishing my own work, art, daydreaming, museum and gallery visits, and travel adventures. I must come home to myself. What road must I take? When I start walking along the road, how do I come home to myself? Through fierce living from your creative heart. What’s that?
Fierce Living is
F – Finding your
I – Inner women inside of you by
E – Exploring who they are and
R – Receiving them into your life as your
C – Community of
E – Expression and
When you tap into your inner women be sure to
L – Listen to them because they offer
I – Intuition
V – Vulnerability
I – Imagination
N – Nurturing and
G – Growth opportunities
This acronym of fierce living from my creative heart has become my personal theme for 2012 and a reminder of what I need to do to come home to myself.
Coming home to myself has allowed me to spend time reconnecting with my eight inner women otherwise known as archetypes and personalities. We’ve known each other for many years now. They include Ancestor, my wise woman; Ananda, my spirit woman and mystic; Kiamsha, my creative woman; Madelyn, my CEO woman; Cheryl, my balanced woman and peacekeeper; Puf, my girl child and Black American Princess; Sapphire, my warrior woman and sexy vixen; and Broomhilda, my inner critic.
Since January, we have reconnected through mindful meditation, Reiki healing touch, yoga, journaling, collage making, writing an intention statement, playing with six-word memoirs, going on creative adventure dates and walks, reading magazines, listening to music, shopping for our favorite things, and playing dress up in my closet. This investment of time has helped me deeply listen to myself. So far, I have discovered that I need to do a better job of taking care of myself. I need to practice self-compassion. I need more ME time to just be, to rest, to daydream, to imagine, and to create. I need to set better boundaries with my time, energy, resource sharing, and relationships. I also need to say NO to certain people and requests so I can have space to say YES to the people and things that nourish my creative heart. Today, I discovered coming home to myself is a daily necessity and an essential part of my life journey.
Copyright 2012 by Madelyn C. Leeke. All Rights Reserved.
I am in the middle of writing my second memoir, Digital Sisterhood: Fierce Living Online for 25 Years. It’s my third book in five years!
My creative process is magical, messy, and SLOW right now. I am struggling with the fear of writing a new book and wondering how it will be received. I have turned to my artwork for comfort.
My creative soul has found sanctuary in Collagetry. Collage + Poetry = Collagetry. It is a technique I developed while working as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts at Howard University Hospital.
A few weeks ago I created several Collagetrys (my made up word) for patients I was working with at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I took photos of the collages because they spoke to my writing fears and life as an artist. See below.
This Memoir Collagetry reminded me to own my story and voice in my writing process. It also reminded me of the collages I made during my first memoir writing process and the energy and inspiration I received after creating them. So I made a mental note to make more time in my writing process for collage.
The message of this Healing Artist Collagetry really touched me: Self-expression. This is you. This is now. Healing artist. Your heart. Watercolor landscape. It offered me permission to use my healing artwork as a path back to my memoir writing.
After reading the book’s description on Amazon.com, I ordered a copy. I started reading the book and have enjoyed the journaling exercises which are forcing me to confront my writing fears. One of my fears is running out of inspiration. So I have turned to Pinterest. I created two inspiration boards for my art and writing. I use them on a regular basis to stay energized. Check out the links below.
I returned to reading Poets & Writers on a regular basis. The February issue focused on inspiration. I have been rereading Frank Bures’ article about creating inner space for inspiration. It reminds me to UNPLUG from technology, my to do list, my writing deadlines, etc. Unplugging creates more time to relax and recharge. When I do it, I am able to surrender. SURRENDER is the key that unlocks the door to my creative process. So wish me luck as I practice the art of surrender from now until the fall season, make Collegetrys to overcome my writing struggles, and complete my fabulous Digital Sisterhood book!
Great news! I will speak about my work with wounded warriors as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on March 15 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Veteran-Civilian Dialogue Project held at Smith Center in Washington, DC. Veteran-Civilian Dialogue is a project sponsored by Intersections, a New York-based non-government organization that works at the intersection of communities in conflict The Project brings together veterans and civilians to discuss the impact of war in their lives and others.
I started working as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center in 2000. My first residency was based at Howard University Hospital where I served people living with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other health challenges from 2003 to 2009. Click here to learn more Smith Center’s artist-in-residence program.