Creating a Sanctuary by Bella Cirovic

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

The clocks have just moved back an hour. Dusk and darkness settle in much earlier than what I am used to. This time of the year always feels like a season of preparation for the cold months that are inevitably coming. Before winter arrives, I want to prepare my nest so that I am comfortable. I begin with that intention: comfort. My surroundings must be plush, soft, and supportive, so that when I am feeling internal discomfort, I have a sweet landing spot.

I feel like creating a sanctuary, a haven to hold me all winter long. This work of caring for myself is non-stop and I find myself constantly modifying my surroundings to best suit my mood. “What will the cold months be like?” I wonder. This is how I am prepping for their arrival.

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Comfort during the cold months will look like empty counter spaces that hold only my coffee pot and jars filled with tea bags, homemade marshmallows, and caramel nut popcorn for snacking. I truly feel at home with a warm drink and I need these items to be out in the open; a visible invitation to warm the belly. Within reaching distance will be the milk frother, cinnamon, and my favorite mug.

The corners of my living space will hold baskets filled with yarn, journaling supplies, books and magazines. My favorite way to spend the day is to be active in the morning by getting some cleaning done, having dinner prepped for cooking later on, and then relaxing on the couch while watching a show or a movie. The time is best passed with some knitting or if I choose to forego the T.V, I’ll spend some time reading. This feels so calming to me.

I will make a special trip to the store to stock up on church candles and incense. There is a divine feel to a room that is surrounded in candlelight and smoke swirls. Having these items close to me make me feel supported and safe. I also keep crystals for clarity, like my quartz chunk or my smokey quartz point nearby for comfort and as allies for my meditation time.

Music and the flow of soothing sounds are a grounding and necessary part of my day. I will browse for Pandora stations and Spotify playlists that compliment how I’m feeling and turn the speaker up high. For me, there must be a soundtrack playing in the background almost all the time. Music allows me to move and break up stagnant energy. I dance it out hard to warm up my blood, kick up my circulation, sweat, and to wake up my cells. Dance and movement are a must during the winter.

I keep the refrigerator and pantry shelves full of fresh fruits, veggies, and all the add-ons for delicious and colorful soup and salad making. This season, I have given up my beloved wine, so I am trying mocktails with fruit flavored sodas and bitters.

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Finally, I created a perfume oil that feels like home to me. I created it during a time when I wasn’t feeling particularly at home in my skin. Each component of the oil evokes a sense of confidence in myself, trust in my own intuition, and space to show myself some mercy. The scent is called Sanctuary, a perfect compliment to the space I am carving out for myself during this season.

Are you creating a special space to expand and relax in for the cold? I would love to hear more about it in the comments.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Note: Bella is offering Modern Creative Life readers $5 off their order of this perfume oil using the code: MCLfive. Read more about Sanctuary here.
*Coupon will be good through Nov. 30th.

 

Thudding by John Hulme

The Dee Estuary by John Hulme

A summer night. Half-lit

stillness where the stars

ought to be.

Clouds curl at the edges,

billow catches fire, and a

small lake of leftover

tidewater sketches ripples

along the edge of the beach.

A pipistrelle hunts over the

treeline.

A kestrel swoops over the

grassland, hovers, shifts

suddenly in the breeze and

drops onto a meal.

An eerie thudding echoes in

from the sea.

The lighthouse refuses to

reply.

Somebody is planting more

wind turbines –

or perhaps flowers.

Giant ones.

Petal sentinels.

Perhaps a welcoming beacon

for container ships, as they

glide in from the sacred

waters of the outer galaxy.

Perhaps my imagination has

waded out to sea with a giant

hammer.

I promised you a sunset –

and a small token of my

humanity.

I’m afraid I can’t give you any

more than that. Not until I

figure out what I have been

waiting for all these years.

It’s not in the clouds tonight.

It’s not in the breeze.

It’s not in this heart.

It’s not in the thudding of

angry seas.

So why does it haunt my

ragged soul? Why is its

name written across my

cheek?

Why do I cradle your smile in

my hands?

I will stand here forever now…

just a breath away from

spaceships and sea monsters.

The full truth of everything

that can’t be written in books. A smile.

A kiss.

A long and badly-timed goodbye.

A small child walking home

across the grassy dunes…

knowing that there is no

home.

There is only the silence…

the whisper…

the distant thudding of the

imagination.

This is my story, my rallying

cry, my farewell sermon from

the shoreline.

I crumble.

The sun burns away my voice.

I write my most enduring

masterpiece in the stillness of

a world without sentences.

About the author, John Hulme

John HulmeJohn Hulme is a British writer from the Wirral, a small peninsula near Liverpool in the North of England. Trained in journalism (in which he has a masters degree), John’s first love was storytelling, trying to make sense of the world around him using his offbeat imagination. Since the death of his mother in 2010, John’s work has grown increasingly personal, and has become heavily influenced by Christian mysticism. This has led to the publication of two poetry books, Fragments of the Awesome (2013) and The Wings of Reborn Eagles (2015). A mix of open mike performances, speaking engagements and local community radio appearances has opened up new avenues which John is now eager to pursue. He is hoping to go on a kind of busking road trip fairly soon, provisionally titled Writer seeks gig, being John.  Find out more about John on Facebook.

Sunday Salon: Natural Artist

Sunday Salon with Becca Rowan

 

My living room is bathed in golden light.  Relaxed in my favorite chair, a cup of fresh coffee waiting for my first sip, I am surrounded by the  vibrant colors of autumn. The trees in our backyard are at the peak of color, so bright I want backyard-treeto put on sunglasses. The sky is a blue so sharp, it almost hurts my eyes. The contrast of crimson, gold, and russet leaves outlined against the blue makes a palette any artist would die for. Later on, when I go upstairs to my desk, my window is filled with the outline of orange leaves pasted against the background of azure sky. It’s tough to get any work done with that amazing vista right in front of me.

In Michigan we’ve had an exceedingly beautiful autumn, warmer and drier than most. The leaves have taken their time in changing and maintained their beauty far longer than normal. My morning walks are a feast for the eyes, even here within our neighborhood. When I’m out and about, one of my normal routes takes me through a hilly landscape with a river running beside the road, a landscape so distracting I have to consciously pull my eyes back to the road. Talk about distracted driving – fall foliage is as dangerous as the cell phone!

In autumn, nature is truly a work of art. And though I personally don’t have any natural talent in making visual art, I am grateful to be enriched by the spectacle of this natural art all around me. It’s like living in an art museum and being surrounded by nature’s inspiring palette.

For me this has been a year of looking for refuge, of desperately seeking beauty and inspiration and a sense that -as the Christian mystic Julian of Norwich wrote –  “all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”  My pantry of creative ideas feels bare, the river of inspiration runs rocky and dry. Yet the trees outside my window only have to BE and they are beautiful. They stand rooted in their space on earth and allow nature to work it’s artful magic. Then they simply glow with radiance.

Could my own glowing come that easily?

The poet Mary Oliver writes:

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – – – how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

Maybe I search too hard for my bright visions. Maybe all I need to do it is live in the momentary pasture of autumn and the bright visions of life will find their way to my feet. Life offers so much inspiration all around, free and easy for the taking if we open our eyes and hearts to it.

Like the leaves that fall in a sea of color all around me. Naturally beautiful. Naturally inspiring. Naturally art.

 

About the Author: Becca Rowan

becca_rowan_bio_may2016Becca Rowan lives in Northville, Michigan with her husband and their two dogs. She is the author of Life in General, a book of personal and inspirational essays about the ways women navigate the passage into midlife. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. If she’s not writing or playing music you’ll likely find her out walking with the dogs or curled up on the couch reading with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) close at hand. She loves to connect with readers at her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Dear Life by Lisa Zaran

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It’s time to let the drunken nights
forget their intellectual ease.
Who cares, except maybe that guy
you were appointing loopy wisdom to,
with spit no less.

A thousand normal days and one lonely
evening just happens to catch you off guard.
The bar is a semblance of Paris, tiny glasses
and bites of cheese, boys with allergies and
persuasion.

On Monday the world will be a different place.
Traffic, obligations, friends. The boss
will come across articulately. You will do
what you need to do, desiring a good life.
God awful what’s happening to you.

Isn’t it?

About the Author: Lisa Zaran

LisaZaranBioLisa Zaran is the author of eight collections of poetry including Dear Bob Dylan, If It We, The Blondes Lay Content and the sometimes girl. She is the founder and editor of Contemporary American Voices. When not writing, Zaran spends her days in Maricopa county jails assisting women with remembering their lost selves.

Not So Traditional by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

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She once had a man
who thought beyond the traditional
though he had nothing against
candles and moonlight and wine.
Yes, he could be contentious
but only for a good cause
(at least that’s what he said at the time).
He’d rather celebrate
(and they celebrated everything)
perched on rocks by the shimmering stream
with a bottle of champagne
poured in hand-thrown mugs.
If the thermostat didn’t cooperate
he’d gather blankets
and they’d cocoon
high in the mountains by a lake
or in front of a fire in a drafty cabin.
She got so she’d merely blink,
let herself enjoy the contrast,
and she’s glad she did
now that her favorite playmate is gone.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Always Have a Spotter by Selena Taylor

https://unsplash.com/@pjrvs

To an uninformed observer, it would have seemed that Death’s walk along the lakeshore was lazy, that his approach to the lady on the beach was almost casual.

“Good morning, 34,” Death greeted her.

“Good morning. You can call me Liana.”

“34, names are useless.” His tone was flat. Bored, even.

The lady formerly known as Liana gave Death a look that was about ten percent surprise and ninety percent disappointment. Then she sighed. “For a moment, I thought you were going to be nice.”

The other rolled his eyes. “I am Death,” he intoned. “When is that ever nice?”

“Point taken.” 34 dropped into a seated position on the beach, burrowing into the sand with her bare toes. “My stupid neighbor left his fishing line out. I couldn’t see it, and wound up caught in it. Tangled, really.”

Death’s tone remained detached. “You don’t say.”

Number 34 gave him a look that left no doubt of her mood. I am pissed off, her expression telegraphed. When the other didn’t bother to respond, she chose not to dwell on her mood. She looked back at the water. It had been still before, calm, but now a small johnboat was on the lake, moving toward the fishing line. “Looks like he’s going to reel in that line, now.”

“Looks like,” Death agreed. “He’ll find a nice surprise waiting.”

They both chuckled at his statement.

34 knew that her neighbor was about to fish her physical form out of the water, but if Death had no use for names, she had no use for the activity off shore. Instead, she looked to the sky, and asked, “What are those bright white lights?”

Death followed her skyward gaze. “Those?” he responded in a dry tone. “They’re souls about to be born.”

She accepted his answer. After a moment, she said. “I was a light once.” It wasn’t a question.

Death confirmed it with a nod.

“What about you?” she asked. “Were you ever one of those lights, Death?”

He was taken aback, but he didn’t bother to answer. Instead he redirected her attention to the water. “Looks like he has found you, 34.”

34 pulled her feet from the sand and stood up, standing almost shoulder to shoulder with Death as they both watched the scene unfold.

The fisherman’s apparently silent agitation irked her. “This would be so much more satisfying if I could at least hear him scream.” She paused. “He is screaming, right?”

Death smirked. “Oh. He’s definitely screaming.” He watched for a few seconds longer. “If it’s worth anything,” he told her, “it’s a high-pitched shrieking sort of scream.”

The lady now known as 34 cracked a smile. “Yeah,” she said. “It is.”

They turned around.

About the author, Selena Taylor

Selena TaylorSelena Taylor is a wife, a mother, and a woman who strives to tell the many stories that occupy her mind. She is active in the Rhett & Link fandomand appreciates dark humor.  She and her family live in Illinois, where she takes every opportunity to lose herself under the stars and let her imagination run wild. For more from Selena, check her out on Tumblr or follow her on Twitter.

New Moon Creative: Moon in Scorpio

As the season of harvest draws to a close, we may feel a need to draw inward and prepare for a time of rest during the dark days of winter. This month’s new moon in Scorpio offers the perfect inspiration for those times. It brings an astrology that’s dreamy and optimistic; it aligns with Mercury to focus on thinking and planning. As the leaves change to brilliant colors and fall to the ground, our emotional nature responds with changeable moods and heightened sensitivity, along with the call to plant seeds of new ideas.

What a perfect recipe to inspire wisdom and creative thinking!

We offer a New Moon Creative Prompt to set you pondering.

How do your dreams inspire your creativity?

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Write a poem, essay, or short story. Take a photograph and leave us with the image alone. Create a photo essay.

Between now and 11/12/16, post your creation in your blog and/or share your work on Social Media, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or all of those spaces. Use the tag #NewMoonCreative so we can find you. Leave a comment here (with a link) so we can read your words and lovingly witness what and how you are creating.

On the Full Moon ( November 14), we’ll post a collection of the work that was inspired by these prompts and post them here, with links back to the full work (and you).

The Wisdom of Tarot…is You by Theresa Reed

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So often we seek answers outside ourselves. We look to gurus, sages, teachers, and other authority figures for guidance on what we should do with our lives. Who am I?

Where should I go? What is my path?

While external sources can provide some answers, ultimately, the answers lie within ourselves. But how can we get there?

There are many ways. Meditation, yoga, prayer, spending time in nature or doing quiet pursuits. When we quiet the chatter, the answers can arise.

Tarot cards can be one more tool to help you access your own inner wisdom and intuition. These 78 cards are rich with universal symbols that depict daily and spiritual life. These symbols are gentle nudges that waken your intuition, and help you to see and understand who you are and what you need to know in order to live your best life.

Here’s how:

You think of a question and pick a card.

Now, turn over the card and gaze at the image. Scan it.

Let your eyes rest on anything that captures your attention. What do the symbols say to you? What might be the message or moral of the card? What might the characters in the cards be conveying to each other – and to you? How does the card make you feel? What story is it trying to tell you about your situation…or yourself?

Start pondering those questions and see what arises.

You might get an “aha” or perhaps just a gentle knowing. Pay attention to what you feel and any thoughts that arise. This process will lead you to the answers…or maybe further inquiry.

That’s how tarot works in a nutshell.

An example – let’s say you’re feeling somewhat confused about your relationship because he won’t commit. You shuffle the cards and pull the Nine of Wands. As you scan the card, your eyes rest on the figure’s face. He looks paranoid, scared. Is this your partner? Perhaps he’s fearful of making a commitment. Maybe he’s been hurt before and is wary of being hurt again. So he’s walled off and trying to protect himself. Or is this you – scared you are wasting your time? Bingo – you realize it’s the latter.

This gives you food for thought. And maybe a plan for action. It might be time to talk with your partner about your fears and see if you can work through this together.

Even if you’ve never read tarot before, it’s not that hard to begin. I recommend starting with the Rider Waite deck.

It’s a classic and most modern decks are based on it. Every deck will come with a little white book with interpretations. Feel free to explore those if you’d like. But better yet, put that to the side and let your own intuition guide you.

Because the answers aren’t found in that little white book. They are already there, within you, waiting.

Tarot on, wise one.

About the Author: Theresa Reed

theresareedTheresa Reed (aka “The Tarot Lady”) has been a full-time Tarot card reader for close to 30 years. She is the author of The Tarot Coloring Book (release date: Nov 1, 2016), an illustrated tour through the world of Tarot with coloring sheets for every card in the deck.

In addition to doing private Tarot readings, teaching Tarot classes, and speaking at Tarot conferences, Theresa also runs a popular website—TheTarotLady.com—where she dishes out advice, inspiration and tips for Tarot lovers of all experience levels.

Follow Theresa on Twitter and Instagram for her daily “Six Second Tarot Reading”—plus photos of her extremely handsome cats, TaoZen and Monkey.

Typical Tuesday with Courtney Weber

TypicalTuesday_RoutinesandRituals

We let the cats sleep with us last night. This morning, I’m reminded of why this is a terrible idea. Before I could hit snooze on my phone’s alarm, one cat whaps it to the floor. The other one cries like she’s starved for weeks. Get up, Primate.  I herd the little monsters into the kitchen and feed them before they wake my husband. I can sleepily slog through my day and no one will get hurt. But my husband is a nurse and if he slogs, people will get hurt.

While the cats are eating and finally quiet, I sip my morning glass of water because I’m a sad person who can no longer handle caffeine and just isn’t wild about herbal teas. I close my eyes and pretend the water tastes and smells and behaves like coffee. It doesn’t. But I’ll survive.

It’s time to write.

I start with a free-write, in a journal. I’ve kept journals since I was six years old. Almost thirty years later, there are boxes of my old journals clogging the closet of our spare bedroom and my parents’ attic. The flow of cursive on the unlined (always unlined, for me) pages is comforting. There are no deadlines with a journal. No expectations of voice, style. The only audience is Future Me.

Today, I journal about stairs and cats. I live in New York City. New York City is made of stairs. Five flights down when I want to leave the building. Two flights up for the subway. Two flights down for work. Stairs get old. I wish there weren’t so many. I also wish the cats loved each other. They’re fighting in the hall as I write this.  

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Even in my journal time, sometimes the “IShould” voices creep in. IShould write about my feelings. IShould write about current events. IShould document everything thing I do and how I do it. I saw a journal on display at the Ellis Island Museum. That could be me someday. If I write a better journal, maybe it will be. But chances are good that Future Me will be the sole reader of the journals. Current Me prefers Past Me’s entries about things like stairs and cats more than Past Me’s feelings and then-current events. I suspect Future Me will feel the same. Back to stairs and cats.

Two journal pages–that’s the warm-up. Then, I dig into my novel, which has been sorely neglected these past few weeks. I’m working on an official second draft. I think about the characters’ motivations, sometimes writing a smaller character’s entire subplot by hand in the notebook I keep by the laptop. Much of that will never get into the main novel, but it helps me all the same.

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Maybe this novel will be SUCH a success that I can publish this side stuff as appendices! Maybe they’ll both get movie deals!!!

As dawn creeps in, I write and edit, the work punctuated by breaks to pluck my eyebrows, get more water, reorganize the cookbooks. If I’m really blocked, I’ll start baking. My writing “process” almost never involves merely sitting and hammering away at the keyboard like an old-timey secretary. The words often come when I step away and do something else. This morning, fortunately, I don’t have to bake anything to get there. I dig into my characters, shaping them and loving them.

Husband gets up and scrolls the news while he eats breakfast. We are the modern couple, both staring into our laptop screens as our morning ritual. As he leaves for work, I remind him that I won’t be home when he gets in this evening.

It’s 7:30 and it’s time to get ready for work. I am reasonably satisfied with the writing, but then I breathe through a moment in which I wonder if I’m wasting my time on the novel. Should I should be writing another metaphysical piece? Should I turn this into a three-part series which is more likely to get a book deal and a movie? I remind myself that I didn’t know if my first two books would ever see life outside of my hard drive and I kept going, anyway. I imagine Future Me telling me just to keep at it. I imagine her finally writing for a living, in a big house in the country, paid for in cash by generous royalties.

It could happen. Anything is possible.

I dress and have breakfast, with bad news on the television for company.

Just before lunch, I steal two chocolates from my co-worker’s stash. She said it was okay last time. I wonder if I should log them in my food log. My nutritionist will probably say I should have stopped at one. But they’re small, so I’ll log both as one. It’s better than logging nothing.

On a work break, I send out an email to my Tarot students, reminding them about class tonight. No one responds. I courtneyweber_tarotforonetry not to take it personally. While I work, ideas for the novel brew. I email myself notes and if I get really crazy, open a Google Doc and write a new scene. Writing seems to be a balance between diligent and work and looking the other way to give story a chance to sneak up on you.

After lunch, I steal two more chocolates but they’re also small, so I can log them as one as well.

I run into that co-worker and confess both chocolate raids. She says it’s fine. She was trying to get rid of them, anyway and suggests I take more. I hold back. Does that make me disciplined? Probably not. But I wish I got credit in the food journal for turning down chocolate.

I arrive at the yoga studio, where I will be teaching the Tarot class. Only two people attend, but that’s fine. Sometimes smaller classes are the most fulfilling. One student said she bought my Tarot book which makes me happy. I ask her if she’d be willing to write an Amazon review–if she liked the book, that is. The studio manager sets out a container of chocolate-covered cashews and I nearly faint. I love those things so much.

I privately draft an apology to the nutritionist and help myself to the delicious treat. I make a mental note to plan a better food day tomorrow.

The three of us pour over our Tarot cards. I help them dig for deeper meanings of what they see. We keep our voices low as a yoga class is going on. Inside the studio room, someone’s Ujjayi breathing sounds like Darth Vader.

I pull three cards to demonstrate a new spread. My question is, “How do I best approach my novel?” I pull three Sword cards, all upside-down. These three Sword cards typically reflect control. In Reverse, I interpret them as “Surrender.”

Surrender to the story. Let it happen on its own terms. It will eventually blossom.

When I get home, Husband is watching Star Trek. I take a peek at what I wrote this morning on the novel. It’s not too bad. It might even be good. But I really have no idea. We cuddle for a while on the couch and then I play a little guitar as I haven’t practiced much this week. We turn in early as we both have another early morning waiting for us.

Someday, writing will be my fulltime job. Until then, I’m thankful for the cranky cats, morning dilly-dallying, Tarot and chocolate. Somehow, those are the little white lines on the writing freeway.

About the Author: Courtney Weber

courtneyweber_bioCourtney Weber is a Priestess, author, Tarot advisor, and activist. She is the author of the newly released Tarot for One: The Art of Reading for Yourself and Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess (Both through Weiser Books). She produced and designed “Tarot of the Boroughs,” a contemporary photographic Tarot deck set in New York City. She blogs at Huffington Post and on her website: www.thecocowitch.com. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and cats.

Sunday Sanctuary: Lessons in Cosmetics

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“Stipple, stipple, stipple!” the lovely young woman in front of me chants as she demonstrates the proper way to put foundation on my face.

I’ve been wearing foundation for thirty-five years and am wondering how many of those years I’ve been doing it “wrong”.

Like many southern women of my age, my first exploration in the world of cosmetics was the Avon catalog and tiny white lipsticks the Avon Lady would leave with my mother. I still recall those little white tubes and mourned the day they changed their sampling to little plastic bubbles.

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My first introduction on being instructed how to properly wear makeup was a Mary Kay demonstration, given by my 6th grade Sunday School teacher. She decided that as young ladies with maturing bodies, learning about etiquette and ladylike things – including the proper way to wear make-up without looking over done – was part of her Christian Duty. She wouldn’t sell us the Mary Kay, but she did give us a list of three women in our church who sold it.

My mother allowed me to try a little eye shadow, which we ordered from my cousin Susan, and a fresh package of Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers (in Dr. Pepper!) instead of the foundation I believed I needed. She promised she’d take me when I was a little older. That next summer, my mother hustled me to the local Merle Norman, where, after much deliberation, I was rewarded with the proper pancake foundation and translucent powder.

Oh, wearing cosmetics made me feel all grown up, like I had finally been inducted into the secret world of women.

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Over the years, I experimented with different brands of make-up, but I never felt like I was all together without some sort of heavy foundation finished with powder. Always applied with a sponge and a little powder puff.

I would go to those cosmetic stores with one of my daughters or walk through the make-up department at a department store and cringe at the thought of spending $50 on any kind of cosmetic, except my favorite perfume.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more comfortable in all the stages of myself. I’m confident enough to run to the grocery store without my “full face” on (something my Mother never did) and my daily routine, even for dressy occasions, means getting out of the bathroom in under half an hour. Well, unless I need to deal with my hair.

Being comfortable without make-up has also translated into being comfortable with bolder make-up, too. Heavy, smoky eyes and a bold lipstick!

While killing some time waiting for a lunch date in DC this summer, I wandered into a Sephora and fell in love with a urban-decay-vice-lipstick-rock-steadylipstick, and God help me, it was from that Urban Decay brand. It was the perfect red, and though I didn’t buy it that day , that perfect blue red kept coming to mind time and again.

I made the decision that indulging in a $17 lipstick wasn’t crazy. I’m a grown up woman and besides, is there an Avon Lady around anymore?

So, here I was in the middle of Sephora and I was smack dab in the middle of my own midlife crisis: not only did I need the RED LIPS; I needed to find something to cover those spots on my face that may look like freckles, but were big enough to be called – gasp – AGE SPOTS.

I gave myself over to the sweet and beautiful blonde young woman and let her make me over.

She not only made me over, she educated me on better ways to apply make-up. And let me tell you, cosmetics have come a long way since the late 70’s!

Rather than swipe a heavy foundation over my face with a sponge, she reduced my skin back to its alabaster color with that “stipple” action, liquid foundation, and a brush. Translucent powder made its way into the routine, but instead of a little velour powder puff, she produced yet another brush.

The she introduced me to the big guns: the world of “Bobbi Brown” and something called a bronzer.

I left with a little bag of (expensive) goodies. And no, I didn’t forget the red lipstick, that beautiful perfect red: Rock Steady.

I’m thrust back in time to other make-up memories.

My first dance recital, and in addition to ballet pink tights, I am wearing lipstick from Avon and a swipe of blush, Clinique Extra Clover, my dance mate Becky’s.

I’m on the Drill Team and am applying the prescribed combination of cosmetics: blue eye shadow and a Maybelline red lipstick, combined with L’eggs Suntan Pantyhose.

I’m in the high school musical, L’il Abner, applying Ben Nye cosmetics and using a “stipple” action to age a fellow classmate.

I’m in college and applying my beloved Ben Nye foundation with lots of pink rouge as I prepare to play a maiden in the Pirates of Penance.

And you may be wondering what THIS has to do with living a creative life. And you may be wondering how I connect my theme of “keeping house” with this exploration into the modern world of cosmetics. And, honey, let me tell you, that just as I need to tend my home so that it is a sanctuary, aren’t I also supposed to tend myself?

We must be willing to invest in ourselves, be it time or money, in order to tend ourselves and our creative lives.

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As creative beings, we must also be willing to evolve.

How can we continue to evolve our art, if we, as humans, aren’t willing to shift and evolve the pieces of every day living?

And evolve, I have.

I’ve used my new foundation since July, and each day I still hear the reminder to “stipple” and “layer” over swiping. And, though I confess it took extra time in the beginning, I can still be done with my make-up routine lickety-split.

Each morning as I prepare to face the world, or just feel pretty for myself over an average Tuesday dinner with John, the use of all the brushes and cosmetics reminds me that I am a creative being. Though my words are my art in most cases and I can’t draw my way out of a paper bag, I can play with brushes and colors and create the visage I present to the world.

Enhancing the vision of myself, looking back in the mirror at me. It’s a part of the way I tend myself and nourish my creative life: the permission to expand how I see and use cosmetics.

Yet it goes beyond the foundation, bronzer, and lipstick. It’s also about the approach to living: to be willing to not just evolve, but take a risk. To do my make-up differently invites me to try to new spices in the kitchen and experiment with a different kind of writing.

To create new things – to evolve creatively – means we must think differently in order to create differently. Changing things up in cosmetics gives me permission to play with words in different ways.

Ways which are unfamiliar now, yet with practice will emerge from me. Lickety-split.

About the Author: Debra Smouse

debra_Smouse_mclDebra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Clearing Brain Clutter: Discovering Your Heart’s Desire. She resides in Dayton, Ohio where she practices the art of living with the Man of Her Dreams. When she’s not vacuuming her couch, you’ll find her reading or plotting when she can play her next round of golf. She’s the Editor in Chief here at Modern Creative Life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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