Mexican artist Frida Kahlo painted her first significant self-portrait following an accident that nearly killed her. She gave the lovely Italian Renaissance-style painting to her boyfriend so that he would always remember her. This gift to her first love was an obvious memento. The gift to herself was less obvious, but more profound. It was a declaration that she had survived. After this, Kahlo chose to be a painter rather than a doctor. Following each of more than thirty operations, she made bold representations of herself, each one nearly shouting that she lived, despite her wounds and her physical and emotional pain. She lived and lives on through her gifts of art.
My definition of creativity (as described in From Crisis To Creativity) is “the art of growing self-expression.” In every way that we express an idea, a thought, a plan, a feeling, we give someone – especially ourselves – a gift.
Georgia O’Keefe said, “The days you work are the best days.” She was referring to her art, of course, which was her passion. In this New Year, why not view all of our work as our art? In doing so, every activity in which we invest our passionate energy will become our personal creative contribution.
Businesswoman Ruth Handler is best known for creating Barbie and Ken, teenage stars of her mega-toy company, Mattel. In the 1970s, she survived a radical mastectomy from breast cancer, and from her grief came the idea for a comfortable, natural breast prosthesis. She worked with technicians from her company to create the “Nearly Me” line of breast replacements and from her vision manifested a gift to many other women.
Sarah Dixon studied to be a teacher. This young woman was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, genetic problems that gave her parents little hope that she would live to adulthood. Like Frida Khalo, Sarah had thirty operations to restore physical functions. She now lives, works, studies, and even completed a trip around the world. Sarah reminds us to respect every life experience for its inherent growth and creative potential. Her life and poetry exemplify the “determined overcoming” which is the hallmark of the resilient and creative person.
Right now the world needs our “determined overcoming” – in every way that we can express our values and our commitment to the *”Heart of Democracy.”
“There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.” – Rumi “A Community of the Spirit”
So go and Be your Authentic, Bold, Badass, Creative Self this year!
*I highly recommend Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker J. Palmer