use the voice

Calling the authentic Creator out of hiding

Category: self empowerment

Cogs and Wheels

Dancer getting ready to move. July 2012

There has been a lot going on. So much that I have found it difficult to write a post for a while. I realize it can be difficult to talk about the creative process when you are so IN it, especially when you may not realize what you are indeed IN.

It’s been a month of getting things off the ground, building a fundraising campaign for my next short science fiction film Merus Breach, working on the second draft of my feature screenplay and well, being 5 months pregnant. Needless to say I’ve been a bit consumed by the embodiment of it all.

The other night, with small legs and fists in my abdomen keeping me awake, I reflected on how much of the creative process is really made up of mechanics, just like life. No matter how much freedom we are able to build into our days, the human mechanics of eating, sleeping, transporting our bodies, forming sentences and schedules, all consume and structure our relationship to space and time. As the years go on in my artistic career, I realize that I can still become fraught with the feeling of being bogged down or trapped by the mechanics of my craft.

As a filmmaker, this is almost humorous, as so much of what we do relies on well plotted logistics and technology. It makes me laugh when people see the end result of a campaign launch or draft of work and commend me on my latest burst of “creativity”. Creativity?! More like tenacity, discipline and focus. Perhaps those are sisters and brothers of what I define as ‘pure’ creativity, but rather they feel like servants. Servants to the cause of the original impulse, to the Voice that calls to be heard.

For a long time, I resented them, for taking time away from the wild fever of pure inspiration, but now I’m learning to love them. To praise the underlying drive that moves us to write the emails, re-edit our work for the 100th time and pay the bills, because above all else, they help make the work accessible and real to the rest of the world.

If there is any lesson in the mechanics of creativity, it’s growing a small person in your body. Excessive eating and sleeping, along with re-learning your body all over again are big pieces to feeling those precious little kicks in the night, to knowing a whole new person is going to be changing your world very soon.

The biggest lesson I am learning? Let go – the process has a wisdom that is far beyond what I can even imagine.

check out my latest campaign here


Peach Pie epiphany

Pies cooling. August 2012

I admit, I’ve never been someone who is domestically inclined. Even my now-desceased Grandmother, who was a distinct culinary artist herself, told me once “I just don’t see you in the kitchen”. Not that I don’t cook, in fact I’ve always been very passionate about health, so have cooked whole-foods style for years. I know ingredients, I know flavours, I know what  feels good in the body…It just has simply been a part of my practical life that has stayed, for the most part, in the “you feel better when you do it” category. Along with laundry, working out and writing thank-you cards (though I admit I’m still terrible about the latter).

Until this last week. I think I have been caught for the first time in my life, by the muse of the culinary arts. The particular sweet-voiced, topped with ice-cream muse who specializes in baking. With a grain-free diet, baked goods are basically off the radar. Until I found Elana’s Pantry. 

With almond flour goodies galore, I’ve become obsessed. Along with my own enjoyment, its been the unadulterated delight emanating off of those who taste the bounty that has created the true inspiration. I become that magical person who knows how to make things sweet and good, just cause.

Just cause. That’s what 2 hours on peach pie brought me to today. The Voice was singing as loud and clear through me as it has through any stint of writing, filmmaking or photography. In the heat of the Quest of my delicious vision, covered in flour and oil, doubting myself while riding the high of the possibility of it actually working, I realized it’s all the same. It’s all the same, no matter what you are doing. The fundamental notion behind the idea that art can be everywhere.

I know this as a concept, but today it landed in a new way. Even though some of us might have our professional priorities, in the world of the muses and of the Voice, all outlets were created equal. As long as the song is being sung – or in this case, tasted, it is good. Glory be to all the million of outlets on this planet…we will never have an excuse not to be creative again.

When did it get so serious?

Summer 23. Tyson Howard, 2005

Do you ever feel like you have forgotten to have fun?

You know, when you are working on something so hard that time is gone, your head down, focus on, mission driven, fierce like fire, only to look up to see that you are alone, balled up like a pretzel, sweating, spilling your life-force over something you thought was really important? I often have those moments and ask myself, “when did it get so serious?” Kind of like when you are out for dinner with your long-term significant other, feigning good company but really without words to say, perhaps only lost in the mechanics.

Now don’t get me wrong, art is serious, very serious.

But if it’s too serious, it get’s boring, don’t you think?

For me, if I’m over the “serious” threshold, I know I’ve veered away the original spark, because it’s starts to feel only like work. Not that creating isn’t work – any long-term artist knows it’s the hardest work there is, often with little external reward. But the reason we do it is because it fuels something deep within us, a passion, love, a sense of deeper purpose, a higher order – whatever it is for you. All I know is that if I get too serious, too wrapped up in the importance of my “mission”, I can lose the magic.

That’s when the vast detours are called for. Something totally different, to play, muse, be silly, be frivolous. Today I got up and danced like a banshee, whatever does the trick.

How have you been this week? Do you deserve to do something senseless? I bet it will fill you more full then you can imagine.

What does control have to do with it?

Mel in flight.
Ucluelet, B.C. June 2011


When you are being creative, do you feel in control?

Do you want to?

Is it a battle, an exchange or a standoff?

Is there a healthy balance?

These are the things I’ve been asking myself lately. As someone who definitely has my share of “control issues”, I have vacillated in my creative work, searching for sanctuary from where I feel I have no control or where I need to desperately let go of it. It’s the place where I get to be the boss and free from outside limits and yet, it’s full of limitations. Whether it’s time, materials, technology or even the frustrating attempt to properly interpret the genius that is going on in your head, there are always elements that demand control. I often imagine the creative process like putting a giant funnel over the limitless sentience that inspires us, with the attempt to filter it down into the limits of this reality. My creative-buddy, storyteller extraordinaire Shauna Born brilliantly cites the artists role as he/she who “makes order out of chaos.”

So what is it that we are fighting when the blocks and frustration comes up? The painful fact is that we can never make perfection and yet, the desire for perfection is what keeps many of us going. Can we control the Voice that presses us to speak, sing, write, paint….? Or is it the Voice that drives us, gnaws in our belly until we drop our tight grip of  “order” and surrender to the chaos to then create something of a new order?

I think we are the drivers in the vehicle of our creativity, but we might not be the gas, or even the road or the landscape. Sound precarious? Perhaps it is. Maybe that’s why we like it or crave it in this over-orderly world. The great road trip to meeting the realization of the impulse, trusting it has its own perfection, beyond what we might be able to conceptualize.

The adventure continues. How is it for you?




“Tulip” – color drawing series, 2006

This weekend, thanks to a course I am taking with the Training in Power Academy to unlock creative blocks and access more of my expression, for the first time in years, I made a drawing. Sitting down with my pen and music playing, it was both strange and familiar, I found myself wondering – why haven’t I been spending time here?

As a child, my mother kept my hyperactivity at bay in waiting rooms and church services by carrying a small note-pad and pen in her purse at all times. These “doodle books” became my sanctuary in the boring adult world as well as a focus tool that I would use through all my schooling career. It’s only been in the last few years, as creativity has become more and more the focus of my life, that I haven’t needed the doodling to feel calm. Perhaps with the creative Voice being well heard, it didn’t have to constantly tap me on the shoulder to carve it’s impulses out in scribbled lines on the back of receipts and restaurant napkins.

What I also recognized, is that as I have gotten older and taken a professional stance on my life as an artist, I grant myself less and less time to play and wander. Thanks to my class assignment this week, I was able to find my way back to a sense of origin, one without agenda or need for perfection, something to simply delight and express my feelings.

How many times as creators do we get to ‘business like’ with our work? I’m all for be professional, but I am grateful for the rejuvenating quality of creating just for play, just cause – like children do. How do you connect to your origins?


Featured Creator – Bree Zorel

Living as a creator is rarely isolated. I don’t know where I would be without my fellow creators and artists who I share this journey with. Collaboration, support, solace and yes, even whining rights is all a part of what we give to each other. More importantly, I’d say we teach each other too, often without realizing it. Who better then to learn from those who are fighting the fight alongside you?

This is the idea behind a series of shot videos I’ll be featuring weekly of “Featured Creators”. I’m so excited to kick it off with Bree Zorel, an amazing Visual Artist and Arts Educator.

Check out her at

The rest of life

It is a bit humerous to me that after writing two heroic posts about hiding being an illusion that I dissapear for almost 2 weeks. Funny how we process what we write about, funny how life gets in the way.

Life, the rest of life. You know:  eating, drinking, cooking, technical problems, jobs, feelings, hot weather, bad days, good days, television…you name it, everything that isn’t the art. It is all the necessary parts of being human and as artists it can sometimes feel like our worst enemy.

How many times have you said to yourself, “If I could just do this full time I would be ______” Fill in the blank. Happier, healthier, saner, calmer, cooler, smarter…maybe even richer. The funny thing is that even the artists I know who do it full time still spend a lot of their days dealing with the rest of life. I think sometimes we can get caught by the illusion that necessities take away the purity of what we have to say, of who we are. If only we lived in a world that would leave us alone to be our genius selves, then harmony and brilliance would reign.

And it probably would. But maybe not. Maybe we need the rest of life to ground us, to make us reach for the truth in the present moment. I love getting obsessed with my work, but if I do it for to long, it gets one dimensional. When I can extend my perspective, my ‘artists eye’ in my day to day life, everything gets better. On the bus, walking the dog, in a lineup at the post office, the Voice is seeking out it’s references to tell me what it wants to say. The strange look of a woman’s hair, the alignment of a city landscape, a flash of connection between strangers…Moments are seeking us out everywhere, but often we are to caught up in just getting by and surviving that we can’t see or feel it.

What if art starts by how we are, not what we do? Perhaps then the rest of life could be a part of the creative life. After all, it is the one thing we have in common…

A work in progress. How is the rest of your life?

Hiding is an illusion (part 2)

Even if we don’t look, we are often seen

So why is hiding an illusion? And why should you stop?

Maybe it’s worked so far. You’ve kept the ‘creative-you’ a secret, tucked away for you and perhaps a select few, a quiet affair that no-one need to know about. It’s fine.

It’s Fine.

In my early years of spiritual training as a would-be New Age devotee, one of my first and still wisest Spiritual teachers shocked me with her very non pious response to a fellow student when she described herself as doing fine. “You mean F***ed-up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional? Oh, I know all about that…”

Damn. She wasn’t just talking about my fellow student. She could see right through us, what we thought was nicely tied up and hidden behind our various masks of control.

And that is why we often stuff it down, isn’t it? Trying to maintain control, to move away from the chaos of our feelings, impulses and more vulnerable parts of ourselves. While I’m all for self-dominion of ones emotions, especially when it comes to projecting onto others, a lot of what we stuff down is the nuggets of our expression.

So while we put a lot of energy just trying to keep it all together, what are we really keeping from getting out? What about the good stuff? The genuis? Our unique gift that only we are here to share?!

It has been my experience that often it is often easier to see the potential in others then ourselves. Even if they have low self esteem, somehow it seeps under the cracks of those closed doors, unable to hold back its slivers of brilliance.  Do you think you are any different? No matter what level of creative wellness you are at, your Voice is more present then you probably realize. It will do whatever it can to get out there despite your efforts otherwise.

Consider it, what is really under the surface that would love to get out? What would be the worst thing if it did?

As an exercise, ask your closest friends to describe you as a creator or artist and see what they say, you may be more transparent then you think….

Hiding is an illusion (part 1)

You think we can’t see you, but we can.

Maybe you don’t even see you. Thinking that you are easily drifting somewhere in the status quo, dealing with your everyday problems, making your small triumphs, getting through the day, and that’s it.

But it’s not, is it?

I used to be an insomniac. It started in my early teens due to a mix of hormones, bad health choices and an overlying restless depression. While I taught myself to fall asleep out of necessity, it came back in my early 20’s. I was clear of the hormones of puberty, most of the drugs and junk food, but like an old t-shirt I didn’t have a change of clothes for, the restless depression remained. During the day I had great friends, a job, a lifestyle. Everything was deceivingly peachy until I’d go to bed and stare at the ceiling and feel that terrible, haunting feeling.

Something is missing.

Like a fire in my belly, knawing at me. The Voice, a seething creature trying to get out, and me, helpless to heed its call, pleading, “What do you want from me? I’m doing everything right, right?!”


We hide to be safe. We hide out of necessity, tucking the most essential, vulnerable, brilliant parts of us away until life is deemed more welcoming, less volitile. The problem is that some of us do this from such an early age, we don’t know life without hiding. We might even forget that the Voice we are working so hard to protect is even there. Try to convince ourselves that life as-is is good enough, because it is for everyone else, right?!


The first step to letting your creative Voice out of hiding is to acknowledge it is there and it is important, no matter what everyone else seems to be happy surviving on. It won’t leave you alone until you do. I didn’t shake the depression until I connected to the Voice and it will creep in again anytime I waver on my commitment. I have come to know my creativity as a life force, my life force, if I’m not letting it out, I feel less alive.

The conditions will never be perfect, just like you. What if today is the day to finally let it out?…

(more in Part 2)