The Ordinary Truth

What one determined woman can accomplish

What one determined woman can accomplish

Rosa Parks was right. We need to each live our lives to the best of their ability. Actually, there are ordinary truths and eloquent truths. The ordinary truth is that some artists can earn six figures for their work. Most of us can’t make that money with our creative endeavors. The eloquent truth is that this harsh fact does not mean you can’t live a authentic life.

Our creativity is a gnawing within us. There is something within that wants to come out. The really bad times is when it is scratching at you to get out and you are blocked. The ordinary truth is that you will make mistakes and not be able to produce what is alive and well within. We all fall short sometimes.

The eloquent truth is that this need not defeat you. Artists must never give up. You were given a gift and while you may not be Monet, you have a gift that must be expressed. What others say or don’t say about this doesn’t matter. The important thing is to use what The One gives to you. It is a part of you and it is a large piece of what makes you authentic. Being real not being or doing what others tell you, but being loyal to yourself. This is authenticity. As we reckon with our existence, we become more real, more authentic.

Love is real

Love is real

Another part of being authentic is loving yourself, loving the gift you have been given, refusing to think of it as a burden. And the hardest part is to not compare yourself to others. We are brought up to be competitive and that is not the way of the creative soul.

To live an authentic life is a challenge as well as a gift. And it is also a spiritual practice. Not in the sense that you are attending a church, synagogue, or temple. But in that you allow your talent and your spirit to meet and create. Art is a practical skill, a relational skill, it is gripping and consuming. It is genius and shines like a starry night.

It is also confusing, confounding, tedious, exhausting and frightening.

“The dream is always running ahead. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that is the miracle” —Anais Nin

We have freedom to create, to write, to sing, to paint, to draw. The challenge is to use it. Use all of it as long as you are still drawing breath. As long as we can draw breath, we can create meaning in this world. I have often thought about all of the artists who receive no credit for their work while they are alive. It is as if the work is insignificant. Then when they die, people are sad and they miss this creative being. They open their eyes because of the hole left because that person is not there any longer. They open their eyes and see, really see what has been there in front of them for so long. They declare it beautiful, stimulating, moving, heart stopping. That creative person can’t hear the compliments but they flow through the air like invisible rose petals on a breeze. And then the truth becomes eloquent. This person had a beautiful talent. I didn’t realize. I am speechless, but your creations are not speechless and will speak for you always. And someone will come along and they will see or hear your work and it will give them the courage to pick up their gift and dust it off. And they will speak with authenticity because you did.

Being creative is not easy. We are different from so many others, our lives are not always easy but you leave a shimmer, a glow in this old world. You create and it makes the world sparkle. So get out there and shimmer and shine.

Sculpture garden in Windsor, Ontario. Photograph taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 1997

Sculpture garden in Windsor, Ontario. Photograph taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 1997

The Job of Creating

Red petunias and hardy Hibiscus. Flowers grown and photographed by Barbara Mattio; 2013

Red petunias and hardy Hibiscus. Flowers grown and photographed by Barbara Mattio; 2013

Some days you can create anything, everything. Some days there is nothing inside that lets you grapple with the sparks within to create. To create one must also be authentic. Life requires a kind of existential courage. So the creative spark, the authenticity of our lives and courage, must mingle together for the production of that creative essence.

For many of us, to produce the song, the novel, the painting, comes after a conscious search for our personal truth. The search isn’t going to be easy or smooth, but it will take you to your authentic self, if you never give up. It is a search worth everything it costs you.

When being authentic becomes a priority to you, it will live in your thoughts, in your writing, in your focus on the light which surrounds you. When you make a commitment to live authentically it is a challenge and a gift. Without it, your creativity slowly disintegrates and you have ash inside.

Kite flying on the beach  Photograph taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2013

Kite flying on the beach
Photograph taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2013

Authenticity is a spiritual path, a practical act, and an imperfect quest. The quest can be gripping, exciting, exhilarating and frightening. Authenticity can be elusive, yet necessary for any creative person.

” The dream is always running ahead. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that is the miracle.” —–Anais Nin

Magnolia done with oil pastels. Copyright 2012

Magnolia done with oil pastels. Copyright 2010 by Barbara Mattio

Meaning is another aspect to being creative. Meaning vibrates within us, it means something so we can accomplish authenticity. Artists know that a meaningful and authentic life is necessary and they must choose it. Then they can create.


Balcony overlooking Jackson Square, French Quarter, New Orleans. Acrylic Paint on Canvas, painted by Barbara Mattio 2010 all copyright reserved

The Beauty in Your Art and Your Life

Oak Alley Plantation, NO; Acrylic on stretched canvas; By Barbara Mattio

Artists, musicians, writers, dancers, photographers, painters, sculptors and a host of other creative people often feel that there is no beauty in life and that they must create it in their art. The problem is that not all of the beauty in your life is found in your poem, sketch, song, dance, novel. There is beauty all around and it is important to really see it. “See it” with your entire being. If you miscalculate the beauty and meaning in your life, despair will follow you.

Creative people need to experience beauty and find meaning for their creative outlets and lives. We, each of us, need to see ourselves as the beauty in life. Yes, there is an entire planet of beauty around us, but there is beauty within us also.

We each need to recognize that at the end of the day, we stand with what we have created that day and we need to actually say, “I am the beauty in life.” No, it isn’t egotistical. What any artist creates will touch the hearts and minds of many. That gives us a powerful meaning to live for and with.

There will be many times you critique your work and are not happy. You didn’t quite capture that small thing that in your eyes would make it fantastic. It is fine. An artist needs a mantra and I suggest, “I am the beauty in life.” This mantra, soothes the feelings of not accomplishing enough, it soothes the sorrow of loneliness, and feelings of being insignificant. Six words to carry within you, to remind you that you are exactly who and what you are to be in this lifetime. There wasn’t a glitch in the system when you came along. You are as you are meant to be, a beautiful person who has creative talents to share that beauty with others.

There is a big difference between creating and being successful. Creating is a God-given gift that needs to be shared and enjoyed by others. Success is buying into the rigid criteria that our society dreams up. This is why creating and being a big shot “successful” person can be divided by a deep ravine.

Often when we put success first, we become bored, hate ourselves for ‘selling out” and devalue the career we are pursuing. The key here is to create and not listen to the voices who can’t comprehend what we have created. For some, there is a perfect solution of a career that we feel successful at and a second creative endeavor that gives life meaning and direction.

Every time we create, there is a new ray of hope that enters the world through your life and helps to dissipate some of the negativity that we find in the world. Our souls and hearts make a counterbalance to hatred, violence, greed and apathy. That is a lot of beauty and meaning to add to this life journey we are on.

So take a bow, if only in your mind. You are not only important but you are vital to the well-being of the 7 billion+ people inhabitating Mother Earth. So write, draw, dance, and sing, rock out in that band and create everything that Divinity has put inside of you. You really make a difference!

Utah skiing trip