by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I’m focused on becoming my best self. I’ve started working with a life coach as a way toward manifesting my potential and maintaining balance as an artist, entrepreneur, volunteer, and caregiver.
My life coach, FayAnne, has me immediately paying attention to my values. Top on my values list is creativity.
Some people have difficulty owning their sense of creativity. I am alive with it. I love it. I live it. It is my religion (or at least an expression and reflection of my Buddhist practice*). I have no problem stating unequivocally that I’m a creative person.
I exhale creativity. It’s always been part of my daily life. I write (blogs, poetry, non-fiction), compose music (orchestral, piano-based, musical theatre), use my photos (nature) for my Instagram mini-blogs, annual nature photo calendars, and online content. I’m also a gardener, decent cook, public speaker, and explore painting on canvas for fun.
Where I struggle, though, is taking care of my creative self. Or even recognizing that this is a treasured part of who I am as a person. To me, it just IS.
FayAnne guides me to see that my creative, energetic, encouraging, strong, compassionate, inspiring self is a gift to others 🤭 because I, like all artists, have the power to connect deeply, uplift and help others tap their empowered self. I’m learning it is important to protect and support that aspect of me; that constantly, creatively expressive artiste. 👩🎨
We must take extraordinary care of this creative force that is within each of us. We must deliberately guard this beautiful treasure from over-stimulation.
Sometimes we must allow silence. A moment to feel our breath rise and fall.
Space. An area to absorb our surroundings and internal activity.
Time. For our experiences to settle in.
Solitude. To refresh our energy.
As self-care practice, my coach asked me to make a metaphor for this. The metaphor I chose, for my whole being, encompassing my creative flow, physical health, spirituality, emotional and social world is a symphonic (as in composition of many harmonious parts) OCEAN. 🌊
OCEAN has alternating colors of blue, green, and glistening bright white waves that gush, crash, build, surge with fluidity, sooth, calm, or gently flow.
My creative process, including writing, composing, taking photos and designing my visual content are part of OCEAN. All my online biz tasks are also part of OCEAN, including technical, technological, administrative, marketing, and planning.
Nothing is separate or compartmentalized.
This is a new way to think for me. Generally, I, like most artists, separate creative flow from business or administrative tasks.
But this OCEAN view makes sense to me as I am ONE person that encompasses ALL these tasks and creative projects. It makes sense to see every task in my daily routine as part of the flow from that essential core at the center of my life.
YourCreativeChord is OCEAN. It is a place you can get ideas, strategies, and encouragement about a variety of topics. I pour all of my experiences with piano, music, creativity, caregiver and inspiration into this OCEAN called YourCreativeChord.
Though each section is a separate world unto itself, each world also connects to this one whole, harmonious collective force; OCEAN.
If we met at a social event, we may discuss a few things that we have in common, like gardening or writing. As we continue learning about each other, we discover that we both have a multitude of interests, talents, jobs or skills. The integration of all those branches is revealed in our unique personalities.
Just as we each have various interests that are encompassed by our individual lives, my offering to you through YourCreativeChord is ALL ONE THING. The creative, spiritual, emotional, physical are all interconnected and feeds the whole life; It’s all one thing!
As you explore my content, you’ll find connections between all these topics that relate to the one thing that is YourCreativeChord.
I’m describing the interconnectedness of life, but also how learning effective piano practice strategies, building caregiver support, spiritual wellness and opening your creativity are two but not two. They are uniquely separate and yet all connected to the same essential core called LIFE.
Another way to see this bond is to recognize how expressions of the creative life stem from the same impulse within our lives. My life coach gave an example of seeing something within the visual as audio;
A flower as a melodic phrase.
A harbor view as a pattern of rhythm or dynamics.
A song as a color.
These are all expressions of who we are as human beings. I’m an artist, a musician, a composer, a cyclist, a pianist, a writer, a poet, a spiritual facilitator, a daughter, a sister, a friend.
Your specifics may vary slightly; a film composer, runner, guitarist, painter, photographer, fiction writer, rapper, spiritual seeker, son, brother, father.
These all spring from within the same vital center within each life. That means there is nothing to separate me from you, or either of us from the connection to creativity or wellness.
This OCEAN is not just about the arts, either. My social, financial and business goals are part of OCEAN. My success in all these areas comes directly from my OCEAN’s momentum of creative output, spiritual wisdom and physical energy.
My personal challenge is learning that I can’t boss OCEAN into doing something!
As a creative process, the OCEAN is not concrete or finite. It has expansion. It ebbs and flows.
Don’t attempt to push the OCEAN around like a Bossy Boss.
Get out of the way and let it flow. Let it morph in its natural, creative, spiritual, emotional and physical way of choice.
Part of this process is learning to TRUST that creativity—OCEAN—the one thing—will be able to head in the direction and generate the success and the social, business, financial or artistic victory I desire.
I’ve experienced this.
Things happen when I clarify that it’s all one thing. When I TRUST my sincere intent to speak from the voice of my OCEAN to the world around me--things resonate, connect, and guide in the best and most positive way.
I’ve transformed music classrooms, chorus rehearsals, musical performances, speeches, relationships, and readership based on my ability to trust my inner voice in this way.
I’ve had audiences express emotion through tears and standing ovations, readers send messages of deep gratitude and relevance, students rise up to pull out creative brilliance and explosive energy, jobs and/or clients suddenly available, and people open up--all in direct response to my TRUSTING the OCEAN and that everything is ALL ONE THING.
This is the power that artists wield. And in my opinion, we are ALL artists.
Some of us are just a few steps ahead in the zone of getting accustomed to our connection to this OCEAN.
This is what YourCreativeChord is all about. My inner journey to connect to your inner life, to tap into and empower our best potential, greater selves.
We get there instantly, leisurely, methodically, and randomly through various ways, niches, branches, and aspects of this one thing we call life.
Welcome to YourCreativeChord. IT’S ALL ONE THING.
I’d love to hear from you. It means a lot to me that my content is helpful and empowers you. Please take a moment to let me know your thoughts below!
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*Although I'm a proud member of SGI-USA, I'm not an official spokesperson for SGI-USA. Though I base my actions on my personal Buddhist practice as an SGI-USA member, my online business and content associated with YourCreativeChord is not in any way affiliated with SGI-USA.
A REVIEW OF LEXINGTON BALLET COMPANY
By Jenny Leigh Hodgins
My mother and I attended New Works and Other Voices, a free performance by the Lexington Ballet Company, Saturday, October 27, 2018, at LexArts on 161 N. Mill Street, Lexington. I had no idea what to expect, as I was unfamiliar with the program.
From the moment Lexington Ballet Artistic Director, Luis Dominguez spoke, I knew immediately the audience was in for a robust explosion of cultural spirit. As he introduced each choreographer, musical background of each composition, and the meaning behind each dance, his love and respect for art was exuberant. The featured choreographers are also company dancers and instructors at the Lexington Ballet. As each one spoke before the cast’s performance, the heartfelt sincerity and passion for dance was palpable.
But the dancers’ performances topped that. Beyond demonstrating a graceful physical flexibility, they overwhelmed the room with youthful passion, and shared their hearts through dance. It is rare to attend a concert that rises above technical mastery to resonate directly with the heart. But Lexington Ballet Company cast did just that, with every performance of the concert.
I don’t know anything about dance. But, I gathered from each selection of the concert, that these young people have vigorously worked to overcome their physical limitations. That was obvious from their movements, and their polished achievements are worth the spotlight of attention.
The colorful costumes changed throughout the concert, adding oomph to the visual cultural expression onstage. The unity of the dancers was impressive. They created a harmoniously flowing motion with bodies of different shapes, heights and age. They made it look easy.
The atmosphere within the room transformed through the purity of the energetic dancers. In today’s world filled with self-inflicted barriers, darkness and disunity, Lexington Ballet’s performances immersed the audience with spiritual and emotional therapy. The power of their artful dances, evidently rooted in the expression of each artist’s heart and soul, led the audience through an array of emotion.
I could feel my own heart open, and sometimes be astounded by their phenomenal talent. It is this kind of artistic performance, based on communicating heart to heart, that has the power to bring hope to our society. “Music is an expression of the human spirit; it speaks directly to the heart and proves that we can transcend national and ethnic barriers. It plays a critical role in building peace.”1
This is a strong factor in the argument for arts promotion. Lexington Ballet Company’s program offers solid training in dance to youth. But observing their concert last Saturday, they go far deeper than that. They provide their dancers with holistic development toward becoming true artists.
I cannot think of a single thing our society needs more than raising capable, spiritually empowered youth. The development of young artists connects wellness of mind, body, and spirit. Experiencing art as a performer or audience member is rehabilitation for the soul. Art is a great place to start in our complicated world, toward building bridges between humans. Art is healing and energizing for all, as it is a collaboration between humans in the most vulnerable form.
Choreographer/Dancer Casey Myrick introduced the first piece, Anxious Desires, by musician Sufjan Stevens, which featured modern dance movements grounded in classical dance styles. Myrick said the work was inspired by a Buddhist concept about anxiety stemming from desire and how anxiety can actually work to fulfill our desires. The performance was a unique, outside-the-box mentality of dance that evoked discomfort lending to intrigue. Dancers bodies and expressions emoted fear, doubt, distress, and finally, resolution and relief.
Choreographer/Dancer Alexandra Orenstein introduced UnderTones, her work set to an excerpt from jazz composer, Keith Jarrett's solo piano work, Lausanne Concert. The improvisational music builds on a rhythmic droning, with Jarrett’s infamous knack for outflowing melodic lines. Orenstein’s organic, abstract modern approach to movement for each dancer emerged naturally, in sync with the music’s pulsating crescendo and layered texture.
Talented dancer, Ayako Hasebe Lloyd’s stunning entrance in a bold red dress, and her ensuing solo dance to Sand, mesmerized the audience. Luis Dominguez and Lexington Ballet School Director and Ballet Mistress, Nancy Dominguez "developed the collaborative piece as a pas de seul”2 for Lloyd.
The first section of the dance, Sand, was set to Luis Ni’s G Minor Bach, and choreographed by Nancy Dominguez as an homage to her mother, who passed away with Alzheimer’s last year. Next, Zoom-Out, set to a song by Drummond Dominguez, was choreographed by Luis Dominguez. Lloyd’s movements were elegant, bursting with passion tempered with artistic maturity that shook the room with her life-force.
Lloyd’s commanding performance segued fluidly into Kaylie Conner and Sean Sullivan’s romantic Pas de Deux, performed to Nightflight, by Drummond Dominguez and Ethan Gustavson. The performances, highlighted by vivid red costumes, led flawlessly to the final group piece choreographed by Nancy and Luis Dominguez, to Fernando Delgadillo’s La Inspiration.
During intermission, my mother and I engaged in a natural conversation with strangers around us. Was it the dancers’ performances, emanating with openness and intimacy, that made it so easy for strangers to interact?
We went well beyond small talk to discover that the couple behind us had a 28-year old son who’d been diagnosed with 4th-stage cancer. This led to our sharing that we had lost my 28- year old brother to a car accident in 2004. We opened up and shared honestly with each other in the short dialog.
We took our seats as Lloyd introduced the meaning behind her choreography to Our Blue Hearts by Japanese composer, Joe Hisaishi. “This work is inspired by the blue stained-glass hearts that hang in the Lexington Ballet studio windows as a memorial to a past student.”3 The dance featured the largest cast of the evening, and in particular, the youngest performers.
Lloyd talked about how the personal loss of her brother inspired her choreography. She shared warmly how grief affects many, and it was her intent that the piece would help audience members cope with loss and feel supported. Her introduction and the dance performance were mystically in sync with the conversation my mother and I had with the couple behind us.
The choreography and dance were deeply touching. Depicting the sorrow of loss as relationships end, the stage evolved from soloists to exponentially growing numbers of dancers exhibiting grief through facial expression and movement. As Hisaishi’s music progressed with a symphonic swell, a solo dancer was hoisted atop a group of dancers, like pallbearers carrying the deceased. The audience was moved by its emotional intensity.
The dancers, in delicate blue costumes, swirled onstage from scene to scene, ending with a harmonious, joyful, full cast of camaraderie. It symbolized, to me, the victory over tragedy with the power of friendship, community, and spiritual transformation.
My words do not do justice to the eloquence and impact of the Lexington Ballet Company performances. “We can know a country’s rise and fall by whether its tones are happy or sad.”3 The Lexington Ballet Company's display of artistic beauty, poise and soul expressed the gamut of moods, yet landed on the joyous, the united and hopeful.
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1 Daisaku Ikeda, peace advocate, Buddhist philosopher, educator, author, poet and leader of
Soka Gakkai International
2 Extracted from LexingtonBallet.org
3. Extracted from LexingtonBallet.org
4 Nichiren, 13th century Buddhist leader
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In my CREATIVITY blogs, you’ll find tips for exploring creative flow, and inspiring content related to the inherent challenges and tremendous joy within the creative process.