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Monday, July 28, 2014

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

"Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose."

Swiss Psychiatrist/Author
1926 - 2004

Silence is where our work as creative leaders begins.  We must go back to the well of silence again and again to refresh our spirit and restore our sanity.  There is a lot of noise in our society today that will cloud our thinking and hinder the flow of creativity.  The noise of multiple voices rises from the traditional media: newspaper, radio and television.  And the noise is multiplied a hundred times over today by the cell phones, the internet and social media.  Each of these technologies has value and can contribute to our success, but we must manage and control their use, not let them control us.  We must sometimes go silent and cut ourselves off from the noise.  We must go deep inside and experience the silence.

And in the silence we will know and understand our purpose.  If we lose sight of our purpose, we will lose our way and become lost in the noise and chaos.  The silence allows us to find ourselves and to stay focused on what is important and why we are here.

Are you in touch with your purpose?  Do you know why you are here?  Do you know what lessons you have learned and what lessons you still need to learn?  How are you going to make a positive contribution to the world at large?  What are you giving back to society?  Seek to know who you are by knowing your purpose for being.  Embrace the silence and stay focused on your purpose.

Elisabeth Kubler was born in Zurich, Switzerland, the oldest of triplets.  Her father did not want her to study medicine, but she persisted and graduated from the University of Zurich medical school in 1957.  She married Emanuel Ross, an American medical student in 1958 and moved to the United States.

During her psychiatric residency in New York, Kubler-Ross began studying patients who were dying.  Her extensive work led to her book, On Death and Dying, in 1969 where she introduced the Five Stages of Grief.  During her career, she wrote more than 20 books on death and dying.  She finished her final book, On Grief and Grieving, shortly before she died.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Suzanne Valadon

The Blue Room

"I paint with the stubbornness I need for living, and I've found that all painters who love their art do the same."

French Painter
1865 - 1938

To be a creative artist, you need to be persistent because many obstacles will get in your way including your own need for perfection.  The creative journey is only for the stubborn.  How long are you willing to work at your painting?  Your writing?  Your acting?  Or do you give into family pressure?  Societal pressure?  Doubts?  Fears?

What are you willing to sacrifice for your creative work?  What are you willing to give up?  Life is never easy and the same is true for the creative leader.  There are many days when you will take one step forward and three steps backwards.  Do you have the stubbornness to keep going even when you see very little light at the end of the tunnel?

Suzanne Valadon was the daughter of an unmarried laundress.  When she was 15, she joined the circus, but was forced to quit a year later after falling off a trapeze.  She eventually became a model for artists including Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec where she studied their artistic techniques.  She is best known for painting female nudes but also painted landscapes, florals and still life.  She sometimes worked as long as 13 years on a painting before showing it in public.

Suzanne Valadon was the model for these paintings by Renoir:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Muriel Rukeyser

"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."

American Poet
1913 - 1980

The universe is alive with story.  Without story, much of what we as humans know would be meaningless.  Through story we understand the world around us.  Through story we understand our lives and why we have lived the way we lived.  Story provides meaning to the events that have happened and the sorrows we have experienced.  

As creative leaders, we are driven to share our story whether that be through a poem, a painting, a novel, a song, a sculpture, a film or a dance.  What stories are you telling in your art?  What stories are you telling that define who you are?  Our lives are filled with story.  Share yours today.

Muriel Rukeyser was born in New York City to a middle-class Jewish family.  Her father, Lawrence B. Rukeyser was born in Wisconsin.  He moved to New York and started his own sand and gravel company which went bankrupt in 1932.  Her mother, Myra Lyons, was born in Yonkers.  Muriel began writing poetry in high school.  Muriel attended Vassar College and Columbia University, but her education ended with her father's bankruptcy.

Muriel married and divorced the painter, Glynn Collins.  The marriage lasted on six weeks.  She gave birth to her son out of wedlock.  

Rukeyser's first book of poetry, Theory of Flight, was published in 1935 as part of the Yale Younger Poets Series.  She was 21.

Muriel Rukeyser was a poet, social activist, teacher, biographer, screenwriter, dramatist, translator and author of children's books.  She taught at Sarah Lawrence College and founded a literary magazine with Elizabeth Bishop, Mary McCarthy and Ellen Clark.

Here is a poem by Muriel Rukeyser.

by Muriel Rukeyser

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
The news would pour out of various devices
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.

I lived in the first century of these wars.

Here is Muriel Rukeyser reading The Ballad of Orange and Grape.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Rabindranath Tagore

"Faith is the bird that feels the light 
and sings when the dawn is still dark."

Bengali Poet, Novelist, Musician, Painter, Playwright
1861 - 1941

Do you believe in your artistic talent?  Do you have faith in your creativity?  Do you let your creative light shine or do you hide it under a bushel basket and refuse to share it with the world?  

Creative leaders need to have the faith that they are on the right path.  Even in those darkest hours before the dawn, you need to understand the sun will rise again — that your creative work is important.  

Don't give up on yourself.  Don't give up on the work you do.  You are unique and special.  No one else can create the paintings, the poems or the novels that you can create.  If you don't use your creative gift to produce art, the world will have lost much.  So pick up your pen and write.  Pick up your brush and paint.  Pick up your guitar and sing.

Tagore was the youngest of thirteen surviving children born to Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi.  The original family name was Banerjee but was eventually anglicised to Tagore.  His paternal grandfather visited Queen Victoria and other English royalty.  Tagore 

Tagore was raised mostly by servants because his father traveled a lot and his mother died when he was young.  He was raised mostly by servants.  His home was the social center for the arts including music, theater and literature.  His oldest brother was a poet and a philosopher.  Another brother was a composer, musician and a playwright.  His sister was a novelist.  Tagore shunned schools and formal education preferring to be tutored and to read books.  His father sent him to England to study law but he did not like it and instead studied Shakespeare.  He married Mrinalini Devi in 1883 and had five children.

Known mostly for his poetry, Tagore also wrote novels, essays, short stories and thousands of songs.  He composed over 2,000 songs.  He wrote 8 novels and 4 novellas.  He also took up painting at age 60 and had several exhibitions of his work.

In 1913, Tagore won the Nobel Prize in Literature.  In 1915 the British Crown granted him knighthood which he renounced in 1919 after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Here is a poem by Tagore:

My Song
by Rabindranath Tagore

This song of mine will wind its music around you,
my child, like the fond arms of love.

The song of mine will touch your forehead
like a kiss of blessing.

When you are alone it will sit by your side and
whisper in your ear, when you are in the crowd
it will fence you about with aloofness.

My song will be like a pair of wings to your dreams,
it will transport your heart to the verge of the unknown.

It will be like the faithful star overhead
when dark night is over your road.

My song will sit in the pupils of your eyes,
and will carry your sight into the heart of things.

And when my voice is silenced in death,
my song will speak in your living heart.