The CREAgeous Unfolding Of Cynthia Shaw
The Birth Of An Artist
I was pegged early. As I was growing up, my older sister was the “artist”, my younger brother the “intellect” and my younger sister the “dancer”. I was the “jock” along with “jokester” and “family mediator.” That was all fine and good (ummm, sort of) except for the fact that these were only parts of who I was.
I have spent much of my life coloring in the other parts and pieces of myself. I have been tenacious in my longing and striving to live deeply, wildly, and authentically.
Psychology, art, and creativity have been my guides. I have learned, that coming to see, know, accept, value, embody and fully live all of who I am is my journey.
There were subtle hints in my childhood of my creative/artistic leanings:
- I loved melting crayons in the hot summer sun and mushing them all over rocks.
- In elementary school my crotchety, old art teacher praised my calligraphy skills. Woohoo!
- In 6th grade, I took to creating a shadow box of a pioneer’s general store like a champ, my first assemblage! I remember building tiny shelves & tiny boxes & rolling tiny scraps of cardboard into tiny barrels & filling them with beans to look like potatoes. I was in heaven! And I got an A+!
- Then in 8th grade, I remember choosing with aplomb, an internship with a potter who declared to my mother that I would “make a great potter” and that I had “good hands.” Who knew?!
- In 10th grade I got invited to be a belly dancer in the school play. Oh wait, that’s another story!
You get the idea, so, moving on…
Packing My Bags
As childhood ended, I chose to go off to college to study psychology but after a nasty encounter with statistics I changed my major to Art and Graphic Design. I do believe that a deep inner knowing guided me here even though I was still too unformed and unsure of myself to fully own my creative and artistic talents.
Along The Winding Road
Now, do you remember that psychology stuff? Well, a few years later I did another 180. Guided by flying coattails of fear and a deep reservoir of lack of confidence (sound familiar?) I found myself back in graduate school for Counseling Psychology. Hey! I was reading every psychology and self-help book I could find, why not get a degree? Plus, of course, being a “therapist” is a safe and legit way to make a living, right? Certainly, as compared to being a…a what?…an artist? Ha!
During these years of grad school and beginning my career as a psychotherapist I did need to keep my hands busy and my heart happy with many art and craft classes such as calligraphy (& became the calligrapher’s apprentice!), beading, jewelry making, decoupage, collage, quilting (it’s on my bed), bookbinding and box making etc.
Slowly, as my self-knowledge deepened, I began to notice that I could only be comfortable creating in a class or if I was making a gift for someone. To just create art for the sake of creating art was stuck down, deep inside me. But remember those old longings and stirrings I mentioned? They were a-stirring! I began to feel a more and more agitated discontent and feelings of being bottled up. (Perhaps being the mother of 2 young children by this time had something to do with it too, but again, that’s a different story!)
Fate, or something or other, intervened again and I was guided to work with a woman who became my mentor and midwife to my Artistic Self.
After many, long years of labor pains, I began to take workshops where I learned to play again, to experiment, to not compare myself to others, to not take myself so seriously, and most importantly to allow the fullness of what was inside me to be expressed visually.
At first I could only do this at workshop. Letting it flow was still way too scary at home. Then slowly, over the years I set up an art box. That became an art table. That became an art corner. That became an art room/studio. (Yep! I took over the entire sunroom. All mine!)
Ahhhhhh, it felt So good! Giving myself permission to “take up space” and to Create…Just Because!
I find now, that I have created a life where all the varied parts of myself can share the stage, in their full expression. These are some of the main roles I juggle:
- Psychotherapist – in private practice where my passion for and interest in deep understanding and knowing of our internal worlds is stimulated, shared and challenged.
- Artist and Jewelry Maker – doing mixed media painting, collage and assemblage and making jewelry from vintage buttons.
- Workshop Leader – where my love of women circles lives.
- Mother – of teenagers…Oy!
- Inveterate Jock – just let me move, run, dance, yoga, and bike.
- also – Meditator, Sister, Friend, Reader, Community Member, Nature Lover, Gardener, etc., etc., etc. Oh! and Juggler, of course, in my spare time!
Flowering, Flow, and Integration
All of my history, my questions and my thoughts about life have informed who I am as an artist and as a psychotherapist.
As an Artist, creativity and art-making are an imperative that I allow to flow. Art has become something I must do to express myself and to connect with what is beyond Self.
The curiosity and questions about this mysterious human life that led me to psychology now also feed my creative process:
- How do we become what and who we are?
- Nature and nurture are a start but what about the unknown Mystery of Life?
- How and why are we here?
- How much influence does our family of origin, our culture, our genetics and personality have on who we are and how we express ourselves?
- Do we have the power to change ourselves and our lives if we wish?
I believe we Do have the power to transform and I have come to know Deeply that the creative process is key to our unfolding. As a Therapist, I now integrate all of my knowledge and years of experience with psychology and the creative process. My greatest joy is in guiding people to greater wholeness by embracing their truest self and realizing the limitless possibilities in their lives. To have inner strength and to achieve balance we must embrace our whole selves. We must learn to strengthen the parts of ourselves we find helpful and not reject but accept those parts within us we find unpleasant or destructive. This is what creates a person who feels whole and centered. I do this by helping people access greater self-understanding and accepting all parts of themselves. We “dance” together between talk therapy and reaching deep places of insight through expressive arts and creativity, the realm beyond words. I believe we all long for love, fulfillment, and wholeness. Life is our journey of discovery of self and our place in the world. Psychology brought understanding and structure to my journey and Art brought the Soul.
And the journey continues…