Meet Your Muse

photo courtesy Simson Petrol, Unsplash

Muse: an elusive divine-inspired spirit guiding a human to produce great work.  Painters, poets, musicians, writers, film makers, scientists, stay-at-home moms. Creatives.

So, I’m wondering. Do I have a Muse? Do psychotherapists have Muses? Do bloggers?

Well, why not?

Maybe we all have Muses. After all, everyone needs inspiration. No matter what we’re doing. An inspiring spirit with creative ideas? What’s not to like?

Granted. Austen. Lennon. DaVinci. Probably had some darned powerful Muses. MegaMuses.

My Muse? A little less powerful. A little less Mega. OK. Maybe a lot less Mega. Muse-lite.

But still.

I’m here to tell you that even a psychotherapist blogger can be aMused.

Ahem.

For example: When I feel a sense of ease and pleasure writing a blog post and then a Yes when it’s finished. A message from my Muse: Send this out now. Sure, it’s not perfect. Send it anyway. And there it goes. Out to you.

Or, in a therapy session. When I feel particularly compassionate and larger than myself. My Muse shows me a winding path where Grace lives. I just need to breathe and love and stay on the path. In those moments, I am the Muse.

aMusement is pretty wonderful.

I have to admit, though, that my Muse doesn’t always appear. Like now, for instance. I’m sitting here with visions of impostor syndrome dancing in my head. My imposter syndrome says things like: Are you kidding? Do you realize that you are blogging about gifted people? Really, doll face? I can’t believe you’re getting away with that.

Yup.

But nevertheless, I’m persisting. Which is what we do much of the time, right? Trusting that a necessary part of the creative process includes doubt, resistance, bewilderment, plowing ahead, dark chocolate and expressions like doll face.

Not necessarily in that order.

And just in case you don’t believe me, I want you to listen to this TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert. She explains her experience of Muse-ity quite well.

And if you want more, I’ve attached this humorous, poignant TED talk by writer Amy Tan.

My impostor syndrome suggested that I needed some back up.

But that’s OK. Because my Muse has arrived just in time.

So, here we go. Sending my love out to you. Yes!

__________________________________

To my bloggEEs: What’s your experience with creativity and the Muse? How about impostor syndrome? You know that your comments make my blog sing, so we all love hearing from you. And thank you, as always.

This post is part of a blog hop coordinated lovingly by HoagiesGifted. See more posts on creativity by clicking on the image below.

 


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Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

24 responses to “Meet Your Muse”

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  1. Jen Merrill Avatar
    Jen Merrill

    You absolutely have a Muse. I think we pigeonhole Muses into the arts, when I’m convinced they are larger and have more experience than that. 🙂


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, a Muse can appear about anywhere, I suspect. You, for example, are quite aMusing…


      1. Jen Merrill Avatar
        Jen Merrill

        Oh, I’m *something*, that’s for sure. LOL!


  2. Nimue Brown Avatar
    Nimue Brown

    I find the term ‘muse’ difficult because of the whole Greek baggage thing – muse as passive female, creator as active male. Druidry has a term – Awen – it’s the welsh word for inspiration but modern druids tend to treat is as a sacred thing, and I find that works for me, because its less of a personification and more of a force.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I definitely like the idea of a Force and actually think of Muse in that way. And I do see it as sacred. Thanks for providing an alternative word.


    2. Ro Avatar
      Ro

      Beautiful, Nimue.


  3. Mark V Avatar
    Mark V

    Lately I have been feeling less like I need a muse and more like I need a bodyguard.

    I’ve complained here before about the frustrations of misdiagnoses, poverty, isolation, etc. And yet I admit that while my situation causes anxiety and pain, it has also given me a very different perspective.

    When you lose everything and are down and out for awhile, your belief system changes, and much of what you once valued fades in importance. This makes it hard to not notice that what many other people value is actually a lot of pointless bull***t. This mental shift then puts you even further out on the fringes of society.

    To me, being creative doesn’t just mean being able to produce something that didn’t exist before. It also means being able to perceive what others do not, including outdated or unjust ideas and systems. This ability can be very threatening to those who have a lot invested in keeping the old ways just the way they are.

    That perception combined with a value system that has evolved to be at odds with a culture that resists change is why I am afraid. I feel so much resistance, even from people who I would assume to be friendly to new ideas or different points of view. I’m a nobody now, so I don’t pose much of a threat. But what if that changes? That is something every creative person wonders.

    Despite my fears my muse keeps pushing me forward. I just kind of go with it and hope the waves of anxiety will wash over me quickly without doing too much damage, and I hope it knows what it’s doing and provides some emotional backup in case it gets me in trouble!


    1. Mark V Avatar
      Mark V

      PS I should clear something up: by “getting in trouble” I merely meant getting into any situation that is emotionally overwhelming.

      The worst thing about being sensitive is feeling compelled to speak up when it is the right thing to do, but not feeling strong enough to defend oneself from any backlash.

      Heck, just today I walked into a shop to buy a coffee and nobody was within 8 feet of the till so I walked up to order. An old man spoke in a loud agitated voice “Hey, THERE’S A LINE HERE”
      “OK OK,” I said, “no need to get testy about it. I honestly thought you were waiting for an order”.
      He was half my size and yet I was shaking. UGH.


    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I think many people are afraid to follow their creative sparks. It can be scary for sure! Personally, I think a bodyguard is a great idea!


  4. Heather Avatar
    Heather

    Yes! The imposter syndrome is SO dangerous and insidious. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement!


  5. Gail Post, Ph.D. Avatar
    Gail Post, Ph.D.

    Paula, First of all, you are not an impostor! But completely get it how you – and all of us – can feel that way at times. One thing I also learned as I went through training to become a psychologist was that creativity is there to be found in just about anything. It’s not just about art and music, as I had naively assumed when I was young. It’s how you approach life and work and others. I realized that psychotherapy and writing and program development and supervision and all of the many things I did as a psychologist were infused with creativity – when I let them be creative. Anyway, great post on this subject.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for your vote of confidence, Gail. Sometimes I just wonder at how I ended up here! And yes, I didn’t want to imply that creativity is only about artistic abilities. Thanks for mentioning it.


  6. Jessie Avatar
    Jessie

    How delightful to hear you singing the praises of the muses, too, Paula! I am must amused by your being aMusing. (I think there’s plenty of epic poetry that comes out of psychotherapy!) And how striking to hear you also talking about “getting away with” blogging about gifted people. You made so many other people feel like it was okay, but you yourself know the risks to it (obviously). Sometimes, of course, the Muses just push us to say things that no one else is saying but that need to be said, I think, knowing how much value that others will get from it. Thanks for this post (and this blog)!


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, I loved that we were both talking about the Muse. It was a great image you found! Always wonderful to hear from you Jessie and see what you’re up to.


  7. helenjnoble Avatar
    helenjnoble

    Great post! It made me smile from my core.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Core smiling is the best kind of smiling!! 🙂


  8. helenjnoble Avatar
    helenjnoble

    Reblogged this on helenjnoble and commented:
    Just loving this latest blog from Paula


  9. Ro Avatar
    Ro

    My muse is playing with me at the moment – but in a most delightful way. It started with writing a stanza of a poem in my dreams… then whole poems. Last night a whole poem that I went on to analyse, within the dream! I have no recollection of the content of these poems upon waking, other than a shimmer in the corner of my mind’s eye.

    Impostor syndrome has thwarted my academic and creative engagement for decades. It was in replying to a post here on YRM that something clicked for me – with regards to the genesis of my impostor syndrome, and a kind of inversion of my expressed potential that occurred. In short, I focused more and more on minutiae, drudge work, and serving functions for others. This turned me into a bit of a wreck – hollering about ‘my life’s work being ruined’ when the house got messy for example. My life’s work. I’m shaking my head right now – but also want to give that mad woman a hug.

    “But nevertheless, I’m persisting. Which is what we do much of the time, right? Trusting that a necessary part of the creative process includes doubt, resistance, bewilderment, plowing ahead, dark chocolate and expressions like doll face.”

    What you wrote there Paula is pretty-much the approach I’m taking towards my creativity nowadays. Faith is helping me step out of the shadow of impostor syndrome. I’ve mustered this faith from a number of places: descriptions of the creative process shared by smart people whom I trust and believe (you are one of these people Paula – Elizabeth Gilbert another), through having a sideline view to my teenage daughter’s process, and also in transferring the skills I’ve gained stepping into the ‘fearful unknown’ again and again since ceasing contact with my entire family of origin three years ago.

    I never would have guessed it – but Faith with a capital F is playing more and more of a role in my life as I move out of extended stagnation, and develop as an individual. Perhaps Faith and the Muse, are intertwined.

    Best wishes Paula!


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Ro. I also experience Faith and the Muse as “intertwined!” Give that “mad woman” a hug for me, too!


      1. Ro Avatar
        Ro

        Will do, Paula – and a hug in return!
        Today I learned that I’ve earned placement on a writing diploma course that is delivered online. The application process was quite daunting, as I had to send in writing samples and compete for a spot. But I did it. You were one of two people who inspired me to apply despite my physical/health limitations, lack of formal education, and grand old age of 36 — not to mention a stonking case of impostor syndrome. Your own story of ongoing personal development really struck (and stuck with) me, and helped spur me on. It’s never too late…

        So thank you. I guess you were my muse in a way, though you didn’t know it. 🌻


        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Oh, Ro, congratulations! That’s such good news. I’m thrilled to have been your muse. <3


    2. Jessie Avatar
      Jessie

      Now that you mention it, I definitely think Faith and the Muse are related, Ro. That’s a valuable insight. If you don’t have faith in your ability to contribute something of meaning, then why bother? And no one else can tell you that you do — not in any way that’s meaningful enough to overcome your own self doubt, anyway, if self-doubt is the problem. (Though yes, nice comments from other people do help a bit!)

      As for cleaning the house…it’s a fight against entropy and that’s hard work. And now you’ve made me stop to think how much culturally valorized work (i.e. not housework, which is actually hugely valuable in supporting human society, but I digress) is just a fight against entropy. Hmmmm….

      Well, sounds like all that drudge work needs to be balanced with some kind of creative process. I hope you do continue pursuing your creativity, and have Faith in it!


      1. Ro Avatar
        Ro

        Yes, faith seems to be so important Jessie. And it doesn’t have to come in blinding, “You will be triumphant!”, predictive, form. In fact I’m not sure how many people have that kind of experience. So far in my own case faith is a small unwavering voice that says ‘You’re OK to disregard the fearful, negative messages coming at you, Ro.” and “Even if this doesn’t work out, you’ll be ok. There are other paths available. Just give it a try”. It’s not a big or showy experience at all – but over time, this faith is transforming my life.

        It definitely has to be an internalised force. You are spot on about that.

        Ugh – house cleaning… entropy…

        I’m not really in a position where I’m able to strike a balance between housework and serious creative pursuits. Not an integrated balance, anyway. I’ve been bedbound for about 99% of this year, and during the odd times when I’ve felt at all capable, have opted to clean and tidy. This has lead to a predictable decline in my health which I’ve recovered from before doing some more cleaning weeks or months later. It is heartbreaking to see the house turn into a trash heap in between the times I can clean.

        But I’ve decided to let it go. I’m not taking responsibility for mess that is not mine any longer. Though I cannot reach an integrated balance between physical drudge work and creative pursuit at the current time, I’ve decided to create a different kind of balance; I will focus solely on recovering some more health prior to starting my diploma study and then I’m adding in the writing I need to do. The house can go to hell quite frankly. This is my time. And when my health improves enough, I’ll do whatever housework I can /without/ risking my ability to continue studying.

        Because my cleaning efforts only fix the trash heap for one or two days out of a couple of months, it’s illogical for me to choose that over earning my diploma. It’s unpleasant to live with two people who appear to have special vision that cannot see even terrible mess… but I’m putting blinkers on because if I don’t put myself first now, I don’t know that I ever will. And as soon as we stop paying for private education for our teen, I am employing a team of people to look after the house and garden if need be! So many women with very physically restrictive illness use up all their ‘healthy moments’ on cleaning and tidying. It often leads to depression and that madness I mentioned before. My daughter is 15 now and my husband a grown man. It’s time; I’m gettin’ mine. 😉


        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Yep. Time to get yours!!

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