Wednesday, April 22, 2009

SharedBliss: Scotland's Mary Gordon, Creativity Guru

Preparing for this interview, I got completely lost looking at photos of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Mary Gordon teaches creativity classes based on the principles of The Artist's Way in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, but it was Edinburgh that captured my heart in the photos.

We live about thirty minutes from Edinboro, Pennsylvania, a small, state university based town in which, every year, there are the Highland Games, including bag pipe competitions. The Scots in that area take their Scottish heritage very seriously.

Now I see why. Off subject here, but I must visit this place some day. (Which will be happy news to my Scots-Irish partner!)

It is no wonder, though, that a Creativity Guru like Mary Gordon would, inadvertently, awaken a longing for beauty and adventure in my heart. She has been doing this for a long time and has, apparently, mastered the skill of long distance inspiration, like a true guru, I suppose. (smile)

You can find Mary's blog, A Creative Voyage, here. You can read a bit more about her here. You can read about classes here. And you can also sign up on those pages to get email newsletters, in which you would be alerted to information regarding upcoming classes.

I think it might just be worth a trip to Edinburgh!

Describe the PrimaryBliss of your life. How did you come to know that this was your PrimaryBliss?

Taking photographs. It came surprisingly. I had taken one b&w class when a teenager and produced some great images but never went back to it. I got sucked into filmmaking instead.

I got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME about 6 years ago and didn’t have any energy for making films or engaging with the politics around making films. I had seen discussion about Lomo cameras on the internet. I was staying with a friend in London and one day walked to the centre of the city and passed a Lomography Shop. I was drawn in and ended up buying a camera from a very brisk Austrian woman who explained how to listen for the second click when taking photographs in low light.

Then I was away. I took masses of photographs with the lomo slowly learning through trial and error about light. I love getting films back from the printers – it's like Christmas every day! I love being able to do something portable which I just naturally integrate into my day. I’ve now moved onto a holga camera, which uses medium format film and gives a totally different quality.

What types of choices and sacrifices did you make to be able to craft this bliss-filled life?

Well this bliss hasn’t cost me anything except processing! As I said above because I integrate it seamlessly into my life its not a matter of choice and sacrifice, which my filmmaking career has been. Choosing bliss is something we have to keep on doing – I don’t think it’s a one off thing.

How does your PrimaryBliss radiate out into the rest of your life?

I think I need to remind myself of what I love and that I should take that same love to everything I do. In a roundabout way, everything I do I would like to have the same love/bliss in it.

What are some other activities that also give you this sense of bliss? Things that make you lose track of time?

Reading, walking, sitting outside on my bench with my cat, talking to friends. I only discover this later when I see my phone bill !

What is your daily or weekly spiritual practice?

Journalling and walking (As any true student of Julia Cameron! inserts Blisschick.)

What music is your bliss?


Name books or authors/poets or people who are your bliss, who influenced your bliss.

How to be Free by Tom Hodgkinson, Writing for your life by Deena Metzenger, The Artists Way by Julia Cameron, the film maker Derek Jarman, the work of Robyn Posin

What advice would you give to someone who feels they have not yet discovered their PrimaryBliss?

Allow yourself to explore, do not fill your life so there is no space to allow it to enter.

Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?

Do more things badly!

Another way to say that, of course, is "Get out there and take some risks!"

The interesting part of Mary's story here is that it took illness for her to say "no" to a profession that was sapping her life-energy and then say "yes" to a buried, life-long passion. That is certainly an excellent example of seeing the opportunity in what could be chaos -- a life altering event rather than a life destroying one.

I love, also, that she reminds us to leave space between. This is the place, for me, from which poetry springs, and the type of photography Mary engages in seems to need the same fertile ground.

Where in your life could you make more space? Where has it become necessary?


Emma said...

Good interview! :)

Yes, I need space, too. More space for quiet and being totally unaware of the time.

Yay for Tom Hodgkinson books. :)

Nerdy Renegade said...

Getting the clutter out of my house. (Or intensely re-organizing it, at least!)

Space for how I define myself and others.

Space for different (less or no) expectations ~ self and others ditto here.

Space for trusting myself in spite of the fear of totally screwing up my life.

Space to relax even further into the rhythm of life, the song of my soul, and the divine design of the Universe.

Thanks for asking!

Great post!

I'll have to check out the Tom H. books :-)

Ellen said...

Hi BlissChick,
Late to this, but I really enjoyed this profile of Mary Gordon, and have added her to my favorites. I guess it spoke to me because if I have any artistic impulse, it is photography. It doesn't take a lot of space to fit in, but it does take some! Mary's pics are special.

And I love her quote - Make more mistakes. I can do that :-)