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The Art of Self-Expression
      by Gail Carr Feldman, PhD
Painter Georgia O'Keeffe said, "The days you work are the best days." She was referring to her art, of course, which was her passion. In this New Year, let's begin to view all of our work as our art. In doing so, every activity in which we invest our passionate energy will become our personal creativity. In my new book, From Crisis to Creativity, I define creativity as "the art of growing self-expression." In every way that we express and idea, a thought, a plan, a feeling, we give someone - including ourselves - a gift.
Mexican artist Frida Kahlo painted her first significant self-portrait following an accident that nearly killed her. She gave the lovely Italian Renaissance-style painting to her boyfriend, so that he would always remember her. This gift to her first love was an obvious memento. the gift to herself was less obvious but more profound: it was the declaration that she had survived. After this, Kahlo chose to be a painter rather than a doctor. Following each of more than thirty operations, she made bold representations of herself, each one nearly shouting that she lived, despite her wounds and her physical and emotional pain. She lived and lives on through her gifts of art.
Businesswoman Ruth Handler is best known for creating Barbie and Ken, teenage stars of her mega-toy company, Mattel. In the 1970s, she survived a radical mastectomy from breast cancer, and from her grief came the idea for a comfortable, natural feeling breast prosthesis. She worked with technicians from her company to create the "Nearly Me" line of breast replacements, and from her vision, manifested a gift to many other women.

"The message I received... was, 'Enjoy the light that you create.   Search no further to find brilliance outside of yourself.' "

Sarah Dixon is studying to be a teacher. This young woman was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, genetic problems that gave her parents little hope that she would live to adulthood. Like Frida Kahlo, Sara has had thirty operations to restore physical functions. She now lives, works, studies, and recently completed a trip on her own around the world. Sarah reminds us to respect every life experience for its inherent growth and creative potential. Her life and poetry exemplify the "determined overcoming" which is the hallmark of the resilient and creative person.
Near the end of writing From Crisis to Creativity, I meditated about whether the book contained enough inspirational stories and useful information. The message I received in meditation was, "Enjoy the light that you create. Search no further to find brilliance outside of yourself. The light, the love, that you create every single day, from within and in interactions with others, will nourish you and bring you joy."
So with the dawning of this New Year, turn within and trust that with mere intention you will manifest your gifts, your own brand of resiliency, brilliance and creativity.