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Carolyn Campbell
Guest Writer

Navigating the path from creating to marketing
An artist's diary, part 1
by Carolyn Campbell

The creation: The CoreSource, a gathering place for people to connect with others, designed in a home-like setting and including a business coach, a massage therapist and other facilitators who offer workshops on personal and professional development.
The place: 5513 NE 30th Ave., Portland, Ore.
The investment: Three months of 10-14 hours days transforming a 1,400-square-foot dilapidated storefront into a lush sanctuary.

mm, where to begin? Renovation of The CoreSource center is complete and I've promised my editor a series of articles on co-creating.

Co-creating with the infinite, with the self and with others. After three months of designing and shaping, I'm ready to write about the discoveries and the exciting possibilities that lie ahead. Yet, as I lie here on the couch trying to write, wanting to sleep and irritated that I can't do either, I'm struck by an immense well of melancholy.

The CoreSource: Three months and 40 volunteers later, an artist's vision is ready for the world.

There's a sadness that waves throughout my entire body all the way to my fingertips, a heavy sorrow of sorts. My mind wants to get moving: speak, create, write, connect. Yet my lips will not comply. Trying hard to not heed my body, I find that I must. Lying here I simply breathe, allowing the emotions to well up and recede.

Where is this coming from? What arrives is a yearning for sleep, deep sleep. I know this is somehow tied into all the work on the center being complete, and with what comes next ... the step of bringing what I have made to the world.

Or, more pointedly, bringing the world to it.

Oct. 20, 2003
Dear Diary,

At long last, the center is complete. Well, complete enough to say, "it's done."

After endless hours of designing, long days of intense focus, fragmented moments of action and exhaustion, challenging times in relationships of all kinds and immense joy and delight – the work is finally done.

The CoreSource plans to focus on artful endeavors that expand a world consciousness, assisting creative and healing professionals by providing a holistic approach to connecting with their passion, their "voice" and the people they most want to reach.

The space is beautiful. The response is inspiring. I'm still amazed that we succeeded in creating a lush, inviting space created from recycled materials. I'm humbled by the support in creating the space – more than 40 small businesses and individuals helped with labor, resources and finances. Never before have I experienced such a community-created project. All who visited experienced my vision. The celebration is over. The reception – even more than I envisioned.

And now. I get to be in the space. Take time just to sit, roll around on the floors, read. No, that's not completely true, I haven't read here yet.

To be honest, I just love to walk in and sit down someplace. Simply sit. Lay my head back on the couch and take it all in.

Every room envelopes me, holds me like a womb, invites me to honor what's within me, nourishing my spirit and providing strength to go out into the world.

It's cozy, comforting, relaxing and releasing. If I were a teacher, I'd give me an A- for what I have created. (The minus just because some minor details have yet to be completed). Not bad for a first-time creator of physical space.

So, I wonder, why the melancholy? What am I to do about it? What is it trying to tell me?

The space is done. Now what?

The exhaustion I feel is the most pronounced part of the melancholy. All I really want to do is go somewhere and lay in the hot sun ... for days. I ask myself why am I still so tired? It's been almost two weeks now since the space was finished. My mind says that's long enough to be recovered.

As a visual artist, I thrive on co-creating with the infinite, making the invisible visible. I get consumed in the process ... for days, weeks, months on end. It becomes my lover, an intimate relationship of tantalizing wonder and delirious surprises.

Through the struggles, the confusions and the blunders of creating, I work through any fears, knowing that if I release myself and my process to the infinite, the answers will come. Some days the answers come.

Other days, when I push too hard, it fights back, refusing to succumb to my aggression. I relinquish my grip. Let go. And wait another day to see what comes.

The space and I. Dancing this dance, breathing our breath together, finding our form.

By nature I am an improvisational creator. There are limited plans in the beginning – mostly an idea and a feeling. Then I jump in ... create with the space. I use zoom-lens focus – connecting with the present offerings and then ... I pull back to wide-angle and remember the co-created intention.


Zoom. Focus. Shape. Color. Focus. Wide-angle out. Again and again. Culling. Adding. Honing. Redefining. Again and again.

As I look back, I notice how easy it is to forget about the immense mental and emotional energy that goes into bringing my work to completion. I get so consumed with co-creating with the infinite (no matter how joyfully) that I overlook our human needs for rest, renewal and rejuvenation.

Although the project is finished, my body is still in a mode of creative focus. When the cells of my body finally realize they don't need to focus anymore, there is a grand release. Emotions have a roller-coaster pattern all their own. My mind just up and refuses to do anything. My body wants to float. And I want to swim in my own sea of tears.

Yet, now the time has arrived to get the word about the new space out into the world. I would love to "give in" to my tiredness.

More before.

If you are anything like me, you don't believe you have the financial luxury to sit and revel in what you have accomplished for weeks or even days on end. As I write this I realize the importance of giving time. Time to ready my body for the next phase. Time to renew my spirit. Time to make the shift from co-creating with the infinite to co-creating with the world.

The challenge for me is to let go of my hold on creating physical space. Yesterday, as I lay in my bed for the second nap of the day, I started thinking about the colors I could paint the walls of my bedroom. I had to stop myself and say: "Leave it alone for now. Your next creative act is to bring people to the new space."

As artists we have to face the truth that we are masters at co-creating with the infinite. There's an ease, a curiosity and, in fact, a generosity that occurs when in that zone of creating with the infinite.

This next step, the process of building connections, demands a different type of co-creating. One that is much slower and, quite strangely, a more ethereal process.

Where time collapsed on itself during the artist phase, now time stretches like a fresh rubber band – so much time, with seemingly little immediate return. It feels like more at stake or perhaps more chance for judgment of what I'm offering. As I created the space, I chose whom I shared it with.

But now, it's time to invite in the world. Open the doors to whoever arrives, and let my fear of the judgments simply "be."

I'm realizing that this is my calling and the challenge of the next phase. To be willing to discover, uncover and re-discover with others. To move from the precious, private intention of the space to a more public engagement of possibility. And this may at times mean engaging with, and allowing, others judgments.

This next step, the process of building connections, demands a different type of co-creating. We often try to avoid this stage, yet it is key to our success.

It's easy to forget to take the time to shape a plan that really serves our mission, but if we don't we're merely reacting to what comes along rather that clearly stepping toward the vision that serves our passion and our mission.


Oh, dear diary, that is a big challenge.

It's much easier simply to design and paint. Perhaps that's why so many great works stay hidden. It's a lot safer than watching someone's eyes glaze over. Or hearing people scoff, or silently, without a sound, voicing their disapproval.

At times like this it's important to remember why I am here – to offer new ways of being, of thinking, of creating. To provide a forum for wonder, exploration and uncertainty. To allow the doubt, so that new thoughts and creations can emerge. For that, it's key that I reach out into the world.

For now, it is enough to celebrate my accomplishment and let my human being-ness rest. I will reach out.

But first, a nap.

Next month: Carolyn shares the pleasures and challenges of co-creating, along with tips on how to succeed when creating with others.

Carolyn Campbell is a life vision and leadership coach in Portland. Read her previous series in our archives, check out her profile in Sketch Pad, visit her Web site, e-mail carolyn@thecoresource.com, or give her a call at 503-493-9497.

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