Fayard and Harold Nicholas were two of the greatest tap dancers that ever lived and, as the Nicholas Brothers, a beloved dance team in the history of entertainment. If you’ve never seen a clip of one of their performances, take a look now: The Nicholas Brothers... The greatest dance sequence
What amazing talent and skill! Such joy and beauty and grace in their every move. They’re dazzling, even mesmerizing. What pizzazz!
It makes us curious. How did they develop such incredible skill and excellence? And such talent infused with passion and joy? And how did they maintain this for performance after performance……. and for many decades?
The two brothers grew up together in Philadelphia, the sons of college-educated musicians who played in their own band at the old Standard Theater. As a very young child, Fayard sat in the front row and watched his parents work. He was particularly fascinated by the dancers – especially the tap dancing with acrobatics - including ones such as Alice Whitman and Bill Robinson.
He taught himself how to dance and sing by watching and imitating the entertainers he saw on stage. But, he soon developed his own unique style. He then taught his younger siblings, Dorothy and Harold, and they began to perform for others. When Dorothy decided to opt out of the trio, the pair became known as the Nicholas Brothers.
The brothers became a regular act at the Harlem’s Cotton Club when Fayard was 18 and Harold was 11, and they performed there for 2 years, astonishing their mostly white audiences. They soon became very popular and successful as word spread about their unique style and abilities. At that time, they were the only African-American performers allowed to mingle with the white patrons.
Their signature style was a mixture of tap dance, ballet, and acrobatics often referred to as “flash dancing” or acrobatic dancing. They were best known for their appearances in Hollywood musicals in the 1930s-40s, but performed in movies, nightclubs, Broadway, television and worldwide concert tours for several decades
According to “Who’s Who in Hollywood”, they are considered “… the greatest dance team ever to work in the movies.” What they achieved in their unique style and brilliance in artistry and choreography had never been seen before. It excited and amazed audiences across the world.
The brothers attributed their astonishing success to this piece - their unique style. It reached new limits and new possibilities – never before experienced - and the audience loved it!
The Nicholas Brothers were recognized with Kennedy Center Honors in 1991 for their achievements that spanned over 6 decades. A documentary film, We Sing & We Dance also celebrated their outstanding careers.
The Nicholas Brothers can continue to inspire us today. Not only with their incredible dance moves, but to help us to find our own uniqueness within.
You too have something that no one has ever seen before. What’s that unique ability that exists within and how can you develop it? And then share it out with others with joy, grace, AND PIZZAZZ?
Learning from the Nicholas Brothers, we see it takes practice, diligence, and determination to develop our own unique abilities. And if we do this, we gain confidence and comfort in this area.
It’s within this sacred space, that our being shines and our eyes sparkle. We share our own pizzazz out into the world! That which is Divine that sparkles from within us.
Inspired to Unleash your own Creativity and sparkle out in the world? Join me and my husband, David Sharp, in our upcoming group session on May 5th where we will use the wisdom and inspiration of The Nicholas Brothers along with St. Hildegard and MC Richards to explore our own creative spirits. Find more info and register HERE.
“Every person is a special kind of artist and every activity is a special art. An artist creates out of the materials of the moment, never again to be duplicated. This is true of the painter, the musician, the dancer, the actor; the teacher; the scientist; the business man; the farmer - it is true of us all, whatever our work, that we are artists so long as we are alive to the concreteness of a moment and do not use it to some other purpose.” – MC Richards
These are words of wisdom offered by M.C. Richards who was an inspiring poet, potter, educator, and painter. She celebrated creativity in all of it forms.
She was best known for her book that was written in the tumultuous 1960’s, Centering: in Pottery, Poetry, and the Person, where she shared the richness of daily life that one could discover if attended to - what we might term “mindfulness” today. And also the creativity that lies within every person, not only those who consider themselves artists.
M.C. earned a bachelor’s degree in Literature and Languages from Reed College in Oregon and received a Master’s and PhD from the University of California at Berkeley with a concentration in English and Linguistics.
After teaching English at the Central Washington College of Education and the University of Chicago, she became a faculty member at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Her experiences here, as an educator and artist, created the foundation for her life’s work.
M.C. inspired others to engage and bring to life the creative spirit that lives within. Even today, her words encourage us to create in whatever form we can.
“The creative spirit creates with whatever materials are present. With food, with children, with building blocks, with speech, with thoughts, with pigment, with an umbrella, or a wineglass, or a torch. We are not craftsmen only during studio hours. Any more than a man is wise only in his library. Or devout only in church. The material is not the sign of the creative feeling for life: of the warmth and sympathy and reverence which foster being: techniques are not the sign; “art” is not the sign. The sign is the light that dwells within the act, whatever its nature or its medium.” - MC Richards
M.C. experienced that when the creative spirit is engaged within us, we discover more about ourselves and create a connection with the world. Here she describes her experience with clay.
“ As you go out, you come in, you always come into center, bring the clay into center; you press down, squeeze up, press one hand into the other, bringing your material into center… We bring our self into a centering function, which brings it into union with all other elements. This is love…. When on center, the self feels different: one feels warm,…in touch,… the power of life…. drinking it in and giving it off, at the same time quiet and at rest within it.” - MC Richards
Later in life, MC discovered the work of Rudolf Steiner and lived and taught at the Camphill Village, a community with adults with special needs based on biodynamic agriculture and social therapy, in Kimberton, PA while also teaching part-time with Matthew Fox at the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, CA.
Inspired to Unleash your own Creative Spirit? Join me in my upcoming group session on May 5th where we will use the wisdom and inspiration of MC Richards along with St. Hildegard and the Nicholas Brothers to explore our own creative spirits. Find more info and register HERE.
Where does the creative exist in your life during a day or a week?
Maybe you garden or cook? Maybe draw or sing? Write or journal?
But, wait. There may be more. Creativity doesn’t necessarily mean only expressing yourself through art.
What about your creativity within parenting? Or collaborating with colleagues at work? Or beginning that work project? Or even how you unfold each day in your life?
Creativity is a fundamental expression of the human being. An expression of the authentic self engaging in the world. One that can only be unique to you.
“Everybody has a creative potential and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.” -Paulo Coelho
Creativity is essential to our health and well being. As long we are creating, we keep growing, developing, and evolving, as individuals and as a community.
If we cease to create, then our life energy decreases. Decay and deterioration enter in. Our state of health declines.
Creativity is like a refreshing breath of life for us, helping us to thrive. It feeds us, making us feel invigorated, energized, and alive. It gives us the gifts of vitality, health, and strength.
Let me share with you 5 ways that creativity supports you in becoming the best self you can be in your life.
1. Improves your mood: Being creative on a regular basis helps you remain grounded and centered, even in chaos or stressful situations. It helps to reduce stress, similar to meditation. It enhances your energy and invites you to play, have fun, and experiment. You engage in learning and being curious. As a result, more generosity, openness, and positivity blossom within your life.
2. Able to solve problems in new ways: In creativity, you explore new avenues, new possibilities, new perspectives. This enhances your ability to be creative in solving problems in your life – in relationships, at work, within society locally or globally.
3. A longer and healthier life: Within creativity, you feel more alive and connected to the world. Curious about life and engaged, more of a childlike quality. This reduces the risk of illness and disease, including conditions such as Alzheimer’s, and increases your healing potential. You live longer and with a healthier, higher quality of life. Now even proven in scientific studies!
4. Builds confidence: Through creativity, you connect with your self more deeply and learn a little more. You grow and stretch yourself, moving out of your comfort zone. You challenge the status quo, engaging in new experiences. You enter into a space where you do not have to have all of the answers. You come to trust your intuition, trust your feelings, and to trust your self.
“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” — Alan Alda
5. Make a difference in the world: Through our creativity, we can engage our own talents and gifts while we imagine and create the new ideas, the new solutions, the new ways of thinking that are needed within our communities. Becoming a powerful healing force in the world.
I hope you are inspired to go out and be creative today! If you’d like to explore new ways of being creative, join our supportive community within my doctorofthesoul classes each month. Find out more here.
Have you ever gotten an intuitive message that you didn’t necessarily want to hear? Something you feel you should act on, but you knew it would not be easy?
What do you do? Do you follow your intuition? Or do you try to convince yourself you didn’t hear this message? Certainly that CAN’T be the message. Or do you simply ignore it and continue on in life?
Imagine if we did that with another sense other than our intuition. You smell smoke one morning and walk outside to investigate. You see a forest fire flaming on the hillside not far from your house. You must act and do so now. But, what if you think you didn’t necessarily want to see that this morning and you try to convince yourself that certainly a fire does not exist. So, you simply ignore it and continue on with life.
Crazy, right? You would act immediately. Even if you knew your next steps would not be easy.
Yet, sometimes when we hear a message - often experienced as intuition for many of us - we don’t always respond.
Well, in case you haven’t already discovered it, let me reassure you that the Divine has many modes of communication. If one doesn’t work, another, more drastic step, may be needed.
You see, a message from the Divine –– is not only about yourself.
Yes, of course, it will help you grow, develop towards your Higher Self, and also unfold your destiny in the world. But, that is not the only purpose.
The message to you is often for you to bring something out into the world – to benefit the health and wellbeing of others in the world.
And, yes, sometimes this is frightening. Sometimes, you’d rather stay curled up in your safe home where it is easier.
Yet, the world is waiting and needing your work, your message.
A Message for St. Hildegard
St. Hildegard, in the 12th century, heard a divine voice telling her to speak and write about her experiences.
“… a voice from heaven was saying to me: ‘O weak person, you who are both ashes of ashes and decaying of decaying, speak and write what you see and hear. But you are shy about speaking and simple in explaining and unskilled about writing those things. So speak and write those things not according to human speech or human inventiveness but according to the extent that you see and hear those things in the heavens above in the marvelousness of God…
So you too, o woman, speak those things which you see and hear. Write those things not according to yourself or by the standards of another person, but according to the will of the one knowing, the one who sees and arranges all things in the secrets of His own mysteries.” (Hildegard von Bingen's Mystical Visions/Scivias)
St. Hildegard didn’t want to do this. She didn’t want to act on what the divine voice was telling her to do. She was frightened and anxious. She felt unskilled in these areas.
Also remember that she lived in a time where women were not part of the clergy. Women did not preach, speak publicly, or write. Let alone on controversial topics such as corruption in the Church or visions from God.
Yet, she was being called to speak up and to write.
“…. I put my hand to writing. Once I did this, a deep and profound exposition of books came over me. I received the strength …. and under that power I continued to carry out the work to the end..” - St. Hildegard of Bingen
Through simply taking one step at a time and lifting her hand to write, she began to find the courage and strength to heed her call. To share the message that she referred to as the Living Light speaking through her. And she received the support she needed from close friends and the spiritual world.
It is amazing how much help does come, once you take the first step.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
If you want support in taking those first steps, join our community in the Healing with St. Hildegard classes each month. More details here.
Think back to a moment when you have created something – created anything at all. Something where you were fully immersed in the moment in time, away from all other distractions.
How did you feel?
From where were you inspired?
What seemed to want to express itself through you?
As creator, as artist, a vibrant flow of energy flows through your whole body. You know you are part of something greater.
The Divine flow that moves you needs to come to earth, in physical form. To express itself in form through you, the artist.
Meister Eckhart says it beautifully, “Whatever I want to express in its truest meaning must emerge from within me and pass through an inner form. It cannot come from outside to the inside, but must emerge from within.”
Fueled with the breath of inspiration from within, you, the artist, begin to paint, sing a song, move in dance, write words, or use other materials for expression in creating.
The outer world of daily tasks and the chatter in your mind both disappear, and your focus comes to the task before you.
You can feel the call from within, and you know it’s time to take action.
So, you begin.
You lose track of what’s outside in the world – schedules, meals, tasks, and time. Your thoughts dissolve. This vibrant creative force infuses your whole being. You feel fully alive. And joyfully engaged.
Your process may be smooth and flow easily at times. It may be bumpy and chaotic at other times. It may move quickly. Or slowly.
But, it’s not time for judgment or critique. Nor for thinking. This is the time for presence in the moment. Surrendering to the process and that which moves you from within.
And when your creative moment is done for that day, you are pleasantly drained, for you feel complete. You are grateful. And now satisfied, you rest peacefully.
The sweet nectar of the Divine has been brought to Earth through you.
Creating art, when focusing on the process and not product, can help us to access a meditative state, tapping into a deeper and quieter part of ourselves. A place of inner stillness without the busyness of the mind.
Here we can enter a feeling of flow and freedom, free of judgment, separation, and physical boundaries. A space without limits. A space for self discovery and expression. An opportunity for healing.
Human beings are naturally creative. It is part of our nature.
And being creative brings us back to this state – our true nature.
Our true nature that brings us to a place of balance and a place of health.
At age 42, when St. Hildegard felt God commanded her to write down and share what she had experienced, she did not act on this call to create immediately. She felt insecure and inadequate. Unable to write.
Soon, she became sick. She interpreted her illness as a consequence of her resistance to the Divine.
Finally, after some time, she gathered her courage and strength and began to write.
Once she did, she was able to move beyond her self-doubt, and she felt her own strength grow, as Divine inspiration moved through her.
“Beaten down by many kinds of illnesses, I put my hand to writing. Once I did this, a deep and profound exposition of books came over me. I received the strength to rise up from my sick bed, and under that power I continued to carry out the work to the end, using all of ten years to do it.” - St. Hildegard of Bingen
St. Hildegard, despite her frequent and debilitating illnesses, found the strength to begin the creative process of writing. Or maybe one can say, beginning her creative process of putting hand to writing gave her the strength to continue forward. Moving through the obstacles when they arose. And experiencing joy in the journey.
When was the last time you engaged in art in a way that created a meditative state? Too long?
Maybe you don’t think of yourself as an artist? The good news is you don’t have to! You are a creator – one who creates out of the materials that long to be used for creation.
As human beings, we are naturally creative.
You may be pleasantly surprised to discover how much art you have inside of you. Yearning to be discovered and come out in the world.
“Humanity, take a good look at yourself. Inside, you’ve got heaven and earth, and all of creation. You’re a world – everything is hidden in you.” -St. Hildegard, Causes and Cures
Which art calls to you today?
As you engage in art, in creating, energy begins to flow. For energy flows toward creativity.
And where energy flows, a powerful healing force can arise. For yourself. And for the world.
Creativity is not a solitary movement. This is its power. Whatever is touched by it, whoever hears it, sees it, senses it, knows it, it’s fed. That is why beholding someone else’s creative word, images, idea, fills us up, and inspires us to our own creative work. A single creative act has the potential to feed a continent. One creative act can cause a torrent to break through stone. -Clarissa Pinkola Estes
In this season of spring, of growth and renewal, discover how art can be a meditative practice. Begin today so you can….
Inspired to engage in art as a meditative practice, but want some guidance? Join my series of classes on Healing with St. Hildegard that are starting very soon! Register here for a discounted price before April 7th.
I was born in London, England, educated in Switzerland, and am fluent in English, German, Spanish, and French. I hold a Doctorate in Ministry Degree and Masters Degrees in Counseling Psychology and Education. Also, I am an accomplished artist and educator. I use all of this and much more when helping others heal their souls.