Whitney in her own words:
What inspired to start Creatively Fit and why are you so passionate about its mission?
It really was a classic “light bulb moment!” I had grown up doing crafty projects and had always created an “art center” in the basement of the two houses in which I grew up but had NEVER considered myself artistic and would often bemoan that I was not born with that artistic gene. In an instant, I was given insight into the connection between art making and living (creating) our most authentic lives. I learned the power and depth of this connection along with my clients at my first art center, The Creative Fitness Center, in Nashville from 1996 to 2008.
My passion today is still fueled by this awareness that as spiritual beings having a human experience it is not until we ACCEPT OUR ROLES AS CREATORS that we can most fully step into our power. Magic happens when I take people through their fear of making a mistake on the canvas or in their art journal; they connect to their own sacred spark and get excited about all the potential within and without! The fear that comes up in the process of my workshop or online program is the SAME FEAR that is keeping them stuck in their life. When we blast it out of our mental waters we blast it out of ALL our mental waters and our passion and inspiration can FLOW again! (prints of this Buddha and more of Whitney’s art are available here)
What is your favorite part about your work?
I love getting people EXCITED! Right now I am more fully stepping into my role as MUSE and realizing the power of having the person, the energy, there that guides you into that safe, expansive space where you really dare to dream and to take steps in the direction YOU DESIRE. I get to light that sacred spark—or at least give them the matches to do it for themselves. I absolutely LOVE that sparkly-eyed, excited voice that I see and hear from my clients as they “get it”. The shift they experience is palpable as the right hemisphere voice is finally balanced with the left, and they gain the ability to CHOOSE whether they are coming from fear (left) or love (right). And I love that my process is so accessible to everyone! Actually, the less “artistic experience” one has the better. Whether it is through my online programs at CreativelyFit.com or in one of my workshops or retreats or coaching calls…because this Creatively Fit process is so aligned with who we truly are …the results are amazing. There is no way for you NOT to connect with your infinitely creative self when you take the action that is the art making and you are supported with my energy that is all supportive, from the heart, and excited! I love that!
In your own words, how does art have the power to inspire change?
There are so many reasons why the Creatively Fit art making connects people to their inspiration.
First, it is because our approach takes out the need to “produce,” or the fear of making a mistake, out of the equation, making the entire process a complete RIGHT hemisphere experience. The LEFT hemisphere (ego, judge, fear-based, but good and wonderful too—just not intended to be 100% of our mental resource) has to check out because it can’t grasp any logical, rational reason why you would be scribbling in an art journal or painting on a canvas. Then, your right hemisphere GETS TO come to the forefront of your consciousness and share its holistic, love-based, present moment, everything-is-working-out-perfectly perspective. It is how our brains work that guarantees the Creatively Fit Program’s success. How cool is that?
Secondly, most adults do not spend any time with paints, markers, etc. and so the art making so contrasts their routine that it has to produce change. If you do something totally new and different you WILL get new and different results.
Thirdly, art making engages our child-self. What young child does not LOVE to make art!? We get to connect to the joy, that present-moment experience where all our baggage and to-do lists melt away. But an even more powerful result of connecting to this child-self is that she is STILL CONNECTED to your Higher Self. I learned about this connection while studying Celtic spirituality. Our adult-self is not connected to our Higher Self. We HAVE TO go through the child self to get there. So, when you connect to your infinite, Higher Self you access wisdom and a perspective that allows you to take BOLD, fearless action that is completely ALIGNED with who you are—your purpose in this lifetime.
The final reason (really there are even more, but for today this will work) is that the canvas, especially, provides a mirror where we see reflected EXACTLY what we need to learn to overcome the “getting stuck” experience in the art that is our life. So, in other words, if you are someone who has a lot of projects started, but has a harder time creating closure THAT WILL SHOW up in your painting process. If you are a harsh self-critic (aren’t we all) that will show up. If you resist structure that will manifest as you resist the “outlining step” in the Creatively Fit Painting Process. Wherever that left hemisphere voice stops you from taking risk, entering new territory, or from creating any kind of change in your life, is the same place it will show up as we paint. The magic is that just by learning and moving through the process in the painting you also develop the mental muscle you need to overcome this obstacle in your business, professional or spiritual life. You create new neural pathways through the art that are still there when you want to do things differently or create change anywhere in your life. How great is that!?
You’ve received numerous accolades from your clients, students, and have even been featured on Martha Stewart–what would you say to someone new who is wanting to share their life passion and expertise with the world?
I so appreciate this question. I tell my Creatively Fit Coaches that the “new résumé” is ENERGY, not words. People want to be around people that are fired up, excited, passionate about what they do more so than they want to be around an “expert” who is dry and routine. My advice is to shamelessly and passionately share your life’s work with anyone and everyone. AND you will have to take risks and wade through the “muck.” Sometimes I joke that I am the Energizer bunny. Literally, I couldn’t stop my “work” if I tried. It takes me over daily—like writing this interview. I am supposed to be shopping for summer clothes for my kids, but I can’t pull myself away from this interview. I am so thrilled to share my story and encourage others to follow what gives you energy. Validate what brings you joy. Remember, JOY is your child self and your Higher Self saying “Yes! Yes!” go do that! That is why you are here. This is what you came to share. Be as joyful and as excited as you can and you will move mountains!
What is your biggest wish for the world and how are you and the work you do a part of it?
That is a big question. I am often humbled and completely overwhelmed when I connect to the fact that I have trained Creatively Fit Coaches in S. Africa, Nigeria, Italy, Beirut, Australia, Croatia, Canada, the U.S. (of course). We are also launching Creatively Fit ITALY and will have all of the programs available in Italian starting this fall. Wow! I am so excited for the day when it becomes sacrilege to utter the words, “I am not creative.” I KNOW we will get to a point where we have learned to silence the inner critic and to create the change we want unabashedly. The art making is the portal to this new level of awareness and being. This is where we are now. We are being given the opportunity to remember that we are the creators, we create our reality, that we can create peace, joy and a world of compassion. Our world is just like the canvas, reflecting back to us our own thoughts and ideas. We can change those thoughts and ideas so what is reflected back is not war, abuse, deteriorating environments, etc. I am honored to be a muse, an ambassador for this infinite, creative energy.
What would you do if you had 6 months to live?
I would travel the world and paint sacred images at sacred sites. I would paint with people on every continent and connect to the universal language of color and imagery. And I would travel with a film crew to document every ah-hah and every sparkly eyed, excited, “I get it!” Actually, we are planning my Middle East Tour for Feb. 2014 right now. I can’t wait! Let me know if you want to be a part of igniting the creative spark in the Middle East. So fun!