Words of a Light Bearer
Jessica Leigh Brogan loves to capture the beauty fo life in many forms: photography, mixed media art and above all, words. She is passionate about creating community and helping creatives (like me!) own their gifts and share them with the world. Jessica is also a mom of two and teaches French (and so much more) to lucky US high-school kids.
Laly: Jessica, I know you are passionate about traveling and photography. You capture light, color and beauty around the world as well as in your daily surroundings. What does the light look like, and feel like, in your favorite places?
Jessica: It's interesting, Laly, as I was looking through some of my favorite photos for this interview, I recognized that in certain photos, the light I captured actually transported me back to that place, to that moment. Such is the power of photography.
The lights that I gravitate to actually appear in my favorite places in the world, not uncoincidentally. I find myself moved on a soul level by two types of light. First, the baked warm rays of the Mediterranean. Most specifically, I've spent much time in Italy, even having lived there once. Each time I visit, I find myself removing items from my "must see" list and instead picking up my camera and literally stalking color and light around one corner after another. The light is unjustly beautiful in the Mediterranean, where those ancient stone buildings reflect and mimic the orange and red tones of the evening sunlight. There's history, in the light there. As we know, the cradle of the Mediterranean is responsible for so much of the artistic, musical and creative modern world. As I spend time there, between the colors of the buildings, the colors of the languages, and the light that seems to emanate from the land itself, I feel I'm absorbing some of that creative spirit.
The light of the tropics also feels like home to me. There is nothing quite as soul moving as stepping off the plane each time I visit Hawaii; the light there is so bold, so clear, I feel cleansed and emboldened with the spirit of possibility. It's not the same kind of light at all. And it's not a light I have ever encountered elsewhere. Again, the landscape, the lush bold flowers, the deep greens of the mountains, it all makes sadness a distant memory.
Laly: Deep in your soul, I know that you are first and foremost a writer. What does your creative process look like? How does writing allow you to express your truth, your inner light? What does it feel like when you don't write / can't write. How do you get unstuck and rekindle your creative spark?
Jessica: I believe that every person has a natural gesture, a form of creativity that was given by source, that is their strongest form of self and potential. For me, that is writing. Plain and simply, when I write, I feel an absolute conviction that I am meant to write. It feels like a fact. When we find THE gesture of creativity that is meant for us, it will feel this way. It can be other gestures for other people, and sometimes it takes some searching and experimenting to find it, but when you do, it will feel the way I feel when I write: like the most real and important version of myself is in operation. Like everything is safe. Like I can trust source undoubtedly. Like nothing else matters for the moment.
Writing took a back burner for a couple of years in my life, specifically while I was a single mother and also attempting to build up a creative business (and feed us). There was a time where my blog (which I've had since 2005) didn't "make sense" all of the sudden. I wasn't traveling the world all of the sudden. I wasn't documenting or reporting on life abroad. A lot of things were changing, and at the same time, I was drinking the koolaid of "branding" and building a website and blah blah blah. I couldn't figure out how my writing, which is often reflective, had anything to do with the creative offerings I put out. Well, it turns out that not writing has a noticeably negative effect on my life. I burnt out trying to build a business that didn't make room for my deepest soul expression. I felt lost and confused, and most of all, terribly distant from that soul calming space that I access when writing. It really is, when we find out soul's creative gesture, a place of most serene calm and nothing else can replicate it.
When I don't write, I don't have that calm. I don't feel the same connection to the Universe. I panic more about life. I flounder.
We live in a world where we often feel the need to "justify" our creative actions. So many of us are under family or partner pressure to sell our creative works to justify making them, or spending the money on supplies. I know this. And I've realized that this has to be fought back against. I can't justify my writing time on an external level, the way our culture works. But so what. I can and do justify it because it is my sanity, my comfort, and frankly, my friend. That should be enough; that should be plenty. In fact, it is everything.
To get back to my creativity, for anyone who has felt stuck and wants to rekindle (as many of the women who message me often say), I recommend just starting somewhere. When we haven't been creating, it feels overwhelming to start again. If we're going to do something, we suddenly feel like we have to do the "right thing." Too much white space, literally and figuratively. You don't need to worry about this. Start with what matters, which is getting your hands moving. For me, instead of drowning my enthusiasm with thoughts of writing a book - too big! too wide! - instead I slip into a bath, the only place I get some privacy, and I pull out my phone and I ask myself to write something. Just something. The time is short, the environment warm and cozy, and the only thing that matters is that I did something. When I need to tap into my other creative sides, a simple photograph in the garden is enough. Ten minutes, yes just ten minutes, at my art table, is enough. One day, maybe I'll get that canvas series out. One day, maybe you'll get that fiction novel out. But while that's not happening, we need to get the hands moving, and tap into the source. Ten minutes will make a world of a difference in your mind and body. Try it.
Laly: You are also a teacher and a circle maker. You have a talent for holding space and creating community, so that others can shine their own light and share their gifts with the world. In today's world, we rarely gather around the fire anymore. How important is it to keep telling our stories?
Jessica: It is so important, because as long as we keep our stories to ourselves, we slip into the easy belief that no one else has made the mistakes we've made, or had it as bad. In short, we isolate. Isolation of experience is truly a crisis. It is something I could devote my life to - dismantling isolation of experience. I do this in my high school classrooms everyday, and it's one of my main missions in any offering or circle I create. To illuminate for people how very much we have in common. When we learn the other ways people struggle, it has the most amazing, and odd, ability to make our own struggles a little easier to bare. There is REAL power in sharing our stories, and our vulnerable true selves. Whenever I get an email where someone is writing about one of my offerings and then suddenly slips into spilling out their entire, vulnerable story, I sit down and reread it two or three times. I have to. It's such an honor. And instead of this person being a first and last name that signed up for my course, they are now a full person to me, with these WOW stories. We all carry so much. SO MUCH. We never know what the others around us are carrying, do we? Not unless we share these stories. Yes, it's vulnerable. But the reward is that we instantly feel less alone. Isolation in our stories is a really negative force on our lives and happiness.
I am always surprised when people hoard their stories. Even their hardest, ugliest ones. I know why they do - fear. But I wish I could impart to people that hoarding and secreting these stories is really damaging. It keeps us isolated and it keeps someone else from finding solace, even healing, in the discovery of your story.
Laly: Do you have a favorite kind of light? Maybe a favorite season or favorite hour of the day when light resonates with you the most? What does it tell you about yourself? In what ways does it echo your own inner light?
Jessica: The early morning light is pure gold. Often, literally. But it's also such a quiet, open light. It's a light of peace, and calm.
Mid-afternoon light is a light of joy and ripeness. It is pure saturation of self, and possibility.
Evening light, the sun setting and he world sighing off the day's weight, it gives me a sense of trust in the cycle of things, in the ability to hold what we must hold. And then, the dark light of night. There is a gratitude in me for the lack of light, for the times to rest from all that we hold. It is what makes the day of light, and beauty, something we can truly cherish each day.
My name is Jessica Leigh Brogan. I am a published artist and author. Tending to, and honoring my creative side is paramount to surviving this suburban life as a mother of two, and writing and art journaling help me keep my connection with my individual soul, and with a greater creative source. A nomadic, rebel soul, I'm addicted to traveling, equally so for the chance to commune with humanity, as to stalk new and breath-taking sights of beauty.
I am also a French teacher attempting to turn these young American hearts here in Oklahoma to wider horizons and bigger possibilities. I create and hold circles online for women - safe and nurturing spaces to explore and grow our creative sides, in whichever manifestation calls to us.
And finally, I run an incredible ATC swap called The Inspirational Card Deck Swap. If you are of the creative nature, I encourage you to sign up for my newsletter. I offer possibility, courage and aloha. Find me online at jessicaleighbrogan.com
Images and words © Jessica Brogan