Replacing Doubt with Inspiration
If you heard Tina Bridgman’s music before seeing her – if you approached from around a corner, for instance – you’d notice there was something particularly moving about it.
If, upon rounding the corner, you saw her for the first time, you’d be surprised to see she plays the guitar with one hand. She lost the other in a car accident.
If you asked her, as people often do, how she still plays guitar, of all things – a two-handed instrument if there ever was one – she’d smile and answer as she always does: “With love.”
Q Assuming that losing your hand was the biggest creative obstacle you’ve encountered, what was the second biggest, and how did you deal with it?
I think the 2nd biggest obstacle for me was/is not a single event as such but more about a state of being – the cloud of self doubt and a sense of futility. I used to doubt a lot and question what it was all for and ‘what was the point’ and sometimes I still do but I realise the root of this state is born of fear that I’m not enough and often it is because I’m simply tired. This state of thinking/ feeling can pretty much paralyse any creative action. So, I remind myself of what I love and do whatever I need to do to recharge. Nowadays, that often means going for a swim or yoga. I use the swimming as a kind of ‘counting my blessings’ meditation and I get to feel pretty good after 30 lengths of that! I would also imagine light piercing through any cloud and that I could see above it. I have had a saying for many years that motivates me which is called the ‘Gayatri’ prayer and is this: ’To the sun, you whose rays illuminate the whole world, illuminate also my heart so that I may too do your work’. For me, maintaining a creative life requires self-discipline and keeping all of body, mind and spirit in balance.
Q What advice do you have for people who want to do something creative but think they lack the requisite abilities?
If you know what it is you want to do then Allow yourself to play and allow yourself to do it badly’’. I say this because I think a lot of us start with really high expectations of ourselves that stop us before we have even begun – we can feel overwhelmed -so allow yourself to just have a go and don’t judge. there is no right or wrong way – just your way – don’t compare your work to others but be inspired and curious by the work you do admire, if it is technical skills that are needed then find an inspiring class or teacher who can help you develop those skills- and enjoy every step of the way – Learning and developing is a life long pursuit so enjoy the ride – If you want to do something creative but have no idea ‘what’ – then I would say follow your highest joy… your passion and ask yourself ‘if I couldn’t fail, what would I do’…there will be something that pops in to your thoughts – I would say keep hold of that thought and just ask ‘how’ and wait /listen. Keep following that inner voice. Here is something I like to remember – ‘A.C.T. = ‘Action Creative Thought’
Q In your TEDx talk, you mention having lost your passion for music a little while before your accident. What advice do you have for others who are currently practising an art but aren’t “feeling it”?
I think it depends on why you are not feeling it – could be for many reasons like you have just over done it and ‘trying’ too hard…I would say take yourself out on an artists date…to help you ‘replenish the well’ so to speak.
That could be anything – a walk somewhere beautiful/an art gallery/go into the library and let yourself be drawn to a book/take a trip to a town you’ve never been before/ explore new music/ explore something new….Often times as creatives we are putting so much out we do not take time to replenish and become empty/ drained/numb. Another idea is explore a different branch of your main activity. I know for me if I’m not feeling it, it is often because I am tired and can feel ‘bored’. `So – have a break – think of what would bring you joy right now and do it – get yourself flowing again. I like the analogy of stop pushing your boat upstream – turn it around and go with the flow – I think also creativity has its own rhythm like the tide – it ebbs and flows so accept where you are in that cycle. I think creativity can be a very precious state and can only come sometimes if we stop ‘trying’, It is like a bird that if we hold on to it, it can’t fly.
Q How do you stay inspired now?
It can be a variety of ‘things’..for me it feels like life itself is an art . . I count my blessings and list all of what I’m grateful for…I start to feel an inner sense of contentment and a quiet joy starts to happen and – when I do this – I start to notice beautiful things and start to feel inspired by life and I find I want to sing… But it can also be something like just pottering around the house or garden – I love to ‘potter’ and just let myself ‘be’…its amazing some of the ideas that can start to flow when I’m just pottering 🙂 and the tunes that come into my head. I also love comedy – laughter is always good medicine.
Q What inspired Halcyon Breeze?
In terms of the song ‘Halcyon’ I learnt that the ’Halcyon’ is a type of kingfisher bird and I was inspired by the “The Myth of Halcyon – The Halcyon Days”.
The ancient Greek myth of Halcyon is a tender story of love and commitment, which explains the Halcyon sunny days of calm seas and winds. The Halcyon days or Alkionides Meres, as Greeks call them, appear in mid January every year.Halcyon is a type of kingfisher bird that nests by the sea where sea-charming winds blow, so that its eggs are protected during the nesting period. The phrase Halcyon days today also signifies prosperity, joy, liberation and, of course, tranquility.
So, the song is a sort of calling for peace in the world, for joy and liberation that can come from real peace.… It is not always an easy place to find and be with – with so many different challenges in todays world for one reason or another.
In terms of the whole album – There are 9 songs on the album so all were inspired by different events at different times over the last 4 years. With the album ‘Halcyon Breeze’ therefore it feels like the overall theme is about a sense of belonging, a feeling of safety, what we may reach out to for support. It is about living a life that is congruent and authentic. I guess it reflects my journeying of coming back to UK after 11 years in NZ & wondering where it was I belonged. The songs will mean different things for different people.
Watch the video of my talk at TEDx – here