Create Out Loud
with Jennifer Louden
7 | Christa Couture: Transforming Trauma Into Creative Inspiration
In this episode:
- A grace-filled conversation with award-winning performing and recording artist, non-fiction writer, broadcaster, and author of How to Lose Everything, Christa Couture
- How to take the leap into your creative work, even when we're feeling blocked
- Christa’s path from losing her leg to cancer as a child led to turning her amputation into art
- How she took care of herself through multiple tragic losses and prepared herself to create again
- The nitty gritty of making a living as a self-employed creative
- The ways Christa channels her indigenous roots into her creative and spiritual life
Have you ever been told "everything happens for a reason" or "things will get better in time" when something truly awful has happened to you?
Singer/songwriter and author of How to Lose Everything, Christa Couture, can relate. Christa has an advanced degree in loss: the loss of her leg to cancer as a child, the loss of two children in their infancy, the loss of a marriage, and temporarily, her voice to thyroid cancer.
How could she possibly be creative after such life-shattering tragedy? That's what we explore in this grace-filled conversation.
I asked Christa how she took care of herself through everything.
“Taking care of myself mostly happened before I got to the point of writing. In particular, with the book, you know, when you're grieving, when you're going through a loss, you fall into pieces. And writing a book or creating a work of art is like a literal putting pieces together. So I couldn't be still actively falling apart. I was ready to write the book and I'd done a lot of taking care. “
By the time she wrote the book, she’d been writing the same stories in songs for years. So we talked about the leap from songwriting to memoir writing.
She told me about the stories she was told about herself as a child and how they shaped the way she sees herself and the way she shares her gifts.
Through it all, even as fear arose, the drive she felt within allowed her to rise above it.
“After my first son died, and I went back to making music, it felt like a real consolation prize. It was a distant second. I would have rather been with my baby, but he was gone and I was flailing. I needed to hold onto something. And music became the thing. And so in some ways that drive was at that time a survival instinct, and a coping strategy.”
She doesn’t quite know how or what carried her through. But you’ll want to hear why she’s hesitant to question it too much.
With each loss, comes the possibility of a creative block. But she doesn’t shy away; she goes in, closer. Here’s why:
“Just taking the time it takes, however long that is, for whatever kind of loss — the garden variety or tragic — whatever it is that needs time…[otherwise], we are denying ourselves a huge part of our human experience. Even though it is an uncomfortable, painful part, it's so important. And so I think if you're cutting yourself off from an experience, from some part of yourself, how could that not introduce a block somewhere? Multiple blocks somewhere in some way, whether that's in how you create or make work or in your friendships or in your physical health.”
Christa began learning this kind of grace early on, when she lost her leg to cancer as a child. She learned to embrace and celebrate her difference and disability.
We also get into the nitty gritty of how she makes her living as a self-employed creative. From songwriting royalties to the practical skills of navigating the arts grants system to having a “day job” in radio to what it takes to do it all while also parenting — she and I agree, it’s sometimes hard, scary, tough way to make a living, but it can be done.
“We talk about the Muse and being inspired and overcoming those blocks but at the same time — like, you have to earn an income and you will need childcare. We need to eat!”
We also talk about the ways Christa connects her indigenous roots to her creative and spiritual life, how she prepared to navigate vulnerable conversations while promoting her book, and so much more.
Join me as we discover how Christa Couture creates out loud.
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