'I'm not creative.'
'I'm not artistic.'
'I can't do art.'
They were all statements that used to come out of my mouth as a young school girl.
More recently it's been -
'I'm too busy.'
'I don't have time.'
'I'm too tired.'
'It's important for the kids to do craft and create, but I'm an adult now and anyway, I'm not creative.'
That was me for so much of my life - as a school girl and now as a working professional woman. How little I understood about creativity, how it can manifest and the benefits it can bring to ALL of us.
Luckily I never had a teacher comment negatively about my art or my ability as an artist. I know many have done. I looked at friends around me who would look at a picture of a horse and draw something that quite closely resembled a horse. Mine always looked like a stick figured dinosaur with a poorly trimmed mane. I never thought about other ways to pursue my inner creativity (I didn't realise I had inner creativity until reflecting back on that time and what I did love to do). I knew that I loved (and love) to write but I always jumped to other forms of 'art' when I thought about being 'creative' and 'artistic'. They were words I openly disassociated myself with.
There is a reason that mindfulness mandalas have taken off - it's because we busy women (and men) need to be able to connect with our creativity in a meditative way - but one that can fit into the nooks and crannies of our lives. But it has to happen WITHOUT the shame attached to 'not being good at art', because lovely lady (or gent), there are so many other beautiful ways to be creative and to get the benefits of creativity in your life. The bonus is, you don't need buckets of time!
BENEFITS OF 'CREATING'
Let's start with how being creative can actually be of benefit to us as modern, working, busy women (and men). In the 'busy-ness' of it all, stopping for five minutes for something that is purely for our own enjoyment can be hard, but knowing that it's so good for us may sway you into a different way of thinking. My three favourite benefits? The self awareness, meditation and stress relief role it can play (yes, even five minutes worth), the freedom it allows us in losing ourselves in creativity and the example it sets for others - that having fun is an important part of our day.
SELF AWARENESS, MEDITATION AND STRESS RELIEF
Anyone who gets lost in journal writing, or sketching, or scrap-booking, or doodling - read: anything! - knows that there is a loss of time and almost an extension of time in your day. You come to the end of what you've been doing (or you're drawn away from it by the realities of other commitments) and you realise that more time has passed than you felt, that what you had been worrying about for the morning, or that day or the previous week, all but forgotten. If only for a moment.
But for that blissful moment, or five minutes, or half an hour, your attention was solely focused on using your hands, using your words, using the innate creativity that you were born with. It's therapeutic and it's a form of meditation. Stress will melt away (and don't we need that?!). We all know that meditation is good for us, so get cracking on finding a way to express your creativity in small (or large if you have more time!) bursts.
A SENSE OF FREEDOM
Do you know what my favourite thing about being creative is? That there is no right or wrong. No restrictions, no rules. No-one telling you what you have to 'submit' and on what deadline. YOU decide what your end product looks like, or even if there is an end product at all. You can write a sentence or ten. You can colour in a leaf or a whole flower, you can scrapbook a page or a whole book, you can put together a photo book or five. The amount doesn't matter, nor does HOW you do it - the fact is that YOU decide. Doesn't that feel delicious and empowering? I know it does for me and when you have a boss or a work partner telling you how to spend your work time, when they don't get a say and it's just you - well getting creative feels rather decadent and delicious.
You're not even asking anything of yourself.
You have total freedom to create whatever you hear desires.
SHOWING OTHERS THAT IT'S OK TO HAVE FUN!
What I love about 'every day' creativity is that it shows others that it is perfectly acceptable in this fast-paced modern world to embrace 'slowness' if only for a small period of time, and be consumed entirely with a creative pursuit. It's fun. It's something we love to do. Others need to see us do it so that they may feel empowered to do it themselves. It might be walking home using a different route, it might be experimenting with colourful make up for an event, it might be a piece of expressive writing, or putting family photos together in a big photo album with gorgeous captions on every page, whatever it is - do it often and make sure you don't hide it from the world. Because people need to see others having fun and connecting with this part of themselves more than they do.
YOU CAN CULTIVATE CREATIVITY - IT JUST TAKES PRACTICE
Just like our self-love muscle, we practice exercising creativity and our ability to cultivate it grows. Our creativity 'muscle' gets stronger. So the more we listen to the innate calls of creativity in ourselves, the better we get at doing whatever it is that we are doing. So this may be sketching your hand in different positions over and over again if you want to teach yourself to draw (thanks for this tip on drawing Dad - if you ever need an ever changing subject with shadows and lines and texture, curl your hand into different positions and draw it, you're never left wanting for subject matter). Or it may be just journaling a few sentences each day, or learning to put on a full face of make up in a certain way - hey, it's all creative work, and the more you do, the more you know, the more you do - it's a great cycle that means you're flexing your creativity muscle. It just takes practice.
“You can’t use up creativity, the more you use the more you have.
— Maya Angelou
BEING CREATIVE MEANS 'CREATING' SOMETHING. ANYTHING!
ln the TED talk, “You’re a Lot More Creative than You Think,” internationally renowned fine artist John Paul Caponigro says that 'the human being is a creative species.' We all have creativity within us in some way. It's just a matter of exploring ways of doing things differently, of being innovative, or perhaps actively pursuing something more defined as 'artistic' or 'musical.'
“Buying into a limited definition of creativity prevents many from appreciating their own potential,” says Carlin Flora in an article in Psychology Today. She says that it's a shame when considering what might be 'creative' that people go straight to thinking about the 'arts.' It's a great reinforcement that ANYTHING can be done in a creative (think innovative) way.
Brainstorm what you LOVE to do. What do you lose time doing? Although I might ask these questions of you in a coaching session when we're exploring what your dream career could look like, or how you can explore a hobby or activity purely for reasons of passion and purpose outside of work, it can easily be applied to 'everyday creative' as well.
Be child-like in how you approach different ways of doing things. Be more playful, have more fun. On purpose. Because the more you do that, the easier and more natural it will become.
Can you start that new hobby that you've always thought of? I've decided that I will learn to play the harmonica because it's something that I've ALWAYS wanted to do. Why not? Maybe you have a hobby or musical instrument that you've pursued or played in the past and you can renew your interest, take a class or dig out the box under the stairs.
Read more, visit more art galleries, journal, create a vision board, do craft with your kids if you have them (it's amazing how lost in creativity we can become when we are doing it with children.
A SMALL REMINDER...
I was reminded of my own creativity when I dug out a box of work that I had done during my high school years. Specifically, a box of grade 7 English writing. I was 13 when I wrote the story that I found that day and at the end were the comments from Mrs Jessup (she was so wonderful). 'Kate, I could read your stories all day. Perhaps you should write for the world to see?' Well I was as chuffed then as I am now in recalling it. Perhaps she meant books, and there are those in my future as well, but I'll settle for this blog for now and a few other projects that are bubbling away as I reconnect with this part of myself. My writing may now be on computer (that way handwritten) but I do journal by hand and reconnecting with this part of my soul and being has been so enriching and deeply loving.
Whatever you do lovely ladies, connect with yourself, take yourself away from the stress, from the bother, from the work or the research, and just commit to time alone to be more creative. You will thank yourself for this small gift. You are innately creative, empowering goddesses - just give yourself the time and this small gift to discover it.
With an open heart,