D is for Creativity: WONDER Compass
(Well, yes, I know D doesn’t begin Creativity. Instead, D represents Dive into Creativity!)
As we continue through the WONDER Compass having explored Wander Inside, Own Your Story, and Nurture Yourself, we now come to Dive into Creativity, one of the compass points that has me so very excited right now.
But before I explain why, allow me a moment to share with you my own relationship with Creativity.
I believe I was a very creative child, creating everything from sand box communities and Barbie houses out of shoe boxes to construction paper Christmas garlands and glitter ornaments. I loved the smell of paste (yes, even the taste of it occasionally), the heft of construction paper in my hand, the colors of paper, jars of paint and chalk in the art room at Fourth Ward Elementary School.
At some point on my elementary journey, Miss Frye came to teach us art. Before Miss Frye, I always drew the sun in the corner of my backgrounds, golden yellow or orange with its rays stretching out towards the tree or the grass or the house we had already colored or created.
But Miss Frye didn’t approve of showing the sun in one’s elementary artwork, you see, because that wasn’t how the sun worked in art. She would admonish me that one didn’t see the sun colored or painted in works of art, rather one saw the effects of the sun in shadows of trees or in the brightness variations of leaves ,etc.
This went way over my elementary girl-brain.
I felt stupid, belittled, and knew I never wanted to draw again.
So I stopped playing with art supplies and began to gravitate towards crafts where I could achieve perfection–like with embroidery and sewing. Making things perfectly became my goal, so when a dress didn’t fit or a stitches were missed, I didn’t finish the project. I abandoned sewing clothes altogether.
Later as a young mother, I loved counted cross-stitch because at last there was something I could create perfectly. If I bought all the right floss and followed the graph without straying, I’d end up with a finished piece that was exactly like the one depicted in the magazine or in the store model. And if I made a mistake, I could rip it out and fix it. Perfection!
But then, how many counted cross stitched projects can one gift or hang on the wall? So I quit. And when I quit, I quit all creative endeavors. When we moved in 2011, I gifted my sewing machine, fabric stash, patterns, and all crafting things to the Easter Seals garage sale.
Words and writing became my new creative outlet. I worked hard at creating the perfect essays, obtaining perfect grades on my MFA work. I cried when someone tore my work apart.
And I continued to hold the Umbrella of Perfection over all my Creativity thoughts.
Until I took Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection e-course.
For the course, I had to buy a sketchbook, and watercolors, and markers. The projects within the course were meaningful, and of course, were not focused on perfection but rather on the experience of making art from the heart.
I couldn’t believe how fun it was! How it brought a smile to my face (ah, look how that red runs into the yellow right there!), and joy to my heart (I am imperfect and I am enough!)
I don’t remember a lot of what Dr. Brown said during the video tutorials, but I do remember these words of hers:
Unused creativity is NOT benign.
What unused creativity had been festering away during my journey to wholeness when I had stopped creating anything?
Gradually my art supplies started to accumulate. I had enough that I had to think about how to best organize them. I needed more space. I added a creativity table to my writing studio.
This past spring, I traveled to North Carolina to a workshop with Suzi Banks Baum and Catherine Anderson where I played with creating tiny books with images, small journals where the writing didn’t have to be exhaustive.
Recently, I’ve been delighting in Lisa Sonora’s Dreaming on Paper and The 7 Creative Powers visual art-making courses, where I’ve had to push my comfort level beyond watercolors to acrylics (eek!!) as we create journals of painted pages that are perfect for writing, perfectly imperfect for exploring everything from vulnerability and shame to joy.
And we do this while practicing letting go of perfection in outcome. Instead we focus on the creative process with compassion, awareness, and reflection.[bctt tweet=”As women, we have been designed to give birth to creative expression.”]
But there’s also evidence that Creativity is healthy for us. Consider these words from Lissa Rankin, MD, an integrative medicine physician, author, speaker, and artist:
Did you realize that expressing yourself creativity isn’t just some fun luxury pastime? It’s actually vital to living a healthy life. When you leave your creative ideas unexpressed, they fester, but when you bring them to life, you thrive.
Dr. Rankin adds that creatively expressing ourselves improves our moods, our immune function, relieves pain, lowers levels of stress hormones, balances hormone levels, improves quality of life, and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s. (“Creativity.” An Anthology of Babes. Edited by Suzi Banks Baum. 2013).
Are you ready to thrive Creatively? Is your Creative Spirit bursting to blossom with a Creative project that doesn’t demand perfection?
To be clear here, the kind of Creativity I’m talking about here is not driven by a professional or perfection goal. Meaning, you can paint your living room walls if it brings you happiness, or you can take up drawing classes and counted cross-stitch if you find it relaxing. I’m not suggesting we stop doing those things.
Rather the kind of Creativity I’m talking about here isn’t tied to a perfect and professional outcome or goal.
The kind of Creativity I’m talking about here is deeply rooted in the PROCESS of creating, one where the outcome isn’t known going in, and where throughout we maintain compassionate curiosity about what’s happening on the page as well as within us while we create.
Ready to connect with your Creative self?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Map out your personal history of Creativity with these journal prompts.
- Reflect on how your created as a child, an adolescent, a young woman, mother, wife, employee?
- What aspects of creativity in the past gave you great joy?
- Examine your own relationship between perfection and Creativity.
- How has creating for the pure joy of creating been nurtured or not in your life?
- Who were your Creativity Critics?
Ready to get Creative and not sure how?
Purchase a watercolor sketchpad, watercolor paints and brushes. No need to go expensive here. Cheap ones from local craft stores are just fine. Open up to a blank page. Dip your brush in water and dab it into a watercolor, going back and forth until you find the consistency you want. This will take practice. Lots of practice. But don’t worry. It’s all good practice. Next, simply begin painting horizontal or diagonal or vertical strokes on the page. Change colors. Allow the colors to blend. Watch magic happen on your page. (Later, if you want, you can cut these pages into unique bookmarks, or name tags for gifts.)
Not ready to get messy, but ready to be Creative?
Try coloring for adults. It’s become all the rage now. Coloring books, markers, pencils are available in all the craft stores. My friends at The Coloring Well also offer quality coloring boxes and free pages. You can also find a free coloring page here for you from Women of Wonder.
After you’ve created, considering adding a few reflective thoughts in your journal. What was this creative process like for you? What thoughts or feelings came up for you during the process? Where in your body did you feel these? How did this process compare to any other former creative processes?
Creativity has added happiness and joy to my life as a trauma survivor as I continue on my healing journal towards wholeness and wonder-hearted living. I’d love to hear your thoughts on creativity and your journey! Your comments below are warmly welcomed!
Sending Creative vibes your way,
PS: Thanks for sharing Women of Wonder through Facebook, Twitter and other social media streams. One out of four women have experienced sexual trauma in their lives. Many never tell their stories. Life is too short not to experience healing. Women of Wonder is here to help.