Why do Stories Matter?
For centuries, people from different cultures around the world have shared their lessons and knowledge through the oral tradition of storytelling. With the introduction of the printing press, the possibility of writing stories down and sharing them far and wide become a reality. Now with the internet and social media, we can share our stories, blogs, insights and ideas with people from around the globe from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.
So why is storytelling so important?
Stories connect us
When we read Bridget Jones’s Diary or Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, we realize we are not alone and are not the only ones who have certain personality quirks and are dealing with life challenges.
Stories promote understanding
When we read someone’s biography such as “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, we gain insight into what it was like to grow up as a black woman in the US during her time, in a family without a lot of financial resources and also what it’s like to move into the White House and become the First Lady after living a relatively private existence. When we read “Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree” it helps us understand what it could be like to be kidnapped as a young woman and enslaved by members of the Boko Haram, a radical Muslim group in Nigeria.
Stories help us heal
Many of us have stories of our past that we have locked away and not shared with anyone. An example is stories of childhood sexual abuse which need to be acknowledged and shared in order for us to heal and move on in our lives.
Stories give us hope
When we think of Martin Luther’s historic speech “I had a dream”, that dream and story laid the foundation for a different America.
Stories inspire us
When we read about someone who has faced tremendous odds and rose above them to be an amazing leader and changemaker, we are inspired by how resilient we can be as humans. Women or men who have come from poverty and risen above it to make the world a better place serve as role models for others in similar situations. They help us believe that anything is possible.
What story are you longing to tell?
A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to share a story as part of Female Wave of Change’s storytelling project. We were invited to submit a story that we thought would be helpful for others; one of 1000 words or less.
I’m excited to share that the “Stories Matter” E-book was launched at Female Wave of Change’s (FWoC) Global Conference on September 26th. This is a collection of stories contributed by women and men from all over the world: “stories of hope, of resilience, of courage, vulnerability and wisdom.”
I invite you to read this inspiring and insightful collection as a complimentary gift at: http://bit.ly/FWoCStoryBookhttps://drive.google.com/file/d/1_mom2HTs2RR6Ytrsn2zrI9CZx8u2PC5o/view
My contribution begins on page 50.
I invite you to share in the comments below one of your favorite stories in the FWoC e-book or a book or story that you have previously read, and why it matters to you.
I am opening up space once again to create. This time it is
to write my memoir. In order to set up an enabling environment for creativity
to flow, I made a decision to finish my radio show on Bold Brave Media on
November 20th at the end of my six-month contract. The 24
shows are archived at: http://boldbravemedia.com/shows/the-art-of-change/.
They are also available on https://www.spreaker.com/show/3561427
and iTunes. Feel free to listen, comment and share on the various platforms.
I really enjoyed researching, preparing for and interviewing the inspiring women leaders and changemakers who were my guests on ”The Art of Change”. It definitely has been a labor of love. I would like to thank all the listeners who loyally tuned in to the show regularly or from time to time. I hope you found the shows of interest, were inspired and learned something from them. Perhaps in the future I may create a podcast. I would appreciate you letting me know if that would be of interest.
Why do I feel the need
to open up space to create?
Creativity is associated with the right side of our brain; whereas
organizing and planning are associated with our left-brain. Planning a weekly
radio show is largely left-brain. I find if I have to constantly be planning
and organizing 6 weeks or so out on a show or a project, then it is more
challenging to be creative.
How am I “priming the
pump” to create? I’m continuing to meditate daily before getting out of bed
in the morning. I’ve found plugging in to Deepak and Oprah’s 21-day meditation
experiences helpful to do that. I spend regular time in nature walking, hiking,
cycling … . I practice yoga three times a week and have a regular morning stretching
I’ve found that my most creative time is in the morning so after meditating, coffee and stretching, that is when I write my blogs … . I haven’t yet set a time to begin writing my memoir; that said I have various stories and ideas percolating in my head. I feel like this experience will be a bit of a life review; an opportunity to reflect and write down stories that may not be included in the book. The process will enable me to let go of and clear some old stories and beliefs that are no longer serving me. I have read a number of memoirs, am about to begin reading several books on writing a memoir, and attended an inspiring 2.5 day workshop on the “Spiritual Art of Memoir” facilitated by Joan Boryshenko in July.
Stay tuned and thank you for your ongoing interest and support.
I’d love to hear how
you “prime the pump” to create. What
strategies have you found helpful to get those creative juices flowing?
With all the gloom, doom and uncertainty in the world, it’s more important than ever for us to “let go” of our worries and to connect with our inner child. What do I mean by “connecting with your inner child”?
Imagine what it was like when you had no cares or worries, when you felt loved, safe and secure and lived each day from a place of childlike wonder. I invite you to take yourself back to that time and place. What do you see and how do you feel?
I see myself playing with friends in nature; pretending we are pirates and digging for gold in the farmer’s field close to where I grew up. I see myself swinging so high and then jumping off a swing. I see myself running, jumping and feeling so free. I see myself swimming at the family cottage, back and forth between the docks. When I imagine doing each of those activities I feel light, carefree, empowered, creative, energized and curious.
So how can you connect with your inner child and with those feelings you felt as a child? One clue is when I play with my grandchildren. I now have 4, three years of age and under! On a recent visit I went for a walk with my 21- month old granddaughter. It was her first winter of experiencing snow and what it was like to walk in the cold. Initially she had a bit of trouble walking all bundled up in her cumbersome snowsuit. Before long she was almost running, so excited to be outdoors. I drew pictures in the snow and she kept saying “more, more.” I showed her how to blow snow off her mittens as it was too dry to make a snowman. I helped her make an angel in the snow. I tried to put myself in her shoes and see through her eyes of childlike wonder. It was so fun and energizing!
Another activity that connected me with my inner child was in the acrylic painting class I recently started. In the class the instructor encouraged us to try finger painting and to free paint without trying to paint anything special. It was an incredibly liberating experience! For several days after, I felt so connected to my creative side, easily designing a workshop and doing some writing. I felt like I was “in the flow”. My mind was clear and focused.
I really enjoy being in, on or by water. When I’m feeling stressed I find it therapeutic to walk to the ocean (which is close by) and lie on the rocks. When I do this I feel grounded and supported by Mother Earth. My worries fall away and I relax and feel embraced by this sacred space.
Here are a few suggestions of how you may connect with your inner child.
- Try finger painting with no agenda and notice how it makes you feel
- Is there a special nature place close to where you live? Visit it regularly. Bask in its beauty and notice how being there makes you feel
- Spend time with young children; notice and try to reconnect with your childlike wonder
- Spend some time at least once a week imagining a time or times when you felt loved and supported with no worries or cares. Feel those feelings and recall what you were doing at that time. Perhaps begin integrating those activities into your life. It could be a regular hike, walk, drawing …
- Create a sacred space in your home; a place for you that is comfortable and contains a few special reminders of your childhood; e.g. rocks, shells … . Commit to spending time in that space initially for 10 to 15 minutes three times a week and notice how you feel when there and the cumulative effect.
I believe that if we all took the time to reconnect with our inner child and let her or him “come out to play” on a regular basis, that there would be less conflict, less stress, more creativity and more collaboration in our lives, communities and workplaces.
I’d love to hear how you connect with your inner child and what you’ve noticed from that experience. Please share your experiences below so we can all learn and grow from each other.
If you’d like to learn more about how to Tap into and Express Your Creative Side I invite you to read chapter 5 in my #1 Best Selling book “Learning to Dance with LIfe” – https://pamela-thompson.com/books/
You may be thinking “creativity – I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” For many years I had the same belief, until some time ago I decided it would be fun to make pottery gifts for friends and family, so I signed up for classes at a local studio. I remember being in awe when the instructor did the demonstration and transformed a ball of clay into a beautiful object within a few moments. When I got my own ball of clay and started to create something on the potter’s wheel, I noticed the chatter leave my head. I got lost in the moment, felt like a child at play and was able to totally focus on what I was creating (otherwise there would have been a blob of clay on my wheel or on the floor!). And, the pottery bowls I made turned out surprisingly well.
Danny Gregory, in his book The Creative License (2006), states “the ability and need to be creative are hard-wired into all of us.” Often we don’t believe we’re creative, as we don’t see ourselves as musicians, painters or sculptors. Yet, if we examine our lives, we may find we’re creative at designing workshops, creating research projects, writing prose, cooking, dancing, gardening, coming up with “out of the box” strategies … .
So why is it important to connect with your creative side? When we connect with our right brains, we feel relaxed, it takes our mind off work, often we feel like a child at play. Research shows the value of the arts in promoting health and enhancing healing. Laura Cerwinske in her book Writing as Healing Art (1999) states that “the power of the written word stimulates the flow of emotions and readily opens the door to the subconscious.” She provides a number of processes and “assignments” for using writing as a way to heal ourselves and to tap into our creativity. Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (1992) describes the importance of learning to “recognize, nurture and protect your inner artist (and in so doing)…you will learn ways to recognize and resolve fear, remove emotional scar tissue, and strengthen your confidence.”
Dr. Eugene Cohen’s research demonstrates that creative expression is important for older people of all cultures and ethnic backgrounds, regardless of economic status, age, or level of physical, emotional, or cognitive functioning. His work and the programs of NCCA demonstrate how the arts can serve as a powerful way to engage elders in a creative and healing process of self-expression, enabling them to create works that honor their life experience.
What are the dangers of only using your left-brain, logical side and not taking the time to tap into your creative right brain? Gregory cautions that when we stifle our creativity “our minds grow narrower…we grow remote from others, categorizing and stereotyping the people we meet…we speed through life, wanting to get on to the next thing, unable to take pleasure in the moment.”
How do you tap into and express your creative side?
Sit down in a quiet place, free from distractions. Take a few deep breaths to relax yourself and close your eyes for a couple of minutes if you feel comfortable doing so. Ask yourself the following questions and write down your responses to them. Write down the first thing that comes to mind without judging or editing it.
- Are there any creative pursuits you did as a child but haven’t done for years? If so, what are they?
- Are there some creative or artistic pursuits you would be interested in exploring/trying out?
- Commit to either starting to integrate a childhood “passion” into your life or choose a new one such as “learning to play the piano” that perhaps you always wanted to do, but never took the time for or had the opportunity to do. Identify the next steps for taking action to integrate a new or “old” creative or artistic pursuit into your life. This could include: i) Do online research to identify people who teach piano locally and online by January 25, 2016. ii) Interview my top 3 piano teachers by February 10. ii) Sign up and commit to 3 months of bi-weekly piano classes by February 17.
- Support is important to many of us when starting something new and continuing with it. Enlist the support of a friend, colleague or family member to encourage and support you in your new endeavor, or invite them to join you in doing it.
To learn more about tapping into and expressing your creative side, I invite you to join me and 20 other experts at a fun, free online event “Juicy Life, Juicy You”. Check it out at: http://juicylifejuicyyou.com/PamThompson
What tools do you use to tap into and express your creative side? What benefits have you experienced from doing so? I welcome your comments below. Feel free to share this post with others.
 Eugene Cohen – founder of the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) – www.creativeaging.org
“Creativity is in the soul of our being and our highest form of living.
It is the presence within all of us that relentlessly longs for expression.”
(Suzanne Kyra, Welcome Home to Yourself, p. 84)
In today’s society, knowledge and information are highly valued and in general creativity and the arts are undervalued. We are all so “plugged in” that many of us are challenged to keep up with all of our emails, text messages, social media, etc., let alone make time to tap into and express our creative sides.
Danny Gregory, in his book, The Creative License (2006) states that “the ability and need to be creative are hard-wired into all of us” (p. 10). He notes that we need to give ourselves permission to be the artists we truly are. Gregory cautions that when we stifle our creativity “our minds grow narrower… we grow remote from others, categorizing and stereotyping the people we meet … we speed through life, wanting to get on to the next thing, unable to take pleasure in the moment” (pp. 10 & 11).
THE RIGHT AND LEFT BRAIN
The right side of the brain is associated with creativity, emotion, “big picture thinking” and lack of structure; whereas the left- brain is associated with logic, structure, words, language and rational thought. We all draw on both sides of the brain for a variety of tasks we do in our day-to-day lives; however, we often are either right or left-brain dominant. An example of someone who is left brain dominant would be a person who is orderly, logical, and analytical; whereas someone who is right brain dominant is more emotional, creative, and adventurous
Reconnecting with your right brain by taking up something you may have enjoyed as a child, or trying an artistic pursuit that is completely new; such as pottery, can help you connect with and tap into your creative side. Many people’s experience of painting, making pottery /throwing on a wheel and drawing; for example, makes them feel relaxed, focused (takes their mind off work) and in some cases, like a child at play.
CREATIVITY, INNOVATION AND THE NEW CONCEPTUAL AGE
With the increasing complexity of issues (such as climate change and new strains of flu) and the rapid rate of technological change we are experiencing, a number of people ;(e.g. Ken Robinson in “The Element” and Daniel Pink, in “A Whole New Mind”), are making the case that we need to shift our emphasis on a global level to the right brain from the left and change our educational systems and organizations to stimulate, encourage and reward creativity and innovation.
Pink (2005) believes we are moving from the “Information Age” to the “Conceptual Age”, a new age that requires a different way of thinking and a whole new approach to life and work. Pink emphasizes that to lead a successful and healthy life we need to use both sides of the brain. He calls this “whole-brain thinking”.
During the Information Age, more value was placed on the left side and in the new Conceptual Age using the right brain abilities will be necessary for success. Pink provides some hard data on the economic and social forces that are changing our work environments. The New Conceptual Age is one of “high concept” and “high touch”. To be successful in business in the future will require six abilities that Pink calls: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning.
STRATEGIES FOR TAPPING INTO YOUR CREATIVE SIDE
How do you cultivate and release your creative spirit?
1) Sit down in a quiet place, free from distractions. Take a few deep breaths to relax yourself and close your eyes for a couple of minutes if you feel comfortable doing so. Ask yourself the following questions and write down your responses to them. Be as truthful as possible (e.g. write down the first thing that comes to mind without judging or editing it).
- Do you consider yourself a creative person? If yes, why? If not, why not?
- Are there any creative pursuits you did as a child but haven’t done for years? If so, what are they?
- Are there some creative or artistic pursuits you would be interested in exploring?/trying out?
2) Commit to either starting to integrate a childhood “passion” into your life or choose a new one such as “learning to play the piano” that perhaps you always wanted to do as a child but never had the opportunity to do or took the time for. Identify the next steps for taking action to integrate a new or “old” creative or artistic pursuit into your life. It’s helpful to use a 2- column table with “activity” heading one column and “timeline” on the next.
3) Support is important when starting something new and continuing with it. Enlist the support of a friend, colleague or family member to encourage and support you in your new endeavor or invite them to join you in doing it.
Any new insights? What do you notice when you engage in an artistic or creative pursuit? We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.
 “Tap into and Express Your Creative Side” is one of the 7 keys to Creative Living that are integrated into Creative Life Coaching’s group and one-on-one programs; and is one of the keys to cultivating improved health, happiness, fulfillment and inner peace.