child painting

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[1] 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.

  1. Are there any creative pursuits you did as a child but haven’t done for years? If so, what are they?
  1. Are there some creative or artistic pursuits you would be interested in exploring/trying out?
  1. 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.
  1. 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:

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.

[1] Eugene Cohen – founder of the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) –

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