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
After reading your article, I plan to get back to playing my guitar. Thank you. Sandy Shepherd
Hi Sandy, Good for you! Happy that my article inspired you to get back to playing the guitar. Enjoy! 🙂
What a fabulous post! ~ I was immediately taken back to my love of the theatre. 🙂 ~ I think I’ll make a commitment, this year, to join a local theatre group – and reignite that passion. Thank you for the nudge!
Hi Tina, Happy to hear that my post nudged you to reignite your passion for theatre. Sounds like fun!
What a lovely post. I’m fortunate to always have some sort of creative outlet going… photography, watercolor, multi-media… Next on the list is to learn more about the theatre. Thanks for the encouragement.
Hi Andrea, Thanks for your kind words. Good for you to be tapping into and expressing your creative side in so many ways. Have fun with the theatre!
I enjoyed this post Pamela. As a child I loved writing as a creative outlet, but stopped for most of my life. Now I am an author! We are creator beings here to create and thrive. Recently my husband and I went to a friends wedding at the ecology center nearby. On the group walk through the woods where the couple had hung photos on trees of their years together – my husband and I looked down and saw 2 leaves in the shape of perfect hearts. It took me several weeks to figure out how to turn the leaves into a wedding gift. I finally soaked the leaves in glycerin and water to preserve them, then had a beautiful simple piece of art made. My friend did tiny golden watercolor hearts all around the leaves in the shape of a heart. WOW! Creating is FUN! 🙂
Hi Debra, Thanks for sharing the story about the beautiful wedding gift you created. How special! Indeed Creating is FUN – it helps us access our inner child. Enjoy tapping into and expressing your creative side!
I tap into my creative side by taking piano lessons each week. I have always wanted to learn how to play the piano. As a child, I played the violin in my school orchestra but secretly wanted to play the ivories. As a new year resolution two years ago, I made a commitment that I would learn how to play. Love this post!
Hi Angela, Good for you! Thanks for sharing.