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Finding that creative spark
Q: How are you allowing your inner creative to express itself?
One of my plans during the pandemic was to explore my creative side while I was also on a break from work. I never considered myself a creative or artistic person in the traditional sense. I am not a painter, or singer, or creator/maker. As a kid and growing up, I was into theater and performative arts, but I never thought those were hobbies I could pursue later in life. By the time I was in my thirties, I had a career and started a family, and I honestly didn't even have the time to focus on creativity.
So during the pandemic I decided to start reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron after a couple of friends recommended it to me. I was curious to see how my creative side would find a new way of being expressed. I was pleasantly surprised at the results. Through fits and starts over a couple of months of reading it and doing the “Morning Pages” (Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning) and “Artist Date” (The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you) and the various exercises in the book, I started to feel more in touch with myself. Initially my creative side started to express itself in home decor - I was constantly rearranging furniture in various rooms of our house in order to design new spaces for us to congregate and have fun familial experiences as we continued through the lockdown at home.
Over time it started to show up in creative ideas for businesses and photography. This newsletter is another way I am exploring my creative side - finding new ways to express and share learnings through my journey as I discover my entrepreneurial side.
“...Very often audacity, not talent, makes one person an artist and another a shadow artist -- hiding in the shadows, afraid to step out and expose the dream to the light, fearful that it is will disintegrate to the touch....Remember that in order to recover as an artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist. Give yourself permission to be a beginner. By being willing to be a bad artist, you have the chance to be an artist, and perhaps, over time, a very good one.” - Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way.
During the summer of 2021, my husband, daughter and I visited with my husband's family in Bizerte, Tunisia. After suffering through days of stifling heat, I finally stepped out of our air-conditioned bedroom onto the balcony. After the blazing sun had set, the wind picked up and the cool air on my face, the vastness of the Mediterranean sea and the open sky filled me with awe. I finally felt like opening my journal to write about what was on the inside. I had been feeling disconnected from myself, a bit dead inside - a lack of energy or creative thought. Before arriving in Tunisia, I had gone through weeks of solo parenting in San Francisco as my husband had traveled three weeks ahead of us. After ~20 hours of flying, worrying about my two year old catching covid, we got sick a day after landing. Thankfully, it wasn’t covid but the heat that did us in. I spent a week sick in bed, worrying about my toddler who was sicker than me, not eating and not ready to go to anyone other than me.
So on this night after two weeks of struggling, I emerged. I re-started reading the Artist’s Way and highlighted these two quotes that stood out:
“The grace to be a beginner is always the best prayer for an artist. The beginner’s humility and openness leads to exploration. Exploration leads to accomplishment. All of it begins at the beginning, with the first small and scary step.”
“Creativity requires activity, and this is not good news to most of us. It makes us responsible, and we tend to hate that. You mean I have to do something in order to feel better?”
So, I opened my journal and jotted down the poem below. It is possible that out of sheer exhaustion, illness, or the lack of a deep conversation due to a language barrier, that my inner creative finally stepped out. Never in a million years did I think I would share this publicly, but here it is...me trusting that these words that I found that night, might strike a chord with someone, somewhere.
August, 1st 2021 11:28 pm
Try as I might, I cannot seem to write
The idea, the start, or the in-between
A flash here, from a scene plays out
I think there’s a good angle to take
But then the body, the description evade
And I think, and I think, and I think and I think
And in all of that rethinking I avoid taking a step forward
Fearing, I may not put out the best that I’m capable of.
Oh my, would it be that terrible to try?
Could I be okay with being average or even terrible?
Could I be patient and allow myself to get better?
Can I take pleasure in the discomfort of pain?
It does not matter so much that my words be beautiful,
All I want is to embrace the process of self-expression
Cultivate the discipline to dig deeper,
And surrender to the words that come from beyond.
We invite you to share tools and practices that have helped you explore your creativity in the comments below.