I took an art class once – in 8th grade, for six weeks – that lit a creative fire in my heart. I bought a sketch book, pens, pastels. In high school, I dreamed about owning a small book store by the ocean and making cards to sell. I envisioned gorgeous hand-lettered calligraphy with pen and ink drawings. Then, I caught the writing bug and never let it go, focusing first on journalism, then grant writing, then corporate-speak (for 20 years). Art fell by the way side, something “extra” that other people did better than me. I judged it as something that didn’t add value to the career I was busy building.
Fast forward to today, when I find that creating art adds much needed value for my life. While raising my kids, I noticed that they freely and playfully created art all the time: coloring books, finger painting, clay, collage. When we first discovered some “fancy” coloring books as they became popular a few years ago, I dove in with the kids. I remembered how great it felt to choose the shades, design the arrangement of color, bring something flat to life. We upgraded from pre-printed forms to open canvas, watercolors, even acrylic paints. My daughter remarked, “The great thing about making your own art, is that it is totally new. It has never been in the world before you make it.” We’ve continued making art together and I’m learning that art helps me:
- Quiet my inner perfectionist and relax my inner editor
- Try something new, which for me is a signal that I am practicing growth mindset
- Breathe deeper
- Suspend anxiety about all the things
- Practice being brave and vulnerable (open to judgment) by sharing these experiments in public
- Find unexpected allies and supporters
- Express something that exists beyond words (which seems important for acknowledging and healing preverbal trauma)
- Meditate on seasonal changes and cues and colors
- Inhabit a freer space of beginners mind (with no training, it’s all new and experimental – very different from the self-imposed control, judgment, demanding tone, high/perfectionist standards that plague me in spaces where I have expertise or experience)
- Get into a state of easygoing flow
- Play, laugh, spend quality time with family members in a way that works for all of us at the moment
- Create something new in the world
How will you play with creativity? What brave new thing will you bring into the world for the first time?