By Lorraine Iverson. "We most imitate the Divine when we create," according to Ernest Holmes, founder of Science of Mind. These words keep rolling around in my head as I struggle with my own creativity. I've been painting for several years. Lately, I feel like I haven't really progressed much as an artist. In fact, sometimes I look at one of my early works, when I was new and "untrained" and I like it better than anything I've done recently. Most of my life I've "worked" at being creative. I've done pottery, made jewelry, painted silk, wrote poetry, dabbled in watercolors and so much more. But as I continue to review the aforementioned quote, I know it's time to redefine the idea of creativity and maybe lighten up on myself. Perhaps I can also lend a hand to others trying to experience more self-expression.
The arts are only a very small portion of creativity. I so often hear people say, "Oh, I'm not creative. I can't even draw a stick figure." They are usually telling me this as they are preparing a luscious meal or as we walk through their lavish gardens. Most of us don't recognize the creative energy we put into our lives every day. Or perhaps we just don't recognize it for what it is. If we're not composing an opera, writing a novel or painting a classic, we think we're not creative. We may not be artistic, but I believe everyone is creative. Some just need to engage that part of their mind. Most just need to look at themselves differently.
My friend is an idea-creator extraordinaire. She thinks up brilliant marketing ideas and new businesses. It gives her great joy. My sister creates in her kitchen. Even if she's only cooking for two on a Wednesday night, it is a thing of beauty and amazing flavor. My neighbor's succulent garden is over flowing with color, texture and dimension. Yet, these extremely gifted people don't consider themselves creative.
Where does your creativity shine through?
Beyond the obvious of a well-decorated home or a stylish ensemble, how are you expressing your creativity? If you aren't, you need to start. I believe creating is the act of moving forward. I think this is what Dr. Holmes was referring to, creating is the opposite of stagnating. Finding new places to put our energy is creation. Making an effort to keep moving ahead in life is what keeps us inspired. Whether it's developing a new recipe for Sunday dinner or starting a book group, we are moving forward and creating. I'm not talking about the frenetic "going and doing" that some of us use to keep us from boredom or worse yet, self reflection. I'm talking about making a meaningful contribution to your day.
What if I can't find it?
So you're sitting there wracking your brain for some act of creativity in your life and you're coming up empty. Well, let's review. Are you a gardener? A good cook? Are you on a committee where your ideas are valued? How about your home - is it a reflection of your good taste and style? If you really can't find anywhere that you are developing then it's time to regroup, turn off your TV and get your ass in gear. You are stagnating. If you aren't creating, you are just existing and you're better than that. Start small, don't overwhelm yourself or you'll give up. Go buy a pot for your porch and an assortment of plants. See if that little bit of nature brightens your day. Go to a community planning meeting and give them your ideas. How's that feel? Organize a garage sale with a couple neighbors. Display your junk like the treasures they will become. Do something fun with the riches you'll make. Reach out, step out and create an opportunity for yourself to grow. Yes, it takes energy but the more you do, the more you can do.
Creating builds on itself. One brilliant idea leads to the next. Take a simple step and use it as a spring board to something larger. My husband wanted to make new friends. He started a neighborhood mens group. They began meeting once a month for sandwiches and beer. From there they started a hiking group, a community clean-up group, some philanthropic activities and they are going to have their first cooking class. Creating the group grew into more great ideas and a bunch of men hanging out with new friends and helping their community.
How can you encourage others to recognize their own creativity?
We especially need to do this with our children and grandchildren. After about age five, they begin to judge themselves and their creations. Encourage them to see the art and beauty and act of creation in everything. If we grow up with mentors that set examples and cheerleaders that applaud us, we will believe in ourselves. My stepson was a pretty good guitar player at a very early age. His father took him to blues jams with guys that had been playing for years. He encouraged him to walk up to a stage and ask if he could sit in. He drove him all over for open-mics and gigs. That kid received positive feedback everywhere he went but especially from his dad. He has grown into one of the most confident young men I've ever known. He's not cocky, he's confident. He's not afraid to walk up to anyone and ask for an opportunity. And he continues to create music and expand his horizons.
So tomorrow, buy some flowers and put them in a funky container. Rearrange your office, add some color. Buy a chartreuse scarf and wear it with your red blouse. Write a letter with pen and paper. Call an old friend and do something new and different. Move out of your comfort zone and open a space of expansiveness. Breathe. Feels good, doesn't it?
You are so creative.