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Creativity by Sarah Jolk

How do we inspire creativity in our community?

Getting messy with art and expressing myself through the kinesthetic joy of working with different materials has always been a personal life-line for me. In times of great stress I always pull out the canvas, paints, pastels or other materials and allow myself to simply let my emotions out through them. I also enjoy using my familiar tools of music and song. Having a passion for visual arts in addition to being a musician surprises some people. To me, creativity is a way of processing and approaching the world around us. While I may be drawn to certain outlets at different times the process is the same. Be present, engage, and let go.

“I am not an artist.” I hear this phrase all the time. It is like people anticipate a comparison or a grading structure and preemptively offer the quick remark of not being an artist to any conversation involving the subject. it is understandable; art is abstract and for the logical thinker it provides an immediate opportunity to face the non-concrete. This first feels unsettling, much like the stomach drop at the beginning of a roller-coaster ride but as our minds are allowed to explore and our senses begin to wander, stress begins to waver and the mind begins to rest.

Creativity involves risking imperfection.

When did we become so concerned about imperfection? Many would say it is attributed to the comparative nature of social media or the culture of reviews and school grades. While we could do better as a society to inspire creativity in all of those areas, linking imperfection to the negative can be faulted to a myriad of issues. We all know that especially now our minds must heal and we need avenues to do so.

To fight this beast of perfectionism and the constraining hold it can have on us we must start with its greatest opponent; embracing the imperfect.

Creativity does not happen overnight, it also does not happen when it is being evaluated. Safe space is pivotal. For instance; focus on being an observer, mirror, and co-creator before any needed constructive criticism.

Try to avoid:

“Are you sure?” “That does not match/go there/work that way” or “That was perfect!”

Try these instead:

“I really appreciate the way you looked at that situation”

“I never thought of it that way, tell me more”

Even for those who will never consider themselves career-artists allowing for creativity is a vital part of mental health. Without embracing the abstract, creative and artistic sides of thought we atrophy in the areas that help us problem-solve in work and in relationships. If we know creative thinking can assist in all areas of our lives why would we avoid it?

May we collectively embrace the imperfect, the creative and the messy. Knowing that in doing so we will achieve the goals we strive for and maybe, just maybe, have some fun along the way.

Check out this article in the May issue of Exploring the Trails:

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