THE BLOG

Freedom to Create

Children create naturally, but as we age and take on more responsibilities, we may not feel we have the time for such things. Yet everything in life, including us, exists because of creative energy.
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How many mornings have you looked at your meeting schedule and thought, When I can I find time to pee, let alone for a 15-minute lunch? Many of us have days completely jam packed from the moment our eyes open to the moment our heads hit the pillow. We fulfill the roles of partner, parent, co-worker, boss, banker, taxi-driver, dog-walker, cook, cleaner, and so much more on a daily basis that we are often in overdrive as opposed to taking a scenic side street and enjoying the view.

When we were young we inherently understood the value of taking time to create; we sat and colored or drew, built models from a kit, designed worlds in a video game, molded shapes and recognizable items from Play-Doh, or built castles or forts out of sand or snow or couch cushions. Educational pioneer Howard Gardner called creativity, "liberating human energy." Children create naturally, but as we age and take on more responsibilities, we may not feel we have the time for such things. Yet everything in life, including us, exists because of creative energy.

In 2006 when I was doing my book tour for Sometimes Art Can't Save You, I often inscribed the novel with these words above my signature: "Creativity = Life, so always nurture your creative side." But for some people the idea of setting aside time to be creative may seem silly or overwhelming. Here are five quick ways to be creative every day:
1. List five things--before you even check e-mail for the day--that you might want to explore if you find the time. While this might be a challenge the first day, you'll find that each progressive day your creative juices will flow and while you're reading news stories or watching TV you'll start to get aha moments that could lead to a new hobby, a new career or even a new business.
2. When you cook a meal, add an ingredient you don't usually. (We get so stuck following recipes or making "the usual" that we forget this is a prime time to nurture our creative sides.)
3. Choose a different pen color for the day. Do you always write in black? Try blue. Or if you don't write except for e-mail, change your black text to dark green or blue for the day. Disrupt your routine.
4. Create a new outfit. Our closets are bursting with creativity though often we reach for the tried and true suit; the same black pants, skirt or dress; or our favorite pair of shoes. Branch out, even if it means a small change such as swapping out the usual shirt for the one in your wardrobe you hardly wear.
5. Take a different route to the office. Find new streets, or if you work from home, take a new path around your furniture.
Though these changes don't seem like big ones, they will start to create new neural paths in your brain. And small creative sparks often lead to bigger creative sparks and problem solving.

And that is the reason why we have at least two creativity-based workshops per weekend at Women's Wellness Weekends. We understand what the Nigerian poet Ben Okri said so succinctly, "The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering."

Bill Gates, on NPR's All Things Considered, said something similar. He believes it is "through our natural inventiveness, creativity and willingness to solve tough problems" that society will make "amazing achievements" in the areas of health and education around the world. Being a force for inventiveness and problem-solving is another reason why it is important to give yourself the freedom to create on a regular basis.