Well, after waxing lyrical about different sorts of creativity last week, I’ve not done as much as I’d planned then. Note that I’m NOT saying “I should have…”, because that word’s now considered akin to swearing! Instead, I’m viewing it as a slightly delayed start. This is actually working in my favour because I did different things, and have had other ideas, which I may not have done had I continued with my original plans. Maybe that’s the Universe gently nudging me to take a different tack this week!
It’s taken a while for me to really understand (and believe) that accepting and embracing change is essential, especially as our usual way of life has altered quite radically in the last few months. I’ve got used to these changes, but hadn’t truly accepted them. Instead I’ve been impatient for quite a lot of life to return to “normal”, simply because that state was the one I knew and understood, even if I didn’t really like it; it was comfortable. And there lies the rub: comfortable is all very well, but it’s often only useful when you’re choosing a new bed or pair of jeans. Have you thought about what comfortable can do or, more precisely, stop you from doing? What if scientists, artists, writers, makers, and thinkers since the year dot hadn’t stepped out from behind their comfortable? My husband is re-decorating our daughter’s bedroom and she’s chosen a strong colour for the walls. It’s very different from the pale colours we’ve often used, but a welcome change and it will look fab when it’s done, with new soft furnishings and finishing touches. Our daughter isn’t much into conformity and that’s refreshing!
In Deborah‘s Impact Club last week, Barbara Nixon spoke about and encouraged us to think about what holds us back or gets in our own way. Although the focus was mainly to someone’s business or job, I feel that you could explore these elements from a creative and whole-life point of view, too. She asked us to consider when we last did something that made us a feel a little scared, and how we could do those things more consciously, more often, in order to stop our brains shoving us back into our comfort zones. What if you decided to paint that vision in your mind, and show someone? Or enter that writing competition when your inner critic keeps telling you it’s totally pointless? When the doubts, fear of failing, or lack of focus sneak out from the caveman bit of your brain, it takes effort (often great big buckets of it!) to persevere, to trust in what you’re doing or trying to achieve. I feel totally hypocritical writing this as I bet I have several PhD’s in those very things myself, BUT I believe I’m a work in progress and I’m feeling much more positive this week!
This leads me to a couple of words I’ve chosen for the rest of this year, part of a challenge set by Juliet in last week’s Psychologies InstaLive: FAITH and CONTINUE. Spookily, I’d just chosen these earlier that day, as I’d not done so in January and it seemed a good idea at that exact moment, so I had one of those goose-walking-over-my-grave moments when she mentioned it; it was like I’d done the challenge before she’d set it!
For me, faith means faith in myself first and foremost, believing in the things I want to do and discrediting my imposter syndrome and self-doubt. It means accepting whatever the universe sends my way, that these happenings aren’t random but meant to be. It’s taking a leap into the creative unknown, which is often terrifying for me, and trusting that it will be exciting and fulfilling. Continue says I’m still here, I have ‘stuff’ to do, that the creative journey I’ve finally begun isn’t a finite one. It also means not going back to the drawing board, not leaving my creations unfinished because I’ve given attention to the negative inner critic, but completing what I start. I see Faith and Continue as two sides of a coin; you can observe them separately but they are part of the same, bigger thing.
Faith and Continue fit very snugly into Juliet‘s creative challenge from yesterday’s live video, which is to look at ‘painting’ using backgrounds, mark-making media, and tools that differ from what you might traditionally use. How about using the inside of a cereal packet as your background, used tea bags as paint, and an old make-up sponge for a paintbrush? Or using a stone (tool) to pound some leaves or grass (paint) onto an old tea towel (background)? It’s about looking differently at what’s around you, being curious about your surroundings and how you could use everyday items in an unusual way. Having Faith in the process and trusting that, as you Continue through your comfort zone and out into your creative zone, what you’re making is valid, worthwhile, and unexpectedly beautiful. If you really don’t like what you’ve made, firstly silence that inner critic (perfectionism is a blooming killer!) and use that piece simply as practice for something new. Then try something different, explore what you think didn’t work so well, use that piece in a different way. Maybe you could cut it up and literally re-use the bits in a collage for instance. The piece below is one I made earlier this year, in response to an art challenge. It’s acrylic paint onto watercolour paper, using found objects from around the house to create different effects. There are prints from pegs, bubble wrap, and a doily, amongst other things. I’m still not keen on it, but I’m being brave and showing you anyway as an example of what you could do. This was the first time in years that I’d done anything like this, so it’s a good exercise in accepting that it’s good enough.
Repurposing things works the creative bones of you and encourages you to look at objects with a different eye. It’s also good for the planet as you’re giving something a new lease of life, and it’s money-saving, too – what’s not to like?! I have some old bedding that I’d like to turn into cushion covers, some new-to-me little side tables and a couple of our bookcases that are crying out for a new paint job, and all the while I have my new vision board in sight. The thing on it I like the best is the quote below, which I feel sums up pretty well what I’ve said this week. Have a bit of a think, and then have a go at something a bit different this week. I’d love to see what you let yourself create!