March 2, 2012
In this monthly column, Jennifer shares ideas about living a balanced life through creativity.
Rules. From time to time I need to ease up on them so that I can exercise my creativity.
It’s not that I don’t see the necessity of certain societal norms. These agreements are necessary to get along in the world, and I’m happy to comply.
There are rules that must be followed. Speed limits and traffic rules are not negotiable. And I can’t simply help myself to merchandise in stores without paying for it. If I want to live as a responsible citizen, I must pay my taxes. No wiggle room there.
And yet, I see the importance of also living my life in a way that suits me. I’ve learned that, if I ignore my needs, I absolutely will set myself up for failure. And I can meet a lot of my needs by living a creative lifestyle.
When I was in school, I lived a (mostly self-imposed) rule-bound life. The academic standards I set for myself meant that there were long hours of studying and that my self-identity was wrapped up in my grades. There was no room for anything outside of school work, other than a part-time job to pay for my clothing and, later, to cover the cost of tuition. These habits carried over to my early professional life.
At that time, my world lacked playfulness and spontaneity. It was highly structured, filled with routines. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that I had the initiative and determination to successfully make it through graduate school. But at the same time, because I lived such a rigid life, I didn’t get to experience the beauty of things in life. I didn’t develop the ability to appreciate art or music, or to express my creativity. I didn’t understand value of creativity and its role in my health and well-being.
Julia Cameron, famous for her book The Artist’s Way, describes that there is no room for control (see: rules) in creativity. It is purely a process of letting go. No place for rules.
A few years back, I read Caroline M. Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit. Her work suggests that emotional and spiritual stresses have direct links to disease. She describes that our emotional experiences become part of our “energy body” and contribute to the health of new cell formation. For example, an experience that causes shame or anger and is dwelled upon because of its significant impact (and possibly lack of support to manage) can result in damaged cells, whereas something that makes us feel proud or joyful will result in healthy cell development. Her book opened my eyes to the need to really experience my emotions fully, process them, and take care of my spirit.
In order for me to express, I need to be creative. It’s good for my health and it nurtures my spirit. When I’m creative, I’m discovering deeper parts of myself and am working towards being truly authentic, more of who I really am. When I’m creative, I am happier, and have way to more offer to the world, because I’ve addressed these vital needs of mine. Creativity is an outlet — one that gets me managing all that life throws at me.
Creativity doesn’t fit into a mould. There are no rules that govern creativity. I’ve realized that the way I tap into my creativity is by letting me be myself. Not only that, but if I follow my instincts and see the colours of life and hear the music all around me, then I will invite more creative inspiration into my life. And so can you!