According to some studies, 77% of adults feel that they’ve lost their creativity. So can we reconnect to this simple but fundamental part of joy – especially as mamas?
There is a simple joy in creating something beautiful.
Taking your time to notice the ingredients as you chop them, or arranging flowers on the dining room table: simple tasks that in our rush of modern life, we have dismissed as unimportant. Or, perhaps even worse, we do simply to whip out our phones and snap for instagram. Not for ourselves and the simple joy of creation, but for an imagined audience judging a snapshot of our lives.
True creativity, however, must be a part of our lives.
At the very core of it, we are creative creatures. We are mothers – the creators of life itself. That pride you felt when you first saw your child comes from the wonder of creation. “I did that!” There is no better sense of self pride. But where does that pride come from now?
Our home is an act of creativity. Our meals, our clothes, our words. Everything we put out into the world is a reflection of who we are and what we believe is important. It is our gift, if only we paused to think of it in that way. And for so many of us, this lack of joy in the beauty of creation is part of our disconnection from ourselves.
“In our youths we were so fearless, so wide eyed, so open to the possibilities of imagination and make believe,” reflects Laura Gingerick, creator of the blog and podcast on creativity ‘Roam and Golightly’. “We’d doodle our imaginary friends, describe our wildest dreams in detail, dress up as characters, play out scenarios; we tried and tested and experimented and just did everything we could under the sun. So what happened to change us between that time and adulthood?”
What happened was we got busy, we were told to make something of ourselves, and we stopped looking at our lives as one big adventure. We started to look upon creativity as something we needed to succeed at – which, in our world, means hard work.
And who needs more hard work, right?
Creativity is not a win or fail thing. As women, our natural state is to create. But when we pile pressure, comparison, and an inner mean mama voice on top of it, it dies a slow death.
And when our creativity dies, so does a little of ourselves.
So how do we tap back into this energy when the pile of washing is getting higher each day? And we think of creativity as something you do when you’ve got spare time again?
“Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy”.
What lights you up? What do you take pride in, that perhaps others think is strange? Do you love setting the table for a meal, with napkins and placemats and colourful plates? Is it your herb garden that brings you a sense of pride? Or is it the colouring book that you lose yourself in that is now hidden underneath piles of papers?
As Elizabeth Gilbert writes in ‘Big Magic’, we need to be ‘the weirdo who dares to enjoy’.
It takes guts and determination and a little bit of spunk to say to yourself and the world ‘this brings me joy’, especially when that world holds up a picture perfect image and expectation each day. It doesn’t have to be instagram-ready to be something of joy. In fact, try not taking a photo of your creation. Your table/meal/garden/doodle is for your eyes only. It is created because it needs to be – without it, your soul screams. Don’t put your creation out to the world to judge while you’re still finding your feet again. Keep it for yourself, and savour it.
Creativity comes from solitude – which is why it’s such a struggle as a mama. Solitude? What’s that! We don’t get to pee in peace. So while creating something in silence is our goal (and can happen in fleeting moments, so make sure you’re ready), taking notice of the little things in the present moment can turn even the most mundane into an act of creativity.
It’s hard for our feminist-raised generation of women to view housework as anything but a menial chore, but the truth is we can turn the day-to-day tasks of motherhood into an act of art – and joy. And when all you have, day in and day out, is those chores, finding a way to view them as a gift rather than a guilt-ridden task is a must for our sanity.
And remember – multi-tasking is the killer of joy. It’s also poison to your creativity. You can’t tap into that sense of wonder and beauty when you’re flicking through Facebook while eating your breakfast and monitoring the kids’ play doh. Do one thing at a time, and do it with your full attention.
Seek out new experiences
Ever noticed just how much more creative and inspired you feel while on holidays? That doesn’t just come from the buffet breakfast bar and lack of dishes. It’s because you’re surrounded by a new experience – your senses are on and your mind is in the moment. And the good news is, you can get that zen vibe now too, mama.
Go to a new market, catch public transport into the city, go the state library and wonder amongst the books. Pack a picnic and drive to the other side of your city and explore a new area. Be a tourist in your own backyard. Routines are great for baby’s sleep patterns but are torture for a modern woman’s soul – we need to feel like we’re doing more than the same ol’ day in and day out. So shake it up. Put on something you save for the special occasions that rarely happen now, pack a little bag, and let the toddler sleep in the pram for a change.
Don’t put your joy on hold out of fear of routines or change anymore. Promise yourself that you will not waste another day feeling stuck – look at each new day as an opportunity to seek out beauty.
Surround yourself with beauty – even amongst the toys.
If your home feels like a bomb-site, it’s time to de-clutter. Simplifying our homes, our inboxes, and our lives opens up the space we need to find our creative spirit again. And once that space is cleared, what will you fill it with, mama? Cut some flowers from the garden and pop them in a jar. Place just one scented organic candle on the table rather than a million different bits and pieces. Look around and see what brings you joy – filling your home with those things is an act of love to yourself and your family.
Finally, that part of you that is dying to express itself needs a home. It needs a sacred space in your home that is for you, and you alone. As part of the Reconnect Program, one of the very first acts of self-kindness we take is to create a sacred space – usually a candle, a journal, a photo or crystal. It’s an alter to your inner journey. And a sanctuary you can escape to when you need. Sneaking away while the kids watch TV to just sit at your space and write, meditate, or flick through a magazine can be the best medicine for a frazzled mind.
In the end, creativity is a state of mind – and the memories we are creating for our families each day is the ultimate act of creation. How we show up, and what we focus on, is our greatest gift. We’re creating life, each and everyday. So let’s bring some joy and beauty into it.