This is the time of year for resolutions, for taking a good look at your life and noticing places you would like to enrich or improve. People resolve to do all sorts of things: save money, get organized, eat better, exercise more. While these are all valuable resolves, I propose that you keep your creative self in mind when selecting a resolution because you deserve it! I’m talking about nurturing your creative self, doing what it takes to take your creative mind to new heights, goals and success.
Nurturing Your Creative Self
Teachers are givers and highly creative people. They are constantly giving out to students, parents, colleagues. In order to continue to be a fabulous, vibrant, inspired educator, you NEED to care for yourself in the deepest way possible. In Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity she calls it “filling the well.” She likens our creative self to a child who just wants some quality time with her parent – a chance to play and be better acquainted and connected. But what to do? How does one fill the well to nurture one’s creative self? Cameron explains it this way:
In filling the well, think magic. Think delight. Think fun. Do not think duty. Do not do what you should do — spiritual sit-ups like reading a dull but recommended critical text. Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you; think mystery, not mastery.
It is so easy to imagine how great this would be and so easy to shelve it when life’s demands start rearing their impatient heads. Cameron suggests 2 hours a week but even 1 is a start if you’re really pressed for time as we all so often are. On an artist date, the key is to be ALONE and PRESENT. It’s about really noticing what is around you. Maybe it’s preparing food without anyone around, maybe it’s a walk on the beach (no dogs or children allowed), maybe it’s browsing through your favorite bookstore or thrift shop, maybe it’s just a walk around your neighborhood with a camera in hand.
I like to take what I call a noticing walk. One day, I just walked around noticing shadows and photographing the most interesting ones. Another day, I walked around and noticed the different lines I observed in fences, doors, anything around me. It’s the noticing that is key.
Julia Cameron also reminds that scents are incredibly powerful for filling the well. Lighting incense, baking bread or cookies – these can elicit powerful memories and help to refill the well. But sounds can be equally powerful. Perhaps there is a favorite album or CD that you haven’t listened to in forever. Challenge yourself to just sit and listen or sing/move along if you feel so inspired. Don’t correct papers or write Christmas thank you notes; that’s putting out, not putting in!
I remember a course I was taking on voluntary simplicity and one of the assignments one week was to be mindful. I was not to multitask but to really pay attention to everything I did. Never has washing dishes are showering been so nurturing or sensual! Rather than going through my to-do list in my head while I showered or singing along to music as I cleaned the kitchen I really felt the water on my back and face, I breathed in the scents of the body wash, I delighted in the soapy water as it bubbled and frothed. It’s hard to live this way all the time as it takes a great deal of time and attention, but if you take an hour or two a week to try it, you may feel re-energized in unexpected ways.
If this seems like a seductive or intriguing idea to you, try it. That is your creative self tugging at your sleeve saying, “Come play with me.” If you indulge your creative self and say “Yes” I think you will find that you and those around you will be so glad you did!