When my world was dark and cold, and my activities were few, the road before me appeared long and lonely. I felt one-dimensional. I felt limited. I felt lost.
My Life Coach would ask me what I used to enjoy doing as a young child. The interests we show as young children are unfiltered and innocent, done only for the sake of enjoyment. They are often things we are naturally good at. Most children have active imaginations, and some even have imaginary friends!
The fact is that life gets more complicated as the years go by, and we become more complex as well. This isn’t a bad thing. We discover new interests, we use our skills in new ways, we develop (and sometimes lose) relationships with people and we face struggles and successes of all shapes and sizes. These experiences shape us into the unique humans that we are.
Yet, sometimes we just feel lost.
As for my childhood, I mostly remembered two things: playing outside and doing crafts. Now, I'm still an outdoorsy woman, so that makes sense. But crafts? What am I going to do with that memory? Crafts are for kids, not adults, I thought.
In spite of my misgivings, we began to explore the concept of creativity and play. Just for the sake of it.
First, I played with colour, picking up some felt pens and those intricate "adult" colouring books. I'm such a colour snob (is that a thing?) and I mostly stuck with pink, purple and teal. Then, (gasp!) I branched out into greens, browns and yellows. It's crazy but true.
The judgement and restrictions I placed on myself to "get it right" and to "make it look good" were stifling. I knew it was just for play, but for more than four decades, I had been focused on doing things right. On getting the right answer. On meeting others' expectations.
After awhile, I started to get more brave with colours and mediums. I tried some acrylic painting, which was really fun. This time, the judgments came in the form of comparisons to my mother, who is an accomplished artist and painter. Comparing your art to someone else's art kills the vibe completely, believe me.
Next I took a sketching course. Then I got into card-making and paper crafts. You name it, I tried it! And one day I took up crochet, which has become my daily activity and my favourite craft of all.
Over time, I got so used to doing arts and crafts that now I cannot imagine a day where I do not spend at least a short while being creative. This habit has not only affected my personal joy and happiness, but also helped to rewire my brain to seek creative expression. Everywhere I go, everything I see, I ponder how I could make it, what steps would be involved, what materials are needed and how long it might take. I ponder the inspiration and motivation it took to come up with the unique art before me.
On a micro level, this sounds like any crafting nerd. (Yup, that's me.) However, after spending a few years developing this instinct, I am now able to apply it to my thoughts and feelings at the macro level as well. I literally think differently.
What I truly developed was mental freedom.
Freedom from "there's a right way to do something" and "what if people don't like it".
Creativity led me to more freedom of thought, which led me to try new things, which led me to go back to school. This process took several years. Now, in 2020, in addition to pursuing my passion as my career, my life is rich with hobbies, interests, activities, expression and purpose.
I fully believe in the power of creativity and play to rewire our brains and possibly rediscover our purpose.