Creativity is a beautiful word full of imagination, originality and vision. Maybe we associate the work with artists, designers, great visionaries. And if I was to ask you “Are you creative?”, I wonder what would be your response. How often I have heard people say “I’m not creative”. Yet the reality is that everyone has the gift of creativity.
Creativity is an energy, a movement, a flowing, a flash, an inspiration. And like the shamans and healers of old, creativity is a shape-changer. And if we welcome it, creativity will flow into and through us, like a river, giving life and beauty not only to us but to all those around us.
Already in the first half of life many women’s greatest creative act was the giving birth to children, raising them to adulthood. And alongside this, just think of the numerous daily creative tasks, cooking new recipes, tending flowers and vegetables lovingly in the garden, making a house into a home, bringing love and care into marriage and family, caring for it like an orchard. Each act is of the creative life.
Creativity is inborn – one only has to watch little children to see how they explore possibilities, do simple things, break into smiles at new discoveries. How sad to see adults crush these sparks of creativity in children, such as the child who painted with all the colours of the rainbow to be told that “flowers are red and grass is green and the sky is blue and that’s what you must paint”. As a result, the well of creativity has been polluted and lies stagnant.
Now, as you approach the afternoon of life where is that creative well within you? Just as a stream that begins high up in the mountains flows and becomes a tributary or pool or pond or mighty river, feeding all those who come to it, nourishing and nurturing the life within it and around it, so too, our creativity must come alive and flow out.
And if it has become stagnant, we must dig deep and let fresh springs flow into it – be inspired by beholding others’ creative words or images or ideas and allow ourselves to be fed and nourished and then begin our own creative work. After all, isn’t it a woman’s task to be life-giver? The African writer, Ben Okri, says “Creativity… is one of the fullest expressions of the human and the godlike within us. a high kind of love” (1997:126).
To see a river being polluted, dried up or channelled into so many different directions that it can longer flow is more than disheartening – it is destructive for all the forms of life around it. The afternoon of life is not the time to mimic others’ lives or follow other people’s expectations of how you should flow or be. The afternoon of life is the time unblock anything that may have polluted your creative waters, to clear any toxic energy in the environment that is preventing your creative flow.
Clear out self-defeating beliefs and negative thoughts for we MUST allow the creative waters to flow or else become a quagmire of a shrivelled and dried up old woman. Do you hear yourself saying: “Oh I’ll do it one of these days, or I don’t have money, I don’t have time, I don’t feel like it right now… later, later… ”.
In her book, Women who run with the wolves (1993) Clarissa Pinkola Estes suggest nine tips for taking back our river of creativity and allowing it to flow.
Receive nurturance – Allow others to support you and accept compliments, rather than pushing them away or denying her own ideas and wisdom.
Respond – To create one must be able to respond. This means responding to all that is going on around us and choosing from all the possibilities of ideas, thoughts, feelings, actions. Do not be limited by one choice only by suppressing other ideas. Being limited to one response kills our creativity.
Be wild – Rivers don’t flow in straight lines or dry up. We do that. We spend a lot of time in the morning of life censoring, listening to others expectations, judging ourselves and others. In Clarissa’s words, “To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies form one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down”.
Begin – Begin NOW. Not later. It does not matter if you make a mistake. Find another way. And don’t let fear pollute the river. Breathe deeply and acknowledge the fear and then go on with it and clear the pollution.
Protect your time – We have all seen ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs. Get one and create the boundaries you need to allow your creativity to flow.
Stay with it – When the clearing out of the pollution becomes tiring or difficult, it’s easy to give up. But we must stay with it. Would you allow someone to abuse your children or to abuse your pets or plants by only feeding them once a week or month? So why abuse yourself by refusing to nourish your creative flow, or only listening and engaging once a month or once a year.
Craft your real work – This is about protecting your SOUL – allowing your soul to guide you, nourish you, nurture you. As Rumi said once, “Wherever you are, be the SOUL of that place”. Protect your quality of life.
Lay out nourishment for the creative life – To keep the river clean, one must have the four basic ‘foods’ – time, belonging, passion, and sovereignty.
These tips or guidelines are not only inspiring, they are essential if we are to continue to grow and become women who create life and love – wise women who give birth to the well of creativity within, and allow that to bring about transformation not only in their own life but in the world.