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Creating Space

Presents and presence

· Creativity,Transformation,Mindfulness,Seasons,Brene Brown

“I believe that one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself is time. Taking time to be more fully present.” - Oprah Winfrey

We are creative beings, born to create. We all have the gift of creativity inside us but it can become locked away either because all those things we ‘have’ to do come first or because we think we are no good at it. Recently, I heard Brene Brown say something which really struck home, “unused creativity is not benign. It metastasises. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow and shame... We are naturally creative. It gets lost along the way. It gets shamed out of us.”

I love creating things - though I do wrestle with thinking 'it’s not good enough' - the joy of taking component parts and mixing them into something new and unique, I can imagine myself quite the alchemist. This was something that was missing from my life when I was most ill. A number of well meaning people, empathising with the frustration of having lots of time restricted at home on my own, suggested I knit or crochet. I do love these creative activities - lucky to have been taught to knit by my Nan Joan and to crochet by my crafty Mum - but with chronic pain in my neck, shoulders and arms I just wasn’t able to hold the needles or wool and I don’t know if you have ever tried it but it’s not that easy to do lying down! Probably, I imagine, similar to trying to do it on the International Space Station. So now I can, I am embracing my imperfect creativity and gifting myself the time. Like writing this blog.

As we move towards the festive season, it is a great time to unleash our creativity: maybe arranging some simple foliage collected on a walk; making greetings or gratitude cards; homemade and wrapped presents; or simply put on your favourite seasonal music and dance and sing – let go as if no one were watching, just for the sheer fun of it! Our art doesn’t need to be shared with the world; we can do it just for the play, the process and our own pleasure. I’ve had the privilege of seeing often when leading Forest School sessions that young children have no hurdles to playing and nothing stops them expressing themselves. It is a joy to watch them so deep in their flow of making that they have left the 'real' world entirely.

Mindfully embracing my imperfections, I enlisted my children and together we have had fun making and using our creativity from baking mince pies to creating home stamped and painted wrapping paper and cards. Homemade gifts are inherently beautiful and can mean so much more than bought ones. To celebrate my 20 years plant powered a couple of weeks ago, a special friend made me a handmade cross stitch picture that touched me and is in pride of place in my kitchen. Creativity is the antidote to consumption. Joy was all around as my children and I crafted and we were fully present with each other, and I know this wouldn’t have been the case if we’d been trailing round the shops! We were also creating memories, our own family traditions and stories to tell in the future (the tales of cutting into my Mum’s table cloth and dropping ‘Copydex’ glue on our living room carpet are family stories of old!).

A great creative idea I read about recently is something called www.frommetoyouletters.co.uk. It was set up by two friends when one of them was admitted to hospital for cancer treatment and the other one wrote letters to them. They now encourage others to follow suit. I was so grateful to receive letters during my long period of illness and I know deeply the power of the personal written word. Writing letters is a chance to reflect and to express feelings that may be tricky in any other form - all with the knowledge that you will brighten up someone else’s life. It is so joyful to receive something positive in the post (rather than bills) and increasingly rare in these Online days.

So as we move into the ‘Winterval’, retreat to your creative space and gift yourself some quality time, with full permission to make whatever your heart desires.

“We are born makers. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands.” Brene Brown

Please do share the ways you love, or would love, to be creative, I’d love to hear and be inspired by them. Clare x

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