January 30

Reawakening Creative Engagement

0  comments

The following article was originally published as part of the incredible community writing and art compilation project entitled Gifts for an Emerging World, organised by InterGifted.

Cover art for the Gifts for an Emerging World community writing and art compilation project organised by InterGifted. There is a large, transparent butterfly chrysalis attached to a tree branch, with a gradient blue sky in the background. A fully developed red and black butterfly clearly visible within the chrysalis, looking like it is ready to emerge.

The Gifts for an Emerging World compilation is a powerful collection of contributors' visions of how we can, individually and collectively, bring our gifts to bear to lead and  transform generations of ecological disconnection—spanning dimensions physical and non-physical—into an emerging future of intra- and inter-species harmony and collaboration for all beings on this planet, and beyond.


Credit for this amazing project goes to Jan Provoost, Jennifer Harvey Sallin and Karin Eglinton, who devoted huge chunks of their time and energy in 2020 to birthing this, and last but not least, to the many contributors who shared so deeply and intimately of their hearts and souls, hopes and dreams for our shared future with our planet, and all beings upon and within.


Creativity has been a key piece of my ongoing process to reconnecting to all the different dimensions of my being, as well as to the many different dimensions of Earth (more on that in another essay in this compilation, Earth Elders). My exploration into creativity began when I realised I was play deprived. Though my parents and teachers may argue otherwise, I did not get my play needs met as a gifted × autistic child, and subsequently, I grew into adulthood with the physiological and psychological scars of play deprivation. I could not experience pleasure fully. I could not relax, nor could I resource, which meant I could not show up in a fully present and creative mindset for engaging with the world around me. My inability to play was so profound, that it led me on an intense journey to uncover the reasons why.


I read the book Play, by Stuart Brown (the same one referenced in Jennifer Harvey Sallin’s essay on Play earlier in this compilation), and this book along with several other resources and reflections let me to discover that I’d been understanding myself all wrong, and that I was living backwards as it related to my giftedness. For years, I thought I was an intellectual dominant, when really I was a somatic-sensual × creative dominant. Ah, do forgive the technical terminology here—I am a giftedness assessor after all! For those of you unfamiliar with the jargon, this means that my dominant modalities of experience and expression take place through embodied imagination. You can learn more at InterGifted's What is Giftedness? page).


And as a giftedness assessor and coach for gifted adults, I can tell you that I know for certain I am not alone in this giftedness self-misunderstanding. Because of trauma, or because of convention, we can end up minimizing, ignoring or even actively sabotaging our most natural giftedness expression—effectively shutting down our highest capacity for creative engagement and play.


Yet if we gifted people are going to contribute to helping form the emerging world into one that is friendly for our thriving, we need (and deserve) access to our highest creative capacities. So, I decided to share my story of creative reawakening with you, in all its tenderness, as a simple roadmap for how any of us—even the most disconnected of us all—can start the process of reconnecting with and reawakening our creative agency and full engagement in our developing world.


In my explorations, I had to define creativity for myself, in terms that make sense to me, my experience and process. I currently define creativity as the impulse to express and capture the experience of play in tangible form, for the pure fun and pleasure of it. In other words, creativity is the Do to the Be of play. The joyful and pleasurable impulse to capture a tangible snapshot of the joy and pleasure of play. Playing with play! Meta-play!


Here are the steps I took to start to embody that definition as a daily lived experience and reality:

Identify and work through wounding with a gifted somatic therapist.

I was initially unable to dive right into any form of play, much less creativity, so my first steps were working with a gifted somatic therapist to explore, release and re-integrate wounded aspects of my self. She started me on the very basics of resourcing, teaching me to very slowly tap into the tiniest moments of “better” and “nicer” aspects of experience, as a means to build up my tolerance and skill level to resource, without needing to tap directly into my inability to experience joy or pleasure.


Along the way, we uncovered many different aspects of wounding that were locking up and blocking my innate ability to tap into my natural wellsprings of resources. Over time, we worked through them one by one and I was supported to re- integrate each one in a loving compassionate way.


As this happened, more and more intrinsic flow naturally opened up in my system that allowed for spontaneous healing to occur on multiple other levels and dimensions without my direct intervention. And slowly, I began to feel different. Freer. Lighter. I had more space for curiosity of a different kind. Sensual curiosity. Imaginative curiosity. Play didn’t seem like such a painful thing anymore. I started to feel the impulse to, metaphorically, bounce like a happy baby goat, and follow that impulse I did!

Follow the impulse. Titrate the impulse.

New and different experiences began to feel possible. I started to remember things I used to do or wanted to do in my childhood and young adulthood that I’d long forgotten. I felt so inspired, yet I also still felt moments of overwhelm. This was all so new to me—It was alien and not a little scary at times! So I took it slow.


I started by first spending days, sometimes weeks, just feeling and acknowledging the experience of impulse, but not acting on it yet. I started a new journal practice, where I would talk about the impulse, and discuss my experience of it to myself, exploring it and letting it gently settle into my body. Over time, the impulses started to come together organically and harmonically into a clear signal of inspiration. I suddenly knew what I wanted to do, how to start, and what tools I needed.


I made a gift of an iPad to myself as a start, to honour this new phase of my journey. That was the first and strongest impulse to come through, to equip myself with the right tools, that best suit my needs, to take myself to the next level of this process. Then I followed the harmonic impulse some more to equip myself with the apps I needed. Journalling and sketching apps soon filled my iPad’s screen and I started to explore the use of each one, bit by bit, every day. I started a new digital handwritten journal and continued my journal practice there, from my previous digital text journal app. I played with the different brush types, sizes and colours and soon I had a colourful digital journal filled with all manner of daily scribblings.

A fictional example of how a page in Silver's digital handwritten journal would look like, with handwritten text and sketched doodles in different brush types, sizes and colours.

Fictional sample page representing a typical page from Silver's digital handwritten journal.

I soon discovered that I was able to clip images and photos into my journal and suddenly my journal was transformed into an even more colourful scrapbook!
Another fictional example of how a page in Silver's digital handwritten journal would look like, with clipped photographs from Silver's daily life, as well images from the internet, along with handwritten text and sketched doodles in different brush types, sizes and colours.

Another fictional sample page representing a typical page from Silver's digital handwritten journal.

What made this even more joyous for me was that I’d always loved photography, but I didn’t know what to do with all the photographs I took. They often just disappeared into the depths of my hard drive, never to be seen again. I’d always wanted a more meaningful way to connect with them, and I always knew I wanted my photography to be a visual complement to my journals, and now I had a quick, easy and seamless way to do so! This even boosted my photography explorations, as I now had an even stronger reason to take photographs of anything I enjoyed or found beautiful in my day, however random, because they will all be used to decorate and illustrate my daily musings in my journal. This added an additional layer of fun, enjoyment and pleasure to my journals that I never had before, because my past journals were all text-only and very boring to look at.


Today, I often spend time just flipping through previous entries, simply because it is such a joy and entertaining for me to look at now. This has added yet another layer of benefit, because now that I have a reason to look through my journals for the pure joy and pleasure of it, I have been unintentionally going through past insights over and over and in doing so, they have been cementing themselves in my body and mind in a way that I was never able to derive the benefit from my journals before. Bonus!

Expand capacity.

As I continued to allow myself to fiddle and play without expectations or goals, I felt an indescribable space expand slowly and softly within me, energetically and somatically. It began to feel like I had space inside me to float around a bit more than before, and that my previous state felt rather much like confinement, though I wasn’t aware of it before now. More buried and forgotten hopes, dreams and passions began to surface from the deep and I began to welcome them one by one into my experience and daily life.


I’d always loved handwritten scripts, from any culture, in any language. I loved looking at them, I loved watching people do them and I fully confess to having watched countless calligraphy time lapses on Instagram! I love to hand write, which is a mildly amusing thing to admit, seeing as I am such a digital girl at heart! Yet there is something about the tactile connection between medium, tool, thought and self that always feels so soothing and clarifying. In particular, I adore cursive handwriting. It is so beautiful on the eye. I always wanted to write like that but I never gave myself the permission, time and space to explore practicing cursive handwriting. Not to mention I was not supported in my inclination in childhood or young adulthood at all, as investing time and effort in handwriting was judged as a completely pointless pursuit!


Now that I had my iPad, I began downloading different cursive handwriting practice and drill sheets for Procreate and away I went! I soon discovered that I am particular about the look and feel of the handwriting style I wanted to cultivate. After diving through several different scripts, I finally settled on learning Spencerian and Copperplate, which is technically a calligraphic script, to develop my own personal cursive style from. It’s been just under a month and I’m pretty happy with what I have so far!


In the process of allowing myself to deep dive into the possibility of cultivating beautiful cursive handwriting, I also finally opened myself up to the big, wide world of calligraphy, instead of just remaining a shadow admirer from a distance. I spend most mornings now just doing a couple of calligraphy practice and drill sheets on my iPad, just for the fun and pleasure of it. I don’t even have the objective or passion to become a calligrapher per se. I love the feeling of moving tool across surface, specifically Apple Pencil across iPad screen, feeling my hand relax into and the arm muscles strengthen to support the flow of digital ink and script. It is very meditative.
A sample of Silver's digital cursive handwriting, comparing her beginner's progress before and after a month of practice.

A sample of Silver's digital cursive handwriting, comparing her beginner's progress before and after a month of practice.

At the same time this was happening, I felt my long-repressed passion for drawing reawaken and rekindle itself, calling for acknowledgement and outlet. I’ve always had a passion for visual illustration. I was what Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, calls a shadow artist, in the sense that I would deeply admire other peoples’ drawings and their ability to capture three- dimensional form into two-dimensional representations, translations and adaptations, but I never allowed myself the permission to even think of myself as possibly being an artist, much less pursue the path to becoming one.


I had a complex relationship with drawing because on the rare occasions in my childhood and young adulthood that I had produced drawings and shared those with people, I was stunned by the often sudden and unexpected criticism, humiliation, even undertones of envy, and I responded reflexively with shame and recoiling deeper into myself.
A scanned page from one of Silver's old sketching journals from 2010, featuring a fountain pen field sketch of a what is likely a Protea cultivar flower on the left page, and handwritten field notes of different plant species sighted on the right page.

A scanned page from one of Silver's old sketching journals from 2010.

Another scanned page from one of Silver's old sketching journals, featuring a brush pen practice sketch of Michael Bernard's photograph titled Shades of Night at 500px.com on the right page. On the left page, you can vaguely make out sketches of a bird and a woman showing through the back of the page.

Another scanned page from one of Silver's old sketching journals, featuring a brush pen practice sketch of Michael Bernard's Shades of Night.

Eventually, I drew less and shared even less, and as time wore on, my nascent drawing abilities rusted and decayed, and this only fed into my shadow narrative of my “not having the potential, much less talent required, for being an artist”.


Recently, I felt the impulse arise, so I followed it. However, I felt immediately overwhelmed, so I titrated the process tenderly. I allowed myself to simply carry my iPad everywhere without the pressure or the need to draw. I let myself play with the zillion brush options in Procreate without the obligation to create anything “arty”. I scribbled tiny doodles in black and white. If I felt overwhelmed at drawing something, I simply took a photograph instead, and took it home to trace. I was soon downloading random images from Pexels to trace and color in because it felt so good and fun to do so to play with the use of line and colour without the expectation of “a good work”.
Screenshot of a page from Silver's digital sketching journal, during early days into her return to sketching in 2020, featuring small, scratchy, black-and-white field thumbnail sketches of a duck, seagull, a couple of cockatoos, as well as two tiny coloured thumbnail sketches of a tree and pinecone in green and brown.

Screenshot of a page from Silver's digital sketching journal, early in her return to sketching in 2020.

Another screenshot of a page from Silver's digital sketching journal, featuring a playful practice sketch of a tree, using a variety of Procreate brushes in brown and green, with a reddish-peach coloured flourish emblazoned across the front.

Another screenshot of a page from Silver's digital sketching journal, showing Silver simply playing with Procreate brushes for fun.

Another screenshot of a page from Silver's digital sketching journal, featuring a field painting of a flock of black and white ibises flying overhead in a rich, blue sky, passing under a large fluffy cloud. There are nine ibises and they are flying in a rough V-formation, and they are so far up in the sky that they are barely specks in the painting, but still recognisable as birds.

Another screenshot of a page from Silver's digital sketching journal, featuring a field painting of ibises in the summer sky.

As my comfort levels increased, I began to feel a different dimension to the impulse. I usually experience pretty vivid, fully embodied visions in my personal work but now there suddenly seemed to appear an additional dimension of expressibility, almost like still images have been attached to the video experience as handy “screenshots”, and I felt the strong urge to transfer these still image “attachments” with very specific brushes in Procreate when they presented themselves. It was almost like my inner being and intuition were working with me to make capturing and expressing my inner experience doable for my current drawing skill level!
Another screenshot of a page from Silver's digital sketching journal, featuring a visual and metaphoric representation of Silver's therapeutic process. There is a rectangular box of lapis lazuli standing upright against a pastel grey background. There is a single, large drop of white liquid suspended in the air above the top of the box, with a white splash mark on the top of the box, showing that white liquid has already splashed there before from above.

Another screenshot of a page from Silver's digital sketching journal, featuring a visual and metaphoric representation of Silver's therapeutic process.

Another screenshot of a page from Silver's digital sketching journal, featuring a painting that Silver made for a friend. There are three goddesses of white, red, and black, suspended in the air, encircling a fourth goddess of golden yellow who has her mouth open and vibrant blue energies are flowing from her mouth.

Another screenshot of a page from Silver's digital sketching journal, featuring a painting that Silver made for a friend.

Another screenshot of a page from Silver's digital sketching journal, featuring a visual and metaphoric representation of Silver's therapeutic process. There is a girl in a pale pink sundress and large straw hat sitting on a riverbank and looking out at the flowing blue waters of the river, upon which small waves lap with little white crests. The riverbank is lush with green grass where the girl is sitting.

Another screenshot of a page from Silver's digital sketching journal, featuring a visual and metaphoric representation of Silver's therapeutic process.

I was soon drawing for close friends as well, using my burgeoning ability to unite intuition and illustration to enrich and enliven our shared experiences together.

Creativity grows with you.

Creativity is like a skill that is pan-modality. The more you engage with it in any one domain, the more it fills the space of your inner being like a nourishing force that expands into other areas and modalities of your life.


I used to write poems copiously as a child. I stopped some time in my late teens for reasons I cannot recall and I hadn’t written a poem since. Last week, I was having a conversation with a few close friends and the conversation turned to poetry and there was an invitation to share poems together. Admittedly, behind the privacy of my computer screen, I froze for a second. I felt completely inadequate.


Then the spirit of the creativity practice that I’d been engaging with for the past few weeks and months filled my being with the sense of nourishing and playful curiosity, and I opened an empty text draft and with eyes gentle and relaxed, read the poem that someone had already shared. The first line gripped my attention and I typed it out. I immediately heard a second line pop up in my body and head, almost as if it were dictated. Without questioning it, I typed it out too. Before I knew it, a poem had fallen out of me, or fallen into me as it were. Thus began hours of riotous poetic fun between myself and my dear friends, as deep, hilarious, intimate and insanely on point verses flew between continents and time zones deep into the night (for me).


Creativity is like a skill, yet I hesitate to use the word “practice”, as that adds an air of solemnity and effort that couldn’t be further from the spirit of what I am describing and have experienced.


There is no goal to creativity. Or if there is, it is solely to experience the fun and pleasure of taking an intangible experience of fun and pleasure and capturing it into a tangible experience or format. In play and creativity, we allow ourselves to not know. We allow ourselves to be complete beginners and we completely indulge in the delight—even silliness!—of being a beginner again, with completely open-ended new worlds and possibilities to explore and build, just because we want to.


The more we “do” it, yet not from a space of “doing” but rather from a state of “being”, we get better at “doing” the physical “do” aspects of creativity from a “be” space of flow. And that flow then also flows into other dimensions and domains of our life and experience.


I have observed the benefits of my creative experience flow into many different areas of my personal and professional life, contributing to areas as simple as housework and gardening, to tasks as involved as writing and coaching, as well as health and relationships.

Today, I can feel a nourishing centre and never-ending wellspring of life force from deep within me. It pulses with colours changing like the rainbow, and it energises me and soothes me in turn. It guides me and cheers me on and I never feel alone anymore. It is hard to believe that I have come so far but looking back, I can see that it was a progression built on the tiniest of steps, patiently and lovingly taken one by one, sometimes half at a time even.

Creativity was and still is, for me, a journey of profound self- care and self-love. It is being the infinitely patient and encouraging parent and mentor, as well as playful and enthusiastic peer and friend, for myself that I never had. Most importantly, it has reopened my ability to connect, interact and co-create with the many dimensions of my being, and that of the multiple other dimensions of Earth, human and non-human, seen and unseen, and I am discovering and exploring more every day.

Tags

creativity


You may also like...

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
>