Live Life Creatively
After 30 years in the world of business I said good-bye to accounting and management and began a new journey. It was a Friday when I finished my last day as the CFO of small commercial insurance company, the final position I held in the business world. The next day I flew to San Francisco to begin my Master’s in Transpersonal Psychology education with a week-long seminar at a retreat center in the mountains outside of San Jose.
When I first began to investigate this Master’s degree program I saw that there were three areas that I could specialize in for my education. I would need to choose one of them by the end of the first year. The three choices were Spiritual Psychology, Life Coaching, and Creativity and Innovation. I immediately threw out Creativity and Innovation because well…I can’t draw! I was undecided about which of the other two I would choose but I was leaning towards Spiritual Psychology.
The first year of this Master’s program was an experiential deep dive into Transpersonal Psychology. Like most of you reading this I didn’t really know what Transpersonal Psychology was…you are probably thinking “but you decided to start this program without knowing what it was???” Yup, that is exactly what I did. I was, probably for the first time in my life, listening to my intuition, and answering a deep call of my Heart. I knew that the classes focused on Spirituality, and included body psychology, both areas that wanted to dive deeper into. What I didn’t appreciate was that there was also a strong focus on creative expression during this experiential first year. I soon found myself reading many books on a wide variety of spiritual paths and practices which filled a deep hole that I had been aware of. I also found myself coloring, drawing, creating poems, writing, dancing, singing, listening to music and many other outlets of creative expression. And to my great surprise I LOVED these parts of my classes with a joy that deeply surprised me. The creative expression assignments felt like play, and they brought a new excitement into my life.
Prior to starting my Master’s field of study, I had not realized that I there was little time spent in play or playing creatively in my too busy life. This had not always been the case. From the time I was around 11 years old I sewed. My mother was a talented seamstress who passed her sewing knowledge and skills on to me. My first job in high school was in a fabric store where the discount on fabric and the creative ideas of our many customers invited my creative energy to blossom. My love of sewing led me into many other crafts that fed my need for an outlet for all my creative energy.
But then the ultimate creative outlet for a woman happened, I had three babies. I was able to occasionally continue some sewing and other crafts until my daughters started sports. Around that same time, I also returned to working full time. The priorities of working, driving kids to their many activities, running a home, coordinating all the schedules of a busy and active family of five and at the same time fulfilling the extremely important role of mother in the family edged out any time or energy for creative pursuits. Or so I thought.
The more time I spent in learning about Creativity and Innovation the more aware I became of myself as a creative being…and as all humans as creative beings. From my Judeo-Christian perspective I saw this as a reflection of a Divine Creator who created us in the image and likeness of the Divine. If the Creator is creative and we are created in the image of the Creator, then we are also creative. That means that at the very of root of our being one of our most basic needs, drives and desires is to create.
What I also began to gain awareness of was that my definition of creativity was very limited. It was limited to someone who knows how to draw, or was accomplished in some other form of “Art”…an artist. As I took more classes and began to experience more assignments around looking at things in a new, creative or innovative way I began to challenge my belief that I am not creative and came to embrace the fact that I am a very creative person. What I realized is that creativity is not limited to “art”. Creativity is a way of living your life.
What seems to help in getting people to embrace this concept is another word I have already mentioned, Innovation. In our lexicon innovation is used most often if reference to business or systems and refers to figuring out a way to do something that is new or more efficient and therefore creates more profit for the company or the innovator.
According to Merriam Webster Innovation is defined as:
1 : the introduction of something new
2 : a new idea, method, or device
The definition of creating uses words like imagination, bringing something new into existence. Living creatively and with innovation means being open to new ideas, new methods, new devices, to something new. At the core living a creative life means being open to new thoughts, ideas and ways of being.
The more I learned about creativity and myself as a creative being the more I realized that I was innovating all the time. I, like many other mothers in our culture, am a master problem solver. Day in and day out women innovatively solve the challenges of our family schedules, our children’s needs and problems, making everything happen, prioritizing and keeping all the members of our families relatively happy and healthy. And not only that but many of us are also working and we bring that amazing skill and gift to our workplaces where that ability is often taken for granted and under-valued. This ability is amazing…and it is the gift of being a creative being.
A part of most of the assignments we had in my master’s program was reflection. We would reflect on the assignment, on the lessons we learned and how those lessons could have impact on our lives from a bigger picture. Reflecting on myself as a creative being helped me realize that one of the roles that I played for the company I worked at in my final job was the creative problem solver. Anytime there was a seemingly unsolvable problem it was my responsibility to create a solution…and I did it with ease, because I am a very creative being.
As my understanding of creativity and innovation expanded so did my understanding of all the ways that my creative energy found an outlet when I wasn’t able to consciously practice creative expression. I realized that making my home attractive and comfortable and efficient and workable for our family was a creative act. And the way I dressed and discovered ways to look attractive on a limited budget also required creative energy. I loved to garden and every year I planted many containers of annuals to bring more beauty and color into our yard and our home. I began to realize that I was creating and innovating all the time. What I had lost track of, though, in the busy-ness of family and work life was the ability to consciously experience and embrace the joy of the creative act.
So, what’s the answer? The answer is practice. Just like meditation, exercise, art, cooking, really anything of value of in this life, practicing conscious awareness of yourself as a creator, as a creative being, as a force of creative energy increases your awareness and your ability to create and to innovate. And as you consciously connect to the flow of creative energy you begin to also experience more and more joy in the act of creating.
How do you practice? By doing it, by committing to it, by scheduling time in your schedule and by allowing yourself to recognize creative opportunities and embracing them without a schedule.
The final chapter of my story? I am sure that you have already figured that out. When it was time to select a specialization for my Master’s I chose a double degree, Spiritual Psychology AND Creativity and Innovation. I just couldn’t walk away from myself as a creative being once I embraced that new knowing. Let me help you find that knowing for yourself.