Creative Wellness and Expression

colorful painting Creative Wellness and Expression

Our lives are a work of art…

I feel revitalized and soulful when I am writing, working on creative works of art, gardening, creating a home space, or anything that uses creativity.

I could even say that I am a Writer, Poet, and Artist immersed in creative wellness.  There, I said it. Or perhaps I don’t define myself that way and simply enjoy the creative process?

And no, I don’t earn millions or even thousands from my works, and that’s okay for me.

It is part of my life personally and professionally anyway. It’s the internal process, the cultivation of wellness via creativity that I love, and I love that I can hold creative works as equally and with as much value as anything else in my life–it’s up to me.

Some art and writings I have shared, some I kept for myself. Some lasted a long time, and others were impermanent; the wind or rain took them away. I even have art permanently etched on my body.

Creative Wellness and Expression

“Art is a true global language.
It knows no nation,
it favors no race,
and it acknowledges no class.
It speaks to our need to reveal, heal, and transform.
It transcends our ordinary lives and
lets us imagine what is possible.”
R. Kamler

Since I have been young, I have pursued creating, writing, and making things. Most of us have, eh?

Think of all those hand drawings and plasters that you brought home from school. In fact, I have one of those Handprint Artworks from my son Tommy!

My mom has several painted macaroni Heather-photo Christmas ornaments of me dating back to 1st grade where I am looking mighty grumpy in my pigtails. If you must know, K through 3rd grade was my don’t-mess-with-me-rough years. (My uncle ‘accidentally backed into a tree to avoid my “You can’t make me move, you’re not my mom” 5-year-old stubbornness.)

To give you a now funny example of this: I actually walked out of my elementary school classroom in 2nd grade. I went to a neighbor’s home and told her school was on vacation. Then, when confronted by my 2nd-grade teacher, who walked to my house, I denied everything. Unsurprisingly, 2nd graders are just not as tricky or stealthy as we all thought we were!

But, I did do some good art during those years, as we all did. Evidenced by the photo-ornament sitting on my mom’s Christmas tree year after year!

The arts empower.
The arts give a voice to the voiceless.
The arts help transform communities …
R. L. Lynch

Both of my parents harbored a creative streak. My father enjoyed carving, woodworking and music; he used to play and sing with the guitar. But, my mother is the one I remember most painting, creating, making gifts, and designing our home space. I have one of her paintings hanging in my house.

However, I’d have to say that my all-time favorite artist who inspired me the most was my brother Donald who lived a very short yet artistic life. He lived with a malignant brain tumor from age five until he passed away at age 10. During that time, when he was well enough, he was always drawing. Or playing Legos.  

painting with text the true story the oen that resonates most Creative Wellness and Expression

He loved to draw transformers or any robotic space scene. He loved Garfield the Cat the most. Donald drew Garfield sleeping, being grumpy, and hating Mondays.

My all-time favorite piece of artwork is one of Donald’s Garfield drawings of Garfield hating Mondays. I love that not because it’s a pivotal piece in the world of art. I love it because he created it and I made that matter to me.

We decide what art means to us, how it touches us and inspires us.

Strangely enough, and perhaps an over-share: I have even been drawn to those velvety oil paintings–just because they would seem so lovely and soft to touch. I love the feel of velvet, and I even own several one-of-a-kind velvet patterned flare pants.

After experiencing a severe traumatic injury, where I was NOT wearing velvet flare pants, I began doing artwork and writing almost in devotion.  I explored creative work through writing and art to support healing and moving through the challenges I faced.

“Art is a wound turned into light.”
G Braque

I had quite some time to practice as my medical recovery lasted about six years and included therapeutic work plus adjunct medical needs and surgeries.

My body had set in motion the need for new stories when my accident disrupted my life and old stories. Through my writing, I had become my own storyteller, creating instead of reacting.

By writing and art,
I gave myself back a voice that is sometimes lost
when our bodies become ill, traumatized, or injured.

In my state of unwellness, creative energy felt renewing and produced its own reaction and regeneration of health, wellness, and further effort. 

It helped transform my trauma into something different, making me more resilient, healed, and empowered.   

This creative process was a path of transformation and growth. It involved going deep within, imagining, attempting something new, and uncovering a part of myself that was evolving.

A mind stretched by new experiences
can never go back to its old dimensions.
Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr.

the mountains a

In Writing and Artwork, I experienced over and over how much it helped me. Especially during the recent past six years, but also throughout my life.

Experiencing creativity can transform trauma, give our experiences a voice and impact us in so many ways. We can use that over and over. Even create a new story for ourselves through the creative process.

This is expressed differently for everyone, but we can all benefit from the wellness and health that arise from creativity. In fact, Creative work and process are one of my Seven Pillars of Health and Wellness. A method that I developed to create thriving-for-you wellness and your envisioned life.

You may have experienced this directly, or it may simply make sense to you. But if not, there is quite a bit of research and evidence to support how much practicing creativity enhances your wellness, mindset, and life.

I did a bit of sleuthing and found quite a lot of studies. Quite a few studies show that art boosts the immune system. No wonder, I ultimately healed up so well from all my procedures and surgeries! 🙂

“The arts are a critical component of healthcare.
Expressive art is a tool to explore, develop and practice creativity as a means to wellness.”

Even more, than ten years ago, a review of all the articles and research out in the world about writing, music, visual art, and dance showed that the impact on health and well-being by creative expression was positive and compelling.

More recently, we have found that practicing art and creative expression positively affect our psychology, mindset, social wellbeing, cognitive health, problem-solving, and even physical circumstances like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and immune functioning.

We humans even have access to a field of therapy known as Art Therapy. Even though it is a distinct professional field with a Master’s level and beyond education, there are aspects of Art Therapy that we can apply to help ourselves or others.

I have applied and used Art Therapy methods when working with homeless children in a transitional living center for homeless families. We had a ‘professional’ art exhibit at the local library. I am indebted to my artist friend, Jesse Castro for partnering in this project years ago. You can view an article here.

The medical profession has come a long way in recognizing the healing benefits of art.
My hope is that someday the arts will be considered as significant and essential in everyone’s lives as breathing fresh air, eating clean foods, and engaging in physical exercise.” ~ R Phillips

Over the years through many different ways of practice, I’ve benefited from and immersed in creativity for wellness, therapeutic needs, and simply for my own pleasure.

But, even though I had worked with various creative ways since I was a wee-one, I never shared my creative works. (except for grumpy-H photo Christmas tree ornament)

When I began sharing my work, I felt that I was not good enough. My art and writing were not good enough.

I was chased by self-doubt and a gigantic-beastly inner critic! In that mind mode, my creativity just shut down. I learned that true creative flow and work do not mesh well with judgment and over-criticism.

Then I realized I don’t have to be good enough; I just need to be me. And that is enough. I could take a pause when thoughts like that came up

Living is a form of not being sure,
not knowing what next or how.
The moment you know how,
you begin to die a little.
The artist never entirely knows.
We guess.
We may be wrong.
But we take leap after leap in the dark. 
Agnes De Mille

After I ‘got over’ myself and my hang-ups and stopped devaluing myself, I began to share my work. It was incredibly liberating to share my writings and creative works.

You can see some of my creative works in my small online shop, website, and even my Instagram page. Talk about putting myself out and about – I will even be publishing two books!

I choose the Open Sky.
A storm is always better than a cage

It was through all these years that I realized how my life is a living work of art and creativity is simply woven in. I realized that I am indeed a writer, poet, and artist. And that all art is relevant and matters.

I genuinely believe that our lives are our most extraordinary work of art- a living, moving and breathing creative process. 

Our lives are a work of art

In some way, we all express ourselves creatively. We might not realize it, but we do. Even how we might prepare and cook our meals can be artistic. Masonry and Tilework use creative processes. Setting up your living space, and simply how we talk with one another is expressive.

I will say again:  all art is relevant-you decide what is relevant to you, no one else. 

I have been told the exact opposite and also the same thing by professional artists.  Some say to me that not all art is not relevant. Others celebrate all creative expression. Different humans, different brains, different thoughts! We each get to decide what it is we believe.

It simply compelled me; there was a deep mine of beauty and wonder it.
Beyond that, I could not have explained why I did it.
 William Finnegan

I understand that their thought process is informed and influenced differently than mine. I can accept that and think differently. And, it’s okay that we think differently. Neither way is better. It just makes life (and art!) more interesting. I love that I can accept something, yet not agree with it. Acceptance does not equal agreement.

Recently, I read some beautiful sentences about creative works and art written by a normal-everyday-artist like myself. The person described how they had this moment as a creative person when they realized the art and creative work they had viewed as magic or beyond their reach suddenly became understandable.

The creative work they had viewed as magical became accessible.

The person realized that on the other side of that magic, that art was simply another human being. Another human doing what they loved-which happened to be art. 

That person realized, hey! They were a human being too. This meant that if they worked at it, they could do the same thing—create magic—create art. It was not out of their reach.

Begin with Magic

I loved that so much-someone changed their own mind and believed differently. We all can do that.

image with text weave what you want into being for Creative Wellness and Expression

You can go to school for art or not.

You can sell your work or not.

Yes, you can have an agent or a gallery or not.

It’s okay, and it works. We each get to decide.

I know some people who professionally practice art, and I know some people who personally practice art.

Art is simply art.

Some artists, like anyone else, love their lives and find internal happiness and success. Others struggle with angst and think they will be only happy by achieving the next external goal of art-based success. Different thoughts, different lives, different ways.

Creative Work is simply Creative Work.

They all still love their creative work. Yet, neither’s art is better than the other. And receive wellness and benefits from expressing themselves creatively.

We all can participate.
Together.

Each artist is choosing how to approach their craft, just like anybody and anything else. Each of us also finds certain works more pleasing than others, but that is unique to our individual preferences. That does not mean the art that I prefer is better, it’s just what I like.

I invite you to walk along that path as well and explore some creative work and processes. Knowing you can do what works for you. Sometimes, we benefit from simply engaging our senses when we experience another person’s art. Or when we experience our own.

Notice the art in your daily life
flowers

Take time for the experiential art and creativity in nature.  Take a pause and notice all the patterns, colors, and variety of our environment. Notice the art in the sounds of nature, the music.

Notice the creative patterns in Nature

What can we do to help ourselves explore the creative process and expression? See below for a Creative Wellness PDF that I made for you to explore wellness through creative works.

I imagine that you may already be doing creative things in your life that may not be defined that way. Redefine! Learning something new is creative, solving a problem is creative, figuring out how to arrange something in your life or home is creative.

Then, there are pursuits like singing, dancing, playing, drawing, painting, or playing music. Spending time in nature enhances creativity–like taking a walk.

Creative expression helps you be in a Flow State

Thinking outside the box, outside of black and white, right or wrong, is creative. Traveling is a physical expression of creativity.  Writing and journaling can help you express creativeness as well. See below for a Journaling Page for you to use.

If you explore making creative works, It is essential to know that you do not need to buy expensive supplies. Repurposing what you have and finding sustainable earth-friendly art supplies can have significant impacts.

I have been delving into ways to improve those areas in my life and creative work so that I am strongly aligned with my values of creating a sustainable environment and not harming our earth.

At first, I was shocked at how toxic art supplies, especially paints, and how we dispose of them. Not only to our water and earth, but our air quality especially when venting toxic fumes into the air.

You might not even think about this as maybe you have been doing the same method for years. But consider it. There are some small easy shifts you can take.

Over the past few years, I’ve been taking some steps to invest in earth-supportive and sustainable materials. It’s challenging but also powerful as it brings more pause consciousness into the creative process. I make more reflective choices, repurpose more, and even share material.

It is incredible the steps we can take when we become aware of what we weren’t aware of! It sounds silly, but just noticing can be profound.

Let’s stand for what we stand on

How as artists and writers can we continue their craft in a way that improves and does not hurt our environment? It’s time for us to include these questions in our personal and professional practices–it’s challenging but worth it on many levels.

The Healing Power of Art and Artists can help you do that. See below for more information. Then, also see below for an article on some great resources for being sustainable via your tools, paints, and disposal methods!

Creative expression and art can pretty much be anything. You figure out what works for you.

Remember your life is your practice. And your life is a work of art. You are already doing it! Just Notice.


In gratitude,

Heather's Signature

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