Getting Past Creative Road Blocks

August 17, 2014 in creative tools, creativity, inner critic, inner muse, inner wisdom, self-care, Self-Love

 
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These past weeks my family and I have been doing a lot of cycling together. While not unusual for me to cycle a lot – I began cycling again as an adult in my late twenties I tend to stick to my comfort zone in the way that I ride. For example, my kids and my husband have a knack for cycling hands free. I’d watch enviously and wish that I could, not believing I could. I even told myself that perhaps it was a “guy thing” the way they could balance themselves so well on the bike without holding on to the handlebars (like how there are certain yoga poses I can hold that they struggle with). But I wanted to be able to do be hands free in the same way with the same ease that they had.

So I pretended to try: I took one hand off of the handle, while of course hanging on with the other hand.  What if I lose my balance whispered my scared thoughts.  What if I crash?  What if I fall down? What if…….? And as the “what ifs” piled up, I lost the courage to really try.

Perhaps here is the other problem, the notion of “trying” instead of just doing.  All too often I have noticed myself and others get caught in the “try” trap.  Trying implies that there is a chance it may not happen. Trying means you are thinking about it instead of doing it.  I will try to fit in more time for myself, I will try to work on my painting. I will try to try and do something . . . 

Then on our way back after a long ride my youngest said to me “try riding with in hands mommy” and without thinking I let go of the handle bar and lo and behold I was able to ride steadily without holding on.

Let’s take a look at what had to happen for this to take place:

  • I ignored that voice inside that said I couldn’t do it
  • I acted before I could think too much about it
  • I gave up the notion of “trying” and just did it.
  • I took a chance.
  • I listened to the voice inside that said “you can do it!”

The next day when we were out riding again. I tried and had some difficulty doing it because my mind kept telling me I was going to fall.  So the other thing that holds us back is our patterns.  We often behave in habitual ways.  Daily routines of brushing teeth, showering etc. come easy to most of us because we have established these as daily routines.  Taking care of our physical selves in these ways is somehow a given.  Taking care of our emotional selves sometimes is not something as ingrained in us. It is a habit we must establish first.

Having a sustainable creative practice doesn’t just happen.  We need to do several things to make it happen.  We need to break old patterns or ways of doing things to make room for new ways. Here’s how:

1. Retrain our brain against the “I’can’ts” and “what ifs”.  To do this we must find reasons or ourselves as to why creative practice is important. You may find it helpful to make a list of your important and motivating reasons. For me this includes:

  • for release of stress
  • for inner expression
  • for connection with my creative side (which enhances the other things I do).
  • for peace of mind.

2.  Establish a set routine.

  • Sometimes it helps to schedule this in after or before other parts of your day that are already set routines.
  • Build it in to your day in a predictable way.

3. Make sure it is realistic.

  • There is no sense in scheduling something in that you know you can’t do or sustain.
  • It’s better to have some creative time once a week than not at all.
  • It’s better to create a little bit every day rather than not at all because you schedule too much or too big of a chunk of time in one day.

4.  Stick to the plan (doing not trying).

  • Set reminders on your phone or computer if need be.
  • Let others know of your “appointment” with your creative self so that you wont be interrupted or the time won’t be allotted for something else.

5.  Repeat from number 1 when needed.

 

So not that you have read this, it’s time to implement it.  Don’t wait, just act now.

 

If you need some support getting your creative practice going, join me online or in person for Art Journaling or Intuitive Painting.  Click below to find out more!

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Expanding Creative Brain

August 11, 2014 in creativity, inner critic, inspiration

 
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The picture above is from Dusk Dances here in Toronto.  Every year I go to see an array of creative performances.  They inspire me to look at the world through a different lens.  In the dance above, the dance released tiny bubble like balloons into the air at significant points in the dance.  It reminded me of letting go of the old and making space for the new.

I have in fact been trying new things lately. Things that formerly I thought I couldn’t do – or didn’t bother because I thought I wouldn’t do it well enough. As adults we can sometimes get stuck in old ways of doing things, we avoid new ways or new things because what is familiar is safe, and keeps us in our comfort zone.

This past week one such new thing for me has been to learn to play the ukulele – ok so it’s not a guitar-(wow do you hear that inner critic budding in and downplaying my new achievement?) My sons both play the ukulele, really well in fact. So when my youngest got a new ukulele I was gifted his old one. My 10 year old has been teaching me a few chords and tunes on it. And while I am by no means spectacular at it- and of course that is okay- I can play it nonetheless.

When I was 10 I remember taking guitar lessons; I struggled to learn the notes and make music and after a while just gave up. Now decades later I am learning how to play another string instrument and it feels great!

There are several things that are significant about this:

  • First off I tried something new your brain builds new neuro pathways. In other words you use more of your brain.
  • Also trying a new artistic form enhances creativity. It adds to our repertoire of expression.
  • Every time try something new and succeed we also build confidence in our ability to try new things and of course this leads to new and exciting adventures in life.
  • The more we step outside of our comfort zone the more we open our lives to new possibilities

Are there things that you have been wanting to try but have hesitated to? A friend of mine who is a psychologist began taking drum lessons shortly before she turned 60. Why? Why not?!

I know that it’s not always that easy. Sometimes we can really set up a tricky set of road blocks for ourselves stopping us from venturing into the unknown.  Next week we will take a look at some of those roadblocks and what we can do about them.

 
 

If you need some support getting your creative practice going, join me online or in person for Art Journaling or Intuitive Painting.  Click below to find out more!

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Teacher as Student

August 3, 2014 in art therapy, inner muse, inner wisdom, inspiration, intuitive painting, Painting with Your Muse

 

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It was a day of letting go of expectations, sitting with the chaos of the unknown and reflecting.

 

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Each time I run this workshop I learn something new. The wonderfully brave souls who join me don’t necessarily know it but in opening up and connecting with their creative fire they are my teachers.

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They are living examples of the complexity of creative source. I believe we are all connected. I believe we are all creative. I believe we are always learning about what we already know but are not aware. Last week’s Saturday’s Painting With Your Muse workshop reconfirmed this for me.

 

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The beginning of the workshop often is difficult for participants. They face the fear of not knowing, having been given permission to let go of expectations. They face the fear of facing a part of themselves that they may not have acknowledged. The fear of trying something new or something old in a new way looks them in the eyes.

 

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And face it they do.

 

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Artists who long to paint freely without outside expectations or constraints.

 

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Artists (for we all are artists after all whether we make our living from it or not, creativity is a common language we share though often it has been silenced) who long to connect with themselves, leaving old patterns behind.

 

 

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Artists who face the blank canvas bravely as they paint out the pain of the past. Artists who open themselves to the unknown and are confronted by paintings which teach and guide.

 

 

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As these artists and their muses go through this one day journey, I too as a witness experience a profound sense of awe at their inquiry through paint, insight, and acceptance.

 

 
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They are my teachers. And I am grateful for the opportunity to witness their transformation.

 

 

Seeing things

July 7, 2014 in art therapy, creative tools, creativity, inspiration, Nature

 

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Have you ever stared up at the clouds in he sky and found intriguing images?  Or perhaps before waking up with eyes closed an array of images float by your mind’s eye.  That is the gift of your imagination.  When we see things in other things that aren’t there essentially, our imagination is playing with us.  It is a wonderful reminder that we are forever imaginative and creative beings.

I often go for nature walks and alow my eyes to wonder to see what can be seen, beyond what is considered to be there.  Patterns in leaves, intricate weaving of spider webs, the way water creates designs in the sand as it washes over it.

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Yesterday on the beach my son brought me a special rock which he said looked like a donut.  Indeed it had a bellybutton like indent from a fossil and was round like a donut.  I of course saw a rock with a belly button, a symbol of chi energy perhaps (I had just been to acupuncture the day before where needles were stuck into my belly to make my overall energy flow better).    The point is we see what we need to see (my son had just enjoyed a vegan donut for the first time and I guess that was still on his mind).

Just as we were about to leave the beach I noticed in front of my sandy lazy legs a rock that stood out.

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I picked it up and lo and behold I saw the shape of a goddess on one side.  When I flipped it over I saw another image, a face I think.

 

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But when I arrived home with it and looked at it again I saw another goddess instead and could not see the second image that I originally saw.  So goddess it is.  I took out my pens to draw her out more.

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Creative process is there for us to access whenever we are ready.  All we have to do is allow ourselves to recognize it when it presents itself  to us in subtle ways.

 

If you need some support getting your creative practice going, join me online or in person for Art Journaling or Intuitive Painting.  Click below to find out more!

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Creative Self-Care

June 29, 2014 in art therapy, creative tools, inner wisdom, inspiration, self-care

copingcardflowers www.arttherapist.ca

 

Has fortune dealt you some bad cards? Then let wisdom make you a good gamester.

Francis Quarles

Recently at my work, a group of us came together to make coping cards. It was an exercise in exploring imagery that supports healthy ways of coping which my art therapy student, Tiffany Merrit had shared with our team. We have monthly clinical sharing meetings and my colleagues thought this would be a good activity to do together to become familiar with it to use with clients as well to support our own self-care given the  often very emotional work we do.  

coping card Me www.arttherapist.ca

The idea behind coping cards is to create reminders of things that help you through difficult days or situations using images and words that help you tap into that inner strength.  You may choose to use quotes that inspire, against a background of a calming image, or words or images that gently nudge you to remember  that you can make it through.  

Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will.

Jawaharlal Nehru

Imagery can be purposely chosen by seeking out imagery of things that help you cope when times are tough (things that have helped in the past).  Or you may want to focus on the intention of coping and your inner strength then flip through magazines or online imagery which you can print up.  Choose what jumps out at you with a big “Yes!”  You can also draw these images your self as symbols, or pick from your own photographs.  With digital imagery you could make collages of the imagery that compliments each other representing a particularly helpful way of coping and  print them up in the card size you are using.

copingcardcanoe www.arttherapist.ca

The idea is that it is a fit for you, not what you think you should choose but what feels like it will inspire you to approach a situation differently with confidence.  

Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.

Josh Billings

You can make these cards using old playing cards, pick up a deck of cards from the dollar store, or as in my case I chose some old Tarot cards (which I never learned to use) and found these to be a good size.  Simply glue your images on one or both sides and add words (optional) cut out of magazines, hand printed or typed and printed up from your computer.

copingcardTree www.arttherapist.ca
To me the key part is the imagery, because it usually has so many different and rich layers of inspiration and meaning.  There is no one right way to do this however, trust your intuition and place the imagery in ways that feel right for you.  It does not have to be complicated, it could simply be one image or a combination of two or more that go together for the same coping reminder.

Once you are done creating your coping cards you can punch a hole in the top corner of each and clip them together with a metal ring.  Remember, life is not about not  the cards that you are dealt, its’ how you play your hand!  You can also use this quote or any similar one shared here to put on  the back of each card if you like. Have fun!

 

copingcardHumour www.arttherapist.ca

Life’s too short not to laugh about yourself and the cards you’re dealt.

Mark Zupan

 

 

Create like a child

June 22, 2014 in creativity, inner artist, inner child, inner critic, intuitive painting

 

 

Petrea Hansen-Adamidis kids art www.arttherapist.ca

The other week the children’s mental health agency I work at had its annual Family Fair where families from the community were invited to our centre for activities and fun with their children. I was helping out at the community mural which we do every year and once again was privy to the wide range of approaches children have to their art. For this project children were given mini canvases with penciled in rainbows and invited to paint them to be later attached to the larger mural.

Many of the children were preschoolers who just delighted in the opportunity to try something new. There were no perceived mistakes only wonderment at what they were creating before them. Most of the preschoolers painted outside the lines and with untraditional colours for a rainbow. Heck I don’t even think they were concerned about trying to make a rainbow but rather just followed their wish to paint and the sheer pleasure of this expression.

Petrea Hansen-Adamidis paint freedom www.arttherapist.ca

The older the child the less this was so. I watched as some of the children looking at what others were doing and seemingly comparing themselves. Or they were careful to stay in the lines complying to the boundaries of the line, the concept. Still they persevered and painted offering their finished painting to the mural after. Some wanting to take theirs home, pleased with themselves and their painting.

What is it that gets in the way of our self-expression? Even at an early age you can see the desire of children to comply and please others. The habit of comparing and the self-consciousness when creating is apparent soon after kindergarten for some. Some would say we are socialized this way, to please others. Or perhaps it is at the point where we are just more conscious of the others around us. Why this translates into stifling our creative expression is a mystery.

But it’s not always this way. There is a point in our lives where we are connected to our creativity without censoring it. It’s those early years until we become self-conscious. And for some, when encouraged to be our own person we are able to find that creative and free spark within again.

I often have to remind myself to create in this way. No longer does it come naturally but rather now that I am grownup I have work at just allowing myself to play. But the more I do it the easier it gets. This is how having a creative practice can help. The more we create the easier it gets to let go of preconceived notions and expectations and create more with the freedom of a young child.

Intuitive painting allows me to find that freedom of expression that was so prevalent as a child.  Rather than basing my painting on an outer experiences and expectation it draws from an inner feeling and space as I experience the painting in the here and now and what response feels right to follow in the painting.  It’s hard to describe, but once you are in that flow you know.

 

If you need some support getting your creative practice going, join me online or in person for Art Journaling or Intuitive Painting.  Click below to find out more!

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Ways to Get your Creative on Outdoors

June 8, 2014 in art therapy, creative tools, creativity, inspiration, Nature

 
I have been enjoying the great outdoors a lot lately with the warmer weather here in Toronto.  More outside time means less in doors time doing “indoor” art.  Of course I could hull out my materials for painting and paint outside, or even grab a sketch book and pencil and sit outside and be inspired, but I’m sure these are ideas you have already had or perhaps tried.  Besides it feels like a lot of work to bring my materials outside (and I can always open the balcony door which is right beside my painting area and enjoy both worlds anyway).

 

Today I thought I would share some ways that you can connect with your creativity when you are out and about outside, that does not take a lot of planning and lugging of supplies.  These can be done in your back yard, at a local park, at the beach, on a forest or savanna hike, whatever works for you.  The key is accessibility: making art out in nature with ease and last-minute inspiration.

Here are some of my ideas.

Make a rock sculpture at the beach,

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or on a mountain top.

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Make a sand sculpture.

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Make a drawing in the sand, soil, or snow!
Leave behind nature art Andy Goldsworthy style:

Make a mandala or picture using rock/seed/leaf/ . . . .

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Make a stick sculpture or structure.

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Draw or paint on smooth rocks and leave them for others to discover.

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Make leaf people or a straw/grass doll.

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Make water drawings on the sidewalk or fence with a spray bottle or hose and watch them disappear.
Bring your camera outside and take  pictures of nature’s beauty and wonder.

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Explore macro nature photography.

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Plant flowers or herbs in a design,  use perennials and watch them come back each year!

Use twigs or dried vines in a shape to have vining plants grow around

Get out the sidewalk chalk and have some fun!

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Make a mosaic using colourful stones or broken pots.

Take a creative selfie!

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I would love to hear your ideas or things you’ve tried that worked for you! Get outside and be inspired!

 

 
 

If you need some support getting your creative practice going, join me online or in person for Art Journaling or Intuitive Painting.  Click below to find out more!

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Affirmations for Self

June 2, 2014 in art therapy, creative tools, inner critic, inner wisdom, inspiration, self-care, Self-Love

 

 

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The other day I was talking with a social worker friend and colleague about affirmations and how useful they can be. It may sound kind of hokey or cliche but they actually can work. It’s not just about focusing on the positive but rather it’s about replacing scripts that don’t serve you. When you hear that inner critic berate you for a mistake or question a decision or judge an interaction negatively, affirmations can help you focus on the messages you need to hear to move forward and offer your best to the world.

One of the things that affirmations do well is bring out your best. They do this by counteracting messages that hold you back with messages that encourage you to believe in yourself. Make no mistake, affirmations can be very powerful when used correctly.

How to use affirmations that make a difference:

First and foremost make your own! Affirmations really work best when they are written specifically for you in response to common discouraging messages or scripts you may tell yourself.

They need to speak to you. While standard affirmations that you may find may help, they need to be ones that resonate with you. If you are not writing your own, or simply find one that you like, make sure it is one that really feels good not just “looks” good.

Add a visual element to really personalize them (says the art therapist). Symbols can be powerful reminders that cue us to the feeling we wish to have and thought we want to focus on. By taking your affirmation and adding a visual symbol or even just a design around the word or words, it will register in your brain quicker give many of us are strong visual learners.

 

Self Affirmation Project:

 

  • Write down some of the messages or scripts which you’d like to get rid of.

 

  • Write a counter message using positive language (not using “nots”, writing what your strengths are not what they are not). For example if your inner critic says “You’re a looser!” rather than write “I am not a looser” you might write “I am perfect in my imperfections” or “I am worthy”.

 

  • Copy this onto one side of a cue card, use gesso on a playing card or old business card.

 

  • Sit with this affirmation, closing your eyes and repeating it, allowing whatever affirming visuals come to mind, whether its is colours, shapes or symbols.

 

  • Draw or paint your symbol or colour that matches your affirmation on the other side.

 

  • Do one for each negative/inner critic script which you would like to replace.

 

  • Carry this with you wherever you go so that you can access these messages when you need to. Business card size fits perfectly in your wallet.

 

  • Make some extras and spread them around your house, hiding them in boxes or drawers or openly on mirrors that you frequent so that you have daily reminders to focus on your strengths and worthiness!

 

If you need some support getting your creative practice going, join me online or in person for Art Journaling or Intuitive Painting.  Click below to find out more!

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Opening to Possibilities

May 26, 2014 in art journaling, inner artist, inner wisdom, inspiration, intuitive painting

 

 

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Now that you have given yourself permission to take some art time for yourself, you’ve scheduled it in and have made space for your creativity to thrive by  organizing your physical space and clearing out your mental space, quieting or at least turning down the volume of those inner critics. You are all set for sustaining  a creative practice right?

 

In theory yes, however things are never as simple as they seem on paper.    Life can get busy. Other obstructions to your creativity are bound to surface. The key is deciding when they need to be attended to because they are really a priority and when they are just excuses disguised as “more important things”  

 

One way to tell is by tuning in to how you are feeling. If any of the feelings that are coming up coincide with your original excuses for not doing art or arise out of self-critical thinking, then in all likelihood whatever it is that is trying to jump ahead of queue (and delaying your art time) may just be an excuse.

 

If you think of your art time as sacred “me time”. This is a time that is for you to unwind, release stress or express for your own peace of mind.  Over time you’ll begin to see it as a necessary part of your daily or weekly routine which is essential for other areas of your life to run smoothly.  Because “all work and no play” just doesn’t cut it!  Also, it may help if you think of this art time as an appointment with your Self or inner Muse which thrives on consistency. In that sense, it’s vital that you maintain these appointments much like you may keep a doctor’s appointment.

 

If you cancel a doctor’s appointment do you skip it altogether or reschedule it?  So if something comes up where you have to delay your art time, it’s important to continue to respect your time by rescheduling in time for that day or week if possible. Be honest with yourself.

 

Time often is an excuse to avoid, and may be a sign of fear of change.  “I don’t have time to make art” often stems from discomfort with change in a routine. Effort is involved after all. But in order for shifts to occur for the better in your life and to move beyond your comfort zone, there needs to be some embracing of change. When we open ourselves up this way we are in fact opening our lives to new possibilities. 

 

When I found myself falling back on the “there is no time” excuse, I looked for ways to make the space. I predicted when it would be an issue and prepared some quick ways which I could access my art making thus giving myself the space while conserving time.  Art journaling is one of the ways I did this.  I also would work on my intuitive paintings in blocks of time rather than trying to get it all done in one day b(though a workshop helps with this).  Leaving my art out to remind and inspire me also helps me grab some time for this precious practice  whenever I have a little bit of down time.

 

There are always ways around the excuses. It may just take some effort at first to get past them. But then you’re worth it right ?

 

 

If you need some support getting your creative practice going, join me online or in person for Art Journaling or Intuitive Painting.  Click below to find out more!

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Holding Space

May 18, 2014 in art therapy, creativity, inner critic, inner wisdom, Self-Love

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Last week we talked about the importance of permission for beginning the creative process.  We may want to have a regular creative practice, however, waiting for everything to be perfect and “aligned” is not realistic.  Let’s face it there will always be room for excuses not to start as long as we do not give ourselves fully the permission we need to begin.  But what happens after we begin and resistance shows up via those judgemental inner critic voices that tell us we are not worthy enough to be expressing ourselves through the arts?  Can we sustain a creative practice if those inner critics keep piping up?

 

My answer, YES! Inner critics can guide us and alert us to what needs tending to.  They remind us when we need nurturing by their over zealous critiquing.  It’s unrealistic to expect not to have any inner critic voices, but unnecessary to listen to their bantering.  One way to turn the volume down on those judgemental messages we sometimes tell ourselves such as  “You can’t paint! . . . You’re wasting your time! . . . . You’re not creative!” is to tune into what these messages are really telling you.   These messages point to fears, fears based on shadows from the past, critical voices and non-supportive experiences that may be haunting us.

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Once we can identify the messages and decipher their true meaning and origin we can begin to move past the restrictions of these messages and feel safe to explore our creativity more freely.  In therapy we sometimes refer to it as holding space, making the space safe enough for clients to feel that they can express themselves freely without the repercussions of judgement.  In my workshops I guide participants to follow this same stance, one of acceptance of self through self-compassion and empathy.  We do this by creating new scripts to counter and often replace the scripts that no longer serve our creative practice.

 

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Like anything in life we can’t try something new until we try something new.  Often to try something new we need to take a new perspective.  It is when we begin to see things through these new lenses that we open ourselves up to new possibilities.  But it takes effort.  Like nurturing a plant; watering it consistently, protecting it from pests, and providing an environment where it can grow, we need to take a similar line of consistent nurturing of our creativity.  Permission is not a one time thing, it is constant.  We need to keep working at our creative practice, hence why it is called a “practice”.

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In any case it means finding what works for you.  It may take some digging to find out what it is that you need most to support your creative practice.  But most certainly it means being willing to explore paths and identify obstructions.  Then you can move forward and start to create that holding space that will support your creative expression.  Sometimes we don’t get it right, right away.  Most times it’s a matter of trail and error.  Just know that this is all part of the process, and in exploring these areas we deepen our connection to self and our creative practice.

 

 

If you need some support getting your creative practice going, join me online or in person for Art Journaling or Intuitive Painting.  Click below to find out more!

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