a look at the creative process in women's lives
Most women live out their usual days with the creative life a distant dream. Our hours are consumed with responsibilities that seem hopelessly demanding. Much of our creative energy goes toward solving one crisis after another. We certainly don't feel creative, and there is good reason for this. We live in a culture that tends to see only the arts as creative endeavors.
Painting a picture, writing poetry, producing a play; these are considered creative acts. Making a quilt, decorating a home or cooking a gourmet meal are questionable. Teaching a classroom of children, planning a sales campaign, or nursing an elderly relative are not even considered. Creativity has come to be defined by the product.
In truth, creativity is a state of being, a way of meeting the challenges involved in bringing any project to completion. A five-year-old drawing a house can be just as creative as a fifty-year-old designing an office building. A mother feeding her baby while reading to her three-year-old is quite as creative as a director balancing the needs of two actors. Any one of these women might be immersed in the creative flow or they might simply be getting the job done. It all depends on their relationship to the process.
The difference between acting creatively and engaging in a routine activity has more to do with the outlook of the woman than the desired result. Creativity involves being open and aware of the task at hand. If our mind is racing with thoughts of what we must do tomorrow or concern about an upsetting incident that happened last week, it is almost impossible to get into the creative flow. In some situations we simply have to accept that something must be done. There is no choice but to get on with it in spite of these distractions. The undertaking becomes a rote occupation while the mind wanders elsewhere. But the soul seeks creative space to thrive.
Women must find a way to take time to observe, listen, and let in all that our senses can bring us. We need moments when we can assimilate all this information; time for the reverie that allows our intuition to dance with our analytical minds. This process feeds our spirit and we discover that miracles can come of this union. Often in this state we discover a sense of timelessness. How satisfying it is to patiently help a child put a puzzle together or to cut out the pieces for a quilt with full attention on patterns and color. Even planning a staff meeting for the next day is far more productive and satisfying if a businesswoman is fully engaged in the plan rather than dwelling on what she might fix for dinner or wondering if she will make it to the day care center on time.
Creativity may be a joyous experience, deeply moving, or it might touch us with old grief. In the creative state we are fully open and without walls of denial surrounding us, feelings flow freely and are sometimes painful. A memory comes to my mind of helping a troubled boy read a story in a textbook about the last blue whale. The story was on about the third grade level and hardly great literature. When the reading was done there were tears in my eyes. The boy, a fifth grader, was a bit uncertain about my reaction but sympathetic. That memory comes back, time and again.
Fostering your creativity will bring enjoyment in the process of working toward goals and satisfaction with accomplishments. But creativity doesn't promise that there will be no barriers, no frustrations, and no failures. Instead creativity will reach into your deepest self; it will continually press and challenge you. Creativity is a process of transformation and once you seek the truly creative life there is no turning back.
Exploring Women's Creativity © 1999 Judy Anne Breneman
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