First 9 days of the gratitude journal ~ 2017
Apart from wanting to help people achieve their creative dreams, there is evidence that being creative is good for your health. In The art of being mentally healthy, Dr Christina Davies et al. from UWA suggest that two or more hours a week of arts engagement is associated with mental health benefits.
What, you say? Yes, of course, you WANT to … but are you having trouble committing to doing something creative? Or to any other worthwhile pursuit for that matter?
Like motivating yourself to exercise, eat well or change to any healthier habit, sometimes we need to kick start ourselves by committing to something tangible. Creativity is no different.
So how can we get going? Here are some strategies that I’ve found helpful:
Name it in beautiful, confronting, terrifying, real words.
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Three-and-a-half months ago, I finished a year of making things. Guided by Noah Scalin’s wonderful book, 365: A Daily Creativity Journal, I succeeded in making something new. Every single day. For an entire year.
The tagline of Noah’s book is “Make something every day and change your life.” Life-changing results from merely making things? At the outset of this creative journey, that sounded grandiose. But I’m an optimist and a believer. And now that I’m on the other side of the work, I can vouch for his lofty claim.
When Noah asked me to explain how the project changed my life, here’s how I answered:
Practically speaking, during the 365 days, the project changed my rhythm and routine. In order to get the “making” done, other activities went by the wayside. Some were good omissions, like watching TV…
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Here’s a list of behaviors that can help ward off depression:
eating a healthy diet
maintaining a support system (keeping in contact with people who care about you)
spending time in nature
7 Habits To Fight Depression
Fighting depression is tough. Thankfully, there are some behaviors that tend to keep the foe at arm’s length.
You can use a simple technique to have a behavior well on its way to occurring automatically within a week.
The technique I’m talking about is BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits.
One trick is to keep the behavior something you can do in less than thirty seconds. By making it short and sweet it becomes something you can do pretty much however you feel.
Another key is to anchor it to something, preferably associated with the habit behavior, you do every day. After every occurrence, carry out the tiny habit.
The third trick is to reinforce the behavior each time you do it. Little celebrations, such as humming a victory fanfare or pumping your fist in the air, release endorphins in your brain.
Depression is a cruel son…
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I have been reflecting on the importance of kindness recently. What strikes me is that acts of kindness can be random or intentional, big or small, but even the small ones can make a huge difference.
One stands out for me many years after it occurred.
When I was a junior doctor working at a large tertiary hospital, a number of the rotations required us to do overnight ward cover. These could be gruelling, particularly covering medical specialities where you would be the only doctor in the hospital looking after some seriously unwell people with very complex conditions on a number of different wards all over the site. You can’t plan the work to any great degree as the job is to respond to things that come up and need urgent attention. Weekend nights could be especially tough as the usual medical teams often hadn’t been in to review their patients…
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What is healing?
Don’t know. What’s being healed?
When it comes to us, to humans,
Healing is probably countless acts and feelings.
All the actions we take to live today and tomorrow,
To live for and with others…acts of love,
Acts of self-respect and respect for others.
Love that is the love of caring,
And being cared for and of knowing you’re loved,
Has to be in the mix to heal as a human.
Love among humans is simple and infinitely complex.
Love among humans is what keeps us alive,
The hope that carries us through our dark passages.
When it is given, shared and received
With the intent to heal then healing can happen.
That may not be the answer to the question,
What is healing, but it does allow us to thrive.
We walk this good earth so very briefly.
We are fortunate to do so.
We are especially fortunate in our time
When we act to care for others as ourselves.
Then we can experience the richness of life.
Then we can experience the rich peace
Of healing others and being healed.
Perhaps, healing is as simple as that.
Copyright © 2014 John I. Cardwell
But available to anyone who wants to use it.
John Cardwell was once a farm boy. John has long been an organizer, policy writer, and director of advocacy organizations in Indiana. He has now ventured into poetry and tales with words previously appearing in the Tipton Poetry Journal.
Christy Birmingham with another collaboration … Soar!
Bring on the latest collaboration between Jolie Buchanan and Christy Birmingham! I am so pleased with this mixed-media project as it is uplifting for both Jolie’s artwork and my poem.
We started this project a few months ago and are happy to reveal the result today. It all began with artist Jolie. She cleverly used homemade paper (made from recycled white office paper), a carved linoleum block of a stenciled bird, a hand printer press onto watercolor, Photoshop and …. Wowowowow, and she crafted the resulting image below! Obviously the process was a lot more complex than I explained here but if you’re curious about it be sure to ask Jolie. Her contact details are at the end of the post.
After I had received her image by email, I was happy to use it as inspiration for a poem.
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Poking at my ribs,
Your fingers were hard as tree branches –
And your mind wasn’t any softer.
You told me to do more, see more,
And my heart fell into itself when you
Said the words feel more.
You played the song of doubt with
Too many choruses, and I forced myself to
Sway along with every oppressive note.
Those were the melodies and I was the girl
Who feared she had no branches of her own,
Who wanted only to build roots with you and
Grow, in a field that I didn’t realize was
Cluttered already with foreign bosoms.
I needed my own sunlight, I see that now, and
You poked a bit too much at the body of
This woman who wants to keep dreaming for more.
©2014 Christy Birmingham
Christy Birmingham is a poet, author and freelance writer in British Columbia, Canada. Her debut poetry collection Pathways to Illumination is available exclusively at Redmund Productions. If you haven’t been by her blog Poetic Parfait, yet, check it out. You can also find Christy on Twitter.
Original – Watercolor and Wax