‘Creativity is not a solitary movement. That is its power. Whatever is touched by it, whoever hears it, sees it, senses it, knows it, it’s fed. That is why beholding someone else’s creative word, images, and ideas fill us up and inspire us to do our own creative work. A single creative act has the potential to feed a continent. One creative act can cause a torrent to break through stone.’
Clarissa Pinkola Estés
The beginning of this new year can be stressful and triggering for many of us.
From a new diet to exercising, many of us may have made unrealistic or hard to follow plans. Consequently, we may need to care for ourselves more carefully and tenderly.
The collective energy also is profoundly unsettled. The economy wobbles, and inflation affects many people. Folks are struggling to keep their homes warm.
In Peru, there are protests and violence in the streets. The government has declared a state of emergency whilst removing a President elected by the people. I worry because I have friends there whose livelihood depends on tourism.
So, if you are navigating turbulent waters, you are not alone and have my empathy and solidarity.
Whether you are dealing with anxiety caused by uncertainty, responsibilities towards ageing parents or your children, worries about work or some extra personal challenges added to the holidays’ mix, you could include some practices to have some creativity and nourishment in this pot!
‘Creativity is harnessing universality and making it flow through your eyes.’
Below I am sharing three simple invitations that can help you engage creatively with the intensity of these times.
1) Write your thoughts first thing in the morning for at least three weeks.
You will be surprised by the potency of writing without censorship allowing your stream of consciousness. The beauty of this process is that it is all about giving yourself permission: there is no right or wrong way to do this, and you don’t need to be nice, perfect, or write pretty things. Its power lies in the possibility of including the petty, the bad and the ugly. It is a process where you may face your inner critic, censor, gremlins or separate parts: they are welcome to the party and can also have a voice! Silly, naughty and repetitive thoughts or lack of originality can have a place too.
This practice will allow you to empty your mind, create space and put on the page stuff that may otherwise distract you or become clutter during the day. Something magical may happen and open up as a result of it. Your inner artist and magical child may come too. And the process of writing may enhance the mind’s capacity to create images, associations and evocative thoughts. That is healing and rewarding in itself.
Writing first thing in the morning is a way to include a creative and meditative process that allows you to listen to yourself profoundly and may stir you in unpredictable directions. You may hear a part of yourself that was in silence or forgotten, discover uncharted territories and truly nourish the map of your imagination.
Moreover, you may reflect upon this last year’s gift, struggles, blessings, and challenging and beautiful moments and see what direction you want to take next year.
I recently started the Artist’s Way, and I am following the task of writing daily morning pages as recommended in the book. One of the things I love the most about it is the possibility of starting the day by doing something for myself rather than switching on the computer or working. It sets a different and beautiful energy that I carry throughout the day.
2) Create an altar in your home or outdoors.
I love creating some corners in my house that represent beauty and an invocation of the elements, life cycles or energy I want to call in and welcome. You can see some of my simple creations indoors and outdoors in the pictures above.
It’s also a good idea to include a word representing the energy you want to welcome next year on your altar! I have many; one for sure is ease!
There are many ways to create an altar and no fixed recipe. For example, you could put on it some water in a bowl or a shell to thank the water and welcome fluidity and freedom of expression in your life.
You could go for a walk and find stones, sticks or feathers. Earth energy will remind you of your roots and abundance and that we are all an expression of her body. You could put a candle on the altar; fire is an element that can help you transform, alchemise, and illuminate your life. Wind will support you to dream, have different perspectives, embrace the big picture, and so on. Ask each element which gifts you can offer, so you can be open to reciprocity and tap into the creative power of giving and receiving. These above are just examples; the possibilities I mentioned don’t occur simply by wishful thinking. An altar is a reminder of what matters to you, a living prayer related to what you want to engage with. You will then need to align your actions, meditation or spiritual practice, creative process, etc.
If you go outdoors, you can set an intention to be guided and find what wants to be part of your altar project. Listen to the wind, ask for the signs and welcome synchronicities! This way, you can nourish your intuition and relationship with the living Earth.
Indoors, I particularly like having plants, fairy lights, salt lamps and colourful lights, as my inner child loves them. They cheer me up and make the atmosphere warm and cosy. Moreover, my eyes and whole nervous system rest when I pause, look and breathe in the beautiful little things I put on my altar. I feel comforted and nourished.
Creating an altar is an opportunity to honour the Solstices and Equinoxes, the change of the season, the relationship with the Elements, the possibility to go inward or outward, and acknowledge moments of transitions.
If you have a garden, you could decorate a tree outdoors and offer something to the tree: fruit, milk, honey, or also a little bit of wine, as a way to give thanks to life, all the learnings, and as a way, if you wish, to also include your ancestors.
You can read more about connecting to the land and the elements by clicking here.
3) Engage with your community!
In our contemporary society, we live in the narrative of separation, and we are used culturally to taking more than we need, especially from the Earth. When we take care of the Earth, the Earth heals us.
Our life depends on the health of our planet.
Our ancestors, also in European traditions, knew how to live in reverence, community and reciprocity, and we carry this memory in our cells and bones.
We are mammals and need each other to thrive, blossom, and regulate at a very intuitive and primal level. We are wired for connection, companionship and warmth. Our nervous system evolved this way, and our bodies produce chemicals and hormones such as oxytocin which are associated with trust, relationship-building and empathy. So during these challenging times, I invite you to connect to your community as much as possible.
We should be doing much more healing, creative and repairing work together. In our individualistic culture, we tend to treat many aspects of our life as personal issues.
Moreover, being in service of life is healing. Many studies show that generously supporting others helps the giver/helper and relieves depression and anxiety. In some of the most challenging moments of my life, I found meaning, purpose and solace in volunteering.
Help a friend who is struggling.
Buy some food for a homeless person.
Call somebody who is alone.
Take a friend out to lunch.
Offer appreciation to the people in your life.
Uplift somebody else’s work.
I know that many of you already do a lot: there are therapists and healers among my readers! So I am not inviting you here to overburden yourself or give from an empty cup. You need to rest and take care of yourself. Ask for support when you need it. You deserve that.
This invitation is not about draining yourself. On the contrary, it is about nourishing the cycle of giving and receiving, offering and taking.
I also invite you to experiment with fun and creative ways to engage with your community.
You could make some gifts with your hands to get out of your head and rediscover activities that nowadays are replaced by machines. It can be a sensual and life-affirming experience.
For example, you could respectfully harvest some plants depending on where you live (i.e. I have plenty of sage and rosemary here) and dry them. Invite your friends! This way, you could gather people and deepen your relationship with the land and its medicinal plants.
You can then make some tea or put the dried plants in sachets that can go in drawers to give a pleasant smell to clothes. If you feel more adventurous, you could also make a tincture!
You can invite a friend and bake some yummy cakes or biscuits! They have a better taste and are indeed healthier. As somebody who lives abroad and away from family, I always appreciate receiving a homemade cake. Something is comforting about this kind of gift: it makes me feel included and cared for and reminds me of my grandparents’ love.
It does not matter what you decide to do, whether you want to stitch, make a blanket, or prepare your famous granny’s recipe; according to Taoism, a meridian connects the hands to the heart! So, when you use your hands, you also enhance your heart’s energy and sense of touch.
Last but not least, you can also take advantage of this exploration to look for items that you put away and can be reused: you may have a toaster, juicer, blender, coffee machine, pot, and unused clothes still in good condition that could make someone else truly happy. You could have a clothes swap in your home, exchange books and seeds, gather to sing songs or even have a boot sale. Get creative with that! A friend told me a few days ago that she met with some neighbours to write postcards that a charity delivers to people in hospitals. What a great idea!
And remember, if you decide to buy, you can engage with your community and purchase from local artists and artisans, shop locally, and support traditional products! Many activities and products are nearly lost (i.e. handmade baskets), and it is essential to protect them. You could find something rare and precious if you intentionally look for it. I recently bought an original and simple painting from a local artist as a gift for a birthday. Using our power as consumers, we are also making political and spiritual statements; it is an act of creative change that impacts the Earth’s delicate ecosystem and our communities.
Feel free to hit the reply button and get in touch. I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you are up to!