We are life artists, regardless of our canvas

A long entry this month my friends,
but there was much to say!

No time to read? Listen here! 

In my book Braving It, I told the story of Max, a friend with clinical depression all his life. One thing always made him feel better: caring for his horses. Then, one day, something more: as he sat making Playdough horses with his nephew, Max realized just how much creating these magnificent animals brought him a kind of joy he didn’t think was possible for him.

It was the spark of an idea: Max decided to offer workshops where people suffering with depression, going through recovery, or experiencing emotional distress would build the musculature of a horse out of clay, layering it piece by piece with their hands onto a small skeleton until they had created the entire animal. His idea brought recovery and joy to hundreds of people.

Have you had this feeling?

One of Max’s favorite sayings was, “The mind cannot forget what the hands have done.” And in that I understood his whole philosophy. There was a deep peace participants would feel working with their hands, along with a sense of empowerment from what they could create: an entire magnificent animal. This was a process they could never read or hear about or see someone else do — it was something they had to create for themselves with their own hands, slowly piece by piece, and in doing so, experience calm and joyful understanding.

Have you had this feeling? Maybe while you made a cake, planted a garden, played around on your guitar riffing the notes to a song, or built something in your woodshop?

Author Brenda Ueland wrote about the incredible importance of creative expression. From her book If You Want to Write:

Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express. Try not expressing anything for 24 hours and see what happens. You will nearly burst. You will want to write a long letter or draw a picture or sing or make a dress or a garden. …[W]riting or painting is putting these thoughts on paper. Music is singing them.

You are creative

There is an inherent creativity in each of us. (Yes, there is!) We are unique, we know this. No one has ever been here before with our one-of-a-kind combination of genetics, circumstances, talents, and ways of seeing the world. We all spent time as children creating: with mud, fingerpaints, crayons, pots and wooden spoons, yarn, clay, and more.

When we create, we use our own beauty and uniqueness of expression to make something brand new. The world has never seen that before because we’ve never been here before. And in a very real way, we owe it that. It’s our responsibility to be honest and brave enough to share our unique gifts and viewpoints while we’re here. The world wants our unique contribution while we’re here. It’s one reason we ARE here. To create, and when we do, to feel fulfilled, valued, and joyful…and hopefully to inspire someone else to do the same.

We walked right in

When we were young, we knew how important creativity was. Our sense of self was unencumbered and pure. We didn’t worry about what anyone would think…was it good enough? Worthy? Marketable? Chances are it was bad, clumsy, noisy, and messy, but that made no difference. Our world was open and inviting, and we walked right in.

We can reclaim this curiosity and with it, our gentle vulnerability, silliness, patience, and joy. We are life artists, regardless of our canvas, and our art makes us healthy and beautiful from the inside out.