How often do you find yourself picking up a book? What kind of books do you read nowadays? What kind of books have you enjoyed in the past? You might be like me. I love to read. I read to learn, I read to entertain myself, and I sometimes read to relax before going to sleep.
But I don’t have as much time for reading these days as I would like to. There are just too many equally interesting and important things vying for my attention during the day, and when it’s time to go to sleep, my eyes are usually far too heavy to read more than two sentences! So I’ve recently started listening to novels in the car. I commute over two hours a day and wanted to find a useful way to spend that time, so I started listening to audio books. Now, to be fair, it’s chick lit and not particularly taxing (well, I am concentrating on driving!), but I’m finding it a whole other kind of rewarding experience to listen to a story being told to me – and on some level it brings back memories of childhood when my parents used to read stories to me.
A New Reading Experience
But audio books is not the only method I have found to have new reading experience. I recently got the opportunity to read a book as part of an online class where I would have to read a chapter and then do something with it – an art project. I signed myself up and embarked on a new adventure of experiential reading. The book was “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown and the course was a joint venture between Brené and Oprah Winfrey.
This book contains ten guideposts for wholehearted living. Each week, you read a guidepost and then have to complete a creative activity that relates to the content of the chapter. The one I was working on this week was “Cultivating Creativity”. Each week, I’ve learned something new about myself, and this week was no different. You know that feeling you get when you read something and you can literally hear all the pennies drop one-by-one in your head because you are suddenly able to understand – well that happened to me this week! Here’s why.
Creating Cultivates Meaning
Brené writes that our unique contribution to this world will come from our creativity. She writes that there is no such thing as creative and non-creative people. In all her research over the years, she has found that we all have creativity, and it is either used, or not. Suppressing our creativity is not particularly healthy for many different reasons and it cheats us from really putting our unique mark on the world because creativity cannot be taught. It comes from within and it is our authentic way of expressing our true selves and providing true meaning. If we want to create meaning, we need to make art.
The great news is that art comes in many different forms. Cooking, doodling, drawing, painting, knitting, jewellery-making, baking, writing, dancing, decorating, singing, and photography are just a few examples. Notice how many of them are about creating something from nothing, or something whole from many pieces. If you do any of these things, think about and notice how you feel while you are doing it or just afterwards. I bet that you lose track of time, you get engrossed, and you become a much more vibrant version of yourself that may continue for a while after you’ve moved on to other things. What comments do others share with you? How do you feel about yourself in those moments?
And this is where the pennies all started to drop for me. Over the last few years, I have acquired an interesting collection of hobbies and now I understand why!
- Summer 2008, I was unemployed for about 3 months and threw myself into photography to give me something to do besides job hunting
- Summer 2010, I was unemployed for about 3 months and I redecorated my house and took up jewellery making
- Summer 2011, I was unemployed for about 3 months before returning back to the UK, and I took up knitting (my friends were all having babies and baby clothes are so quick and cute to knit!)
- Winter 2011, I was unemployed, recently returned to the UK from Florida, and readjusting to life back in the UK and I helped my mum redecorate parts of her house, I had several knitting projects on the go, and I continued with my jewellery making
- I’ve always enjoyed cooking at the weekends and find it very relaxing and even better when I get to share the eating!
During these times of unemployment, I had no sense of myself and my purpose. And I learned this week that instead, I found creative outlets that filled in the gaps. I started to create things with my hands that gave me a sense of accomplishment, that garnished the world around me, and gave me an identity when I didn’t have a job to provide that.
I was happier. I was amazed at my own skill and talent. I had never considered myself to be creative – hated art classes at school, can’t draw well, didn’t like painting, and generally struggled with doing it on demand at 10am every Monday for a year at school – I’m sure you can relate! But this was different. It was on my terms, my interests, my expression of my own unique creativity. And it helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life.
I never expected to be unemployed as often, nor as long as I was, but it happened. And I am, in many ways, grateful and thankful for it because now I get to live a richer and fuller life with various creative hobbies to share with the world around me.
And my latest hobby/creative pursuit – writing blog articles! Who knows what will come next?!
Shine Your Creative Light
What about you? What creative pursuits do you have? How have you found them? I can’t wait to hear.
Your First Stepping Stone