I have always, desperately wanted to be creative and despite doing a BA hons. in Theatre Studies I never considered myself as such. My degree was quite academic, rather than a performing arts piece, although we did do some practical and I always struggled with it and often opted for the highly practical technical side, although I have to say my stage management skills have stood me in good stead over the years.
But since my illness has started to have more of an impact I have assessed what is important in my life, and it turns out that creativity is! So, I have started drawing/painting, writing and playing music an awful lot more. And it has made a great difference to my life and made me much more happier and more content.
I think this is because of several reasons. With my flute I am making a lot of progress in my playing, I am getting better all the time! This is partly because I was at quite a low level to start with, but mainly because I have joined a concert band and now hear other flute players, who are much better than me, regularly. My tone has developed a lot as a result. In addition as I am playing music that is much more difficult than I would normally play it is stretching me.
As Gretchen Rubin says in the Happiness Project one of the key things to being happy is growth – self development, learning something new. I really believe this to be true. There is something wonderful about playing in a band with other people, when everything comes together and we are playing in harmony it just sounds amazing.
Yesterday we were given a new piece, which I know in the past would have thrown me, but I was able to sight read it without too much difficulty. I felt so proud of myself. In addition we went over one of the more complicated pieces and I found myself playing parts of it which in the past I struggled with (to be honest mimed in performance!) easily. I couldn’t hear myself from the rest of the flutes- which is a really good thing.
I have always wanted to write and I have now given myself permission to finish the non fiction guide book I have been working on for over a year and even start writing fiction, which is what I have always wanted to do. It is really scary, and I am not sure I will be sharing any of it with anyone for a while yet, but at least I am doing it. I am taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo this month.
My soulbook is another key part of my creative practice now, I work in it everyday and it is sometimes a sketchbook, a scrapbook or a journal. Sometimes a combination of all three and sometimes it takes on a life of its own and becomes it’s own thing. It is really helpful in figuring out who I am – I really see it as my anchor and my compass to my true self and feelings.
And of course a lot of the work that I do is highly creative as well, in fact it is even part of my strap line of my business. I am a creative, strategic thinker and do-er; writer, researcher and mentor. Amusingly it took me quite a few years to be able to claim the title of creative for myself. For some reason it has felt like a big scary thing to do. But I feel much more authentic for doing so.
All in all focusing on creativity this year has really helped me to be more myslf and to be more content.
I guess essentially the main focus of the year has been contentment, and compassion and creativity have been the underlying principles to build that into my life.