Post 20: Creative Brain Workout

Hello everyone, I am very excited to be back on the ReCreate stage with a new blog post for May!

In my last post I talked about balancing work, parenting and sanity while working from home during the Covid- 19 pandemic. This time I intend to highlight a more personal approach regarding what I do to keep the creative brain active.

The word ‘Creativity’ can mean so many things, and at times can be a pretty daunting word. I looked it up to see what the dictionary has to say and was interested to note that use of the word has become increasingly more popular on a steep incline, since the 1920’s. Other words associated with ‘Creativity’ are: ‘Inventiveness’, ‘imagination’ and ‘innovative’. How do you feel about these words? Do you embrace them? Do they even make you feel a little uncomfortable? Personally, I believe creativity can come in an abundance of forms and appear in even the most mundane of jobs and routines.

For example, do you ever observe the way you wash dishes, make a cup of tea or tell a story to a friend? I find it interesting to see how a simple job like washing dishes requires a level of creative input – from stacking the plates so we don’t end up with breakages, to getting full usage out of the available space on the draining board and drying properly. Likewise, when making a cup of tea you must have the right colour and flavour, right? Even something so mundane can involve mini creative choices, particularly if you are faced with the challenge of making multiple cups of tea for several people with varying tastes. After all, you are performing colour mixing for specific shades, technical stuff right there!

What about when you tell a story to a friend? This requires imagination and decision making to pick the most relevant details to keep your audience engaged. So there you have it, ‘Creativity’ needn’t be a scary word.

The creative brain needs exercise, and during this pandemic I have been fortunate enough to have a job that requires a daily brain workout. You may have seen some of our Creative Shed/Creative Corner videos on YouTube over the past 2 months. Like so many people I find it tricky to switch my work brain off and you can guarantee that when I up to my elbows in washing up bubbles, I am always wondering what things might be useful for the next video or making session. Just like balancing work and parenting I have to do the same with balancing my creative brain engaging in functional activities and those purely personal.

I feel that wonderful creative habits have been formed with a lot of us recently, and I hope many of us choose to continue this well beyond this pandemic, when we will be frolicking again, restriction free. For example, I now belong to a weekly online club called Little Islands Art Club which takes place every Saturday. This is my focused, personal, alone, child free, meditative, creative outlet time, where us adult participants never know what we will be doing. It has turned into a real staple and positive brain workout during my weekly structure. Just like the gym, some weeks I do feel like ‘urgh, I don’t wanna go!’, but in the end you’re always glad you pushed yourself and did it.

As another example, I actively decided to challenge myself and do a weekly window display in our front room window. As the weeks have galloped by the windows have become more intricate which means they have to stay up longer because there is only so much sweat and cursing allowed, brought on by uncontrollable sticky vinyl and incorrect tools! I am a massive fan of street art and always appreciate that what we see on our streets is ephemeral and won’t last forever. One of my favorite qualities of making window displays is that they won’t last forever, and neither will the fear of this pandemic. The idea stemmed from displays of teddy bears in the windows in Stoneybatter and San Francisco and worldwide window displays that people are making to thank our frontline workers. I wanted to say thanks in my own way and start a Creativity conversation with my community, even if no actual words are shared. 

Until next time!

Jo May

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