I’ve met a lot of people lately who are feeling stifled and uncreative. They’ve been working hard at parenting, other caregiving (of parents, friends, or other relatives), or in their careers. I hear women, in particular, say there is no time for themselves. No time for pleasure or creativity. No time for peaceful fulfillment of their souls.
I disagree. This is something you have to make time for. If you don’t make time for yourself, if you don’t fill your soul with meaning, you’ll never have enough to give. You have to fill your cup before it can overflow to others. [One exception is having a breastfeeding infant, but even then — find someone to care for you while you care for your baby. As parents quickly discover: The days are long, but the years are short. Take care of the baby first.]
Just how can you rediscover (or discover for the very first time) your interests and creative outlets?
- Pick a day to try something new.
- Allow yourself to try things you think you might not like.
- Allow yourself to quit when you discover you really don’t enjoy something. Quitting is not a bad thing! When you say no to something, you are saying yes to something even better.
- Invite a friend (or spouse or child) to join you on your quest.
- Sign up for a class or volunteer to help out at a Girl Scout meeting or other children’s event. Children, especially young children that haven’t been stifled by school, always bring a new way of thinking to any situation. Be open to their suggestions.
- Browse online groups and websites.
- Pick up a kit or a book at a craft store.
- Just walk around a store like Michael’s or JoAnne’s for an hour or so. I’m always inspired to try a new hobby whenever I go there. These stores often have very inexpensive classes with experienced artists and crafters.
- Think broadly about what “creative” means. You don’t have to do art projects to be creative, you just have to open yourself up to trying a task in a new light. Try a new recipe, wash your car in a different way, rearrange your living room.
- Find a club and sit in on a meeting. Always wanted to knit, ski, play chess, master the clarinet, or program Lego Mindstorms? There are clubs for everything. If you can’t find one in your area, start one (or at least check out one in a neighboring locale). Most clubs welcome newcomers — go!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Spend some time thinking about all the dreams you had when you were little. Did you want to paint? Write a book? Design a model ship? Want to play the guitar? You can make those dreams come true now, if you want them.
- Read some of the books recommended on Do Life Right’s “Do Enjoyment Right” page.
- Give ATCs a try. They’re small and don’t require much commitment.
- Smile and take things slowly. Not everyone can become skilled at a new activity quickly.