SPREADING CREATIVITY: PART TWO - SEEDS AND STONES

By: Elena Campos

 

I experienced first hand how creativity can revolutionize everything for one person, and how the changes made within have the ability to alter the lives of those around us. Creativity is miraculous in that way. The effects of transformation that creativity generates within one person extend outward, inspiring others to transform themselves as well. When creativity touched me and helped transform my life, I felt like I had discovered a secret and I had to share it with EVERYONE! Something so simple had a massive and profound effect on me. Imagine what it could do for the masses!

 Photo: Matt Geerling - Rupert's Brew House 3.16.2016

Photo: Matt Geerling - Rupert's Brew House 3.16.2016

So since then, the driving force behind my life’s work has been the desire to spread the seeds of creativity to the people around me. My hope is that the seeds that I sow will find a home within the hearts and minds of the people in my community, and those seeds will grow into something much greater. Not only will these seeds of creativity help transform individuals, but they will also help transform our communities, and eventually the whole world will be affected. When creativity can flourish, lives will change, people will begin to heal, problems will be solved and together we can create a better existence for everyone. It is like a stone being tossed into a still pond. The ripples extend far beyond the place the stone made contact with water. Pretty soon, the effect of a single stone can change the entire surface of the pond.

This journey of sowing seeds or throwing stones, however you choose to see it, began with asking my friends and family to get creative with me. I saw how creative acts such as art making, writing, cooking, and playing music were positively impacting the people I cared for most. Then, I had a gallery show that displayed some of the artwork that generated change and transformation within my life. My work inspired others, not only to get more creative, but also to face their fears and hardships with creativity in mind. I was in awe of what was happening around me. My life was changed by creativity and it was starting to impact others. I knew in my bones that more people had to know about creativity and its benefits. Then I began talking to strangers about it. I was the girl dressed head to toe in purple, going on and on about art therapy and asking strangers to draw with me. Clearly, things haven’t changed too much in the last 7 years, but nowadays, I am under the umbrella of Kalamadoodle, working with others who are just as passionate as I am about creativity.

 Photo: Matt Geerling - Rupert's Brew House 3.16.2016

Photo: Matt Geerling - Rupert's Brew House 3.16.2016

Having decided that spreading creativity was going to be my life’s journey, I was going to need other ways of introducing creativity to the masses. Besides asking strangers to draw with me, I began guiding a weekly Creative Explorations class at Amber Way, a facility for people suffering with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Then I started teaching an after school art program for elementary students. Then I had several wonderful opportunities to guest lecture at Western Michigan University on topics such as Art Therapy and Spirituality, and the benefits of creativity. And most recently, I have been a part of Kalamadoodle, sowing seeds of creativity every month in breweries across town. I have experienced and witnessed first hand how creativity can influence and change lives and I want everyone to have the opportunity to experience it first-hand too.

In my years of experience and research, I have taken notice of many ways in which creativity can benefit and influence your life. Everything from boosting self-confidence, to healing emotional and physical wounds, to fostering personal growth, to finding meaning in this world of chaos. Creativity can help guide you through all of that! Creativity is not only life altering, but also life enhancing. People who are creative on a daily basis are more positive, persistent, resilient, adaptable, energetic, observant, brave, curious, and open minded.  Who doesn’t want to be more of all those things! BUT WAIT… There’s more! Creativity can reduce stress and enhance problem-solving skills, which in this day and age, is essential! The list of amazing effects that creativity has upon you goes on and on and on…

Yes. You read that right. I am saying that creativity can actually make you more awesome than you already are, and all it takes to start is for you to utilize your inherent creativity. That magical gift given to you at birth when you took your first breath. If you need easy ways to start being creative, check out the list I provided in my last article. All you have to do is start and you will immediately begin to reap the benefits of everyday creativity. 

So we’ve discussed what creativity is, how to start being creative, and the helpful ways that it can impact your life, but what is key in my reasoning for why you should be creative is that your creativity POSITIVELY impacts those around you. Your newfound creative endeavors have the power to not only change your life but also spark someone else’s creativity. You too can sow seeds or toss stones into the ponds of others and create waves of change. Or in your creative endeavors, you may create something that positively impacts someone else. Let me tell you a story of the first time I changed a life when I used creativity to enhance my own life.

There were 17 of us sitting in a circle, holding the plaster masks that we made from our own faces. Our task was to make a mask and then decorate it, the outside representing how we portrayed ourselves to the world, and the inside was to represent the things we hid from the world. We went around the circle, sharing our masks and describing them to other group members. The outside of my mask was divided into three sections, and each section was a different shade of purple, representing the different aspects of myself. A long chain of beads and sequins hung down from the side of the mask, representing all my goals and aspirations for those three parts of me. After happily sharing the outside of my mask, and describing the complexities of my life, I did not want to share the inside of my mask with the group. With gentle coaxing, my mentor (and now friend) Gay Walker, urged me to share the inside of the mask. Instantly, I started to cry.

While the process of making this mask soothed me and brought me some comfort, the things I was hiding from the world and chose to represent on my mask were not happy. In actuality, they were down right terrifying. Never before had I spoke aloud what I was about to tell a bunch of near strangers. The inside of my mask was black and bloody. Painted bruises covered my eyes and my mouth was sewn shut. Black lace created an “X” over the entire mask. The long chain of beads and sequins that once represented my hopes and dreams now stood for all the things that had been taken from me. I was a survivor of rape and physical abuse and I had never told anyone before.

The act of making the mask and sharing it aloud was extremely cathartic. It actually opened the door for many other works of art that I would create over the next several years and it was the first step toward healing and finding peace with my past. What was even more extraordinary was the effect my work had on the others in the group. The young lady that sat across from me also had a brightly colored exterior to her mask. She explained the outside of her mask and then noted to the group that if it had not been for the bravery I had shown by sharing the inside of my mask, she would have not shown hers. She was a drug addict and the entire inside of her mask depicted her struggles with her drug of choice. When we left that day, she pulled me aside and hugged me, telling me that because of my story, she was going to get help that day and she was going to beat her addiction. I never saw her again but it was the first time I realized that not only can creativity heal, it can inspire others to do the same.

 Photo: Matt Geerling - Rupert's Brew House 3.16.2016

Photo: Matt Geerling - Rupert's Brew House 3.16.2016

I may have inadvertently tossed a stone into this young woman’s pond, but the waves that creativity brought about for the both of us were profound and life altering. Even in the smallest of ways, from the smallest of acts, you too can change your life and positively influence those around you. That is why I believe everyone should be creative. Not only will YOU be a better person because of everyday creativity, but also the WORLD will be a better place because of it. And isn’t that what we all want, a better world to live in and pass on to the next generation? Yes, what I am saying is that you can be a part of that if you want to be. Your creativity can in fact, change the world.

 Photo: Matt Geerling - Rupert's Brew House 3.16.2016

Photo: Matt Geerling - Rupert's Brew House 3.16.2016

You may believe that changing the world is far fetched. Unattainable. Impossible. Beyond your grasp. Yes, you are but a small speck on a big, blue planet, but the impact you have on this world can be revolutionary. Each and every one of us has the ability to sow their own seeds of creativity to those around us. It all begins with you and how everyday creativity affects your life. With time and practice, it seeps into your being and changes you. Everyday creativity can transform you in many ways, but it all boils down to four areas of your life: your mind, your body, your spirit and eventually, your community.

How creativity impacts you mind, body, spirit and community will be the next four installments of this blog and I look forward to sharing these ideas with you.  I hope something in the words I write inspires you and that you continue to be creative everyday. You never know how your creativity will impact your life or how it may affect others. I will see you all again at the next Kalamadoodle event, on April 20th at Arcadia Brewing Company from 6:30-8:30pm. I look forward to hearing how you too have sown seeds or tossed stones into the lives of others. We could use a little more of that these days.

Doodle on, my friends!

- Elena