Many of you either consider yourselves creative individuals or finally have some time now and are seeking a way to get started.

A great deal of my work the past few years has revolved around creative process; helping others get started and/or figure out just where their joy in creation is as well as help them blast through creative barriers. As an artist myself, I’m pretty familiar with this process.

But life is extra stressful right now; no way around that. The background noise is challenging to put aside. This is our reality.

Creative outlets actually calm the brain. They relax our nervous system, occupy our mind, help us express thoughts we might be challenged articulating in other ways. One of the most beautiful things about art is that we give voice to others who might lack the ability to articulate their experiences. I personally believe that human beings need expressive outlets; art is not a luxury.

Many of the physical and mental benefits of of creativity involve being in flow, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s term for that state we get into when we are so engaged in a creative task that our sense of time disappears and we temporarily forget ourselves and our “internal chaos.” We forget about our bodies and our unhelpful thoughts disappear for a while. Some people achieve that mental state when they’re swimming or running, but even the repetitive motion involved in a task like knitting can help regulate strong emotions and calm your nervous system.  ~Lifehack, How Being More Creative Improves Your Mental and Physical Health

Many of you either consider yourselves creative individuals or finally have some time now and are seeking a way to get started.

Barriers to creativity:

  • We have the jitters: Our bodies may have trouble settling down to do the work we want to do.
  • Focusing is harder: Some might feel they are suffering from ADD on steroids. Do not chalk this up purely to age; when our environment is unsettled focusing is hard!
  • Expectations are too high: Though this is a barrier for many regardless of today’s issues, when our bodies are unsettled, it is a far harder barrier to ignore.
  • Wasted time: We may falter because we think our endeavors are a waste of time because we won’t sell a picture, be published or be noticed as a creator.

One of the most powerful exercises you can do is to identify your own barriers so that you understand what pushes you away from the very thing that brings you joy.

My Personal Attack Plan:

  • I made a list of all the creative projects I want to work on.

Creative Project List

  • I work on multiple projects. Sometimes the writing flows, other times I need to play with paint, still others I’m drawn to my photography.
  • Take breaks whenever you begin to feel antsy due to anxiety. Maybe it’s a 5” break, maybe it’s a 90” bike ride. Do what you need to do to take care of you. Just set a time limit and commit to getting back to your work.
  • Do something that is not connected to your livelihood. For example, if you are a writer, try painting. If you design gardens, play with your camera. The idea is to give yourself permission to do something that may go nowhere.

Try to:

  • Let go of expectations. For me, that has meant pivoting with my work. I can’t shoot portraits so I capture images of my neighborhood. My writing tends to focus on virus related emotions and challenges versus menopause, celebrations and adventure. Give yourself permission to go where your attention is pulling you.
  • Remember that not everything you create will be a success. Be willing to fail. Be willing to make mistakes. And be forewarned, you might find that your mistakes end up being your favorites.

This is one of my favorite photos, but when I first looked at it, all I could see was everything I had done wrong.

  • Create a schedule. I organize every day the evening before using blocks. I might not follow this schedule explicitly, but it helps me structure my goals.

My Schedule

This is a broad brush. But I’d love to challenge those of you seeking an outlet to, at the very least, try these three things:

  • Determine what you are curious about. What brings you joy? What have you always wanted to try? Keep it simple, lower the bar and set aside some time every day to explore this creative outlet.
  • Identify your barriers. Ask yourself: are they real? Self-manufactured? Do they truly matter?
  • BEGIN. Just begin.

Our Stories Today will be offering workshops on this subject for women over 50 both virtually and in person in the future. Stay tuned. Coffee and Conversation is held every other week and loosely organized around a topic. The topic for our next meeting on April 15 will be “What do you dream about doing?” Sign up for the next coffee at and add your name to the mailing list to remain on top of future events.