By Danaé Reid
As an artist, I often suffer from mental blocks that not only threaten my creative process, but also dissuade me from creating even the most basic piece. My artist’s ruts usually have no set time limit and take residence as an unwanted guest — claiming space that I don’t have to offer at what seems to always be the worst time.
Over the years, I’ve tried different things that were supposed to lend itself to creating a spark of imagination that would then carry me into overflowing sensibility and creativity, but all the methods I used proved to be perfunctory.
My most recent descent announced itself through sadness as a result of the conditions we’re living under (i.e. COVID), but by talking about it with my then- therapist, I was able to find an alternate, foolproof method to airing out my funk.
The answer came in two parts; journaling every morning and incorporating childhood pleasures back into my daily life as much as possible.
“The Artist’s Way,” a guidebook by Julia Cameron, is the last gift my therapist gave to me prior to our unplanned break up. But in a way, that action feels very symbolic of her passing the baton over to something or someone that was better suited for where I was currently at in my journey. The guidebook takes you through three months of inner work that are guaranteed to transform the doer all by simply allowing and encouraging them to get back to their childlike creativity. Cameron does this by encouraging you to write out the things you enjoyed most as a child and even performing those actions weekly.
As of right now, I’m a little over a month in, but I’m already seeing changes in my ability to think outside the box. It’s certainly helping me in both my professional and personal life. I’m more focused, more willing to work, and I’ve been spending less time on my phone and more time on perfecting my artistry in ways that I didn’t think possible.
Initially, it was sort of difficult for me to remember some of the things I really enjoyed as a child or even relate to that time period in my life, which seems like it was so long ago. But after sitting down and processing where I came from, I was able to jot down a list of things that I have included in my day-to-day life, and because I highly recommend doing this exercise, I’m going to give you a list of things that I enjoyed as a child that have resurfaced along with the ways it benefitted me to hopefully spark some recollection in you.
1. Sudoku: I loved Sudoku puzzles as a kid. I’d spend hours upon hours completing puzzles, but somewhere along the way I stopped. Sudoku was the first thing from childhood I infused back into my life, and although it may not seem connected to creativity, it has lent itself to making me think and process things in a way that I haven’t since grade school. It has also forced me to focus and stay in the moment, which is something that I’ve battled with for a while.
2. Rewatching old TV shows: Most of the shows I enjoyed as a kid have been particularly easy to find, but one of my favorites was “Run’s House,” a reality TV show about Rev. Run of the 90s rap group Run DMC and his family, was just added to streaming sites recently. To be honest, I’m not entirely convinced that this show in particular is leading to my mental development as an artist as much as it is a reaffirmation of how important family is — a reminder of the life I’d like to live in the future, and lastly, a source of entertainment while I create.
3. Mosaic art: My life revolved around creating things with my hands as a kid and one of my favorite things was creating mosaic art. I recently took a trip to Michaels and purchased what was needed to mosaic, and upon completing the activity, I realized two things; one, I’m grateful for parents who supported my artistic endeavors — even more so because arts and crafts are expensive; and two, while it’s great to try things you once loved again, some things are better left in the past. (I did not enjoy this activity as much as I did when I was nine).
4. Hula hooping: I may be 15 years older than I was the last time I hula-hooped, but I still got it! I was the champ when I was 10, but my love of spinning the hoop on various parts of my body came to an end like a lot of childhood pleasures do. However, not only was I able to still tail my hips like I could when I was a preteen, I’d also found a really fun way to exercise and burn calories!
I have a few more things I’d like to add to my list, like cruising through a toy catalogue (if those still exist), latch hooking, making gimp jewelry, weaving friendship bracelets, going to the park to swing on the swings, as well as climbing and sitting in trees to read.
What are some of the activities you enjoyed as a child that you could bring back into your life?
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