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    Allow creativity to fill the vacant spaces in your life

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    by Bronya Wilkins

    In my creativity coaching practice at Creative Cocoon, I’ve found that although most clients come to me for help with larger creativity projects, they often report the most significant positive change from our work integrating creativity into their everyday lives. Integrating creativity into their everyday lives—huh? What does that even mean?

    Many people use the term “everyday creativity” to describe the creative thinking involved in solving everyday problems, such as using a paper clip to poke out the SIM card in your phone. I prefer to use it to refer to integrating creative and artistic thinking and expression into our daily activities, something I call micro-creativity.


    What is micro-creativity?
    In my definition, micro-creativity refers to small, self-contained creative or expressive activities that you perform in your daily life. The main purpose of micro-creativity is to strengthen your creative habits without the anxiety often associated with larger projects. You can also think of it as creativity for creativity’s sake. Here are some examples:

    • Whilst waiting for your son to get out of school, you people-watch and imagine their backstories and personalities.
    • On your morning tram ride, you write short poems to express your current state of mind.
    • During lunch breaks, you wander the streets and take photos of details that catch your eye.


    Benefits of micro-creativity
    You can’t substitute all of your downtime with micro-creativity; your brain would fatigue. But sacrificing just a small chunk of mental “lazy time” each day can, I believe, result in many benefits, including:

    • Increased creative problem solving. Tapping into your creativity at random times strengthens the connection between your logical and creative minds, which helps with problem solving in your work, creative, and personal lives.
    • Increased self-awareness. The more you interact with your creativity, the better you understand and appreciate its existence, warts and all. Building a stronger relationship with your creativity can benefit your creative process and help you develop your sense of self.
    • Increased confidence. The more you practice, the better you become. By improving skills, you gain confidence and a sense of capability in your creative life.
    • Increased wellbeing. Creative self-expression without boundaries, deadlines, or judgment can help you work through personal issues and channel emotions (although self-guided creative therapy is no substitute for professional help).
    • Increased discipline. Practicing daily micro-creativity gets you into the habit of regular creative expression, which can help reduce anxiety (and procrastination) around your larger creative projects.
    • Increased observation skills. Micro-creativity can help improve your observational skills, which are key for creative thinking and expression.


    When and how to micro-create
    You can micro-create whenever you have mental downtime, which means whenever your full attention is not focused on another task. Some examples include:

    • Waiting in queues
    • Riding public transport or as a passenger in a car
    • Walking
    • Taking lunch breaks
    • Swimming laps or running on a treadmill
    • Cleaning
    • Showering or bathing
    • Waiting on hold on the phone
    • Resting

    Micro-creativity activities are limited only by your imagination. Some examples are listed below, but be creative and make up some of your own.

    • Take photos of interesting details.
    • Write a poem.
    • Write stream of consciousness.
    • Draw or photograph self portraits over multiple days.
    • Watch people and make up their backstories.
    • Tune into your senses and record what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.
    • Play a word game, such as a rhyming game.
    • Doodle mindlessly or draw patterns.
    • Record a voice memo of your observations or thoughts (as if you were a private detective).
    • Imagine life from someone else’s perspective. What are they experiencing in that moment?
    • Write a letter to your future self, then reply as the future self back to your present self.
    • With headphones on, listen to music and imagine what the music would look like if it were a painting.


    Conditions
    In order for your exercises to count as micro-creativity, you need to meet the following conditions:

    • Don’t think, just do. Don’t overthink the activity. Tune into “doing” mode (rather than “thinking” mode) for the duration of the activity.
    • Minimise judgment and pressure. Put your inner critic aside and accept whatever comes out as part of the process. There is no “good” or “bad.” To help, imagine a child has done the exercise. You wouldn’t judge her on the final work; you would simply be proud of her for putting in the effort.
    • Choose your content. Work with content unrelated to your current projects to reduce the risk of anxiety. After a while, you’ll be surprised how often random creative exercises turn into something bigger or link back to a larger project.
    • Keep it quick and dirty. Limit your exercises to between five and fifteen minutes. Any longer and your inner critic will step in. If it helps, set a timer. Remember, it’s the process that counts, not the result.
    • Commit. Commit to at least one activity a day, even when you don’t feel like it. Routine and persistence bring the longer-term creative benefits. Think of it like brushing your teeth. If it helps, decide on a regular time and set a phone alert or calendar entry.
    • Minimise distractions. Try to minimise distractions whenever possible.
    • Enjoy yourself. The more you enjoy an activity, the more likely you are to continue doing it. Choose exercises that are meaningful, fun, and enjoyable.
    • Change it up. Be creative and choose different activities from day to day. The examples above are just the tip of the iceberg.


    Additional resources
    If you'd like to read more about integrating creativity into your everyday life, I recommend the following books:

    • Just Do Something, by Mykel Dixon
    • The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp
    • How to Be an Explorer of the World, by Kerri Smith
    • The Creativity Challenge, by Tanner Christensen
    • Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

     

    Bronya Wilkins is a creativity coach and founder of Creative Cocoon, a coaching practice dedicated to helping people connect with their creativity to increase wellbeing and life fulfilment. Bronya is passionate about psychology, self-development, and creative expression. Some of her creative hobbies include dance, graphic design, music composition, and photography. For more about Bronya and Creative Cocoon, visit her website and Facebook page, or follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

    Tags: creativity, tips
    Posted by: Julie Mazur Tribe
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Finding Balance | Comments Off on Allow creativity to fill the vacant spaces in your life
    Posted on

    Interview with creative women: Renae Handy, Wallflower Floral Design

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    by Kate Shannon

    Based in the seaside suburb of Sandgate in north Brisbane, Wallflower Floral Design is the brainchild of Renae Handy, florist and all-round creative lady. Wallflower has had a steady rise since it started in 2015, and Renae and her four staff are kept on their toes arranging and delivering flower orders, creating floral bouquets and installations for weddings, and being part of events and photo shoots.

    How did you come to being a florist?

    My parents own a wholesale nursery and I grew up surrounded by plants. My first job was putting things in pots when I was six years old, working in the nursery. So it’s in my blood, the horticultural thing.

    It all really started when I did the flowers for a friend’s wedding. I cut a whole lot of sunflowers from my dad’s neighbour’s farm and just arranged them. People loved it and I really liked doing it. So I started doing flowers for friends’ weddings for free and for fun… using Woolworths flowers!

    Then I thought, maybe I could make this into a business. I registered the name and created an Instagram page. I did a cert II and cert III at a flower school after I opened the business. I didn’t write a business plan; I’ve just been following the tumbleweed!

    I was that person who was always chopping and changing jobs. I went to see a career counsellor and said, “Look, I don’t know what to do with my life. I want to start a café, be a real estate agent, or be a florist.”

    And she said, “If you want to start a café, you need money and a business degree. You’re too nice to be a real estate agent; that whole industry will destroy you. And florists, they don’t make money so don’t be a florist.”

    For so many years I tried many different things, which has meant that this business has a really solid grounding.

    What does a typical day look like for you?

    I go to the market on Mondays and Thursdays and pick up whatever we need for our week’s orders and for the shop. On market days, I get up at four am—so if someone wants to be a florist and she’s not a morning person, it’s not the job for her!Bunch colourful

    While I’m at the market, I’m thinking on my feet, making decisions about what is going to work. If I’m buying for a wedding, I try to imagine the bride, which colours she looks good in, and what her vision is. When I’m buying for the shop, I have to think about what’s going to look good, what’s going to sell, and what’s going to last.

    If you don’t make quick decisions, the florist behind you will probably snatch up the flowers. It’s a bit of a scramble in the mornings! It can be stressful, but also fun.

    At around seven am., I bring back the boxes of flowers. Then the girls and I spend time preparing them. We use tools to take the foliage off the stems, then cut the stems and put them in water. That takes a long time. We do a lot of work to ensure the flowers last as long as possible. We then do all the orders, talk to customers, and make up arrangements. We get a lot of walk-in enquiries. I also do bride consultations, so I’ll talk with brides and do up quotes. We often get stylists and photographers coming in, too.

    Then we might do some deliveries and close up around four or five pm. It’s a pretty busy day.

    Describe your floral philosophy. What does a Wallflower arrangement look like?

    Our arrangements are whimsical, textural, eclectic, and natural. We pride ourselves on not being predictable.

    Traditionally, florists are trained to have a hero flower, like a big rose or lily, then a complementary flower, a filler flower, and some greenery. That’s the basic recipe; florists have used it for so long, over and over again. I think that’s one reason I was so passionate about starting this shop—because of that recipe and tradition. Flowers are so beautiful, but because they were being presented in such a bland structure, people lost appreciation for their natural beauty. I’m passionate about showcasing flowers in their natural form.

    Arbour

    What are the challenges of being a creative and an owner of a small business?

    Some people think being a florist is a fairytale job, which sometimes it is because we do get to play with flowers. But sometimes it can be high pressure; it’s stressful to come up with something creative when you don’t have enough time.

    Renae and flowers.cropIt’s hard to be a creative and a businessperson at the same time. I’m split down the middle. There’s the voice saying, “You’ve got to protect your brand. You’ve got to make money.” But then there’s the other side saying, “Stick to your true self, do what you love.” As an artist, you’re emotionally attached, and you take time to make something beautiful, but as a businessperson, time is money… It’s such a battle.

    Another challenge is to ensure my staff are happy. I want to encourage them personally and to help them find their place in Wallflowe. If my staff isn’t happy, nothing works.

    In my family, my dad’s the businessman and my mum’s the creative. My dad is my business mentor. Every Thursday, we have a family dinner and I talk to him about my business challenges. He gives me great advice.

    What does the future hold for you and Wallflower?

    It’s important to keep learning, so I’ve got my eye on some courses I’d like to do to challenge myself.

    For Wallflower, I’d like to increase the scale of the work we do, and do more installations, events, and weddings. More connections and collaborations. I want us to stretch ourselves and what we can do. It’s an exciting time.

    Renae’s floral creations can be viewed on the Wallflower Floral Design websiteFacebook page, and on Instagram (@wallflower.floral.design).

    Kate Shannon is a freelance writer based in Brisbane after many years living in Darwin. She spends a lot of her time in the garden with her two little girls, and loves writing and learning about creative people, flowers, and plants.    

    Photos by Renae Handy (top, middle) and Kate Shannon (bottom).

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger... Tags: brisbane, business, Creative, florist, Interview, small business
    Posted by: Julie Mazur Tribe
    Categories: Interviews with Creative Women, Regional | Comments Off on Interview with creative women: Renae Handy, Wallflower Floral Design