Not so very long ago, I asked a handful of women I admire intensely if I could experience their very real thoughts, practices, and struggles for a year-long “enrichment project.” Through monthly online prompts, weekend retreats, late-night confessionals, epic car trips, treehouse time, red tent talk, and while simply bearing witness to their creative selves, I began collecting their stories. Stories that are altering my life.
Ostensibly, this project was about creativity; I could read a hundred books on the topic of creativity. I can, I have, and I probably will read them, but I felt inspired to supplement those resources with the context of lived lives. Naively, I thought after the year was up, I’d spend a month or so mapping out all these new creative techniques, then apply them to my next project. I thought I would learn the what— the ten dance drills to perfect my belly dance shimmy, aerial acrobatic transitions between my favorite moves on the lyra, visual sources for drawing– but instead, I’m learning the how:
- How articulating a desire names a color you’ve seen all your life but never had a name for
- How presence in the moment opens you to more possibilities
- How seeking balance washes tension away
- How the concept of a circle provides a creative alternative to competition
- How compassion is the first (and last and always) lesson of self-esteem
- How surprisingly instrumental spirit is to the creative process
- How integration can cascade through all my senses within the span of a single breath
Too often, the women in this Enrichment Circle– and I include myself here– equate creativity with an end result. Yet I’ve discovered it’s the practice of creativity that incorporates the most joy into the lives of this small study. These women are dancers, artists, musicians, aerialists, yoginis, and counselors, but they are also mothers, wives, businesswomen, activists, and students. Their creativity comes in all forms and from surprising circumstances. While sharing in their lives, I’ve changed careers and the way I greet each day.
These insights feel so deceptively simple, so easy to lose, that they have become Touchstones for me, small treasures that I must remind myself are always in my back pocket. These are the stories and reminders I would want to read on a rainy day. My hope is to share these Touchstones to inspire your own radical rituals — re-minder and re-membrance of cycles past and cycles yet to come.
Photo Credit: Jaki Hawthorne, Studio Jaki