How I Tapped Into Creativity and Joy

 

 

 

Journalling
Journalling

 

 

Journal, Happy Journal
This is my Happy Journal

This is my “Happy” journal. It is one of hundreds of journals I have. This is one I started January 1997. It was a time when I began to grasp my mental health identity and discover strategies to live with it effectively. Up until this point, I journalled only when I was having a depressive episode and I would write all my negative thoughts on to a page to purge it. It was helpful. Sadly, I had pages and pages of anger, sadness and hurt. Pages I kept to reread and remind myself of the pain I needed to release. It was therapeutic it’s own way but not exactly uplifting.


During this particular time in my life, a lower time, I was browsing through an old book shop and I came across this journal. I am a lover of cats so it stood out to me. When I picked it up I fell in love with the pages – some blank, some with beautiful prints of cats, and some with cat quotes. It was speaking to me and I purchased it. I held on to it for a bit – afraid to christen it with content that I might later find to be unworthy. Finally, there was a day when I began. The first entry was a typical entry. I introduced myself to any future selves reading it, spoke about my journey and how that day was a new day.

Journal, Mental Wellness
There were a few entries similar to that. Then, I came to a cat page – a page that had I couldn’t write on because it was filled with a picture. I stared at it. I didn’t want to pass it by without finding a way to use that page. I wrote on the margin – a wish. One wish. Something I wanted to write down in case writing it down would turn it from a wish to a reality. Then, I wrote another wish. And then, another. Before I knew it, wishes were coming to me. Things I was hoping for; things to get excited about;  things that inspired me. I paused and realized something was happening. I was generating a feeling of well-being and enthusiasm. I was using a space in a way I never had before – I was writing in different directions, using different coloured pens. I had found an inner pot of creativity that was waiting to be tapped and it was producing joy. It was wonderful and from that moment, I knew that this journal must only be for positive and creative expression. I have a need to purge the dark and unhealthy thoughts and feelings in an expressive form but not here. I have another journal for that. This one will be the one that I come back to fill me full, to spark my imagination and to challenge me to find new and different ways to be inspired.
Journalling; Creativity
How do you connect with that inspiration?

 

The Sound of Happiness

When I was young, let’s say my teen years, happiness was loud. Sounds of laughter, loud music, screams from roller coasters, the phone ringing when a friend would call, traffic because I was in a car travelling to the next event, parties etc. I loved the buzz of having noise around me. I preferred visiting the city over camping and hiking. If I was alone, I turned on the television or the stereo at high volumes to have sound with me all the time. I fell asleep at night to the radio. I felt safe and I was happy.

Loch Ness
Tranquil Loch Ness

 

Sometime in my early twenties, that changed. I spent 4 months in England for school and when I think back to my most loved memory of that stint, it was a day spent outside Inverness, Scotland, on a rock, skipping stones on Loch Ness. We ventured away from the crowds of tourists who wanted to view the lake from Urquhart Castle and shimmied our way down an embankment with a snack of apples, crackers and cheese. There were just 3 of us, 2 other travel companions and myself. It was so tranquil. I remember being hyper-aware of the sound of each skip of the stone before the final “plop” into the lake. I felt calm and I was happy.

Soft snow falling
Gently Falling Snow

Another time, my oldest was 2 and we were at a cottage in the winter in Northern Ontario – far off the beaten path of civilization. My husband, son and I were outside playing in the snow – real snow – 5 feet deep. We were doing somersaults and jumping off the deck into the fluffy banks below. After one spectacular jump, landing on my back looking up at the giant flakes of snow gently falling from the sky, I felt I had been pulled back out of warp speed and my senses became super-attuned. It became quiet, my body completely relaxed into the snow-form my body made from my jump and I could hear the sound of every snowflake land around me. I felt love and I was happy.

Birds chirping
Early birds calling

Just this morning, being on holidays and sleeping in without the hurried routine that I am accustomed to on a “regular” day, I had the window open and I listened to the birds as they began their calls. The world was still asleep. There were no cars, back-up alarms from heavy trucks, sounds of conversation or lawn mowers. Just the sound of the birds and the trees swaying in the breeze. I felt peace and I was happy.

The sound of happiness has changed from when I was young. Once busyness and noise was necessary to feel content. Now, the absence of noise is much more profound in experiencing happiness. I still have great moments of happiness when there is lots of uproarious laughter and sounds but I do cherish the tranquil moments of silence.

What are the sounds of happiness for you?

My 7 Mental Wellness Practices

mental wellness

Living life to the fullest is my challenge everyday. As I mentioned in a previous post, I refuse to use the term “suffering with depression” or “battling depression” or just plain using the word “depression”. Just the term in itself plants a dark seed within my soul and I feel it start to fester and fight to spread its roots. But flipping it around and challenging myself to live an amazing, satisfying and meaningful life is the way I choose to view it. I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, doctor or anyone affiliated with medicine so I do not propose anything research-based or proven effectiveness but I do say these are ideas that have worked for me.  I am always tweaking, detouring and searching for new things that help me to live a fulfilling life.  This will not be the last post on this subject, I promise, as it is an everyday reality for me.  But for now… these are some things that contribute to my love for life:

1.  Meet with friends.  I make myself do it. It’s not that I don’t want to meet with friends, I just find I get caught up in the everyday stuff like laundry and cleaning the toilet. Then, before I know it, the day is gone and I have nothing memory-worthy  to show for it.   I always feel better when I spend time with friends.  They offer me support, love and some good laughs.  Great for the mood!

Attitude of Gratitude
Attitude of Gratitude

2.  Attitude of Gratitude.  Every morning or night, I think of 5 things I’m grateful for and I thank God, or the universe, for bringing those things, people or experiences into my life.  Sometimes, if it’s been a particularly rough day, I will remember that water flows freely from my tap or  that I travel to work in my own car.  Regardless, every day, I can find at least 5 things to be thankful for.

3.  Yoga.  Love, love, love yoga.  It’s exercise, relaxation and spirituality all rolled into one; great for the soul.  I have tried to get into the gym routine because I know how important exercise is to my mental health and well-being.  The truth is, I HATE IT!  I feel like I’m torturing myself.  Yoga makes me feel like I’m rewarding myself.  As my instructor says, it’s a gentle coaxing of the body as opposed to assertive pushing.  And the best part, at the end, there is at least 10 minutes of lying still and quiet. You don’t have to feel guilty for stealing a few minutes to yourself because it is a requirement of the practice.  It’s wonderful and the benefits are plenty.

ginger genie

4.  Blog.  This has been hugely therapeutic for me.  I’m a big journaller  – it helps me get my thoughts out – good or bad. Blogging allows me to get the good thoughts out in an organized manner.   It keeps me focused and it gives me the added benefit of maybe helping others.

5.  Read.  I have acquired a collection of different books over the years that I keep by my bed for when I’m settling down for the night. I will pick up different ones depending on my mood.  Some nights, I will read from my fiction novels (right now I’m working on Outlander by Diana Gabaldon), other nights I might read from “The Happiness Project” by Gretchin Rubin and still others I might tackle some spiritual reads.  Reading lets me escape or become inspired.  A fabulous book that I’ve had by my bed for years is “Simple Abundance” by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  It has an affirmation for everyday of the year to help keep your mental wellness in check.

6. Cry.  Sounds counter-productive right?  Sometimes, I just want a good cry … alone.  I don’t want sympathy, or an audience or drama.  I just want to lock the bathroom door, have a warm bubble bath and just cry in the tub.  I find it cathartic and I usually feel better after.  Sometimes, I’m not even sad, I might be touched or just feeling overwhelmed and I just want to feel those emotions wholeheartedly without being judged.

music staff

7.  Listen To Classical music.  Some of you may be thinking “ugh – that makes it worse”. I found switching the radio from my usual “hit” music to something slower, clearer and  subtler, helps to calm my mind (maybe not something like the William Tell Overture).  It makes me feel smarter too.  That’s probably psychological but if  it aids in self esteem boosting, I say, do it.