your creative space
Posted May 12, 2009on:
Yesterday was Mother’s Day, always a day that’s a bit hard for me. I lost my mother in 1997 after a long bout with illness. She was the most uncelebrated creative woman that I have ever known. She was responsible for giving me my first ‘creative space’ when I was six years old.
Creative people spend a lot of time thinking about, hunting for and fantasizing about a space that they can call their own. One of the first things that I do with clients is ask “Do you have a creative space for your work?” I receive a range of answers that include ‘that space is now where I fold my kids clothes’ to ‘it’s cluttered’ to ‘There’s no space that I can call my own’.
Designating space for one’s passion is important on a few levels. One, it helps to not have to recreate the wheel every time that you want to work on your short story or that collection of songs. If you have designated space then you can go to it and work. Plain and simple. The second reason why designated space is so vital for one’s creative work is that it also reminds you that you do deserve to do your creative work. Many people do not feel entitled to a creative life. To designate creative space makes your work (and desires) real, visible, and enables you to create from a place of worthiness.
My family lived in New Jersey when I was six. I don’t know if I was exhibiting any special signs of ‘creativeness’. For sure, I was already reading and drawing a lot. But something must have occurred to my mother to encourage her daughter’s creative outlet. She designated a walk-in closet as MY CREATIVE SPACE. I could do anything I want in there. We painted the walls and I filled that room with my drawings, toys paperdolls, etc. More importantly, I was allowed to daydream and do “nothing”. We were living in a rental townhouse and I did not have a room of my own, so I’m sure that this was one way for my mom to allow me some private space. Well, she made it feel special–like nothing else other kids had. I know that spending time in that room pretending, performing and playing was a formative experience for me. In some ways, I feel that I’ve been trying to recreate that place in both my imagination and physical space for some time. When I was a graduate student without a lot of resources, I became a big fan of the ‘creativity altar’. A creativity altar is a great idea for people that don’t have a lot of space or currently can’t designate a a large space for creative work. Your creativity altar can be on top of a dresser or a small table, or even in a drawer. It can be a decorated shoebox! Be willing to start where you are. You can place anything (in)on your creativity altar that will keep you inspired: symbols of creativity, affirmations, pictures, etc.
After finishing graduate school, I moved to Las Vegas and finally had a place of my own. I took a small walk-in closet and designated it my ‘womb room’–a creative healing space. It was painted purple and I hung up lots of dried flowers in the room. I didn’t feel the need to put furniture in the room because I so often wanted to lay down and just daydream (with my journal handy). Now, I have a home office that mirrors my creative cycles and intentions.
What does your creative space look like? Is it outside in a secret garden, in an office in a newly remodeled attic or on the table top of your dresser? Is it in a barn? More importantly, is it serving you creatively when you spend time in it or near it? Have you claimed some special place yet, or are you waiting for permission from someone else?
If you’ve been procrastinating on claiming a personal space, imagine for a moment that you have found a permission slip in your jeans pocket. It was put there a long time ago by your creative guide. Imagine that this permission slip is beautifully written and decorated and is enticing. What would your slip need to say to remind you of your ability and innate worthiness to create? You may want to even write such a permission slip.
If you get stuck and need some help in visualizing how your creative space could look, I highly recommend thumbing through the exquisitely photographed, A Room of Her Own: Women’s Personal Spaces by Chris Casson Madden. She explores thirty-eight delightful rooms created by women for nurturing their creative spirits. This great book was given to me by a dear friend right before I moved to Las Vegas.