Creative Play Opens Doors

by Julie Claire on October 29, 2014

workshop painter

When signing up for a workshop, people often tell me they want to “play”.

Helping people rediscover “play” is one of my favorite things to do as the facilitator. It is something I care deeply about and influences my intuitive painting workshop format, the materials I use and the kind of feedback I give. 

What does play ask of us?  And why is it so important?
To me, play encourages us to step over an invisible threshold that keeps us bound a little too small. And when we take that step, we are daring to live a little more open, a little more alive.

Play asks you to:

  • Be irreverent
  • Experiment and try things even if you think you’re crazy
  • Let go of your ideals of beauty, of color pallets, of “taste”
  • Forget about the final “product” and highlight the process instead
  • Take a break from your thinking self, (play doesn’t require us to be smart)
  • Not define yourself by what you have painted

woman painting

In my eight years of facilitating creative experiences, I have witnessed that as you play while painting, you reignite your creative spirit. And once reignited, your creative spirit shines into all areas of your life.

Recently, I was painting with a small group of painters and I noticed I was feeling a little too predictable in regards to how I was going to start my painting. I was suddenly aware of how I wanted to experience my own vulnerability, hungry to touch some of my edges, to wake up a bit more.

 I just jumped into the fray. I challenged myself to be slightly irreverent and say “Yes!” to any ideas that popped in as I painted.

I realize now what I was doing was playing. The only way I knew to connect with a fresh aliveness while painting was to play, to go off the map and explore. “What if I tried this?”…and “What about this?” 

I began by taping off the canvas in an unusual way for me, I played with different combinations of brushes and pallet knives and I left the painting undone and in the middle. I felt alive. 

When my painting time was up, I felt like I had started a whole new series of paintings. I wanted to hang the painting in my living room (which I did). I felt like I had stepped into a new and inviting creative space.

I had opened a door I didn’t even know existed. 

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We are all inherently creative, with a natural spirit that knows how to shine.  In a world so overwrought with analysis, evaluation and input, play can show up as a momentary elixir or a life saving path. Never underestimate the power of play.

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Acceptance doesn’t mean you like it.

by Julie Claire on October 16, 2014

julie daisies smallerA couple of weeks ago I gave a presentation to a group of Georgetown leadership coaches on ways to bring creativity into their coaching practices. I had two hours. It was the first time I was bringing pastels into a professional environment. I was nervous. Very nervous.

And two minutes before my time to start I notice that I have sizeable and caked on 3-inch diameter brown blob on my shirt. Was it mud? Chocolate? Or something from the bottom of my shoe? (OMG). I had no idea what it was but felt myself start to spin internally. Should I wash it off? But then there will be a big wet blob and its cold in the hotel…and I’ll be late!

I quickly realized that the only way to keep my very limited composure was to deal with it as it was: Dirty–but intact: No running around trying to fix things: Accept things as they were.

I remember myself thinking: “Okay this is the deal, I’m going in front of this group with this sizeable spot and that’s the way it’s going to be.“ Gulp.

The amazing thing to me (still amazing) is that as soon as I settled with that thought I found the moment shifted slightly -—I had found my sense of humor.

Acceptance Changes Things

For some reason this is the thought that  made me chuckle: “ Who in the audience would actually notice and who wouldn’t? “ My mood shifted out of the panic and into an odd sort of “take me as I am” kind of playful presence.

  • I didn’t like the mysterious brown spot
  • I didn’t want it there.
  • But I stopped trying to change it, fix it or hide it, I allowed it to be.

That’s the thing with acceptance:

  • We’re off the hook for not being perfect.
  • After taking a  reflective moment, we can decide to be with what is.
  • Sometimes it also means you can move on, continue, from a new starting place–Here–Imperfect.–As you are– Gulp.

Acceptance is in many ways the center-point of  your emotions,  a place of choice and new possibility.  It can  bring you out of the deeper darker states of emotions in the most profound times of your life.  In my own life and as a life coach I spend a lot of time navigating emotions that keep me and others hooked into the past and exploring those emotions that move us into the future in ways that we desire.

Is there a “brown blob” you would like to be able to accept in your life currently?

In what ways might acceptance bring you a new horizon?

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              Live Bigger I expect struggle. I expect to fall in love and lose you to another. I hold back. I protect. Until now. How can I keep this tenderness back? How can I not share this meeting of the heart? How can I not trust? The wind blows. […]

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            Our Full Moon Ravens’ Nest and wet grass, carrying my friend’s book and my cup of green tea to the creek, hoping I have never been here before.

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