Filtering by Tag: creative process

“I wanted magic shows and miracles, mirages to touch. I wanted such a little thing from life, I wanted so much. I never came close my love. We nearly came near. It never was there, it always was here”

I wanted magic shows and miracles, mirages to touch. I wanted such a little thing from life, I wanted so much. I never came close my love. We nearly came near. It never was there, it always was here…
— Stephen Schwartz

This week I opened the show, PIPPIN, which I directed and choreographed at a school in NYC. When I started this process, I thought it would be just like every other show I did, but I was wrong. There is something about this show, the students I was working with, and where I am in my life that made this experience something “extraordinary.” It dawned on me as we were heading into tech week that this show became a selfobject for me. I was first introduced to the idea of selfobjects when reading the book, The Dancing Self by Carol Press, for my thesis.  

Selfobjects, as defined by Press, are as follows:

[Kohut’s term for psychological support systems] that function in our lives to sustain our intrapsychic experiences of self-cohesion, our sense of self as whole. Even though in many instances selfobjects are people, they can also be animals, things, places, ideas, or activities that serve to confirm and enhance who we are (pg 55-56).

In more layman terms, selfobjects are the people, the creative projects, the pets that come into our lives and allow us to go deeper into the process of knowing ourselves more intimately. They provide us the feedback and the space to ask questions, take risks, and grow into what Press coins as our “dancing self.”

Pippin embarks on a journey to find his purpose. He truly believes he was born for great things. He tries being a soldier, dabbles in “sex presented pastorally,” he even kills his father and becomes king. However, with every attempt he is dissatisfied and is left "feeling empty and vacant." The players are continuously trying to get Pippin to take part in the biggest finale there is; death. In that spectacular moment, he will have all that he was looking for. **Spoiler alert** Pippin chooses not to follow the fire and the lights and instead chooses Catherine, Theo, and an “ordinary life.”

Pippin’s journey is so powerful because it mirrors many of our own journeys, myself included. How many times have you felt let down because something didn’t end up they way you wanted? Or you thought you finally figured out the answer to one of your problems and in the end it didn’t solve anything? Throughout this process, I found myself feeling frustrated and empty and vacant. At times, I didn’t think it would all come together. That the vision I so badly wanted to make real was only going to stay trapped inside my head. But, alas, we made it to opening night and you know what, the vision inside my head doesn’t even come close to the magic that is happening on that stage. I’m sure we have all had the experience of holding onto an idea so tightly, but when we finally let it go we are given more than we could have ever imagined. We just have to trust and have faith.

The moment when Pippin chooses Catherine/Theo and finally defies the players, “the voices inside his head,” always hits me in a different way. The leading player strips him of everything: lights, sound, costumes, set. But still, he decides on his own not to run away from himself, but instead that this “simple life,” which in reality is not so simple, is really the answer to the “purpose” he was looking for.

Even though the moment hits a different chord in my life depending on what I am personally wrestling with that day, the message always remains the same. You have to be vulnerable and fully present when in a relationship, whether that is a romantic relationship, a friendship, a relationship with the business you are starting, and especially the relationship with yourself. You have to fully love yourself, all of yourself, in order to love someone or something else. In a way, you are naked; no lights, no dance breaks, no make up; it’s just you. This is true for anytime we choose to follow the thing that scares us the most, which is usually the thing we want the most. When you choose the path that is real and true, it may be the hardest decision and require continuous work, but it’ll be the best decision, and it’ll be worth it.

 

Do you want to enjoy the “simple joys” of life more authentically? I would love to guide you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

 

"The day she stopped getting stuck in ‘why’ was the day she finally started getting the answers she was looking for."

The day she stopped getting stuck in ‘why’ was the day she finally started getting the answers she was looking for.

I just finished re-staging a dance I choreographed a few years ago when I was on faculty at a university in CT. The piece is called “Cemented” and was an exploration of feeling stuck. Why do we as people get stuck on the same thought or hold onto a certain memory? Why do we just feel stuck in certain aspects of our life but not others? What makes us unstuck? My creative process always begins with asking a question and then working with my dancers to talk through possible solutions or outcomes both with our bodies and minds. I vividly remember this creative process and how fixated or “stuck “ I was on trying to find an answer to getting unstuck.

I enjoy re-staging my previous work because it allows me to revisit an idea with a new lens. I have new bodies in front of me to work with and though we have a detailed outline already in place, there is still room to play and come up with new solutions. This time around, I realized that I was not so fixated on how to become unstuck, but was more intrigued by the idea of being OK with being stuck.  Why is it that when we are stuck we feel it is necessary to fix something in order to become unstuck? Maybe if we allowed ourselves to marinate in the “unstuckness” we would find something new about ourselves.

Through the creative process this time around, I formed two new perspectives. First, that being stuck means we aren’t being truly present in our lives because we are hoping or waiting for something else to happen (living in the future) or we aren’t allowing ourselves to let go of something (living in the past). Second, that being stuck is something we need to struggle with because it is in the act of struggling, maybe even making some mistakes, and engaging in the day to day stuff that we truly learn and grow as individuals. This is where the deep cognitive learning, the change, and the growth happens; not in the quick fixes. I fully acknowledge that these two perspectives can be somewhat contradictory, but for now I am allowing myself to sit with them.

There is such beauty in re-visiting something over time. We get to come back to it with more knowledge, wisdom, and experience, which allow us to see things in a new light and through a new lens. This is not exclusive to the creative process, but can also be applied to all aspects of our lives: people we have encountered, situations we have experienced, skills/activities we have attempted, beliefs we have held/still hold, limiting views of ourselves, etc.

What are some things you would like to revisit in your life through a new lens? Where are you feeling stuck and can you allow yourself to enjoy the “stuckness” and not judge it?

 

Need help navigating the "stucknesss?" I would love to guide you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

 

“Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious.”

Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious.

Last week I began to discuss creativity and the importance of “play.” Creativity is essential to everyone in order to live a fulfilling and engaged life. Play is the most basic form of improvisation, which is necessary during the creative process. The creative process is not exclusive to artists and the act of making art; each of our lives is its own creative process. For one to be successful in a creative process, it is crucial to have a safe environment where we feel we can experiment, take risks, fall and get back up, and be vulnerable. Without all of these elements, we can’t and won’t grow as an individual.

In Sport Psychology, we have two categories for environments: task oriented and win oriented. In a task oriented environment, a person engages in an activity or skill for the purpose of mastering the skill to build confidence and grow. They are intrinsically motivated. In a win oriented environment, a person engages in an activity or skill for the purpose of being better than others rather than for self improvement. They are extrinsically motivated. As we discussed previously, in order to reach a Flow state, or optimal performance, we need to be intrinsically motivated, comfortable enough to take risks, receive timely feedback, and proper support. A task oriented environment provides the appropriate structure, where a win environment feeds into negative competition, self doubt when “failing,” and can perpetuate the downward spiral.

Improvisation/play is a great example for an activity within a task oriented environment. There is no one correct answer, and participants continue to engage in the activity because of its enjoyment and the discoveries they make. Unfortunately, many of the environments we find ourselves in as we get older are more often win oriented environments. Schools like to say they are nurturing and more task oriented, but many times the learning that is happening is directed towards a specific outcome. The constant testing and the pressure of grades provide a win environment where students are constantly comparing themselves to classmates and even students outside their school.  This environment makes it much harder to achieve a flow state and enjoyment of the material, leaving many students worn out and skeptical about being a lifelong learner.

Reflect on your own life and the decisions you have made. Did you decide to get that certificate because you wanted to better yourself as a manager and a person or because you knew you would get a salary bump? Did you go into a field of study because you felt it would provide you a more “successful” job rather than studying something you loved and would make you happy? Knowing your motivation can help you to make decisions. Doing something that motivates you intrinsically, will help to fuel you and fulfill you. Doing something that motivates you extrinsically, will most likely drain you and lead to unhappiness. If you continue to make decisions based on what resonates with your authentic self you will create a life of fulfillment.

Now reflect on your environment, both personal and professional. Who are the people you surround yourself with? Do they lift you up, support your accomplishments, and energize you? Or are they competitive and drain you? What activities are you engaging in? Do these activities support a healthy lifestyle: mind body and spirit? Or are they distractions? We have the power to create a task oriented environment, where we are not only supported but also encouraged to be our best self!

This week, take the time to journal about the environment around you. Notice what is serving you and what is not anymore. Remember to observe without judgment. From there, brainstorm some changes you can make so that you can begin to create or strengthen the environment you want. Even the smallest changes will shift the energy around you.

 

Do you need help creating the environment you deserve? I would love to help you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

“Creativity is a harmony of opposite tensions, as encapsulated in [the] idea of lila, or divine play.”

Creativity is a harmony of opposite tensions, as encapsulated in [the] idea of lila, or divine play.
— Stephen Nachmanovitch

I have rediscovered the awe-inspiring book, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch. This will be my third time reading it and every time I find something new. The first two times I read the book were for assignments in my choreography and composition dance classes. However, the book proved to not only affect my artistic life, but also my personal life. When we think about it, life is one creative process and creativity isn’t just for the artistic elite, but necessary for everyone in order to live a fulfilling and enriched life. Creativity can manifest itself in many forms. We see it clearly through a painting or a dance, but it can also be designing an interactive spreadsheet or figuring out a new way to treat a patient.

A key element to the creative process is improvisation, and a key element to improvisation is play. “Play” plays such an important role in the process of creation, without it we would never access anything new. The rest of the quote above is as follows:

            If we let go of play, our work becomes ponderous and stiff. If we                let go of the sacred, our work loses its connection to the ground             on which we live (Nachmanovitch).

One of the best ways to reconnect with authentic play is to observe children. Children completely immerse themselves in whatever they are doing: an art project, building a fort, playing make believe, telling a story, etc. They aren’t worried about what others think or what’s considered right and wrong; they are just present. They are continuously problem solving, collaborating, and reacting authentically in the moment. Because of this, they are able to more easily enter a Flow state and for the most part are lively and happy.

So what happens as we get older that changes that? It becomes harder for us to “think outside the box,” more challenging to work in groups, and more difficult to think on our toes. We have lost our sense of “play.” As we get older, we are told what we should be like or what we should be doing. Many times, we are told there is only one right answer, and we begin to become more self-conscious. Our mind begins to get in the way of our instincts and our ability to just let loose. Because of this, we have a hard time being totally present in our lives.

Luckily, there are so many ways for us to get back in touch with our inner child and access our creative self! The first step is allowing yourself to take the time. Then, begin to try new things: take a cooking class, go rock climbing, write a short story, go on a nature walk, etc. There are so many new tools at our disposal. Adult coloring books have become a way to relax and get back to a “child like” activity. Groupon is a wonderful way to try a new activity at a lower cost. You can go to a paint night or take a pottery class.  All of these activities allow us to step out of our routine, our comfort zone, and just “play.” Remember to not judge yourself while trying these new things. Allow yourself to enjoy the process. Who knows, you may unleash a side of you you didn’t even know was in there. Not to mention your ability to think more creatively will grow, which can prove to be usual when you’re “adulting.”

 

Do you need help accessing your inner child and releasing your creativity self? I would love to help you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

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