272: Creativity as Self Care w/ Sharon Burton

Creativity as Self Care

This week on Embracing Intensity, we share part of our call with Sharon J. Burton on “Creativity as Self-Care.” Sharon delves into a chapter from her upcoming book “Creative Sparks” that explores how embracing creativity can be a powerful form of self-care. Through affirmations, inspiration, and practical tips, Sharon will guide attendees on how to use their creative talents to nurture their well-being, reduce stress, and cultivate a more mindful and fulfilling life. Join us for an enlightening discussion on the transformative power of creativity in self-care practices.

Join us for an engaging discussion with Sharon, a creativity coach, visual artist, teaching artist, yoga nidra guide, meditation guide, poet, and soon-to-be author. Sharon shares her journey back to art after pursuing a traditional career path and emphasizes the importance of creativity as self-care. The conversation covers themes such as the challenges and joys of embracing creativity at midlife, especially for those who may not have received encouragement earlier in life due to societal pressures towards more conventional careers. Sharon introduces her upcoming book, ‘Creative Sparks: 21 Affirmations and Inspirations for Creativity at Midlife,’ aimed at inspiring people to reconnect with their creativity. The discussion also explores the significance of creativity for personal growth, mental health, and cultural expression, particularly within the African American community. Additionally, it addresses overcoming common obstacles like the inner critic, imposter syndrome, and societal expectations, encouraging listeners to give themselves permission to explore their passions and creative impulses fully.

About Sharon

Sharon J. Burton is a visual artist, art curator, poet and certified creative coach and Founder of Spark Your Creative Coaching. Since 2016, she has focused on helping people in “creative recovery”… those looking to revive or jump start their creativity through group and individual coaching, workshops, her blog and as the host of Spark Your Creative Podcast which features artists and other creatives who are using their unique talents to create more mindful communities and a safer world.

Sharon is a certified creativity coach through the Creativity Coaching Association. She completed requirements for the professional certificate in Art Business from New York University and a certificate in Art History through the Smithsonian. a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Public Administration. Sharon is also a Level II, Reiki Certified practitioner and received her Breath Work + Meditation Teacher Certification. Sharon infuses her creativity coaching with wellness practices to help her clients break through the blocks that prevent them from fully engaging in their creative potential.

In this episode:

  • Aurora welcomes Sharon Burton to the “Embracing Intensity” podcast to discuss creativity as self-care.
  • Sharon reflects on reconnecting with Aurora after years and discusses the importance of creativity in her life and others’.
  • Aurora mentions the podcast’s start in 2016, noting Sharon’s early appearance in its second year.
  • Sharon introduces herself as a creativity coach, visual artist, yoga nidra and meditation guide, and soon-to-be author.
  • The discussion pivots to Sharon’s upcoming book, “Creative Sparks: 21 Affirmations and Inspirations for Creativity at Midlife,” focused on encouraging creativity in midlife individuals.
  • Sharon shares her journey from pursuing a practical business degree to rediscovering her artistic side, emphasizing the challenge and reward of returning to creativity.
  • A chapter from Sharon’s book is shared, highlighting how creative practice can serve as a powerful form of self-care and aid in stress reduction, self-expression, self-discovery, boosting self-esteem, and promoting physical well-being.
  • Aurora and Sharon discuss the societal pressures that often discourage creative pursuits and share personal insights on recognizing and affirming one’s creativity.
  • The conversation includes questions from the audience, exploring challenges faced by multi-talented individuals and ways to prioritize creativity amidst life’s demands.
  • Discussion on where creativity comes from, suggesting it can originate both from within the mind and beyond the physical body.
  • The dialogue transitions to a discussion segment, where Sheldon joins to emphasize the unique experiences of creativity within the Black community and the impact of cultural and societal expectations.
  • Sharon responds by highlighting the evolving opportunities for creative expression enabled by technology and the importance of embracing creativity at any life stage.
  • Aurora wraps up by summarizing key takeaways: understanding one’s creative “why,” giving oneself permission to prioritize creativity, and inviting listeners to explore Sharon’s upcoming book as a resource for inspiration and empowerment.
  • Sharon concludes with details about her book launch, her podcast, and how to connect with her online for more insights into fostering creativity.


* Rough Transcript *

Creativity as Self Care

Sharon: One when we look at your creativity, really think about what your why is. Two, do not be afraid to make creativity, if that’s part of something you really want to do in your life, to make it more of a priority. The third thing is to give yourself permission to discover your why and to make it a priority and to try as many things as you want to.

Aurora: Welcome to the Embracing Intensity podcast. I’ll be sharing interviews and tips for gifted, creative, twice exceptional, and outside the box thinkers who use their fire in a positive way. My name is Aurora Remember Holtzman. After years of feeling too much, I finally realized that intensity is the source of my greatest power.

Now, instead of beating myself up about not measuring up to my own self imposed standards, I’m on a mission to help people embrace their own intensity and befriend their brains so they can share their gifts with the world through the Embracing Intensity community, coaching, educational assessment, and other tools to help you use your fire without getting burned.

You can join us at embracingintensity. com.

Aurora: Hello. Today I get to share with you part of our call with Sharon Burton on creativity as self care. Just in time for her book launch creative sparks this week on May 14th. I also give a nod to Sheldon gay of the, I must be bugging podcast with permission. As always you can find the full discussion in our guest call library and membership at embracingintensity.com slash join.

We’re taking the month off of calls in may, as I attend a content creator retreat, but I’m aiming to finalize the summer and fall schedule. Soon you can join our community for updates at community dot, embracing intensity.com. Enjoy.

Welcome to the embracing intensity podcast. And I’m super excited today because we have Sharon Burton here. Who’s going to talk about creativity as self care and the timing was so perfect because we hadn’t talked to each other in ages and she just popped up in my head when I was thinking about people to speak this year And she just happens to be having a book come out. And so it’s been years since our interview and It’s great to have her here.

So Sharon, welcome. Great to have you.

Sharon: Well, it’s good to have you and to really connect, reconnect with you. We’ve always been connected since the last time we talked. And I don’t even remember when that was, but that’s been quite a couple of years ago, at least, and Oh, pandemic away.

I think

Aurora: five years ago, I think I started the podcast in 16 and you were three. So you’re probably the second year of my podcast. So probably 2017. So yeah, more than five years.

Sharon: Yeah. Yeah. We’ve been at it for a while, both of us. So, I’m Sharon Burton. I am a creativity coach through Spark Your Creative Coaching.

But I am also a visual artist. I am a teaching artist. I’m a yoga, nidra guide and meditation guide. What else am I? I’m going to be an author, soon to be author. What else am I? I’m a poet. So I am a creativity coach that actually does creativity as well and actively. So, and I’ve been doing this since about 2017, 2016, 2017, when I started.

And it’s been the most rewarding thing to work with creative people as a coach and as a teaching artist. I’ve worked with a lot of people mostly in the Washington DC area. I’m actually based in Maryland but a few minutes from Washington DC. So, I’m in what they lovingly called this area, the DMV.

And been here for a number of years. And it’s been an interesting ride, but I am someone that believes in creativity, as you can see, I do actively create on a regular basis. And work with a lot of people, particularly visual artists and writers tend to be the people I work with. But I also have worked with musicians and other, you know, what you call traditionally creative people.

And it’s been the joy of my life to do that. I do one to one coaching and been moving towards mostly group coaching. I do a lot of, teaching of workshops particularly through based on Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way and a lot of her books. And recently been doing a lot with a creative aging program for people over 55, which has been a joy to work with.

So, I do some expressive arts workshops as well. So, That’s my life story. And as Aurora just mentioned, I am soon launching a book and it’s called Creative Sparks, 21 Affirmations and Inspirations for Creativity at Midlife. I chose this audience because. Unlike our millennial friends and our Gen Z people our group didn’t get a lot of as much encouragement in the creative realm.

We, a lot of us were very creative, but we I came out of high school in the mid eighties, which is, give you a sense of my age. And at that time it was always it was about business. It was about engineering, healthcare, law, those types of things. And very little was focused, very little focus on the arts.

Those that I knew that went into that, their families was involved with it. But, the majority of us were kind of shuffled into these other areas so we could make money. because what artists don’t make anymore. So what has happened particularly through my coaching practice, I’m learning that a lot of people had to suppress that side of them, whether it was because of people telling them they weren’t really creative or, Might have said something disparaging about their work, or it was, that’s a waste of time.

You know, a variety of different things. I think we are, I’m a Gen X. So, you know, we didn’t get necessarily a lot of the support, those of us that were artistic and, yours truly. In that realm, I went into business. I got a business degree and then I got a public administration graduate degree.

So I became employable but what happened for me once I became employable after, I mean, with within six months after getting my graduate degree, my brain started saying you needed to go back to that art stuff. And I remember fighting it. I was in my thirties at that time, and I was like, there’s no way I’m going to go to arts, art class.

I’m going to be the oldest one in there, at that time. And, you know, what am I, was I really an artist, because I was very artistic growing up drew and painted and, was complimented on what, I did, but you know, I had kind of convinced myself that was a mirage that didn’t happen.

And that was, you know, I’m a legend in my own mind and all that kind of stuff. So I didn’t really think I was, I knew I wanted to do art, but I wasn’t sure if that was really who I really was. And so it took about 10 years, almost 10 years to actually get into a studio art class. And from then I started doing my artistic practice and started showing my arts.

And that’s where we are. I have art exhibitions and jury shows and all that. The poetry thing came within the last five years. I used to write I guess poetry. Actually they were song lyrics because what I would do, I could hear the music in my head. And I could hear how the song went.

I could tell you the instruments that were involved, didn’t read a lick of music, but I could write the lyrics. And I did that in my preteens all the way up until college and college, I abandoned all of it. You know, I just didn’t show that side. So a lot of people didn’t know I was. this artistic until my late 30s.

So that was kind of interesting. Like you did, you do all this, you know? Yeah, I do. And I did actually start writing poetry a few years ago. And, you know, so it’s one thing about getting older, you get freer. It’s not the same when you’re younger, where you’re trying to quote, unquote, impress people.

It’s really about you. And so what I’m finding that with a lot of people is giving them permission to, Unleash that creative side of themselves because they’ve had to suppress it for so many different reasons. And, it’s really about giving people permission. And so that’s sort of what I do as a coach is give people, help them get permission to give themselves permission to be the creative people that they want to be.

They are and to try as many things as they want to and not get caught up in any of the voices that either were real or imagined in their heads about being creative people. What that looks like. What’s it supposed to look like? The level you want to go, you know, it’s up to you. It doesn’t have to be a specific.

It doesn’t have to look like somebody else. It’s really about Oh, yourself and feeling clearer about that and being comfortable with how you show up as a creative person later in life and that it’s never too late to be creative. I have a. A mug that says that that I created. And so that led me to writing a book creative sparks 21 affirmations and inspirations for creativity at midlife.

I wanted something that was uplifting for people that were. dealing with some of the barriers I did when I first started creating again on a regular basis. And I also have interviews of other creatives that are at Midlife and their advice on some things. So we talk, you know, the book talks about a variety of different situations, everything from creative blocks to dealing with grief and using creativity for that.

And it’s been a labor of love for a few years. I finally got it together to get it out here and it’s dropping. May 14th, and I’m very excited about it. And I understand that the topic today is creativity and self care. And I thought this is the first time I’m actually sharing a bit from the book.

But I thought I would share that. I don’t know if we want to do that first, or if you want to have questions first

Aurora: Yeah, no, I think it would be great to share a little bit from the book, and then maybe we could each share a question if you have one, and then we’ll open up for discussion.

Sharon: Cool. Cool. Okay. The chapters are relatively short, so, Hopefully it’s not going to be too long for this format. But as I mentioned, there’s 21 affirmations. So this is the chapter that’s entitled Affirmation 5. And the affirmation is, My creative practice brings me peace. When many of us think of self care, we tend to think of activities such as massage, yoga, physical activity, hanging out in nature, sleep, meditation, etc.

We don’t think much about doing art or some other creative activity as a form of self care, but I invite you to think of it in this way. For me, my creative practice is one of my favorite self care activities. Of course, there is work involved. Looking at composition, the images, thinking of what I want to convey, etc.

But it is my favorite form of work. I get lost in it. I forget about the craziness in the world. Only my, my only focus is that art piece. I put on music that soothes my soul, scents that inspire me and relax me, whether it is essential oils or incense, and I become one with my art. A creative practice connects us to another place and a product of this connection is whatever we produce as a result.

It is also a stress reliever and can be a way to deal with anxiety. A friend of mine who found himself caring for his elderly parents full time would spend his time either in nature or creating art using alcohol inks on small tiles, creating the most beautiful abstract pieces. At my last count, he was approaching somewhere between an impressive 80 and over a hundred pieces of small abstract art.

As a result, engaging in a creative practice can be a powerful form of self care that nurtures your mental, emotional, and even physical wellbeing. Here are some of the ways that creative expression can help you. as a wellness activity for self care. One, stress reduction. Creative activities such as painting, writing, or crafting can serve as a form of mindfulness, which helps you focus on the present moment.

Mindfulness activities can reduce stress and anxiety as you temporarily let go of worries and distractions. Two, catharsis for self expression. Creative practices can provide a release for pent up emotions or stress. Writing, for example, can be a form of self care, allowing you to put your thoughts and feelings on paper.

Whether you’re creating art, writing poetry, or playing music, a creative practice can enable you to process your emotions, channel your feelings, and release them in a healthy way. Three, self discovery. Engaging in creative practices may uncover hidden talents, desires, or facets of your personality that you haven’t previously acknowledged about yourself or recognized.

Four, boost self esteem. The very act of accomplishing creative tasks and seeing the results can greatly boost your self esteem and self worth. Knowing that you’ve created something beautiful or meaningful can be a powerful confidence builder. Five, time for yourself. Engaging in creative activities forces you to carve out time for yourself, which is important for self care.

It’s an opportunity to prioritize your needs and interests. Six, physical benefits. Some creative practices like dance or certain forms of performance art can provide physical benefits by promoting healthy movement and coordination as a form of exercise. Seven, self care ritual. Incorporating creative activities into your daily or weekly routine can be become a form of self care ritual.

Knowing that you have dedicated time for your creative practice can be comforting and grounding. Another point is to be open to doing another form of creative expression that may be different from what you regularly engage in. A few years ago, I found myself dealing with a personal life lesson that resulted in a a deep disappointment and frustration.

In the past, I channeled those disappointments into my visual art practice, which resulted in some unique subject matter for my work. However, for some reason, this time I was not able to use this situation as a muse for my visual work, which left me even more frustrated. As I wrote my morning pages, I found myself writing poetry in the, in prose, which described my thoughts and feelings.

When I went to work in the morning or on my way home on public transportation, I found myself writing into the notes sections of my smartphone. In less than six months, I wrote almost 40 poems, which expressed my emotions in an artistic way. I had not written any kind of poetry since I was a preteen, and this was new and exciting for me.

I don’t recall how I got the ideal, but I decided to compile many of them into a chatbook of poems. I created my own artwork for the cover, formatted it, and made some copies at a local print store and hosted a poetry reading of the collection with friends. This led me to a new creative passion that included me sharing poems at open mics and eventually having some printed in an anthology of poetry by women.

If I had stuck To my tried and true method of creative engagement, I would not have discovered that I have a talent for writing poetry. Remember that the type of creative practice that serves as self care can vary greatly from person to person. It could be painting, writing, dancing, cooking, gardening, or any activity that allows you to express yourself and find joy in the process.

The key is to find what resonates with you and makes you feel rejuvenated and fulfilled.

Aurora: Awesome. So, I’m going to ask something and then if you guys have a question that might go on the podcast, feel free to put it in the chat for now. And then we’ll open up for more personal discussion after that.

It’s interesting because the last person that I interviewed, who’s also going to be speaking on the healing power of music princess Fortier, she she also kind of went into school thinking like, All her whole family was teachers.

And this is what art is just a hobby. It’s not but she she studied neuroscience and then discovered that singing actually cured her migraines. And she’s now she’s a professional singer and model and actress. And but there’s something specific to that story that. Something you said triggered, but now I’m losing it, but

Sharon: it’s okay. It’ll come back.

It probably could come back.

Aurora: Anyway. So, yeah, if you guys have any, or have at least one question, maybe to share in the chat, I was going to ask what do you say to people who say I’m not creative?

Sharon: I say that everyone is creative and, you know, I challenge them because because I think a lot of times we don’t realize that creativity does not have to be, it doesn’t necessarily have to show up like as an artistic or a written way.

It can show up in a lot of different things. There are people that are great storytellers. They can tell a story and have people in stitches. And that’s a form of creativity. I also challenged some people that are great with makeup. I’ve never been a big makeup person, but I’ve always admired women that could do a lot with eyeshadow and people don’t realize that’s a form of art.

I mean, when you can layer those colors, right. And really, you know, I’m like, you’re an artist in the sense is you’re able to do that. And people don’t think about that. They don’t think that they’re you know, the desire, you know, people that really love cooking, that is a creative activity. We are all creative.

I think what I try to share with people is that your creativity doesn’t have to show up the same way of somebody else, it can show up The way that you like to express yourself, that you enjoy, you know, whatever your self expression is. So I, I always say that, we’re all creative. It’s just how we use it, how we, if we make it a priority in our lives or not.

And even if it’s something that we feel we’re not. As good as maybe somebody else, you know, we all have choice. We have choice whether we want to engage in learning something new. And learning something that we’ve always wanted or to decide whether or not the messages that you were given, maybe at a younger period or a different period of your life, if you are making that a self fulfilling prophecy.

You know, I think sometimes people just go by something that somebody said about something they did like maybe artistically or in a manner that they consider creative as the barometer of whether they’re creative. And I think a lot of times people get it mixed up with talent because talent and creativity, they go hand in hand, but they’re different.

Talent is, you know, being extraordinary in something, but being creative, it’s not even about talent. It’s about your passion and your desire to create something that you want to share with the world. And so I think sometimes people just. Don’t I think they get that mixed up to the talent versus.

Being creative.

Aurora: Awesome. Totally. Yeah. And you know, it’s funny because growing up, I didn’t think of myself as creative initially because I don’t pull things out of my head out of nowhere. Right. I have to have an anchor point. And part of that is I don’t I have what’s that a Fantasia.

So I can’t visualize. Right. In my head. And so I have to have something to refer to. But like, obviously, if you follow me, you know that I mean, I clearly have creative.

Sharon: Yeah, you are probably one of the most creative people that I follow on social media. But it doesn’t show up the same way like my mind.

Yeah, that creativity is there, you know, you understand it in, you know, creating this community, creating these different ways of expressing yourself through the podcast and through different. Things that you do. That’s a form of creativity.

Aurora: Yeah. So I think that’s great. I’m going to read a couple of questions here and then we can open up for discussion.

So, we have what do you say to those who have many creative gifts when the world tries to shoot them down?

Sharon: Well, I think one of the things is. Going back to why do you create? Why is it important to you? And, I used to think that, you know, the question of why I do this, well, I just do it, because a lot of people don’t think it’s not like, social work. Social work is about, Oh, I want to help people and save people, art, creativity, whether you have multiple passions or not, why do you do it?

And when I asked that it’s about you, it’s not about other people. It’s about why do you engage in it? So being clear about that first actually answers the second question, because when you’re clear about why you create and you’re, you are embracing the love and the passion of being a creative person.

Being whatever way you show up. I’m multiple, passionate, multi passionate, creative. I write, I create, you know, create visual art. And who knows before it’s all said and done when they write my chapter in the book of life, what else I will do. There’s a part of me that’s kind of been thinking about film.

Don’t know how that’s going to happen five years from now, I think you’re talking about, yeah, this film. But I’m clear that it gives me joy. It’s a sense of self care for me. And those two things alone is important to me. I believe it’s important for me to convey certain thoughts and feelings to the public through my art, particularly my visual art.

I am a collage mixed media artist. And so I’m working, been working on a series since the pandemic focusing on a lot of people used the term black joy. But I’m using it from a different perspective that when a lot of the craziness start up, and being from a generation that didn’t have to deal with as much of that growing up.

I, was like, okay, where do we go from here? And I was like, no, we need to look backwards. We need to look at the elders, the ancestors, the people from the past who had it much worse. And I decided to do a whole series that looked at, People from the forties, the fifties, and even the sixties, you know, that were serving up joy in their photos and using them as the focal point for my art, and I got a lot of energy from that.

And I use a lot of old pictures of people that I don’t know, because people say, is that your relative? I don’t know. I have a few of them that are my family. family members, but not much. But I’m just getting energy from people that I see people that are smiling and at a time when things were dark for people of color in this country.

I mean, really dark as far as, you know, the kinds of things we were dealing with. And you see people that were smiling, that were happy, that were, you know, in social situations. And I’m like, okay, that tells me as part of resilience, there was a sense of joy and that they maintain that joy despite what was happening, you know, and I’m not saying that, Oh, we’re going to be happy during all that.

No, but that was a sense of, resilience for them. And so I did this whole series on that. I feel that’s important whether you like it or not. I don’t care whether you shoot it down. I don’t care. I have that passion and that willpower and that thought process that is a serious. I think that’s important.

And apparently people do because my stuff has been getting into juried into shows. So when I wasn’t doing that kind of work, it wasn’t getting in. You know, and I don’t make it like a shining, you know, this is what it’s about, but I work very hard on the composition and the titles and everything I know what it’s about, and you know, that passion is driving interest in the work same with my poetry, which is more on a different level and on different subject matters, but it’s important.

So I learned for example, was dating somebody. I’m going to talk about whatever, but was dating someone. And they were, they made a disparaging comment about my poetry. And it was interesting because it kind of came from, I wasn’t expecting it, you know, cause you think, Oh, you know, somebody, and they were like, well, it sort of goes along and then, It doesn’t go anywhere.

And I’m like, okay. And I almost allowed that to take over when he said that. And I was like, you know, is it that, but then I had to, I also challenged people to put into perspective who is saying these things, you know, are these people in your, you know, are they poets? Are they writers? Are they accomplished in what they’re doing?

And even if they are, there’s always someone else that has a counter. Perspective on what you do. This is a person who’s never written poetry. Seriously doubt if he reads it. And I had already been published in an anthology by a woman that has been mentoring me and has written poetry and other books.

So she would not have put that in the book if my stuff was raggedy. So I was like, Okay, you know, you have to. Once you get past the sting of what someone says, you have to put things in perspective. And remember, not a lot of, it takes courage to be a creative person in this country, or in this world, no matter who you are.

People don’t have that kind of courage, not your, to be a creative person, you have to be, have courage and the passion to just do it. And people are intimidated by that sometimes. And sometimes you remind people of what they always wanted to do, but don’t have the nerve to do it. So it’s easier. It’s more comfortable to try to kind of pull you to a certain level because, This is something, I’m finding that a lot of people are closet artists, closet writers that have been in my life and have said things and I found out later indirectly what they were always wanting to do these things.

I have to say I’ve been blessed that my life has not been encumbered by a lot of things that other people have, you know, where I could exercise those things. And I tried to have compassion for those folks because they may not have been given those opportunities or they might have been shot down when they tried to do those things.

So, you know, it’s about having compassion for people, but understanding where they’re coming from, and not letting that deter you. I hope that answered whoever’s question on that.

Aurora: Oh, absolutely. And that’s very powerful in terms of like really knowing your, why .

Sharon: Because that’s your North star.

If you don’t, if you’re not clear why you’re doing this, if it’s about outside validation, that’s not going to be your, that’s not the, you know, that should be icing on the cake.

Aurora: Yeah.

Sharon: But if you’re looking to do these things for outside validation, You’re going to always be disappointed because it’s always going to be somebody that’s not going to be very complimentary.

Aurora: Absolutely. So we have a couple more questions in the chat that we’ll share on the podcast and then we’ll open up for discussion.

So, as adults, especially those of us raised with demands of having financial security, how do you make space to find time for creativity that may not pay a single bill or even garner any particular praise? Great question.

Sharon: I think one of the things that particularly my generation’s had to do was again, do a lot to survive. You know, a lot of us did not get a chance to have a career in the arts or in creative fields. So we had to work and we had to balance family. We had to balance demands of a full time job and all those kinds of things. I think it’s just really deciding what priority you want to give it in your life.

I have found that with anything, whether it’s working on a committee or a volunteer type thing, whether it’s engaging in, you know, going back to school or doing anything, it’s about priority. And even though it may feel like, well, this is just a hobby, you know, but is it a priority to you? And it goes back to the self care thing.

Is that part of your self care, you know? And if so, if we take time to get our nails done, us ladies. Men these days. If we get time to get our hair done, if we get time for massages, like I mentioned in the book our yoga classes, if we like to do our little jogging in the morning and all that, okay, that means that those things have become, what, a priority in our lives.

Those are things that we need to take care of ourselves or we feel that keeps us balanced. And we all know This world right now, we all need balance and grounding, right? So I think it’s really about making that decision. And I just did a workshop on this the other day, which was time management for creative minds.

And we talked about that. And we talked about you know, how do, when we take a look at our week, when we take a look at our daily, okay, there’s always room for it. But there may be some things that you have to really think about. For example, if. I’m working 40 days a week, you know, hmm, what time am I more active at night?

 There’s night people, my brother is a night guy, his clock turns on at three and he’s like until maybe three in the morning, right? Me, I’m a morning person. You know, from 4 a. m. to 10 is like my hotspot, right? So, I may decide I’m gonna do some writing before I start working.

I happen to work from home at this point, so I can do some creative work in the morning. When I was working on the book, I would write in the morning, or I’d write midday. But if you have to commute, you know, it’s looking at your schedule and saying, okay, where can I put this in? There’s a lot of things going on.

And if you’re in a situation, let’s say you have a husband and kids or a wife and kids or a partner and, whatever. Is there some things that you are in charge of doing, or do you find yourself saying yes to that? You don’t have to say yes to. Sometimes we feel that we’re, you know, Oh, I got to do it or it won’t get done.

Well, maybe sometimes, maybe you’ve got to challenge that, you know, do, is there other people in the household that can take care of certain things? Is there maybe a night that is just yours to create and you can just tell the people in your household, within reason, you know, On Tuesday nights from 6 to 10 is going to be my night to create.

That’s something I plan to do. And so I’m going to be over here doing this. Or do you need to go somewhere else to do it? You know, maybe another let’s say an outside studio or someplace, a cafe where you can do some writing that you can spend an hour or two outside the home to do. But I think the biggest thing is deciding how much of a priority it’s going to be in your life and what you’re willing to do to make it a priority.

If that means to shuffle some things around, if that means to let, family members or your partner know that this is becoming a priority and you’re carving that time out. You know, those kinds of things, and there’s going to be some periods and seasons in our lives. Let’s face it where we’re going to be doing caregiving or we’re going to have to be a little more present for the kids.

But understanding those seasons and deciding, okay, you know, maybe. This season may not be the best for me to start that, but there may be some time still that I can carve out. If I have to go to basketball practice with my kid, and I’m trying to learn knitting or I’m trying to maybe, do a creative practice like drawing or thinking through doing a mind map of stuff.

Could I take that? While I’m watching the practice in, you know what I’m saying? You know, how portable are some of the things that I want to do that maybe I can do simultaneously. It’s really looking at things creatively, but the most important thing is deciding that it’s a priority and it’s something you want to do.

And that may mean, especially if you’re a multi passionate creative, like myself, you may not do the art stuff while you’re at the practice, but you might be writing a little bit of poetry. While you’re there, you know, it depends on what it is that you are doing.

Aurora: Awesome. And we have one more question in the chat and then we’ll open up for discussion and personal reflection.

So, and this one’s kind of a biggie. So we’ll where does creativity come from? Is it just in your mind or might you be able to tap into something beyond your physical body to bring those things to life?

Sharon: That’s a good question. I think for me, it’s a little bit of both. I think that if it’s in your mind, that means that’s a nudge, that’s something you may want to explore and in some form of self expression.

What was the second part?

Aurora: Is it just in your, oh, where does it come from? Is it just in your mind or might you be able to tap into something beyond your physical body to bring those things to life?

Sharon: I think you can. I think so. I think it’s, you know, when I think about the poetry thing, for example that was something that I did years ago as a kid, but that comes from a different place than my visual art.

It’s similar, but it’s very different. I think that comes more from more of that physical, unphysical place that, that part of my soul that Is in love with words and have been a lifelong poetry lover. And I am lifelong music lover that really gets into, you know, I’m one of what they call the music head.

 I’m into music like beyond just, Oh, I love that song. No, I, I love the lyrics because they really brought it home. And the way that they wrote that is from a different, you know what I’m saying? I’ve. I intellectualize and all that. So the poetry comes from a, a place in my soul. The art comes from kind of a visual stimulus for me.

And so I think when we talk about creativity, it’s sort of nebulous. And I think it’s sort of one of those things that when it, when you think if you are a natural creative person, it’s just a part of your psyche. It’s a part of your soul. It’s a part of your spirit and you, and it’s also sort of a thing that you have to do.

It’s like, whereas some people might say, Oh, that’s a good and interesting idea. And they move on when we have a creative thought and we are embracing who are who we are as creative individuals. We can’t go past that. We have to make it happen somehow, even if it doesn’t turn out the way that we want it to be.

We’re going to try it. You know, and I think that’s makes, that’s the difference. It’s sort of like, I don’t want to use the word addiction, but it’s sort of like, it has to happen, we have to do it. It’s so innate that we have to do it. So where it comes from, I think it just comes from a variety of different places.

I think it also comes from life experience as well. You know, if we were keen observers of life, there’s so much that we can take in that can really tap into that part of us that wants to experiment or try or bring something out of us. And if we’re truly living and observing and taking in that comes back to us through creativity, the act of creating.

If we’re passive about life or numb. I don’t know if that would come as easily or that it would nag us as much, you know, I find that my fellow, my, my close friends that are creative people, whether they’re writers, I have a few folks that sing and musicians and people like that. When we talk, it’s always interesting because they’re taking in so much about the world.

One of the interesting things I’ve been doing I’m a big Beatles fan. And I love Paul McCartney. He’s my favorite Beatle. And there is this podcast on Spotify, which talks about it’s based on a book that he did with this other guy about it’s called lyrics or something like that, and he really breaks down what caused him to write these lyrics and these songs and stuff.

And I find it so fascinating because if you listen to it he talks about what inspired him to write those songs. And when you listen to him, he is an observer of life. And because of that, he, he could not sit down, observe things and be like, Oh, that’s interesting and move on. He had to work with it, whether it was radio shows from when he was growing up in the early fifties to You know, going to a social event and observing people, there was just so much that he was taking in and how that really kind of came out into his creative practice, which was as a songwriter and musician.

And I think that is a wonderful example about where that creativity comes from. Because a lot of times he didn’t. He would say on some of those songs, he didn’t know how to do certain chords. He didn’t know how he was going to he could see other kinds of musical influences, wasn’t sure how that, how to do that and had to work other people to bring in, you know, orchestra players and people that were got involved with some of these songs that were kind of complicated.

And so. I think listening to someone like him, I could see that creative thing going observer of life, curious about life and having to do something to interpret what you saw or heard that inspired you.

Aurora: Awesome. And I’m going to open up for discussion in just a second. But I think it’s so interesting when you were commenting about the different parts that were like the visual versus the poetry comes from. I’ve been reflecting for myself how like I have different seasons for those different parts because for me, you know, I used to do a lot of blogging and a lot of writing And the last few years I’ve found that when I’ve been in hardcore burnout mode, words are much more difficult for me.

And so like, I’ve had a self assessment course outlined in my head for several years, but I can’t like this summer, my goal is to get that out because I think by then I’ll have, I’ll, you know, I’ll be able to access those words a little bit better, but it’s just interesting to me because the last few years it’s been really hard for me to, you know, Be creative with words.

And so I’ve been focusing more on visuals and things like that. So, I think we sometimes have seasons for those different parts. That’s great.

Sharon: I think that’s a good point. And I think a lot of times people get frustrated and blocked.

Aurora: Mm-Hmm. .

Sharon: But I think you bring up something that’s really important that I hadn’t even really realized until, I guess I said something and you said something, and it’s that observation thing.

We can get blocked when. You know, we’re concentrating on something like the book that blocked me from some things. But like now that it’s just about ready to rock and roll, I’m coming back to my poetry. Like I haven’t really done much of my poetry in the last couple of years, but I’m finding myself not quite there yet, but I’m writing down thoughts and then going back to them to formulate.

The poems where I wasn’t doing that at all. So something’s loosening up, but and it looks like it’s more strangely words, but not so much the visual right now. That visual side is not kicking in really that much, but , this desire to write is coming in. So yeah, maybe let’s see.

Aurora: Yeah, so interesting. Awesome.


Aurora: So let’s see Sheldon, do you have anything you want to add ?

Sheldon: I just want to say that this has been a really good discussion.

It’s very resonant with conversations I’m having across other groups. I will also call out that one of the things that Sharon, I want to follow up with you about is what this means for us as black folks, because it does hit different. I mean, I’ll just say two things just right now at the top of my head that kind of stuck out about what you said that when you said my work must not be raggedy.

That’s something that was a different flavor on it, but I understood exactly. What you meant, and I’ve had, you know, those thoughts and questions and interactions as well, but as well, there’s something that I’m working on right now that is related to this experience of culturally what we have had to do to survive and what that has meant for us creatively, what that has meant for us to be able to express ourselves emotionally and how, just as you said, just a simple example of You know, for a lot of us and a lot of our parents, this idea that you could choose something other than what would make you employable was not, it wasn’t a real option.

And so, unless you were exceptional, right. In that way, right. Like, so, what does that mean for us as a people and as a part of the society? And so these are thoughts that I have, and that I think is a good discussion to follow up on. But. Thank you so much for sharing, like I said, your story and in your insights

Sharon: and thank you for bringing some of that up.

I think from a cultural point of view, yes, you know, being African American in this country. It was about you know, my parents were from the silent generation. That was a pre civil war. They weren’t boomers. You know, they weren’t part of that group that did the civil rights movement or push that we were in.

They were indirectly involved, but not as active with that. So they had maybe even a little more. traditional thought patterns about how to show up in this country than, you know, those that had parents that were boomers. So, yeah, I do recognize that their perspective was from, what can you do that’s going to move us ahead as a people and move you ahead as a young person in society.

So no, we didn’t have the luxury. of just being artists and I think a lot of people period, no matter what your background was, you know, a lot of people that were artists came from wealthy families where they could afford to just sort of do that, you know, and they could.

 But we also have so many artists in the black community, particularly from the Harlem Renaissance on, that didn’t have, didn’t come from those types of families, but they just, that, that passion just drove them. You know, you’re Jacob Lawrence’s, people that did have parents that I don’t think really wanted them to be doing all that, but they moved forward with it.

And I think that there is that cultural piece about traditions family traditions and what, Families and certain generations. Believed we needed to show up as, you know, so, I don’t see that as much anymore . I do in some ways envy those much younger than me because, you know, now creativity is like the thing, and doesn’t seem to be based as much on maybe race or ethnic or cultural things.

It’s sort of like celebrated. And I think internet has a lot to do with that, you know, because so many careers creatively. have been, launched because people can, promote themselves and some people have done pretty well. You know, the people that were internet influencers are, being paid now to, do different things that was not the case when we, you know, when I was coming.

But I think you have a point that in a society that didn’t value who we were and how we, you know, what we brought, to prevent us from being in something that they perceived that was not going to be employable. And maybe in some cases it was that case. I do believe that.

I don’t think it was as healthy as it is now because again, technology has really created opportunities for more creative people than it was at the time we came through. So, you know, even though there was a part of me that resented the fact that I had to go through this little business route. Am blessed that I became employable.

I could take care of myself. But I also think it’s important for Gen X and boomers and, you know, anybody, I guess, in between to understand it because we might’ve made those pivots. It doesn’t mean that it’s too late to do what you really wanted to do and to see, you know, despite Whatever messages or whatever the reality was for us, it’s never too late.

You can always come back. You can always embrace it. You can always work through it. You can always use it as self care, particularly during times where there’s so much racial strife like we’re dealing with in the last rule. I guess seven years to the level that it is. It’s always been there. So, you know, we’re not going to Mhm.

say it wasn’t always there, but to the point where it’s showing up and it’s showing up in a negative way for many people that unfortunately that are younger than us. And our age too, you know, that are reacting to some of the realities that are happening. So I’ll just leave it right there, but thank you.

And yes, we need to have a conversation. I think I would love that.

Aurora: Absolutely. And for those who joined us later, Sheldon has a podcast on black giftedness and neurodivergence called I must be bugging. So you should definitely check that out.

Sharon: I’d love to be a guest too, if you’d like to have me, I’d be, yeah,

Aurora: I kind of sense that.

Sharon: We can talk more about that. Yeah. Yeah.

Wrap up

Aurora: Awesome. Well, we’re at our time, but Sharon, do you have any final words you would like to share?

Sharon: Well, I think Three things. One when we look at your creativity, really think about what your why is. Two, do not be afraid to make creativity. If that’s part of something you really want to do in your life to make it more of a priority.

And if you do that, look at it from the lens of your why and look at it from the lens of self care. If nothing else, it doesn’t have to be a commodity or a product. anything. It could just be for whatever it is that you want it to be. But to get in, the third thing is to give yourself permission to discover your why and to make it a priority and to try as many things as you want to.

As adults, we’re adults now, so we can do those things. We don’t, It’s giving yourself permission to do those things like you do anything else. And then the last thing is, you know, my book, Creative Sparks, 21 Affirmations and Inspirations for Creativity at Midlife. It’s launching May 14th. 2024. At the time of this taping, it’s been a couple of weeks away.

And if you’re interested in learning more, I invite you to visit my website to get on the wait list so you can get information on it at sparkyourcreative. com forward slash book. So, thank you, this has been quite a interesting journey to get to this point, but again, it’s sparkyourcreative.

com forward slash book. You can get on the wait list for that book and get information. If you’re interested in getting that and I talk a lot. Everything from the self care piece, which I read earlier for those of you that were here. But we also get into creativity is a form of working through grief.

We talk about some of things like imposter syndrome and inner critic, things that may block us naysayers, you know, people that have so much to say about our life. creative lives and how to deal with that. And there are affirmations and I talk about writing affirmations to help rewire your thoughts on different things.

You know, sometimes, when we write something positive in the affirmative, even if that’s not how we totally feel at the moment, it shifts our energy. To move in a more positive direction. And that’s what it’s about as well as some great advice and some tips from creatives that I’ve interviewed everyone from musicians to painters, to writers that contributed to the book and shared their stories.

So, it’s a unique book and I’m very proud of it. And, you know, and encourage anyone that’s interested to, to join the wait list and Find out more about it. You can find me on Facebook at spark, your creative and on Instagram as spark, your creative as well. My podcast, I have a podcast spark, your creative podcast is on soundcloud and I interview artists and creatives that are either making a difference with their creative.

creativity for a better world or really help us help all of us to learn how to navigate a creative life at midlife and beyond. So, you can check that out as well. And thank you. So much for inviting me to be a part of this. I really appreciate them.

Aurora: Awesome. I’m so glad to have you and I can’t wait to share

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