Playing with PHOTOS in Nature - Kalamazoo Roadtrip (pt 1)
For years now, I've been experimenting with the idea that creativity and play are important aspects of my own unique path of healing - and I suspect I'm not alone.
Do you ever dedicate UNSTRUCTURED time for yourself? Play-time if you put in in terms from childhood.
As we get older, it seems like adults are expected to only play or be creative when it involves an exchange of money - like with golf, those wine and painting parties, or a zillion other ways we end up spending money and time in the name of relaxation and unwinding.
Many kids' play-time is overly structured, leaving little time or motivation to just PLAY instinctively and without some type of agenda. I feel very fortunate that when I was a child enduring years of abuse, at least I had an abundance of unstructured free time and a lot of space to roam in nature.
A year or so ago, it occurred to me to try to consistently think of my Free Time (aka non-work time) as Potential Creative Play Time. I've been doing a pretty good job of reminding myself to think in these terms, and it's one little piece of my own healing journey that has been working well for me.
Every person seeking healing / self-growth is different, but the importance of creative self-expression - which is playful by nature - is widely-accepted in the professional therapeutic community under umbrella terms like Expressive Therapy. This gives me a sense of validation, although I try not to get hung up on what the "experts" say when it comes to self-therapy and trauma-healing. Instead, I am trying to focus on re-learning how to trust my own intuition.
Whenever I "play" / whenever I am in creative mode, I am expressing SOMETHING, even if it's not something you can touch or even describe in words. Expressive Therapy can take many forms including:
- art expressions (abstract art is especially fun and accessible since ANYONE can do this!)
- body expressions (yoga, dance, exercise, just to name a few - body work is KEY for me!)
- nature expressions (simply spending time in nature is a powerful sometimes and carries over into other parts of my life)
- reading expressions (reading has been coping mechanism for me since childhood, and reading books and blogs are just 2 sources that give me ideas and perspectives that spill over in so many powerful ways)
- sound expressions (whether listening to music, or playing with drums, singing bowls, and other instruments that anyone can have fun with)
- voice expressions (this is sort of like sound expressions, but for me, I feel like I have to dedicate time specifically toward re-finding my voice for speaking but for fun and self-therapy I explore my singing voice even though I'm not a "good singer" by society's norms)
- writing expressions (poetry, journaling, taking notes, writing social media comments and sometimes deleting them even before I share, anything in Writing is time well-spent for me!)
Intentionally and consciously, I "tell" my mind that I'm in "play mode," giving myself permission to store just about any experience as a potentially creative expression of my "authentic self" that I am uncovering layer by layer. Each expression is a potential bridge for another day's epiphany. I never know at the time what may happen - and that's the point. For me, the process of setting that intention, and sort of mentally touching base with it regularly has very subtle effects at times, and dramatic effects at others, but it's never really about any particular effect - it's about the PROCESS of being in creative-play mode that I seem to draw a good deal of healing from.
My husband's birthday is this weekend, so we took a little roadtrip - a great opportunity to immerse myself in play mode!
Our first stop was a cemetery since we both enjoy exploring cemeteries and taking photos - to me cemeteries feels like sacred ground where magical things can happen. #NatureExpression
I often use my phone camera or my ipad, and sometimes I lug my fancy digital camera with different lenses. #ArtExpression I have been having fun lately playing with a photo editing app called Polarr, which I've used in all of these photos I've shared - except the 3rd one which is an unedited version of the 2nd tree photo. I love making nature look abstract and a bit alien. Trees and solar flares are favorite subjects for me.
Do you ever dedicate UNSTRUCTURED CREATIVE PLAY time for yourself? If not, what if you dared?