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How do you want to exercise your creativity?

Jerry Allan, a great teacher, compares creativity to a muscle. “If we don't use it,� he says, “it will atrophy.� Jerry believes that creativity is an innate human quality: we all have it. We are all conceivers and makers and builders.

Creativity can be stifled; it can lie dormant, but it does not die until we do. If, in the second half of life, we want to move more intentionally toward wholeness, then our creativity must accompany us.

What kinds of opportunities to flex your creative muscle appeal to you? What would you make? In what kinds of creative activities could you see yourself engaging? How would you integrate creativity into your life? Would it energize you to be part of a creative community?


Some years ago an artist friend organized weekly gatherings at her home for a group of about ten friends that we started calling "Art Club." The necessary ingredients for each meeting were a willingness to free up a few hours for right-brained play; a great big table; art supplies; pot luck food (VERY important); and an emphasis on process instead of product. That is, we didn't expect to complete an art project. Instead, the accomplishment was spending x hours engaged in creative play. The social aspect was strong - food was a big part of that. More than anything, it was playful instead of purposeful. I miss the space in my week that was our Art Club.

How about more music appreciation?or behind the scenes of the drama/dance events/department?

I spend a great deal of my day creating web pages and writing creative answers to difficult and/or repetitive questions. So in one sense I'm "creative" every day. In another sense, it’s really just my job. The "Art Club" sounds great. At one time I was part of a “Gourmet Club� – similar, but we would play with our food and wine instead! We met at each other’s house and everyone prepared part of the meal. Yes, there was a small amount of competition to make the best tasting dish, but what fun it was to judge them! We not only cooked food from around the world, we made it a point to about the culture that went with the dish as well. Both ideas are appealing – they allow for physical, playful creativity and social contact, which are very important, I think, for many people.

Wonderful observations, what else is very important is consistent and persistent seriously considered positive-feedback from the environment to keep motion going, and partnership with other like minded and inclined and participating in the “creative endeavor� people.

And having process and outcome are equally important, you can not do right with out either component.

What would be important to me is a group where members can come and go. The need for flexibility. The need for it to be ongoing. Like monthly reading groups, cooking groups, art groups, researching current events.

After working 35 years in a creative field, I didn't think I would miss the process. However, as I developed an interest in gardening I realized that dealing with the color, textures,and shapes of plants and their relationship to hardscapes and seasons was just a differnt form of creativity and one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. Now I need to find something to fill the winter months. I'm thinking some sort of fabric art, but am open to new ideas and suggestions.

to be a well rounded person, i try to remember my passions and make time for myself. this is a great reminder.

After being responsible for some 40+ yrs, I came to the realization that social positive intervention is a must to maintain equilibrium within my life. Getting together as a group can fulfill many diversified interests and be fun at the same time.

At 50, I have enjoyed the opportunity to play with intentionality -- as someone said, play emphasized over purpose. An opportunity to meet with others who are pushing ahead into life, but who also seek the opportunity to set down the burdens and obligations of the day to be creative, thoughtful, stimulated, rejuvenated. I found this through an art and spirituality class I took last spring at one of the seminaries, and would enjoy the same opportunity around choral singing, food preparation, other art mediums, movie conversations, etc.

i am always willing to try something. i am trying something new at work...literacy coach for reading and writing...it is a whole new theory and a new way to relate to teachers...i would love to partake in growing something new with people who want the same. i have participated in a mini med course at the u of m last winter and loved it. we are all constantly evolving.youthful thinking and a love for life continues when you try new things.

Each year I work with a group of other women to produce a Father Daughter dinner dance for our local public high school. Members of the group include both women with daughters/nieces at the school and women who no longer have a connection with the school. From creative themes, to invitations, whole room decor, corsages and centerpieces; we design and make it all. A labor of love and a creative outlet - a joy and a gift to ourselves and the community.

many wonderful ideas - I like them all I especially like the idea of trying new creative endeavors on a regular basis in a supportive non competetive environment - where the emphasis is on learning/trying new things

I am increasingly finding joy in the creative process; for me, it's designing gardens and interiors. For the first time this year, I'm looking at another aspect and will take a botanical watercolor class. I encourage Learning Life to consider classes that help foster creativiity as well as sponsoring research and discussions on the topic. How well does creativity actually contribute to a sense of purpose and fulfillment in our lives?

I am a dynamic learner. I approach learning more as a thread of interest which is followed to another thread, constantly building yet open to all possibilities and able to change quickly. With this in mind, an adaptable, fluid environment seems to be best in allowing me to express my creativity.

An environment that would foster this type of creativity might be a Group Independent Study program. Similar in structure to an art course except more loosely designed, one can create thier ideas, present them, get feedback, yet have few encumberances of performance measures with the exception of ones progress at the end of the semester.

This type of course would have all of the benefits of the independent study for self-motivated individuals with all of the benefits of knowledge creation and information exchange found in a structured course. What better environment to foster creativity than one such as this that embraces the diversity of interests explored in traditional independent study courses while capitalizing on the group dynamics to inspire innovative thought. This idea kind of exists in a more structured manner in the MLS Final project and prep course, but could be offered as an independent study option for those working on creative projects or for those who incorporate a strong art component in thier master's work. Even offering this course to non-admitted creative types who just want a community of people against whom they can bounce ideas would benefit innovation and creativity greatly. Think of it as a think-tank course or program for which one can get academic credit.

-Aaron Fahrmann

My creative self keeps knocking at the door demanding to be let in, demanding time and attention. Traditionally, for me, it's music and writing. Lately I've been drawn to other possibilities like - pottery, basic wood working and book making - not that I'm any good at any of it. I just like to play.

I would love to be part of a creative community in which I could share what I have learned and done with those engaged in physical, intellectual, spiritual and creative pursuits while also learning from them.

I would enjoy a group centered on photography in a relaxed setting. Not so much emphasis on the technical, but on the enjoyment of the process of taking photos and our responses to our own and others'photos.

I used to work as a public school art teacher and in a photo studio. That creative environment nurtured my soul. Then I stayed home with my kids and I feel like I closed off my creative life. I'd like to be involved with a group that could make that creative energy resurface.

YES, photography as an art, not a science. I agree with Nancy's suggestion! With the emergence of digital photography, we have become totally obsessed with the technology of photography. Pick up any photography magazine, and that's all you see -- articles about whizzy features of the latest cameras or, worse yet, the latest photo software that enables you to fake images that you only wish you'd captured. My background is engineering, so I should love all the technology, but I don't. We're losing our interest (and creativity) in all the artistic/asthetic aspects of photography. These days, anybody can take a technically good photograph, but let's (re)learn how to do photography as art.

As an introvert, the idea of a "group" creates a bit of anxiety. On the other hand, once a person gets around others with the same interest, you wonder why you didn't do it sooner. In this stressful, frantic world we all lead, the idea of indulging in books, writing, fabrics, birdwatching, photography,wine tasting, travel or WHATEVER moves a person is what people are craving. So continuing to offer options for any creative endeavor is a priority and includes both group venues and individuals. The options are endless.

It would be great to meet with people of all ages in a "class" or whatever type of setting to join in a creative endeavor, a quest for knowledge, or just to expand the mind. It would be fun to combine all of the senses through music, art, books, a trip (real or imaginary). It would NOT have to be with people who are like-minded, variety of ideas would add another dimension. I like Aaron's "thread of interest, followed to another thread, constantly building" idea. Pottery or wood working could be good too.

More and more, my creative side is seeking to be expressed. Right now, it expresses itself in my garden. But I have felt the need to return to working with textiles and needlework arts. I've also wanted to learn new creative outlets: photography, painting, pottery, nature, learning new ideas, etc. Time & energy are the issues at this time in my life. I'm not sure how to resolve those issues right now. I would love to be part of a community and be exposed to new ideas and energy.

I want to share what I have learned about life--including my academic and creative abilities--with kids. My volunteer work in the public schools, assisting teachers K-6, and tutoring kids after school gives me a greate sense of belonging to the community. Why is it not easier for people like me to become active in teaching? Is it because we don't have a license to teach, because we haven't jumped through all the hoops to become a certified teacher? Then why does the U of MN not help us with such a career change? Schools and teachers need help, but my perception is that there are many obstacles for technical professionals to make a transition in order to help!

As my summer outlet for creativity, my garden, closes out I am looking for other options. I love doing collage, writing poetry, starting short stories, travel.

For me an open membership group that supported various interests and might spin off some smaller more narrow groups would be wonderful.

Scheduling would work best if it was regular (first Wednesday, second Thursday or similar). Meeting more than once a month so that if you can't make it one date you don't miss out. And giving the opportunity for more than once a month if you can do it.

What it would take: A regular location with parking available, a coordinator, an easy way to sign up & RSVP for particular dates.