“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” (Kurt Vonnegut)

Hello friends,

This is Dana Rubin-Winkelman, the social worker. I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

In this week’s “Touch Points” email I will be focusing on how adding more creativity into your day can elevate and nourish your soul. I realize I may have just “lost” some readers when I dared to use the “C” word (“C” is for creativity, by the way). But, that’s okay, I am up for the challenge of persuading you! Creativity isn’t only for a select few. In fact, if you remain open to the possibilities, I guarantee that you will let light into your heart and your life. There are many ways to create and feel inspired; my list below is just a starting point. So, let’s get “out of our heads” for a while, and get lost in the magic of creating!

For those of you caring for someone with memory loss, enhancing your loved-one’s day through meaningful recreational activities, like the arts, can have a profound impact on their overall health and quality of life. Creativity can improve mental health, physical health and brain health. And, of course, completing something together makes the day brighter as you share the process and the joy. I have included ideas that are easily adaptable (or might be perfect, as is!). Jump in, and refresh your soul with something new!

Ideas to Improve Your Life with Creativity:

  1. Take a Doodle Break– Due to the possible creative naysayers, I am starting with an easy way to wade into the creative process. Eventually, however, I will win you over! Doodling is an great way to begin. Take a piece of paper and just doodle.  When you doodle, try not to have anything particular in mind.  Instead, let your pencil wander over the paper and see what happens.  Try to keep your mind out of it, letting your imagination wander.  Doodle for about five minutes.  Take a look at what you have done.  You may be surprised at how creative you have been.  What is it?  What could it be?  Look at it upside down and sideways.  It is a good brain exercise.
  2. Create a Bucket List  This is a list of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish before the end of their life. Try coming up with an individual list, or create a list with your family. The answers might surprise you! Your Bucket List could be as small as trying Indian food or as big as buying a motor home… There might be even things on your list that you can accomplish safely while socially isolating.
  3. Use Art to Express Your Emotions-  Art, certainly, can be therapeutic. Gather any art supplies you have at home. Honestly, anything will work… paper, pens, pencils, paint, and/or markers. Some people like to also make a collage with a collection with various materials like old magazines, fabric or photos. Think about how you are feeling, breathe deeply and let your hands move over the paper. Don’t get caught up in what things look like, rather, just enjoy the process. The exploration may be healing. In addition, creating, without words, may help a loved one with word-finding difficulty find a place to express him/herself. In fact, it may spark new insights into how your loved one is feeling.
  4. Try Creative Verbal Expression-  Last year, I had the pleasure of hearing Stuart Kandell, Ph.D. lead a workshop. Dr. Kandell is nationally known as the “global pioneer of creative aging.” Through performing arts, he uses creative expression. During the workshop, he used a simple, delightful exercise that I would encourage you to try at home. Take a few minutes and think about “what is your earliest smell?” Then, discuss the aroma, think about what was occurring at the time, and how it made you feel. For me, my earliest smell is my Grandma Mildred’s giant pot of chicken soup. I can still smell the scent. My Grandparent’s home was always filled with love, my big close-knit family and food. So much food. So, even today, the smell of chicken soup makes my heart sing. What smell do you remember? This is a wonderful reminiscence exercise too.
  5. Journal- Journaling is a great way to self-reflect, organize your thoughts and inspire creativity. Fill your journal with details about the day, dreams, how you are feeling, or take a mental trip somewhere.  You can write or draw. Maybe you would like to reflect on your experience during this pandemic? What things would you leave in a timebox to tell future generations about this moment in time? Like other art expression, journaling has the ability to help you find your voice. If it feels good, try to get into a flow. Journaling can also boost memory and comprehension.
  6. Need a little inspiration?- Still stuck? These talented artists may ignite your imagination. Check out the Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s “From the Archives” with Jay Hyland. Jay highlights our talented resident, Annette Hirsh. Annette is a beautiful Judaic metalsmith artist. https://youtu.be/WQzDcK9ZFY4   Or, take a look at “Fired Up: The Pottery of Abe Cohen.”  Abe was central to bringing pottery to Door County. https://jewishmuseummilwaukee.org/exhibits/abe-cohn/

Whatever you try, please don’t get caught up in making it perfect, “doing it right,” or judging the work. Just produce a moment that leads to a smile, a fresh thought, or maybe even an inner discovery. Who knows what will blossom!  I would love to hear what you created and how these activities are nourishing your soul.  I welcome your email: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,

Dana