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How I Found My Creativity Again, In A Scavenger Hunt
Lost my creativity and found it again...
It's been quite the summer around here.
I live in San Luis Obispo, CA, and yesterday, we had the worst air quality in the world due to the wildfires. As I write, the skies outside have been dark for days – it's like perpetual dusk. That's... strange.
I was feeling pretty strange there for a while at the beginning of quarantine. So much so that even with all of *this* (waves both arms wildly at 2020), I knew something more was going on.
Well, let me rephrase that. I’d known for some time and had been trying to figure it out, sorta. But I kept distracting myself from the real problem... that I have something fundamentally imbalanced about my brain chemistry, and that the medication I had been taking was having some undesirable side effects.
Quarantine made distracting myself impossible. I finally got on the case with some professionals and we have a new working theory about what’s up in my nog. I've been on new meds for nearly a month, and I'm feeling more like myself than I have in quite some time. Creative, focused and ready to create more beauty.
So, with smoky skies overhead... ready for one of my stories? This one's about how I found my way back to creativity once before... and has some ideas for you, if you are looking for a way to get more creative or to get back to yourself.
How I Found My Creativity Again, in a Scavenger Hunt
In June 2017, my friend R texted: “Come do this thing with us. It’s called GISH… the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt. It will be fun.” It seemed like a good idea at the time. I couldn’t predict how much it would help my mental health.
I was in a bad brain place, struggling with depression and creative block. I hadn’t painted in nine months, after standing at my first-ever holiday faire booth, proudly, for an entire November day… and selling just one Tiny Universe painting. That show crushed my creative spirit. And I didn’t know how to put it back together.
I ramped down my once-successful brand design business. I took a $27-per-hour part-time job doing ads in the local weeklies and running email marketing for a business, hoping for a strong team culture. I found closed doors. I was having one of those “unreasonable pain and suffering” life moments.
I figured the hunt would help me with my loneliness.
I didn’t know how much their cunningly-crafted hunt would reconnect me with my creative side.
It all started with an innocent-enough clue:
121. The people of Iceland believe in Huldufólk, which are invisible elves. They build tiny houses and churches for them. But the Huldufólk deserve to have a nightlife, too! Let’s see a tiny Huldufólk nightclub in a busy urban area.
Picture this flashback: Sixth grade me, designing floor plans on graph paper. Gluing bits of packaged moss to foraged sticks from the yard. Snipping each bit of shingle just so. Look at those shingles!
40-year-old me: Builds a tiny scale model of the Moulin Rouge — foam core, toothpicks, thread. The tower lit up with a battery powered tea light. I got really into this project, and wanted to know more about why.
I scoured the scavenger hunt list for other small things I could make to explore this connection further. A famous sculpture constructed from a single tampon. A tiny burger to photograph on my friend Ariel’s “grill”: temporary gold teeth made with a chocolate wrapper.
I learned that working small helps me focus my thoughts and explore new ways to do things. Now, if I feel stuck creatively, I make small things — a tiny painting, or a palm-sized stuffed animal. That helps keep me connected. GISH helped me figure that out.
After that hunt, my creative work changed dramatically. I focus on the small details more. I’ve restarted my business again and it is thriving. And I haven’t stopped painting since.
Creativity is just one way the GISH hunt has opened up my life and helped lead me back to myself. In the first year, I made big strides in self-confidence and social anxiety, as well. I made some amazing friendships that are stronger than ever. And, I have GISHed intentionally each year since, picking tasks that have helped me decide to restart my business, rebuild my confidence, and make a lot of good memories along the way.
This essay was one of my GISH projects from this year's Hunt, which happened at the beginning of August. Other projects included making a wedding dress out of plastic trash and painting Whistler's Mother on a piece of elbow macaroni. I had to do something tiny again this year, of course.
Since I have recently GISHed, I find myself full of creative energy. If you're thinking about having a logo or brand designed, now would be a particularly fabulous time. Take a peek at my freshly-minted logo and brand design packages.
Onward and upwards,
P.S. Thanks for reading. If you're struggling with mental health, creativity, trying again, or all of this (*waves arms again at 2020*), know you're not alone. Keep going, it's worth it. We can do hard things together.
And for everyone impacted by the wildfires in California, floods in Iowa, etc.... you know, whatever you're going through... I'm sending you my love.
P.P.S. I'm open for design projects of all sorts, not just logo and brand design. Recently completed web design work and cool things for you to check out include:
Kay White Live Presents: The Blaze Your Own Trail Virtual Event!
+ Event Branding
+ Website Design
+ Gift Pack Design
+ Handout Design
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