Who knew that the hustle and bustle most of us knew as a way of life – rushing from one appointment, one activity to another – would suddenly shift to a far less scheduled and necessarily domestic routine? In varying ways and degrees, most of us have been affected by the retreat required by COVID-19, from the world at large to the perimeters of our homes.
About two months in, the sudden shock of quarantine gave way for me to a more subtle sense of slowing down. The shut-down came to signify, among many other things, an opportunity to appreciate time and space in a way I couldn’t have imagined even a few months ago. I’ve been able to watch the changes in daylight as the sun moves across not only the sky, but the rooms of my house. I notice birds more, and the sound of breezes moving and shifting through the oaks and palms outside my house. Days and nights have seemed to stretch out, and not in a bad way. This feeling of open-ended time, with less to do and far fewer places to go, is something I don’t think I’ve experienced since I was a kid. Summer in the 1970s had a languid, long quality, and it was that set-apart kind of time that allowed me to daydream, muse, and freely spin my own internal creative wheels.
Creative Prompt #1: Have schedule changes brought by the shut-down reminded you of another time, when you felt less hurried and had more time to think? If so, jot down a quick description of this memory.
As an adult, I notice these unpressured wheels continue to turn most smoothly when I make enough time for my personal Expressive Arts practice. I find that when, not everyday but often enough, I carve out a couple of hours with even basic art supplies and a simple Expressive Arts process, I’m able to travel to that land of unhurried self-discovery and secret inspiration.
Creative Prompt #2: With a piece of paper and an art medium of your choice, first take a few deep breaths and then while basking in your memory of unhurried time, make a quick visual image.
And so the shut-down, for all its grief and fear, has given me this one silver-lined cloud – of the experience of expanded time. I’m able to connect on a weekly basis with others in virtual Expressive Arts groups and open studios, and also savor these unfettered alone hours of art-making, because they mysteriously, and surprisingly but unfailingly, leave me feeling better connected – to myself, my world, and all the people in it.
Creative Prompt #3 – Take a moment to observe your image and write a few words or lines, starting with the words “I feel…” Consider giving your image a title.
I’m not sure yet how I will, someday soon or later, transition back into a more hectic world. I’m trying to figure out how I want to, how I can without losing what I have come to really like about this slow time. I know for sure though that keeping at least some easy hours in my week will be a priority, and practicing Expressive Arts at home is simply the best way I know how.
Creative Prompt #4 – If you’re unsure how you’ll be able to fit an extensive art practice into your schedule, consider finding and spending just 90 minutes per week to create and rejuvenate. Would one all-in session work for you, or 30 minutes three days a week? Or anywhere in between. Great thing is – there’s no right or wrong way to go about making art.
Stay tuned for Part Three of Time and Space for Expression – “A Room of One’s Own – or at least a Nook and Cranny” We’ll discuss how to create a peaceful atmosphere for practicing Expressive Arts in even the smallest abode. Additional Creative Prompts will be included!
To read part one of Time and Space for Expression, click here!
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Laura Hensley, LMHC. Through Expressive Arts therapy and personal practice, I find and make meaning, develop my own personal mythology, and gain confidence and connection to myself and others. I offer this same opportunity to Integrative Counsel clients by way of multimodal creative exploration of your intentions, goals, and heartfelt desires!