Shaming Children = Shaming Creativity

Shaming babies, toddlers, young children about everything that characterizes them (need, weakness, dependence, innocence, physical energy, lack of control over their bodies and impulses, creativity, connection to nature and animals, desire, honesty, fluidity, curiosity, big feelings, inability to participate in or care about adult BULLSHIT) is what many people still consider to be proper and normal raising / socializing / parenting / education.

It goes like this: Make a the child feel bad, stupid, frightened, and ashamed for who/what they are (a child!) until they shut-down enough to fit-into prescribed norms of culture, gender, age, class, race, consumerism, fake meritocracy, and obedience to authority (religious, political, familial, etc).

One of the worst thing you can be called -- across every race, class, and gender -- is "a baby" or "a child."

That's so deeply messed up!  

All children -- before adults fuck with their heads, integrity, and creativity -- are born artists. There is nothing shameful about being in a baby, a toddler, a young child, or a teen. Treating them as such is like pulling the leaves off a seedling as punishment for doing "a bad job" as a shade tree.

The irony of it all? Millions and millions of adults straight-up feel like shit on the daily. A good portion of those
1. blame themselves (instead of the shitty systems, institutions, and people we're born into)
2. spend soooooo much money and/or life energy -- whether it's beer, street drugs, pills, self-improvement cults, or therapy -- just trying to find their way BACK to that original state of creativity, flow, connection, honesty, open-heartedness they were born into, and then SHAMED out of.

Certain types of people prefer to blame scapegoats for their pain; random groups of "others" instead of the correct members (of their own village) who actually caused the original harm. They aim all their anger and sense of grievance toward people who have literally zero to do with causing their shitty inner feelings and festering sense of being blocked / obstructed / betrayed.

I'll definitely be writing more about the connection between child-shaming and creativity-shaming.

-Dana

*an earlier version of this was originally posted on my facebook page in September 2017

Liz G & Me

Very shortly after deciding / realizing / admitting that it was time for me to start the process of working on my own book about creativity (and stating that intent, out loud, to actual humans), I happened upon social media news that best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert was releasing a new book. ABOUT CREATIVITY. 
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No. What?! Whyyyyyy?? 
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Part of me was devastated and thrown by this. "Oh well," it said. "Fuck it." Elaborating with "I'm sure she's making the same exact main points as me (only better), plus she's got a readership of approximately nine gazillion people. Why bother?" 
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The truth is: it's actually great news that the topic of creativity is becoming more of... a topic; an actual piece of identifiable SUBJECT MATTER that people think, write, speak, teach, and learn about. Much to my surprise, people are seemingly very interested in -- and hungry for -- truth, information, and resources regarding creativity. Having it remain in the margins and shadows as a fringe self-help topic, or weird innovation-themed motivational marketing crap, or exclusive domain to masters degree/art-therapist types doesn't do me (or most people) much good. I'm sooo grateful for the people ahead of me who have taken the time to write, speak, and role model important, powerful, myth-busing truths about the nature of creativity in a way that's more accessible and public.
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I ultimately decided I would still pursue the construction of my own book -- with the temporary stipulation that I would *not* read Gilbert's "BIG MAGIC: Creative Living Beyond Fear" anytime soon, because it might derail me during such a vulnerable beginning phase. I did listen to some of the Big Magic podcast in 2015, but that's it.
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Well, that was about 2 years ago! BIG MAGIC is out in paperback now. Tom and I grabbed a copy of the hardcover on sale the other day, so... I'm starting, apprehensively, to crack it open to random pages, read a quick nugget or two, then snap it shut! So far, I love and agree with everything I've laid eyes upon. I feel strong enough now -- two years into the mess of beginning to organize, carve-out, clarify, and understand my own ideas -- that I can SEE and FEEL my own special [different-from-her] emphases, presence, expertise, obsessions, and take on the subject. I also recognize where we overlap, which is a positive thing; evidence that I'm part of something bigger and potent. One really exciting difference is that my book will be filled with MY ART. My drawings and the stuff of my sacred compost heap (aka: notebooks) actually communicate my major points about creativity better than any of my formal writing could ever do on its own!

Why "Inner" Studio?

Typical conversations about or exposure to art, artists, and artistry are often focused on the OUTER elements: the output, the finished piece, the product, the performance, the PR, and the pay-off. Other times, it's more on technique, equipment, materials, or concepts -- which are also externals. 

Somehow, the essential underlying issue / question / topic of CREATIVITY itself usually left out.

This habitual omission perpetuates its own ignorance, and contributes to so much anxiety, ambivalence, misinformation, grief, and alienation around the topic of creative process, art, artists -- leaving many children, teens, and adults fully discouraged from even trying to participate at all.  

Nurturing, growing, developing, and applying natural creativity is not prioritized in public education -- to put it mildly -- and "Creativity" is generally not offered up as a subject of study and discourse. Why not?

One of my goals is to get more people thinking, learning, and speaking about creativity... and speaking the language OF creativity.

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We're all born creative, but then -- for most of us -- that creativity is "educated," socialized, shunned, and shamed into exile by the dominant people and institutions in charge of our development and lifestyle. This is a cultural crime and a social justice issue with many serious consequences upon our individual and collective health, happiness, and sanity.

Inner Studio encourages a mindful exploration of the very nature of creativity itself. This is an inside job, requiring INNER attention, contemplative focus, guidance, support, resources, and community.

Another reason I chose INNER for my studio name because I view creativity as the key, necessary, activating ingredient for success in our inner work.

To me, “inner work” refers to any conscious practices rooted in facing, exploring, deconstructing, interrupting, and replacing patterns of dysfunctional, cruel, oppressive, or abusive aspects of our culture, society, history, and upbringing that currently operate inside of us and how we live our lives. 

Examples of "inner work" include, but aren’t limited to: Recovery from addiction, healing from abuse or illness, trauma therapy, self-help, meditation, and activism in the form of investigating and addressing one's own intersections and lived relationships with bias, privilege, and oppression -- both victimhood and perpetratorhood.

My proposal is that inner work is indeed the answer -- but inner work without creativity at its spiritual center will always fall short in practice, depth, impact, magic, meaning, and longevity.  

WHAT IS CREATIVITY anyway? Why does it matter so much?

I have so much to say about this! That's why I'm writing a book about my ideas, observations, experiences, and suggestions regarding creativity and anti-creativity culture.

-DANA

The Secret Life of Notebooks

My 20-year ongoing (and deepening) relationship with doing stuff -- thinking, feeling, asking, answering, emoting, reflecting, envisioning, processing, remembering, planning, organizing, shaping, discovering, rethinking, and AIMLESSLY MESSING AROUND by hand, on paper = the very foundation of my skill, knowledge, ideas, advice, and forthcoming work about creativity. Establishing a notebooking habit [with some guidance] is my #1 piece of advice for an accessible, non-elite (no art studio or masters degree required) cheap/free doorway to becoming fluent in your own Creativity dialect and developing new synapses in your brain, which can transform your life. 

In 2016, I started THE SECRET LIFE OF NOTEBOOKS, a series of occasional bite-sized posts (a bit of writing + one image of my own art) about notebook-keeping as a simple yet powerful way to exercise and develop your creativity. 

The series still lives HERE, but will eventually migrate to this site. 

Estrangement from paper is a huge mistake, and goes right along with all the other trends in terms of increasing distraction and depression / chronic estrangement from physical tactile reality i.e. the interdependent intelligence and mechanics of nature, physics, and gravity that defines life on the planet.

-Dana