Photo by Beth O'Rourke
Hey, friend. Tried something that scared you lately?
In AllSwell journaling workshops I encourage participants to do stuff that may not be in their strike zone. But lately I’ve realized that I’m not following my own advice often enough. I’ve gotten into fairly comfortable territory, creatively speaking. Writing is my go-to cathartic outlet. It was time to mix it up and challenge myself.
I’m not a visual artist but I’ve been around the arts most of my life. That’s a blessing and a curse for a novice. You know what “good” looks like but it’s unlikely that you’re able to achieve it (at least initially), which can hold you back from trying something new.
Which is exactly why I picked up a set of paints and a big, beautiful wad of watercolor paper. Truthfully, they sat around for a while, unused. Then, one Saturday afternoon when I had the bungalow to myself, I held a mini-workshop for one. I poured myself a glass of wine, put on a record and gave it a go.
At first I just tried out the materials, getting acquainted with them. I played, experimented. I recognized when my critical voice showed up telling me “I didn’t know what I was doing” (which was the whole point, really). I didn’t tell that voice to go away, I just noticed it and it quieted down.
Next self-assigned exercise: get into a flow state. Could I be present and see what emerged, having a purely visceral experience? The wine likely helped but so did all the training I’ve had from leading AllSwell workshops. I started making representational forms. Page by page I let them find me, dictated by color and form. A big, wise tree emerged. Then some olives stuffed with pimentos ready for a martini glass. I began adding in some language around the images because it’s what seemed right. A kind of style started to take shape. I was having fun, it felt good and I didn’t hate what showed up. It didn’t look forced because I hadn’t forced it.
Uber-gallerist Larry Gagosian won’t be beating my door down anytime soon, but that wasn’t the point. I challenged myself to try something new and the end result was less important than the experience. It made me feel content and kinda proud. I had a smile on my face. Not a bad use of a couple of hours and a few sides of vinyl. I even put one page up on the refrigerator, like your Mom might’ve done back in grade school.
The upside here? Studies have found that people who were more creative on one day continued to experience positive emotions like energy, enthusiasm and excitement the next day. Yup, the good vibes keep rolling. And you don’t need to be an artist to reap the benefits. The research states, “We were actually pleased that personality made no difference in the link between creativity and well-being. This suggests that everyone and anyone can benefit from introducing creativity into their daily lives.”
This summer I hope you’ll do something to creatively challenge yourself, big or small. And speaking of, this round up of AllSwell Reads is brimming with ideas that might inspire you to kick-start a project. Dive in and see what emerges.
Photo by Meg Haywood Sullivan
The same tech titans who are propagating the digital deluge are choosing to drastically limit screen time for their own children. Exclusive tech-free private schools are booming. Humans are more expensive, and the wealthy are willing and able to pay for them. Conspicuous human interaction — living without a phone for a day, quitting social networks and not answering email — has become a status symbol. Welcome to the new class divide: plugged or unplugged. Read more at the link above.
Photo by Heidi Zumbrun
Journaling can help your love life? Yup. The quality of any romantic relationship is going to be directly correlated to your own self-worth. You are the person you really need to get to know, and journaling is a great ally in that process. For some easy to follow journaling prompts from our founder Laura Rubin visit the link above. You can thank us later.
Photo by Emily Nathan
For years the conversations around Instagram’s impact on the outdoors have generally hit the same few beats: mocking the clueless wannabe influencers who got too close to moose and complaining that our favorite spaces were being loved to death. But now land managers throughout the U.S. are taking bold steps to reshape the conversation, including “tagging responsibly” and encouraging “safe selfies.” Yes, that’s a thing. Dive in at the link up top and learn how to not inadvertently ruin a place you love.
Photo by Beth O'Rourke
Your brain doesn’t work the same as the average Joe? Good. In a new study, college students with ADHD scored higher than non-ADHD peers on two tasks that tapped conceptual expansion and the ability to overcome knowledge constraints. Together with previous research, these new findings link ADHD to all three elements of the creative cognition trio. Read more above.
Photo via joyharjo.com
We discovered Joy Harjo’s work when researching materials for a workshop we held in Joshua Tree, CA several years ago. Since then she’s been a staple of inspiration for AllSwell. We were over-the-moon thrilled to see that Harjo will represent both her Indigenous culture and those of the United States of America when she becomes our country's 23rd poet laureate this fall - and the first Native American poet to serve in the position. Tune into NPR above to learn more about this incredible talent.
Photo by Martin Parr
We skim email newsletters, scroll through our Twitter feeds, and peruse the news apps on our phones. We tap through our notifications from our news-related apps while juggling other tasks. We usually feel as though we’re just managing to stay abreast of the day’s biggest news stories, but our reading tends to be fragmentary—we’re only skimming a story or absorbing a partial update. Although we’re reading more than ever before, it often feels like we’re understanding less. Want to learn more? Read on at the link above (yes, we are aware of the irony of that sentence).