The world as we know it has come to a halt, and the familiarity of our daily routines have temporarily been put on hold. Amidst all the unknowns, one thing we do know for sure is we are all in this together. Time and time again we have been shown that some of the most beautiful and innovative inventions were born during times of isolation. Some of the greatest books ever written, Einstein, Tesla, business’s born and positively impacting the world, creating a ripple effect.
It is unknown right now how long the world will pause so I thought I would create a guide for those who would like to express and connect with your creative side in new ways.
Aiyana Jewelry was unknowingly born during a time of isolation. Not dissimilar to today's global reality, I was limited to visitors due to a fragile immune system and found myself unable to leave my home.
At that time, I forgot how creative I was as a child, as I had spent most of my adult life submerged in the sciences and academia. Throughout the ten years of navigating the health system I had a chance to take a pause from the outside world and began to explore all the things I once loved and had forgotten about. As a child I loved to explore nature. I would often pick up sticks as I explored the forest and the parks collecting different sizes and shapes. I would use tools to carve the sticks into different animals, shapes and patterns. I also loved to draw and colour. In fact, I had big black leather bound portfolios full of sketches of some of my favourite cartoons and animals I had as pets. When I was unwell my cousin brought me a set of Prismacolour pencil crayons, the same ones I had as a child. The hope was that I would be able to use them on days I had enough strength. The first day I opened the pencil crayons, I remember the smell initially being so strong because my senses had become so sensitive and heightened due to a weak and failing system. However the strong smell from the freshly opened case immediately transformed and transported me back to my six year old self. The smell of the crayons awakened something within me that had been dormant for over 20 years. Needless to say any ounce of energy I was blessed with on a day-to-day basis was used to draw, colour, and create. Time went still during that time. The noise of the doctors, the nurses, the PSWs, the fear of the unknown and uncertainty of my life vanished during that time. It was as if time and space had gone still, except my hands and the page in front of me.
It wasn’t long after my best friend began to bring me string to make bracelets. I loved to make bracelets at kids summer camp, and was excited to do it just to do it with no expectations or pressures or outcome. Do you remember gimp
? and friendship bracelets? That's actually how it all started for me. Initially the hand movements were exhausting, but I just did a little at a time. One bracelet would take me a couple of weeks to complete, but I will never forget the feeling of seeing my first finished bracelet. Something I would have never thought in a million years I would be so proud of. It was so rewarding as it allowed me to feel purposeful again other than just trying to stay alive. I had something else to focus on and could see what I created right before my eyes.
The First Bracelet I made is in the picture below :)
Here Are Some Helpful Tips
It's very common that us adults and even some children loose sight of child within us, which is the purest aspects of ourselves. The inquisitive and curious sides of ourselves that want to explore, play, and create often get dimmed with the pressures and conditioning of the world. It seems the older we grow and the more life experiences we gain the more disconnected from this very part of ourselves become. The truth is no matter how far from the younger version of yourself you feel; she/he still lives within.
To help reconnect with your inner child I put together some helpful tips that have helped me along the way.
- Name your inner child. Anything that comes to mind. Something that you connect with and reminds you of the younger version of yourself.
- Make a list of some things you loved to do as a child. It could be anything that brought a smile to your face and that made time stand still. Sometimes it initially may seem challenging to access positive memories, especially if you experienced trauma and hardship. But I promise you there are some in there. Even if you get just a glimpse at first try to replay the details of that memory. The more you unlock, the more many others will begin to come to the surface. Allow all of your senses to engage in whatever memories surface. What did that experience feel like, what sounds did you hear, what smells were in the air, what textures did you feel, what did you see? Try to recreate the same experience. Go and buy paints, pencil crayons, wood, arts and crafts supplies. Or right now with the current circumstances you can order any supplies needed online. With that being said it is a good time to support any local business that may have the supplies you are looking for. It is a great way to show your support if you can, and also help local business's stay alive.
- Be gentle with yourself. Try and speak to yourself the same way you would your own child. Remind yourself that there is no good or bad, this is a construct we have created in society. Do not allow any self sabotaging thoughts such as, “I am not creative", "I am not good enough", or "I don't know what I am doing" to stop you. Remind yourself any thoughts that may come up along those lines aren't true because the truth is you are enough, and just have fun with it.
Journaling is a good way to not only purge everything that may be rolling around in your mind, but it’s also helpful in reducing stress and anxiety. It is a great resource for self expression. You may be a writer and not even know it? Journaling provides space for you to clarify your own thoughts and feelings as well as perceptions around past, current and future experiences, which allows yourself to gain more self knowledge and better understand yourself. It also acts as a mirror of your inner world, which can help you better understand your thoughts, feeling and emotions. During this time with the bombardment of media and people sharing helpful tips, it is important to not get caught up in everything out there, and to be able to discern your own thoughts and feelings from those of others.
- Create a comfortable space that you can sit with yourself with little distractions to allow yourself to write freely.
- Choose a time in the day you would like to journal. Some people prefer to journal in the morning or evening before bed. I personally like to do both. By choosing a time it will become more habitual and natural and will quickly become part of your routine. If you have a tough time deciding what to write, you can start by writing about your day, what you are grateful for, what your goals are.
Journaling can be fun. There’s no right or wrong way. You can write whatever you want, you can make it fun adding doodles, pictures. The more you get into the habit of journaling, the easier and more fluid it will become.
Allow your mind to travel anywhere it wants to when it comes to creative writing. You can begin to write about your life. Your own personal bio or a fantasy book of a far off land you often daydream about, a children’s book, poems, ANYTHING you want! Just purge whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t have to be in order and you don’t need to know the next chapter. More than anything write for yourself and dont think about the audience or what people will think if they read it. Some of the best novels and series ever written were written during times like these and faced mass rejection before being acknowledged as the best books ever written. You can create ANYTHING you want!
Who doesn’t love food? I know I have always been such a big food enthusiast. In fact, I am known in my family for having what they like to refer to as a ‘hollow leg’. I can talk about different dishes in detail for hours. When I was unwell and limited to what I could eat and could no longer enjoy any of the foods I loved that brought me so much comfort, my cousin began to bring me cooking magazines instead. The magazines weren't intended to inspire me to cook, because I could no longer cook, but they allowed my mind to still enjoy the food except this way it was visual. I would read them from my medical bed looking at all the delicious recipes and would talk with my cousin for hours about how warm, doughy, or toasted each dish looked. Although I couldn’t cook or eat any of the foods printed on the pages, it inspired me. It created space for what was possible and freed me in many ways to create and explore in different ways.
- Allow yourself to get creative in the kitchen.
- Try new recipes from different cultures. Look up different types of food and recipes
- Allow yourself to indulge in foods you love. If there are any dietary restrictions or medical conditions that don’t allow you to do so, substitute ingredients for healthier versions. You will be surprised as to how tasty ‘healthy’ food can be.
- Think about foods you loved as a child, and try to make the recipes from scratch. Cooking like so many other creative expressions has a way of allowing time to fold in on itself and is a form of art.
- Allow yourself to have fun in the kitchen and try not to worry to much about how perfect it needs to be.
Most people have a hard time being still. This is not surprising considering majority of society tends to operate from more of a logical and intellectual standpoint, which does serve a purpose, however we are not meant to operate this way all the time. I know I did for most of my life. I distracted myself with everything I possibly could. Setting endless goals, and filling my calendar so there wasn't any space for anything else. It wasn’t until my body forced me to be still that I had to learn how get comfortable in the discomfort. Stillness can be a beautiful place. In fact, some of my most profound experiences in life came from time of being still. It can often be mistaken that stillness is about silencing the mind, or controlling it to a certain extent, when in actuality stillness is quite the opposite. It is about being comfortable with just yourself, connecting with your body and consciousness. It is about being present with where you are in that exact moment in time without attempting to change it, control it, manipulate it or label it. To just be is something that has become so foreign to us. It may initially be uncomfortable for some people at first which is completely normal, but try not to be too hard or critical on yourself.
- Start by only sitting comfortably a few minutes a day with yourself, without any distractions. Begin by closing your eyes and connecting with your breath without trying to change or alter it. Just connecting with it. If thoughts’ arise, just redirect yourself to your breath and allow the thoughts to be carried away one by one as if clouds in the sky were taking each one away. Allow yourself to just feel your heart beat in your chest and the rise and fall of your breath in your chest. Just a few minutes of this can help reduce stress and bring a sense of clarity which in turn can help bring to life ideas and stimulate your imagination.
“Logic will take you from to A to B. Imagination will take you anywhere”
It is no secret that nature truly is the best medicine. Nature not only has a way of restoring us, but it helps us reconnect with ourselves and our true nature. It can also inspire us in unimaginable ways. As a child I spent a lot of time in nature. Our house sat nestled on top of a hill in the middle of a forest. I would spend my days after school and on weekends exploring the forest and making new paths where no one else had walked before. Somewhere along the way I forgot how much nature was a part of who I am, and how it made me feel. Living in the city and downtown surrounded by pavement, concrete, buildings and hundreds of thousands of other people created a disturbance within myself so loud I could no longer hear the call of the forest. It wasn’t again until crisis hit and the noise of the world became completely unbearable that I found my way back to nature.
With all the noise of the world right now and everything being closed there is no better time than now to get outside and explore nature. Notice how it has a way of lifting the weight of the world off your shoulders, how it can restore and replenish you, how it can inspire and uplift you. Thankfully the spring weather is on it’s way. Look up local trails nearby. Go for a walk. All you have to do is show up, let nature do the rest.
Research Areas You Love
What do you love? Right now is a great time to research and look into areas you love. Try to think about what lights you up? What Excites you? What areas are you interested in acquiring more knowledge? What did you love before you had to take that job just to pay your bills? I personally felt lost when I was recovering and trying to reintegrate back into society. I wasn’t well or stable enough to go back to what I did before I got sick, but I still had bills to pay and an overwhelming amount of debt due to medical bills so I had to get creative in ways I could earn a living. I wanted it to be meaningful yet not too demanding, as stress at that time easily taxed me and could set me back for weeks or even months on end. I got a white board and markers and began writing down all areas I was interested in and also what I loved to spend my time doing. At first It looked like a big mess of a web with no clear sight on how any of it could come together or made sense. The more I revisited it and researched each individual area, the more my vision began to unfold and a plan started to come to life.
If it excites you, if your spine jolts with enthusiasm, and you feel life move through you, it’s definitely worth exploring. You have no idea where it could lead and also how much of an impact you may have on others as a result.
In my opinion there isn’t enough emphasis put on how important rest is. It is crucial for our well being and ability to not only show up for ourselves, but for others. Before I got sick I worked close to 100 hours a week and used to say ‘I’ll sleep when I am dead.” Not anticipating that that potential was right around the corner. At first it was very hard to rest. I was so used to keeping busy, trying to stay productive that I didn’t realize the main program in my body had defaulted to a state of chronic stress. It wasn’t until my body rendered itself incapable of operating that I realized how exhausted both my body and mind were.
Resting the body is so important to allow the body to restore itself, to process, and to recalibrate. It is common for peoples minds to become overactive especially if they aren’t used to resting. Resting is also a great opportunity to create. To colour, do a puzzle, read a book, take a nap, or if you have the courage observe your thoughts and notice how many of them really serve no true purpose. A lot of mind chatter is old programming continuing to write the script. Allow yourself time in the day to get cozy under a blanket, make a hot chocolate- my current favorite is Harmonic Arts 5 Mushroom Blend, or a tea, and curl up on the couch. It’s okay to rest. Give yourself permission. During this time of rest even though it may feel like you aren’t doing anything productive you might be surprised as new ideas, projects, new found hobbies, interests may spark and unfold.
The fact is, right now, we do not know how long our realities that have quickly changed will remain this way. But we can choose how we look at it, and we can adapt to uncontrollable circumstances. As much as we need to take care of each other right now and help out in any way we possibly can, we also need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves, our minds and most importantly our health. Creating art, making things, and learning new skills are all very therapeutic and can help us cope during uncertain times. I am sending my love to all of you.
Brittney is the founder and designer of Aiyana Jewelry and has an academic and professional background in both psychology and neuroscience. Brittney's journey towards traditional medicine and meditation started when her natural tendency to prioritize productivity and achievement was challenged by an aggressive life-threatening illness which eventually resulted in palliative care. After 7 years of treatment attempts, Brittney turned to First Nations traditional medicine and Practices, neuroplasticity based techniques, mindfulness-based approaches, and different types of meditation to help her cope, as she exhausted all known medical treatments, and didn't have much longer left to live. With these practices - along with the help of neuroscientists and doctors, Brittney was able to stop the use of machines, assistive devices and eventually re-learned how to walk.
Three years later, Brittney is now thriving and lives a very full and happy life. It is her belief that she was able to do so through the guidance of the teachings, ceremony, mindfulness, plant medicine, faith and inability to give up despite the odds against her. It is Brittney’s hope that her creations help inspire others to find their way no matter what life presents. Brittney is now passionate about sharing her knowledge of the teachings, tools and techniques she applied to help guide others.