Nurturing Creativity: Keeping Busy was my Creative Downfall

Nov 04, 2020

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Looking back on the last few years and taking some deep breaths during this Great Pause (as my friend Tamara calls it), I realised that when it came to the pursuit of my creative career, keeping busy was my personal creative downfall.

We opened Cork & Chroma as our first business in 2013, and since painting and sipping was a relatively new concept in Australia, it grew quickly. I was hustling, growing the business and constantly getting ready for the next phase. It was really exciting and for the first few years I had a lot of energy. As a small business owner and entrepreneur, I felt like if I wasn’t doing something productive all the time, trying my very best and working as hard as I could, then I wouldn’t feel I had done enough if something happened and our business failed. So, I kept myself quite busy. (Nothing like the fear of failure to keep a big fire under your bum sometimes, am I right?)

Hillary and B.J. at the opening night of the Brisbane Cork & Chroma studio.

What that meant was, most of my time was spent on the business, and I lost perspective on how much that business relied on me as a person, a human with a soul and ideas beyond work. Spending most of my time and energy resources on work in those first few years of business, my personal opportunities for creativity were going down the drain. Too busy to cook dinner? Bada bing bada boom, Uber Eats is on its way. Too busy to make a birthday card for my friend? I can just pick one up at the store. No time for that yoga class? No worries, I’ll just wear my looser clothes this week.

Hillary sitting at her desk at Cork & Chroma studio.

Hillary at the Cork & Chroma Studio

I was outsourcing the parts of life which were perfect opportunities to put my creativity into practice. We are sold the idea that there is an optimal way to do things. “Eat this, and feel great!”, “Buy this, your mum will love it for Mother’s Day!”, “Five ways to lose fat!”, to name just a few. What I have realised is that all of these pre-made suggestions might be a big part of what inhibits us from accessing and utilising our own creativity in our everyday life. These are the things that make our life our own.

Nourishing your body and preparing food is certainly a creative pursuit. Making cards and presents for loved ones invokes a super gratifying feeling. Exercising can be a beautiful way to move and discover the unspoken parts of us. Using our voices to sing and make sound… I don’t have words for the magic of that. I would have to sing something.

I take a walk with my friend Leisha one early morning each week, and we often solve the problems of our lives (and in our opinions, the world), in an hour of walking. A few months ago, we were discussing the changes that Covid has brought to all our lives. She mused that in the midst of the enormous tsunami of challenge we are faced with, we have an opportunity to find the treasures that this time in our life might be presenting to us. The little jewels, the beautiful seashells and precious creatures left on the shore for us to collect after the big tide goes out. Upon reflection, something I’ve learned to treasure is having space in my life. Especially a life in which I want the ability to fully express myself.

Hillary painting at Cork & Chroma

We need space for ideas to spark. We need a little bit of boredom. We need time to think, and time to act. We need to be able to create the lives that we dream of, and if we are tightly scheduled (and tightly wound), how could we expect ourselves to have the capacity of creating our big dreams?

Look, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not a person who lives regretfully. From the moment I stepped off the plane when we moved to Australia, life has been pretty magical. I love Cork & Chroma. It’s hard for me to even imagine what life without C&C would be! So I am grateful for all of the hard work that I put into our beloved company. I’m grateful for the growth and success we’ve experienced, and I look forward with true joy and anticipation to the future. But I’m also happy to see a future that has more potential for my own creative output, thanks to this time of reflection and dedication to keeping space for my spirit to be its creative self.

My definition of creativity is sort of always evolving. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it means to me. But right now I think I could define it as this: the energy where our inner world meets the outer world. Since our outer world has stopped spinning so quickly, I’m working on paying attention to my inner world. I want to live in a way where those two worlds align and flow effortlessly. I believe that is where we find self-expression, and perhaps, freedom.

Hillary & B.J. sitting in front of Cork & Chroma aprons

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