Story by Jody Sanderson

Fall 2022

This issue is dedicated to everything creative. It’s one of my favourite topics of conversation, and to learn what this means in Airdrie has been eye opening.

We all have a creative streak; to make something new, something valuable. And for those of us who think creativity is limited to art, music or literature, we need to think again.

Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (honest!) describes what this means in his theory ‘flow.’ He’s written several books dedicated to the subject.

He has this to say about creativity.

“It is a central source of meaning in our lives. Most of the things that are interesting, important and human are the results of creativity. When we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life. It’s one of the most important attributes a person can have.”

So, I created a scientific survey, based on this theory, meaning I asked a bunch of friends on social media when they felt most creative.

The top answer was gardening, and they added photos of some pretty elegant creations of perennials, annuals, shrubs and herbs. These gardens included odd elements such as wheelbarrows, wrought-iron headboards and tricycles, barn wood and any number of red-topped gnomes.

For some it was photography. A couple of friends are writers, and described being “in the zone,” where they lose all track of time and surroundings.

A few, however, didn’t feel they had a creative bone in their body. And we did a little exploring together. One, an accountant, said she spent time with numbers and spreadsheets. Another, a longtime admin assistant, shared that all she did was share PowerPoint presentations to investors.

Csikszentimihalyi adamantly affirmed that even these pursuits, although sounding dry, demand creativity. And in my case, I have to say then, that paying bills is one of my most creative jobs!

A study in the American Journal of Public Health suggests being in the presence of creativity improves our frame of mind. I’m all for that! It goes on to say creativity keeps us engaged, reduces our stress, improves necessary skills and helps us live longer.

I have been involved in some aspect of the arts my entire life. Music. Theatre. Writing. Politics.

I couldn’t draw a decent stick man to save my life unless I’m playing Hangman with my grandkids. It was a skill I wanted to get better at, but a one-day workshop also showed me you need a little talent!

However, I’m learning that being “in the zone” can be found in everything. Making a model car. Baking banana loaf. Knitting stuffies for grandbabies. Figuring out a tee shot. Barbecuing a steak. Colouring mandalas.

It’s the attitude you have while doing any of those things. And isn’t that the key to everything?