Creativity Check-In: Ebb and Flow



Ebbing and flowing, and ebbing and flowing in the great sea of creativity. I can picture myself rising and falling with the movement of the ocean…. Such a lovely day dream, memory from my childhood, and a hope for a vacation (one day…). Except it’s not a real ocean, it’s my philosophical manifestation of creativity. 

I have a confession – I am my most creative self when the sea is “stormy”. I don’t mean “when my life is complicated, I am my most creative self,” I mean that when I am in the wind of creativity, I become more creative. Because creativity is contagious, right? Right! One idea feeds a second, and the second feeds the third, and then before you know it, you’ve filled up a napkin full of words, images, and hope. When I hear you talk about your practice, clients, special projects, your creative wind fills me up and propels me to be more creative, just like I hope that these fuel you.

But – the wind doesn’t always blow over the ocean. Or at least, that’s what we think.

At the end of a long, exhausting day where is the place for creativity in those moments? At the end of a long school year, how do we pick our creative pieces up and prepare them to be held and evaluated by others? At the end of a chapter (large or small), how do we continue to move forward as creative people?

Your creativity boat is sitting on the water, waiting for the wind to blow across the ocean. In times like this, I have felt creatively frustrated. Thinking, “I am a creative person! Why do I feel empty?”

The answer is annoyingly simple. You start with empty.

I’m going to tell you a quick story. Quick – I promise. And it’ll be relevant. I promise.

I’m a certified SCUBA diver. It’s amazing, and wonderful, and exhausting, and sometimes terrifying. I got my license when I was 13 years old, and fascinated by eco systems, fish, and ocean stuff (you should see my shell collection. I even have one with googly eyes!). During my training, the dive master looked at me one day and very seriously said, “never trust a calm ocean.” Of course at the beautiful and horrible age of 13 I defiantly asked, “and why is that?” I thought I was so clever! “You never want to trust a stormy ocean, obviously,” again, my 13 year old brain thought that was the answer. Obviously.

His reply? Well, “because what you get under the waves isn’t always what you see on top of them. The ocean is a mysterious place full of currents and under currents. In order to be the safest diver you can, you must use your intuition and all of your senses.”

We as music therapists (and maybe you’re a music teacher, too) are in the business of living on the ocean of creativity. This is exhausting and frustrating at times, and so wonderful and fulfilling at others. But when the winds have calmed, and you’re waiting for your creative intuition to kick back in, time seems to slow down.

So what in the world do you do with that empty creativity tank? The answer seems simple, but seriously – we all know that the statement, “start with empty” is full of its own under currents. I’m not talking about those under currents – perhaps now isn’t the best time for a full self evaluation. I’m talking about starting with empty so you can fill your creativity sails back up with a glorious wind storm of creativity.

Get your pen, grab your journal/sheet of paper/coloring page from Pinterst, and just put the tip of your pen to the paper. Fill your page full of ink, color, words, shapes, designs or scribbles. No thinking, just moving the pen around.

Because when you have nothing left in your creative sails, you must start with something…anything…and look for your creativity hiding in the under currents, and let your intuition guide you. You trust that the wind is coming, because it always will, just like your intuition.

Trust. Your. Creative. Intuition.

It won’t let you down. Because just like the ocean ebbs and flows, but always exists… so does creativity. And it’s waiting for you.

Yours in creativity,

Steward, The Music Therapy Marketplace


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