Weekend Review: The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule

The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections
I have a confession to make. I have a Master's Degree in Art. While this might lead you to believe that I spend my days planning creative schemes and my nights carrying them out, you would be wrong. Grad school was the antithesis of a creative environment for me. So much so that ever since I've graduated, I've had little to no interest in "being creative." The remedy to that, just might be found in Amanda Blake Soule's first book The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections (2008).  I first started reading Soule's blog about a year ago. I liked it so much that it became one of the few blogs that I took the time to go back and read through all the archives. The blog is a daily recordation of small daily moments of joy and beauty and the book is an extension of that.  It includes simple projects to do with your children as well as over-arching advice and encouragement to live a life filled with simple pleasures and beauties.

I don't currently have children, but Soule's outlook on life is applicable even to my small family of two adults. She stresses mindfulness, awareness of each and every moment, and spending time building connections, rather than passively consuming. Her advice is very simple, but there are several suggestions that I hadn't thought of, but hope to incorporate into my family life. One of them is the idea of pausing to take a deep breath together as a family before beginning a meal. This allows us, Soule says, to take a moment to settle down from the rush of getting dinner on the table and gives us a peaceful segue into sharing a meal.

What I enjoyed most about this book is her insistence that you don't need to be a professional artist to live a creative life. Each of us has it within ourselves to be creative; we only have to give ourselves permission to express it and not judge the outcomes. This is an incredibly empowering message. Being surrounded by the professional and academic art worlds, as I have been for the last several years, it has been easy to lose sight of this fact. In my graduate school years, personal joy and expression took a far backseat to novelty, one-up-manship, and over analyzation. While critical thought is important, sometimes it's necessary to just do. This is what Soule stresses. Find the simple things that bring joy to your life, engage with them wholly and mindfully, and share them with those you love.

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