Last week I participated in the smartest event- Brainfest 2014. Through a grant from Winter Park Health Foundation’s own Diana Silvey, the Alzheimer’s Association of Central Florida hosted a day-long event focusing on the brain. Young and older than younger people gathered to hear about ways of protecting and preserving their brain power. There were drumming circles (drumming helps synchronize the two hemispheres of the brain), Improvisational exercises (thinking on your feet), and even brain Olympics. Participants were presented with Brain Commandments:
Eat Smart- Health food keeps your brain running strong
Work Out- flexing those muscles strengthens the brain
Chill Out-Great brains love good company
Hang Out- Lower your stress level
Challenge Yourself- A happy brain is a hard working brain
Find Purpose- Living a meaningful life keeps your brain engaged
Needless to say, much was emphasized about the importance of physical exercise and good nutrition on brain health. I weighed in with a session entitled, “Exercise Your Creativity”. Research documents the role creativity can play in challenging our brains to better health. By their very nature, creativity and the arts encourage people to break away from habit and routines and explore new areas of experience.
As adults we have come to recognize the validity of exercising our bodies and minds, but somehow, once we get past the age of ten we generally start paying less attention to our creative muscles. And, just like physical muscles that fail to be engaged, so can our creative muscles begin to atrophy. So my job, as a self-appointed creativity evangelist, was to help people exercise those creative muscles.
The very word “creativity” can elicit fear and intimidation among adults, and my group was no exception. There were the initial grumblings of “But I’m not creative at all!” (a statement that never fails to hurt me to hear). But a kind of transformation occurs from the beginning of a creative exercise to the end of it. My flock of fledgling artists suspended their internal critics for an hour or two as they sculpted their clay creations illustrating ways in which they could introduce more creativity into their daily lives. A clay garden complete with watering can, musical instruments, an artist’s palette jewelry, and a little food art to boot, emerged from these creativity converts.
I felt so proud, even a little humbled, by their bravery. The name of my blog and business is called Be Brave. Lose the Beige. It does take a little bravery to create something out of nothing and hold it up for the scrutiny of others. Fortunately for my flock, there was nothing but praise and encouragement all around.