Embracing our inner artist on International Women’s Day

A large stack of masses of sharp multi coloured pencils with one turned around facing the wrong way. Not fitting in, different, alternative, standing out in a crowd concept.

In this inspiring International Women’s Day talk, Stephanie Barnes explores the interconnectedness of creativity, inclusivity, and mental well-being, urging everyone to embrace their inner artist for a more joyful and integrated life

Transcript auto-generated by YouTube and formatted by ChatGPT:

Hi! For International Women’s Day, I wanted to share some thoughts about mental health and well-being, creativity, and inclusivity. Although, maybe not inclusivity in the way you’re used to hearing about it. I’m going to wrap all of these topics into one thing, or at least one video. But you might be wondering, how do all these things fit together? They seem quite distinct, right?

We’re so accustomed to categorising everything, putting labels on things, and placing them into their own boxes and silos as if they all fit into one category neatly. But in reality, they don’t. Nothing does. Labels are just that—labels. Sometimes they fit, sometimes they don’t. And it’s okay for things not to be the same just because they share the same label. People might understand labels differently due to their backgrounds, education, and cultural upbringing. So, it’s important to be mindful about labels and understand what they mean and what their purpose is.

To circle back to creativity, inclusivity, health, and well-being, and how these concepts fit together: we’ve been taught that these are separate entities, used for different purposes, with no overlap. However, it’s crucial to transform this thinking and recognise the integration points between these elements. They are not separate and independent; they are parts of an integrated whole.

By tapping into our inner artists, we see that creativity has a significant impact on our mental health and well-being. It enhances our ability to solve problems creatively and brings joy and happiness into our lives and work. More than 10 years ago, I started painting at a leadership workshop. It was an activity we did, and it sparked a joy in me. The next day, I went out, bought paints, and started painting. I’ve been painting ever since. It brings me joy, new insights, and makes my work more fun and enjoyable. It helps with problem-solving and, most importantly, integrates all the different parts of myself. It helps me build relationships, flourish, and build communities. There are so many benefits to arts-based interventions in our lives and work that make everything more sustainable and help us see the big picture for more sustainable decisions.

Last year, I was out of my apartment for more than six months due to mould and water damage. It was incredibly stressful, especially with minimal communication from the landlord and property management. Being self-employed and away from my home office, books, paints, and everything I needed to do my work was incredibly challenging. I ended up buying some watercolours because the pencil crayons and markers I had didn’t suffice. They helped me get through some days. I painted bright, colourful abstracts representing how I was feeling on any particular day, and sometimes things were a little darker. But there was always some brightness shining through the dark. I don’t know what I would have done without my little watercolours. Thankfully, by the end of January, I was able to move back in and have access to all my paints and things again. I’m ever so grateful for my painting practice and the sense of groundedness and well-being it brought me during those months.

So, that’s my offering to you on this International Women’s Day: tap into your inner artist. She’s there and will make you whole. Thank you.

Stephanie Barnes is a Knowledge Management Consultant and Chief Chaos Organiser at her company Entelechy

Stephanie Barnes

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