Dr. Maria Sirois is an inspirational speaker and clinical psychologist who has worked in the intersection of psychology and well being for more than twenty years. She brings a depth of experience, weaving together inspirational story and poetry with research to enable us to move forward toward the life we most want: one filled with vitality, health and meaning. Maria teaches internationally, and is featured often with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, bringing to audiences the latest tools and practices from the field of positive psychology that enliven our work, our relationships and our overall well being. An author as well, her book Every Day Counts: Lessons in Love, Faith and Resilience is used as a teaching tool in wellness centers, hospices and hospitals and brings forward wisdom from those who are living while dying. For more information about Maria visit www.mariasirois.com. You can also check out Maria’s TEDx talk on Living An Authentic Life by clicking here.
Wildly Creative: How do you define living a creative life? How important is that for you?
A creative life is a life that is inclusive of whatever impassions your spirit or your soul. Creativity looks so different for every human being for some of us it is writing, dancing, painting, or sculpting.
However, I have come to understand creativity also as
how one creates beauty in a home or how one can be careful with language when speaking to a group. Creativity can exist in terms of how you enable your teams at work to come together and spark a new idea or program.
Creativity is in the broadest sense an appreciation of who you are and how that lifts your spirit or your soul and how you bring that along everywhere you go.
Wildly Creative: What is your first memory of connecting with your creative self? Share your story with us!
As a young girl around the age of 6 or 7, I recall being fascinated by beautiful color stones and rocks. I remember that I began to put them into certain structures or pile them. It was the start of building a stone wall or something like that.
I was also drawn to natural beauty in crystals or stone and noticing a spark for me around beauty. Evolving from that, around the age of 10, I wanted to know the roots of words developed a love and appreciation for words. I wanted to know how to say them they had a music or melody to them. I remember being 7 years old and my parents getting me a small chalk board. Before I knew how to write script or very big words, I pretended I was writing them on the chalk board. I just loved language from an early age.
Wildly Creative: What is the advice you wish someone shared with you about pursuing your passions and feeding your creative self?
I wish someone told me not to let school get in the way of creativity. I was a perfectionist when I was young and thought that if I got A’s and did everything just right, I would feel worthy and get a place in the world.
Know that school is a piece of the story of growing and the creative life is integral to health and vitality as we grow.
Another piece of advice, as soon as you notice that spark within you, do whatever you can to protect time around that, do whatever you can to nourish that. You’ve got to say to yourself, ‘Now is my imagination time, painting time….’ or whatever. Really hold it as sacred.
Wildly Creative: What drives you wild with inspiration and passion? What is whispering to you that inspires you to create?
When I dance and when I move my body or exercise, it is like an infinity loop moving my body in joyful ways triggers this creative impulse and that spark of wanting to sit down and write. My most common form of creativity is writing. There is something about the health of the body that triggers creativity for me.
The wild or spark takes place when I hear a word phrase or poem or part of a poem and it is almost inevitable almost hard to put in the same moment bigger than myself, bigger than my body.
But at the same time, within those moments, I am so particularly myself and there is this kind of trembling and all I want to do is find a way to live within that word or that phrase.
There is a famous author who says that the more authentic we become the quirkier we are. I find that in this space, I am not even aware of other people’s thoughts about me or expectations. During those moments, I am just alive in myself.
Wildly Creative: How does one maintain a wildly creative live while navigating certain life difficulties or challenges? (For example, tough relationships, mundane schedules, etc.)
Generally I think everyone has a choice. There is a crossroad moment you are given an opportunity to decide that you will nurture your creative life and you will no longer diminish your spark or negate it.
Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés—has that beautiful line, “You have to choose your own life force more than you like collaborating with your own oppression.” She is right, we have to choose and once we choose, do everything you can to protect that creative impulse.
I would say to my phone and various other things in my life ‘you don’t exist for the next few hours.’
The next thing is to keep tracking and noticing what you love because everything we love nourishes the creative impulse. For example, movement feeds my spark and my soul. If I cut myself off from the things I love, I will cut myself off from my creative spark. If I keep following what I love, it will lead me to my next level of creative evolution.
There is a powerful intersection between inviting your creative aspects to live fully or express and your ability to create a life that is meaningful and in some ways happy. Some of us who are resilient who have a sense of loving our lives and no matter how hard our lives are, we’ve found a way for our creative expression to flourish.
Here in the West, creativity is considered an add-on. Yet, living a creative life is a far more nourishing aspect of the self than you might be lead to the believe. As you feed that creative field within you, you will be helping to shape a life that we all wish we had…a life that feels enlivening and meaningful even when it is difficult.