Every once in a long while, something happens that surprises me by moving me to tears – joyful tears, not the sad kind.

Unexpected tears are like my body’s way of getting me to notice that something important has taken place.  Something worth paying attention to.

I experienced this just the other night.  I was participating in a great little trade show hosted by the wonderful Tanya Shapenko at Verity, Toronto’s largest women’s business club.

Tanya is a gifted jewelry designer.  She specializes in creating exquisitely crafted pieces that feature pearls and diamonds.  And she has an ability to create magic.

Tanya exceeded herself that night.

Just before our show began, Tanya announced that she had a special gift for each participant.  Tanya rolled out a dish containing several oysters and she asked each one of us to choose one.

Even though the oyster shells appeared to be a brownish grey, on closer inspection I could see that each shell had subtle, iridescent colours.  I love colour and became absorbed in my choice.  When I picked my favourite, Tanya took out a little pair of scissors and cut a triangular wedge into the side of the shell.  She pried the shell open.  Lo and behold, right in the middle, was a perfect white pearl!

Tanya plucked out the pearl, washed it, then popped it into a pretty little silver cage, snapped the cage shut, then strung a chain through it.  Voila!  I had my own gorgeous pearl necklace, straight from the oyster shell to my neck.  Pure wonder!

I felt my eyes tear up.  I realized that I was feeling the same pure happiness that I experience when I’m painting and I’m loving what is emerging.   I was surprised at the intensity of my reaction and decided it was something worth exploring.

I’ve since had a chance to reflect on my tears.  As I suspected, there was meaning behind the emotion.

The tears were about my love of nature and what it means to me.

There is a perfection in nature.  It has taught me about life.  And it has been my main creative teacher.

Nature shows me to look closely to see things that are not immediately apparent.   So many seemingly unremarkable things are astonishing when I examine them closely.  Once, I was inspecting a pure white sea shell I had collected on a Tasmanian beach.  I noticed that there were subtle patterned lines that I had to really squint to see.  The lines were beautiful and flowing.  I loved the pattern so much that I copied it and used in as the main design component in a painting.

Nature has an expansiveness and mystery that often stops me in wonder and awe.  An endlessly changing sky presents a new canvas every few minutes.  Stars at night send out their light over impossible distances.  The water of the lake outside my window changes even more swiftly than the sky.  Sometimes it glitters, sometimes it is dark and clouded.  On winter days, ice forms and cracks in different patterns.  One freezing day this past winter, mist rose from each crack in the ice and I felt like I was looking at a scene from a foreign planet.  Sometimes the lake is utterly still and polished.

Nature can be a great reminder to me to use all of my senses.  I love to pick up river rocks and feel the softness of a rock smoothed frictionless by the millennia.   I enjoy listening to an orchestra of bird calls in the marsh near my house.  Right after winter, I appreciate the fresh smell of a spring rain and notice the plants turning green almost before my eyes.  I am distracted from my thoughts and utterly present in the moment.

How are these things linked to creativity?  We get a break from our thinking mind.  We feel more whole.  We relax.  We notice our surroundings.  Our senses open.   All of these elements help move us from our left, analytical brain to our right, creative brain, and so enhance our ability to create.

For me, a 30 minute morning walk – without my cell phone – in one or Toronto’s parks, or along the lake, can make a dramatic difference to my day.   I’ve noticed that after my little immersion in nature, ideas flow to me for the rest of the day.

But sometimes I forget that nature is right there and available to me at all times.  I forget what a difference my morning nature walks can make to the rest of my day.

When Tanya presented her delightful pearl-from-the-oyster experience, I was immediately reminded of all of the elements of nature that I love.  The ordinary, rough looking shell with the iridescent colours and gorgeous pearl inside reminded me of nature’s surprises.  The ability of the little slug-like creature to produce a perfect, round, shiny pearl reminded me of nature’s mystery.  My association of the shell with the 5 sensory experience of an ocean walk reminded me of the importance of being fully present.

I was reminded that I am small and insignificant:  Nothing matters.  Nothing can bother me.  And I was reminded that I am big and powerful:  Like all humans, I am endlessly creative.  Anything is possible.

I realized that I have been overworking lately.   I realized I had been making a mistake.  I had stopped taking my morning walks.

After Tanya’s pearl “reveal”, I decided to reintroduce my morning walks.  In just a few days, my stress level has declined, time has expanded, and my creativity is on fire.

Why not try taking a walk each morning in nature?  Make sure to leave your cell phone behind.  Breathe deeply 3 times before you start to help relax your mind.  If thoughts come up about work or your personal problems, let the thoughts pass and redirect your mind to observe your surroundings.  Keep your 5 senses open.  Look at everything around you, big and small.

Try this exercise for just one month to see what happens.  I would be surprised if you don’t experience ideas and solutions flowing to you more easily than before.

If I’m wrong, at least you’ll have had some fresh air and a bit of exercise!

I’d love to hear from you if you try this out and notice any changes in your life.  Reach out to me anytime by messaging me on Linked-In (https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-kerr-92271826/) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/heather.kerr.9461), clicking on the email link on this website, or writing to me at heather@gracedcanvas.com.