Finding the Silver Lining – Mary Potter Kenyon

“We become healthier and happier when we bring in creativity in some way into our life, work, and home.” Mary Potter Kenyon

Everybody is born with talents and the ability to creatively explore these talents. When discovered and acknowledged, the ability to create something can be a source of joy and fulfillment. Our guest today, Mary Potter Canyon, helps people to discover and embrace their creative talents and believes that one of the greatest benefits of creativity is its power to heal.

Mary Potter is a Program Coordinator at Shalom Spirituality Center, Dubuque, Iowa. She is also an author of seven books, including Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace, Expressive Writing for Healing, and Called to Be Creative which was released on August 18, 2020. She is a speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing, grief, and utilizing your creativity in your everyday life and a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association AWSA

In today’s episode, our guest will be discussing the positive creativity that came out of the pandemic and how people of all ages can work creativity into their lives for a happier and healthier existence.

Listen in!

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  • I am a program coordinator at a spirituality center where I coordinate and facilitate programs on spirituality and its relation to ourselves and our creativity. [3:28]
  • I’ve been a writer for over 30 years, and that has been a constant in my life. [3:48]
  • I was a stay-at-home mom until 2012 when my husband passed away and I did a lot of freelance writing and running various home businesses. [3:55]
  • It was quite a change and I still can’t believe that in the nine years since I have become what I would never have imagined becoming which is a public speaker. [4:09]
  • I could barely string two sentences together to talk to the butcher or the mailman as a stay-at-home mom. [4:21]
  • Part of my creativity as a result of this loss that I experienced is writing about loss and expressive writing for healing. [4:29]
  • The workshops I do are also related to grief, creativity, and the connection between how creativity can be healing for us. [4:39]
  • I do have to mention that I have eight children because that always boggles everybody’s mind. [4:51]
  • I think if anything to pandemic has shown us the importance of creativity and all its forms. [6:35]
  • People were turning to gardening, baking, sitting on the sidewalk, and coloring messages to encourage people that were walking past their houses. [6:45]
  • We all instinctively turn to something that happens to have a science behind it, that proves we are healthier happier when we are working creativity in some way into our life, work, and home. [6:57]
  • There are healing benefits for anxiety and worry and whatever we’re going through in creating and not only that, science proves we were designed to create. [7:17]
  • It boggles my mind when I think that all this science has shown us that what we instinctively turned to during the pandemic is something that we’ve needed in our life anyway. [7:30]
  • I instinctively turned to journaling after my husband passed away and I found healing benefits in that. [8:01]
  • In three months I wondered how people grieve without journaling and I researched for my book on creativity and expressive writing for healing. [8:09]
  • I discovered there was research and science behind this and it was not just something that I think [8:25]
  • It is my hope that we have learned something from it because what a waste it would be if we didn’t learn something from this time. [10:06]
  • I know some people were busier than ever such as the frontline workers and they had to find creative ways to deal with patients.[10:12]
  • I had to figure out what working from home entailed which was a learning curve for a lot of us. [10:40]
  • I am bound and determined to have learned something from this and to apply and to keep it as part of my life. [10:58]
  • My daughter was 16 when I was sent to work from home and she didn’t want to talk about it and I felt the loneliest I’ve ever felt in my life because I was in a house with the only one of my eight children who would never hug. [12:12]
  • Once I started asking her if she would take hikes with me, that is where she started talking in nature and that is something we all need to learn that there’s a lot of healing in nature. [12:41]
  • Now she’s 17 and we sit down and talk every day after work, and she sometimes will make me a cup of tea before I get home from work. [13:00]
  • Another thing that came out of the pandemic at this time is Zoom. There were a lot of us who didn’t use zoom before but now my workplace can reach people who could never have set foot in our building. [14:20]
  • So we needed that human connection, and we got it through a screen and so we are going to continue to do Zoom programs. [14:38]
  • I think we also learned we do need human interaction. [16:18]
  • Creativity is nothing new, it is something that we did as children but it felt like something new during the pandemic. [[16:46]
  • It is good news for all of those people out there who are daydreamers because science also proves that daydreamers are some of the most creative people. [17:28]
  • It is healthy for us to daydream and that’s what happens when you take walks too. There is a lot of creativity that goes on in solitude, and mindfulness. [17:48]
  • Commercial break. [19:28]
  • It stemmed from having a very creative mother. My family was very poor and yet somehow my mother beautified our home with the things that she was making. [20:58]
  • At the age of 41 years old, she decided to carve a piece of wood and so she picked up a kitchen knife and a piece of wood and made a very crude carving. [21:25]
  • She honed that talent and that gift to create a home business out of wood carvings and paintings and beautiful things that she ended up selling our soul besides beautifying her home. [21:36]
  • When she passed away I found unpublished manuscripts underneath her bed and her words written to her children was that her greatest desire is that they would utilize their talents which hit home for me. [21:51]
  • So I’ve been writing from home for 25 years at that point but I thought I would maybe take that talent seriously after her death. [22:05]
  • I sat down and wrote an outline because I thought we all have something that is in us that is creative. [22:17]
  • I had started doing some public speaking at that time to young moms and I remember asking them if they would put money into their children’s talents and they said of course they would. I then asked them about themselves but they said that they did not have time for themselves. [22:25]
  • I did the same kind of speech to older women in their 70s and 80s and asked them about their children’s talents which they said they would always encourage them but when I asked about them, the answers were heartbreaking and I knew that wasn’t true. [22:40]
  • So, we see it in our own children and in other people but we don’t necessarily see it in ourselves and that is where the idea for the book was born. [23:19]
  • In 2010 I wrote out an outline of what the book would look like that would encourage everybody to discover their purpose and their passions. [23:26]
  • After my husband passed away I got a job as a librarian for a while and also started working as a newspaper reporter for a while I started to hear and see more and more people who did not fit any time into their passions, it was all work. [23:40]
  • That is when I started delving a little bit into the science and the research behind creativity. [24:02]
  • I started interviewing some creative people who were working creativity into their life and between their jobs or in their job. [24:20]
  • It was a long time coming and it came out during the pandemic, which was 10 years after my mother had died. [24:30]
  • It has helped so many different people who were reaching out to me saying they looked back into their childhood and remembered making something creative and that they should try again. [24:40]
  • So it is a book to encourage and inspire people to work creativity back into their lives. [25:05]
  • Sadly, sometimes all it is, is one person telling us we cannot do something which follows years and years and years of still believing that one person’s words so that they don’t even try anymore. [26:42]
  • I have met people who something in them led them to write and they kept writing but they never dared show anybody or they never dared submit anything. [27:20]
  • When I discover them through a class and I convinced them that what they have done is beautiful they share it and they come alive. [27: 31]
  • There is a benefit to creating time to create and it is worth the effort. [28:10
  • There is something to be said for creating just for the fun of creating and for trying new things and allowing ourselves to fail. [29:15]
  • We carry these lies within us and every once in a while we have to take time to figure out what the truth is. [31:18]
  • I just want your listeners to believe in themselves and believe there is something in them. [33:24]
  • I want them to start by looking back to their childhood and remember what it was that they were drawn to naturally because that’s where our secret desires lie before life took that out of us. [33:28]
  • Whatever it is that makes them feel alive, whatever it is that makes them come alive, work that into their everyday life because there are ways to work it into our lives, at home, at work, in whatever we are doing and we will be healthier and happier for doing that. [33:49]


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