Letter from the President

From SoMMA’s President:

I recently discovered that I love traveling. Not the “visiting of new places” although I do love that. I’m talking about the actual “travel” part, long plane flights and miles of automobile rides. Sitting on the airplane I read for a little, idly leaf through a magazine, nap a bit, stare out the window and then suddenly my head is filling with creative ideas. I have learned that there is an explanation for this. Long flights trapped in an airplane are dull, driving is boring and what do we do when bored?  Daydream! This isn’t the “Walter Mitty” type of daydreaming where we imagine ourselves in another life. It’s the natural flow of random thought that occurs when we are engaged in a task that doesn’t require us to think, but also doesn’t allow us to dwell.

Recent psychological studies have shown that daydreaming unplugs us, allowing the stream of consciousness flow to refresh and reset the brain.  It goes beyond taking a break to check email, pay bills or pull up news headlines on your phone.  On the contrary, these typical “break” activities only further tax the brain.  Living, as we do, in a world where we are always connected by our devices we need never be bored, but that’s not always a good thing.

Besides refreshing the brain, daydreaming also encourages the formation of new ideas, the “aha” moment. A study done at the University of California found that a group of subjects who were given ordinary objects like toothpicks or a brick and asked to devise new uses for them discovered that after a fifteen minute break doing a mundane task that enabled their mind to wander they were able to find many more uses to add to their list.

If you haven’t had the creative “lightbulb” go off in your head lately, try a little daydreaming! Some activities that encourage daydreaming are: Gardening, taking a walk or going for a long drive, listening to music, Russian literature (they found reading Tolstoy put undergrads into a daydream state pretty quickly), meditation. Any activity that holds the attention only slightly will work so let your mind wander, it may end up in some wonderful places!

My self-care tidbit this month comes from a friend of mine. She had chosen three things from her home to give away in order to “make space for something new to arrive”. This concept enchanted me, the idea of making physical space for something new.  Not to go shopping for a new “tchotchke” to fill that spot, but simply waiting for something to come along.  What three things can you give up in order to let serendipity bring in something new? Maybe it isn’t even a “thing” maybe there are things in your head that you need to “give away” so that you are free and open for freshness and vitality to return. Pick three things and make some space!

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many more things than those who dream only by night” Edgar Allen Poe

Be Creative. Be Bold. Be Fearless.      Wendy

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