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Nailed It

A prompt to encourage your practice of creativity this week from Riversider and local author Larry Burns.

Do you need a low stress way to include seven minutes of creative contemplation into your week? Consider this your helpful nudge towards a slightly more creative life. If it helps, come back every week for a quick hit of creative contemplation. Each week I’ll share a new nudge. It will include a Thing (T), a Place (P), and a Sense(S) for your focus, a TPS creative nudge.

Last week, we leaped into the great outdoors, turning our gaze to the creative canvases of front yards. Were you inspired to learn more about native plants or compelled to stroll barefoot across a wet lawn? Did your curiosity engage you with a creative neighbor by happy accident? Whether you were sketching xeriscapes (until I wrote this column, I thought everyone was saying “zero-scape”) or contemplating the communal stories told by Little Free Libraries, I hope you found inspiration in the curated chaos of nature and human expression that adorns our neighborhoods.

Our creative nudge this week takes us home again to our own bodies. This week, we're zooming in—way in—to explore a part of us that's small in size but vast in potential for creative expression: fingernails. Often overlooked, fingernails are not just tools for scratching an itch; they're signifiers of personal style, indicators of health, and valuable tools to pry things open!

From the practical to the decorative, the way we shape, paint, and grow our nails can say a lot about us. Let's learn what our hands already know by exploring how these tiny keratin innovations at our fingertips can inspire creativity in surprising ways. Now it’s time to put your own polish on a few of these creative exercises:

  1. Rhythmic Taps: Tap out rhythms on different surfaces—wood, metal, fabric, glass. Notice the distinct sounds each surface produces. Try to create a simple melody or rhythm pattern; create a rhythm that matches the other sounds around you.
  2. Touch and Texture: Close your eyes and use your fingernails to explore the textures around you. Feel the weave of fabric, the grain of wood, the cool smoothness of glass. Write about the experience, perhaps noticing how the length and shape of your nails influence your tactile perception.
  3. Nail Art Narratives: Let’s decorate! Design a set of nails that tells a story or represents a theme important to you. It could be as simple as different colors representing different moods or as intricate as miniature scenes painted on each nail.
  4. Fingernail Sculptures: Hopefully you don’t have a collection of nail clippings to fabricate an assemblage sculpture. Instead, consider ways that nails can be used in a creative process working with clay or paints. Go on, get some dirt under those nails.

May this week's creative nudge encourage you to appreciate the little details that make up our world and ourselves. Our little fingernails hold a surprising depth of creative potential. From the sounds they can produce to the stories they express as we wave our hands around in conversation, our nails are a testament to the myriad ways we express ourselves.

As we engage with these exercises, let's consider the small but significant ways we can infuse creativity into every aspect of our lives, even down to our fingertips.

Note: This column written with the help of ChatGPT Plus and related Plugins.