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Sublime Succulent Serenade

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

A succulent garden grows on Crystal Mountain. (Photo courtesy Stanley Fry)

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 devised a personal creative exercise from the sights and sounds of so many flags in so many places around Riverside. Did you design a flag for your book club or discover a hidden history behind your favorite flag? Maybe you sketched the rapt attention of others looking upon flags they love? Even if you just quietly observed a flag waving in the wind, I hope it inspired some creative thinking or nudged you outdoors to plant a flag yourself.

This week’s creative quest? Go to a place where nature meets nurture: succulent gardens! Succulents, with their unique adaptations and intricate beauty, offer a wealth of inspiration for exploring how we interact with the world around us. What we learn about those interactions can nudge us into a more creative place for a few minutes today.

Did you know we share a “sixth sense” called proprioception with plants? Proprioception informs all parts of our lives. One thing it does for humans is keep us balanced while we multi-task! It’s how plants roots always grow in the right direction. In a sense, it makes sense of all your other senses – i.e., proprioception tell us where we are going (or growing) and what everything around us is doing.

Over millions of years, succulents evolved into the multitude of species living alongside us today. Take a deep breath, apply that sunscreen, then take in what this green leafless world has to share. Notice their remarkable ability to attract other creatures and resources, and their resilience in growing and protecting themselves in challenging environments. They deploy a vast array of thorny defenses and water storage strategies to create a hospitable space for themselves. How is our own creative spaces “threatened” by the outside world, and how can we adapt successfully like a beautiful succulent to allow our creative desires to find support?

To nudge you into several minutes of mindful creativity, celebrate the ingenuity and resiliency of succulent gardens by:

  1. Succulent Sketching: Set up a comfortable space near a garden or find images online to observe and sketch the intricate details of succulents. Notice unique shapes, textures, and patterns How are they designed to thrive? How are you designed to thrive?
  2. Storytelling Through Succulents: Select a few or create a visual display using images of succulents. Imagine the journey of each succulent, their interactions with other living things, and the environmental challenges they overcome. What do succulents value? What flag might they wave?
  3. Proprioceptive Creations: Engage your proprioceptive sense by exploring the different shapes and forms of succulents with your hands….respectfully and with gloves! Safer yet, experiment with molding clay, creating sculptures that captures their essence. Pay attention to the textures, curves, and details you bring to life as you shape the clay.

The succulent, your clay model, and your own body share a dependance on water. How can this fact be used to support us creatively? Perhaps, we can remind ourselves of our own journey of growth and adaptation. Then, we can celebrate what we accomplished and overcome by starting a personally meaningful creative activity.

As you immerse yourself in the world of spikey-sweet succulents, take a moment to reflect on the ways they inform your own creative process. Embrace the vibrant lessons they offer, and let them guide you towards more moments of creativity and reflection.

Note: portions of this prompt created using the tool ChatGPT.