Dust-off Creativity #1: Holiday Season Chat with Jade Herriman

Many of you wish you knew a way of keeping up your creative practice even during the holiday season or other busy times of the year. Baie van julle wens julle kan meer tyd maak daarvoor om iets kreatiefs te doen. And how can you stick to your goals during the coming year? One of the things we like doing here, is dusting off neglected or forgotten knowledge and skills. From time to time I’ll ask some experts to unpack some of the things on their shelves. I asked an art therapist and coach, Jade Herriman – all the way from Sydney, Australia – about creativity, art therapy and setting goals for 2016.

Over to you, Jade!


What would you tell someone who says “But I’m not creative at all!”

“I disagree – you can’t help but be creative!”  We are all creative beings, we are kept alive by about a zillion fascinating and awe inspiring creative processes in our bodies and the world around us, and we are constantly creating.

I bet most people are involved in some of the creativity that happens every day: thinking up new ideas, creating new relationships, making things around the house whether that be a new garden bed, a pot of pasta, a knitting project, or even selecting colours to wear, choosing which font to use on their report at work, arranging furniture in our houses, pottering in our sheds with tools – these are all creative acts, where we bring to life something new through our ingenuity and resources.

I think the challenge for adults is that we become fixed on outcomes, and we get a certain fixed idea in our heads of what creative looks like. An artist, a famous composer, a wildly eccentric inventor. We discount all the ordinary little acts of creativity that we are involved with, and because we don’t match these grand visions of creativity we start to think that creativity belongs to the special people – someone other than us. I think if we can accept that creativity comes out in many different ways, that it’s not the same thing as having mastered a particular skill (like drawing for example) we can loosen up a bit. Once we lose the fear, or quiet down the fear or work around the fear, the creativity comes out like a torrential flow. We learn over time that being kind to ourselves, and seeing ourselves as creative paves the way to us taking risks and being more creative out in the world.

Why does Barbara Sher‘s work appeal to you?

It works with you exactly where you are! ‘Lazy?’ Fine. ‘Unmotivated?’ No problem. ‘Scared to death of getting the actual thing you want the most?’ Yep, no worries, aren’t we all. I love that she doesn’t seek to blame or shame anyone, and provides a road map for getting what you want, even with all your very normal human weaknesses and quirks. This somehow shortcuts all the self talk that says ‘well, when I’m more peaceful, and nicer and more organized and have shinier hair… THEN I’m allowed to be happy and go after what I want’.

It is refreshingly frank and balances both the need to accept ourselves with all our human foibles and our wonderful grand dreams, and the need to make practical movement towards what we love, so that we can come alive and have happy and fulfilling lives.

Oh and she’s so genuinely compassionate but also blunt, no B.S. and funny!

What is one of the most surprising things art therapy/working as an art therapist has taught you?

Most people, given the right setting and the right encouragement, can make art and find meaning in it for themselves and their life situation.

Art and Photograph by Jade Herrimann

During the holiday season most of us find it difficult to keep up a creative practice or stay on track with our goals in general. Any advice?

Be kind to yourself! It’s ok to have downtime from our creative pursuits just like it’s ok to have time away from a job. Sometimes we can run ourselves into the ground trying to do everything all year round, especially if we tend towards perfectionism or we fear that once we stop we will never engage with our creative pursuit or goal again.

If seeing family and friends is taking extra time, if you have to travel long distances, if you have extra responsibilities for cooking, gift giving, charitable works, keeping in touch etc this time of year, then really take the time to acknowledge that for yourself. It can help to realise that it doesn’t mean you have abandoned your creative works if you give yourself a week off – it just means your plate is super full, and maybe rest and getting enough sleep take priority just now. I think rhythm over time is a great concept and I find my own creative projects tend to run in cycles. Not every day has to be identical.

That said, creative expression can be a great release from stress and provide comfort and calm during busy times. Maybe see if you can think of one tiny thing you will do over the season to nourish yourself creatively – if and when you get time and feel like it. I like journaling, or taking photos as my core creative practice, even when traveling. Journaling helps me process my feelings and involves no pressure for a particular outcome as its private, and photography helps orient me towards appreciating beauty and keeps a record of my experiences.

One such photograph by Jade Herrimann


As a coach, what are your tips for going after a dream in 2016?

–       name the dream out loud – to yourself and a trusted other

–       if you can make the dream have a physical presence in your life do that – a vision board with images of that holiday destination, a few books on your coffee table that feature that hobby you’d like to try, a hopeful pair of second hand dancing shoes arranged prettily on your dressing table..

–       find your tribe so you have inspiring role models and can see how people a few steps ahead got there. It also helps to make it more real to hear from people who have done or want to do the same thing as you.

–       use structure to your advantage – join a class, participate in an online group, subscribe to a specialist magazine – anything that means you will have more frequent reminders of the thing you love and make you feel more connected to it

–       take the smallest step – a series of very small steps help a lot. Much better to make some tiny but tangible progress than make a lofty grand plan that is so scary you can’t begin

–       get help and support – ask for help! Ask trusted and well-meaning friends or family for ideas, for materials, for someone to lend you the equipment you need, to talk to someone who’s done it before.

–       if you want to work with someone to help keep you accountable or who has real world experience doing what you are trying to do, or just helping people work towards their dreams try working with a coach or a mentor from your field.


*All images courtesy of Jade Herriman

Jade Herriman is a transpersonal art therapist and coach who also has her IMG_1105own active arts practice. She draws on over 15 years experience working in teams within diverse organisations as a sustainability professional, researcher and facilitator. Jade integrates the principles of client centered counseling and group facilitation with art therapy processes, Barbara Sher Life Coaching methods and her own experience of creative practice. She runs art therapy and coaching workshops within organisations and for the general public; and works with individual clients face to face and by Skype.

Want to know more about our Expert?

Jade Herriman

Art therapy, Coaching and Creative Play  

Mob: 0420 980 178

email: info@jadeherriman.com




Dusty Roads #2: Umlalazi just beyond the front stoep

2015-11-18 08.48.16So we’re still on the topic of expeditions down the old familiar roads close by. Toe besluit ek laasweek om weer ‘n slag onder by die krappe te gaan kuier. Destyds toe ek Zululand toe getrek het, was een van die vele stukkies raad wat my uit die bekender Kaap na die Ooskus gevolg het: “Daa’s krappe daar!”

I headed down to the Umlalazi Nature Reserve a couple of times during the past few weeks to go see what the little creatures of the lagoon, beach and forest are up to. It’s been really dry in KZN this year and the forest floor had been an ominous light brown crackle the last time I had ventured there. But the past few weeks rain soaked the red soil of Zululand again.

Prinses patiently waits at the parking lot each time, looking out over the Mlalazi river close to the sign that warns against crocodiles – ek mis die prentjie van die seekoei wat altyd daarby was. 2015-10-31 08.58.53But it’s not hippos and crocs we’re after in the mangrove swamp. Poking from their assorted holes below the mangrove trees, the crabs retract their jolly red selves away from the camera. They’re always sitting there, each in front of a hole, sometimes scuttling back a little bit more slowly, so you can catch a glimpse of an altercation or of a leaf being dragged. Hierdie twee was te besig met ‘n huismoles of ‘n “hies-jou-kesj” om ons raak te sien:


Mangliete is mos nie ‘n naam wat lekker sê nie, maar hierdie goed is iets besonders. Onder langs die lagoon staan ‘n moeras vol van hulle. See that long peg-like thing on the picture here below? It’s a seed than pegs like a rocket into the ground when the time is right and shoot out some roots before the tide can wash it away again. And those yellow leaves are full of extra salt, because these incredible plants grow in thick mud in the salty coastal water. Bits of roots stick up like snorkels between the crab tunnels. There are different kinds of mangrove trees here and when you walk on the little wooden path winding through them to John Dunn’s Bath, the sounds of the lagoon parking lot become slightly muted. Like when snow starts falling – if you can imagine snow in this sweltering humidity. Onwillekeurig kyk ‘n mens altyd boontoe om te sien of die visvanger nie dalk hier iewers sit nie. The Mangrove Kingfisher is not showing himself today but in the distance the Fish Eagles are squealing and fish are plopping in the lagoon as the path winds around the corner. Red claws disappear into holes and maybe if someone is walking with you when you visit here, point out the magrove snails on the trunks of the trees.


Some other time I might tell you the story of John Dunn, one of the characters from the region’s colourful past. But this thing over here between the Mangrove Swamp and the Umlalazi river is not just a muddy puddle. It was a pool, dug for John’s wives to take a bath a safe distance away from the crocodiles and hippo’s. It’s a story all by itself, but today I’m here for the mudskippers. I don’t always see them, but few things can cheer me up like watching one of these prehistoric-looking little creatures skip across the surface of the water leaving tracks of tiny spiraling waves like heavy raindrops. Look carefully where this one is making a stop on the mud:


Their funny little fins and bulging eyes can hush the shaky photographer, squatting in the squelching mud into the kind of awe that makes the world beyond the mangrove tops fade away for a few moments. Later, cutting through the forest on the  way to the beach, the big ferns flicker in the same quiet light. Die klein pilduisendpoot wat in ‘n bolletjie opkrul wanneer mens aan hom raak en die rooi duiker met die wikkelende stertjie bly hier in die duinewoud. Our man pill millipede over here curls up into a perfect little ball when you disturb his slow crawl across his buffet of forest detritus. And that wagging little red tail disappearing between the trees and elk ferns is a red duiker.


On the other side of the forested dunes, the Indian Ocean is roaring. Next time, we’ll go there.