To be creative is to rebuild yourself

Oxford Dictionary defines creativity as ‘the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.’ The thesaurus includes innovation, vision, expressiveness, creative power, and ingenuity. 

Depending on the stage of healing, these words can describe you so that you take pride in them, or they can seem distant and unreachable.

I never thought of myself as a creative person. Resourceful, problem-solver any day of the week but not creative. Creativity was always related to primary forms of artistry like literature, music, painting, sculpting, and fashion but not to anything I did. Then trauma pushed me further away from art and creating anything, let alone anything beautiful, even remotely. 

My resourcefulness and problem solving vanished too. There was guilt, pain and shame. I felt it, I breathed it, I lived it. And there was my daughter in the midst of it like a little star in the dark sky, but I couldn’t see the way to her light. It was a disconnect, and I didn’t know where to look for the link that would connect us. 

Until one day I noticed the colour on tv and heard a different tone. The tone of excitement and passion. It made no sense at all as it was a cooking channel. Nothing related to cooking appealed to me, but I recognised that I missed that sound of passion and the sight of colour. Together, they felt soothing. They made me feel better. While I routinely took my baby girl for walks, read her books and gave her baths, it felt impersonal. I was just an empty shell in that relationship essential for us both. 

I was still miles away from the passion in my voice, but I could do colour. I will use colour to show my love. The colour of food. The green market was just across the street, and the spring had just started with its many bright colours. I would bring all the colours upstairs to our apartment, assort them in the kitchen, then get the high chair with my daughter in it closer to me and start our journey to togetherness. 

Every day, she would play with dry pasta, rice, peas, bits of peppers, apples, and grapes, and I would play with my guilt, pain and shame, moulding them into pastry parcels, cupcakes, pancakes and crumbles. There was plenty of food tasting. The giggles started coming in. We added the music and the little dance routines.

The menu expanded too, so we moved to chillies, curries, stews, roasts, and quite a few charred but all of them were enjoyed while making, and some of them in tasting too. Those were the ones that brought us even closer together because, in case you didn’t know, the bitter taste of burnt food would highly likely result in a lot of laughter and occasionally black fingers. 

A year later, my therapist explained that trauma survivors can take up a creative outlet to help the healing process, and it made perfect sense. The food and its colours were a direct link to myself I never even assumed existed. They woke up my passion for resourcefulness and transformed the problem into the love that finally led me to my little star. That was it! I found my purpose. To create and to transform and to never stop.  

About the Author

Biljana Hutchinson is a wellspring of knowledge about healing courageously and building a life from the ashes of despair. After surviving a traumatic terrorist attack while working as an international aid worker in Afghanistan, Biljana found refuge in the art of healthy, beautiful food. As she began to reconnect with herself by balancing work, trauma recovery and family life, she became passionate about sharing all she’s learned with others.  
Through her work as a Plant Based Nutrition Coach, Biljana examines our emotional relationship with food, and teaches that health is so much more than simply eating well. Biljana’s coaching integrates healthy choices into our daily routines and relationships. She recently returned from co-hosting a wellness retreat in Jávea, Spain. 

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