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Creative Spotlight: Elena

Meet Elena (she/her). Passionate, wildly curious, creative and adventurous. She is a documentary filmmaker living in Tofino, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

Why is creativity important to your brain health?

Oh man… Well firstly, if I couldn’t be creative I’m not sure my brain would function at all! I believe that creativity is a fundamental part of healthy brain function. Humans are innately creative — it’s what, I believe, makes us so successful as a species. We can imagine worlds, imagine futures and draw connections between vastly different things! In doing so, we’ve achieved the incredible scientific, technological and cultural breakthroughs that drive our modern world. So, with that said, I believe creativity is fundamental to our very humanity and our success. Without creativity, where would we be collectively?

On an individual level, creativity has enabled me to come up with solutions to difficult problems both at work and in my personal life. Creativity has also inspired dreams that I’ve pursued — ideas for businesses, impactful projects and films. It’s brought a lot of joy, spontaneity, and purpose to my life! I simply can’t imagine my life without creativity.

What is the perfect set and setting for your creativity?

Ahhh… the perfect setting for creativity, what a great question (that inspires some real creativity!). Typically, I thrive in environments where I can allow my independent creativity to flourish, but also where interdependent creativity can be leveraged. I currently work from home, and I have a big, open and clean office space that I go to work independently. Also in my house, is a co-working space that I’ve set up with my other housemates (who also work from home). Depending on the type of creativity I want to lean into, I either work from my office space or from the co-working space. I really enjoy having both options at my disposal. I think the dream would be to take this idea further, and to have a building dedicated to offering both types of spaces on a larger scale, to fuel both independent and interdependent creativity. This dream setting would invite creative leaders and interesting, passionate people to further spur creativity in-house.

I also take a lot of inspiration from my environment and community. I currently live on the ocean, surrounded by Pacific Northwest rainforest. I take inspiration, and find space to think and be, living so close to nature. My community is also inspired by the outdoors, which encourages me to get outside more often to surf, freedive or just go for a walk, and often with other people. This kind of larger setting, my environment and community, is so valuable for inspiring my creativity.

Lastly, I find that my creativity is also greatly fuelled by change, conflict and discomfort. My creativity is fuelled by travel — on trains, planes and immersed in different cultures and environments. It’s fuelled by conflict in the world, between colleagues, my community or with loved ones (solutions are often creative). And it’s also fuelled when I’m out of my comfort zone, where I’m forced to think in new directions and learn to thrive in new situations. Creativity, in this way, has been so fundamental to my growth.

What leads to creative blocks? How do you work through them?

I don’t often find I have creative blocks… With one exception: Burnout.

When I over-work myself, or feel exhausted by a project or by some aspect of life, my creativity falters. I’ve experienced significant amounts of burnout in the last five years, and I’m still reckoning with it. I’m in the midst of finishing a full feature documentary film I’ve been working on for four years… without a single vacation (an extended, “no-work” period). The last eight months have been wrought with burnout symptoms, and have made doing my usual work very difficult. I rely on my creativity to do my job. So, I’ve learned that the only way to work through burnout, and exhaustion in general, is to take breaks. Our brains, just like our bodies, need adequate rest, recovery and enrichment. It’s so important to enforce breaks and play, even (in fact, especially) when we’re very busy.

If this sparked anything else, please share:

After all, creativity is not only incredibly useful, but also one of the greatest sources of joy in life.

I believe that everyone is truly and fundamentally creative, and that our individual creativity just shows up in different ways. If all of our creativity looked the same, it wouldn’t be creativity at all; rather, it’d be predictable and robotic in nature. What makes us so creative, collectively, is our individuality and the unique ways we think and feel. In this way, we should all feel liberated to be creative — at work, in conversation, on paper, or simply in our own minds. After all, creativity is not only incredibly useful, but also one of the greatest sources of joy in life.

Feeling inspired by Elena's thoughts?

  • Follow Elena on Instagram for more wisdom

  • Buy some of her prints here

  • Watch her content on YouTube


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