It’s always exciting to hear from writers I’ve worked with in the past. This week, Hisla Bates, MD wrote to let me know about her creativity summit: Healer Heal Yourself! Reduce Burnout, Discover Your Creativity While You Heal Others. As Dr. Bates wrote me, “It is a summit that will inspire you to infuse creativity into your work and your day. Art and Creativity are healing modalities that can bring more joy and happiness to your life.”
Summits are a great way for aspiring and emerging authors/writers to grow their community, develop an email list of engaged subscribers and connect with colleagues in their field in a meaningful way. For those reasons and more, a summit can serve as an effective precursor to a publishing deal.
I invited Dr. Bates to share the inspiration for this creativity summit, as well as what my readers (YOU) can get out of it, whether you are in healthcare, psychology or any field.
Lisa: I was so excited to get your email and hear about your creativity summit particularly for doctors facing burnout. When did you get the idea and what is your vision for this Summit?
Hisla Bates, MD: I started working on the summit several months ago and it took time to conceptualize. I have always been interested in merging creativity and art into the practice of medicine. As you may know, I went to Parsons School of Design and was a fashion designer before I went to medical school. I put creativity and art on the back burner in order to study medicine. At the time I didn’t see the value of art, I thought science and medicine were more important. It took years before I had the courage to get back into creative pursuits.
About 12 years ago, I started painting and printmaking with a group in Boston. I felt like I had finally come home. I came to realize that when I was painting and creating prints, I was happy. Art filled a void and I was able to see it’s healing properties.
My Healer Heal Yourself summit is my way of sharing the many discoveries I made in my healing journey with others. I wanted to demonstrate how I went from facing a health crisis and burn out, to thriving. I wanted to share with others the benefits of meditation, art therapy, positive psychology, music and creativity in general.
Lisa: While these benefits have always been important, they seem especially essential right now! Many of the people reading this blog post will be in healthcare. However, many others, while not in healthcare, are very interested in creativity, particularly writing. Can you share a bit about some of the speakers in this Summit who might be particularly relevant to those people writing a self-help or health book or looking to tap into their creativity more?
Hisla Bates, MD: Yes, many of the speakers are New York Times bestselling authors. Writing is a significant part of many of the speakers’ lives. I will list a few, but there are several more.
- Tal Ben Shahar, PhD has written many books on Positive Psychology including New York Times bestseller, Happier, and, The Pursuit of Perfect.
- Dr. Danielle Ofri is the author of What Doctors Feel, in which shares patient stories. She also recently published a book on medical errors.
- Dr. Andrea Pennington owns a publishing company and has authored numerous books on healing and self-care.
- Dr. Lloyd Sederer has written several books on mental health and has reviewed film, television, and theater. He’s written for the HuffPost, New York Times, and The Atlantic.
- Dr. Lissa Rankin is a bestselling author, she has written both Mind Over Medicine, and The Fear Cure.
- Dr. Frank Clark is a published poet and musician.
- Dr. Sheryl Ricinos has self-published and written several both non-fiction and fiction books. She is best known for her memoir entitled Hindsight, which shares the story of a homeless teen becoming a doctor.
- Dr. Oneeka Williams has a children’s book series called Dee Dee Dynamo.
- Dr. Carrie Barron is the author of The Creativity Cure and has worked with you.
- Dr. Anna Yusim, is the author of Fulfilled, which centers on spirituality.
- And of course you, Lisa Tener, Award-winning Book Coach and Creativity Catalyst!
These are just a few of the writers that I featured in the summit. Most of the writers I have mentioned talk about their stories and their development in the summit.
Lisa: Wow, what an inspiring line-up! You’re an artist, writer and a physician. I know that your story will fill at least one book, maybe several. However, can you share just a little bit about your journey and what led you to embrace creativity and make that a bigger focus in your own life?
Hisla Bates, MD: For years I had the urge and the desire to paint with oils. It was an urge I couldn’t resist. 12 years ago, I dedicated one night a week to printmaking and joined an artist group in Boston. I entered juried shows and participated in open studio events. the Boston Printmakers 2011 Biannual by curator Jim Dine selected three of my prints for the show. This was a very prestigious honor and it was just the beginning of me calling myself an artist. I noticed that the art that I made created connection; it communicated to complete strangers. My art facilitated conversation, whether it was about technique or the subject matter. People fell in love with certain pieces, and I loved seeing the joy on their faces. I realized that art was a tool for healing. It made me feel good and it did the same for others. It was mutually beneficial. Through this experience I discovered the power of creativity and the power of art.
Lisa: Wow, how exciting! How can creativity help with any kind of burnout or stress? What is the research tell us about the benefits of tapping into our creativity?
Hisla Bates, MD: The research shows that using your hands to create and the process of making art, regardless of the product, is beneficial in lifting your mood and even in boosting the immune system. When you are fully engaged in art making activities, you enter a state of flow and in that state, there are physiological changes within the body. One can achieve the relaxation response, a term created by Dr. Herbert Benson, where your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and blood pressure and cortisol levels are lowered.
Lisa: What are some of the ways you keep your creativity alive, particularly during this challenging time of pandemic?
Hisla Bates, MD:I have a writing group I belong to. I have facilitated drawing workshops online and have participated in some as well. I recently attended a “Quaranzine” workshop, in which I learned to make zines with over 300 other participants. The Barnard Library contacted me after seeing my Zine on Twitter so that they could add it to their collection. The “Quaranzine” workshop was the first time I had ever heard the word zine. For those who don’t know, A Zine is a tiny book of words and illustrations that conveys feelings. My zine was about how it felt to be in quarantine. It was a wonderful experience to create something new and explore a genre I knew nothing about.
Lisa: Do you come up against creative resistance? If so have you found that the resistance is stronger during this pandemic time? How do you advise our readers to address any creative resistance?
Hisla Bates, MD: It depends on what you mean by creative resistance and how one defines creativity. Are there times when I don’t feel like making art? Yes. I don’t consider those times moments of resistance, I see them more as times of recovery. What I have found is that we sometimes need to step away from our work to gain perspective, whether it is a painting, a drawing, or a novel. During those times we should allow our mind to rest and the creative process will return. I have found that I have been more creative during this pandemic and I have been enjoying the time that I have to write, draw, and create. The pandemic is a time for creativity not resistance! Fear is really the basis of our resistance and the best way to overcome fear, it is to take action.
Lisa: That is such a positive message and a wise perspective! I look forward to hearing the many creative speakers in this summit and so appreciate your sharing this time with us today.
Hisla Bates, MD is an artist and Integrative Psychiatrist in Private Practice in New York City. Dr. Bates is currently in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic and is staying positive, using art and creativity as her medicine.
Update: while the summit is now over (as of May 26, 2020), you can contact Dr. Bates to get on the list for next year.
CHANTAL F NOUVELLON says
Great writing and testimony.