Rancho Santa Fe’s Ruth Westreich has paired up with author Jan Phillips on a new book, “Creativity Unzipped: Why Your Thoughts Matter,” hoping to help readers find their voice and express it – and to realize that creative and artistic are not the same thing.
“Creativity, the way we define it, has more to do with how we create our lives, how we use the tools of imagination and intention to shape the lives we inhabit,” wrote Phillips.
“Creativity is not something you do and hang on a wall,” Westreich said. “It’s who you are and how you show up and how you live your life.”
Westreich and Phillips have been good friends for 20 years and together they have collaborated on three books, including “The Art of Original Thinking” and a photography and poetry book, “Finding Ourselves on Sacred Ground.”
“Jan is one of my favorite authors, I love the way she writes,” Westreich said.
Westreich has wanted to do this book for a long time, noting she can’t count how many times she’s heard people say, “I’m not creative. I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” She wanted to do a book that explores the myths about creativity, discover what it really means and almost like a self-help book, help people tap into their wisdom and imagine new ways of sharing it.
“We are all creative beings,” Westreich said. “Some live up to their potential and create the lives that they want, many people don’t realize that it’s in their power to do that.”
Chapters in the book draw from the women’s personal experiences, as well as scientific and social research on the topic. There are chapters on mindfulness practice and creating time for solitude or time for creative projects that are fun, life-affirming or mood-altering.
“We have a funny relationship with time. We treasure it, like we treasure money, yet we hesitate to spend it on ourselves,” wrote Phillips, stressing the importance of a balanced life. “You are worth the time.”
There is a chapter on why business needs creativity and original thinkers to succeed, creativity in healing as well as an inspiring chapter on conscious creativity as activism.
Although the book has been only out for two weeks, Westreich said she’s already heard from people who have found the book to be very cathartic, particularly those people who were in some way discouraged from creative expression. As Phillips wrote in the book, everyone has the capacity to think originally and act creatively.
To help stoke daily creativity and contemplation, Westreich also created a card deck as a companion to the book. Each of the 50 cards in the deck has an image of Westreich’s artwork and a thought of the day.
Creativity and art has long been an important part of Westreich’s life — she has been painting since she was 7 years old and over the years has tried in her hand in nearly every kind of medium. On display in her spacious home art studio is everything from the china she used to delicately hand-paint to the sparkling jewelry she designed.
In addition to her personal work in the studio, she holds monthly painting sessions with friends and does art with her grandchildren, teaching them about artists such as Georgia O’ Keefe and styles like impressionism and post-modernism.
Her latest work, an abstract series with a lot of interesting color and movement, will be part of a showing at T Short Galleries on Columbia Street in San Diego. The show opening will be on Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. and will serve as a fundraiser for the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma.
The proceeds from “Creativity Unzipped” and any artwork she sells, all go toward her private family foundation, The Westreich Foundation.
Westreich and her foundation were instrumental in the development of the University of San Diego’s Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research, and she recently awarded $30,000 worth of scholarships to 22 students from San Diego County Juvenile Court and Community Schools through the Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Program.
With her foundation, she focuses a lot on the areas of health, wellness and food safety and is a supporter of organizations such as the American Nutrition Association and Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine.
Westreich calls herself an “accidental activist” and has grown more passionate about her causes. Recently, she wrote and produced a video on the effects of glyphosate, the most used agricultural chemical herbicide, called “From DDT to Glyphosate” with Airleaf Media.
Her video uses interviews captured at her home when she brought a group of scientists to the United Kingdom and the U.S. together in conjunction with GMO Science for a roundtable discussion.
According to geneticist Dr. Michael Antoniou in her video, 80 percent of genetically-modified crops have been engineered to tolerate the herbicide and, as a result, people are ingesting higher quantities of pesticides; effectively “a slow poisoning.”
“I am very happy with it and I hope the whole world watches and begins to understand that without good safe food, you can’t have good health,” Westreich said.
As an emerging activist, Westreich is using her “conscious creativity” for the benefit of the whole, creating a public conversation that explores an issue facing society.
“We are coming to understand that our thoughts, feelings and words transform themselves into the culture we are a part of, the very future we inherit,” wrote Phillips. “They matter deeply. They have consequences. They are the tools of our creativity, the colors that become the painting.”
“Creativity Unzipped” is available on Amazon, Kindle and at janphillips.com. For more information on the book, the card deck or her foundation, visit thewestreichfoundation.org where you can also view “From DDT to Glyphosate.”