[Women in Health & Wellness] Camille Kelley: Finding Freedom to Be Yourself via Art

April 10, 2019

 

Camille is the founder of Finding Sparks, a community and online space that merges the worlds of art and wellness in a fun and supportive environment. Camille is a queer artist and a Bay Area native, with a background in teaching, fashion, and technology. Through Finding Sparks, Camille leads creativity and wellness workshops and provides resources through her various media outlets to help people bring creative self-care into their everyday lives.

 

Additionally, Camille holds private one on one sessions to lead her clients to achieve happier and more fulfilled lives through exercises in creative self expression blended with holistic health practices.

 

If you’d like to reach out, contact Camille at hello@finding-sparks.com.

Remember being a child and showing off your latest art project, blissfully free of self-criticism and judgement? Remember painting and making gifts for the sheer joy of seeing something come to life from your hands and imagination? Wouldn't it be wonderful to return to that state of pure creativity... to draw, collage, build — CREATE — like it didn't matter whether it was "good?" It's a tall order now that we've graduated to the ranks of the adult world, where self-criticism serves the helpful purpose of helping us avoid being criticized by others by catching those opportunities early, but often does this job so zealously that we focus on the negative and fail to see all of the ways we genuinely shine. Camille Kelley is on a mission to help us reconnect with that inner creative, inner critic be damned!

 

SophieTell us about Finding Sparks. How would you describe it to an acquaintance?

 

CK: I would describe Finding Sparks as a community of like-minded creatives and teachers, a collection of resources, and a safe space for healing through art.

 

I have found so frequently both through my own experiences and through the stories of the people I have met over the years, that there is such a strong need for the acceptance and nurturing of creative expression. This is something most people are taught to leave behind in their childhoods to make room for the more “adult” practicality. However, I believe that creative expression is absolutely necessary for survival.

 

Expressing ourselves creatively allows us to be true to our core being, to be vulnerable, and to love and embrace our different perspectives in life. Through creating freely and without judgment, we begin to approach the world with curiosity, and become more open to accepting others and appreciating their unique differences alongside our own. The idea behind Finding Sparks is to create a community that provides in-person workshops, tools for healing, and online spaces that honor those differences, and allow the people involved to learn from each other. I have met so many talented individuals that have so much knowledge to share with the world, and wanted to give them a place to teach these things to others in a fun, interactive, supportive environment.

 

Sophie: Why did you choose the tagline, "merging the worlds of art and wellness?" What does that mean to you?

 

CK: Through my own self-development journey, I have discovered first-hand the ways in which the denial of creative expression can be extremely harmful, as not allowing for this core expression is essentially rejecting the self.

 

As I worked through my own struggles over the years, I discovered many holistic healing tools and resources that allowed me to truly rediscover who I am with full acceptance. This has included mindfulness practices such as meditation, energy healing practices such as tapping and acupuncture, and simple everyday adjustments such as stretching, moving as much as possible, and eating well. I have found that a regular practice of judgement free creative expression allows for space and acceptance of a free mind, which has a calming, centering effect similar to meditation. Overall, I found that merging these holistic health tools with practicing the freedom of expression through art is the best scenario possible!

 

Sophie: What inspired you to create Finding Sparks?

 

CK: I wanted to create something I always wished that I could find — a place where I could feel the creative freedom of my childhood, while also learning and growing to become a better, happier, more vibrant version of myself. Most of the retreats and wellness spaces I found required huge time and financial commitments, so I wanted to create something that would provide this experience to others in a smaller, more accessible way — through half-day workshops, weekend-long retreats, and online spaces.

 

Sophie: If I were to attend one of your workshops, what would it be like?

 

CK: It depends on which one it is! The first one I planned out to be a bit more healing focused (which encompassed an EFT tapping session on freeing your creative spirit from criticism as well as a blended sound healing/guided meditation session), but the next one will definitely be more of a goofy art party! The healing practices will still be present, but added more as a additional benefit than a main focus.

 

All of the workshops are created to center on building genuine, supportive connections with the others who attend, and to provide safe spaces for personal expression and learning. So, you might find yourself honoring your inner child by getting your face painted, helping yourself grow through a presentation on how to practice compassion in relationships, or connecting to your hidden creative genius by discovering the freedom of creation and discovery without judgment through various crafts and activities.

 

I like to describe the workshops as what you might get if you mixed summer camp, a restorative yoga session, art therapy, and a really fun middle school sleepover — and all of the silliness, freedom, discovery, play, and healing that all of those experiences can offer! Or, a mini Burning Man without the drugs! (Though I do find some of the new healing work done through psychedelics and micro-dosing to be extremely interesting!)

 

Sophie: Have you always worked in art and wellness? What led you to where you are today? 

 

CK: Definitely not! As a kid, I always knew with a passion and certainty that I was — and always would be — an artist, and not just in the traditional sense of fine-arts painting or drawing or sculpture as a profession, but through embracing art in every aspect of my being into a fully vibrant lifestyle! However, as I grew a bit older, I unfortunately bought into too many messages throughout the years telling me that my dreams were “unrealistic” or “the art world was too competitive” along with many other ridiculous variations of that sentiment.

 

This led me to a four-year university right out of high school instead of following my dream of attending art school and rejecting these ideas that the life I wanted couldn’t ever actually happen for me. Instead of becoming an artist, I became a teacher. In college, I found a job working with adults with developmental disabilities and then, a few years later, I moved to Taiwan to teach abroad. I discovered through this time how much I also loved guiding and helping others, and this quickly became another passion of mine.

 

A couple of years later, feeling a pull to art once again, I returned to the U.S. to pursue a career in fashion, which, at the time, I resolved to be the most practical version of working in a creative field. Only after a year, however, I discovered that in order to have a stable career in this industry, I would need to move to L.A. or New York. Wanting to stay close to my family, I felt like there was only one thing I could do, give up my dreams completely and start a career in tech.

 

As you might imagine, that didn’t go exactly as planned! In the company where I worked (a well known financial tech startup), I struggled with spreadsheets, acronyms, and quarterly projections, but excelled in the less traditional aspects of working in a large company. This meant helping to create a goofy company theme song, single-handedly throwing a fantastically successful “pizza and puppies party” for the entire company (for which I worked with local shelters to bring in puppies that needed to be adopted from all over the Bay Area for a healing and fun happy hour), along with becoming deeply involved in the LBGTQ committee, the women’s club, and pretty much any other group that involved bringing people together. I learned a lot during this time about what my true strengths were!

 

Sophie: What have you learned on this journey thus far?

 

CK: I think more than anything else, I have learned so much in the past few years about how to trust myself. I laugh now thinking that I went through so much struggle in my early twenties trying to figure out what to do with myself and my life, when actually, I had known all along!

 

Sophie: Why is this work so important to you?

 

CK: There is such deep pain that comes from being denied the ability to express yourself, which can so easily turn into depression, anxiety, and various physical ailments. I have experienced all of those throughout my life as a result of repressing my creative spirit. I think this is something that so many people are going through, especially for those who share my experience in being told as they grow up that they need to leave their imaginative selves behind and become “adults.” This is so damaging, and so untrue! After all, where would innovation be without creativity?

 

Finding Sparks is meant to be exactly what the name entails — a space to find and nurture those creative sparks that bring such joy and excitement to life.

 

Sophie: If time and money were no issue, what would you do with your life?

 

CK: Definitely this! And travel more. Travel is such powerful fuel for the creative spirit.

 

Sophie: What gave you the courage to pursue this dream and turn it into a reality?

 

CK: In many ways, over the past few months, pushing my way forth to make my vision of Finding Sparks come to life has felt like something that has just exploded out of me, but in reflecting a bit more, I have come to realize that it was brewing in my subconscious for quite some time.

 

Recently I was listening to an episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast, and her guest, Steven Pressfield, talked about the relationship between art and resistance. He discussed how there is always going to be an equally great resistance to the passion you have in pursuing your dreams, but sometimes there can come a point that the pain of not doing the thing you want to do becomes greater than the fear of failure. That resonated with me so deeply because I had reached a moment where the suffering of not living my life in my fullest creative potential was immensely painful, and I became horrified that I might spend the rest of my life denying my true self. That thought just felt so terrifying in comparison, that starting my own business from scratch became a lot less intimidating!

 

Sophie: Do you have a dream vision for Finding Sparks? If everything works out perfectly, how will things be in 10 or 20 years?

 

CK: I deeply feel that there is so much potential in this work, and I have a giant imagination — so I dream very big! However, I also like to keep myself open to whatever happens, because you never know where something can lead. Either way, I’d definitely like to see the Finding Sparks community grow to be a large network of creatives, healers, and educators who are able to support each other, and provide encouragement in their work to the point where it is far beyond my involvement. In ten years, I would like to have also built out a variety of several weekend and week-long retreats, many guides, and endless resources for creative discovery and healing, and maybe even a couple of books! There are so many possibilities for where Finding Sparks could grow and expand, and I am so excited to see what unfolds!

 

Sophie: Who are some people who inspire you?

 

CK: Over the past few years in my healing journey, I developed a bit of an obsession with self-development literature, so there are so many wellness and self-help experts that I look up to! The work of Louise Hay (specifically her book, “You Can Heal Your Life”) led me to make huge positive changes in my life on an emotional level, while my recent dive into bio-hacking with the work of Dave Asprey through his work “Game Changers” helped me understand the ways in which re-wiring your subconscious beliefs can completely change your everyday outcomes. I also find deep inspiration from the many artists in the world who express themselves fearlessly with the intention to serve and better the world they live in, several of which are my dear friends!

 

Sophie: Wellness seems to be very important to you! Do you have any special wellness practices or routines?

 

CK: Yes, so many! On a perfect day, my morning routine alone can span up to two hours! This can include a gratitude practice, yoga, meditation, light cardio exercise, listening to inspiring podcasts/audiobooks, and mindfulness exercises, but most days I try to just pay attention to whatever feels best. Right now, I’m practicing “The Artist’s Way” morning pages, which is hand-writing three pages daily of whatever thoughts you have in that time, in order to clear out your mind upon waking up. I highly recommend trying this out to clear out some of the brain clutter! I’m also continually leading groups to provide support and community in these practices, and invite anyone who is interested to join me if they would like to try something new to add a little more spark to their life!

 

You can find Camille and her work at www.finding-sparks.com, join the Facebook community here, or find out the latest happenings on Instagram at @finding.sparks.

 

About the author:

Anne-Sophie Bousset ("Sophie" to English-speaking friends), is a freelance marketer and community builder. She helps companies build their brand, attract clients, and build a community around their product. Her favorite things include sunshine, yoga, reading, and lazy Sundays in with her cat, Phelps. She can be found on Twitter @Sophie_Bousset.

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