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Today is Labour Day here in Canada and also in the United States and perhaps other places in the world too.  Labor/Labour Day is celebrated in many countries in the world at different times in the year. I live in Canada and spell labour with a “u”.

Labour Day originates from the efforts of the labour union movement to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers.  My Dad was a “union man” with his 30 plus years working with Ford Motor Company.  He was a proud union member and wore t-shirts with the Ford emblem, achieved many perfect attendance awards from his employer, and went to many Union meetings and luncheons over the years!

As I think about Labour Day, I am thinking about my own labour over the years.  In particular how my career has been filled with emotional and creative labour at its heart.  As a front-line social worker for the first decade of my career, I worked in child welfare, children’s mental health, and as a medical social worker. Caring for and supporting others were always at the occupational core.  For the past 20 plus years, as a coach, trainer, facilitator, teacher, writer, entrepreneur – caring is still at the core of all that I do and so is creativity.  Creativity, caring, leadership and innovation are important aspects of “my labour.”

How about for you?  What does your “labour” in daily life look? Feel like?  Whether you are still working in your career/job/business or you’re a student or your retired or semi-retired, we all do some form of labour in our daily lives.

Labour might include devoting to something or someone, tending to, caring for, working with, creating, nurturing and more.

Today has me thinking about “creative labour.”

In particular, I am pondering the nature of creative labour.  I create everyday.  For the past 20 years my work has included creating new programs and courses (in-person and online), as well as writing resources, books, workbooks, tools, blog posts, Museletters, articles and more!   I also journal often, dance, move my body, parent my boys, love my husband, water our garden (although gardening is not one of my gifts!), sing out loud when I drive in the car and more. Creative self-expression is at the heart of my life.  I imagine it is for you too – perhaps in ways you are aware of and maybe ways you just do so naturally you might not have even thought about it!

I truly believe that our “creative labour” and our self-expression is truly a gift to the world. Each time we choose to self-express in the many ways we might do that – writing, painting, dancing, cooking, gardening, birthing children, parenting, loving, collaging, singing, scrapbooking and so on – we are being who we were born to be.  There is no one else who will create exactly like you, live in a self-expressed way, exactly like you.

Today, I am celebrating and honouring the positive and powerful force of creative labour in our world, in me, in you, in nature.  Creative labour is an act of love.  Journal writing is an act of self-love.  Using words to capture our thoughts, feelings and lives is a narrative art form that expresses what it means to be alive in the here and now.


Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC, is the Director of The International Association of Journal Writing (http://iajw.org). She is the creator of Life Source Writing and co-author of Writing Alone Together: Journaling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection.