I just got back from the art store with a bag of new brushes and paints. I used to be a creative person. When I was a little girl I sat on the couch with my notebook writing stories while my Dad watched golf. I would tell him about the story I was writing while he watched Jack Nicklaus on TV. I had a whole head full of fictional characters with different names and personalities and adventures. I illustrated my stories in great detail. Later, in school, I grew to love those creative writing assignments. While I could never write a poem, I had some great English teachers that pushed us, encouraged and supported us with these writing assignments.
I also loved drawing, doodling and painting. I would spend hours with colored pencils, pens, and paints. I was in heaven in high school Art class. One year my mom found a local artist to give me some instruction. My mom always supported my creative project of the moment and roped me into some of her own projects. I spent one summer painting flower pots, another painting floor cloths and one summer our car port was used for painting furniture. In between there were bouts with knitting, cross stitching, crocheting, sewing and making hand made Christmas ornaments. There always seemed to be some sort of creative project in the works. Then came college, and other than a huge painting I did for a drama class, and writing for school, the creative well began to start drying up. After college there was more school, work, travel and the busy, craziness of raising three babies.
Now I am in no way saying I could ever have been an artist or writer. I am just saying I loved being able to have those outlets. In the area of gifts, these are not enormous gifts of mine, but definitely above any musical gift. I was completely ignored by God in that department. In fact, I think all three of my boys hate to stand beside me during church. It is such a shame, too, because if I COULD sing, I would likely never shut up.
Over the years, I have been able to carve out little bits of time here and there to dabble in this and that. The creative bug hit before the First Son was born. In decorating the nursery, I sewed all the pillows, bumper pads and window treatments and painted these wonderful Mother Goose scenes on the walls. There was Mother Goose flying through the air, Humpty Dumpty taking a fall, Three Blind Mice and even the mouse running up the Hickory Dickory Dock clock. My big belly and I had such a great time on that project!
Then, between work and two more babies, the well was again dry. And I believe that, just like your muscles, if you don’t use your creativity, it weakens. You know, you don’t use it, you lose it. So, I wasn’t using any of my creativity until . . . those school projects began to come rolling in. My fingers itched to take over those poster boards, shoe box creations and presentations. However, I put my hands behind my back so I wouldn’t be one of THOSE moms who actually did their children’s work for them. I did try to offer suggestions and help and, I’m thinking that if I could have helped, their grades just might have been a little bit better! Obviously, overseeing school projects is not enough to flex any creative muscles.
While the boys were young, I found a few other ways to scratch the creative itch. There was the stint at painting and selling bulletin boards, some pottery painting, painting children’s stools and rocking chairs, and a few sewing projects.
In the past few years my creative outlet has been in the fitness classes I teach. Incorporating different moves, exercises, combinations and mixing together the music makes things fun and helps me keep things different. That has been my creative outlet. I don’t think I have been thinking about being creative in any other way lately. However, when I began this site and began to write here, and when I share here, it makes me remember how much I love words, stories and sharing. I will admit that sometimes I write, not even to offer helper or share, but for my own outlet. I have to admit that some of the posts here are all for me.
Over the past year I have had a couple of creative projects rumbling around in my head with no where to go. They just circle around and around. Then I began Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, which I mentioned recently, and I believe a monster may have been created. Now I cannot get these two projects out of my head. And I realize that it’s okay to have them and to even act on them, knowing full well that nothing may ever come of them.
If you haven’t read this book – go get it! Gilbert talks about doing what interests you, what makes you curious, about being creative for the mere purpose of being creative. I love the description she gives of her father. He became interested in farming, so he began farming, while keeping his regular job. Then he wanted to raise goats, so he did that, too. Then bees began to interest him, so he became a beekeeper. All the while, still working at his normal, everyday job, but fulfilling other interests and creative itches on the side. He didn’t think to ask anyone if it was okay to do any of these things or think to ask if it was too late to begin something new.
Doing what interests you, acting on what makes you curious, happy or fulfilled doesn’t have to be for anyone else. It doesn’t have to be for work or a career. It doesn’t have to make you any money. It doesn’t even have to be seen by anyone. I think there is a kind of freedom in realizing that! So, maybe I’ve been thinking I am too old to act on itches, or folks will think they are silly, or the finished project may be disappointing. All of those things are likely true. But I am finally getting to the realization that that is ok. At least I can do something about these ideas that are swirling around in my head. Doing is always better than not doing. Doing is always better than just sitting on the couch letting day after day get away.
You may be wondering why I have used this photo here, other than the fact that it is a pretty cool, old photo. I have a collection of old black and white family photos in our hall. I am about to add this one to the collection. It is actually one of my favorites. Now it serves as a reminder. This is a photo of my father on the day he graduated from Emory Dental School, holding my brother wearing the graduation cap. Before entering dental school, my father was all snug and comfortable teaching highschool in my hometown. He and my mother were married and, I am sure, ready to settle down and begin their life. Then my father got the itch and opportunity to go to dental school. It was not convenient. It was not easy. It was a sacrifice. It was hard financially for him and my mother. It was hard for my grandparents who had to take care of, and basically raise my brother during those years. But I know that, in the end, he and my mother were so glad that they did not give up and did not think it was too late. In later years, I believe my father did let the “it’s too late” thinking stop him from doing so much more. He allowed health scares and illness and down right fear hold him back from continuing to do. I think that when he stopped creating and doing, he just stopped.
The photo showing my brother is also a reminder. He was ripped from life suddenly and far too soon. It reminds me that we are not promised next year, next month or even tomorrow. If we don’t do, if we don’t use our time, talents and follow our interests, and if we put off using those creative muscles, we can lose them and also lose the opportunity. So, I say go take that dance class or cooking class, plant the garden, paint the picture, write the story, sing at the top of your lungs, knit the sweater, just DO what interests you. Flex those muscles, or create new ones.
Now I have some brand new paints and brushes and these ideas swirling in my head. I’ll see what happens.
How do you feel about this? What are your creative outlets? Do you have projects on the horizon? Think you are too old to use your creativity?
Enjoy Your Day!