Embracing my own creativity

Monday, May 19, 2014

There are so many things I'd like to be able to do creatively.  There are people I follow that have these amazing, creative skills at organizing things in beautiful ways.  People that use their creative energy to make paintings and jewelry.  I have friends that are photographers, chefs, sewing experts, craft makers, holiday decorating artists (like my Mom!) and even sisters that weave timeless and meaningful stories through movies.  

Hard as I try (and I do!) I just don't hold these kinds of creativity.  I would love to be a painter, a baker, and a candlestick maker (hah) - but I just don't got it.

That's not to say, I won't keep trying my amateur hand at all of these things for the sake of learning and expanding my capabilities - 

- but I'm finally coming to embrace and celebrate my own version of creativity.  Which I have plenty of it, but it manifests itself in ways that are personal to me.  Maybe it's making it over the 30 hump that is helping me recognize my own bursts of talent in certain fields, or maybe it's been some of the reading I've done in the past year and half:  Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being CreativeThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, and The Happiness Project.  

In any case, I have been thinking on the ways that creativity flows out of me and I'm going to try to focus more intently on spreading my creativity in these ways to continue to grow.  The idea being that trying to use my creativity in a million different outlets only weakens my creative juice in the places that I actually love and enjoy.  So by limiting my scope of creative projects - this will (hopefully) lend to bigger, brighter, and new ideas for projects that I really love doing.  

Like, our family yearbook.  Definitely not a paintbrush sweeping across a canvas sort of creativity, but it's my own weird way of organizing our family memories and taking stock of what a beautiful year we have despite how quickly and sometimes difficult it seems. 

I'm currently finishing up our 2013 yearbook and with the extra time I've dedicated to it - I am really loving the outline (by categories vs. monthly this year).  It is a labor of love, my friends.  I painstakingly choose and sort through photos, customize layouts, create captions, and add stickers.  It is time intensive and from the outside appears slightly psychotic.  Brandon said to me, "It looks awesome, but isn't it so much tedious work?"  And the answer is yes it is - but it is work I honestly love for some weirdo reason.  I love finding the themes that weave our year together and going back through the photos to see how much joy, love, and laughter fill our days even though the year is gone in what feels like blinks.

The yearbook is a reminder that even though there are big events through the year that we can easily remember; like big trips (Splash Lagoon & NYC) or milestones (my 30th birthday and B's First coaching season) - but our year is sprinkled with so many small joys.  Like our seasonal traditions that highlight just a day or weekend of months but make us laugh or give us special moments.  Even the photos of our every day normal life seem to shine light on the fact that we are having fun all the time.  And a somber reminder that someday our life with our ever-growing kids will look very different than it does today.  

I also love planning.  Like love planning with a strange obsession.  It makes me so happy and feel so energized to create a plan for the future.  Like a little hug for my future self that will bring her and our family something memorable.  Maybe planning does not seem entirely creative - but it feels creative to me!  I have been working on organizing a Superhero 5K Family Fun Run (with obstacles) for the CV Alumni Association and planning out our Summer Roadtrip Vacation.

I make lists of projects that I'd like to get done around the house, lists of yearly goals for our family, meal plans, brainstorming plans for "What do we want our idea life to look like", and our calendars are noted and colored with ideas and upcoming plans.  It feels creative to me and gets me thinking about trying things we've never done before - where can we go?  what will be both fun for us and for the kids?  What's possible vs. what seems awesome but probably over-ambitious?

And lastly, probably the one that brings me most of all the things that come from creativity:  joy, pride, frustration, challenges, and peace is writing.  Writing here on the blog, in some cases (much too far and few between) posts for other blogs, and very minimally in some books that I'm working on a novel and also a mom/memoir book.

I know that there are two ways that I am going to continue getting better at writing and keep the creative door open so that I don't hit a roadblock (or a self-induced "I'm not good enough" block).

The first is to Read.  Read books that I like and don't like from a writer's perspective.  Books in my genre and out of my genre.  Blogs by people who's writing inspires me..

And the second is to actually write.  Just keep writing; all the time.  Jotting down flashes of inspiration for stories or scenes for my novel.  Jotting down memories for my mom/memoir book.  Sitting down and writing for 20-30 minutes a day somewhere - in a journal, on the blog, anywhere.  I just need to keep writing.  My own personal issue with writing non-blog posts is that I feel like everything needs to be perfect (or near that) because blog writing has unofficially trained me to make things look like I want it before pressing save.  This is not at all how one writes a memoir or novel.  It takes lots of just writing the darn thing and then going back through and revising 64 thousand times.  Which I am continually frustrated to leave a particular scene or segment if I don't feel great about it.  But more practice and writing will (hopefully) help me learn to just get it down.

For any actually interested - here's a bit from my novel that gives no indication of what the book is actually about (hah!  sorry, still a secret) but does give you a look into the main characters and their personalities.  The narrator is a middle aged man named Ben:

Mark, Emily, and Alex showed up fifteen minutes late and Maggie was practically tearing their coats off and pushing them into the dining room so the food wouldn’t get cold.  Emily cut the steamed vegetables into tiny pieces and tried to feed the baby some lamb.  Alex’s little face puckered up and I could tell from Maggie’s facial expression that she took it as a personal offense.  Only my wife would be offended by a two year old with snot running out of his nose.  I reached under the table and patted her knee.  She looked up at me with big green eyes and lifted her eyebrows in kind of a defeated way.  I scrunched my nose twice; she smiled and then made her way to get some paper towels.  Maggie had made up the nose-scrunching signal when we had class together junior year at college.  She used to say that it was our silent gesture saying we understood and it would all be alright.  We use to look at each other laughing and scrunching our noses when we had a test that we should’ve studied for instead of making love the night before.  The last time I could remember her squishing her nose at me had been at my Mother’s funeral when I was hugging Mom’s best friend, Lois.  I made a mental note to stop by and see Lois to say hello.  I hadn’t visited in awhile and I know she would appreciate it.  
After dinner, Mark carried the playpen upstairs and Emily put Alex down to sleep.  Maggie and Emily finished their wine in the kitchen over dishes while Mark and I sat with whiskey in the den.  Today was the first anniversary of our Mother’s death and Mark and I clinked glasses in honor of her.  We drank the whole glass down and I refilled both our drinks.  “Well, this sucks.”  Mark said while leaning back in the winged chair.  “I know…Did you know Dad is out with Cynthia tonight?”  I asked mostly because I wanted to change the subject.  I was afraid a heart to heart would start since we each had two glasses of wine at dinner and now the whiskey.  “Figures, the old bastard.  Maybe she’s better off; to be rid of his bullshit.”  Mark said as he raised his glass again.  I didn’t feel appropriate in any way to be toasting to my Mother’s death, but maybe he was right.  It was better she wasn’t here to have to put up with him anymore.  We tapped glasses again and I drank the whole thing down.  I was thinking that even if it was better for my Mother to be gone and be rid of my Dad, I would have still wanted her to be here; for me.   I noticed my face was burning but I couldn’t tell if it was because of the two doubles of whiskey or because I was ashamed.
After a brief argument between Mark and Emily over who was capable of driving home (Mark won), we were left alone.  Maggie immediately started talking as the door closed while simultaneously making her way to the kitchen, “that went well, I think.  Poor Emily is still so heartbroken over your Mother’s passing.  She was saying in the kitchen that she dreamt of her last night and it flipped her out.  She was telling me about it and was starting to get choked up.  I didn’t know if it was the wine or what, but sometimes I feel so sorry for her.  Anyway, I guess your Mom was touching Em’s stomach in the dream and now she thinks she’s going to get pregnant again.”  She rolled her eyes, “I love Em, you know I do…but sometimes she can be a little too new-agey.”  I was tired and didn’t feel like taking sides.  I grabbed her waist and pulled her in for a hug by her hips.  “Great dinner, hun” I whispered through her hair.  “I love you.”  She pulled back and gave me a quick peck on the lips, “Love you too.”  While I headed upstairs for bed, I could hear Maggie in the kitchen scrubbing the sink.
So, I am going to start embracing my own personal creativity outlets that I love and enjoy with a more focused eye.  As Austin Kleon said in Steal Like An Artist;

"The way to get over creative block is to simply place some constraints on yourself.  It seems contradictory, but when it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom...What makes us interesting isn't just what we've experienced, but also what we haven't experienced.  The same is true when you do your work:  You must embrace your limitations and keep moving."
So here is to embracing yourself and your own versions of creativity - whatever those might be!

What kinds of creativity do you excel at and which do you not, but maybe wish you did?

1 comment:

  1. Next year (when we get back to Alaska) I plan to tackle knitting and cross stitching, which I have always wanted to try.
    I wish I could paint or draw, but I lack the raw talent!
    I am good at scrapbooking and making cards. I love those two hobbies.
    I, too, read the Happiness Project and have enjoyed the way it's challenged my thinking about myself and what I like/don't like.