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How we choose what we do, and how we approach it…will determine whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art.
We want to paint, draw, write, quilt, play an instrument, sing, Why aren’t we? Often we put road blocks in our way. We could do art, write etc but it is such a big deal. There is an add on TV where a woman’s “She Shed” is burning. She wants to know if it is covered by insurance, it is, she is reassured, she knows the importance of having a bit of space to call her own. We can be creative without our own space but it is more difficult and sometimes it’s too much trouble to set everything up and then take everything down and put it away. We huff and with a wistful glance move onto something else.
I have a den I use for writing and an art studio in the basement. I lived for years in this same house without carving out a space for writing or art. It’s easy to say I don’t have time, which is what I did. At some point in our lives we have to make a decision. Once the hard slogging of looking after children has lessened is I think the time for most of us to start doing something, or get back to doing something creative.
Berating ourselves in the early years of motherhood that we aren’t making our dreams come true isn’t helpful. Motherhood is a big job in the beginning, it gets smaller as the years go by. It is the most important job and if you err on not getting to a creative pursuit because you are putting all your time into being a great mother. I think you are doing the right thing. You can’t go back at sixteen and do with and for your children what you needed to do at six.
I may even enjoy my creative pursuits more now because I haven’t been pursuing them my whole life. Coming late to writing may be the best time to come to it. I always thought I would write after forty because by then I should have something to say.
I am reading about a woman who had cancer. She felt it was her time to receive but a voice inside told her to give more. She started giving a rose to a stranger every day. Offering the rose made her nervous. I received a rose from two lovely young strangers one day in a supermarket. They were doing it as a random act of kindness. I loved it.
Some people did not want the rose she offered. Learning to accept and trust the rose was meant for someone else was part of the growth experience. She witnessed how creativity is contagious. People sent her pictures of paintings they did of the rose she gave them. A poet wrote a poem about the rose.
You never know where your creative acts will lead. She says our creativity has the power to delight, surprise, and even inspire people we don’t know and have never met. She kept up the practice of giving a rose away for a year. Some days she didn’t feel like doing it, but she did it anyway. Art, writing, singing, are creative disciplines and the more we practice the better it feels and the easier it flows. She says, “once you commit yourself, the universe comes to your aid.”
I believe writing every day makes it easier for me to write. The more I write, the more I have to say. When I take a break, I have to work at priming the pump to get words flowing again. It is the same with my painting.
Creative expression is one of the keys to living and working artfully. Imagination without action doesn’t make you creative; it only makes you imaginative. Action brings ideas to life. With imagination, observation, reflection and practice, you can transform the mundane into the artful. From Art for Work by Marjory Jacobson, HBR press, 1993
George Land’s creativity test. In 1968 George Land conducted a research study to test the creativity of 1600 children ranging in ages from three to five years old. He retested the children at ages 10 and 15 years of age.
Test results amongst 5 year olds: 98%
Test results amongst 10 year olds: 30%
Test results amongst 15 year olds: 12%
Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2%
“What we have concluded,” wrote Land, “is that non-creative behavior is learned.”
(Source: George Land and Beth Jarman, Breaking Point and Beyond. San Francisco: HarperBusiness, 1993)
Creativity is a skill that can be developed and a process that can be managed. Creativity begins with a foundation of knowledge, learning a discipline, and mastering a way of thinking. We learn to be creative by experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesizing information.
We have to be willing to not live up to our own expectations if we start on the creative path. Give up your notion that you can do something perfect, instead focus on doing it. You will surprise yourself by what you create. You won’t know where the inspiration came from. Living a creative life is finding creativity in everyday life, in learning new things, new ideas.
Creativity stimulates us to be in tune with our lives. When we are more fulfilled we need less from others to fulfill us, and we have more to share. We become lighter, humorous and fun. It opens us up to new possibilities. It lifts depression. You never create the same thing twice. Even that soup you are stirring isn’t the same as the last soup. We get out of our own head as we are consumed with creating. We become amazed at our intuition and find our self thinking, “where did that come from?”
The simple act of showing up builds self confidence and self respect. The more we do creative things the more we rejuvenate, strengthen and grow. The more we cultivate what we love, more love accumulates until we find ourselves with our cup running over with abundance, creativity, gratitude and joy. Who thought you could get this much out of pickup up a guitar, paint brush or writing utensil?