Lately, I’ve felt my level of creativity rise within me, like sap rising is a tree. I’ve been sitting here trying to remember a time in my life when I was not creative, and I can’t think of any. I don’t think I knew how creative I was, I was just doing things that I liked to do. Because we’re human, we share the creator spirit. We’re all creators and creative beings. Maybe some know it more than others, and some find more ways of expressing it, but whether we’re aware or not, and actively expressing it or not, we’re still creating all the time.
I loved paper dolls when I was a child, and if for some reason I could not go outside to play, I got my paper dolls out and amused myself for hours. I was never satisfied with the amount of clothes or the same old copycat styles that came with the paper dolls, even though my mother would buy me the biggest book available. I wanted different clothes and combinations of colors, so I would get my drawing paper out, my pencil and my crayons, and draw the kind of clothes I wanted my paper dolls to wear. I’d take my little school scissors with the rounded edges, and cut the clothes out carefully. I’d draw big tabs on the clothes so I could hold them on the doll’s body. This was such fun for me and was an activity that no one had to teach me to do. I thought about it, asked my mother for a drawing pad, and went to work with the tools I had. It came naturally. I was into fashion design and didn’t even know it.
At the same time, my brother would sit at his desk in his room and put together model airplanes and cars. After he glued each piece on carefully and precisely, he’d get out his jars of paint and a little brush and like a true painter, he’d paint his handiwork. Once the planes dried, he’d hang some of them from the ceiling with a piece of string. Those that weren’t hanging, were put on a shelf with all of his little model cars. He was a builder and a painter and didn’t know it.
When my children were young, I was a stay at home mom. Once they left for school, after I did my housecleaning, I’d sit and either do needlepoint, quilting, knitting, or sewing. I made sweaters, scarves, afghans, and hats. I sewed pajamas, pants, shirts, and gowns. Our walls were graced with framed needlepoint and embroidery. I had bottled milk delivered to the house and I’d scrape the cream off of the top and make butter. I baked from scratch and when the children came in from school, many days there were homemade chocolate eclairs, puff pastries, and other goodies. Energized by my love for my family, and by my need to create a comfortable and healthy home for us, I was always in the process of making new things.
Once my children grew up, I went back to school, got a job, and after getting my degree, opened a management consulting firm. I created all my brochures, seminars and workshops, and made myself into a public speaker. I wrote a newsletter, created a personal growth video of the month club, and wrote manuals for orthodontic offices. You’d think I knew for a certainty that I was a creative being, but the thought seldom crossed my mind. I was just doing what I really enjoyed doing and getting a lot of pleasure from it.
Later in life, in my sixties, I bought eight acres of land on a mountainside on a dead-end road in southeast Tennessee. I purchased a brand new manufactured home, had it brought to my land, and moved to the mountains. Being a flat-lander from bayou country in La., I did not know much about mountain living, especially by myself in an isolated area. But I learned quickly and my creative talents served me well. I laid my sidewalk in my front yard, prepared the yard for grass seed, and planted and tended it, built all my flowerbeds, lining them with big rocks I dug from the land with a pick axe, built raised gardens, learned how to split and stack wood, and even built a fire pit. I loved that land and I loved learning how to sow and reap, know when the snow was coming, prepare for winter, can vegetables, and live in harmony with deer, wild turkeys, raccoons, snakes, possum, rabbits, a bobcat, and a young bear who showed up in my front yard one morning. Once again, I was doing what I loved to do.
Here it is, six years later, and I’m in a different phase of creativity, as I give myself permission to let my words fall freely upon the page, and dare to share what I write with the world. In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined being where I am now, even though I’ve loved to write for years. Having people read my words, and through comments, let me know they like what I’m writing, is an amazing experience for me. Recently, I noticed that when I create the most freely is when I’m riding on the back of the motorcycle, feeling the sun on my face, and smelling the air that’s fondling my skin, as we ride through the mountains. I could write a book in my head at those times, and I have to keep bringing myself back to the present, with a gentle reminder that I can get it down on paper when I get home.
What I’ve learned about creativity is that the more I play and relax, the more my muse comes out. When I get stonewalled here at my writing desk, I get up and go sit on my patio and watch the squirrels play and hoard for the winter, or I take a walk. I’m learning to allow myself more time off, knowing it’s what I need to do so my words can flow. I’m going to the movies in the middle of the day, having lunch with girlfriends more than once a week, and reading more of the magazines that I enjoy. Brenda Ueland says, “So you see, imagination needs moodling–long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.” And, she’s correct. The more I dawdle and putter and play, the more I create. As long as I’m doing something I love to do, the creative fire is burning. So, call me and let’s have lunch. I’m available anytime.
My prompts for this week: shell, crown, illusion, flabbergast