As I began to write about my own creative journey, I realized that it was starting to look like an epic novel with dramatic climaxes and complex character development.
I scrapped it and instead came up with the graphic below that pretty much sums up my creative journey thus far:
(My first creative memory starts at around 5 or 6 which is why I started charting a little after the 0 mark.)
As you can see from my not-so-scientific visual, there was a bit of a lull in my creative output in my late teens and early twenties. Life got serious and apparently, so did I. I’m sure I was still creative in my thinking. I had many different jobs during that period that required me to put on different hats. But my motivation wasn’t to fulfill my ultimate creative potential. We needed money. And I worked to earn it.
But over the last 17 years, I have been drawn to creating things. There are many chapters in my life where I felt so creatively full and blessed but I just couldn’t balance being a mother and doing what moved me creatively too. Then we decided to homeschool. And our lives changed. My life changed.
I had not idea that homeschooling my children was the creative push I needed. I don’t know if there is anything else that I could have done in those early years that would perfectly balance the need to be creative and the need to care for my children.
Through our homeschooling adventures, I have met some of the most creative people I have ever come across – makers of all sorts. The one thing in common, the makers of their own lives, day in and day out.
My children taught me to love learning again. Being at home with all of them for five years has expanded my identity, past mother and wife and teacher. Thanks to a few inspirational friends, I have learned to sew and to knit. I am learning Spanish and my oldest daughter is teaching me how to paint with watercolour.
And through homeschooling, I have found my new favourite art medium: chalk.
For someone who was afraid to draw again, the chalkboard was the perfect starting canvas. I knew it would be erased in a few days. Lessons would continue and new images would have to be drawn on the board. I couldn’t dwell on the drawing for too long. I only had 45 minutes to complete them. There isn’t much time to fuss over the drawing or to get down on myself. It just had to go up before the children woke up.
Chalkboard drawings are my new meditation. A gift to myself and to my children. There are days when I just can’t erase them. And my children remind me that there could be something better and more exciting on the horizon. I try not to get attached now and erase, knowing I will never create that same exact picture again. I don’t have a sketchbook of drawings but photos of images erased. And as we repeat grades, I thought that I would pull out pictures of these images to copy. But I can’t. Part of my creative process is looking at this child in front of me and being inspired to find a photo or a picture that they need right now.
Finding a way to be creative everyday – whether it’s writing or drawing on my chalkboard or sewing up a quick little piece – is imperative. I don’t want there to be another well curve in my future. I have reaped so many benefits from creativity. The fear, the anxiety, the thrill of the discovery and connection, the uncertainty of the outcome. I am more hopeful because of it. Creating in any small way has helped me cope with more challenging events. I notice and observe more instead of hurrying through my day. My imagination is humming. I am able to enjoy each moment for what it is – a blessing. Now I am more curious than afraid at what the future holds.
Take a moment to do your own little graph. What do you see? A bell? A well? A steady incline or decline? What is the trend for you?
Well here it is. The day before the mayBE.
The small baby step into the unknown. I am as in the dark as you are.
Some last minute tips:
– Set up your space so you are ready to go tomorrow
– Set up a time for yourself and really treat it as gift. But if you have wee ones that may cause your schedule to shift, I suggest keeping your materials out in the open for easy access. Find the 15 minutes while they are eating breakfast or napping or playing outside?
– RELAX. This is supposed to be fun. A start of a new habit always feels a bit strange and daunting. Like breaking in a new pair of shoes.
– Don’t overthink. Read the prompt tomorrow and dive in. There is no authority looking over your shoulder judging you. Begin anywhere.
– Use your intuition. Listen to yourself. Do the first thing that pops into your mind or let your hand/heart guide you. Be open.
– Don’t dismiss any thought. Unrelated thoughts can lead to the craziest insights.
– There is no right answer. If you’re lucky, you’ll be confronted with more questions.
– I will try to provide as much inspiration and helpful guidance for each prompt but I will not share my own creative interpretation until the next day after the prompt. I might not share some pages at all. You can find them in the new mayBE 2015 tab at the top.
Remember, it’s like you are tending a garden. If it’s been neglected for years, there may be some tough ground to breakthrough. It may be a little daunting. But if you just focus on one small space to clear, to care for, even if it’s the size of a little flower pot, it’s less overwhelming. You may find this mayBE journey like that curve up there. It may get tough at one point, a little frustrating. But trust that if you tend that little spot long enough, with a little water and a little sunshine, something is bound to grow.
Just take it one prompt at at time.
Ready to jump down the rabbit hole with me?
P.S. A little known fact: I am the worst procrastinator. I collect data and read for inspiration and make notes for weeks before the deadline without actually attempting to create anything. (In the past, I have tried to create only to get sucked into listening to the inner critic which makes me scrap everything anyway.) I have to work myself up into a fevered panic and get to the point where the only thing I can do is to let go. And then the creative vomit begins. It happens all the time.