The spirit of creativity lives in all of us. Everyday we use our creative powers to make our little piece of the world a more interesting and beautiful place.
Creating living is something we all do. We are artists of our own lives. How do you create yours?
The other day I was sitting on my living room floor completely immersed in the project of affixing broken pieces of sea shells to fishing line and attaching them to a branch. My mind and body entered an elevated state of consciousness as I searched for the perfect shell with which to adorn my special branch.
From the moment I woke up that morning, I was possessed by the desire to make something beautiful. I was quite literally, starving to create something. Anything. I needed to bring something to life that I could connect with-an inspirational offering to my creative spirit. The process of creating is meditative for me. But it can also be maddening.
My desire for self-expression is a deeply rooted voracious need, far beyond longing. I need to do it or I feel my life will literally stop moving.
I will never stop creating. Something will manifest somewhere in my life. I don’t always know what, exactly, but that is one of the glorious gifts of creative expression. And it’s mine. No one can take it away from me, although they have tried.
Children are natural artists-which means we were all born artists.
Many moons ago in kindergarten, I had a teacher whose name rhymes with “house”. Our morning classroom ritual required us to singly approach her desk greeting her with a, “Good Morning, Ms. House, Mouse, Louse, using whatever name rhymed with her real name. I can picture my little five-year-old self rolling her eyes at this daily ritual, desperately trying to come up with something new and interesting but how many words can rhyme with house? They were the same every day! Boring! She was a stern, unsmiling and matronly presence with dark brown hair frozen into a pile on her head.
One day our art project was to make the American flag out of construction paper, glue, and little pieces of red, white and blue tissue paper. The final piece was supposed to look like the American flag. We folded tiny squares of tissue around a pencil eraser to create a shape and glue it onto the construction paper to make the traditional design-you know, stars and stripes.
How I loved art class! I remember peeking around at other kids to see exactly how they were making their flags as a guide to making my own. I was doing it *right* but our flags were all looking pretty much exactly the same. Time was of the essence and I knew that my flag needed to be finished when the timer went off. Just as my flag neared completion, something came over me. As I examined my flag I decided that I did not like the pattern. At all. It was boring and it looked like everyone else’s.
Time management has never been my forte, but I thought I would have plenty of time to redesign my flag into a more interesting piece. I hastily began plucking off the tissue paper before it dried too much and creating a different, more interesting design. I didn’t like the stripes. And why should the stars be clustered together when they could be everywhere? Who was responsible for this design? And WHY red, white and blue when there are so many other colors to choose from? I was pleased when the colored dye from the tissue paper melted into the glue to create purple.
In the throes of creativity, the concept of time disappeared. A voice reminded us that it was almost *time*. Panic set into my little body as I looked around to see my classmates either finished or very close. I stared at the gluey chaotic mess of my own flag and all hope of completing my masterpiece in time, vanished. I had the tiniest hope that my teacher might be impressed that I had figured out another way to design the flag! Ms. House was making the rounds complimenting the beautiful array of my classmate’s flags while I desperately tried to finish mine before she reached me. A very bad feeling washed over me as she approached my desk. Silence enveloped the room as she hovered over me with arms crossed and face frozen in a stony look of anger. She grabbed my arm, dragging me to the front of the class with my drippy red, white and blue (turning purple) water color in her mean little hands and announced to the entire class that this was NOT the right way to make the American flag! And she had a shining example of the right way in case anyone doubted her. The enormous life size flag in the classroom was proof that my flag fell desperately short of her expectations. She then swatted me on the butt in front of the entire class. Anger and humiliation suffocated me as I stood there, a spectacle of disgrace, with a shamefully butchered interpretation of the flag at the mercy of my peers’ judgments.
I blocked out the rest of my kindergarten life.
There is no *wrong way* to do YOUR art! You are your own Life Artist!
Despite all that, I was only five. I had no concept of the right and wrong way to *do* art. All of us are natural artists as children, and as a child, my imagination was spontaneous and uninhibited. I saw an opportunity to express myself according to how my creative instinct guided me and I did it with passion!
I continued to do art my way without even knowing I was doing it. I didn’t sit in front of the television. I was out collecting rocks to paint and sell from my little red wagon. I made up stories, drew pictures and made clothes, shoes and jewelry out of anything I could find.
Ms. Louse didn’t stop me from following my artistic visions.
I imagine that mortifying childhood event could have scarred me for life, preventing me from ever daring to create out side of the box again.
But it didn’t.
Creating feels like home to me.
Wherever I am and whatever challenges life brings to me, I can create my way through it. Something beautiful has emerged out of every challenging life event. I think we all have this ability, I think it is an essential part of who we all are and will manifest itself in one way or another. Our entire lives are a creative expression and a reflection of our hopes, passions, values and fears. Some people say they aren’t *creative*, but they are, and if they allowed themselves to recognize and honor their natural talents, they would find out how remarkably inspiring life can be when living creatively. But, we have an obligation to use it or it threatens to fade away.
Creating inspires hope.
Years ago, I was going through an especially rough time having lost *everything*. I ran out of gas on this little Texas coastal island and decided it was a sign that I should live there with my two little ones. Eventually, I lost my car which meant I had to walk everywhere I needed to go. During these sometimes very long walks, I learned to intimately appreciate the haunting beautiful details of the island. On my journeys, I would collect things that caught my eye. Rocks, pieces of random glass, beads, wire (trash basically) and I would make jewelry out of it. I guess we might call it trash jewelry today! I couldn’t afford to buy adornments so I made them out of what I could find and I loved doing it! Eventually I could afford material to make better jewelry but the beauty is that I created something from nothing. I gave myself that gift and as long as I could do that, there was still a creative fire burning in my spirit!
I am not dependent on someone else to make my life beautiful because I can do that by myself. We all have the power to give ourselves that gift and we don’t need to wait for a desperate situation or for someone elses approval.
But sometimes desperate situations are exactly how the Great Artist is born! Some of us turn to our creative natures to help us survive or to keep from going insane when faced with overwhelming life tribulations. We pour our hearts and souls into every breath to create something that will empower our spirits and salvage hope.
Creating brings comfort and peace.
Recently I was fortunate enough to very literally cross the path of an incredibly strong, compassionate and extraordinarily vibrant woman who also happens to be an artist of many talents. As we were about to pass one another on the hiking trail, I noticed how *alive* with light she looked, which was the opposite of how I was feeling that day. Like a moth to the flame, I am drawn to that light in others which makes me want to learn more about them and the source of their light. We greeted one another and she complimented the tattoo on my arm, commenting that she notices beauty because she does art. This particular tattoo has caused me grief during the few years that it has lived front and center on my forearm. I struggle with the *beauty* of it, so when people compliment it, I find new reasons to appreciate it. This woman and I began talking about art and life and a few hours later I learned that not only does she *do* art, her entire life IS art. Her art was her greatest comfort and strength during especially challenging times. She introduced her art as if she were introducing someone she cared deeply about, because she does. Her living space is an art gallery of her life, passions, talents, history and everything she loves. It was obvious that she embraces artful living, which I believe explains her emanating light! I left her home with a renewed appreciation for the power and beauty of creativity.
Our creations are an extension of who we are.
When we embrace that truth, we become more aware of how we live our lives. Life becomes intentional and sacred. Every day becomes a new chapter, mosaic, painting, dance or song when we begin living creatively.
Every day we have an opportunity to be an artist in our lives.