Do you consider yourself an artist? The thought of attempting to be creative, or to consider oneself as a creative being, can be hard for many people. For most of my life, I would have never considered myself to be one who is creative, or an artist. My family members on the other hand, were a whole different story. I came from a family of artists and builders. They produced beautiful and amazing things. I always wondered what happened to me. I believed that somehow I wasn’t lucky enough to inherit the creative gene. Maybe it skipped me? I have discovered that living creatively isn’t for the select few, but for everyone.
It wasn’t that many years ago that I found myself in a new situation in a relatively short amount of time. Have you ever experienced a specific moment when you felt the direction of your life shift? The recent anniversary of September 11, 2011, brought back a lot of memories for me. Somehow I knew that day, that my life was about to change. Thankfully it changed for the better, although it did not look that way at first. We all remember where we were that devastating day. I was at the clinic for an appointment. Sitting in the waiting room, I watched in disbelief as the twin towers crumbled before my eyes on TV. I got up, walked to the phone in the waiting room and called my husband. He was in the Army National Guard at the time. When he picked up on his end, in a matter of fact way I stated, “You are going to get deployed.” It took about a year, but sure enough he did. When the news came about his deployment to Iraq, I locked myself into the bathroom and lay on the floor and cried. Why? Mostly because I had come face-to-face with some truths about my life – there were things I needed to change. I had been living with so much anxiety. I spent the next year when I was alone really coming to terms with things in my life that needed to change, and trying to figure out who I really was. What does all this have to do with creativity? Depression and anxiety can block creativity. Sometimes it takes hitting bottom for you to discover your true gifts and strengths. You will discover them when you walk through the darkness and come out on the other side. You can’t walk through it without being changed. During this time period of reflection, the topic of creativity came up as I was speaking with a friend. For some reason it was extremely important to me. I explained to her about the missing creative gene. We spent that day together mining out the truths that 1). I really could not draw 2.) I wasn’t a painter and 3.) No one on earth would ever want to listen to me sing! Yet, hidden in there somewhere there were some things that I had missed. We were able to identify that I liked to entertain, and I did so creatively. And I wanted to write, but I was scared. Creativity did not happen overnight for me because of the fear. Now I really don’t care what people think because I enjoy it far too much. Being creative takes courage and bravery, but the rewards are worth it.
Research suggests that creative people are actually healthier and happier. So what if you think you are not creative? The truth is that anyone can be creative. Some people think that those that are creative are a genius, mad, or were given divine inspiration. Those are definitely not true. You don’t have to be born with a particular talent. It can be learned or cultivated. How each of us expresses creativity is different. Years ago I visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. As I stood with dozens of art enthusiasts from all over the world before Rembrandt’s famous Night Watch painting, I remember feeling guilty because I could not understand the beauty of it. I knew that it was supposed to be stirring. It’s OK that I did not get it. Today I understand more about the meaning behind it – a group of flawed individuals standing together. It is a picture of democracy. That is the way it should be with our art. It doesn’t matter what others see. What matters is the artist’s meaning behind the visual aspect – the hidden, personal message. If some don’t get it, then they just don’t get it. And I may never be a famous painter, and that’s just fine. Guess what? I just signed up to learn to paint. Maybe it’s not too late!
My life today is so different. I see everything through creative eyes. The definition of what creativity means to me has changed over the years. Some people think that a true creative product is something similar to a famous painting. Not true. Our world and everything in it has creative properties. Often I get so immersed in the creative process I get lost, and don’t pay attention to anything else. I can’t say I am great at any one thing, but I love to write and take photographs. And I love to create beautiful art in the every day. Emily Freeman, in her book A Million Little Ways, explains that life is art. We should approach life in the same way an artist approaches a blank canvas – with wonder, bravery and hope. If you look close you will see art in the everyday – in nature, food, people, the city, books, theater, and in a million other little places. Your life will begin to explode with art! Maybe it will be through writing, drawing, paintings or photographs. Or maybe it will be simply in the way you see and capture the little things in life (check out Emily’s #itssimplytuesday on Instagram).
It amazes me to watch in wonder my friends living out their lives creatively and passionately. I see it in countless ways, through their gardening, canning, baking, cooking, knitting, raising and training horses, playing instruments, speaking, reading, writing, teaching, websites, businesses, and so on. Their lives are overflowing with creativity and they are amazing artists, even if they don’t realize it. Their everyday lives inspire me.
If you are curious about how you can be creative, stop thinking about it and take action.
Explore new things, experiment, take risks. GO AND CREATE!
“When I say artist I mean the one who is building things …. Some with a brush, some with a shovel, and some choose a pen. “ ~ Jackson Pollock