creativity and vulnerability

A while back my friend asked me if I’d done anything creative lately. I don’t remember exactly how she posed the question. But what she was asking me is if I’d been writing or painting or reading or studying or…

She’s an artist. And she’s written at least one book. And I’d venture to say does something “creative” everyday. She also works very hard. I’m not sure if I know anyone, aside from my son (who is also an artist), who works harder than her.

I wrote the above paragraph to emphasize the point that she wasn’t just flippantly asking me if I’d done blah blah blah. She was seriously, as a friend, because she knows me fairly well, checking in to see if I had been doing what I need to do to thrive.

I’ve thought about her question off and on the last few months. And often, when I posed it to myself, the answer was no. Nope, I have not because…I am busy with other stuff. I am so tired when I get home and I have to get up early. I don’t have any ideas in my head to put down on paper. Getting out my watercolors means I’ll have to deal with cleaning up a mess later. All the excuses. Despite my new year goal of focusing on creative stuff in the mornings. Before work. I suppose there is also the element of vulnerability. When you create something, and choose to share it, people are going to have an opinion. And that can be a bit unnerving to deal with.

Actually, my writing does kind of continue on an on. I don’t really ever stop with it. But as far as writing to share with the world. I have gone through phases where that isn’t quite as regular. When the writing is mostly journal entries not appropriate to hand off to someone.

So anyway. I have, in the last few weeks, made more of a conscious effort. I have written more, read more, listened more, painted more, etc. And as I evaluate, because today’s world is focused on outcomes, right? I have come to some conclusions.

But first. What have I done creative? As in specifics. Thanks for asking.

I’ve painted the moon. As in literally painted my interpretations of the moon. I am the first to admit I am not a great painter. Or artist in the sense of pencil, paper, ink, paint, etc. But I have, since I was a child, loved this type of activity. Paint is my friend. Any type, really. Markers as well. Colored pencils. I like to doodle. I like to make designs on paper. Give me a gift card to Blick and I’ll love you forever.

I have written more poetry, or my version of poetry. I have made a commitment to share some of it (not all!). Today I am going to a poetry workshop which will focus on writing about visual art. I went to another poetry class a few months back. Sharing one’s written work is not easy. It’s harder for me than posting a photo of my moon paintings. Because the moon paintings are, to a degree, rather juvenile I know. Recreational to a point. But what I write is more personal. And it’s a part of me. An extension. A means of expression. I have been writing for a long, long time. When I was a kid I wrote short stories for my sister. To make her laugh. My sixth grade teacher suggested my mom provide me with a journal. I had a conversation yesterday with my daughter about writing. She mentioned how stylistically different her writing is for school, work, what she shares via social media (she writes poetry as well), and what she keeps as only for herself. And I agree. I would never write a work piece like I write my blog. I often don’t write in complete sentences here in this venue. And people mention that to me. Please note I am a card carrying member of the grammar police and I do know quite well how to write a complete sentence. I actually loved diagramming sentences in high school English class. So come at me with that if you like. I’m up to the challenge. But here, on my blog, I can do what I like. And I tend to try and write as if I am speaking. Because I don’t tend to speak in the way I’d write a report on prison reform in the United States. So there’s that.

I went to an open mic night at the beginning of April. And I told myself I’d return in May and perhaps read something. Turns out the May date won’t work for me due to a work conflict. But I suppose there’s always June.

Music. This week my listening choices were varied. Which is fairly usual for me. The Kills. My son introduced me to them a few years back. I am a garage rock kinda girl (sometimes). And I like Alison. Here’s a fairly recent story about her: How Alison Mosshart’s Onstage Prowl Changed Music. Other music? Caroline Shaw. Again, my son’s recommendation. Caroline is a composer, violinist, Pulitzer Prize winner, Yale graduate and has worked with Kanye. Her album Orange is on repeat with me. And lastly, one of my favorites. Norah Jones. She just released a new album and in case you aren’t getting it…I am a fan of the female musician who can play an instrument.

My daughter watched Brené Brown’s Call to Courage on Netflix and I decided I would as well. I’ve read Brené’s books so I figured I’d probably be familiar with much of what she had to say. Which, after viewing, is true. But. It was something I needed to HEAR. Not just read but hear her say. And I cried. Laughed and cried. Mainly because the gist of it all is to put yourself out there. Be vulnerable. And don’t worry about the haters or those who don’t quite understand why you think you should do what you do.

I today, feel much better about myself than I did a few months back. When I wasn’t being as creative. Or vulnerable. Which doesn’t mean I am in the best mental shape of my life. Or without self doubt. Hardly! There’s me being vulnerable. But I have come to the realization I have to explore and allow myself the opportunities I need. People are going to be critical. And that’s difficult especially if you’re sensitive. Life though isn’t really that great of an adventure without the risk. So…the outcomes? I have to figure out how to not just feel healthy on the Sunday I play piano at church or the morning I get up early enough to break out my watercolors. I have to incorporate what I need in my everyday life. Or else I won’t be me. 

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