This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.
Hi, I’m Jo and I’m the least crafty person on the planet. Pinterest is humor to me.
But I took an online course on creativity with Oprah and Brene Brown (yes I’m that sort of geek!) and Brene was like: everyone is creative! I was dubious. But, PhDs with research to back them up tend to be right, and she was. We all start out as children drawing and painting. We don’t even think to judge our work, and we enjoy it. It isn’t until we start comparing our work to other people’s that we start saying things like “I can’t draw” or “I’m not creative.” The truth is I can draw, it just doesn’t look like Monet. I’m totally capable of sticking some silk flowers into a grapevine wreath thingy. And if I don’t look at bloody Pinterest it’ll even look pretty! It’s kind of fun too, if I don’t judge myself harshly. Which is probably the most true sentence ever uttered about anything we do.
The Great Quilt Challenge
I’ve got a friend who quilts, she’s good at it. Recently, she made yet another beautiful thing. When I remarked again on how talented she is she was like “girl, you can totally do this, it’s easy.”
And she sent me the name of what is quite possibly the simplest pattern in quilting ever. It’s even a fun name: “Jelly Roll Race.” I watched a couple Youtube videos and made my first quilt. (Well there might have been roughly 8 trips to Joann Fabric in between. I cannot ever get everything I need for any project in one trip. It’s a gift.)
Just like that. And it was fun. And in the end I had something that was pretty, and I could use. Note: I did not say I had something perfect. This cannot be said enough: stay off Pinterest. 😉
This isn’t technically a story about quilting. If you are thinking “I could never make a quilt,” then I dare you to watch this video. Give it a try, because I bet you can quilt. If I can, pretty much anyone can. (No cutting required, and all you need to do is sew a straight line.)
I can’t do that
What today’s conversation is about is that “I could never” and “I can’t” or even “I’m not.”
The heart of humanity is creative. It is our ability to imagine that separates us from other animals. We are human because of our ability to dream up something that doesn’t currently exist. But we modern folks have defined creativity so narrowly, as those who make art. And then we’ve wrapped art in judgement until most people are convinced they are not creative. But anyone who has dreamed up a menu for dinner, or fiddled with a recipe, or put together a smashing outfit, or played with makeup until you made the look you had in mind happen, is creative. If you’ve seen some cheap grocery store roses and thought, those would look really pretty with those white daisies of there, and made it happen, you’re creative.
If you’ve managed to get two kids to split anything without screaming fits you are incredibly creative! (And I am in awe.)
If you are human you have the ability to create, you might not have consciously used it in years but it’s here. It was there when you played pretend as a child. And when you drew a big yellow smiling sun over your house and your stick family. It is still there, packed down into a tight little airless space by judgement and comparison. But it’s still there.
Every time I make a little foray back into the world of creativity my soul gets a little lighter. Creating something creates joy. And I for one need more joy in my life.
Should you chose to accept it…
I’d love to have company in prying open the box around my own creativity and letting it fly free. So I’d like to invite you all to join me for a series of posts exploring creativity. We will explore different creative genres, our experiences, and what holds us back.
For day though let’s start small. Grab a journal, your phone, or a sheet of scrap paper. Feel free when you are finished to share you answers and experiences here. I will be sharing mine! Then look for more chances to play (yes play) in the coming weeks.
Think back to your childhood. What were your favorite ways to create? You may remember coloring or drawing, or you might have to think about what things your parents saved from your early years. Do you still do those same things, or have you stopped?
You really are creative.
And second: what do you create now? You might have to be creative (hah!) here. Maybe you quilt, or draw. But perhaps your creativity lies in the weekly menus you create for your family, the special cake recipe you modified from a box mix, or the stories you make up for your children at bedtime. Be generous with yourself. Can you, this week, while doing the things you listed be conscious of the miracle you are working? Can you simply pay attention and give yourself credit for doing something important in your world?
Here’s your sign.
Finally: make yourself a sign. Do this however works for you. Get out your kid’s crayons (or yours if you are coloring book obsessed like me), or paints. Or grab a highlighter and a pen from your very professional desk. Or open up that painting game you’ve got on your phone. Now make yourself a sign. I am going to suggest that you make the sign say: “I Create Beauty!” Don’t argue with me or give me that look. You do.
But make your sign, even if all you can manage is the word “Create” as a reminder to yourself. Then tuck it in your calendar, or tape it to your mirror. Or make it the lock screen on your phone (this is my favorite way to see something important frequently.)
Then if you like, come back here and share what you’ve thought about and done.