This post is a lot shorter than I thought it was going to be.
Not really. I've got more to share than that.
I used to only ever wear black or brown shoes.
Look at me now.
A year ago, in the early hours of the morning on 24th August 2009, I woke up. I had just had an idea in my sleep. This happens to me a lot, so I keep a notebook by my bed, and jot things in it in the middle of the night. It's always a surprise to read it in the morning without much of a memory of what I've written there. On one occasion I wrote a whole short story out that I thought, at 3 in the morning, was fantastic. At 9 the next morning, not so much.
Anyhoo, a year ago.
I had remembered a conversation I'd had with a friend in 2004, where she told me that she believed being creative was "The Answer". This had popped into my head as I slept, and I decided I wanted to see if she was right. Would me being creative be "The Answer" for me? And, how was I going to do this without running like the wind when things got scary?
So, lying there in my bed, I decided I'd write a blog.
I got out of bed. Turned on my computer. Went to blogger.com and started a blog. At 3 in the morning. Then I went on Facebook and told people what I was doing. Just so that I wouldn't chicken out. Even though by this time I was feeling the need to change my big girl pants.
And then day by day, week by week. For a year. My life changed.
I used to be a brunette...
Because here's what I've learned...
1. Being Creative is Heaps of Fun and Helps You Learn How To Be Playful Again
I have had so much fun over the past year.
Writing, knitting, sewing, baking, soldering, painting, drawing, experimenting, trying new things, following my intuition, being playful. It's been so much fun.
It's been like being a child again.
You know those days, where you laid down in the grass and watched the clouds go by? Or went into the woods and watched ants climb a tree? Or got your pad and pens out and drew a whole landscape of houses and trees without worrying whether what you had drawn was any good or not? Because you didn't question or judge yourself? You just lost yourself in doing something without feeling guilty, or worrying about bills, or when the house was going to get cleaned.
You lived in the moment.
I've got back in touch with that part of myself. And I've found that that part of myself is curious, fun-loving, a bit naughty, and just enjoys being alive. That's good to know.
A page from my sketchbook. Colouring in is so much fun.
2. Being Creative is Very Healing and Helps You Get to Know Who You Really Are
I am forty two in a couple of weeks. Gulp.
I don't think anyone reaches forty two without having things happen in their life that have left them feeling sad, lonely, hurt, and afraid. When I started being creative, I thought it would be all about the external things in life. Making my home look prettier. Making my cooking edible. Being able to bake cakes that didn't make a knocking noise when you tapped them on the work surface.
Actually what I've found is something a bit different. Yes, being creative is about making things. It is about the external things in life. Soft new blankets, pretty jewellery, shabby bunting. But it's also about something else.
It's about being open to who you really are. And taking a look at what you find inside yourself.
And sometimes who you are is a bit sad, a bit afraid, a bit lonely, a bit hurt.
I have found over this past year, that there are parts of me that needed to be be nurtured, by no-one other than me.
I have found that over time I had been neglecting myself. Not really listening to what I needed. I had a tendency to be a bit rigid with myself and other people. I made "To Do" lists and didn't stop until I'd to-done them. There was very little time in my life set aside for me to relax. I was stressed a lot of the time. I was worrying for large portions of the day. I was very, very driven. And I wasn't taking care of parts of myself that needed taking care of.
Being creative meant I had to start listening to me. What did I want to make? What kind of day did I want to have? What was I feeling? What would make me smile now? What would make me feel happy now? What would I really enjoy doing right now? What did I want to create today?
Being creative has meant I've started to listen to that quiet voice inside myself that knows what's good for me.
And I've found myself wanting to do things like:
Walk barefoot in the sand.
Paddle in the sea.
Bake a cake with lots of icing on the top.
Knit a scarf.
Put fairy lights in each room in the house.
Burn essential oils.
Make a rag doll.
Paint a picture.
Make some bunting.
Set a gemstone.
Cuddle my cats.
Soak in a hot bubble bath.
Paint my nails.
Dye my hair bright red.
Read a good book.
Keep an art journal.
Without realising it, all of these things have been very kind things to do for myself. I have found myself being my own best friend. And I have enjoyed my own company. And when I've touched on those parts of myself that have felt sad, lonely, hurt and afraid, I've had a cry, a cup of tea, a packet (or two) of ready salted crisps. Then, I've done something creative, and I've felt taken care of. I've felt warm. Being creative has been very healing for me.
I love walking barefoot on the sand at the beach near my house.
3. Being Creative Can Be Frightening But If You Follow Where It Takes You, It Makes You Brave
When I started this adventure this time last year, I was nervous. Would anyone read my blog? Would anyone be interested in what I was doing? What if I tried to be creative and only created a mess?
I felt frightened. I was afraid of what I didn't know. I was taking myself out of my comfort zone. I felt really vulnerable putting the things I'd made, as well as my thoughts and feelings, out into the internet ether for people to read, and possibly judge harshly.
But as I went with the flow of what I was doing, and began following the slightly out of rhythm beat of my own drum, I grew less nervous. People started to leave comments on my blog, giving lots of support. Creative people I had never met, and friends who supported what I was doing, were cheering me on. It felt great to know people were wishing me well. I stopped worrying about what people might be thinking about what I was doing, and started thinking more about what I wanted to do next.
I stopped being nervous about putting myself out there.
I started to stretch out into a new comfort zone.
I became a little bit brave.
I like that. It makes me smile.
Me smiling a very dimply smile.
3. Being Creative Connects You With Other Like-Minded People and Strengthens Your Connections to People You Already Know
Over the past year, the way I connect with people has changed. I find myself and my friends talking about things we've made, things we want to make, things we've seen that other people have made. We talk about exhibitions we want to go to. Gardens we want to explore. If it's possible to make your own soap in the kitchen without causing any unnecessary explosions. When we meet up for a coffee and a chat, we bring with us bags of goodies that we want to share. Scarves we've knitted, books we've read.
My friends have been fantastic this year. Some have brought gifts of wool they've found and thought I might like to knit with. Or given me books that I might like to read. Others have given advice on technical computer issues that were causing me problems when putting together the layout of my blog. And all of them have left comments and given heaps of support from the beginning of the year to the end. I had no idea this was going to happen. And have been really touched by it.
And I've changed how I relate to my friends. When I'm out and about, if I see something I know a friend would love to make something with, I buy it for them. Or I find myself sitting making things for my friends and giving these things as presents for no other reason than I know they'll enjoy getting them. I want to share being creative with them. It feels good to pass it on.
I had no idea that the world of creativity was so much fun. I had no idea that the world of blogging was filled with so many creative, fun-loving people. I had no idea that I would make so many new friends.
Psychedelicsister who lives in San Francisco. Her blog is an oasis of beautiful things in the internet ether.
Kim Ayres. He's a photographer. His wife is an artist. They are both very creative, interesting people.
Helene. She has two sets of twins. She makes me snort tea over my computer when I read about her day.
Zlatica who paints the most beautiful pictures of children. And makes the most beautiful wooden dolls.
Lizzyloolaa who is striving each day to fulfill her dream of having a small-holding.
Laalaa , who loves crochet and sewing and quilting.
Aoife who gives you a window into her world, and writes about what she sees.
Pillownaut writes about space travel. She is fun and informative. A winning combination.
I had no idea I would meet these people, and that over the year would come to consider them new friends.
My Significant Other and I.
Drawn by my friend's daughter.
4. We Are All Creative, Even When We Think We're Not or "It's Not So Much What We Do As How We Think"
As the year has gone by, and people who have been reading my blog have chatted to me, one of the things that I've heard most frequently is "I'm not very creative". Each time I've heard this I've remembered my friend who believes Being Creative is "The Answer".
She believes that Being Creative is a spiritual thing. And that it's very important for each person to find a way to be creative in their lives. In whatever form that might take.
I particularly remember her saying that making a bed could be a very creative thing to do. If we were aware that making a bed could be a creative act, it could become something more meaningful than simply making a bed, a chore. If we made the bed "consciously" rather than simply going through the motions. Instead of being frustrated that we had to make the bed, we could appreciate that we had a gorgeous bed to sleep in. Fresh bed linen to keep us warm. And be glad that we had the limbs and energy to make the bed at all.
I have decided that everyone is creative, we just may not be aware of it.
Every day we have millions of thoughts and ideas. That's creative.
We have conversations. Very creative.
Make meals. Totally creative.
Build things we've bought in Ikea. Frustrating and creative.
Put together outfits before going out of the house. Fashionably creative.
We send emails, take photos, write letters, have dreams when we sleep, plan for our future.
All of these things are creative.
We are born, learn to talk, learn to walk, learn to drive.
And then some of us have children of our own. How much more creative can you get than creating another human being?
Being creative isn't just about painting, sewing, knitting, sculpting, designing, writing.
Being creative is what we all do, every day, even when we sleep.
I believe we are all very creative. I think some people are more aware of their creativity than others.
A cake baked and decorated by my beautiful sister.
She makes the most amazing cakes.
She doesn't consider herself creative.
5. Being Creative Can Be a Hobby or a Way of Life
I've noticed this year that the people who are very comfortable in their creativity are the ones who see being creative as being a way of life for them, rather than a hobby. They may not necessarily make a living from the things they make, but they see their creativity as an integral part of who they are, and are creative in all aspects of their life.
Even holiday snaps are creative.
Sunset in Malta.
We had a lovely time.
We had a lovely time.
6. People Who Make A Living From Being Creative Are No Different Than You Or I
They simply believe that they can make a living from being creative. And they do whatever they need to do to support that belief. They are not necessarily more talented or gifted than another person, although obviously they are very skilled with the materials they are working with.
The difference between them and a person who says "I wish I could make a living from selling the things I make" is that they believe they can make a living from selling the things they make and then do it. That's it. They aren't luckier. More gifted. More talented. Mysteriously blessed. They just believe they can do it and then do it. And there are lots of people out there making a very good living from being creative. I have found this repeatedly over the past year and it is very heart-warming.
It's heartwarming to know, lots of people
make a living from their artwork.
7. I Would Like To Make Being Creative a Way of Life For Me, And Make a Living From Doing That.
There. I've said it. Now it's out there. There's no going back. I've tried being creative in everything I do for a year and have loved it. I've decided I would like "Being Creative" to be more than just a hobby for me. I'd like to continue living creatively. Not just for the next year. But for each and every day I've got left. And I'd like to make a living from the things I create.
Is it possible?
Could I make a living from the things I create?
8. My Next Challenge
To turn "Being Creative" into my way of life.
To make "Being Creative" how I make my living.
So for the next year I'm going to continue blogging about "Being Creative", with the purpose of turning my creativity into "How I Live My Life and How I Earn My Living".
I'm not sure yet what I'm going to create to do that. But if I have anything like as much fun finding out, as I've had this year, then, August 24th 2010-August 24th 2011, is going to be fab!
So, follow me over the next year, and see if I can turn Being Creative into a Way of Life and a Living.
There's no looking back for me now!
9. The Answer To The Age Old Question " Why Are Ready Salted Crisps Such a Great Mood Enhancer?"
It's the combination of saturated fats and salt. As powerful as a Long Island Iced Tea (Yum, totally love those). But with a less disastrous effect on my driving skills.
So wrong and yet so right.
To everyone who has followed my journey over the past year, left comments, and supported me along the way, thank you so much. You have made the journey so much more fun. You have made me laugh. And you have added smiles to my day. It wouldn't have been anything like the fun it's been without you sharing it with me. Really.