When I was a little girl I loved to make up stories; at first I would tell them to my stuffed animals as I lay in bed at night and then I started sharing them with my littlest sister. I can remember lying in the back of our family station wagon (does that date me?) with Ali and telling her story after story. My own kids have not been as interested in hearing about Billy and his little elf friend Bobo (no comment) although they still like to be read stories about elves and fairies, to be sure my son will never forgive me if word of this gets out! Making up stories was a way for me to be creative, something that often comes quite naturally for children. As adults, we are not often as spontaneously creative and unless we actually carve out time in our schedule, it can often slip into the "Yes it would be nice to do if only I had the time for it" category.
As a young adult, I focused a lot of time and energy on building my career, then came the home and the children, and then the maintenance of the home and then more focus on work to pay for the maintenance of the home, then...well, you get the idea. Creativity became more and more of a luxury and less and less of a necessity. Yet when I did make the time to paint or to write, I was so pleased with myself! It was like I had somehow watered a dry plant; I felt freshened.
In an abusive marriage for years, nurturing my creative side was definitely not a priority. I think one of the reasons for this is because I felt that I shouldn't take that time for me, that there were so many things that needed attending to that it was irresponsible to spend an evening or even an hour doing something just for the joy of creating. My paints dried up and I eventually gave all my art supplies to the kids. It's not that I didn't want to paint or write, it's just that it seemed something of the past, something from a former life.
Sadly, I have met quite a few women who were not allowed to do things for their own enjoyment. Rather than encourage their wives to relax and indulge in a favourite pastime, their partners strictly prohibited anything that might bring them joy. Instead of being proud of what their significant other was capable of creating, they felt threatened.
You may have seen me mention before that when I was in the women's shelter I reconnected with my creativity for the first time in years. Truly it was amazing. Awkward at first, I felt a little like I was picking up a long lost skill. Who would have thought you could get so much enjoyment out of doing something as simple as painting a dollar store picture frame?
Now I write these blog posts and I get to be creative every day. This is a great outlet for me but it's not for everyone, the trick is finding out what works for you. As Zen writer Yogani once said: "Who am I? - I am the silent awareness standing behind all this. What am I doing here? - I am here to grow into full awareness of my true nature, which is peace, creativity and happiness". I'm not usually into Zen philosophy but that sure sounds good to me. Here's to a new year of creativity, one during which we all make time to nurture that part of ourselves that once came so naturally.by