When I was a young girl, my Mom’s need to keep a spotless home conflicted with my desire to express my creativity. Being creative sometimes requires making a mess. Making a mess was not allowed in my childhood home.
I do remember, tho, aside from using my creative imagination to ‘marry myself’ in a corner of our living room….playing the roles of bride, groom and preacher…..I also spent time in childhood writing poetry. After my Mom passed, in a bureau drawer I found the construction paper covered book with rhyming words carefully printed on white-lined sheets. Deeply touching that my Mom held on to my primitive early attempts at self-expression.
I loved writing poetry, and….I loved to sing.
My first grade teacher liked my voice and asked me to sing for Miss Sassoon’s class in the room adjacent to ours. I remember being rewarded with a new pencil and a children’s book…a big deal at age six.
The advantage of asserting your creative side as a young person? No apprehension, no fear.
Aside from my Mom putting a bit of a crimp in my budding creative style, as years passed, I acquired a self-imposed reluctance to put myself out there in any artistic way. I honestly believed I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. I envied those who could paint, draw, sculpt or play a musical instrument.
As a young Mom, I was surrounded by women who were ‘crafty’….could make all kinds of things from nothing. I tried sewing and was a failure. Attended ceramics lessons that I hated. Took a rug braiding class and braided something that my husband refers to as a ‘placemat‘. My definition of “creative” was limited to what I believed I was supposed to do…and was not yet open to the endless possibilities of creativity.
Somewhere along the way, I lost confidence in and minimized my own innate talents. Luckily, I rediscovered and began acknowledging that side of myself again in the last few decades…beginning with the design of a home we built in Harpswell, Maine. I spent hours learning about and pouring over blueprints, working to bring the beauty of nature inside; venturing into interior design and trusting my instincts on fabric, color, flooring, cabinetry. All of this was a kick-start toward an expanding imaginative expression.
Once our home was completed…and I could step back and observe the end result…I felt more assured in my ability to make beauty, create art.
I had always loved taking pictures. Dozens of albums brimming with family, friends and travel photos filling drawers, closet shelves and cabinets….rarely seeing the light of day. Encouraged by a friend, I took a leap of faith and actually had one framed….and after a while….ventured to find a place for it on a wall.
About fifteen or so years ago, I began to frame and sell many more of my photos. Some hang on the walls of non-profits….and in homes all over the country….several even adorn an office in Sweden! Others I gave as gifts to friends and family members.
Allowing myself to experiment more with photography, in the last few years I have transformed photos of rocks on Monhegan Island in Maine to large, frameless, canvas works of art.
I liked them enough to hang them in my own home.
It is amazing to me that these simple island stones found in nature contain such brilliant color, patterned texture and shape. Even more surprising is that art and creativity can be found in the simplest of forms….if you keep your heart and mind open to possibility.
Since building our Harpswell home, we have moved twice….both times to condos….affording me additional opportunities to create and design.
Our last move just two years ago was to a basically one-room, 1,250 square foot loft, which required not only tremendous amounts of downsizing, but a focused exercise in functional design. With little storage or closet space, I added built-ins that called for contemporary flair….and practical use. The composition needed to “fit” the space with interest and purpose. A large piece in the den area serves to hide a printer, files, bedding for guests, office supplies….and displays pieces of art. I lost sleep for weeks waking with new and different configurations in my head.
Now that we are settled into the loft….with work slowed languidly to a trickle as I downsize my career as well….a sense of panic arose about how to sustain a purposeful, stimulating life.
Through a conversation over lunch with a dear friend who, like me, enjoys writing….I was introduced to a relatively simple way to express thoughts and feelings on-line. I had followed and enjoyed her blog for over a year, and thought to myself, why not?
In June, I started writing this blog. The easy part is navigating the site….the difficulty is in finding the right words to express what I am wanting to convey….and in being satisfied enough with the results to hit the “publish” button. Being an introvert….the quiet, deep introspection is welcomed. I spend hours in what I can best describe as a “zone” of inner delight with words and images.
I am certain I am finding the same joy I did as that little six year-old who spent hours singing to phonograph records and writing poems.
Tomorrow I will be sixty-nine years old.
Even typing the number creates some level of astonishment in me.
My mind, my heart and my soul hover somewhere around thirty….but rising from a chair with an exclaimed sigh, bending more haltingly from the waist and ascending ever so gently, noticing my pace on the elliptical seeming in slow motion compared to the young women on either side of me….all reminders that, in fact, I am smack in the middle of those golden years.
But….GOLDEN years they are!
Condo living means someone else shovels snow, rakes leaves and does repairs; children are now adults who are able to fend for themselves; work, if it exists at all, is minimal; responsibilities lessen, opportunities open.
A whole new and wonderful world of freedom awaits.
There is time. Lots of time.
Time for yourself.
To do….to just be…..
or to find your inner artist…..