Wednesday, June 12, 2013

We All Have Something Creative to Offer

In Living Color

When my friend Elizabeth Anne May said she was doing a “Creativity Series,” I thought, “Oh well, I’ll just sit this one out. I’m not creative…”

But then I found myself thinking about it. And some very long ago memories started nudging their way into my thoughts. I recalled when I was about 13 years old. My mom loved garage sales and so I tagged along from time to time. At one home, there were a number of unfinished paintings, canvases, and among them, a 3D unpainted plaster flower piece on a flat square of wood, like a canvas, about 2 ½ feet by 3 feet long. I asked my mother if I could have it…

I wanted the white plaster to come alive with color. 

My mom said yes. We lugged the heavy plaster piece out to the car, then up to my 3rd-floor bedroom, where it sat for a few months. I didn’t really know how to finish it. But the desire to draw and paint and create grew as I imagined what I could do to transform this bland work of art.
All I wanted that Christmas was an easel, paint, and drawing and painting books. My parents fueled my dreams. I got just what I asked for that Christmas.
For about six months, I was fully engaged in learning to draw and paint. I don’t think I was very good at it, but it was new to me, and I was fascinated with it. I took that plaster, mixed paints into my own custom colors, and I transformed that white block into a glorious floral scene bursting with blossoms of deep rose-pink, creamsicle orange, and vibrant violet.
I felt so proud, so creative, so accomplished. 
And then, I was done. The easel was relegated to the back corner of the garage. Many years later, my mother, preparing to sell our family home, had a garage sale and sold my long-forgotten easel. But, the plaster painting is in the back of my garage today; it’s traveled with me for over 40 years!
* * *
One of the most devastating moments in my life was when my grandmother died.
She had lived with us for seven years, from the time I was seven to 14 … critical years. She was an amazing faithful woman who was an anchor of calm and peace and love throughout wildly tumultuous years. Not just because we were a pack of five growing, rowdy kids, but because my parents’ marriage was in the process of dissolving, day by day.
Suddenly, one day in June, Grandma had a serious stroke and died before the ambulance reached the emergency room.
It was one of the saddest days in our family’s lives. 
And so, when my college Freshman English teacher offered us the opportunity to substitute one of her assignments for a story of our choosing, I knew I had to write the story of my grandmother’s death, “It Happened in a Day.” I got an A.
And my dad, a medical publisher, was so proud of me he shared it all around the office. That summer, I worked in Dad’s office and an editor, Lilian, and I became fast friends. She complimented my story, my writing, and encouraged me to write more.
That Fall, I returned to college and added English to my already chosen major of Psychology.
I continued to work summers at my dad’s company. And when I graduated from college, I was hired by McCall’s Working Mother magazine, by one of the editors I had worked for in the summer. I’ve continued writing and editing, now more than 30 years!
I’ve dabbled in visual arts and arts and crafts over over the years.
I made muslin angels for my nieces one Christmas. I even hand-painted little wooden boxes that I sold to friends as teachers’ gifts, and through a little local crafts store. I’ve gone to a few local Historical Society classes and learned the art of tole painting, and how to make wreaths and boxwood centerpiece trees. I’ve stenciled walls and sponge-painted, made lovely curtains out of sheets. And I cherished doing all kinds of crafts with my kids — every single holiday, every season, was filled with baking and making all kinds of handmade projects.
Yet, I don’t consider myself creative.
Or at least I didn’t … until Elizabeth guided me back through this creativity series to see that I have created many things, lovely things. And as a mother, I’ve also modeled creativity and encouraged it.
And so, I’ve come to the conclusion that we really are all creative in our own way — we all have something creative to offer because we all are part of the One who created everything!
Maybe all we need is a little encouragement along the way.
Do you consider yourself creative? If you do, I’d love to hear what your creative passions are. And if you don’t think you’re creative, I challenge you to view yourself through God’s lens and claim your creative birthright! 

Appeared first at Seasons with Soul...

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