In reading through Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, her chapter on creativity was particularly thought-provoking and inspiring. [The mark of a great author is to do both, and Brown does this so well!] I began last week with my thoughts on “why a non-crafty mom needs creativity” and wrote it as “part 1” of my creativity thoughts. Here is part two.
First, my experiments with creativity over the past week:
a “thankful” banner for this Thanksgiving season
I ventured into the mess; bought craft paint for my girls to paint a pumpkin with; and let them go to it. We all had fun, and the mess was less than I thought it would be.
I also bought glue sticks for them. (yes, small step – but really a big leap forward for me) They are the look purple-dry clear type. Which meant my girls used them as paint. And while I sipped my morning coffee on Sunday, I looked up to find purple glue everywhere. On the tile floor, on the refrigerator … you get the picture. I was reminded why I often don’t venture into the arts and crafts realm with twin three-year-olds. The good thing is that they’re old enough now to consider it fun to clean up their mess. Which they did.
And then perhaps a less conventional expression of creativity happened when I stuffed the dirty pots and pans into the kitchen cabinets because I had 12 dinner guests from my neighborhood bunco group arriving in 2 minutes. When I texted my mom this picture, she said – “See, look! You are creative, Heather!”
But back to my original question – of what keeps me from creativity? Fear of mess is an obvious one, but that really isn’t the main obstacle. Brown speaks about creativity’s opposite as depression. And quite frankly, I think that depression can cause lack of creativity just as much as lack of creativity can cause depression. One is a symptom of the other. The motherhood season between 18-month-old and two-and-a-half year old twin girls was not my favorite. Along with living what felt like a depressed version of myself, there was an accompanying lack of creativity. Survival seemed to be all I could do day-in and day-out, trying to muster up enough energy to make it till naptime was my daily goal. Creativity? Forget it! I couldn’t even “creatively” choose anything besides the same exact lunch every day.
Yet slowly, surely, quietly, step-by-step, God brought me out of that hard season. And as depression dissipated, I noticed the resurgence of creativity. In small ways, like being spontaneous instead of needing to plan every minute of every day, and in returning to life-giving creative pursuits. For me, highest on that list is writing. And so I began to blog regularly, starting with my personal June challenge of daily blogging inspired by Grethen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. As I wrote more, I began to notice and savor life and those I love more. And then I had more to write about, and on and on it goes …
The one thing that still can threaten my creativity is what Brown identifies as the trap of comparison. When we begin comparing to others, we cease creating. I feel either false pride in being “better than” or (way more often) paralyzed by my perception of another’s creativity as much more inspired/better/talented than mine. Take this small example of doing a group craft project at a friend’s house a few weeks ago. We were painting wooden spoons, using painting tape to make stripes/etc. Overall, I had a great time. Making art is fun; getting to chat with other friends while doing so – even better. But then the insidious lie of comparison crept into my head. I looked at the other spoons and concluded that theirs were better – more creative – more beautiful. Mine just seemed so … plain.
How ironic that is was the day after, in my “post-comparison hangover,” that I first read these words that Brown wrote in reflecting on how creativity slowly dissipated in her home as her parents shifted focus from living to acquiring:
My parents were launched on the accomplishments and acquisitions track, and creativity gave way to that stifling combination of fitting in and being better than, also known as comparison.
I’ll close here for today, as a poignant reminder to us that begs the question: am I focused more on fitting in with others or creating as an outflow of who I am, where I am?