I have always considered myself “one of the creatives,” although I do believe we were all born to create in one way or another. I connect with others through creativity. I see it as a source of fresh water for my soul and a gift from God to keep discovering the wonders of the beautiful things around us.
That’s why it surprised me when I sat down to write about CREATIVITY and I felt overwhelmed by the blank page and the beeping cursor. Why was creativity so darn painful to talk about it? Why couldn’t I be free and comfortable to write, to create? Why wasn’t it easy?
I remember having an effortless, natural relationship with creativity growing up. From sketching dresses all day long (I wanted to be a fashion designer for a while), to forcing my mom’s friends to watch my live movie performances (compensation encouraged, haha), to being part of multiple dance teams and worship teams — I simply had to constantly express myself. I loved the act of creating and producing something out of oneself to share with others.
These days, however, it seems that I have more of a professional relationship with creativity. It feels serious, formal and well, it’s…business!
That is the battle I have been fighting not only while writing this article, but also in my daily mother hustle. It just doesn’t always come easy.
When I became a mother, I needed a creative outlet — badly. I was slowly dying inside. I wasn’t dancing anymore. I wasn’t singing. I wasn’t painting or doing any type of visual art.
Before then, I don’t think I ever acknowledged how much I craved creativity. But of course, that is also when the realization hit me that I was no longer free to “go on dates” with creativity, to sit by the beach and let the salty breeze inspire beautiful movements for patterns and other pretty things — or any other unrealistic, unpractical, idealistic setup.
The freedom to let creativity find you is not exactly an option while running a creative business. You have other people’s time and money involved, and deadlines — those dreadful deadlines — not to mention having to take into account the taste and opinions of your clients. Creativity can quickly become something complex and not so natural anymore.
The truth is, it IS so very hard to get the creative juices flowing when busy-ness sets in and things have to happen on demand in your personal and/or business life. And I don’t know about you, but anytime I am facing a challenge as a mother and as a business owner, I have found that I tend to blame myself, my own capacity and worthiness. It’s no different with creativity.
One thing I have learned (am still learning, evidently) in almost five years of motherhood, more than three years of entrepreneurship and more than six as a designer is that it’s not me, it’s creativity. Just like ego is known to cloud our judgment, I believe self-deprecation is also an enemy of our creativity.
As everything else in motherhood and business-hood, it requires an incredible amount of grace. That’s what makes creativity so hard and also so special all at once.
However, I think my issue went/goes beyond self-doubt. Instead of understanding that creativity itself is an ungrounded concept, I put pressure not only on my abilities, but also on the act of creating altogether. I thought I had to be designing to feel creative. That does not help with ease and comfort, trust me.
While graphic design might be a more obvious and direct way for me to express my creativity, I came to recognize that I could express my creativity and feel creative in various other ways as a person. In cooking nutritious yet beautiful and delicious meals; in styling my house, my clothes; in coming up with the silliest games with my kids; in finding ways to show my love to my husband — you get the idea.
I like what John Updike said: “Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.” It’s the heart that makes the art!
I am still working through these notions, every single day, but I feel so much freer as a creative — and so much more creative even — when I embrace these truths. Creative ease is a journey, not a destination. “The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” – Julia Cameron.
In the end, isn’t this how creativity works? You’re mostly submerged by the unknown and must keep traveling until you encounter those pockets of light, where beauty is found.
You must work at it and discover it and inject it in as many areas of your life as you can — every single time you need to create. Another thing Julia Cameron said which illustrates my argument is: “Creativity — like human life itself — begins in darkness.” And my friends, I keep traveling through darkness and light…
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