Those of you who have followed my blog will know that I recently went back to work full-time after a few months of unemployment. Having that gift of time on my hands, I began to rediscover play and although I have the attitude that it’s never too late, I was becoming daunted by all the fabulous work I saw on the web, often by people half my age. I need to remember that they have begun by making it their life work whereas mine has been in education.
Yes, I’m one of the many who have looked too much and done too little and become overwhelmed in the process. Two people who are very dear to me and who know me well, lovingly let me know that the big difference between the artist bloggers and me was, that they did and I didn’t – and they’re right.
While I know I have a creative streak, can be really inventive and have courage, I was starting to think how these artists whose work and writing I admired, had been at it for years, homing their skills and developing their own style – I felt I had little of either yet what I did do was admired by the few who ever saw it. Logic and emotion were having a difference of opinion. I was also aware that I was making this shift, this run at a deeper self-discovery, in my 60s. Was it too late? Again, head and heart, head and heart . . .
I talked to friends and family who helped remind me of all the skills I have, of all the times when creativity has erupted like a joyous bubble to save me in one way or another. During lean times – Christmas presents bought from the proceeds of macramé dog leads, vinyl cowboy jackets, rag dolls, or painted plant pots and how I made a living for myself and my son by sewing for clients. And again during times when I was depressed and the act of creating something lifted me, and my hopes for the future returned.
Yet still, spontaneity and creativity took back seats, being a parent and provider took over. As a classroom teacher I still managed to inject some art into my life – it’s amazing how much of the curriculum can be taught to young children using art! Out of the classroom now, I use intellectual creativity to help others problem-solve. Unfortunately this is only enough to keep a small spark going. I’ve been doubting my skills, talent, and I guess, myself – and feeling I will never get up to a standard that I know in my heart I’m capable of. But I also know that if I don’t do anything, I will never achieve what I want. I sometimes feel a bit like a voyeur in my own life – looking, but not doing. Imprisoned by perfectionism! Do you know that big one too?
After sinking into this fug, I’ve heard or read things that have caused me to take some action. Some were in posts on favourite blogs, some were words of encouragement and support, words of understanding and words that jolted me awake – BFOs, Blinding Flashes of the Obvious.
As an example, one day I opened Daisy Yellow and there it was, the quote I use under the heading of my blog with Tammy Garcia’s blessing, “You don’t need to catch up, just start.” It felt like ‘permission granted!’
I’ve not been in the habit of doing something until I was sure I could do it – and I knew that that perfectionist procrastination wasn’t going to get me where I want to be, so I challenged myself and started the blog just following instructions and working it out as I go along. As a now recovering perfectionist, starting a blog before I knew how to set it up or what it’s purpose would be was a really big step – I can highly recommend learning as you go.
There must be so many men and women out there who have poured themselves into their work and families and forgotten how to play, who have squeezed their creativity into a small box to open later, only to find it rusted shut. Or, like me, have used it in other ways, creatively solving problems and finding practical, yet creative ways to express myself. Still, it’s a struggle to find my own style so I’m spending time working in the style of . . . as recommended by Jill Berry when Ricë Freeman-Zachary interviewed her.
I’m going to listen to more podcasts, and look at less images because words often spur me into action. And the podcasts I’ll listen to? I’ll start with any of Ricë’s. She made a podcast Tammy Garcia recently and I heard her say “ . . . if you set out to make it perfect then you’re not going to be satisfied with anything.” Yes, another BFO.
I’m going to openly work in the style of the artists I admire, giving credit to them as I go, and then maybe, I’ll find my own. So what if I don’t have so much time available? If I really want this, to be able to say, even if only to myself, “I’m an artist” I’ll find time.
And I do believe I have now found the purpose of this blog, to share how one woman is striving to express herself freely, with child-like creativity, and to show that you do indeed just have to start – even if you’re a bit late.
There you have it. Watch this space!