Four Times When Being Creative Saw Me Through Tough Times

Hurrah, it’s November, and for many across the world, that means it’s time to grab something to write with, hide away from anything that might be a distraction, and write up a storm. Yes, writers of all ages have heard the call and accepted the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a single month. It’s called NaNoWriMo. If you’re one of them, I wish you all the best!

Returning to the NaNoWriMo website this year, the very first thing that catches my eye are the words, “Every story matters. Let’s start writing yours.” I love that. It has me reflecting on years past that I myself, heard the call and accepted the challenge. I looked forward to November each year, and always embraced the commitment to plant my rear in a chair for hours on end with an I-must-be-a-crazy-person-lazer-focus. Writing every day was not only a good practice to be in but it was restorative to my soul.

I don’t know about you, but I could use a little bit of that special zing these days. For awhile now, life has been a little…let’s just call it challenging.

If you’ve found this post, you’re probably one of those kindred spirits who enjoys a quiet moment all to themselves to reconnect with whatever activity sparks joy inside you–and you feel it all the way from your toes to the top of your head.

When was the last time you really took the time to be creative? I’d say, there’s no better time than in these times when the word challenging to describe the way of things just doesn’t seem to cover it.

I thought I’d share four times when creativity saw me through tough times.

Baking

Oh, those teenage years. I baked up a storm in High School because I was in need of creating something beautiful that in turn, made others happy. I had someone at home who was struggling with all the life changes having a stroke brings about. I had someone at school who was terrorizing me. Oh, and I was also trying to figure out what my purpose in life was going to be.

For a brief moment, I thought baking was my destiny. I was a Wilton product devotee and I spent too much time in catering supply stores. I also had a dear boyfriend who let me bake him multi-layered heart-shaped chocolate cakes with varying fillings, on a pretty regular basis. He was a fan.

I didn’t end up opening a bakery, but I never lost the love of creating sweet treats. And, I still love making others happy with foods both sweet and savory.

Writing

The greatest adventure of my life began with great sadness. I’d left a job I’d loved and moved to unfamiliar turf. On a rare day off, I happened upon a book by Rhys Bowen and it sparked an idea for a novel of my own. I would seek out workshops, conferences, Meetups and more, thirsty to learn all I could. In doing so, I also grew to recognize my tribe and where to find them. Groups like Shut Up & Write! have given me a place of belonging in several states when I was new and knew no one. And one of the greatest thrills was meeting Rhys Bowen at a book festival some ten years on after picking up one of her books–and telling her what a difference it had made in my life.

Writing, like baking, is something I’ll enjoy for all the years of my life.

Zentangle

I don’t remember how I discovered Zentangle, but I was fascinated by it enough to hunt out a little studio tucked away in a strip-mall some distance away from my Southern California home. I was the only one who showed up for the workshop that evening, and the experience left a lasting impression on me. When I went through a divorce and had to relocate and build my life anew, it was the act of sitting and meditating on creating repetitive shapes with a Micron pen that kept the anxiety at bay.

I had someone who belittled my explanation of what it was and what it meant to me. And I have this word of advice for anyone who ends up in a similar situation: Find what makes you happy and do more of it.

(That person is no longer in my life. Zentangle stayed.)

Acrylic and Watercolor Painting

In college I took a detour from what I thought I was going to major in, and ended up practically living in the Fine Arts building on campus where I breathed in music, art, and theatre. A favorite art teacher was an accomplished acrylic painter, and our assignments for color theory class gave me a chance to dabble in thick paint. My future studies would require watercolor, which I absolutely have a respect for, but at present, my life has circled back to wanting to learn more, and do more, with acrylic paint.

During the isolated months of 2020, there was joy to be found in the mixing of paint while in search of the “perfect” shade of blue. While I like watercolor for more realistic paintings, it’s been quite freeing to pick up a book on paint pouring, and make a creative, beautiful mess.

To begin, I recommend the book Paint Pouring: Mastering Fluid Art by Rick Cheadle.

Find Your Happy

The above heading says it all. Whatever pulls you away from the stress of daily life, be sure to make time for whatever calms your soul, restores that sense of your true self, and just makes you smile.

Best wishes for a very safe and happy Autumn.

Now…go create!


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