I used to be very creative. I played multiple instruments, sang, danced, wrote short stories. And then, almost suddenly (although I have a nagging feeling it wasn't quite as sudden as I now remember), I wasn't anymore. And I didn't really notice it, nor did it really bother me until a few years ago when Juniper was born.
My wake-up call was a weird one. I was in the grips of some gross postpartum depression where I'd stay up all night weeping as I nursed my beautiful brand new baby girl every two hours (which was hard on this new mama as it took her a whole hour to get enough of the boob juice to fill her hungry belly, which meant brief one-hour spurts of rest) only to shuffle downstairs and do the same weeping-nursing-rest routine all day. Never mustering up enough energy or will to shower, get dressed or venture outdoors. I constantly thought about how my life was over - no more freedom to do what I wanted. And I constantly thought about all the things that I still wanted to do that I'd (seemingly) never get to do now that I have a child. And how I wasted my childless years of freedom not doing much of anything... accomplishing nothing... it was a sad sight.
So, I was nestled there in my butter yellow leather couch watching marathon reruns of America's Next Top Model and Project Runway (the birth of my present-day Project Runway
addiction passion) while Juniper fed and napped in my arms until Tim came home, when it happened...
The light bulb went off and I was all, WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING JUST SITTING HERE?
I was watching Models of the Runway, the Project Runway spinoff that featured the behind-the-scenes of the models and their relationships with each other as well as with the designers of Project Runway, and one of the models asked another model how she could leave her little girl at home, for an extended period of time, in order to model for Project Runway. And this is what she said to defend herself,
"What kind of mother would I be if I told my daughter to chase after her dreams, if I didn't do so myself?"
And I was all, WORD UP, SISTAH!
And somehow my life wasn't over anymore. I realized that girlfriend needed to get up off of that damn sofa and start living in order to set the example of the type of woman I wanted little Juniper to grow up to be!
Now, don't get me wrong. The transformation wasn't that easy. I eventually would need the help of a healthy diet, regular exercise and a nice dose of happy pills... but her words really did shake me into realizing that motherhood isn't the ball-and-chain that I was imprisoning myself to. That maintaining a healthy independent spirit, doing things to nurture myself, chasing my own dreams, and motherhood is not mutually exclusive, but deeply connected.
My immediate reaction was to book a trip to Athens, Greece where I'd vacation with five-month-old little Juniper - just me and her - for a week. I needed to prove to myself that I could do anything I wanted to. And traipsing half-way around the world to a country where I was illiterate was obviously the most rational way to go about doing this. [sarcasm]
And when I got home, I didn't just nestle myself back down into that yellow couch, I unpacked my bags, washed our clothes, repacked my bags and drove five hours to Chicago, where Juniper and I spent another week of girly vacation time together. I guess I needed to build a firm foundation of acting boldly.
But it worked. And over a span of two years I learned how to not so much balance being a mother and being true to myself (because I've found it can never really be in balance) but rather how to just, in the words of Tim Gunn, "make it work" ... And it had a lot to do with getting back my creativity.
I kinda think that creativity is the greatest gift to mankind.
It's often thought that only special people are creative. That creativity is a rare talent. That people are either born creative or not. But, if we are made in the image of our Creator, then we too are innately creative beings, right? That means everyone has huge creative capacities as a natural result of being human. The challenge is how to develop them.
Nowadays, especially if you're a mom, creating for the sake of creating just seems so self-indulgent. But if you think of your creative spirit as a gift, when we do not accept that gift, we've essentially looked a gift horse in the mouth. And the universe gets really pissed off when we do that - when we don't use our creative gifts.
Creativity, is the expression of our originality, and it helps us to stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared. It can also help us get to a place of self-reflection, where we can evaluate who we are and where we want to go. When I make creating a priority, everything in my life just works better. My marriage. My mothering. My ability to be kind to myself...
Nothing inspires me more than my group of friends who are all trying to make it work by embracing the creative. I think it's so important to find and be a part of a community of like-minded women, who share your beliefs about creativity and are all working on their own dreams, supporting & encouraging each other.
Which is how The Zoetica Project was born. A dear friend and I have, over the course of a year or so, worked really hard in putting together a nine-month-long creative workshop (symbolic of the nine-month gestational period of creating human life) for mothers to nurture their creative spirits and connect with other beautiful and like-minded women. It will culminate in a Mother's Day art show of all the women's art created over the course of the workshop.
I am so excited about this new project, I just had to share it with you. (Thank you for indulging me.)
I'd love to hear about your creative stories... bring it! How creative are you? Do you allow yourself to express your creative energy?
(And if you're in San Antonio and want to learn more about The Zoetica Project, just click the link.)