* I’ve changed the name of this person because this is about working through My Stuff – and because I love the name Sascha and it has always been vetoed when naming daughters.
Dearest, darlingest Sash
You’ve been on my mind and in my thoughts ever since we caught up the other day and you lamented about your work: your dwindling passion for your role, your fed-up-ness with the politics of it, your wish to be around to spend more time with your kids, the ironic financial burden of being on Good Money, and a general but indeterminate nagging and craving to be doing something more creative.
And while your dissatisfaction with such a pivotal part of your life is officially Crap because it is such a central and pervasive part of your life, what really upset me – on your behalf – was your rather strong conviction that there was little you could do about it, and your even firmer belief that you are Not Artistic.
My initial reaction was to swoop in and reassure you and march you off to a dozen different art classes and bombard you with examples of how artistic you are.
I am learning that serving rather than saving is better for all of us.
And I read and heard things within a day of our conversation which spoke directly to your predicament and so I pass them on to you for your reflection and to do with them what you will; I know you will know exactly the right thing.
The first was wise words from the ever spirited, funny, ballsy, insightful, inspiring and delightful Elizabeth Gilbert, who I had the pleasure of hearing speak on Friday night. She remarked that when someone says they do not have a creative bone in their body, she invites and challenges them to replace the word creative with curious.
You may say you do not have a creative bone in your body, but do you, dear Sascha, have a curious bone in your body?
I think what you exactly said was that you have no confidence in your creativity – that you would feel a fraud to call yourself creative.
Do you have confidence in your curiousity? Do you feel a fraud to call yourself curious?
I know you are curious, my friend. I have faith in your curiosity.
But if you need some help connecting with your curiosity, maybe one or some of these might resonate with you – they are all exercises I have been introduced to over the years which have sparked curiosity, and in turn creativity, for me:
- Write down your 5 favourite books from childhood
- Recollect 3 songs you danced to in your Uni partying days, which still make you smile
- Think of something in your life which has given you butterflies in your stomach and has been so exciting your haven’t been able to sleep afterwards – for me it was doing the make up on a school musical: I just loved it, it was so exciting and it left me with so much energy at the end of each performance that I could barely sleep all night.
- Make a list of 7 things you loved doing / playing / making / reading about when you were a little girl.
I hope something here starts to get your memory bubbling and your curiosity piqued.
May I be so bold as to suggest setting yourself the delightful challenge of indulging in following your curious once this week for no reason other than your own delight, and with no thought of the outcome.
Trust your gut instinct, your first reaction, don’t overthink it or over complicate it; it might be as simple as listening to an old song on full-ball in the car on your way to work, belting out the familiar words and letting old memories and emotions wash over you.
The second bit I read for you was an article in The Mosman Daily (25 February 2016):
Victoria Alexander has a strong message for women. Particularly Mothers: don’t feel guilty about finding time for creativity.’
The article goes on:
Ms Alexander said her main message about women’s creativity is “don’t believe anyone who tells you “you can’t” … Ignore self doubt. Push it aside. Own your ideas.” … Women need to accept that it is up to them to harness time, create some of their very own and continually remind themselves its important to place value on their own pursuits, desires, wants and needs.”
Amen to that sister.
2 questions keep skating through my mind Sash:
- Why creativity?
- And does creativity have to be your job? Or if you could fit more creativity – or curiosity – into your life, would that make your job more bearable? Or even better, help to reignite your passion for work?
Creativity is a funny thing, it strikes me.
As children we instinctively react to a pile of leaves by turning them into cakes and pies and cups of tea; we don’t question if we can paint, we just go ahead and do it; and we are not overwhelmed by the task of writing our story, we delight in the invitation; creativity, creativity, creativity.
But somewhere along the way, creativity seems to become this Big Thing – something that people either Are or Are Not.
I was an Are Not; my sister was an Are. She studied Graphic Design when she finished school and I used to love doing the course assignments for fun. I didn’t pick up on that clue for years, but my creativity was there, in a state of hibernation, just waiting for the time to thaw again.
And I think this is true of all of us. There are no Are’s and Are Not’s when it comes to creativity – it is there within each of us.
Why is this important?
In a journey of a lot of searching (you may have heard me bang on about this once or twice?), creativity has provided me with some of my biggest breakthrough moments of understanding. I don’t know why, or how, but creativity seems to have the power to let us get in touch with a part of ourselves and, at the same time, a part of the Universe which is magnificent and mystical. You know what Elizabeth Gilbert calls it? Big Magic.
Maybe that all sounds a bit vague and wishy-washy? So, let me get real specific:
In August 2014 I woke up one morning with an idea for a picture book; it was a perfectly formed idea in my mind: I could tell you what it felt like to turn the pages and the rhythm of the words; I had no idea where it had come from, but it was there waiting for me. In an attempt to follow my curious, a couple of days later I sat in Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden for an hour and it flowed out of me.
That book remains unfinished and unpublished.
It led to a series of events which has led me to where I am today: it started me writing, it got me all fired up about taking the message of Magnificent Me (my book) to school kids, which got me all motivated to get my business set up in order to do this, which led me to enrol in B-School, which led to me conceiving of a business which helped school girls decide what to do with their future, which morphed into a business focussed on helping Mums find meaning and beauty in motherhood, which is what I am still doing today, which lights me up and makes me talk very fast with excitement in very long sentences (can you tell?!), and that is what has led me to do ballsy things which I never considered possible, like blogging and talking out loud about my PND and my journey.
Big Magic indeed.
And all because I followed my curious almost 2 years ago.
Am I being too preachy? Or too save-y instead of serve-y, Sash?
Am I being too smug and all-knowing? Because I know for years I had an uncharitable desire to smack people hard who calmly told me “they just kneeeeewwwwww and it had all worked out soooooo sweetly and better than they could have dreamt”. Because that sure as heck-fire didn’t seem to be the case for me.
Sascha, my dear, I wish I could serve up a page number in the UAC Guide of what you should do to solve all your problems. But I don’t know that the UAC Guide even exists any more.
That you are asking these questions is exciting.
It is the stuff that breakthroughs are made of.
All I can say, (apart from the monologue above), is start gently tugging on the strands of curiosity and see where they take you. It may be to new work, or maybe to new places of creativity. Trust that the right thing will happen at the right time.
I have a mantra that I use sparingly as it is powerful and has produced Big Magic when I have invoked it in the past. But, if you are ready and you dare, declare to the Universe:
I am ready. Bring it on. Please.
Sash, you may not see it, but I see in you a Mama who dresses with feathers around her neck, who loves to set out interesting activities to captivate her kids’ imaginations, who has starred in musicals, loves to boogie, and has orchestrated a transformation of a run-down house into a home filled lovingly with colour and style.
Sash, you may not see it or feel it, but to me the creativity is there, shining brightly already. May this next twist in your journey see you connecting ever deeper with your creativity, and let the Big Magic flow.