“Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture.” Sir Ken Robinson
In 2007, my so called happy, normal life, collided with a mysterious health condition that turned everything topsy turvy. Just like the Hanged Man in a Tarot deck of cards, I was turned upside down and forced to see the world differently. If I was to find a way to heal and address any possible causes to my illness I had to question the way I viewed the world, particularly my handling of stress. I also realised that I had to explore how my life would work if I couldn’t regain my health, and what my new kind of “normal” might look like.
My search reminded me that I am a deeply intuitive and creative person, something that was natural in childhood, but all but forgotten in adulthood, such as a love of writing, colour and design, and so began a quest of rediscovery. I began to try different mediums, techniques, disciplines that would provide an opportunity to explore what makes my creative heart tick. Acknowledging my true nature was the first step. Discovering the best outlet for my creativity was the next. Through my blog, I have started sharing sone of the techniques that I’ve tried and what I discover through the process of making. On some occasions, just the fact that I find the courage to share is enough of a process in itself, because as a perfectionist, sharing my work really tests my ability to overcome self criticism. Sharing helps me free myself of the shackles of old thought patterns that were formed when I was a child. I don’t want these old beliefs anymore, I no longer want to jump when some long outdated parental voice says, “Jump”. The only way to get rid of warped beliefs is to challenge them, until they are replaced by helpful beliefs like being kind, loving and supportive towards myself. I’ve really grown tired of the old programs and being a victim to something said or done so long ago. I can say this after spending a decade examining, testing ideas, crying, sharing, reading, and growing. It’s not an easy process, but at some point, we choose to continue with the old, or embrace a new way of being. I’m choosing the new and below you’ll find my first attempts at exploring various forms of creativity.
So let’s get started with this journey of exploration!
When it comes to photography, I’m a complete novice. I love finding the more interesting focal points of life around me and seeing how light and the weather can affect the final result. I don’t know anything about the technical aspects of photography, but simply trust my eye and shoot. Here’s a few photos that I love, not only because I like what I’ve captured, but they remind me that taking a risk, being spontaneous can be as much fun as getting super technical with a camera.
Sewing and the greater good
Because my health was so unpredictable, I found it hard to return to paid work, but I did manage to get to an occasional sewing class where I learnt to sew basic toys and then on to making quilts. As I had no need for quilts myself, I began to make them for a local charity called, Linus Project. The two photos below are of charity quilts made for young teenage girls. Linus Project, donates quilts to children who are sick and/or from disadvantaged backgrounds. The blankets bring much needed colour and warmth to the children and lets them know that someone in the world cares about them. It’s amazing how the simple act of sewing taught me not only a valuable skill, but also allowed me to give to my local community. Two gifts wrapped in one.
I chose to make quilts for teenage boys and girls because fewer people make them for this age group. Most people like to make them for young children, and often because they are smaller. But I love the challenge of trying to find funky and modern fabrics for this often misunderstood and sometimes neglected age group.
Bags for a good cause
My newfound sewing skills don’t end with charity quilts, as I’ve been able to use them to make shopping bags to replace the very toxic plastic bags. Two dedicated and visionary women from the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia began a movement to help reduce plastic bag usage. They formed a group called Boomerang Bags with a small band of volunteers to make bags from repurposed material such as table cloths, bed sheets, quilt/duvet covers, tea towels and curtains. Any suitable fabric is used. The bags are then offered to shoppers in the hope that they’ll continue to reuse the bag they’re given. I’m pleased to say that this movement has spread right across Australia and to many parts of the world. So I get to have fun sewing and helping reduce the toxic effects of plastic bags on our environment.
As a young teen, I learnt to knit and crochet. I seem to have oodles of patience and created some really cool garments but over time, once I started working full time, married and had kids, I never “seemed” to have time to do anything creative. The truth is, I did have time, but I’d developed a rather nasty tendency towards perfectionism and with perfectionism, patience can not fly out the window but be flung with full force. It seemed to disappear overnight. My poor health pointed me to these old pursuits because they were something I could do and they brought me joy.
In crochet I rediscovered patience but it also allowed me to expand my creativity by making things I’d never thought of and using fabulously bright colours that just made the whole process even more inspiring and enjoyable. Here are a few samples.
Art at last
Last but not least, I finally come to art. I place this one last not because it’s my least preferred form of creativity, but because it’s one of my favourites. Surface print making and design are forms of expression that make me shine inside, they bring me joy and therefore, mean a great deal to me. It’s because of this that it’s the form that I least want to suck at, and do the best in. However, with perfectionist tendencies and a need to do well (read excel and yes, it’s old parental baggage I carry here), I often put this activity last, because by putting it off, I don’t get to find out if I’m possibly really bad at it. The old artistic fears – not being good enough and being judged will rear their ugly heads and stop me from ever finding out. Well, I decided that I had to find out because my wellbeing depends on it.
So, as part of my healing journey, I have begun to finally complete all those online courses I signed up for, do the exercises in the many books I purchased and start to make some art. Here are a few examples as I begin this journey.