“I have to fight the voices that tell me I’m wasting time when I want to do something creative. I have no problem getting things done and taking care of everybody else. If my kids want to explore a new interest, I’m first to cheer-lead. But that encouraging attitude goes out the door when it applies to me.” – Mandy Arioto
I can’t tell you how many times a friend has asked me about scrapbooking and the response is “that’s SO great, but I’m not creative.”
It’s so easy to believe that, isn’t it? To believe that creativity is something reserved for a privileged few, a pastime best left to old ladies and stay-at-home-moms, and bloggers, or a gene that you are missing.
I’m here to tell you that idea is bullshit. And it’s not me telling you that, it’s Elizabeth Gilbert, and she’s a big time writer so you should listen to her. 😉
If you’re in creative circles – and I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you are – you’ve probably heard of Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book Big Magic, well, friend, you just have to read it. Last year, shortly after it came out, I read it twice. TWICE. And each time, I learned something profound about creativity, magic, and the work we can do on ourselves to let go of the blocks that prevent us from being creative souls – which we all are.
In fact, it inspired my One Little Word in 2016 – Magic.
And it inspired me to break out into new areas, to push myself creatively, and to actually share my work. You can read about one of my biggest breakthrough moments with creativity here.
And now, here I am, 8 days into a 28-day challenge where I’m sharing my imperfect writing, imperfect painting (see day 1 and day 2), and even my notes and notebooks. Do I think all of my work is the best thing ever? Absolutely not. Could I spend more time to perfect each work? Of course. Is it necessary? Not at all.
And I’ll tell you why.
A Personal Example of Why Your Work Will Never Be Perfect and Why It Doesn’t Matter
Two years ago I spent four weeks of my summer in an intensive Yoga Teacher Training program. I knew before entering it that it would be a big opportunity for personal growth, so in the weeks leading up to the training I collected notebooks to take notes on, books to read, and a few traveler’s notebooks (way before they were a thing) to express my creativity in a paper format.
Every day during training, I brought my book and a set of watercolor paints with me to a nearby cafe, wrote and journaled, painted and created, photographed and reflected. The result was a project that I created which was a purely genuine expression of my creativity, an honest reflection of where I was in time and emotional space, an authentic representation of me, experiencing dramatic change. It’s a book that I’m absolutely in love with and I treasure each and every page. You can watch the video flip through of it below.
The strange thing is that I realized, years later, that I never actually shared the pages of that book. Which was weird. As a self-described over-sharer, I was shocked that I had left something undone.
Then I started to look at the Project Life pages and I realized, again, that I hadn’t shared MOST of my work.
So then I got to thinking – WHY. Why would I create all of this work, in part because I love to share it, but then never actually do the sharing?
I started looking through my pages again. This time, I saw the flaws, the imperfections, the little things that could be tweaked or changed to make better. I took a critical eye to something that was profoundly creative an my own and made just for me – and I tore it apart.
And then I had my answer. Without realizing it, I had decided that this piece of work that I loved so much wasn’t worth looking at. I one-handedly took all of the value out of this project and, in turn, de-valued myself and my place in our creative industry.
And because I had already ready Big Magic – by this point, twice – I knew that thought pattern was total bullshit. And not just because it’s a beautiful notebook, and not just because I’ve had a lot of compliments or positive feedback, it’s BS because it is something that I created authentically with love in my heart at a moment of change in my life and it fully reflects that time and that space. And for that reason it is beautiful.
The truth is that insecurity doesn’t disappear. It might take a vacation for a time, it might get put aside in the back corner of your mind, but it’s always there. Elizabeth Gilbert calls it fear. I call it BS. I think we’re both right.
One Big Thing
At the end of this 28-challenge, we are tasked with the goal of doing something that takes our breath away. Something big. Something totally out there. I don’t know what that will look like yet, but I have a feeling that it will be something connected to creativity, vulnerability, and sharing my work.
For several years Ali Edwards has started her year with a word. No resolutions or promises to break, just one little word® to check back on for guidance or reflection. As she describes it, “You live with it. You invite it into your life. You let it speak to you. Follow where it leads. There are so many possibilities.” After a challenging 2016, my choice for 2017 is to become SECURE. Each month, I’m focused on a different aspect of securing who I am, where I am, and what we’re doing. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. For more of my one little word, follow my tag one little word.
MOPS, or Mothers of Preschoolers, is and international organization that encourages and equips mothers of young children to realize their potential as mothers and leaders. “We’ve all been placed in this time and place in history, as the tribe of women who are raising the world. And the beauty of it is that we don’t all have to agree with one another but everyone is in and we all need each other.” This 28-day challenge is coupled with reading, a daily truth or dare, and videos and resources that allow us to connect, discuss, and dive into this topic of woman-hood and mother-hood. Come back daily, or read along in this thread, to see my posts and stories for each day.