The Expressive Creatrix (and Hobbyist)

Creative expression.  Sigh. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with it.  Here’s my story. I apologize in advance for the length.  Feel free to skim.

I’ve embarked on a zillion creative endeavors in my life, despite thinking of myself as not a “creative” person.  Really, we’re ALL creative.  Every single person is creative in some way.  The problem is, I think, that we tend to view creativity along very narrow lines.  When we think of creativity, we think mostly in terms of art or anything involving creating something with your hands, in terms of dance  or some other form of creative expression using the body, or in terms of being visually creative through decorating or the way we dress ourselves.   I have never been artistically inclined nor have I ever had a real flair for decorating or fashion. I’m okay with that.

However, that does NOT mean I’m not creative.  Creativity expresses itself in many forms.  Yes, you can be artistically creative or expressively creative through dance and other forms of movement, but you can also be a creative thinker.  Someone who “thinks outside of the box” and contemplates things in new and different ways.  You can be a creative problem solver.  When faced with a seemingly unresolvable problem, you come up with something brilliant.  You can be a creative parent – using unconventional skills and methods for raising your children.  Of course, you can be a creative writer – spinning wonderful tales, writing beautiful poetry, composing music or even writing something technical or scientific or non-fiction in an interesting, unique way.  If you examine your life, you are sure to come up with at least one or two ways you use your creativity with success.  Be proud!

Getting back to my creative endeavors to-date, let’s just say I’ve tried a LOT of things, but I’ve never really stuck with anything.  In some cases, me and the activity I was trying simply were not a good fit.  In a lot of cases, I just didn’t give the activity enough time nor use loving patience with myself.  Tried it, not good at it, quit it.  I’ve done it a hundred times!  Here are some things I’ve tried –

Piano Lessons/Band/Choir – I come from a hugely musical family on both sides.  We have music teachers (and my biological father is actually a retired Professor of Music), pianists, organ players, choir members and directors, band members, orchestra conductors (again, my biological father), and the like.  I took piano lessons for roughly 13 years.  I was a member of the choir from 7th grade through 11th grade.  I played the flute and the oboe in junior high band.  You know what?  I never thoroughly enjoyed any of these activities.  I was okay at them. I definitely have some musical genes, but I didn’t love them enough to become passionate about them.  I haven’t touched a piano, a flute, an oboe or raised my voice in song (other than to the radio) in over 25 years!  I don’t even particularly listen to music as a past-time. I can take it or leave it.  Somehow those musical genes just didn’t manage to become dominant. 

Figure Skating – I took figure skating lessons for maybe 5 years.  I did okay.  I had some fluidity and grace.  I just hate being cold, and figure skating isn’t exactly a warm-weather activity.  Besides, I didn’t love it enough to work really, really hard at it.  I dabbled, I guess.

Embroidery – My aunt and cousins taught me to embroider when I was in grade school.  We passed many hours at my grandparents’ farm embroidering.  At the time, I didn’t really love it, but in retrospect, I kinda’ wish I would’ve kept up with it.  Even my dad knows how to embroider (back in the day on the farm, if the weather prevented one from working outside in the fields then one had to have something to do – idle hands and all that), although I haven’t ever seen him do it other than when we messed around with it as kids, and he had to give us a demonstration.

Latch Hook – Talk about easy and fun (if not actually that intellectually or physically challenging)!  I did this as a kid too.  Unfortunately, I think most latch hook projects are pretty ugly.

Ceramics – When I was a child and would visit my five cousins in southern Minnesota, we would often go to The Lady Bug – a ceramic studio in the town in which they lived.  We’d pick out our project (a figurine of some sort) and sit and paint away.  I wasn’t good at it, but I sure enjoyed those hours sitting there with my cousins.  They were actually pretty good at it, and often I would let them to most of my project so that I’d have something nice when I was finished!

Writing – I’ve been a writer all my life. It’s something I’ve always excelled at.  As a matter of fact, out of high school when I headed off to the University of North Dakota, I intended to major in mass communications (journalism).  I’ve never been a creative writer, but I did aspire to writing articles for magazines, newspapers, etc.  Despite it not being fiction or poetry, there is an element of creativity to any writing.  Life got in the way, I switched schools a few times and majors, and I eventually got away from writing. I’m not sure why. Perhaps this blog is the writer in me coming back out!

Furniture Refinishing – My former mother-in-law re-finished furniture because she found it relaxing.  Ummm, sorry, but that woman is crazy!  I tried my hand at this because I wanted to re-finish a dresser and nightstand for my daughter Tessa when she was little.  It was not relaxing.  In fact, it was as far from relaxing as it could get for me.  It stressed me out and made me crabby to no end.  Stripping furniture is nasty, dirty, time-consuming business.  Prepping the wood for re-painting or staining is meticulous, mind-numbingly dull and tedious.  The actual painting or staining, though, isn’t so bad. Unfortunately, that’s the end of the process.  To those of you who enjoy this type of endeavor, my hat is off to you. It’s just not for me.

Dried Flower Arranging – My former sister-in-law and her mother were veteran crafters.  They did everything, and they did it very well. I was captivated by some dried flower arrangements they were doing – wreathes, swags, lots of prettiness.  I got myself some supplies and tried my hand at it.  Not good.  The hot glue gun and I are not friends, and to tell you the truth, the messiness of it really got on my nerves. I did manage to make one or two passable items.  My mother had a swag I made above the door in her dining room up until a few years ago. I finally made her take it down.  The originally blue paper bow had faded to a really dingy gray, and it just was past its prime.  I made a wreathe for my ex-mother-in-law.  I haven’t visited her home in years, but I’m certain the wreathe is long gone.

Counted Cross-stitch – I began cross-stitching over 20 years ago.  Most of the projects I determined to be ugly before they were finished. I did do a Christmas stocking for myself, though, that hangs in my home each holiday season.  Granted, I didn’t do it all myself (my cousin Judy finished the harder, finishing work for me and sewed it together), but still, I’m proud of it.  I’ve always meant to make one for each member of my family, but I’ve never gotten around to it.  I run hot and cold with cross-stitching.  Currently I’m making a small bookmark, and I enjoy doing it (especially because the project is small), but I was recently de-railed by the knitting.  I really should set aside one afternoon and just finish it.

Rubber Stamping/Scrapbooking – In probably 1998 or 1999, I got invited to a Stampin’ Up! party, and I fell in love with stamping.  Within a year, I had signed up to become a SU! demonstrator.  I actually was very successful at this.  I built a pretty good business, with a downline and earning achievement awards and three cruises.  However, in all honesty, stamping and scrapping were always more about the business end of things for me.  I never felt creative with it.  I did okay copying ideas I found on-line, at meetings, etc., but I wasn’t overly creative with coming up with original things. I learned the techniques, and I could tach them, but I never felt stamping or scrapping was truly my “thing.”  I stuck with it for 7 years, but finally the business started to slide and, quite frankly, I lost interest.  Since I retired, I’ve sold all of my stamping and scrapping stuff and have never looked back.  It was a good ride, but at the end of the day, nothing I wanted to continue.  I learned a lot.  I think it really helped me become speaking in front of people and putting myself “out there.”  However, I never want to stamp again.

Other endeavors I’ve undertaken that aren’t worth a lot of space here are baking (fancy, gourmet type desserts and pastries), ethnic cooking (I love it, I just really despise cooking), sewing (in junior high and high school home ec classes – boy, was I bad!), weaving (seriously, who didn’t play with one of those cheap-o plastic looms as a kid?), and probably several more things I can’t recall right now.  Nothing (aside from my on-again/off-again cross-stitching) has ever stuck, but that’s okay.  The point is that I’ve tried, and even trying counts for something.  Someday something will stick (my current obsessions of hoopdancing and knitting perhaps?), and I will become a master at my craft.  Until then, I’ll keep searching for the best creative outlet for me and enjoy the process!


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