It wasn’t like I woke up one day and decided, “I am a writer. I am a photographer. I am going to live a creative life.”It was not a deliberate, intentional choice. I did not go to college for this or seek it out. Creative living found me. It uncovered me from beneath a pile of other counterfeit selves. It found me beneath an avalanche of things everyone else needed me to be. It was if I had required creative living all along because I was a creative being all along. An intentionally creative life will find you and thankfully it does not leave you there. It will uncover you from beneath the pile of selves you probably could have lived without. In the process living a creative life will also mark your children.
Here is how your creative life shapes your children…
If you really think about it everyone should be living a creative life no matter their gifts or abilities. Everyone can do at least one thing semi-well: write, or sing, or dance, take photos, paint, draw, crochet, tinker, or craft. You do not need permission. You do not need to make this a career path with your end goal being a paycheck.
Living a creative life means that you take every moment that you have to see creatively, to engage the world with an artist’s heart and mind, and to pursue “work’ that makes your heart leap and feeds your soul.
A creative life might not lead to a career as an artist. A creative life might never make you any money. A creative life will, however, shape and shift you and your family in ways that you never anticipated.
Creativity is healing. Creative endeavors will root you – to your truth and your purpose. It will uncover the beautiful truth about your place in this world – a truth you never knew you desperately needed to discover. The truth of your life that creative work will unearth in you is a sifting. It will sift the authentic from the counterfeit. That sifting is what you need to live an abundantly whole and purposeful life without apologies or excuses.
I never knew I needed it until I uncovered it from deep inside myself.
When I started to take up the pen again – something I had set aside for a long time in pursuit of “real life” …
When I began to create, dream, and find my authentic voice – something happened to all of us. Members of my family began to see the world differently. I would find text messages from my husband of amazing sunrises and sunsets as he was surrounded by piles of snow working with a crew in the middle of a blizzard. They would come running, my children – at something tiny, weird, beautiful, colorful, and alive.
Just yesterday I was standing at the French doors off our deck and a movement of wings caught my attention. A red-tailed hawk was in the neighborhood, catching prey, and feasting on something while perched on a fence a few houses away. We poured out onto the deck with whispers and awe.
It has been this way with us for a long time: mud between toes with a camera in my hands as my children watch, marvel, and whisper.
We witness together the moon hung brightly in the night sky, the planets, and stars reminding us of how small we are, of how awesome life is beyond us and without us, and because of us.
This bearing witness to the holy through living a creative life touches our children’s souls in a way my words and pontificating never could. I can tell them all the right things and insist upon ways of living well, I can read to them holy words and tell them holy stories, but what really instructs them – searing truth onto their hearts for the long haul – is HOW I LIVE this life right beside them.
I love that my children have had the opportunity to witness my becoming. And I celebrate with awe the opportunity I have as their mother to bear witness to their becoming.
My oldest she takes up a pencil and paper and she creates. (Insert mother swooning here) She writes these elaborate tales with equally elaborate drawings… and I hope. Because a child encouraged to celebrate her imagination without the often obligatory skepticism or doubt parents’ bring, a child encouraged to leap creatively – is likely to know herself well. She is likely to NOT fear what she discovers deep within herself – if I have willingly demonstrated with my own life the bravery with which I have uncovered my true self.
I wasted too much time doubting myself simply because of the ill-timed laughter and skepticism of watching adults.
My children create elaborate brick towns and people with elaborate backstories and I rejoice at tales being molded and told because perhaps they will be brave enough to expansively mold and tell their own stories someday. They will take back the pen from the doubting, negative, fearmongers – and write their own stories. Perhaps we are raising young people who will be braver than we were and braver than our parents were before us.
Together we turn off the electronics and with much laughter add one sentence each to a new story we are spinning. We end up in stitches on the floor. We end up laughing so hard we cannot catch enough breath to finish our lines.
My sister-in-law describes my laughter as “riotous.” Riotous meaning unruly, disorderly, uncontrollable. And I pray that is what I bring to the lives of all those I encounter– riotous laughter, riotous courage, riotous creative living. If I die tomorrow I pray my children remember my riotous laughter – in the face of many things.
You can leap this year. You have permission. Leap years are for leaping so it is perfectly acceptable and OK to jump. Yes, with riotous laughter.
And as you leap remember that there are many of us watching you. If you have children – your little ones are watching to see all the places that you will go and the things that you will do.
Your living creatively will inspire them to live creatively too.
When you show them HOW to LIVE there is less room for the world to shout out counterfeit alternatives.
Witnessing bravery and failure, our creative failures will give them hope.
Witnessing creative courage – will inspire them to hope for themselves in ways we can never put into words.
With muddy hands, and dew-soaked shoes, rosy cheeks, hushed breath, and whispered words across a morning…. This is HOW I choose to live.
And you always have a choice.