Secret Lives and Artistic Endeavours

If you’ve been in my house, or even just seen pictures of it, you will probably recognize that a plastic bear in polka dot pajamas is not usually the sort of decor I naturally go for.

We keep things pretty neutral around here, and I discovered a long time ago that the only colour I can live with is soothing blue. I like things to be organized, routine, and predictable, and although I’m always interested in seeing the artistic, whimsical creations of other people, I don’t go down that road much myself. But I recently picked up a book that is shaking things up. It’s called The Artist’s Way, and it’s a 12 week course to rediscover creativity. I was drawn to it because a number of authors I admire have referred to it, and I was hoping it might give me some fresh ideas for blogging and stuff to write about. Turns out, I’m getting a bit more than I bargained for….

Writing a few pages first thing each morning is within my comfort zone, but suddenly, I’m being asked to look for creative impulses that were stuffed down inside me years ago – things like five secret lives I wish I could live.

  • interior designer
  • photographer
  • professional organizer
  • author
  • trapeze artist

That was a fun little exercise. Step Two involved thinking of two ways to live out those fantasies. Luckily, I’m visiting my sister in Ottawa next week to decorate her new house, and play “interior decorator” for a few days. But the next week, I was asked to return to the list, and add five more! Now I was really having to push myself!

  • naturopathic doctor
  • Broadway actor
  • yoga instructor
  • personal coach
  • artist

I also had to think of three times I was criticized for my creativity, and three people who praised and encouraged me. One of my assignments was to go on an “Artist’s Date” to a dollar store to buy some little toys or art supplies, just for fun. One of the suggestions was “plastic animals”. When I read that, I thought to myself with disgust, “That’s a useless suggestion – what on earth would I do with plastic animals?!”

Two days later, I attended an art party with Kaylia at the art studio where she is taking lessons this year, and was very amused to discover that our project was painting plastic animals and creating backstories to explain the reasons behind their flashy outfits. It seemed as though plastic animals were meant to be part of my creative journey, so I chose a bear, and sat there blankly as I tried to think of what kind of clothes to dress my bear in. Obviously, the down to earth, realistic side of me was still hanging on strong, because all I could think was that my poor bear should be hibernating in the middle of winter, and so a pair of jammies formed in my mind, and from that point, there was no other option.

Suddenly I found myself the ridiculously proud owner of a plastic bear in polka dot pajamas. I feel myself opening up to other places possibilities.

Anika often asks me for ideas when she’s writing stories, but my answer is always the same: “Ask Dad – I’m not creative with stuff like that.”

But the other day when she came to me, and I was opening my mouth to give my usual answer, I suddenly thought to myself, “No. That’s not true. I AM creative, and I DO have good ideas.” Soon we were deep in discussion about Mirror Lake and Goblin Pass, and what strange enchantments could be encountered there.

Once again, I felt oddly proud of myself creating something – even just an idea. I produce ideas all the time, but usually much more practical than this, and it just feels different.

The next day, Anika said, “Our ideas have added so much to my story! I’m so excited about the direction it’s taking.”

We make something where there was nothing. We share ideas, and bravely open up the corners of our minds and imaginations, and something comes out that wasn’t there before – new stories to enjoy, and plastic bears to love, and suddenly I’m hungry to create, because it’s something we were made to do, in one way or another.

So tell me: What would be your five secret lives? Any plastic animals in your near future? What do you do to be creative?

2 thoughts on “Secret Lives and Artistic Endeavours

  1. What a neat journey you are on! A creative outlet that I have loved in the past couple years (and would like to delve into again) are the online art courses from Kelly Rae Roberts on creating collage pieces. It involves a lot of introspection and journaling which I enjoy and then creates really personal and creative pieces.
    Secret lives is such a great question…. I think mine would be actress, high school English teacher, artist, yoga teacher, author. But it’s trickier to come up with a list than I would have thought!

    • It’s interesting and not very surprising that we have a lot of the same secret lives!! We can open a yoga studio together in one of our secret lives. 🙂

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