Sunday, May 29, 2011

Creative Inventory Q&A

Earlier today I posted 9 questions from the book The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor. The purpose of the questions were to take an inventory on your creativity and begin to acknowledge your creative side. I journalled my answers to these questions and want to share them. I am hoping that some of my fellow creative friends will also desire to share some of their thoughts on these questions as well.

Q: When did your creative awakening (or reawakening) occur?

A: I feel like I have always been creating. I can't think of a time when there was an awakening in my creativity. As a very little girl, I was very ill and almost never slept. I spent my long nights wide awake, telling myself stories. I was always making up my own little games and adventures. I loved to color and play with building blocks. I spent more hours at the piano than is probably healthy for a little girl. :)

My mom, Sally, and my aunt Twyla were both insanely creative people. They were the right women to have around when it came to encouraging creative growth. The two of them often had hare-brained schemes that involved large amounts of paint and fascinating tools and fabrics. I remember a time when they decided to have a craft show - during the 80's when everyone's style was 'country'. My grandpa built type-set boxes for them that they painted in a variety of colors and embellished with stencils. Then came the wooden knick-knacks, the geese, bunnies, sock monkeys, pillows and painted sweatshirts and t-shirts. If we wanted to paint murals on the walls, we could. I f we wanted to cut an entire ball of yarn into tiny pieces because we were pretending to cut hair (like Mommy in the beauty shop) we were allowed to. There was no such thing as 'no' when it came to nurturing ideas in our household, and if things got out of hand, there were always suggestions for something else to try instead. My mom's motto in life seemed to be "It's only...." For example - "It's only paint! Just paint over it!" or "It's only hair! It will grow back!" 

 Then there was my grandma Betty, who was determined to make sure all of her granddaughters knew how to crochet, sew, embroider and cook. It was she who taught her poor left-handed granddaughter, ME, how to do such things - not an easy task. And it's because of her that I have had success with my crocheted baby Chucks and other designs. It's because of her that I have cross-stitched amazing pieces of art that are framed on the walls of our house. It was her coaching that led me to become a concert pianist.

And thusly, I can't think of a time when I haven't been creating or at least writing down ideas. Most of my ideas were unmanageable - either physical impossibilities or simply out of reach for the time being and then forgotten about.

How about you?

12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women

As usual, I am frustrated with my station in life because I live in a society that makes it hard to be creative and live comfortably. Thus, I work a job that I'm not crazy about, but happy and grateful to have, and my true love - my creativity - suffers.

My greatest downfall is my inability to finish what I start, or carry anything to the end. I have time-management issues, as I have been made uncomfortably aware of by working at the bank, and while I don't believe for a minute that I have something like ADD, I do believe that I have let a good portion of my memory and focus dwindle away. (But I am told that such things can be regained.)

I picked up The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women at Barnes and Nobel in Fort Wayne last weekend while we were killing time before a wedding. It was on the discount shelf, and definitely doesn't have the gorgeous cover art that the book on has. But I've never been one to concern myself with cover art - but instead, the text inside. After all, there's a great song about not judging a book by looking at it's cover.

The author, Gail McMeekin, and I seem to have a lot in common. Both of us have struggled with places to put our creative energy, both have struggled with chronic fatigue syndrome, and like her, I have noticed that women are often expected to push their creativity into the backmost parts of our minds in order to become productive members of society.  I am no feminist, not by a long shot, but I do agree that our modern society still has some expectations of women that aren't very fair. (However, I believe they were brought about BY the feminist movement, and they aren't doing anything to help get rid of them.)

I remember a time when I was putting together an elaborate scrapbook to chronicle my journeys through the south-eastern countries of Africa. My mom loved it, but I remember her saying, "It's great that Lindsey has so many creative outlets. It will really help her get through life." My parents have struggled their entire lives with poor financial choices and having to work minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. In short, they have both had to labor while pushing their creativity in the background. Sure, it came out in other places - my mom owned a salon for 20 years, and our house was the most attractive in the neighborhood. But my parents never got the opportunity to follow their true dreams.

I dread the thought that such could be my case. When I think about the years to come, I have a sense of foreboding that I might be one of those folks who simply travels around from job to job because they can't stick with any of the work - I have only worked at the bank for 3 months and I'm already hoping that another opportunity will present itself so that I can quit. I don't want to be one of the millions who pushes their true passions out of the door and conforms to expectations of them.

I particularly like that this book offers challenges to help a woman unlock her creative potential. I have already noticed that there are things I could be doing to help encourage myself into better ideas. I have recognized for a long time that I need a partned - but the right one hasn't come along yet. I am co-dependent in the sense that I need a coach - someone to help me follow-through. I am unsuccessful alone - but with that other person, I can do almost anything.

The first challeng in "12 Secrets" is to take a creative inventory of yourself. I am a little more that halfway through adding that to my journal. I am going to post the questions, and hope that someone out there feels like adding their thoughts on one or two of them as I put my own answers out there for the world to read in future postings.

Creative Style Inventory

1. When did your creative awakening or reawakening occur?
2. What talents do you naturally have?
3. Which elements (fire, wood, water, air, etc.) draw you toward them?
4. Where and when do you create? Where and when do you wish to create?
5. What activates your creative energy?
6. Do you use creative rituals? What are they? If not, invent some for yourself!
7. Does nature influence your creativity? If it does, how?
8. What has been your greatest creative hurdle thus far?
9. What time of day are you most receptive to inspiration?

In the next few weeks, I am going to put up passages from my journal exploring these questions and it would warm my heart to see one or two responses from others out there. Who knows, maybe somewhere out there is that creative partner I've been waiting for and haven't opened my eyes to seeing yet!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Beauty of the Earth

Spring has finally arrived to northern Indiana! And those greenhouse seedlings have been thriving in the warm, humid weather. We've had some great thunderstorms in the last few weeks as well.

Today is one of my rare days off from the bank, and instead of being beautiful outside for me, it's gloomy and they're calling for severe storms. So I have made a nice long list of things to be accomplished. I am discovering that it helps me to make lists - so that I can physically see what needs to be done and worked on, and that it isn't really as much as I think, and therefore keeps me from becoming to overwhelmed.

My darling Alex bought me a new lawn mower for our anniversary, and girls out there, I know that you might be a little put off by an anniversary gift like that, but it was a gift I really appreciated. Alex and I have an agreement when it comes to caring for our home. I do the outside work (that I am physically capable of doing, since I'm only 5 feet tall and weigh 100 pounds) and he does the inside chores that I don't like to do - like vacuuming. Yuck. So I was really pleased with the new mower, which has a catch bag on it, which now means that I can finally collect the grass clippings to use for mulch around the veggie garden.

I had some gorgeous red leaf and buttercrunch lettuces growing in the back garden, and imagine my shock yesterday in the morning when I stepped out the back door and found a family of bunnies muching away on them! So much for our fresh salads! But I'm not discouraged, because Alex finally said we would stop putting off the building of the fence and it's officially on the to-do list for this weekend. Sometimes it takes a loss to get other things accomplished.

I got the corn planted this weekend, and transplated the Early Girl tomatoes into bigger pots. They're almost 6 inches tall now, with 6-8 leaves, so they made it out of that brutal cold snap and are very healthy now. Still not ready to leave the greenhouse, but soon!

Had one of my little impatient moments the other day and got frustrated over my sugar snap peas, because they haven't shown a single sign of bearing yet! So Alex said "When did you plant the seeds?" and I pulled out my journal and was reminded that I planted them on March 30, instead of March 17, like I've done in the past. They take 60-75 days to bear, so I've still got about 14 days before they will show signs of flowers and pods. Silly me, getting impatient. :) I apparently forgot that the principles of sowing and reaping are not just for my spiritual life.

There are tiny buds on the raspberries, flower heads on the onions and leeks, and lots of broccoli, carrot and beet tops pushing out of the dirt. The potatoes are simply astonishing - about two feet tall now and a gorgeous emerald green. I've been building up the mounds around the plants so they will have plenty of growing space. I'm pretty sure I'll have spuds to spare this fall, but I'm also looking ahead to winter, and anticipating quite a haul for the root cellar.

Well, there's a lot to do today, so I'll leave you with these few pictures, which I snapped quickly this morning before the storm blew in.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I don't like not being able to keep up with the things that I love. I love my handicrafts, my writing, my experiences in the kitchen and the garden. It's been difficult not to keep up with them. I feel as if I am losing my identity.

Sugar Snap Peas
I am happy to be working again, and I am satisfied with the job. But there are things I am not happy about. I have to push loans, credit card applications and other unnecessary things on customers every day, and yet, I have a moral gut check about it when I do. I am strongly against debt. I don't use credit cards anymore, and I am working hard to pay off all of our debts. We no longer make purchases with loans and credit - we go without if we can't afford it at that moment. I feel like many people feel this way too, and yet it is now my job to convince them otherwise. It makes me feel conflicted. I'm earning my paycheck by leading others into something I don't believe it myself.

Very healthy potatoes!!

So a few updates over the last few weeks - the weather has not improved at all. It has rained nonstop here in the midwest, although it isn't quite as bad as the south, where tornadoes have been wreaking havoc. Thunderstorms and unseasonable frosts have plagued our spring, and my seeds have struggled to come up. Few of them have actually germinated at all. I have several broccoli (which thrive in the cool weather), and a handful of carrot sprouts. The potatoes are marvelously healthy and growing taller every day.
The peas are 5 inches tall, and a perfectly delightful, shiny pale green; their little tendrils are vining around the cages and reaching toward the sun when it occasionally is so inclined to come out.

Raspberry Canes

Broccoli sprouting
 There are two strong seedlings of Early Girl tomatoes in the greenhouse and believe me, I am nursing them like sick babies. I pray for my heirlooms, since they haven't germinated yet. Even the beans and zucchini are refusing to put out any sprouts because of the temperatures.

I planted a few canes of raspberries, which will probably not fruit this year, but by next summer, it will be lovely to have fresh raspberries, and perhaps even make some raspberry jam.

I've spent my entire day off digging up weeds and nursing the greenhouse. There is so much to be done. There are new beds to be dug out and a lot of crabgrass that needs to be dug out. My lawn looks terrible - bald patches, mole hills, and lots of weeds.

Oh, and the sourdough starter was an EPIC FAIL. Shameful really. So much for that.