Thursday, May 18, 2017


I've been easily discouraged these days, but I've also recently been so easily buoyed and rescued by some awesome stories of creative journeys. There is a documentary series called 'Abstract' on Netflix, (which I watch slowly while washing the dishes! or meal prep!) and it helps me feel surrounded by long-suffering and hard-working creative people. I also recently got to watch Episode 1 of Season 3 of the Chef's Table, which features Jeong Kwan, the buddhist nun in South Korea, who approaches her cooking as a spiritual practice. It was a beautiful episode and I took note when she said this:

"Creativity and ego cannot go together. If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly. Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment. You must not be your own obstacle. You must not be owned by the environment you are in. You must own the environment, the phenomenal world around you. You must be able to freely move in and out of your mind. This is being free. There is no way this won't open up your creativity, when there is no ego to speak of. "

With these things buzzing in my mind, I made a list of ways that I practice my creativity these days: 

1. This blog: The process of writing for this can be therapeutic, the documentation is precious, and I have found the work of keeping up with it to be a really valuable creative discipline.  I also love how it helps keep me connected to family and friends far away.

2. Taking photos: If I had more time and money this is the thing that I would pour more into right now. I enjoy doing it so much and I have so many ideas and ways I to grow, but realistically, this is happening in incremental measures. In the meanwhile, I do try to take out my big camera when I can and I am always glad for it.

3. Making videos: Editing and compiling videos has always been fun for me, and this is another one that I am getting more excited about for the sake of documenting our family especially. I learn something every time I do it, and I'm hoping to save enough money for a nice tripod and other things that will help me improve this process.  This is also something Ken enjoys doing and I have all these ideas about things we should make together!

4. Podcasting: This endeavor has been really gratifying so far. I get to brainstorm about this project with Ken, which feels incredibly creative and making content to put out there in the world is so satisfying. Sometimes I feel stifled by consuming so much content everyday (there are just so many wonderful things to consume!) that I think I was itching to be engaged in the practice of actually creating content and putting it out there regularly, even if the content isn't perfect. It's the act of trying, doing our best, and putting it out regularly (like this blog!) that is the fuel to keep doing even more of the creative thing.

5. Playing pretend with Sloane: I learn SO much from engaging in pretend play with Sloane. She teaches me about who she is and about playing for the sake of play and nothing else. Sometimes spending time with Sloane can mean planning something, which has its creative place too, and sometimes it means just letting go and having her lead me.

6. Event planning: I've talked about this before, but event planning really requires creativity! It's a type of creativity that includes thinking about what would work best for the event, the people involved, the space, and the budget. Many times you have to think outside the box (usually that's the most gratifying) and you have to make several decisions and just go with it.

7. Painting: I used to do more of this (the photo about is a painting that I did during my watercolor/charcoal phase…10 years ago!) but it hasn't happened in any substantive way for a long time. Recently, I got Sloane some watercolors and she has loved doing it, and so have I! I get to spend an hour just painting and talking with her when we do this, and it is pleasurable for both of us.

8. Playing piano: I love my piano. I love that it lives with us and that is available for Sloane to tinker around with it and for her to play her made up songs on. This is another one that I don't get to do that much, but when I do it is totally invigorating for my soul. I used to write a lot of songs, and last year I planned an open mic night at our house, partly to motivate myself to write something, which I did! So maybe I do another one of those soon.  Turns out, having to share my creative work is a good motivator for me to actually do the thing.

9. Decorating/Homemaking: This is another one where creativity gets employed because of the way you have to be innovative and sometimes imaginative with the resources you have for the needs of your family - practically and aesthetically.  This is really fun for me and although sometimes I lament about the lack of funds to do such and such, it is the making something beautiful and functional with limited resources that is usually the fun and satisfying part.

10. Creative writing: This is one that I have done the least of, but that I am most curious about. I start here and there, doodle around, experiment, lose my nerve, push it away, try something and hate it, abandon it and then come back to it to try again. I really want to grow here and I think this is what that growing process can look like. This reminds me of this awesome video I saw the other day of Ira Glass's words (on Storytelling, via Lisa) that I encourage all of you to see!! Of working towards being good at a creative thing, he says something like, "It is going to take a while....You're just going to have to fight your way through it!" 

This is me, fighting my way. 

This is the six installment of my ramblings about creativity. (The first five were: Thinking About CreativityCreating InvigoratesCreativity in Community, Creativity as Connection.)

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