I spoke to a group of women a couple of weeks ago and my talk focused on creativity.  A few months before I was having drinks with a friend who is a designer and we were talking about what I should do next.  She said, “When you’re creative, you just have to see where the energy takes you.” I agreed with her sentiment, but I thought she was talking about herself.  I waited for the segue into her advice for me, then I realized that she thought I was creative.

It’s not how I thought of myself.  I thought of myself as organized, administrative, logical. This one conversation sent me down a path, less of discovery than recognition. I began to think about how we have these invisible tags safety-pinned to our psyche and how they steer us and inhibit us as we move through our lives.

When I write I know that I will start from a place of chaos and that, eventually – usually just on or past deadline – everything will click in my head and I will begin to rearrange the words that had henceforth been higgledy-piggledy into some sort of order.

But when I decorate or draw or paint, I often begin in insecurity.  I begin convinced that I won’t be able to do it, but that I can always tidy up whatever mess I make. This is how I felt after the daisies.  That the entire project was all wrong. That I could not do it.  That I was in over my head. Very clearly, I knew that I was not an artist.

What I did was not give up, but keep going.  I’m less fearless than stubborn. I realized later, that this adjective – creative – that I refused to give myself, was based less in reality than in a poorly defined concept of what it is to create.  As we look at paintings and the glossy pages of magazines, we forget that things do not always go well the first time.  The best outcomes are often the result of painting over, of trying again, of recognizing our shortcomings and giving it another go. What a shame it would have been to give up because of a few unfortunate daisies and never know the joy of having a pink dining room decorated with enormous blooms.

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9 thoughts on “Blooming

  1. Truer words were never spoken, it can be so easy to just give up; however it is the accomplishment, the reach, the consistent effort, and creativity, that gets it done!

    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Sandra Goroff

  2. You are creative. Your dining room will be fabulous.

    Creativity may be a gift (some think so) but it still requires practice, just like any other skill.

    In my experience, for what little it's worth, almost nothing goes perfectly the first time.

  3. "Invisible tags safety-pinned to our psyches," wow, a zinger of an insight and wonderfully put. While there are amazing outliers who can do something with remarkable skill the very first time, most of us, from chemists to chefs, CPAs to MFAs, need lots of practice, and that means lots of "mistakes." And then there are the unexpected paths those "mistakes" can lead us down…Your new path lifts me up, and makes me smile.

  4. Very strong! My own creative failures are too numerous to list, but in my own plodding way, I keep going.

    BTW, that mirror made my heart beat a little faster.

  5. YOU? NOT creative? Are you kidding me? All the decorative painting you've done in your houses, your painting of needlepoint canvases? If that isn't creative, what is?

    Those messages/tags in your mind remind me of the pop psych book from the 70's about transactional analysis. Those are "parent messages" and sometimes we get good ones from our parents and sometimes we get highly critical ones. If we got the later, we have to re-parent ourselves and give us GOOD messages. Perhaps that's what you need to do with believing you're not creative.

    The DR is gorgeous! The scale is perfect and it's just a knockout. I'd love to see more pictures, including the table etc. Keep up the creative, Patricia!

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