Maintaining a Creative Life as an Adult

My husband says I’m insecure about my ability to live a creative life, and that I need a lot of validation. He’s right.

But I wasn’t always so wishy-washy.

Every-child-is-an-artist

Creative Life Image Credit: Quozio

 

When I first came to faith in the Lord as an 11 year old, a whole new world of possibilities opened up to me. I believed 110% that I could do anything and that included living a creative life. And so I dreamed big dreams and had the blessing of seeing those dreams come to fruition.

 

Creative Life Image Credit: marganz

Yet as I got older, those school teacher voices of doubt and conformity riddled my brain with thoughts like:

“Color in the lines.”

“Forget that acting thing and major in Economics. That’ll get you a secure job in something like investment banking.” (?!)

“You can’t make a real living as an artist.”

I bought into those beliefs and paid for it dearly with years of unfulfilling work which didn’t feed my soul. As a result, I shortchanged myself artistically during my twenties. That young girl who once dreamed big dreams had been squelched by the illusory “real world.”

Now, as I take steps towards a creative life, I have to overcome this inner struggle with myself daily.

Am I really smart? Am I really creative? Can I really do that?

All of my self-inquiries are really questions of: Am I worthy? Am I brilliant? Am I talented? Am I fabulous? Am I beautiful?

As an adult, I am learning daily to accept what I had already known as a child: that I am, in fact, worthy, brilliant, talented, fabulous and beautiful.

I’m learning to get out out of my own way.

How about you? Do you know that you are brilliant, fabulous, talented and beautiful? Or do you have to get out of your own way?

On How I Was Almost Too Chicken To Graduate from College

The pool opened early Monday morning for my nine o’clock Beginner’s Swimming class. I spent the weekend biting my nails in angst over what I knew I had to do that Monday—jump into the deep end of the pool in order to pass swimming.

But I was a wimp.

I watched as my classmates ahead of me flew off the diving board, plunged hundreds of feet deep (okay, not hundreds, but it looked like hundreds of feet) and floated up to the surface. They didn’t flinch.

This wasn’t the case for me. I trailed the end of the line and mentally concocted ways to shirk this mandatory (and, in my 21 year old opinion, crazy) graduation requirement. To graduate from the college I had poured years of labor into, I had to not only read the Great Books…but swim?

My fearless best friend passed the swim test our first week in freshman year. As a freshman, I didn’t know how to swim, and I didn’t want to learn. Give me a fifty page paper to write in Spanish and I could do it. Drown me in a sea of books to read, and I could fly through them and give you a point by point analysis of each. But swim? Never.

So I avoided this requirement until the last possible moment: spring semester my senior year.

The line shortened. I bent my knees and pretended to rev up for the big plunge.

Bend, straighten. Bend, straighten.

After a couple of bends, I was shot.

“Edwards. You’re up.” (Edwards is my maiden name.)

My swim teacher, five feet four and super athletic, reminded me of the Catholic school nuns from my high school. He didn’t hesitate to penalize me for my flinches, hesitations and missteps.

But I couldn’t do it. I stepped away from the diving board.

“Edwards. If you don’t jump, I’ll flunk you.”

Flunk. The word dangled in front of me as anathema, pure heresy. Don’t know why. I had flunked many classes during my prodigal daughter years. But when I had flunked  in the past, it was due to jadedness. Jaded people were numb people, didn’t care either way.

If I flunked now, it would be due to fear. Fearful people absorbed the full brunt of life’s bee stings and beneath that fatty layer of fear, they cared.

My heart crumbled. I wanted to jump. I really, really did.

“Edwards. You’re not going to drown. If you drown, I’ll catch you.”

You’re not going to drown…If you drown…

Sounded like an oxymoron to me.

Moments later, I stepped onto the board. My heart stuttered but I was more determined this time. I bent my knees and straightened.

Bend.

Straighten.

Bend.

Straighten.

Bend!

“Edwards!!”

With one blind motion, I flung my one hundred and fifteen pound body from the board. As I fell, cold air sliced through me. Then a shock of water swaddled me. I stiffened and inhaled the H2O.

Hold your breath.

I listened to that Voice and my body relaxed. Soon after, the water which I had feared would kill me, carried me.

Carried me back to the surface.

“Nice job, Edwards.”

My Spartan swim teacher paid me a compliment? I smiled.

Weeks later I received my shiny new Bachelor’s degree written in fancy Latin.

Here’s the thing: people jump off of diving boards every day and no one cares.

It wasn’t until someone hesitated, someone like me, that others got involved. Those others may laugh at you, cheer for you, or threaten academic failure.

I am standing on the edge of the diving board again and staring at a blank journal waiting to be filled with…

I won’t know until I take the proverbial plunge.

Oh sure, I can hold on to the highs and lows of past years: 2013, 2012, 2011, 201o, etc. But that would be chicken. And it’s the dawning of a new day.

A time to push through insecurities and face my fears.

Fears about being a good enough mom.

Fears about being a good enough writer.

Fears about being a good enough me.

Bend, straighten.

Bend, straighten.

Bend, jump!

I hope you push through your insecurity and fully face your fear. Because there’s a still small Voice waiting to guide you, and comforting waters ready to carry you…

If you jump.

The Movie I Saw Before I Read the Book: The Book Thief

One of the books I plan to read is “The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak. I put the book on hold at my local library, but, lo and behold, 44 other people in my town have also put the book on hold. While waiting for my turn to read it, I decided to watch the movie the other night. (SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read the rest of this blog post, if you don’t want to know details of the story.)

“The Book Thief” takes place during Nazi Germany, and it tells the story of a girl name Liesel who learns to read with the help of her foster father. Her zeal for the written word grows and she starts stealing books to satiate her love of reading. Many of the books which she steals are banned by the Nazi regime. She starts sharing these books with Max, a Jewish man hidden in her basement. When Max becomes deathly ill, Liesel reads Max many of those stolen books–and those words keep him alive.

Later on in the story, Max gives Liesel a present: a blank journal. On the first page of the journal Max inscribed one word in Hebrew:

לכתוב 

It means “write.” Max then says:

“In my religion, we’re taught that every living thing, every leaf, every bird is only alive because it contains the secret word for life. That’s the only difference between us and a lump of clay, a word. Words are life, Liesel. All those blank pages are for you to fill.”

Watching this scene reminded me of that lovely passage in Genesis: “The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen 2:7). John later wrote: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

The only difference between us and a lump of clay is a word. His word breathes physical life into every living creature, and He gives humans the unique gift of language. In this way, we are created in His image.

If I think about this too much (which I am by virtue of the fact that I am writing this post), I feel guilty because I don’t always use my words for good. I have torn down my own self and others through my words.

Yet there have been times, awesome times, when I have committed my mouth and my pen to the Word and the opposite occurred.

I have spoken encouragement to myself and, slowly but surely, emerged from the fog of  depression.

I have scribbled endless gobbledy-gook in my journal and, surprisingly, something of beauty comes across the page. (This surprise causes me to plunge into another black hole of gobbledy-gook to search for more word-treasure. Such is the life of a writer.)

Language is our great and terrible privelege; life and death are in the power of the tongue. Just as Max gave Liesel a blank book to fill with words, the Word has given us a blank span of years to fill with words, both written and verbal, fully knowing we could use them as tools or as weapons. Humbling.

Our tongues are the pen of a ready writer (Psalm 45:2) and, like Max said to Liesel, all those blank pages are for us to fill.

Each day He calls us to write.

Question for You: Are you happy with the life story which you are writing right now? If so, please share. If not, what could you do to rewrite it?

 

 

 

 

Mom’s Mortality

Since becoming a mother..or maybe since hitting the big 3-0, I’ve been pondering death…not in a morbid way but in an “Oh my gosh, I’m getting older and before I know it I’ll be thinking about things like menopause and osteoperosis and wrinkles and then my body will hit the dirt…my spirit will rest in Jesus..and sometime after that I’ll stand before God to give an account for what I’ve done with the time He’s alloted me” sort of way.

I can be intense sometimes.

To deal with my not quite mid life crisis, I’ve started recording my life. I take pictures. I track my activities in journals: food I eat, times I exercise, pages I write, prayers I send to The Man Upstairs. With journaling, I can get all that mental intensity out of my brain and onto the page. After a few months of this however, it became too cumbersome and disorganized. I’d have pages written in one notebook, more pages written in another notebook. My notebooks haphazardly covered multiple topics: motherhood, prayers, writing exercises etc. Journaling became a messy exercise for me.

So after accepting the fact I’m a left brained, creative person (go figure), I started searching for a journal that’s quick, easy and organized. Last November, I found a way to systemically keep track of all this…life…that passes through my fingers via seconds, minutes, hours, and days. I want to know if I’m growing. Or if I’m still struggling with the same tendencies I had as a flighty teenager…or as a flighty twenty nine year old.

I purchased a five year journal to track my motherhood journey and a ten year journal to track other aspects of my life. Each journal is only four lines so I can record something in a few minutes. The cool thing about multi year journals is when I return to that day’s page next year, I can reread what I wrote in the prior years. For my motherhood journal, I have a five year Mom’s One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book For the other aspects of my life, I have a Journal 10+ for my ten year journal.

When I’m feeling more verbose and need to write for more than four lines, I use the following:

*A Family Gratitide Journal

*Personal Prayer Journal

*Writing Journal

What type(s) of journal do you keep? How do you record your sojourning on this earth?

Courage

“And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you. Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left; That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them” (Joshua 23:5-7, KJV)

It takes courage to follow after God, especially when we want to follow our on path!  I remember having to make some tough decisions over the past few years regarding my career choices, how I spend my time and money and even what activities I should focus on at different times in my life. My choices were always easier and foolproof. The choices I felt God leading me to make didn’t make any sense at all. Sometimes, I ignored Him and I felt the repercussions in extra stress and headache. Other times, following His patth has called on me to develop courage – but it resulted in peace!

There are a lot of things in this world to pull us in many different directions. If we aren’t courageous to follow God’s path, the road less traveled, we may feel the world’s instant gratification but it’ll eventually turn to dust.

Have you had to make any difficult choices between what you wanted and what you felt God wanted? What did you do about it?