Thursday, October 27

52 Weeks of Creativity: Week 3, Crafting With My Middle Kiddo

Hi, Friends! 

Hello from rainy Buffalo (: 

If you missed my post last week, I’m beginning a personal project called 52 Weeks of Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood. 

(It could be stretched to “Parenthood”  for the dads out there. You needn’t be excluded!)

I’m doing a little bit of catch up  here…Last week was Week 3 of the 52 Weeks of Creativity (I still need to write posts for weeks 1 and 2). Today’s post is about my intentional creative endeavor during Week 3 (last week). I will  always be one week behind because of the nature of the project. I'm going to try to get my new posts up on Mondays, but I can't promise that will always happen. 

I am currently in week 4 and had the pleasure and privilege of attending a Q & A with Ann Voskamp last night, which I will write about for my post on Monday! (What an absolute delight she is, and you should absolutely check out her new book, which I'll tell you a little bit more about next week!) 

So, without further adieu...

52 Weeks of Creativity: Week 3, Crafting with My Middle Kiddo

Week 3 ended up being an afternoon out with my 7 year old girlie, Ella. She’s 7 and loves all things creative and colorful. Scott and I try to do one-on-one’s with the big girls as often as possible. It’s not nearly often enough, but we try. We’re trying to get into a new rhythm where we each take one of them out once a month, so this month I had Ella and he is planning to do something with Ava—next month we'll switch! The one-on-one can be as simple as grabbing a cup of tea at Panera and just talking, having an early morning  (before-school) breakfast, or something a bit more adventurous,  like craft classes or rock climbing. The goal isn’t what we do, it’s just that we do it. 

(We’ll fit Aubrey into the mix when she gets a little bit older, but right now I’m home with Aubrey a lot during the day, so she gets to spend time with me while the girls are at school.)  

So, last Saturday Ella and I ventured out to place in Clarence called Creative Essence. The shop offers adult and children’s classes, as well as birthday parties and open crafting. Because there weren’t any classes that suited our time frame last week we opted to go during  their “open crafting” hours (posted online). Open craft hours allow you to choose from a number of projects in a variety of mediums— from soap and jewelry making, to needle felting, paper crafts and polymer clay projects. If you live in the area you should absolutely check it out.

Ella chose to make a  polymer clay fairy sitting on a painted wooden swing. Super cute! 

It was a fun project and I enjoyed sitting by her side, helping when asked. Michele, one of the owners, gave us a quick demo and then left us to do the project, available if we needed any help. Ella and I had a ton of fun picking clay colors for her fairy and learning how to work with the clay, particularly the small detailed bits of her projects (like the eyes, arms and legs). 

We learned how soften the clay to get it ready by rolling it in our hands, how to run it through the clay press to flatten it out, and how tricky it can be to meld some of the pieces together. I had no idea many cool polymer clay ideas were out there, but after a quick online search I have a feeling there will be more clay projects in our future! Once you create your fairy, or bug, or ball, or whatever it is you've made, the clay bakes in the oven to help it set, making the project  more permanent. 

Here is a photo of Ella with her completed fairy project, and some other photos of the process... 

My favorite part of the day was the ride home, when Ella, completely enthusiastic about her recently created project had oodles to say about art and creativity. 

“Mom! That was SO much fun. I LOVE art. I love that you can start with nothing, a blank page, or just nothing and take stuff, like sparkles or whatever and make something cool.” 

She was beaming. 

I love that too Ella! (:

I told her that it reminded me a little bit of the story of creation. How God started with a blank slate and created the world; animals, flowers, vegetables, humans in all of their bazillion variations. He created it all from nothing. Nothing! 

He breathed life into the world with mere words— as a writer, the mystery and miracle of  that reality is comforting, exciting, encouraging and motivating. When God breathed you into creation with His words it was with intention, and to bring a new and unique beauty into the world. What beauty, life, contribution has He written on your soul to bring forth and express--His creativity shown through you? 

Part of the intent of this project, for me,  is to explore that question on a more personal level. 

Be blessed. Be a blessing. Do something creative this week! 

Friday, October 21

52 Weeks of Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood: An Introduction

photo courtesy of google images

This is the beginning, the first post, in a yearlong pursuit to integrate more creativity into my day-to-day life as a mom: 52 Weeks of Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood. 

I’ve hemmed and hawed about whether or not I should make such a big commitment because the type-A part of me will certainly be frustrated if I don’t follow through.  However, after much consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is important, and worthwhile, and will hopefully impact not just mine, but my family’s life, for the better. 

 I’ve always considered myself a “creative” person. As a little girl I could be found drawing, learning to crochet with my grandmother, asking my mom for pottery kits at Christmastime and spending time on needlepoint projects in 5th grade. I loved colors and crafts, patterns and projects. Art classes fueled something inside of me that no other pursuit could tangibly accomplish. I wrote poems to my parents and friends, drew pencil drawings of tigers for family members, and spent hours making ornaments and yarn angels for craft shows.  My dad still has one of my pencil drawn sunflowers hanging in his bedroom.  

In recent years my creativity has been mostly focused on writing projects and craft projects with the kids in the limited free time that I've had. But, in the last two years, I've found myself too tired even for that on some days. 

This parenting gig, you know,  it’s kind of a big deal and a serious time commitment. If you can't "do it all" (and really, who can?!) it's often the things we love the most (after our kids, of course!) that begin to feel irrelevant and have to be sidelined. Children don’t tend to respond well when you tell them that there’s no dinner or clean socks for the next three days because you have a paper mache project begging to be finished.  

I’m kidding. 

Kind of. 

The reality is that when I first became a mom I was incredibly enthusiastic about a lot of things; especially craft projects that helped to pass the long hours at home with toddlers and preschoolers .  I took my creative instincts, marched myself into Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics and the craft aisle at Target and started buying crafty paraphenalia like it was nobody’s business; markers, crayons, paint, sequins, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, craft sticks, stickers, scrapbook supplies, colored paper, beads, yarn, seven different kinds of glue, blank greeting cards…you name it, I bought it. 

The sky was the limit and craft stores offered me an endless array of options for filling what were sometimes very long days.  We painted, made collages, stuck foam craft kits together, attempted homemade bracelets, mod podged things like leaves to the the side of baby food jars to make seasonal votives, dumped glitter and glue onto construction paper, chalk drawings on black card stock…the list goes on. Fortunately, at that point, either Pinterest hadn’t totally taken off or I was living in too much of a bubble to pay attention, otherwise we might have had to declare bankruptcy due to craft store expenditures. 

But then one day, about two years ago, I walked into Michael’s on a random afternoon and was no longer enthusiastic about being there.  As I roamed up and down the aisles that evening,  I realized how tired, unenthusiastic, and overwhelmed I was. Was this the simply a case of the craft store blues or something bigger that I needed to pay attention to? Who knew a case of subtle depression could come to a head in the bead aisle?!  I didn’t want to buy one more thing. Not one more! It no longer represented possibilities, but potential messes. Lots of them. I didn’t want to buy the stuff, store the stuff, or clean the stuff up. I was DONE! 

In part I was just really tired. Aubrey, our third daughter was one and the day-to-day grind of meeting the needs of three kiddos had taken its toll. I wasn’t reading very much (one of my favorite pastimes), I dreamed of writing something more structured than a tired journal entry at the end of the day, and there were unfinished house projects and never-ending piles of mess everywhere I looked.

 I was in a bit of a funk. 

Scott and I have joked that after having baby #1 we eventually found a new normal. After having baby #2 we also, eventually, found a new normal. Can you guys what happened after baby #3? Never found it. No "new normal". Or, perhaps we actually did find it, but weren't sure we liked the pace of it. The no sleep, never ending domestic tasks, around the clock parenting responsibilities. We both got a little cranky for a while. 

Quite frankly, I can’t say that things have changed that much since then, except that we’ve adjusted to life as a family of five and we’re getting a little bit more sleep…well, once in a while we get a little more sleep. Our littlest one somehow finds herself in our bed way more than her big sisters ever did, but somehow because she's the "baby" we can't bear to send her back to her own bed!  

The truth is that despite adjusting to the busier family dynamics I’ve grown much more comfortable, content and confident in my role as mother.  I’ve done a lot of deep spiritual work over the last two years and can honestly tell you I feel a deeper sense of peace about life in general. God has healed places in my heart that I didn’t even know needed healing and I’m humbled by it and grateful for it. 

I’m not sure how all or this ties together, except that two weeks ago, when I attended the Breathe Writers Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan and then several days later  when I had the opportunity to see Finding Neverland with my husband, a sense of urgency for the creative was reignited in my spirit. In both instances I was awed by the power of the creative and compelled to craft a more creative life for both myself and my family. 

This project came out of those moments of inspiration. 

I started a list of “creative pursuits” in my journal and have been reading our newspaper's  entertainment section with a renewed fervor. In recent years I would read through the list of plays, readings, and art shows in a given week and merely think about how it 'might be fun' to attend such outings. Rarely would I make the time to actually do so. Over the next year however, as part of this project,  I am committed to finding 52 creative things to do--basically, one per week, though they may not fall into place with consistent weekly structure. We'll see. 

I decided to cut myself some slack and allow the writing conference and the play (Finding Neverland) to count as part of my 52 things--so, 50 more to go!  I plan to bring the girls alongside on some of the jaunts and other things will be more solitary pursuits. The reality is that some weeks may simply be a coloring page from an "adult" coloring book. Nevertheless, I am committed to spending at least an hour each week doing something creative I would not have otherwise tried. 

I will post photos once a week here and on Facebook. I should probably figure out how to use Instagram, but that’s a conversation (perhaps a creative endeavor!) for another day. 

There are a lot of other things on my mind in regards to all of this creativity stuff; great quotes, books I want to read, and deeper questions I’ve been pondering like “Is creativity a calling?” and “Is it worthwhile when there are so many important matters and responsibilities to spend our time on?” 

I can tell you that my initial answers are “Yes,” and “Yes!” but, more to come on that. 

I hope you’ll join me in the journey. Read along, craft along, decide to do something crazy and creative yourself. I believe that God, in His infinite creativity created all of us with a creative spirit. Not only is the pursuit of creativity, in any form,  a way to discover things about yourself, but it can be an opportunity for fellowship as well. Perhaps most importantly, if our creativity is heavenly and holy minded it can bring a much needed beauty into the world-- a beauty that reflects the glory of God. 

Our world could use a little bit more beautiful right now. 

So, here's to crafting our way to a happier, and hopefully somehow holier, creative life.