Monday, February 27, 2012

Creative Courage Re-Cap

Happy Monday! I spent most of the weekend unplugged and hope to have much to show and share this week. First, though, the current session of Stephanie Levy's Creative Courage e-course is finishing up (details and registration info on the next session can be found here), and since a couple people have asked me what I thought and how I've liked it, I thought I'd do a quick re-cap, along with sharing the questions and my answers from the final week's exercise (with Stephanie's permission).

I didn't do any research at all and joined this on a whim. Truthfully, I hadn't really thought about taking any e-course. I saw this one mentioned on a blog I read, clicked over, and signed up fairly soon after that. I had some Christmas know. It just sort of happened. It's possible there's a course out there that would seem spot-on just-right for me, and it's possible I could research them until the cows come home and never actually take one. Sometimes you just have to click "pay now" and be done with it, you know?!

So while there were parts of the class that didn't so much apply to me, I did know that going in, and I don't think that's necessarily a problem. It might apply later, who knows? I've certainly collected a lot of resources. And while I did recognize some names in the interview list, not recognizing any wouldn't have been a problem with me. It's nice to get a wide scope of different people with different life experiences--casting a wide net, you're bound to read an interview with someone who speaks to you.

I think I might have gotten more out of the course if I used Facebook, since there's a private group, and it sounds like lots of community discussion goes on there. But I don't use Facebook.

Anyway, on to the questions...

What would you love to learn? Be wild and daring. Please don't be "practical" or think "I could never do that." Your dreams of learning a new skill can tell you quite a lot about your deepest dreams.

Well, this one is tough for me, because historically, if I want to learn something, I do, and over the past decade, usually this means teaching myself, since I kept nursing babies into toddlerhood and not bothering with bottles, making classes more of a hurdle than just figuring it out on my own. I don't, in general, think there's something I can't learn if I really want to. So the most I could come up with here was quilting and screen printing. I was signed up for a local silk screening class, with learning how to burn the screens, even! But it was cancelled. And I'll get to quilting sooner or later. I signed up for a woodworking class at Squam simply because it's not something I already do. I'm like that.

When do you experience your most intense moments of flow and joy?

Well, okay, these are two different things, and I had to put some time into thinking about "flow," because the first definition that comes into my head involves the feeling of being out of time because you're so engrossed in what you're doing, and I can't do that. With three kids aged ten and younger, I rarely get an hour or two completely to myself with no chance of interruption. Even in the evenings, there's a chance of someone waking up or needing something. I do remember experiencing that out-of-time feeling when working on an art minor, specifically while drawing and in the darkroom, when hours upon hours could pass and I wouldn't feel hungry or tired or anything but involved and content. So then I thought, when do I feel such an itch to get to something that I just can't wait...what engrosses me most, even though I can't just ignore time? And I realized I like figuring out design problems. What's the best way to get what's in my head out into the world? I like the nitty-gritty--what's the math, for knitting? How to turn my son's request into an actual hat or sweater? What dimensions do I need to create a sewn book, how should I construct the pages, how to hold it together? Even something as simple as putting together a sewn headband--I enjoy figuring out how to do what I want, rather than searching for a pattern. Sometimes, of course, what results looks nothing like the image in my head. Then I try to figure it out again. I like the problem-solving.

Joy is all over the place, isn't it? Creatively, I guess it's simply the act of bringing forth an idea into reality, with my own hands. A skirt I dreamed up in my head and then sewed is so much more satisfying than sewing jammie pants for the kids from a pattern. I like that they have the jammie pants, of course, but one is pure product and the other is as much about the process as the final result.

How could you share these moments and your talents with others?

NO idea. I asked several people who know me well (funny, two of those people, I've never met in real life, but I still feel they know me well) what they might see me doing, in the creative sphere, that's more "job like." I think they all mentioned teaching kids and/or parents, among other things. My sister sees me as an art enabler when it comes to my kids, and I like that description. I think kids should get to do open-ended, process-oriented art, even the kind that makes a mess. I don't necessarily want most to facilitate that with other people's kids, although I would. I'd rather inspire their parents to do it themselves, if I was going to do anything in that direction.

I also like to share tutorials when I've made something I love.

Has anything changed in your life or in your way of thinking since starting this course seven weeks ago?

I'm trying to focus better. When I have an idea I jot it down, but I'm letting myself pursue more involved projects for a longer time now. For a long time I stayed away from anything that seemed too big, because I always feel like it's not a given I'll finish anything in a reasonable amount of time. Who cares? It takes the time it takes. But it also takes a commitment to focus, and although I wouldn't say I'm a flighty person overall, I do have a bit of art/craft ADD. I can't do everything that catches my fancy. At least not all at the same time.

I'm also continuing to think about what constitutes success for me personally. This has been an ongoing internal conversation, when I let it be. I think it might go hand-in-hand with being a mother who hasn't drawn a paycheck in nearly ten years now. It can be hard, sometimes, to keep my main goal front and center. It's not to impress anyone, or get into the alumni magazine, or get a lot of people to read my blog. It's to be a good mother. And while that's not my job, because that sort of implies I'll be involuntarily unemployed at some point (the whole point, after all, is to get them up and out, yes?), it's really my first priority. Part of that, of course, requires that I be a happy person, so that means making time for what, other than my children, feeds my soul. But my youngest is still young, and usually if I find the slightest bit of "oh, I wish I could do that" creeping in, it doesn't take long for me to recognize no, I don't really want to divide my time and energy right now. I've definitely been treated with less respect on occasion in the real world because I have nothing to answer the "What do you do?" question with, other than "I'm a mom." But ultimately, people like that don't get to measure my success. Only I get to do that. As I've read various interviews over the past seven weeks and thought about various possibilities for my own future, what's still clear is that I'm not looking to make any big changes right now.

However, I'm also continuing to try to be open to what might come my way, and to venture out of my comfort zone, which has definitely narrowed a bit in the past ten years. I am trying to be receptive to saying yes when the opportunity is there, even if I'm not to the point of actively trying to create opportunities. Yes can be as simple as finding a knitting group, finally, or taking a class, or joining an online's about widening my circle and being, well, open.

Also, I'm beginning to try out the word "artist." It sounds so pretentious at first go, so I hesitate. And I tend to think if I can do something, anyone can. I can sell myself short that way. But if I'm turning my unique vision (and of course it's unique; everybody's vision is) into a representation I can share, how is that not art? Not everything I create is art, of course. But I'm trying out the idea that some of it might be.

What will you do to support and encourage yourself as you now move forward with your creative dreams?

Well, I still don't know exactly what those might be! But these are the three things I jotted down:

1. Seek community (in real life, too)
2. Take time for myself to create
3. Be open


Well, if you've read this far, thanks for sticking through! If you've been thinking about Stephanie's course, if it calls to you, I hope you give it a try. (I don't get anything for saying that, so you know.) If nothing else, exposure to other people who are working on figuring things out, who are creative souls, can expand your idea of what's possible. That alone is pretty valuable.


Anonymous said...

Good questions! I would love to learn how to do traditional Japanese moku hanga woodblock printing. I pine for the money/time/freedom/tools/teacher to appear--someday! In the meantime I fantasize about having a Matrix style download of the necessary program--straight into my head!

Bells said...

this is great. Really great. Even if not all the course applied to you or spoke to you, lots of it got you thinking. And I reckon that with three kids and all that entails, the need to really channel your creativity is vital.

I find that with working full time and having life responsibilities. No one's going to hand creative time to me on a plate.

And having ways to go forward, seeking community (and claiming the word artist!!) is great. Good to focus. Well done.

Sally said...

Thank you for sharing all these thoughts and reflections. Yes. Artist. An awkward and uncomfortable word indeed ... I think you'll be able to learn to wear it.
Focus. Ah yes. My partner has been chanting that word at me all week and has been coaching me to do better. This is such an easy word to say but for me personally such a great challenge to live. If I was a horse my rider would be putting blinders on me for sure!!!