How we spend our days is of course, how we spend our lives – Annie Dillard
Unfortunately, when we were born we did not come with an instructional manual on how to live our lives. We are all individuals with unique traits and circumstances. As we go through our days there can be a lot of trial and error. There are some principles though, that will serve all of us, especially in this crazy digital age.
As a creative type, I keep an arsenal of motivational reading nearby. The creative practice not often respected by our culture so I need all the cheerleading I can get. Thus said I was more than excited when Austin Kleon released his third book Keep Going about 10 days ago. I even preordered a copy, unusual for me. The tag line of the book is “10 ways to stay Creative in God Times and Bad.” If you’re sighing right now and saying “Too bad I’m not creative,” think again. We are all creative beings. With few exceptions, we all have opposable thumbs. That means we can make, cook, write, etc. If you have kids – that’s the ultimate creation. If the word ART trips you up, just insert the word LIFE or HUMAN.
Like Austin’s other books, Steal Like an Artist (on unlocking your creativity), and Show Your Work (on how to become known), this is a small affordable manual ($9 on Amazon). It’s an easy, read full of his entertaining graphics, photographs, and words of wisdom as well as some of his kids’ artwork. It’s divided into 10 chapters, shown below.
I have come to some of the same realizations as Kleon himself but it is so validating to see them in print. If you are in need of a reference in how to live and stay creative, or know someone that does, this is a good one. Worth a read, worth a place on your shelf!
“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” -Joseph Chilton Pearce
When I was a child I would sit down with a set of crayons and draw without much intention other than just being in the moment with my colors and paper. Painting was even better. There was nothing like afternoons in school where the math and reading were put aside for time standing at the easel with giant paper and pots of tempera paint. I remember painting with big fat brushes with long handles pictures of skies, big suns, houses, horses- the usual subjects for a little girl. The paintings I made were often brought home and gifted. There was not a lot of attachment to the pieces as there were always more paintings and drawings to come.
At some grade in school, the easels were put away and we were subtlety given the message that art was not important and academics were. Art was play, nothing to be taken too seriously. Good grades, college, and a career were.
May the beauty of your day, take your breath away – unknown
I’m in sort of a lull in a creative sense. My energies are spread elsewhere now that my husband is recovering from knee surgery. This period draws parallels to an experience I had with dormancy and reblooming…
It was a gift, an orchid plant for my desk at the end of my last school year before retirement. Six blooms of royal magenta, tinged with highlights of yellow cascaded down like the contour of a woman’s haughty hip. It was one of those grocery store variety orchids, nothing too out of the ordinary except for the color of the flowers. They positively glowed like a stained glass window in the light.
I absorbed the beauty of these blooms every day for weeks until each slowly shriveled, dried and dropped. I sadly removed their spent forms one by one. What was left were several deep green ovate leathery leaves and the tall, now naked flower stem in a plain clay pot.
“I just throw them away” a friend commented on my bloomless orchid. But I could not, the only crime of this plant needing rest after a grand performance. I remember my father saying that he got his orchids to bloom again. After enjoying such a spectacular show, I felt it a crime to sentence this plant to death in the compost pile.
I left the orchid on my bedroom window sill, watered it, and waited. Over a year passed and I realized that it probably needed special nutrients to bloom. I purchased some spray fertilizer just for orchids. In a few more months, I had a stalk full of orchid flowers to enjoy again. It is now in its third bloom.
This experience got me to thinking how we humans too need to be nurtured in life to bloom and then given periods of rest. This reminds me not to give up in dry times, be patient and to get the self-care I need to be creative. The compost pile of life awaits soon enough!