You Deserve Creative Expression (yes, you!)
If you’ve known me for a while, you know I’m into all sorts of creative endeavors. When I write it down like that, it can seem like a #humblebrag, but in reality, it has felt like one of my biggest business failures and personal insecurities.
It has taken me years and lots of personal work to embrace the many different ways I love to express myself, and to not be afraid to share that with others, because it’s who I am! I’m 32, and I’m just now coming back around to that wild, free young girl Sam who knew she wanted to be and do lots of things in this one life. Even she had an understanding that one could do different things in different seasons, or multiple things in the same season, and the main person you should aim to please with your creative expression is yourself!
Maybe you have a different story with creative expression than mine. Maybe you feel creative but it’s not your career. Or maybe you’ve always felt like the friend who wasn’t great at anything, not super artistic, or better at supporting than envisioning or making. I have a few dear friends who might put themselves in that category.
One person that comes to mind who often says, “I’m just not creative!” is my gem of a human being mother-in-law, Elizabeth. She will often ask for help with decorating or organizing her home, or helping pick out a great outfit for an event, because she “just doesn’t have the eye.” But you know what I see in her?? IMMENSE creativity! If you have had the honor of receiving a handwritten note from her, you know she pens the most honest, encouraging words, and often includes prayers or words she feels like she’s hearing from God for you (helloooo, creativity!) She uses creativity when she thinks about the people in her life and how she can best love or bless them. She thinks ahead and makes creative plans with loved ones just to spend time and make memories, often including a delicious meal that’s perfect for the season. All of that? Creativity!
My friend Justina, who art designs and writes for the Cultivate magazine from the Cageless Birds Collective, wrote a beautiful piece on the difference between being a creative and being an artist. She explains that to be an artist is to create art as your occupation, but to be a creative is a God-given quality in every person, and is not only inherent in your make-up, but is your RIGHT as a human! She writes:
“Your calling as a human is to live a creative life. To marry creativity to the place you invest your time, whether it be as a mother, a pastor, a teacher, a lawyer or a painter. your right as a human is to tap into ingenuity, which is synonymous with creativity, and complete your calling and dreams with excellence. Excellence requires creativity. If your work is void of creativity, then you are one of two things - performing or terribly bored.”
A couple of years ago, I was in the middle of a quickly scaling small business doing on-site hair and makeup, and it was doing very well. I loved the creativity of styling hair and doing someone’s makeup, and learning all of the creativity and hard work that goes into just running a small business. But I really missed some of the other creative expressions that would naturally come out of the breathing room of my life. I had no breathing room, and I kept telling myself, “I can’t put out music now, no one cares,” or “I know I want to become a writer, but I don’t know how to do that and this.”
I had a choice. I could keep going and be unfulfilled and somewhat untrue to myself, but have lots of followers, a business that made sense to people, and no end of clients for hair and makeup.
I could do the scary but much more exciting, fulfilling, and healthy thing.
So if you’ve seen me writing and releasing music and still doing hair and makeup - that’s why. It’s not seamless, but I am a lot happier and healthier! And BONUS: you get to know me more fully as who I am!
Of course, creative expression does’t need to become a business or anything public. It could just be you at home, leaning into something creative that brings you joy. Is that writing? Poetry? Painting? Collaging? Planning and planting a garden? Making a beautiful meal?
The pressure comes off when you realize that who you are is creative! Suddenly, there is a world of possibilities for you to enjoy just for for the enjoyment of it! Ask yourself now - What do I enjoy creating? Jot those things down!
We weren’t meant to be robots, totally productive, efficient, and timed. We were meant to breathe life into new ideas, to partner with that spark, and to get lost in the joy of creative expression. It’s part of a healthy life and connection between your body, soul, mind, and spirit!
If regular creative expression is not part of your life right now, or if you’re out of habit, here are a few tips to begin easily infusing creative expression into more of your days!
Include it as a part of your down time
Is that first thing in the morning, before bed, or in those few nameless afternoon moments? Do you have more of a weekly down time, like a Sunday? Whether you enjoy reading, journaling, or meditating, include a little blip of creative expression in there as well. It doesn’t have to be long! Set a timer for 5 minutes to start. If you don’t have a regular down/quiet time, consider this your permission to gift yourself a protected moment to settle down from the noise of life!
Make a special place of your own
In the book The Life Giving Home, Sarah Clarkson explains a routine from her childhood home wherein each person in the family had a special place where they would retreat daily for one hour in the afternoon for unbothered time alone. Doesn’t that sound fantastic? It might be a corner of a bedroom, or a closet, or a special chair in the living room - but each person had their space, complete with books to read, journals, paper to color on, or crafts.
Do you have a basket or drawer in your home, or a special corner, where creative expression could be close at hand for you? Create a small pile or goodie basket, stick it in a special place, and set a date and time where you can spend a moment unbothered!
Set the atmosphere, put down distractions
Setting the atmosphere might seem like extra work, but I promise that it will be a gift for yourself! Light a candle/diffuse oil, put on your favorite tunes, grab a yummy beverage, and most importantly, put your phone away! Put it in a drawer so it’s out of sight, and if you’re concerned about time, just set yourself a little timer!
If you feel at a loss of how you might express yourself creatively, take note of what types of art/entertainment you’re inspired by! Do you get inspired by certain music at a certain time? Make a playlist! Are you inspired by landscapes or a walk in the woods? Maybe try to capture the scene with words or a sketch in your journal. Make note of the things you’re inspired by, and take a little extra time to lean into it with your own expression.
You were made for creativity and expressing yourself! It connects you to God, yourself, and others more fully. I hope this week, you get a few minutes to enjoy creativity!
Cheers to having fun, getting lost, and making something just for the delight of it!