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Creative Edges

When I was in junior high I took my first art class, I was 12 years old. I had drawn some things that I copied from a book and was rather proud that I could copy them so skillfully. But a classmate saw them and told me that I couldn't do that, "You can't just copy someone else's picture, that's cheating." Being the thin-skinned, uber sensitive soul that I am (and navigating those horrific adolescent years at the time), I assumed that they also meant that I wasn't any good and shouldn't pursue art. And I must also be a bad person, for copying someone else's work. I definitely never questioned the source, the mean boy that was bullying me and telling me I was cheating. Surely he must have been right, I was no good. Never mind that this is exactly how the masters trained, from Rembrandt to Picasso, copying what others have done is how you learn. But my self-worth was broken and fragile, it took me 15 years to finally take another art class.

Fast forward to this past weekend, I spent all day Saturday encouraging some lovely women to reach toward their creative edges. What are those you ask? For me, it's a place that we can venture to that surprises us with new versions of ourselves ~ at least new versions of what we've been telling ourselves that we are. Often, the version of us that we think we are is based on what others in our lives have told us. We adopt and believe their versions without questioning whether they are true or not. For example, the one I hear over and over is "I don't have a creative bone in my body." This usually means that someone has decided they are not creative because they can't paint a painting like the Mona Lisa.

Did they go to art school? Did they spend hour upon hour learning about light and shadow, value, perspective, and composition? Were they encouraged to take figure drawing classes or did they have the money for the infinite number of art supplies needed to practice over and over, day after day? Did they spend months, years, COPYING the masters to learn the techniques and skills to paint something?

Because this is what it means to be creative, to paint a masterpiece?

Stick figures don't count. Ever.

I think you'll agree with me that this definition of creativity is pretty narrow. And that there are plenty of people out there ready to tell us that we are no good at whatever it is we're trying to learn. So we give up. We must not be creative. We must not be good enough.

I'd love to dispel this false tale. Because a lack of self-worth is really at the heart of it. It's not about skills, about being able to "do" something well, it's about not being good enough to even try. We've believed what others have told us we are, not having the resilience or strength to question the source.

What I really want is for more people to feel safe enough to try something new and creative and to have fun. Yet there are so many noisy voices clamoring around inside our heads ~ not to mention our families or even our friends ~ telling us we can't. And so to feel safe and to stretch into some personal unchartered territory is challenging and scary for a lot of us. It's an edge we'd rather not move towards thank you very much. (Hence, why it's so difficult for our family and friends to encourage us, because they're scared of that edge too.)

There's something else that I really want to share with as many people as I can ~ shout it from the proverbial rooftops as it were ~ creativity is a FEELING, it's not a product. It's the act of DOING something, not the end result. It's the PROCESS ~ of living ~ not a thing ~ in the end ~ that is "good" or "bad."

Does something you do make you come alive, bring you joy, make time evaporate? THAT is creativity! How often do we get to feel that way? Alive and joyful and free to explore?

But since so many of us have been told differently, if what you create isn't "good" then it's not worth it. You are not creative.

So back to creative edges. Edges, because, who wants to go over that precipice into free fall with no guarantee of a safe, soft landing where all will be Insta ready, and praise and fame and fortune will be ours?

My dream has been to create workshops and spaces and places where more of us can feel safe enough to find our creativity. I want self-worth and self-love to be a given, that it's something each of us can feel and experience every single day. In order to create these places of safety and creativity, I want to learn more. But that means I need to go toward my own creative edges too. So I signed up today for a training that will definitely challenge me, that will stretch me, and that will have me looking in the hidden corners where a lack of self-worth might still linger (I can tell you, yes, it definitely does still exist). And venturing towards my creative edge may mean that there will be 5 minute dance parties in my future workshops (insert introvert shudder here). Lol.

We are all creative. Full stop. I hope you'll find ways to reclaim your creativity, whether it's by playing with paint, or making a pie, or growing vegetables in your backyard. Go find that thing that makes you feel good while doing it, don't worry about the results!


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