Creativity and birthdays

So it was my birthday in mid December and my gift to me (because quite frankly at my age, who better knows what I want than I?) was a day built around creativity. At this point in December I know I’m not the only one who feels like their tank is running on fumes. The sense that I was running after a bus I’d never catch was huge. Under slept, over fed at too many parties and with sickness in the house, my mind kept screaming out for “rest”.
Rest isn’t always sleep though, and I’m not the sort of person who gets ‘rest’ from watching TV or reading a book so much. I believe the important thing to know about yourself is what rest means to you and what that rest gives you.
To me, rest means a break. A rest between activities means I get a break. But a rest also means to me that I come back with renewed energy. If I’ve rested, then I’m rejuvenated. Refreshed.
For my birthday this year I managed to set aside a whole day without a single real commitment for someone else in it. As I saw my birthday approaching, with nothing scheduled I took a deep breath. What did I need? What would be a gift for me? What would I give myself?

I looked back for the answer. I looked to my own past while asking the question:

‘What in the past has made me refreshed and rejuvenated. What activities in the past fed me?’
‘Artistic projects involving my hands’ was my answer.

I have quite a history of creating what my husband kindly calls ‘folk art’. At my cottage I painted a maple leaf border by hand and in oils. Around a mirror, I did falling brightly painted autumn leaves. On the underbelly of the fold up loft stairs I recreated my grannies patchwork quilt in acrylics. Although in the last few years I have bought supplies for art projects that inspired me, I’ve done none of them. The materials sit in their store fresh plastic bag in a drawer. Every time I see them I feel the finger wag of accusation-‘You may have wasted your money, but if you do this craft, you will waste something even more precious-your time.’

Well, what better time to waste than my birthday. Time that was completely my own and had been publicly claimed as such.

I spent the morning of my birthday painting two papier-mache birds I had made in the summer. You see, I had seen in the window of a gallery in Astoria last summer a frame with a branch coming through it with birds perched.

I loved the idea of the 3-D and that nature could burst into the space. The terrific branch I had chosen in the summer and the frame I had found that was the perfect size were hung, and waiting for my two crafty birds. It had been making me crazy seeing the unfinished project on my living room wall. As I laid out my supplies in the morning ready to paint I remembered something else I used to love. I used to love listening to favorite moments in Wagner’s’ Ring Cycle. And so I painted to Wagner! How divine it was to craft my crazy Emily Carr inspired bird and my Groovy Hippy bird while listening to Siegfried crafting his sword. I am still surprised by how satisfying all that all.

For the afternoon I again dug into what I have loved to do in the past. One of my great pleasures from years of traveling as a singer had been visiting art galleries around the world. I have spent many hours lingering in front of great works of art and always purchased a selection of postcards at the gift shop to remember my favorite pieces by. And so I finally went to the little gem of an Art Gallery we have here in Victoria. I even bought a family membership for a year. Now I can go (it is 4 blocks from my house) anytime I want for even just an hour and allow the art works of others in ceramics and wood and paint to inspire and fill my artistic well. Going to the gallery was an experience that was a visceral feeling of being filled and nourished.

As I sit at my desk writing this a day later I feel my heart pleading for more of this. Rather like a modern day Oliver Twist and my task oriented mind is already telling my heart that a request like that takes valuable time that is needed elsewhere. But there is no denying the positive impact of day of creativity. Happiness, ease, space and hope all exist again in this Christmas crush. It was also great to remember that I know what works and I can give myself what I need. Creativity is a living-breathing organism and I’m so grateful for having spent time with it.

What feeds your creative soul? When was the last time you did that?

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