Are You Creative?

Absolutely! All of us are. Even in the humdrum moments we demonstrate creativity when arranging asparagus, potatoes, and drumsticks on a dinner plate. We select a new tie that echoes our eye color and a shirt of a paler hue, and presto, we’ve revitalized our favorite suit. And aren’t we women brilliant when it comes to applying concealer and mascara?

“But that doesn’t count, I’m not creative,” I can hear some of you say. “I can’t even draw a straight line.”

Hmmm, did Pablo Picasso draw straight lines? Consider his words: “Every child is born an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

We all enter the world with the potential to be creative. Watch two-year-olds gathering information. Between sampling rocks and examining worms, they invent languages and imaginary friends. They crawl under tables, play dress-up, watch clouds, and generally have a ball.

Then when entering elementary school around age five, many children grow self-conscious when peers ridicule them. Once carefree, many of these kids cease doing pirouettes in the living room, refuse to swoop their voice up to high C when singing Happy Birthday, and stop generating marvelous drawings that suddenly look like scribbling.

Some courageous teenagers continue to foster artistic passions through high school and college, but set them aside when entering the serious grown-up world of work and raising children. Sadly, if they stow their dreams away long enough they may forget what they were.

Yet even in our chalk-full adult life, the seeds of creativity beg to sprout. We doodle while on the phone, hum in the shower, and tap our fingers on the steering wheel when listening to oldies.

Fifteen years ago my friend Robin turned her lifelong desire to play the harp into a reality by buying one and taking lessons. And she started writing screenplays!

Another friend, Janeen, took a giant leap and signed up for her first singing lessons ever. She now performs with a gospel choir.

And adventuresome Marissa started flamenco classes. She adores the castanets and shawls, and performed in her class recital.

Are these women a unique breed indwelled with talent, chutzpah, or a touch of insanity the rest of us don’t possess?

God gave each of us certain physical and mental limitations. I’m stuck at 5’2″, so it’s unlikely I’ll be strutting down a fashion runway. Yikes, especially at my age. Yet size and shape and even IQ are not what rob us of creativity, but rather our inner critic, the fellow sitting on our shoulder informing us we’re making fools of ourselves and wasting time-mean-spirited comments we’d never tell our children.

Ideally, creative people cut themselves slack when their fingers hit the wrong piano key or their soufflé falls flat. I finally learned compassion for myself by positioning my photo as a two-year-old on my bed table to remind myself to be kind to the little girl inside this adult body.

Has it been thirty years since you dabbled with watercolors or used your flowerbed as your pallet? It’s not too late. If you’re a mom with young children, encourage them to get creative and join in the fun. I found in our home, when our kids got bored and TV was off-limits they’d bump off the walls and whine that there was nothing to do, then they’d extract cardboard from the recycle bin and build castles, or bring out crayons and color outside the lines.

Which reminds me of the day my older sister decorated the second-floor wall with red crayon, then blamed her masterpiece on me. My kindhearted parents didn’t punish her, maybe because our mother was an artist herself. And I forgive my sister because she was being creative!

I leave you with a final thought from Pablo Picasso:

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”