Creative Juices

At the end of 2019, as I prayed about and planned for 2020, God told me to do something creative every day. I loved that idea and gladly accepted the challenge, even though 366 days did seem like a big commitment. Then He told me to blog about this challenge. That gave me a bit of pause, but I’ve been documenting my 2020 creativity journey on my blog.

Today is Day 50 of that challenge, and I have 5 things I’ve learned from daily expanding my creativity.

  1. I am far more disciplined than I imagined. And I’m now channeling that discipline to other areas of my life. I realized if I can allow myself to be creative for at least a few minutes every day, then I can allow myself to do something else for a few minutes every day. I’ve increased my writing output, cleaned up some corners of my house, read daily, and I’m building a business.
  2. I am far more productive than I’m accustomed to. Recognizing that I have to allot time for creativity has forced me to examine how I spend time generally. I spent far more time on facebook than I should, and since scaling back on facebook, I’ve discovered I have time for some activities I didn’t think I had time for (like my daily reading in #1).
  3. Unexpected opportunities have presented themselves. One of my earliest creative endeavors this year was to create art out of hole punches. I created a picture of waves. I didn’t expect anyone to notice or care about my hole punch waves, but just the opposite happened. New people began following my blog, and an artist colleague asked if I would demonstrate my technique at her studio.
  4. I am acquiring new skills. I’ve always loved to try new things, but having one random outing with your friends to try axe throwing isn’t the same thing as learning and applying new skills. Instead of facing things outside of my comfort zone with dread, I’m inviting in new experiences. I have learned some of the inner workings of WordPress, launched into Canva to design educational and promotional materials for my business, and implemented some marketing strategies.
  5. My creative energy and output has increased in several areas of my life. In meetings at work and church, I have made unusual connections and shared innovative ideas. I even choreographed a praise dance and co-wrote an Easter play.

I struggled to write this piece, because I feel like I’m bragging. I suppose, however, I am. I’m bragging on how God, the ultimate Creator, can use one small creative endeavor to stretch how I think about and interact with the world and its possibilities.

And I’m excited for more. If this is where I am on Day 50, where will I be on Day 366?

Let today be Day 1 for you. If you need help getting to Day 2 or beyond, please contact me for 1:1 coaching. Also, please comment below to share where cultivating your creativity is taking you.

If you like what you read and think others will, too, please share.

Home Work

I’ve always enjoyed working from home; it just took me a few decades to realize it.

When I was a kid, I took home seriously. It was my favorite place. I learned each nook and every cranny. I explored the yard. I created space for my dolls to luxuriate. My job was to learn and grow, and I did it at home.

While in college, I worked as an RA, which means I worked from home. I learned my building’s intricacies, and I got to interact with my residents. I loved it.

When I graduated, I worked as a hall director, which allowed me to work from home. I learned my building and campus, worked with my RAs and residents, and loved it.

Then I became a full-time graduate student. I went to school at a physical campus, but I did most of my work from home – reading, writing, grappling with difficult concepts. And while doing that, I made our apartment welcoming to family and friends.

Then one day I got the notion I needed to have a job outside of my house. I’ve had good jobs, that I was good at, doing good work. It all seemed so good that I ignored the feeling it might not be right.

Now, I’m not saying I never want to leave my house. Of course Ido! What I’m saying, however, is that I find satisfaction in work that allows me to use my actual home as my home base, work that allows me to tend both to it and my family and home.

I got caught in a trap that told me there was only one way to have a career and find success – by working for someone else outside of my home. That is a laudable career path, but it’s not the path God created me to follow.

Rather, God created me to connect deeply with others, to serve others, all from the space of my home. I felt that truth in my body when I would leave a job and have some time at home before beginning another job. I relaxed. I breathed. I thought deeply. I slept. I took care of my family and home.

My children saw glimpses of me. More often than I’m proud of, my children have either seen an exhausted, ill-tempered version of me; or they have not seen me, because I’ve retreated to my bedroom to decompress from the day.

But when I’m at home, my children can see who I am.

That, ultimately, became a driving force behind my return to working from home. I knew God didn’t give me children for me not to be myself with them. He has lessons for them to learn that can only come from me, and I need to be myself for that to happen.

It took me a long time to realize that.

The longer I worked outside of my home, the more I wanted to learn about how God had fearfully and wonderfully made me. I took spiritual gifts inventories. I took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. I took StrengthsFinder. I learned a lot, and I got overwhelmed.

So I had to go back to where I knew I could find answers – daily devotion time with God. The more time I spent studying God’s word, the more He revealed to me about how He shaped me.

He showed me I’ve always loved doing many of the things I enjoy now; I’ve just enjoyed them in a variety of ways. I’ve always loved listening to people and helping them think through their processes; that’s why I’ve gravitated to the work I’ve done – residence halls, teaching, writing center work. I love learning and hunting for knowledge – that explains graduate school, my endless questions, and my love affair with Google. And I love to create – crafting, writing, music, dance.

None of those things I love demand I work from home, but my particular predilections indicate that I do so. I’m an introvert. I’ve always wanted to be a wife and mother. I find great satisfaction in cleaning (despite the current condition of my house). I enjoy hosting events from home.

I love being at home. That’s just how God made me.

But staying at home didn’t fit with the idealized concept of success I was living. I was married with kids, a church family, degrees, and a good academic job. My life was good, but something didn’t feel right.

Once I finally acknowledged I didn’t feel like I was living out God’s purpose for my life, despite how great my life looked, God began leading me to a life that better fit how He created me. I needed all the experiences I have had, including jobs that didn’t fit, so God could get me to where I sought His direction, rather than society’s confirmation.

Maybe you have felt like that, too. You don’t have to live as a watered-down version of who God created you to be. He wants more for you, and it’s ok for you to want that, too.

If you like what you read and think others will, too, please share.