The path isn’t always straight and the end isn’t always at the end. -me (I usually like quoting famous sayings from wise people, but I figured since this post is more personal, I’d just make up my own)
As this year comes to a close, a lot of us are reflecting on the past year. We are either happy to see it go or holding tightly hoping to keep the feeling with us. Either way, it is gone and what we take with us is the important part.
For me this has been a year of broader thinking. For quite a while now, my life has been limited by what I thought were insurmountable difficulties. As I traversed these difficulties in the last few years, I got stronger and found myself realizing this:
I am creating the life I choose to live, whether I know it or not. – me again
I revised my About page to reflect a bit more detail about these difficulties and, if you are so inclined, click over and check that out. There have been some major, life changing events that have really stuck with me. As a teacher, I think it is important to be creative and to find something you love and go with it. So I’ll be a lot better equipped to preach this if I embrace my own creativity more fully than I have. The short version is this:
Life is a random journey that changes each time we meet someone, create something, or even have an original thought. – and, yes, me again
I could never have planned the absolutely ridiculous story of my life. I think many of us feel this way. If you had asked me when I was seven years old what I was going to be doing when I grew up I would have said: doctor. If you had asked me when I was sixteen, chemist. If you asked at twenty one, auto mechanic. At thirty one, teacher.
If you ask me today what I will be doing when I grow up, I’ll just admit that I am not ever going to grow up. – me
So I think the important thing I learned this year is that remembering fondly isn’t enough for me. I need to use the strengths of the past as a springboard for the future. I started by getting back to some of the things I used to love to do when I was seven years old … and sixteen … and so on. I know why I stopped doing some of them. For others, I have no idea.
For example, when I was a little, I used to just love drawing. I used to draw all the time. I liked to draw with pencil and with no colors at all, but just shading. I especially liked drawing things that looked realistic, even if they were completely made up. I remember drawing an underwater city once that was very detailed. It had places for everything I thought people would need to survive in this self contained city. Food, waste removal, light, water purifiers … really I did pretty good for a seven year old. Somewhere between the ages of seven and ten, I absolutely quit drawing. I mean, I just never picked up a pencil again. After drawing every day, I just stopped for over twenty years.
Life is like a plane ride. Sometimes they lose your luggage. You can wait forever and hope they find it, or buy new junk and move on. – me on a good day
Well, sure, I draw snoopy or something silly for my kids once in a while, but I quickly finish it up and pass the drawing back to them. As I think about it now, it is really strange that I love art and drawing to this day and yet have an aversion to picking up a pencil. The more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it seemed. So I started drawing a little here and there, mostly diagrams and things for my students.
During this Christmas break, I went and found some drawing websites to get me more motivated. (DrawSpace.com has excellent basics!) I tried a quick drawing of a girl’s face that I saw online and it turned out ok. So I bought a set of pencils of different hardness, much like the ones I had when I was seven years old, and I’m planning on drawing more and enjoying it. Hey, I wasn’t going to go out and spend ten bucks if I’m horrible at drawing now! So I did a trial run with a regular pencil, now I’ve got to plan some extravagant masterpiece with my new $10 pencils.
This is just one example of me taking a memory and making it something I do again… it’s been a very busy year! I’m not sure how many people lose track of things they used to enjoy. Maybe I’m just strange, but there are a ton of things that I used to like that I just stopped doing for one reason or another. Since I am in the business of creating the life I want to have, I think it is important to get back in touch with those things that got lost along the way.
The two simple things that are needed for thinking creatively are these: boundaries of space and boundaries of time – John Cleese (I couldn’t do better than him for this one =)
So to finally get to it, my New Year’s Resolution is to do things that I really enjoy! That sounds easy, but I know the crutches and excuses can pile up quickly. “I can’t find the time,” “I have to much to do,” and “I’m too tired” all come to mind. So I need boundaries of space and time. I need a structure to keep me honest and feedback to keep me motivated. A great place for both of these is WeWillCreate, a website community designed to provide them both for creative projects!
I’m going to do a monthly project for each of the main ideas, but at the same time keep up some consistent effort throughout the year. For instance, I might focus on photography one month, but I don’t plan on packing my camera up in a drawer for the rest of the year. Anyway, most of these creative things require ongoing, regular practice to really work right. I’m not going to include “go to a concert” or any such one time, effortless things. These need to be things that are creative and take some thought to do. I could call them endeavors. Some are things that I will have to plan a little bit for. Some are things I will have to practice a bit for. I’m out of practice at a lot of things!
Making a plan for life is like deciding what the weather will be like in a year. You might be right, and if you are the umbrella is handy, but more than likely it’s just luck. – me
I’ve been planning what types of things I want to include during the last week or so. Teachers really have it good with three weeks off work to reflect and relax =) This is a list of some of the things I used to enjoy tremendously but have, for some odd reason, stopped doing in the recent years:
- Drawing (20+ years)
- Computer Programming (10+ years)
- Playing guitar or bass (19 years)
- Fixing cars (12 years)
- Cycling (20 years)
- Hiking (11 years – really I’ve done this as I can, but I had a horrible back injury 11 years ago)
- Photography (4+ years)
- Learning something completely new! (4+ years)
- Baking (yes, like bread and cookies!) (4+ years since anything but the odd package cake or cookies)
- Road Trip! (2 years … but you can’t have too many road trips)
- Building something electronic (4+ years)
- Writing a novel in a month! (never done this, but the NaNoWriMo website has me inspired and there is no rule against trying something new)
I know I want 12 things, one for each month, but I reserve the right to change this list if something comes up that fits better. I’ll flesh out the details of each later on, but that’s enough of a plan for now!
The most important thing we do everyday is decide what to let into our lives and filter out the junk. – me on a cynical day
If you read down this far, you are more patient than me! Some of the links below have inspired me to think more about what I do and what I plan to do. Please leave a comment with ideas or suggestions. I’m definitely open to changes as the year goes on …
- Everyone is creative … even you. (Sir Ken Robinson) (audio interview from thekathleenshow.com)
- John Cleese on Creativity (YouTube video from World Creativity Forum)
- Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us (beautiful YouTube video of a Dan Pink talk with animation from RSA animate)
- Ideas worth spreading (iamdollywilliams.wordpress.com)
- Two great movers: Sir Ken Robinson and John Seely Brown (malbell.com)
- Redefining Education – Sir Ken Robinson Makes a Case for More Creativity in Children’s Education (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
- Write a novel in a month! (nanowrimo.org)