• Holly Freeman

Tending to the Creative Spirit

Raise your hand if you’re tired of hearing the words, “In these strange times...”.

Whatever your circumstances—overwhelmingly hard or surprisingly peaceful—all of us are ready for this pandemic to be over, and as the stay-at-home order eases in Colorado, we are left in the gray shadows of the rules wondering what’s okay and what’s not.


One element that needs tending regardless of the shifting rules is our creative spirits. Many of us have been staying home long before the stay-at-home order was in place, long before “Covid-19” was part of our daily vocabulary. We’ve been cleaning up spilled milk, washing endless loads of laundry, holding tiny tantrum-ers, and later holding our own heads in our hands, wondering, “Where did ‘I’ go? I am a supreme-need-meeting-machine, but I have completely lost track of myself.”

Back in my theater days, I performed in a play called Quilters, which brilliantly depicts pioneer women in their quest to preserve their stories through their quilts. These women were true artists, capturing their heartache and joys, using scraps of old clothing, pieced together in intricate patterns and painstakingly, perfectly stitched. This creative impulse is innate. We want to create beauty, we want to tell our stories, we want to give meaning to what can become such a monotonous cycle of household chores.

I’m going to offer three challenges, not because I have figured out how to tend to my creative spirit perfectly, but rather because I’ve started on a journey that I know other women have been on before me and that other women around me could benefit from, too. When you find the time—or rather, when you claim the time—to tend to your creative spirit, little bits of ‘you’ come back to you. You find yourself creating beauty and giving meaning to this beautiful, painful, joyful, overwhelming journey you are on.

1) Dabble

/ˈdabəl/

verb

1. immerse (one's hands or feet) partially in water and move them around gently.

2. take part in an activity in a casual or superficial way.

You don't need to be an expert at something in order to try it, no need to start with crafting a 500 page novel. You don’t have to even know how to write in order to get started (ok, knowing some basics would help). The point is, you can “immerse yourself partially,” which might sound mutually exclusive, but you can do it. You can dabble.

We tend to think artists are these special individuals to whom God doled out a little “extra,” and wouldn’t it be nice if that was me, but it’s not. Oh well.


Well. Maybe there are a few gifted individuals out there, A FEW. The rest of us get to try something, and if we like it, keep at it, and practice like mad until we’re better, and then practice some more until we’re good, and keep on practicing until we’re experts. You may not know what you’re drawn to until you start. So dabble!


Family walking in fall leaves Golden, CO
Personally, I dabbled in many arts before a passion for photography really took hold.

2) Get Off Your Phone


Your phone used to be a tool: we used them to make phone calls. Now we use them to peer into each other’s lives and feel sad about our own.


Stop. Get off your phone.

Find something that inspires you. Look in a book, buy a magazine, make a vision board (remember those?). The comparison game on social media does nothing to inspire; in fact it kills creativity and kills your joy. Tending to your creative spirit is going to take time, and you’re going to have to claim that time for yourself. What’s one thing that could use a little less of your time? Your phone.


Dad snuggled with son Golden, Colorado
Seek inspiration in the people and the beauty around you...not on your phone.

3) Allow Yourself to Let it Go


The thing about arts and crafts that can hold us back is what to do with them when we’re done. I guess we have this impulse to give it away or hang it up, but we reach a certain age and realize what we’ve made is not all that good. Of course it isn’t: it’s a first attempt! We have to give ourselves permission to make those first attempts, to thank ourselves for the effort, thank the piece of art for being part of our journey, and then let it go if it’s not any good.


It’s okay. It’s part of the process.


Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst,” and you can believe that I have deleted 10,000,000 images in my effort to get better at photography. Experimenting is good, playing is good. Give yourself permission to make something you don’t love because you are on your way to something better.


Family smiling in fall leaves on trail in Golden, CO
Don't let high expectations hold you back. Allow yourself to play and to fail.


Those are my three challenges to help kick-start the adventure of tending to your creative spirit, and despite the overwhelming amount of resources out there right now for every aspect of this pandemic situation, I’m going to leave you with a couple in case you feel ready but aren’t sure where to begin:


  • The Craft Box- if you’re local to the Denver area, the Craft Box is a great resource for dabbling in lots of different crafts because they consign craft supplies. Say you wanted to try embroidery, you could get all you need to get started for a fraction of the price. Then you decide you hate embroidery, you can sell them back all the supplies you didn’t use! Such a great concept! They plan to re-open when Jefferson County lifts their stay-at-home order.

  • A photographer friend pointed me toward a group called Creativelive.com, and they have been my saving grace, especially during the stay-at-home order. They have high quality, on-line classes on a variety of topics including: photo/video, money/life, art/design, craft/maker, music/audio. Check them out, you won’t be disappointed.


How are you tending to your creative spirit during the Covid-19 pandemic? I'd love to hear about your journey, leave a comment below.