Creativity Takes Courage
OK people. Can I be really honest? About an insecurity I have? (And no, it's not the lines around my eyes in this un-Photoshopped picture. I'm proud of the fact that I've smiled enough in my life to have them! And I also, truthfully don't really know how to use Photoshop. I feel better getting that off my chest.) K, thanks.
Blogging is a very vulnerable thing. You invite others into your life, you share a little (or a lot) of your heart, and you hope that what you have to say resonates with others. You spend a lot of time working alone. Sometimes when I push "publish" on a blog post, I feel like a little kid who's created a piece of artwork for a parent or a teacher. Like this theoretical kid, I present the piece of work and watch with wide eyes, waiting and hoping for affirmation (Do you like it? Do you like me?), but so easily crushed by a distracted or less-than-enthusiastic response. On days I write a post and get no feedback, I feel like a failure. It sort of feels like calling a friend, sharing about your day, and hearing silence on the other end. (Can any other bloggers out there relate??)
I wish I weren't so dependant on others' approval. I wish I could just create for the joy of creating – be it writing or cooking – without any ounce of ego tied into the process. I don't want my identity to be defined by my work, or by others' opinions of it. But somehow, knowing that people are (hopefully!) reading what I write, makes me crave a response. Not even praise – just a two-way conversation. I want to hear about you: what you think, how you feel, what you're cooking! I created the blog with the idea that it would be digital extension of my actual yellow table. Since I can't have you ALL over for dinner at once (wouldn't that be fun, though?!), I want this blog to be a place where we can all share stories, swap recipes, and do life together. Around the table.
But what I'm realizing, of late, is that creativity takes courage. (Matisse said it, not me!) I bought a new journal recently with that quote written on the front, because the phrase really resonated with me. To pursue a creative path – be it art or design or cooking or writing, or starting your own blog or business – takes a LOT of courage. Because you're inevitably going to have to swim upstream. You'll do things that others will tell you you're crazy for doing. You'll have to create on days you feel uninspired. You'll pour your heart and soul into projects that get ignored. And you'll fight the daily battle of the mundane, that threatens to squeeze the magic out of creation. But you'll keep doing what you're doing because you love it. Because you can't not do that thing. You'll create for the joy of creating and that will be enough. BUT you'll also have days where you're insecure. Where you're like that little kid needing approval. (I get it, I'm that little kid, too!) You'll question why you're doing what you're doing, and if you have what it takes. You'll want to throw in the towel.
But let me encourage you: keep doing what you're doing. Because even if nobody notices, what you're doing matters. YOU matter. And the best thing you can offer to the world is your authentic self. I watched an inspiring video called "What I Have to Offer" recently, created by filmmaker Eliot Rausch based on a 5-minute exerpt from a speech by director Charlie Kaufman. I love the ending line: "I believe that with courage and vulnerability and honesty, the stuff we put into the world can serve a better purpose. What I have to offer is me. What you have to offer is you." YES!
I've got so many friends that inspire me with their creative pursuits. Artists like Emily Leonard (pictured below), Balint Zsako, and Rebecca Rebouché, who sit at their easels day after day, alone, to channel beauty onto the canvas.
Musicians like The Lone Bellow, who played for years in obscurity – and kept going – until they made the leap onto the tour circuit, my dear friend Katie Gustafson whose talent and tenacity inspires me, and Eric Marshall, a.k.a. Young Oceans, (pictured below) whose hauntingly beautiful songs of worship have touched thousands.
...and Signe Birck, who brings food to life with her camera.
Graphic designers like Dana Tanamachi, who exudes her motto "Live a quiet life and work with your hands" by creating gorgeous chalk murals.
Stylists like Jenn Elliott Blake, who make the world a more beautiful place, just by existing in it.
Documentarians like my brother Davis, who beautifully tell stories through film.
Bloggers like Joy Wilson, Sara & Hugh Forte, Kelly d'Amboise, Beth Hendrickson, and Megan & Mike Gilger, who create from the heart and inspire me to keep on blogging, even when it's tough. Friends like Thaddeus O'Neil, Jon Passavant, and Benj Lee (Passavant & Lee) who recently launched their own fashion labels, and Becky Paguia and Nate Poekert, who are in the midst of creating theirs. And my husband Brandon, who, despite the fact that he's a math and technology genius, is perhaps the most creative person I know. As he prepares to launch his start-up, his passion and work ethic inspires me daily.
This list doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of inspiring people I know. (Not to mention countless friends who are pouring their creativity into raising kids - perhaps the most creative job of all! – or into working for a company or a church or a farm, or any other number of endeavors.) I am so blessed to have a rich creative community in NYC, and without it, I doubt I'd have the courage to pursue my own dreams.
Funny, I feel better now than I did when I sat down to write this post. For me, writing from the heart always feels cathartic, while writing from the ego (i.e. seeking others' approval) is anxiety-inducing. (Note to self!) I'm just one week away from embarking on a project that I am SO excited to share with you. It's going to take a lot of courage, a lot of work, and will definitely push me far out of my comfort zone – I am equal parts elated and terrified! Stay tuned...the adventure is only beginning. Thanks for coming on the journey with me!!
Nate Poekert: Photo 1
Bryan Dale: Photo 2b
Amy Dickerson: Photos 3, 8, 9
Eric Ryan Anderson: Photos 4, 5, 10
Signe Birck: Photos 6, 11