(Photo: Each morning we wake up to my 13 year-old working on this new Phillip Glass piece; he’s playing on our family Steinway. He inspires me every day to keep looking for new ways to express my creativity. Here’s a clip.)
This past Friday I attended a wonderful creative meet-up made up of poets, writers, painters, print makers, dancers and performance artists. We kicked off the circle by sharing our names and our chosen creative medium. When it was my turn, I paused for a long time turning this question over in my head feeling truly stumped.
Yes, I’ve written three books and enjoyed photography for years, but I consider some of my biggest creative moments to be: giving birth to my son, parenting, cooking without a recipe, living the life I envisioned 10 years ago, designing a new business model, helping a dear friend see things differently and curating/designing transformational learning experiences for people.
I believe there are endless ways to be creative: in the moment, with others, alone and even during the most mundane of tasks. Creative expression is like oxygen–without it we’re not fully alive, whole and human. It’s essential to balanced living.
I have my musician mom to thank for this perspective.
I grew-up in a hotbed of dysfunction, which as many know, is also a breeding ground for creativity. My mom had no problem kicking dusting and vacuuming to the curb in favor of playing her newest classical guitar piece or getting lost in a Bach minuet on our old Steinway. She was the opposite of a helicopter parent; she unleashed the seven souls she brought into the world to follow their interests and whims and run barefoot outdoors making mud pies, extracting honeycomb out of giant oak trees, cooking up baked Alaska on a Tuesday night and filling their media-free afternoons with whatever called to us (we all went to Montessori school, so lucky-ducks, we were homework-free). This upbringing and my family’s encouragement to “follow your song,” was axial to how I view and experience creativity.
But, years later at age 34 after designing a revolutionary approach to career coaching & management and launching my first coaching business, I was sitting at my desk in my newly rented, freshly Pottery Barn-furnished office thinking ….”What the @#$%^* did I just do?!” Maybe quitting my secure job, cashing out my 401K to start a business and stepping into the great unknown wasn’t such a good idea. Did I actually have all the skills I needed to help others determine their life purpose and career direction?”
That same day, my wise brother Kert—a software consultant turned Qi Gong master–called me when I was feeling most sheepish and said, “YOU are one of the most creative, brilliant people I know; I want to read you something.” And he shared, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” — Martha Graham. This passage was taped to my computer for years and in my first year of business I was blessed to have three-month waiting list for career coaching sessions.
Creative expression is our birthright. And the energy that moves through us and guides us to do great things—both big and small–is precious. It should be honored, unleashed, harnessed and considered sacred. But, we have to trust that it deserves to be seen and heard, be willing to take risks (read more) and we have to make space in our lives to allow it to show up.
I’m sitting with a new idea right now. It could be big …. or it could end up on a tiny paper sailboat, drifting out to sea with the other ideas I’ve let come and go. I don’t know. I’m listening, paying close attention and I know that if it’s meant to be born, it will find its way out of gestation– pecking and peeking out of its fragile eggshell until it reaches the light of day. This I know.
Want a little kick in the pants for reconnecting with your creative side? From my latest book, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life, read my favorite chapter on creating a life worth living: Breaking Free and Making Hard Choices.
JOIN ME THIS THURSDAY: In career transition and seeking clarity, focus and support as you explore your next steps? Join me for Embracing the Wild Unknown: Career, Calling & Life Purpose *live* teleclass series Nov. 12 & 19 (both classes will be recorded and available 24/7 as audio downloads). Only $59. Register here.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance teacher/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Offering life balance speaking, custom workshops/retreats, training, books/telecourses and individual career coaching, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 13 year-old son. More on her background here.