Creativity And Solitude: How To Overcome Creative Isolation And Share Your Work

Creativity

Creativity is often a solitary process, but sharing it isn’t. How can creative work impact the world if it is never shared? How do creatives learn to step out of isolation and onto the stage to show our work?

Much of the creative process happens behind closed doors. Creativity happens in the mind, in private. Just like the caterpillar in a solitary cocoon, creativity needs this period of incubation and development to fully flower. However, the caterpillar will never reach its full potential of it stays in its cocoon. Generally, creative people are comfortable with isolation. The problem occurs when it is time to step onstage and share the fruits of our creative endeavors. Most creative people want to share their work and make their impact on the world, but many people are uncomfortable putting themselves and their work on display for the world to see. So, why is it so scary and difficult to overcome this creative solitude to share our creations?

No one sits and watches me paint or write all day. Besides the fact that this would likely be completely boring (as my husband says to every invitation to keep me company in my studio), it is also potentially distracting to me. However the reverse side of the coin is that complete fulfillment from creativity does not come exclusively from the act of creation, but is consummated in the act of sharing.

Like many artists I’m scared to draw back the curtain and unveil my progress, but this is a necessary step in the creative process. I recognize that sharing my work, as difficult as it is, brings me as much joy as creating the work. Referring back to the caterpillar emerging from a cocoon, this is a vulnerable position, but it is also critical to development. The new butterfly develops strength and capacity to fly as it fights to emerge from solitary confinement. So, how do we as artists develop this same strength and fortitude to overcome the habit of self-inflicted solitary confinement when it comes to sharing our work? The simplest answer is to just do it, but so often I’m unable to make myself. I hide in my comfort zone. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what was holding me back. I want to share my work, but I get so afraid to do it.

An epiphany occurred to me when a friend suggested that I disable comments from others on a social media page on order to avoid this fear. My gut reaction to this suggestion was that doing so would cut me off from all the feedback of others. The compliments and even the occasional constructive and honest critique. Then I struggled to justify myself as I thought about why I wanted feedback but was still saying I was scared to share my work. All of a sudden it hit me that my biggest problem wasn’t what others thought- though that can be scary too. But rather my obstacle was my own perfectionism. I wasn’t so much afraid that someone would tell me my work was bad as I was of knowing it was bad myself, or thinking that it wasn’t yet good enough to share. But waiting for all my work to be perfect and to measure up to my often-ridiculous standards of perfectionism, I was hiding behind closed doors and doing myself a disservice by not sharing it, even if it is still as of yet either unfinished or less than perfect. More importantly, pinpointing precisely what my problem was, helped me to begin to take steps to overcome it.

I’ve gone through this process of learning to share my work with my paintings and my art. I’m experienced enough to know how good I am and also how good I’m not. I know where I excel and where I lack. What skills are assets and where I still need work and diligent practice. I’m generally familiar with how my work is received, and it’s easy to put my painting on display instead of feeling in the spotlight myself. However, writing is still something I do largely behind closed doors. And it’s scary again to step onto the stage. But throughout this process of discovering what I was really afraid of has helped me to see my audience as encouraging and supportive friends who will help me overcome my self-destructive perfectionism. And each time I must draw back the creative curtain, I get stronger and it gets easier. Sharing my creativity is always worth the risk.

Are you afraid to step onstage? Do you know what is holding you back?

Creativity Changes The World

Creativity

Everything that exists in this world does so because someone was creative. Creativity is that powerful.

Unfortunately too many people prescribe to the limiting believe that creativity has something exclusively to do with drawing ability or innate talent. This is the Myth of Creativity. Don’t believe it!

While being an artist is largely a creative endeavor and the capacity to be creative is something a person is born with, thankfully it is a capacity that lives with in all human beings, not just artists. It is a divine endowment to all God’s children. It is not something dependent on a person’s religious beliefs either.
The truth is, everyone is creative in some capacity or another. Creativity can be developed. Like all talents, it is a skill that can be, cultivated, enlarged and honed. Creativity is no more or less than the ability to think in new and different ways.

Everything is created spiritually before it can be created physically. It’s the execution or production of those ideas that requires the development of additional skills. For example, anyone can think of something like a flying car, but without the knowledge and understanding of a variety of different fields such as engineering, mathematics, aerodynamics, welding and fabrication, and a plethora of others I’m sure I’m missing, it would be another endeavor altogether to build such an invention.

This is why children are so creative. There are no limits to their imaginations. Children create spiritually, with no inhibitions. It is the development of skills that allows us to create physically. That is why adults are far more creatively skeptical. Adults recognize this discrepancy or the lack of skill.

Some creative endeavors are best executed as a collaborative effort. This kind of cooperation combines the talent, knowledge and skill of multiple individuals into a greater whole.

Creativity is such an integral part of our human identity that we marvel at signs of creativity in animals. Like the orangutan that uses a stick as a tool to extricate termites from their colony. Or the collaborative efforts of an ant colony to build and to overcome obstacles.

Creativity is as varied as the world is populous. There is always room for more ideas, new ideas. What’s your big idea? Have you developed the skills to execute it?

Think of what the world would be like with out the creativity of Thomas Edison or Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Motzart, Monet, Davinci or a plethora of others. What will the world lack without your creative contribution?

What I’ve Learned About Motherhood- From My Dog: The Relationship Between Love And Sacrifice

Infertility, Motherhood, Personal Muse-ings

You love what you sacrifice for. It’s that simple.

The relationship between these two principles became apparent to me during the time I was learning to housebreak my puppy. It was a task that required vigilance and discipline. I had to take him outside every couple hours at a minimum, or I was cleaning a mess off the tile floor. (We relegated the dogs to the tile using a baby gate in the doorway to the living room because I did not want to be cleaning carpet.)

This vigilance required some sacrifice on my part. I adjusted my daytime schedule to accommodate the training routine and even gave up some activities all together if I was going to be gone long enough that my puppy was guaranteed to go on the floor. House breaking was really inconvenient, but so was cleaning up a disgusting mess. He could learn, but how could I teach him if I was absent?

Housebreaking was more complicated at night. It was winter in Rexburg, Idaho where nighttime temperatures were below freezing so I kept the dogs inside, corralled in the mud room. (I can just hear those experienced with dogs saying that I was doing this the wrong way, and those with children thinking indignantly that a dog is nothing like a baby, and they are probably both right, but this is my experience and I offer no apology or further justification for it.) It was both exhausting and frustrating to be constantly waking up during the night either because my puppy was whining, or even because he was too quiet. Many times I would startle awake worried that it had been too long and that he’d had another accident.

During this process I became acutely aware of my feelings for my little puppy. I was devoting my energy and time, sacrificing my sleep and other activities in effort to train and care for him the best I knew how. Despite how gross, frustrating and inconvenient it could be, I loved my little puppy more because of what I’d sacrificed for him. In turn, he served to fill a part of the gap in my heart that wanted children.

As I pondered these principles of love and sacrifice, I felt I had been given insight into not only the love of a mother for her children, but also the spiritual parallels of the Savior’s love for us, and the relationship between His love and sacrifice for us. Often the Savior’s sacrifice is referenced as an act of love, and it most certainly was, but a detail of the Lord’s sacrifice stood out to me that I had not before considered. When in the garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus prayed to the Father he said: “not my will, but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42) He committed himself in complete obedience, sacrificing his own will (”if there be any other way, let this cup pass from me”) in favor of the Father’s plan. “God loved us, so He sent His [perfectly obedient] son.”

Jesus taught about this relationship when he said: “a man cannot serve two masters, for he will love the one and hate the other. Ye cannot serve god and mammon.”  (Matthew 6, Luke 16) He reiterated this principle over and over again. “If ye love me keep my commandments.” (John 14) “As I have loved you, love one another.” (John 15)

This principle is, I believe, part of the reason God commanded his people anciently to make sacrifices to him. And why Christ said we are to make for him a sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. (Psalms 51, 3 Nephi 9) We offer our sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit through our obedience, the sacrifice of our will and pride for the will of the Lord. This principle also applies to the service we render to our fellow men. Service and sacrifice are closely related, as we cannot serve another without some level of sacrifice. Christ declared these to be the two great commandments, the first, to love God with all thy heart, and the second to love our fellow men.

Unfortunately, the principle of loving what you sacrifice for still applies to the things we inadvertently, unintentionally, and subconsciously sacrifice. We become attached to things that are not good for us, even our bad choices become important. If we do not carefully and purposefully choose our priorities we will still feel the effects of sacrifice. If we sacrifice our love for God and our relationship with Him in favor of more worldly pursuits, those things become more important to us.

For example, do we sacrifice time with our family in favor of our career and monetary gain? Do we sacrifice the Lord’s Sabbath in favor of recreation? Do we sacrifice kindness for popularity? Do we sacrifice our integrity for pride? Or our health for idle entertainment and junk food? Are we sacrificing long-term happiness for instant gratification?

A popular maxim states: “Never give up what you want most for what you want at the moment.”

This experience has represented a paradigm shift in my thinking. It has become a mental system of checks and balances to weigh my priorities, analyze my choices and realign my actions with my values and principles. It is a litmus test to achieving my goals.

What are you sacrificing? Is it what you want most?

Watercolor Painting

Creativity: Motherhood vs. Art

Creativity, Motherhood

I met a woman recently who commented that she had never pursued her art as fully as she’d have liked because her mother had discouraged her with the message that she couldn’t make any money doing art; that it wasn’t practical.
My heart broke for her. I could see her passion as well as feel the hurt and hesitation that crippled her inner artist. My immediate desire was to help, to encourage and try to counter the damage that had been done. I told her it is never too late, that she is already an artist.

I was simultaneously grateful for such supportive parents of my own who have always encourage and praised my creative endeavors.

This beautiful woman, is the mother of six children.

In addition to being horrified that she was discouraged from being an artist, my mind also immediately thought of all the times I’ve heard motherhood put down as an un-lofty or unworthy endeavor. Motherhood certainly doesn’t make any money- less money even than being an artist! While I hope she has not suffered similarly for her choices about motherhood as she was discouraged about pursuing art, in our day and age, I’m not optimistic. I’ve been exposed to these horrible ideas all too often myself to be naive enough to think that another has been sheltered from them.

It represents the sad state of our society today that two of the most worthwhile creative endeavors are demeaned so horribly. I cannot think of a higher more divine mode of creativity than that of creating human life. And I don’t know a single artist who doesn’t seek to influence the world in some way with their art. Is there any greater, more accessible method of influencing the world than through the next generation? These lofty goals should be praised! Not discouraged. Especially in a society that claims a woman is capable and free enough to pursue whatever she wants.

Creativity is a divine endowment. A unique and exclusive gift from deity to humankind. Creativity ought to be celebrated and re-enthroned as the virtue it is.

Creativity transforms lives, whether through a painting, a song, a story, an entrepreneurial endeavor, a delicious meal, or simply, noble motherhood.

Watercolor Painting

Freedom And Boundaries

Luxurious Living, Personal Muse-ings

The celebration of Independence Day every Fourth of July, is a celebration of freedom. This American holiday is, in my opinion, one of our most substantive holidays in terms of ideology. Freedom is at the very heart of American culture. It permeates the whole of our society from our government, to our politics, to our economy, to our social structure, and our core values. Certain freedoms were of such importance to our founding fathers that they were articulated into our Constitution. They are protected by law.

Freedom also takes center stage in much American debate. Often it is an issue of the freedoms of the individual versus the freedoms of the majority. These debates are heated and there is passion on both sides. My intent is not to get into these debates themselves, but to address the idea of freedom itself. More specifically, the principle that true freedom always exists within boundaries.

Many people mistakenly believe that freedom is the absence of consequences. This is not the case. In fact, it is not even possible for freedom to exist outside of, or independent from, the natural law of consequences. Here in America, we are free because we have laws, or restrictions if you will, governing social behavior and economy, etc. When we obey these laws, we are free. When we do not abide by law, there are consequences. Often consequences limit our freedoms.

All of nature is governed by natural law (e.g. the law of gravity, or the laws of physics). For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. These are natural consequences- part of the natural law. They are not something humans can circumvent. True freedom comes from awareness of consequences to actions and making decisions accordingly, by choosing a desired outcome and not an action in and of itself.

Freedom has existed within boundaries from the beginning. When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, it was with certain laws. God also granted to Adam and Eve their agency, they were free to choose for themselves. However, when God’s laws were transgressed, there were consequences. (Of course God is loving and merciful, so He gave to Adam and Eve the law of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whereby sin and death could also be overcome by repentance and obedience.) This principle of freedom within bounds is woven throughout the entirety of Christian doctrine.

Some examples to illustrate this idea are things like, being free to drive a car in accordance with traffic laws. Or being free to interact on social media in accordance with the rules of any particular forum. The freedom to use a licensed product in compliance with stated terms and conditions. Freedom from stress over a test after diligent study. The freedom that come with knowledge and skill after disciplined practice, whether it be in art, music, medicine, science or any form of industry. The freedom of a teenager who has his or her parents’ trust. The freedom of choice when considering options such as universities, after qualifications have been met. Freedom from debt when bills are paid and budgets are followed.

The absence of law, restriction or consequence does not create freedom. Without law there is chaos and anarchy. A society that is truly free understands and reverences this principle. An individual who is truly free is obedient to the rule of law. The pinnacle of freedom is found in the rule of one’s self- mind over body.

I am free as society intends me to be free, when I obey the laws of the land. I am free as God intends me to be free, when I obey His laws.

I love the words to the American hymn “My Country, ‘Tis Of Thee.” Particularly appropriate in this context are the lyrics of the fourth verse:

Our fathers’ God, to thee,
Author of liberty,
To thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light.
Protect us by thy might,
Great God, our King!

America is free when “In God We Trust.” God bless America.

Be Creative

The Creativity Myth

Creativity

There are two kinds of people in the world. People who are creative and people who believe the lie that they’re not. The idea that some select chosen few are creative while the everyone else is left to languish is a complete myth. Everyone has the capacity to be creative. Unfortunately for many people their creative efforts were stifled at a young age. Even more unfortunate is when it is never recovered.

In truth it is never really lost, just neglected; abandoned for the belief that it never existed to begin with. Creativity, like a muscle, will atrophy when underused. One’s creative faculties must be exercised. Luckily they can never atrophy into extinction. The flames of passionate creativity can always be rekindled. However this process does require work, sometimes difficult work. Just like the necessity for physical therapy to recover capacity in muscle functioning. Severely malnourished creativity may need to undergo some intense therapy.

The false beliefs of inability, skepticism and doubt must be extricated. To be creative is a choice. It is a purposeful and conscious shift in mindset. Here’s how:

First accept that you are creative. Creativity is part of our divine endowment as humans. You have the capacity like everyone else. Believing this may require redefining your self image. The way to change your beliefs about being creative is to stop telling yourself that you’re not. Abolish the negative internal dialogue that tells you can’t or that you aren’t. You can create! You are creative!

Second, develop skills. Know that your ability to be creative has nothing to do with drawing skills. Those who are creative are not so because they draw, but rather those who draw do so because they love the creative process. Although drawing skills are not prerequisite, skills and expertise of any kind are imperative to enhancing creative capacity. Or rather the ability to develop skills. Happily, if you can do it once you can absolutely repeat the process with a new set of skills. Skill, the ability to do something well, is one of the raw materials of creativity. For example, in order to create music, one must first learn (and perhaps even master- to some extent) the fundamentals of music. Even a musical prodigy like Mozart wasn’t a prodigy because he was some how magically able to create music ex nihilo, with no prior knowledge, study or experimentation. Rather, he was a prodigy because he had mastered the necessary skills at an early age.

Third, learn to make connections. This is related to the idea of having vision, or the ability to see or make seen things otherwise obscure. Unlike developing skills which is primarily a physical activity, the ability to make connections is a mental capacity. It to must be exercised. In their book, Creative Confidence, the Kelley brothers, Tom and David, talk about developing empathy as a way to tap into our creative resources. They argue that the ability to relate, and connect with others is another vital resource of creativity. Jacob Bronowski in his essay The Creative Mind talks about creativity as the ability to find hidden likenesses between two seemingly unrelated things. He describes this process as a way of recognizing and identifying parallels similar to the way poetic metaphors juxtapose subject matter to create a harmony of idea. He further describes the unique connection that happens between creator (or artist) and observer when the observer rediscovers for himself that which the creator has presented.

Fourth, produce. Make production a greater passion than consumption. Put your skills and your ability to make connections to use. Produce something, anything. It doesn’t even have to be a physical thing. Production is where creativity begins to reap the rewards that enrich life. And as Bronowski points out, meaning is enhanced when not only the creator benefits from the process and the product, but the consumer does too. Art, music, poetry, literature, a delicious meal, a relationship, all must first be created, then enjoyed.

Once you stop believing the lie that you are not creative. (especially if you believed it for lack of drawing skills) you are empowered to use your creative abilities to enrich your life. Chances are you already have skills. You can make connections. You can produce. You are creative, even if you can’t draw.

What will you create today? Share in the comments.

Every Home Should Have Original Art

5 Reasons Every Home Should Have Original Art

Art, Luxurious Living

Every home should have original art. The benefits of art are reaped on all levels, from individual, to family, to society. Here are five benefits of having original art in the home:

    1. Original art is personal.
    2. Original art has a story.
    3. Original art generates conversation.
    4. Original art creates culture.
    5. Original art is a luxury.

Original art adds a personal touch to any environment. Its creation is personal as well as its meaning. It wasn’t made by a copy machine or mass produced. It was made by human hands, individually, one at a time. Because original art was made individually, it is unique, and one of a kind. It is exclusive because there is none other like it out there in the world. Its unique quality adds a richness unachievable by copy machines that copy work. This is why it is not the same experience to see a photograph of a place as it is to be there. By the same principle, a photograph of a work of art doesn’t do justice to experiencing the real thing. This is not to say that photography isn’t an art form in and of itself. It most certainly is, but here I’m speaking of originals versus copies. A photograph may be an original piece of art, but a photograph of the Sistine chapel or of Michelangelo’s David is certainly not the same as experiencing the real thing. Similarly, having a photo of someone is not the same as meeting them in person. The original is always the best.

Original art has a story. A story of its creation, a story of its creator, a story of its meaning in the eyes of both the creator and the viewer. Stories bring meaning to life. Stories are one way we relate to each other as members of the human family. Think about it, how often have you felt close to someone- even a stranger you have never met- after you have heard their story. Our culture is full of stories. The news, our entertainment, stories of athletes, stories of musicians, politicians, cancer survivors. Stories of suffering, stories of success. Often these stories provide meaning and purpose. Our appreciation is deepened when we know a person’s story. Art is a powerful way of communicating these stories.

Original art is a conversation piece. It generates conversation, engaging host and guest in meaningful and pleasing dialogue. Conversation deepens relationships. Conversation is an opportunity to share our stories. Generally people who come into my house know I am an artist and appreciate seeing my work in person. This is both gratifying to me as the artist and enjoyable to them as the viewer as well.

Art creates culture. By purchasing original art, you become a patron of the arts. Your support allows the artist to continue to produce work. Collective patronage of the arts, in harmonious conjunction with the production of art, creates culture. Being a patron of the arts isn’t something that touches the individual purchaser of the work alone, but others as well. Purchasing art is a contribution to society in the sense that it an individual testament to the value of art in society. Individually the purchase of art is a declaration of value, collectively it established culture. A culture which values the arts is rich indeed. This culture can, and should, be cultivated in the home.

Art is a luxury. The idea that art is a luxury is deeply rooted. Original art has long been associated with the aristocracy, the rich in society who could afford it’s luxury. Having original art in your home elevates the environment and makes it more luxurious. Because of this historical association with the aristocracy, original art is often viewed as expensive. While this may be true of some art, it is not true of all art. There are many sources for affordable original art, if you know where to get it.

Do you have original art in your home? What benefits have you experienced from having original art in your home? Share in the comments.

 

 

 

Acrylic Painting

Announcement and Updates

Current Projects

My gallery shop is live as of November 2, 2015. I will be adding paintings daily. This is both thrilling and terrifying. I have accumulated a large inventory of paintings over the last decade it’s been since I’ve had a studio gallery to display and sell my work. I’ve participated in shows over the years, however traditionally an art show will only take one or two entries, so I have a lot of work crowding the walls of my in-home gallery. I’m excited to be able to share my work in an online gallery, and find new homes for it. Subscribe to my newsletter for exclusive coupons.

This month I will be participating in NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. This is an annual online event where participants commit to write a novel in one month. I will be using this month to write my rough draft for book three in a mythological fantasy series which I am currently working on. I hope to have book one published in 2016.

I am also working on a short non-fiction book: Why You Should Be An Artist Even If You Can’t Draw: 12 key principles to empower your creativity and improve your life. I believe there are two groups of people, those who are creative and those who believe the lie that they’re not. My endeavor in this work is to encourage and empower those who don’t believe they are creative simply because they haven’t developed traditionally creative skills like drawing. I wish to show that there is much more to creativity than simply drawing, and indeed drawing skills are not imperative to creativity. This book is in the editing stages. I will be looking for beta readers for this project which will include access to the pre-publication manuscript, but under the obligation to read within a set time frame and provide necessary feedback prior to publication. If you are interested in participating, you may email me at norma-sue(at)hotmail(dot)com.

I have a lot to keep me busy this month. What creative pursuits are you working on?

Defining Luxury

Get Luxury For Free

Luxurious Living

Luxury is most often associated with the idea of money, but luxury, by definition, is a condition, not a cost. It is a mindset, not a monetary value.

Luxury is defined by Merriam-Webster in a few different ways that add meaning to the idea that luxury is not defined by money. Here they are:

  1. A situation of great comfort, ease, and wealth.
  2. Something that is helpful or welcome and that is not usually or always available.
  3. A condition of abundance.
  4. Something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary.
  5. An indulgence in something that provides pleasure, satisfaction or ease.

Notice in definition number one, the only reference to anything resembling money, the use of the word wealth. However, monetary wealth is certainly not the only or even the most fulfilling definition of wealth, nor the qualifying characteristic of measuring luxury.

Consider other key words and phrases like “a situation” or “a condition.” Situations of ease and comfort are created by far more characteristics than simply money.

Definition number two, describes a condition of scarcity. It may be true that money is scarce, but it’s not the only thing. Having a close, reliable friend could qualify for this definition, as could having more time or a necessary skill, neither of which require money, but perhaps an investment of another kind. Likely you’ve heard of “making time” as opposed to having time. Or even the admonition “to have a friend, be one.”

When I focus on the other conditions suggested by these definitions such as comfort, ease, and satisfaction, numerous possibilities present themselves to make life more luxurious irrespective to the amount of money involved.

For me luxury is measured not in how much money I have, but in my surroundings. Surroundings can be luxurious without being expensive. One way I define luxury is being surrounded by beautiful things. There is much beauty in life, but there is also much of the crass. Luxury carries with it the idea of expense, but beauty is not always, nor does it have to be, expensive. It is true that many times expensive things are luxurious, but beautiful things, luxurious things, are not always expensive.

I love beautiful things. I love to collect beautiful things. However, there is a little more to my idea of luxury than simply that.

For example, making dinner is much more pleasurable and definitely easier (pleasure and ease being conditions of luxury) in a clean kitchen. Life does not always provide an abundance of money, but I can certainly be wealthy and live luxuriously with an abundance of comfort, satisfaction, and pleasure. I simply had to realize for myself what things represent conditions of luxury, but also do not cost money, or at least cost money that I don’t have.

I realized that many of these things were things or situations I can create. Luxury can be created! Sometimes this requires a little more effort or planning, but I discovered I enjoy the planning and the effort is always worthwhile in the end. I can make life more luxurious simply by making it more beautiful.

By these definitions, excessive spending isn’t prerequisite to luxury. Luxury doesn’t cost money. At least, it doesn’t have to cost money. Luxury needn’t be expensive. When luxury is prescribed to as an idea, not a monetary cost, all kinds of possibilities open up.

What are the things in your life which bring pleasure, comfort and satisfaction, but don’t cost money? What can you do to create and abundance of these things?

Creativity: a contingency

Plan C: Make Lemonade

Creativity, Personal Muse-ings

“C” For Creativity. Creativity isn’t just for making art projects. Creativity is for making life better, no matter your circumstances.

As a child, I always wanted to be a mother when I grew up. That was plan A. There were several influences which contributed to this desire. The primary would be my religious beliefs. The second would have to be that my own mother was a homemaker and raised eight children. I love my big family. The idea of a career never really appealed to me. Another could have been simply that I didn’t really know anything else.

This didn’t really ever change as I got older, though I did learn more about what other pursuits interested me, as well as a broader definition of a career. After I got married, I was fully ready and prepared to put my education on hold for the higher and nobler calling of motherhood. But things didn’t happen as my husband and I had planned. So, on to plan B, I continued my education. I thought, the Lord knows I’m willing to quit school to be a mother, maybe He wants me to graduate. A few years later I graduated. In my personal prayers I started telling the Lord I was ready now. Still no children.

Struggling for answers to why my heart’s desire would be denied to me, wondering what the Lord wanted me to do instead, and even what I wanted to do with my life, I was faced with the awful reality that I hadn’t prepared a contingency. I had no plan C. The necessity of a plan C had never occurred to me.

Practical thinking said, get a job, but I already had two part-time jobs. Teaching positions, plus a few private art students. I was using my degree in art. The thing was that I had never really faced the reality of a career as anything more than temporary or in addition to being a mother.

Facing the reality of plan C after I graduated was a very discouraging and emotional time for me, and I hid this fact from most who knew me, further isolating myself from friends and associates.

What ultimately rescued me from depression and despair was the realization that I’d been given an opportunity. Rather than despairing over my inability to change my circumstances, I needed to focus on being happy doing what I could. There were a lot of things my friends with small children couldn’t do. I’d majored in fine art (entirely impractical, I know) so now I’d have to get creative with my creativity. Rather than focus on what I didn’t have, I started asking myself what else I wanted. What were the things I’d told myself “maybe someday?” Publishing a book was one of them. So, in need of a plan C, I decided to see if this was “someday.”

I know I’m not alone in saying life isn’t always what we expect or want it to be. But there are always possibilities that will bring joy. As Maria said in The Sound of Music, “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” The Lord doesn’t always give us what we want, even if it’s a righteous desire. God gave us a portion of his creative powers. (Read more about Art and Creation here.) Sometimes we have to get creative with our contingencies.

Our greatest disappointments just may turn out to be unexpected opportunities, perhaps for something we never would have considered otherwise. Instead of being a mother, I have two dogs, a Bachelor’s degree in fine art and I’m writing a novel. I never would have planned my life like this, but I’m happy. And the next time life hands me lemons, I already have a recipe for lemonade. The key is being creative.

How have you made lemonade out of life’s lemons? Share in the comments.