Creative Differences

1:49 PM

Through the last year or so, I have been on a creative journey. Through the many life changes, my creativity has been waxing and waning and then alighting again. And my creative outlets pretty much ceased to exist. And then, I began to see that God had a great hand (as He always has) in the timing of our seasons and He was doing a good thing.

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He first did what I call a "full stop." I have never been good at stopping seasons. I think it's because my personality tends to view stopping as failing. Instead of more accurate view of understanding that stopping can be simply a changing of the seasons, a moving into new things, and a natural progression of life. The last few times that there was a change in seasons, God had to get me where I listen the best---the car... really---and speak very plainly so I didn't miss it.

In late 2013, we were presented with the opportunity of a summer internship for the following year and that put into motion the chain of events that led to me finishing up the wedding photography business late that year. Surprising, because things were going very well for us in the business, and yet unsurprising, because it was certainly a God-transition to make at the time. In May 2014, I resigned from my full-time accounting assistant job and our little two-person family went to Arkansas for the summer. By November, our family expanded to three. Now it's the middle of 2015 (my, how time flies!) and I have spent a hot Texas summer contemplating what it means to be creative through the season of motherhood.

I have questions. Questions like, Do I still get to be creative? What's the point of creativity? How am I supposed to be creative when I just need a nap? What if I don't measure up (to some crazy perfectionist ideal in my own head)?

I am thinking. I am learning. I am meditating. I am accepting these changes and starting to feel my way out of the fuzzy-brained baby stage and into the real world again. Except now my "real world" is the small four walls of my house and usually the only people listening to me are my baby and my husband.

Here are a few of the "creative differences" that I am learning.

Creativity is a process. Accept the process. Embrace the process.

Just over a year ago, I switched to a new camera system. I had been a Nikon D700 + awesome prime lenses girl since I started the wedding photography business. I was comfortable with it and my tools produced the kind of results I wanted. But I knew going forward that I needed a camera with less weight on my hands if I was going to use it in my daily life. So I switched over to the Fujifilm XE-2. It looks like an old Pentax film camera (which confuses people), but with the big sensor and great quality of my camera. It's mirrorless, so smaller and lighter and easier to carry around with me and I liked it alot. However, I underestimated the learning curve of switching to a new camera system... and so my new camera was a great source of frustration for the past year. I must have read the camera manual twelve times and would think that I figured it out and then, nope, some camera functions still didn't work.  I could take good photos, but my autofocus wouldn't turn on so the process was cumbersome.

Finally, many months after my initial purchase, I got on the phone with tech support. I should have done it so much sooner... Five minutes later, my autofocus was working and the summary of the solution: it was a lens function... and I didn't read the lens manual (do I even have the lens manual?). It was a tough part of the creative process, but being on the other side is so much better.

Now I am working on editing my photos with greater ease and precision (since I will have less and less time for "messing around" in the coming years with future babies). I am experimenting with different presets, psuedo-film looks and changes to refine my favorite photo style.

It's a process. In the past, that would have greatly disturbed me... putting out a product that is not completely cohesive and consistent. But since the creativity serves me personally (without clients' fees on the line), I feel a greater freedom to "find myself" without the pressure of time. And let me tell you, that helps this busy-mama out! So I am learning to like the process, instead of just the end result.

Not all creativity or beauty needs to be shared with everyone.

My creativity beautifies the home, serves the family and makes our life more enjoyable.
The Internet has a failing. Or perhaps, it is that humanity has a failing. We always wanna look our best to everyone else. And yet, our best isn't exactly true. I fall somewhere in the middle of that. I believe in sharing happiness and good things, because there is more than enough sadness in the world... I don't want my life to create unnecessary burdens in others' lives, even in the simple way of oversharing or venting via the Internet. So I tend to share the beautiful things, the creative things, the pretty things with everyone... and save the normal-ish things for the family.

I am learning that sometimes I create a beautiful dessert (like this one) and I just savor it on a date night with my husband. Or a pretty sunset picture from our evening walk can hang around on my computer for a month or two before appearing in the blog. Or the narrative photojournalistic photos that I am taking are curated and beautified and made into my current favorite creative outlet---family scrapbooking (never mind that our current financial season, i.e. grad school, means I don't get to actually order the books yet).

It is enough to beautify my home, our life together. I was inspired in this vein by a book I read a few years ago called "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" by Edith Schaeffer. And I am challenged to let creativity be hidden sometimes, to put away the iphone, the computer, the technology and just create.

Diversity in creativity is okay... I mean, not just okay, it's GREAT!

I admit, I have a one-track mind. I get on a creativity binge, a venue, a hobby, and I don't stop for weeks, months, even years... to the exclusion of other enjoyable creative processes. God created the world in seven days. He created landscapes, animals, birds, and even human beings. His creation was good. As we are made in His image, we can also create beautiful things... clothes, food, articles to look at. Just for fun, do a Bible study sometime on beauty and creating things. It's a quick way to remember that God created beauty and beautiful things and they are intended for His glory and to be enjoyed.

Now I am learning that I can be creative in different ways, and enjoy them all (except sewing. I am not a sewer. yet.). I can create a yummy dessert, or a decadent coffee drink at home. I can frame a photo, create a book of memories, dress my child in a new outfit from his closet. I can rearrange our little home to make it more useful and more interesting. I can set the table with nice china or pour a cup of tea in the real teacups. I can look forward to maybe dabbling in oil painting someday. I don't have to be the best at what I do...the point of creating is the glory of God, not the glory of me.

You don't have to make money at something for your creativity to be valuable.

It's not necessarily a popular idea in this land of self-made creative businesses and home entrepreneurs, but the fact is that getting paid for something doesn't make it legitimate. You can get paid for creativity and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but money isn't the point of creativity or the summit of success.

In stepping back from a photography business and stepping toward lifestyle photography (of my own family), I had to come to terms with the value of my creativity. It doesn't have to be valuable to others. It only has to be valuable to God, to me and to the person that God gave me to help -- my husband, and by extension, my child(ren).

So  yeah, you can have an Etsy shop if you want. Or you won't. Either way, your creativity is still just as valuable.

Fix your hope on God and then do as He commands: ENJOY THE THINGS.
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.
1 Timothy 6:17 (emphasis added)

*As a clarifying note: Yes, if you are reading these words from your table or smartphone or laptop, you are rich. Us Americans think that "rich" means billionaire-luxury-cars-and-multiple-mansions, but really, even us poor lower-middle-class folks are rich compared to most of the world. If you don't believe me, go check out a foreign country. I have walked the shack-filled streets of Mexico and climbed the tropical hills of the Philippines and gleaned the smallest sense of perspective that yes, I thought I lived without much money... but in comparison to everyone else in the world, I am rich.

It is important to know where our focus lies... on God... and then to do what He says, to enjoy what He has so richly supplied. Because He created me, now I create beauty (or in the venue of photography, I simply capture what He has created). And it is His will that we enjoy that creativity.

So this is my encouragement to you creatives out there, especially those in the season of motherhood:

Love. Create. Enjoy.

Creating might look different now, and it might look different a year or ten years or twenty years from now, but that doesn't mean your creativity is less valuable or enjoyable. 
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