This came about from another post I did where I evaluated my goals for 2016. I realized in completing the process that I had accomplished something I never thought possible – the belief that I, I mean me, I mean ME, am creative.
You see I grew up my whole life believing that I was just not creative or artistic. Rather, I was athletic, and athletics came to me easily. Actually, I excelled at them, and the quicker I ran, or the higher I jumped, or the faster I swam, with each medal and each level of competition I climbed, the belief that I was athletic and not artistic became more firmly engrained. Maybe it was the era and the beliefs at the time when I was growing up. Like girls took home economics to learn to cook and sew, while boys took shop to learn to make things out of steel and wood. Maybe we just believed people where either this or that, artsy or athletic, a jock or a nerd. I don’t remember children being encouraged to try many different endeavours, becoming that well rounded child, who goes out and plays hockey AND picks a musical instrument for the band. In any case, I believed I was a jock, which eliminated being artsy.
It wasn’t that I didn’t try. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the idea and wasn’t drawn to the arts. You see, I loved singing. I joined the choir for grade 7 and 8 and the first year of high school. I would always end up in the middle of the choir, between the altos and the sopranos and usually the teacher would motion for me to sing more “softly.” They never told me I was tone deaf. They never said I couldn’t sing. So, there I sang, proudly and loudly, having a great time until…Yes, someone told me I was tone deaf and could not sing. I asked others and they confirmed this. Gone was my future career of Broadway musicals. I was now embarrassed to open my mouth and sing. I had been robbed of the joy of singing and I became silent. Except when by myself, because I truly like to sing. I mean who doesn’t like a good shower solo?
I didn’t even try art class. I had spent the formative years in grade school where they introduce us to everything and I had seen the art of others. I compared myself to them. Their work looked like what they were drawing and I knew what it was. Mine was indistinguishable. Really, I didn’t know there was ‘abstract’ art which was truly what I was creating. But I saw the difference. They got accolades and encouragement. However, I heard the underlying message from the adults around me; a teacher, a parent or a relative, who while holding up a piece of my work, would hesitate while looking at it and said “Well that’s a very good attempt.” Yes, I hear you, I’m just not able to draw. Yet when I was about four years old, I sat down and drew a crayon picture of a parrot that was a photo hanging on my bedroom wall. I drew it freehand, just copying what I saw in this photo. Apparently it was really good. So good, my mother, thinking I had traced it, took it and checked it against the original. They concluded I had not copied it. But my parents couldn’t comprehend how I had drawn that. I mean, because I couldn’t draw!
Then there were the musical instruments. We had an electric organ and a ukulele at home. From school I took the recorder and the violin. To this day I still love the sound of a violin and am really drawn into the sound of string music. I had to sign a waiver at school, grade five, that I would take care of this violin that was on loan to me for the year while I took music classes. Like all kids who pick up an instrument for the first time, I was horrible. It takes time, practice and more practice, to make the strings go from squeaks to beautiful notes. And as I practiced, I watched people stuff cotton in their ears, delegate me to the basement, further away for practice and generally tease me about how bad I was. But I was just learning! So, it didn’t take long before I was frustrated and throwing that violin across the room. I just wasn’t musical either!
So, here I am now in my fifties, and I’m finding out that yes, even I am creative. I didn’t believe it when I started, but rather, it became something found that had seemingly been hidden. I think the main thing was that I decided just do it. Do it for me, because I wanted to and not for anyone else. I stopped comparing myself to others and instead did it just because I always wanted to do it. I always wanted to write. I mean who doesn’t have those dreams of leaving something prophetic and profound on this earth as a legacy. So, I started a blog. Just because. Just because I always wanted to write. I knew I was a good orator. Question was, could I put that into words? I write about work, about my life, my recovery and my photographic journey. I disobey all the rules, like having a single focus which will grow an audience. I don’t write for a big audience. I write for the sheer joy of sharing with others, and I stay out of the ‘likes’ games. Don’t get me wrong, I still need the feedback from friends and family about how they enjoy the blog and look forward to it each week. In writing, I am sharing, which implies having an audience, no matter how limited. But the point is, I’ll never be published, have thousands of followers or obtain 100,000 shares. But I learned I AM creative and I am nurturing that side of me now.
And so I grew and grew and grew over this last year with my photography. I developed the photographic eye. I’m doing table top and still life photography and trying to tell a visual story. I carried a backpack with my camera in it most of the summer. It was only partially to have a camera with me – you can’t take a photo if you don’t have a camera. But the other reason was to adopt, fully and without reservation, that I am a photographer. Like when someone declares they are an artist, how do they know? Because it is their livelihood? Because they are bought or published or sold? Because they carry around sketch books and create while travelling and being out in the world? I’m not sure what it is for them, but I knew for me, I had to convince myself I was a photographer and so by carrying around the equipment, I was telling myself and the world that this is important to me. I mean, most people would see the tripod and ask “Are you a photographer?” And although some days it was hard, I answered “Yes.” And the more I embraced this persona, the better my craft became in photography. What came first, the technique or the belief? I’m not sure, but when I did this, my creativity became exponentially abundant.
And so, it was without much thought that I said to myself “I always wanted to play a musical instrument. Why not try one now?” There was no hesitation, no negative voice saying no, I couldn’t do it. Actually, it was the complete opposite. Now that I believe I am artistic and creative, it only made sense that I would be able to play an instrument. The only questions was which one? Piano or keyboard would be easy and quick for me to pick up and be playing songs quickly. I have always played these by key or ear (which makes no sense given I’m tone deaf.) I love the violin, but I figured the learning curve would be too big and I wasn’t sure my neck could handle the position anymore. So, I decided upon the guitar. Something cool that I could take with me on outings and entertain others. The instrument can be cheaper to buy initially, and there’s lots of on-line courses. The point here was now that I believed I was creative, I did not hesitate to try another creative endeavour. In fact I totally embraced trying this new medium and am making it a goal for this year. And of course, I have further goals in this area too, once I have the basics down. But for now, it is enough to just start because I now believe. And so I sign into my lesson account as kvstrummer. I think it sounds cool.
And you know that love of singing? Well, I have a dream and goal there too. My friend Lori told me about a Toronto singing teacher who does not believe in being tone deaf and says anyone can learn to sing. I’ve looked her up and read her blog and yes, she along with a few others, believe they can teach anyone to sing. They say the student just needs to get past the belief that they can’t do it, along with some instruction and practice. So maybe not this year, but in the next, I want to learn to sing. However, at this time, I am still trapped by those old beliefs and voices that tell me I am tone deaf and shouldn’t even try. I hope to be able to overcome those messages, to come to a place where I can believe that yes, even I can sing.
I dared to soar. I dared to do things, regardless of my ability or whether I was good at them. I had never done that most of my life, instead relying heavily on athletic competition to tell me how good I was or was not in certain areas. To do something purely for the joy of doing it was very foreign to me. But all it took was a start. A desire to be not so great. To not rock it or be fantastic. I run a race today, not to win (I am much too slow now lol) but rather just to complete the race, to have accomplished it and maybe to compete against myself and see if I can improve my time. It was with this attitude and abandon that I just decided to do what I always dreamed about. And I just started. And I must say, my life has been so enhanced through this journey. It’s kind of cool that as I enter middle age, I see so many things that I want to try and do as I get older. It’s a new vision, a new identity. I am like a child again, so full of wonder. I am so glad I dared to soar.
And I am going to take those singing lessons. Sue gently teased “Of course the woman says she can help anyone to sing. She is making her living doing so and racking in lots of money telling people that.” Well be skeptical all you want, but once I believe that even I can sing, look out! I will be kind and I’ll buy her a set of ear plugs. I will soar.
So will you dare to soar? What have you always wanted to do, but just thought you couldn’t or didn’t try because you thought you wouldn’t be good at it? I encourage you just to start. Don’t worry about the outcome. Do it for your pure joy. Dare to soar. See where it might take you. Please tell me about your journey. .